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Monday, December 22, 2014

Wallace v. Wallace - On Calculating Child Support in New York

While New York City family courts are granted a broad range of discretion with regard to determination of child support, they are guided by Section 413 of the Family Court Act. The law offers a general percentage and dollar amount for support, depending the number of children and income of paying parent.

So for example, as of March 2014, a parent with one child must pay 17 percent of his or her income in support. If his or her annual income is between $45,000 and $45,099, the amount of the annual obligation will be $7,650, or $637 a month. If two children are involved, that parent will be required to pay 25 percent of his or her income, up to $11,250 annually, which breaks down to $937 a month. The maximum amount a parent can be compelled to pay is 35 percent. So if a parent in that income bracket has five children, the most that parent could be compelled to pay is $15,750 a year, or $1,312 a month.

But again, these guidelines are general. The courts may take into consideration the income of the other parent, special needs of the children and any relevant mitigating or aggravating circumstances.

Our New York City child support lawyers recognize these can be complex matters, and it's our goal to ensure your rights are protected and interests furthered.

Although child support payment amounts can be modified once set, that can only happen when one party can show a material change in circumstance, such as loss of a job or remarriage. Barring that, payment amounts will not change. That's why it's so important to make sure you are properly represented in the initial phases of negotiation, when child support is first being set.

While family law provisions can vary from state-to-state, most adhere to this "material change" requirement when considering whether to modify support payments.

The recent case of Wallace v. Wallace, before the Georgia Supreme Court, involved an appeal of an initial order, where mother of three minor children alleged the court wrongly calculated child support payable by the active duty serviceman father. The pair agreed to joint legal custody, with mother granted primary physical custody.

The court awarded a child support amount of $1,300 monthly, but allowed for a a deviation of $400 monthly in travel expenses so he could see the children. That meant the actual support payments would be $900 monthly.

Mother later appealed on the grounds of allowing that $400 deviation. The court never indicated how the deviation from the presumptive amount would benefit the best interests of the children, and therefore failed to satisfy one of the basic foundations of family law.

The Georgia Supreme Court agreed, and also found the trial court erred in not considering father's $3,555 monthly housing compensation as part of his gross monthly income. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings.

We understand these cases can be both sensitive and complex. In order to ensure your rights are protected and your children are provided for, consult with an experienced legal professional.

If you are contemplating a divorce in New York City, call our offices at (718) 864-2011.

Additional Resources:

 Wallace v. Wallace, Nov. 24, 2014, Georgia Supreme Court

More Blog Entries:

How to Win your Child Support Case in Family Court, Part 2, Oct. 8, 2014, New York City Child Support Lawyer Blog


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