Focused Guidance, Aggressive Family Law Advocacy

Child support orders are not always open and shut

On Behalf of | Aug 2, 2022 | Family Law

Like other states, New York has child support guidelines in place which courts are supposed to apply when they are setting up or changing a support amount.

These guidelines are supposed to ensure that parents and children alike get treated fairly and consistently.

Basically, the court will take information about each parent’s income and expenses, examine the custody arrangement, and use a formula to determine the appropriate child support amount.

In many cases, the process makes child support straightforward. However, even with the guidelines, not every Long Island child support case is simple.

What is or is not income can be a source of contention

A parent’s child support obligation will depend a lot on their income. However, many people do not earn their income by bringing home a paycheck from a job but live by other means.

This is where New York’s laws can get complicated. The guidelines include investments, retirement pay, and income from business or self-employment.

Moreover, courts are allowed to impute income to parents in some situations.

For example, courts can include as income, at least for child support purposes, certain fringe benefits at work. A judge may in a child support order account for a company car that an employee has permission to drive when off the clock since the use of the car offsets a parent’s expenses.

Judges can also count gifts that parents receive from loved ones, including in-kind gifts like a free or low-cost place to stay.

Business owners and investors may have income that is hard to pin down

Because they may not make regular paychecks, business owners and investors may have income that is hard for the other parent or the court to pin down.

Tax returns may be helpful, but it is important to remember that they might not give a complete picture of a parent’s income. Moreover, for child support purposes, the Guidelines add back into income certain allowable tax deductions.

A Long Island resident might find it difficult to get a fair child support order in some situations. They may wish to speak with an experienced family law attorney about their options.