How Child Support is Calculated in New York

Child support provides an important solution after divorce: It allows both parents to contribute financially to a child’s upbringing even though the two adults no longer live in the same household. While some parents dislike the thought of giving money to their ex-spouse, it’s important to remember that the money is for the benefit of their child.

Who is required to pay child support in New York?

In New York, the non-custodial parent – the one without primary physical custody – is generally obligated to make payments toward child support. In other words, if the court has awarded one parent sole or joint physical custody, the other parent may be required to provide monetary financial support, even if the paying parent has the child a few nights per week or month.

This may sound counterintuitive, especially to the parent paying support. However, the goal is to keep the child in the same financial living condition as they were prior to the divorce. 

Both parents are required to contribute financially to their child's upbringing. Money paid by the non-custodial parent for child support must be used by the custodial parent expressly for the benefit of the child.

If a non-custodial parent refuses to pay, the New York Support Collection Unit (SCU) may take certain actions against the payor, such as suspending their driver’s license and freezing their bank accounts.


How is child support determined in a divorce case?

The court will specify the amount to be paid each month in a child support order. New York courts calculate child support based on a number of factors, such as each parent’s income, assets, and standard of living. The court also takes into account custody arrangements and any special needs or educational expenses the children may have.

In addition, the court looks at each parent’s housing and other monthly expenses as well as their debt load. The court does not want to make a parent pay so much that they cannot support their own needs.

What is the Child Support Standards Act?

The Child Support Standards Act (CSSA) is a New York state law that sets child support guidelines for determining the amount of money that must be paid. 

Under the CSSA, the required monetary disbursement shall be based on both parents' incomes and the number of children involved, setting a basic percentage of the paying parent's income. The court may also consider other factors such as housing costs, child care or daycare expenses, educational needs, and any other special circumstances related to the child support case.

Where can I get a child support estimate?

New York City provides an online calculator you can use to estimate your payments or the amount you will receive. You'll need to input certain case information, including details about your financial situation, your spouse's financial situation, and your children. When you've entered all the information, the calculator will provide you with an estimate, based on New York law, of the child support payments. Note that this amount should not be taken as set in stone, as different factors can slightly alter payment amounts.

Read: 6 Important Things to Know If You’re Getting a Divorce in New York

How to apply for child support in New York

There are several ways you can request child support as a New York resident. One of the most straightforward ways is to make this request while you're already dealing with a related legal proceeding like a divorce or child custody dispute. In these instances, you can make petition the court with your request for child support.

If you're not already involved in a court proceeding, you can initiate one. This is a more expensive route, as you'll be required to pay a filing fee to initiate child support proceedings. An attorney is often required, adding to the cost.

You can also call the Child Support Helpline at 888-208-4485. While the professionals at this hotline cannot provide you with legal advice, they can give you guidance about where to file and provide you with the required forms.

If you would like to receive child support payments through direct deposit and are not yet set up to do so, check out this link.

At Hello Divorce, we're well-versed in New York divorce law, and we have a team of experts ready to help you. Whether you are interested in getting an online divorce using one of our flat-rate plans, obtaining legal advice from one of our attorneys, or pursuing mediation to make your dispute with your ex easier to handle, we're here for you. 

Schedule a free 15-minute phone call to learn more.

Additional information: How to Talk to Your Ex about Spousal and Child Support


Divorce Content Specialist & Lawyer
Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Legal Insights

Bryan is a non-practicing lawyer, HR consultant, and legal content writer. With nearly 20 years of experience in the legal field, he has a deep understanding of family and employment laws. His goal is to provide readers with clear and accessible information about the law, and to help people succeed by providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the legal landscape. Bryan lives in Orlando, Florida.