Child Support: An Overview


Child support disputes are some of the most common issues in family law cases, regardless of whether the parents are going through divorce or never married. Child support is paid by the noncustodial parent to the parent who has custody of the children, and is meant to help cover the child’s living expenses. Child support can be used for such things as medical and health insurance costs, education expenses, child care, and more.

The petition for child support often involves children who were born within a marriage, but can apply to unmarried parents if they have established paternity. One parent will be legally obligated by the court to help with the upbringing of the children. The amount of support may be determined in one of two ways: set calculation of the income of both parents and the number of children involved. If both parents agree to an amount different from the prescribed court amount, this could be allowed by the court.


In general, the amount of child support to be paid is based on the number of children and the combined income of both parents per year. The amount of money that will be paid to the spouse who has primary custody of the child or children is determined by a number of factors, but the state does use the following basic calculation to decide how much will be paid by the noncustodial parent:

  1. One Child – 17% of the parents’ combined income
  2. Two Children – 25% of the parents’ combined income
  3. Three Children – 29% of the parents’ combined income
  4. Four Children – 31% of the parents’ combined income
  5. Five or More Children – no less than 35% of the parents’ combined income

The court may decide to order additional payments to help cover the costs of child care if the custodial parent has to work or attend school, and for any reasonable health care expenses. In some cases, the court also orders payment to be made for the child’s education costs.

For parents who have a combined income that exceeds $136,000 per year, the court must decide whether to use the basic calculation for all of the income, or to use it for only the first $136,000. If the judge chooses the latter option, they must then determine how much additional support will be paid, depending on such factors as:

  • The physical and emotional needs of the child
  • Any special needs or aptitudes of the child
  • Each parent’s financial resources
  • The child’s standard of living prior to the divorce
  • Whether one parent makes substantially less money per year than the other parent
  • Each parent’s non-monetary contributions toward the well-being and care of the child
  • The tax consequences of child support on either parent
  • Whether either parent has educational needs
  • Whether the noncustodial parent is providing support for any children from other relationships


If you are involved in a dispute over child support payments, it is important that you obtain experienced legal advocacy from a New York City divorce lawyer to ensure you are not taken advantage of by your former partner. Our team at The Law Offices of Andrew J. Spinnell is known for our dedication to our clients’ interests and our meticulous attention to detail, and we will thoroughly prepare all necessary paperwork and documentation for your support hearing.

The firm has provided the people of NYC with caring and effective representation since 1983, and we can guide you with exceptional legal counsel during this stressful time. We have experience in every area of family law including, visitation, relocation, prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements, and enforcement of child support. Whether you are seeking child support from your former partner or are fighting a child support order, you should not hesitate to enlist the representation of a skilled and dedicated law firm to protect your interests and your children. It does not matter how complex your case is; our knowledgeable team is prepared to aggressively advocate before the family court on your behalf. Let us walk with you during this difficult process- contact a New York City child support attorney at our firm today to discuss your legal options!