There was a time, not very long ago, when the New York courts would look at a joint custody situation, a true equal sharing of time, and make the following adjustment: Calculate the child support each parent would have to pay to the other if no equal time between parents, reduce the higher payment by the lower payment and the higher income earner would pay the difference to the other parent. It made sense, so, of course, an end was put to that.completely reasonable application of child support guidelines.
The most ridiculous application of guidelines that I ever saw was one where the parties had absolutely equal time with the children, one week on, one week off. The Father earned exactly $10,000 more than the Mother. The court ordered the Father to pay the Mother $10,000 as child support. I will say it again: $10,000 to the Mother as child support. No equalizing the income level of the homes with Father paying $5,000 to the Mother, just give the entire income difference to the other home. Of course, the Father paid the taxes on that income and the Mother will pay no taxes on it because child support is not considered income. Again, one of the more ridiculous, and completely baseless, decision I have seen in a true sharing of the children’s time between parents. In this case, five children.
In my recent meanderings in other states working with family law attorneys elsewhere, there are several very interesting models for shared custody arrangements and child support payment. Things that could actually be considered fair and reasonable. Some states set a specific number of days to put a variation from guidelines into play, starting at 129 days, though some are a bit higher.
It seems that a formulaic method would work. Something along these lines:
- By way of example, a true 50/50 division of time between parents, a reduction precisely as set forth in the first paragraph: Reduce the child support obligation of the higher earning parent by the child support obligation of the lower earning parent, and the higher earner pays the difference
- If the sharing of time is 1/3 to one parent and 2/3 to the other, reduce the child support obligation of the 1/3 parent by 1/3.
- During long term visitation, for example, 4 weeks in the summer to the 1/3 parent, then the 2/3 parent would pay support to them for four weeks in the amount of 1/3 of that parent’s support obligation ( principle discussed elsewhere on site as well)
- If sharing is somewhere between 1/3 and ½, then simply reduce the payor’s obligation by the percentage of time they have the child or children
This would seem a fair way of assessing and modifying guidelines support for the benefit of the children in each household and would afford some consistency in determinations of child support with shared custody arrangements. Just start at 365, divide it by the number of days each parent will have the child or children and you have your percentage reduction. Simple.
Yet, New York does no such thing. One of many changes to consider in the application of Child Support Guidelines in New York.
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