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Child Support Deviations

Federal law mandates that all states create a uniform formulaic system for determining support obligations for children within their jurisdictions. While states are not required to adopt any particular formula, most choose one of two common systems. In New York, child support obligations are based on a fixed percentage of the payor’s income less certain deductions. The courts often presume that the formula is reasonable.

The law, however, does recognize that the formula may not always yield a fair result. For that reason, there are several ways in which judges and support magistrates can deviate from the formula guidelines, although they are often hesitant to do so. Most commonly, the official who determines the amount of a child support obligation may order a parent to pay a certain share of extraordinary medical or educational expenses in addition to the basic support obligation. Less commonly, either parent may ask the judge or magistrate to deviate from the guidelines for reasons of justice. The official may do so upon consideration of several factors:

  • The total and comparative financial resources of each parent and the child
  • The child’s health and special needs
  • The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the parents remained together
  • The tax consequences of a given support obligation
  • The non-monetary contributions the payor parent makes to child’s care
  • The educational needs of either parent
  • Whether the payor parent has other children he or she must support
  • The amount of custodial time the payor parent has with the child and whether that reduces the payee parent’s financial burden
  • Any other appropriate factors

When deciding to deviate, the judge or magistrate must identify what the support obligation would have been under the guidelines and clearly explain in writing his or her reason for deviating. If you believe your circumstances are exceptional and merit a deviation, the child support attorneys of Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia can help you effectively present your arguments. We represent clients in Long Island, Suffolk County and Nassau County.

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