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New York City Divorce Lawyer: How High Can Child Support Get In NYC?

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New York City Divorce Lawyer: How High Can Child Support Get In NYC?

In New York, both parents of a child under the age of 21 are obligated to provide support for that child.  There is a formula used to determine the amount that New York State deems to be “presumptively correct,” in that it will appropriately meet the needs of most children.  The formula is applied to the combined income of the parents. Once the formula is applied, and the “presumptively correct” amount is determined, the court will then look at all of the circumstances in the case, using a specific list of factors, to determine if a higher or lower amount would be more appropriate for the family. To make this is done correctly, you should consult with a New York City divorce lawyer.

The formula, in brief, takes a percentage of the combined parental income (17% for 1 child, 25% for two children, etc.) up to a cap of $154,000, and then apportions that amount between the parents based on the parents’ respective incomes.  Those apportioned shares are the “basic” child support obligation, and the parent who is the non-custodial parent of the child will pay his or her portion to the custodial parent.  (Those apportioned shares will also apply to a specific list of add-on expenses: unreimbursed medical costs, childcare so a parent can work/seek work, and educational costs.)  If the combined income of the parents is lower than the cap of $154,000 that is typically the end of the calculation process.

What happens, then, when the combined income of the parents exceeds the cap? New York City divorce lawyer advises that the court will most often stick with the cap-calculation if the combined income is relatively near to $154,000.  But what happens if it exceeds the cap by a significant sum?

To determine whether to increase the amount of basic child support, the  court will then consider the following list of factors to determine if the non-custodial parent’s obligation should be higher than the “cap” amount:

  1. The financial resources of the custodial and noncustodial parent, and those of the child;
  2. The physical and emotional health of the child and his/her special needs and aptitudes;
  3. The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage or household not been dissolved;
  4. The tax consequences to the parties;
  5. The non-monetary contributions that the parents will make toward the care and well-being of the child;
  6. The educational needs of either parent;
  7. A determination that the gross income of one parent is substantially less than the other parent’s gross income;
  8. The needs of the children of the non-custodial parent for whom the non-custodial parent is providing support who are not subject to the instant action (and whose support has not been deducted from the parents income by court order), and the financial resources of any person obligated to support such children, provided, however, that this factor may apply only if the resources available to support such children are less than the resources available to support the children who are subject to the instant action;
  9. Provided that the child is not on public assistance (i) extraordinary expenses incurred by the non-custodial parent in exercising visitation, or (ii) expenses incurred by the non-custodial parent in extended visitation provided that the custodial parent’s expenses are substantially reduced as a result thereof; and
  10. Any other factors the court determines are relevant in each case … .”

According to New York City divorce lawyer, the first and third factors, above, come into play most often when the court is assessing a high-income family.  When the court assesses the financial resources of parties with high income, it most often does so by applying the philosophy that the appropriate living standard for children of affluent parents is comparable affluence.  The way the courts address this, within the statutory formula, is to raise the cap for the particular family.  A few recent cases that include analysis of this process include: C v R, 65 Misc3d 1205(A) (Kings Supreme 2019), where the cap was raised to $350,000 where the combined income of the parents exceeded $600,000; A.P. v F.L., 57 Misc3d 1223(A) (Queens Supreme 2017), where the cap was raised to $250,000 where the combined income of the parents was $370,000;  Zappin v Comfort, 155 AD3d 497 (First Dept. 2017), where the cap was raised to $250,000 where each parent earned over $200,000.  The primary focus of the cases in this area seems to be on the child’s right to share in the good financial fortune of his parents.

Though the income-based approach is common, the courts also analyze the needs and expectations of the children.  An older child who has spent many years living a life of relative luxury will not suddenly be asked to reduce those expectations, whereas an infant, who has not established any particular lifestyle, will more likely receive “cap” support absent a showing of special needs.     Recent cases that illustrate this type of analysis for the purpose of raising the cap include: M.M. v D.M., 159 AD3d 562 (First Dept. 2018), where the court used a cap of $650,000 for parents whose combined income was over $1million, reasoning that the lifestyle enjoyed by children included country club membership, theater and other entertainment, and luxury vacations;  Kimberly C. v Christopher C., 155 AD3d 1329 (Third Dept. 2017), where the court use no cap, applying the formula to the parents full income, noting that the children were accustomed to luxuries including private school, international travel, and expensive summer camps. A recent case that uses such analysis to keep the cap in place is R.I. v T.I., 60 Misc3d 1226(A) (Kings Supreme 2018), where, despite the parents’ income exceeding $500,000, the court kept the cap in place where the child was an infant with no evidence of special needs.


Kleyman Law Firm is a New York City divorce lawyer handling complex, contested and high conflict divorces.  The Kleyman Law Firm is located at One Rockefeller Plaza, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10020 and accepts cases in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester and Long Island. For more information visit or call (212) 401-1977.

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