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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New York Passes New Child Support Legislation

The state of New York has recently passed new legislation expanding the base income for mandatory child support
from $80,000 to $130,000. Any income above $130,000 may or may not be subject to the court awarding child support. This will be left entirely to the discretion of the court.

Prior to this new legislation, the courts have customarily awarded child support up to a discretionary base income of approximately $200,000. Any income above this level has generally been exempt from child support. However, with the expansion of the mandatory base income from $80,000 to $130,000, the discretionary cap is likely to rise as well. It is still uncertain how high it will go.

When the courts exercise discretion to go beyond the mandatory base, they consider lifestyle and standard of living factors. Sending children to private school, consistently taking extravagant vacations, and providing children with extracurricular activities such as music lessons, dance lessons, or summer camp will often influence the court's decision as to whether to award child support on a higher income than the mandatory base of $130,000.

While there is a basic formula for awarding child support, it is important for your divorce lawyer to be aware of these additional factors which may lead the court to use discretion in altering the ultimate dollar figure. Hiring an inexperienced divorce lawyer may result in a child support award that poses a serious financial burden on you and your family.


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