Issues involving children can make divorce even more complicated. While New York law has guidelines to help courts calculate child support, there are some important things to keep in mind. Courts usually require a parent to pay child support so that the other parent who has primary custody does not have sole financial responsibility for keeping up their children’s standard of living. Calculating support depends on each parent’s income, the number of children and the amount of time each parent spends with their children.
Courts may also take other factors into consideration, such as whether a parent pays spousal support and which parent pays for childcare, health insurance, education and academic expenses. However, the need for support is the most important consideration. Courts can also modify their support orders when a parent argues that there was a change in circumstances. Modification may be based upon a parent losing their job, becoming disabled, substantially increasing their income or receiving a large inheritance.
Child support also has legal priority over spousal support. If a court reduces child support, it will likely reduce spousal support payments. One parent cannot modify their agreement for these reasons. Additionally, child support payments have no tax consequences for recipients and payors under the current federal tax law. Recipients are not taxed for any support they receive, and payors cannot claim payments as a tax deduction.
However, a split-custody arrangement may have tax consequences for both parents. This occurs when parents depart from the practice where only one parent claims the child as an exemption on their taxes. That parent usually has physical child custody for the largest part of the year.
The parents may face tax consequences when they trade this exemption back and forth from year-to-year and file an additional tax form. Divorced parents may divide the exemption if they have more than one child and a child lives with one of the parents for over half the year.
An attorney can help parents deal with this often difficult and stressful issue. Legal representation may help assure that a support agreement is fair and reasonable and provides for the best interests of the child.