Should Child Support Payments Be Made in Shared Custody?
A shared child custody agreement on Long Island is basically a 50/50 share of parenting time with the child(ren). In this case it might seem fair and appropriate that the parents should also share 50% of all expenses, but in New York, that is not the way it works. Even in shared child custody arrangements, one parent is deemed the non-custodial parent and that parent is the one who is ordered to pay child support regardless of the amount of time they spend with the child(ren).
Non-custodial Parent’s Support Calculated Using Child Support Standards Act
A non-custodial parent’s support obligation is calculated using the Child Support Standards Act which utilizes a percentage of the parents’ incomes regardless of the time spent with the child(ren). There are some jurisdictions that utilize a “proportional offset formula” which takes into consideration the amount of time the parents spend with the child(ren) in addition to their incomes. This idea was proposed to the New York Court of Appeals but quickly rejected and held that the trial courts are to apply the Child Support Standards Act and factors of DRL 240(1-b) when determining an award of support.
The Child Support Standards Act was implemented to ensure that children do not bear the economic burdens of their now separated parents. It is intended to ensure that the children are able to maintain the same quality of life as before the separation. Many people believe it’s not fair that since each parent is spending equal time with the children that one parent should have to give the other parent money.
Support Not Determined by Parenting Time
The simple answer is that equal parenting time does not mean equal pay. There is usually one parent who has a higher income than the other and will be better able to provide for the child(ren). So if the parent with the higher income is always able to give and provide for the child(ren), then when the child goes back to the lower income parent, they will notice a shortfall in what they receive from that parent and this may cause hardships in the parent-child relationship.
Child Custody Litigation Often Ensues
In a perfect world, both parents would be able to come to amicable agreements in how their child(ren) are cared for, but realistically, the majority of separations are a result of the inability of the spouses to agree and get along. While parents are often able to obtain shared parenting time, they may not be able to agree on how to support the child. This often leads to litigation for custody of the child(ren) when the non-custodial parent does not want to accept their Child Support obligation based on the parenting time.
It’s important that our clients understand that no matter their belief that child support should be commensurate with parenting time, the courts on Long Island are simply following New York state law and the Child Support Standards Act. This will enable us to better counsel our clients regarding settlement, reduce expensive litigation and allow the divorcing couple to better co-parent. We want nothing more than to see parents spend their time and resources co-parenting rather than in court litigating.
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See this page to learn everything you need to know about Child Custody and Visitation on Long Island.
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