Spousal / Child Support
In Westchester, certain spouses may be entitled to ongoing financial assistance from their former spouse.
In Westchester, certain spouses may be entitled to ongoing financial assistance from their former spouse after the divorce. New York courts refer to this as spousal maintenance, also commonly referred to as spousal support or alimony. Spousal maintenance can be requested by either party, regardless of gender. Eligibility is based on a number of factors, two of which include the length of the marriage and the ability of the requesting spouse to reasonably support him/herself. No required amount or duration of spousal maintenance is provided for in New York law. The court, in its sole discretion, may award whatever it feels is appropriate under the circumstances.
New York law makes both parents responsible for the financial support of their children, through a combination of formulaic and discretionary factors that may be quite complex and difficult to navigate. The statutory scheme requires a “non–custodial parent” to pay the “custodial parent” a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s gross income up to a statutory cap, which varies, in practical terms, depending on what County the parties and their children reside in. Those percentages are: 17% for one child; 25% for two children; 29% for three children; 31% for four children; no less than 35% for five or more children. Added to this obligation under the statute are the requirements for the parents to share the obligation for medical, educational and child care expenses for the children on a pro-rata basis based on the parties relative incomes.
While the present statute imposes an income limitation for combined parental income (commonly referred to as a “cap”) of $130,000, adjusted for inflation after 2010, the counties in which Fredman Baken & Kosan practices actually impose a much higher “cap”. While there is no specific statute or case holding that requires such a rule, it is generally believed that the “Westchester cap” is $300-$350,000, depending on the family circumstances and the actual judge before whom the case is pending.
In addition to dealing with the appropriate income limitation, many other factors go into deciding how much child support each spouse will either pay or implicitly pay in meeting his or her obligation toward the parties children. For example, our partner, E. Michael Kosan, handled one of the seminal Court of Appeals cases over 20 years ago which established the rule that New York does not recognize the income-sharing model in determining how to allocate child support where both parties spend considerable amounts of time with their child/children. Because of this holding, and other rulings by the Courts, the determination of the proper allocation of paying to raise the children is not simply a question of “where the children primarily reside and how much does the father make”, which it usually was when the Child Support Guidelines Law was enacted in 1989 (“known as the Child Support Standards Act).
To each case, we bring practical knowledge of the costs of raising children in the New York metropolitan area, which all of the FBK lawyers have done, as well as intimate knowledge of the process by which the issues concerning children are determined in both Westchester and New York State, as a whole.
We strongly suggest that anyone considering either support proceeding or a divorce where children of the marriage are an issue arrange for consultation with one of the Fredman Baken & Kosan attorneys who will be able to advise a client as to how to best proceed to protect his or her children, both financially and otherwise.