According to current practices, courts in New York and other states make decisions pertaining to child custody based on the best interests of the child. The best interests of the child are an amalgamation of various factors, such as the emotional ties between parents and siblings and a child, the ability of parents to provide a healthy environment for a child's upbringing, the health of a child and the presence of domestic violence. Once these issues are addressed and a judge is convinced that a child's best interests is protected under all circumstances, a child custody order is issued.
In some child custody cases, it is a joint custody order while in others, one parent obtains sole custody and the other parent has visitation rights and other obligations. In most cases, the most important obligation that a non-custodial parent has pertains to child support. Many people may agree that obtaining child custody is only the first step toward providing the child with a stable upbringing and child support is a major contributing factor toward achieving that goal.
Once a parent has obtained child custody, that parent must enforce the child support order that the court may have issued along with the custody order. In New York, there are a certain number of standard rules and regulations according to which child support amounts are decided. First, courts determine a non-custodial parent's gross income and deduct certain amounts that a non-custodial parent pays as Medicare tax, Social Security tax and New York City or Yonkers tax. After those deductions are made, the courts calculate child support obligations based on New York standard guidelines.
A non-custodial parent must pay the following percentages of income toward child support obligations: 17 percent for one child; 25 percent for two children; 29 percent for three children; 31 percent for four children; and a minimum of 35 percent for five children or more. Apart from those percentages, a non-custodial parent's share of the child's everyday expenses, such as medical, dental and educational, is added. The total percentage of income and share of expenses is the child support amount due from a non-custodial parent every month. However, if a non-custodial parent's income is more than $141,000, the court can also choose to look at other extraordinary factors for determining the child support amount.
Source: ChildSupport.NY.gov, "Custodial Parent Information," accessed on Dec. 8, 2014