The finances of raising a child and the importance of child support in NYC

Everyone knows that raising a child is expensive. But how expensive is it? One blog writer at The New York Times estimated that raising a child in New York City would cost her $2 million. The Wall Street Journal wrote a piece suggesting raising a child could easily top $1 million. Even conservative estimates by the federal Agriculture Department hold that a two-child family will spend approximately $14,320 per year in child rearing expenses, which just takes into account absolute necessities.

Some areas of the country are more expensive than others, of course. In New York City, the average cost of child care can be up to $16,000 per year alone - already above the entire yearly costs of the extremely conservative estimate by the federal government. Factor in housing, health care and food and the cost skyrockets. In New York, the price of housing is also an issue, as finding enough space to comfortably and affordably raise a child is difficult.

In addition, many parents now help pay for the cost of their child's higher education. Even a public university can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars of tuition with room and board.

Divorce exacerbates the issue. Divorced parents need two homes the children can stay at, among other costs. That is why child support is such a key issue in divorce cases.

Child support guidelines

New York state law provides guidelines regarding how much a noncustodial parent must pay in child support. While these guidelines are followed absent extenuating circumstances, they are not hard-and-fast rules that a judge must use when ordering child support. A child with special needs or with a medical condition may get more in child support, for example.

The Family Court uses the noncustodial parent's adjusted gross income and the number of children to determine child support for up to $130,000 of a parent's income. The court then multiplies the adjusted gross income by the standard guideline percentage for the number of children. These percentages are:

  • 17 percent for one child
  • 25 percent for two children,
  • 29 percent for three children,
  • 31 percent for four children
  • 35 percent or more for five or more children

Child care, medical, and educational expenses are also considered when deciding child support. Worker's compensation, disability payments, unemployment benefits and Social Security payments are all counted as income for child support purposes. If a noncustodial parent makes more than $130,000, the court decides whether to use a percentage of that income for child support.

For those who are obtaining a divorce or need a modification of child support, contact an experienced New York divorce lawyer

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