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Do I have to pay child support?

In New York, the law is clear on this: If you are the noncustodial parent then, yes. The idea is that as a parent we have a legal obligation to support our children. The custodial parents never pays child support to the noncustodial parent because the understanding is that the custodial parent is paying their portion of the child support towards the child’s daily living expenses; groceries, shelter, clothing. Whereas the noncustodial parent pays support to contribute towards those expenses already being incurred by the custodial parent.

I can’t count how many calls I receive asking for how a parent can ‘get out of’ paying child support. The truth is you cannot get out of it- and why are you even trying to get out of it? If you have a child – New York state views the support of that child to be your legal responsibility. Beyond what the courts prescribe there is a moral obligation that we as parents should feel as well- a moral and ethical duty to support and feed your children.

What if we keep the kids 50/50 do I have to pay child support then?

The courts have an interesting way of addressing this. It is possible that if both parents' incomes are similar and the custody is shared equally and the lack of paying child support in a monetary value would not create a detrimental effect on the child's standard of living then- it is possible that neither parent would pay child support to the other in this scenario. Regardless, child support would still be paid by each parent while they had physical custody of the child- through shelter, food and clothing.

However, in Baraby v Baraby the courts decided that the spouse with more money should pay child support even if the physical custody is split 50/50. There are factors taken into consideration for example, the disparity between the incomes, the fairness and effect of the support or a lack thereof on the child’s living standards.

More importantly the courts have stated that the desire to have an equal amount of physical custody should be motivated by a genuine wish to spend time with the child and not a financial motivation to reduce payments.

Can I pay child support directly to my child?

Simple answer: No.

Child support must be paid to the custodial parent, guardian or the child support enforcement agency which collects child support on behalf of the payee.

How much child support will I have to pay?

Child support is determined by taking a percentage, based on how many children, of the combined parental income. This number equates the total amount of child support payable. The next step is to determine the noncustodial parent’s portion of the combined parent income. That percentage is then applied to the total amount of the child support payable to determine the child support obligations.

Here is a calculator to help you roughly determine your possible child support obligations:

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