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2 ways that New York law caps low-income child support

Child support payments in New York are generally based around a percentage system. While each case is unique, the general rule of thumb is that a noncustodial parent who makes less than $143,000 every year has to pay about 17 percent of his or her annual income for just one child.

For two children, that jumps to 25 percent, and it increases to 29 percent for three children. For four children, it rises to 31 percent, and the minimum for five or more children is 35 percent.

However, the law recognizes that low-income parents may not even be able to spare the lowest percentage every month. The goal of the law isn't to make parents destitute, but to help them pay to raise their own children.

As such, there are two built-in child support protections:

  • If the parent makes less than the Federal Poverty Level, he or she just has to pay $25 every month. The amount of back pay that can be owed also caps when it hits $500. In 2017, the Federal Poverty Level was $12,060.
  • If the parent may less than the New York State Self-Support Reserve, the parent just has to pay $50 every month. In 2017, that line was set at $16,281.

So, while low-income individuals are not let off of the hook entirely, they can make very low payments without the risk of legal ramifications.

As you can see, it is very important for both parents to know all of the legal rights that they have after a divorce, especially when both sides do not agree on how much child support is needed.

Source: City of New York, "Child Support Calculator," accessed March 30, 2018

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