After divorce, the children of the former spouse may live with one parent the majority of the time. Unless that parent remarries, his or her household may suddenly have half the income — or less — that it did during the marriage.

Children deserve to live in a safe, comfortable environment, with their basic needs met. To help make up for the loss of the other parent’s income that used to come into the house, New York State law allows custodial parents to request that the other parent pay child support.

How much should the parent pay? A state law called the Child Support Standards Act contains guidelines for a formula that involves calculating the parents’ combined income and the number of children they support.

Besides this, the law allows judges leeway to deviate from the formula if certain factors are present. Since not every family is the same, this allows the court to adjust the amount of child support to an appropriate level for the individual payer, payee or child, if necessary.

Possible factors the judge may examine when deciding whether to deviate include:

  • The parents’ financial resources
  • The child’s physical and emotional state
  • What the child’s standard of living would have been had their parents not gotten divorced
  • Nonmonetary contributions made by the parents

Setting the right amount of child support can involve negotiations between the spouses, mediation or going to court to have a judge decide. The important thing is that the children do not suffer financially because of their parents’ divorce.