How to Calculate Child Support Payments in New York

Learn how to calculate child support in New York, when the amount of support may be different than what’s calculated under the state’s guidelines, and how to apply for, collect, and modify child support.

By , Legal Editor

How to Use the New York Child Support Calculator

To calculate the amount of support under New York's current child support guidelines, you may use the official New York Child Support Calculator. (You can find links to the calculator and instructions on the New York Courts Maintenance and Child Support Tools page.

You'll need to have some basic information on hand before doing the calculations, including both parents' income, what your physical custody (parenting time) arrangements will be, and your costs for the child's health insurance coverage and work-related child care.

If you're still negotiating issues like custody and maintenance (alimony), you might try multiple calculations under different scenarios.

Learn more about how child support is calculated in New York, including what can be subtracted from gross income, additional expenses that may be added to the basic child support obligation, and application of the guideline when parents have high incomes.

Are Other Child Support Calculators Accurate?

Watch out for other (non-governmental) websites with so-called child support calculators for New York. Unfortunately, there's no guarantee that these calculators are accurate and up-to-date. New York updates its child support guidelines regularly, and you usually can't tell whether any of these other websites have kept up with the latest changes.

New York City provides a stripped-down version of a child support calculator, but it doesn't account for all of the elements that go into a support order.

It's best to stick with the official state calculator from the New York Courts to get the most accurate estimate of the amount of child support you may pay or receive. But notice that word "estimate." As we discuss in this article, the judge may order a different amount in your case. Of course, the accuracy of the child support calculation will also depend on the accuracy of the information you provide.

When Support May Deviate from New York's Child Support Guidelines

The amount of child support calculated under New York's child support guidelines won't necessarily apply in every situation. The state presumes that's the correct amount. But you may argue that a different amount would be appropriate in your situation. Whether you and the child's other parent have agreed on a support amount that departs from the guideline or a judge makes that decision for you, the judge will have to find that the amount of support calculated under the guideline would be unjust or inappropriate. When making that decision, the judge must consider a number of factors spelled out in the law, including

  • the child's special needs
  • the standard of living that the child would have enjoyed if the parents had stayed together
  • the noncustodial parent's extraordinary expenses related to visitation with the child, and
  • a substantial difference between the parents' incomes.

(N.Y. Dom. Rel. Law § 240(1-b)(f) (2024).)

How to Apply for Child Support in New York

Typically, you'll apply for child support as part of the process of filing for divorce in New York. Whenever you have children under the age of 21, you must include a child support worksheet along with your other divorce paperwork.

If you aren't married to your child's other parent, you may get help with requesting support by applying for child support services from New York's Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE).

If needed, the DCSE may also help with establishing the child's legal paternity (or parentage) and locating absent parents.

How to Collect Child Support in New York

If you're having trouble collecting child support, you can get help from the local child support office in your county. The office can collect support payments through its Support Collection Unit and then send the money to you.

If the other parent is behind on payments, the DCSE can also help enforce the child support order. Depending on how much the other parent owes, the office has several ways of enforcing support, including:

  • an income withholding order requiring the parent's employer to take support payments out of wages
  • seizing tax refunds and bank accounts
  • reporting the debt to credit reporting agencies
  • suspending a driver's license, or
  • referring the case to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance for collection.

How to Change the Amount of Child Support

Either parent may request a modification of child support in New York, if they can show one of the following:

  • there has been a substantial change in circumstances
  • it's been three years since the existing support order was entered or modified, or
  • one of the parent's gross income has changed by at least 15% since then.

(N.Y. Dom. Rel. Law § 236, Part B(7)(d) (2024).)

You can ask the DCSE for help with filing a modification request. You may also request a review of your support order to see if it qualifies for a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).

If you decide to file a modification request directly with the court, it's best to have a lawyer's help—particularly if the other parent doesn't agree to your request.

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