child support obligations

If you’ve been following our articles, you will know that several of those articles have discussed the payment of child support as determined by the New York State Child Support Standards Act (“CSSA”). In this article, we will examine what other statutory obligations parents have to their children that go beyond the payment of basic child support.

Pursuant to the CSSA [1], in addition to child support, the Court can direct the parent(s) to pay for the following expenses:

Reasonable Child Care and Medical Expenses – Child care and medical expenses are often called “add-on” expenses because they are paid in addition to the basic child support obligation paid by the non-custodial parent.

“Where the custodial parent is working, or is receiving elementary or secondary education, or higher education or vocational training that the Court determines will lead to employment,” the Court must direct the non-custodial parent to pay for a portion of reasonable childcare expenses.

Parents also have an obligation to provide health insurance benefits to the child(ren). If health insurance benefits are available to either parent, then the Court must determine the cost for providing coverage for the child(ren), and then direct the parents to share that cost in proportion to their incomes. Any unreimbursed medical expenses (such as co-pays and prescription costs) will also be divided proportionately between the parents.

If health insurance benefits are unavailable to either parent, then the Court can direct that the parent(s) obtain coverage for the child from the State’s health insurance plan for children (i.e. Child Health Plus) if the child qualifies for such coverage. The Court can direct each parent to pay a proportionate share of the cost for Child Health Plus.

The expenses are divided between the parents in the same proportion as each parent’s income is to the combined parental income. For example, if the combined parental income is $100,000.00, and the non-custodial parent’s income is $40,000.00, then the non-custodial parent’s proportionate share of childcare, health insurance and unreimbursed medical expenses is 40%.

Life Insurance – A parent can be required to maintain life insurance for the benefit of the child(ren) or the other parent (See, Section 416 of the Family Court Act). Even if a parent does not currently have life insurance, the Court can order a parent to purchase such insurance and designate the parent as the beneficiary of the policy. The Court has discretion in ordering the duration that such insurance must be carried, but the Court cannot order such insurance to continue beyond a parent’s duty to provide support.

While many people would agree that rearing children can be expensive, very few of those people may realize that the law imposes on each parent such significant financial obligations to his/her children. The financial obligations to the children, and how each party will contribute to those obligations, should be addressed in any separation or divorce matter.

[1] Found in Section 240 of the Domestic Relations Law and Section 413 of the Family Court Act.


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