One of the most difficult issues that couples need to resolve as they contemplate divorce is the question of how much, if any, should there be of child support. We always inform our clients that we will provide them with calculations of child support based on their respective adjusted gross incomes. The rationale for this is to inform the Court that clients have received these calculations and have reached decisions regarding child support after reviewing and analyzing these numbers. Without knowledge of the child support calculations one spouse can claim later that if he/she was aware of the numbers their decisions would have been different. Also, judges want to be assured that these calculations are known before they approve a separation agreement. The formula for these calculations was developed by the New York State Legislature to provide a uniform system of child support when the issue of support had to be determined by a judge.
One of the advantages of using mediation is that clients can deviate from the child support calculations. The key issue, however, is when and under what conditions would deviating from the calculations be beneficial to the children and parents. There is no perfect answer; the unique conditions of each family and each budget need to be considered. Nevertheless, some examples of when deviation can work follow.
Great Income or Other Economic Disparity
The income of the person providing support is so much greater than the person receiving it; it may be helpful to increase the amount of child support. Conversely, if the person paying the support has other children to support or is assuming a greater share of the marital debt, or is providing a large sum of money from a retirement account or sale of property the amount of child support can be less than the calculated amount.
Geographic Proximity of the Parents
When parents are living geographically close to each other after the divorce and are able to create schedules where each will parent with their child/children on an equal basis it may be beneficial to eliminate a specific amount of child support. Each parent provides for the child/children while parenting and the parents divide all other costs related to the child/children equally.
There are other scenarios when it makes sense to ask the question of more, less or none when it comes to child support. During mediation there are many options that you can explore to determine the best fit for you and your family.