Janet Porro, a family lawyer in Jeffersonville, answers:
Support is an important aspect of any matter involving a marriage, partnership, or a couple who has had a child together.
Child Support Guidelines exist in New York that assist individuals in arriving at a support figure anticipated to cover certain costs as to the child(ren) that a couple has together. The relational status of the parents (married, unmarried, separated, or dating) does not impact upon the amount of support.
Child support is calculated taking into consideration a number of factors such as the income of both parties, or in the case where one parent does not work (or is underemployed), what that parent is capable of earning (imputed income), the age of the child, and the amount of time each parent spends with the child. You can deviate from the Child Support Guidelines under certain circumstances, such as: a child with special needs, parents whose income exceeds the guidelines, or other economic contributions made by one parent or the other.
There are a number of instances under which child support may be reviewed and adjusted upwards or downwards, including: a substantial change of circumstance (such as an increase or decrease in one parent’s income), the emancipation of a child, or merely the passage of time.
Other aspects that are considered in calculating child support include medical insurance premiums, contributions to mandatory retirement plans, expenses such as union dues, and whether the payor spouse is obligated to support other children from another relationship (e.g., children from a previous marriage).
Alimony (or spousal support) is another potential source of income to enable an ex-spouse to maintain a standard of living comparable to that which was enjoyed during the course of the relationship. There are limited circumstances where support will be ordered for individuals who were not married but lived together in a marriage-like relationship. Issues that factor into an alimony award include:
- the length of the relationship
- whether one partner gave up a career for the relationship or to raise the parties’ children
- the disparity in income
- the age of the parties
- the earning ability of the parties
- medical conditions that may prevent a spouse from being gainfully employed.
Many people are of the belief that if the breakup of the relationship was the fault of the one party (e.g., one spouse had an affair), that the at-fault party must pay alimony to the other. This is not necessarily the case: fault is only one small factor that a court will consider in awarding alimony.