New York’s child support statute has been long criticized for its $80,000.00 cap on basic economic child support. The critics have argued that since the statute was enacted approximately 20 years ago, the basic economic child support cap figure was too low. New York Legislature apparently heard those concerns. Laws of 2009, Chapter 343 enacted the “child support modernization act” which amended the provisions of the Child Support Standards Act to raise the cap on combined parental income to $130,000.00, effective January 31, 2010, and to provide for the adjustment of the $130,000.00 cap every two years to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index. The child support percentages of payments that non-custodial parents are obligated to make toward child support were not modified by the amendments. Domestic Relations Law §240 (1-b) (2) and Family Court Act §413 (1) (c) (2) were each amended to provide that the court shall multiply the combined parental income up to the amount set forth in Social Services Law §111-i, (2) (b). Social Services Law §111-i (2)(b) provides that the combined parental income amount to be reported in the child support standards chart and utilized in calculating orders of child support in accordance with Domestic Relations Law §240 (1-b) (2) and Family Court Act §413 (1) (c) (2) shall be one hundred thirty thousand dollars; and that beginning January 31, 2012, and every two years thereafter, the combined parental income amount shall increase by the product of the average annual percentage changes in the consumer price index for all urban consumers (CPI-U) as published by the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, for the two year period rounded to the nearest one thousand dollars. These amendments take effect on January 31, 2010.
While I view the changes as necessary to keep up with economic changes, once the two-year recalculation provision takes effect, it is going to make it more difficult for family law lawyers to calculate the appropriate child support figures.