50/50 Not Always Fair under Child Support Standards Act

When people go through a divorce, the law basically says whomever the child primarily lives with is the recipient of child support — and the amount the other person pays is based upon the Child Support Standards Act. Today, the courts need to realize that society has changed since the CSSA was enacted in 1989.

In today’s society, more and more people are meeting at work and spouses are doing the same jobs and having equivalent income. Very often, when these couples file for divorce they seek 50/50 sharing of time with their children. I am seeing this come through my office more and more. I am finding people who are talking about joint legal custody who have the same jobs — including teachers, nurses, lawyers — and they have the same income.

What do you do about child support when they have the same job/income?

Although the CSSA has been periodically challenged — The New York Court of Appeals set the tone, in 1998 in Bast v. Rosoff, ruling that the Child Support Standards Act must be followed.

With continued change in the family dynamic, so far, the higher courts have not addressed a shared 50/50 formula. However, I have seen a number of trial courts deviate from CSSA when there is an equal sharing of parental time and very similar incomes. These trial courts are sending out a message that basically says, “Look, The Child Support Standards Act says that we don’t have to apply it if we go through the mathematical calculation and find the act to be unjust or improper — and we can deviate.”

It is time that the higher courts address this subject matter and establish that when they find the CSSA to be unjust or improper, adjustments need to be made.