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
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.