The Law Office of Ellen B. Holtzman, Rockland County, Nanuet, New York, 845-627-0127  
Ensure your children receive the financial support they need.


A Skilled and Experienced Child Support Lawyer

New York State law requires both parents to financially support their child or children until they reach the age of 21. When a divorce or legal separation involves children, New York's child support laws help to ensure that the children will be provided for financially, both during and after the breakup. Ellen B. Holtzman, an experienced Rockland County-based family lawyer, observes that, in many cases, parents are able to agree on at least some of the important issues involving the children, including child custody and parental access arrangements. The parties may even agree on an amount for child support payments. However, even when the spouses are able to agree on an amount for child support, their plan must be approved by the court. That's because New York judges rely on guidelines derived from a mathematical formula to determine the amount of child support. The formula is based on the parental incomes and the number of children. Ellen says that any deviations from the mathematical formula used to determine the "basic child support obligation" must be fully explained and approved by the court.

A Savvy Negotiator and Trial Lawyer

Ellen B. Holtzman is a skilled New York matrimonial attorney who has been counseling and advocating for men and women on both sides of child support disputes for 30 years. Ellen can help you to address and resolve all facets of this sensitive and sometimes complex issue. She notes that there are many circumstances where a rigid application of the formula may not produce a fair result. For example, incomes can vary from year to year. Bonus amounts may vary and so will overtime earnings. Ellen Holtzman says, "Nearly 90 percent of our divorce cases which involve child support are negotiated because it is far better for the parties to resolve child support issues between themselves. The court doesn't know your full life situation as well as you do, and a carefully negotiated child support agreement benefits the children as well as both parents." Ellen and her caring associates have helped many hundreds of clients with temporary and permanent child support arrangements. While most child support disputes are resolved before trial, sometimes an out-of-court settlement is not possible. Ellen is a gifted and seasoned trial lawyer who has tried many cases of child support. If you are faced with a bad faith offer, Ellen is well prepared to try your child support case.

The New York Child Support Standards Act, or CSSA

The New York Child Support Standards Act is intended to fairly distribute the cost of raising the children between the parents. No matter which county you live in -- whether it's Rockland, Westchester, Orange, Putnam or New York County (Manhattan) -- the courts (Family Court or Supreme) will follow the same formula to set child support. The court first totals the income of both parties from all sources, and then makes certain deductions in accordance with the law. Nanuet-based child support attorney Ellen Holtzman says, "The amount of child support being paid for a child or children of a prior relationship or marriage will also be deducted, as will FICA and any municipal taxes being paid to New York City or Yonkers. But it's important to remember that every case is different, and the court will consider many factors and details in its final determination of the amount of child support."

Factors Examined in Determining Child Support

The court will consider many factors in determining the amount of child support. The factors are outlined in New York's Domestic Relations Law and are excerpted and slightly paraphrased here, as follows: 1) the financial resources of the custodial and non-custodial parent, and those of the Child; 2) the physical and emotional health of the Child and their special needs and aptitudes; 3) the standard of living the Child would have enjoyed had the marriage or household not been dissolved; 4) the tax consequences to the parties; 5) the non-monetary contributions that the parents will make toward the care and well-being of the Child; 6) the educational needs of either parent; 7) a determination that the gross income of one parent is substantially less than the other parent's gross income; 8) the needs of the children of the non-custodial parent who are not subject to the action and whose support has not been deducted from income and the financial resources of any person obligated to support such children (this factor applies only if the resources available to support such children are less than the resources available to support the Child in the present action); 9) extraordinary expenses incurred by the non custodial parent in exercising visitation; 10) and lastly, any other factors that the court determines are relevant in each case. The court always explains the factors it considered in its written decision. Ms. Holtzman observes that every child support case is unique, and that some factors may be considered more significant than others in deciding the allocation of child support, depending on the situation. "Of course, if the parents and their attorneys can reach an agreement as to child support, they can put their proposal before the judge," she notes.

How the Courts Calculate Support

The needs of the children are paramount. The judge will usually order temporary support to be paid while the case is ongoing. Whether your New York child support case is being considered in Family Court or Supreme Court, the same mathematical formula found in the Child Support Standards Act is used to determine the amount. Basic child support is intended to cover food, clothing, and housing costs. The court applies the statutory percentages based on the number of children in determining child support, as follows:

  • One child: 17 percent
  • Two children: 25 percent
  • Three children: 29 percent
  • Four children: 31 percent
  • Five or more children: 35 percent or more

Basic child support is calculated in proportion to each party's income. In cases where one parent is the custodial parent and the other is the non-custodial parent, both parties share responsibility for the support of the child. In these cases, the non-custodial parent pays child support to the custodial parent. In cases where the parents have a shared physical custody arrangement, the more financially well-off parent (the courts refer to him or her as the "monied" parent) must still pay child support. Ms. Holtzman says that if the parents can agree on an acceptable child support amount before they appear before the judge and explain the reasons for the deviation from the formula, the judge will consider that proposal. An experienced family law attorney can help you prepare an alternate plan that will comport with the requirements of CSSA.

Beyond Basic Child Support

When you meet with Ellen Holtzman to discuss your concerns about child support, she will explain the scope of child support, including basic child support, mandatory add-ons, and discretionary add-ons. Briefly, the court requires that any unreimbursed health care costs be paid in proportion to income. Also, if the custodial parent is working or interviewing for work or attending school with a view to pursuing a career, child care expenses must also be paid. Ellen notes that for children of child care age, summer camp is often considered a substitute for child care. She adds that unlike mandatory add-ons, discretionary add-ons such as extra-curricular, post-secondary, or special education costs, do not have to be proportionate to income, even though it often does work out that way. There are many situations and circumstances in which the interests of both parties and the children are advanced when they can propose a customized agreement to the court. However, all deviations from the standard formula must always be explained to the court.

Modifications of the Child Support Order

Parents' incomes can change after a divorce is finalized, and a sudden decrease in income through no fault of his or her own may make it impossible for the non-custodial parent to continue to meet child support obligations. Ellen says, "However, if the job loss is the paying parent's own fault - for example, a doctor decides to give up his or her practice and become a basket weaver - he or she still has to pay the full amount of child support." If your income changes, attorney Ellen Holtzman can help prepare the required application, including a full explanation of the change being requested. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the court will hold a hearing to rule on your petition, where your attorney will argue your interests before the judge rules. The parties may request a modification every three years for any reason or any time if a party's income goes down 15 percent or more or if the other party's income goes up 15 percent of more. According to Ellen, it is common for child support amounts to be modified from time to time, even when there are no dramatic changes in circumstances. "Adjustments may be needed to keep up with increases in the cost of living or changes in the children's needs," she says.

Get Answers to Your Questions About Child Support

If you have questions about child support issues or want to know more about how an experienced child support lawyer can help with the results you are able to achieve, you can reach the Law Office of Ellen B. Holtzman at 845-627-0127.