Relates to the income amounts to be utilized in issuing orders of child support and temporary spousal maintenance in supreme and family court.
Ayes (56): Addabbo, Avella, Ball, Bonacic, Boyle, Breslin, Carlucci, Diaz, Dilan, Farley, Felder, Flanagan, Gallivan, Gianaris, Gipson, Golden, Griffo, Grisanti, Hannon, Hoylman, Klein, Krueger, Lanza, Larkin, Latimer, LaValle, Libous, Little, Marcellino, Marchione, Martins, Maziarz, Montgomery, Nozzolio, O'Brien, O'Mara, Parker, Peralta, Perkins, Ranzenhofer, Ritchie, Rivera, Robach, Sampson, Sanders, Savino, Serrano, Seward, Skelos, Squadron, Stavisky, Stewart-Cousins, Tkaczyk, Valesky, Young, Zeldin
Nays (1): DeFrancisco
Excused (4): Espaillat, Hassell-Thomps, Kennedy, Smith
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the social services law, in relation to income amounts to be utilized in issuing orders of child support in supreme and family court
This is one in a series of measures being introduced at the request of the Chief Administrative Judge upon the recommendation of her Family Court Advisory and Rules Committee and the Matrimonial Practice Advisory Committee.
This measure would revise the method of calculation for the State's Child Support Standards Act.
In 2009, the Legislature enacted the Child Support Modernization Act (L. 2009, c. 343), which, for the first time in two decades, raised the combined parental income benchmark used to calculate child support under the Child Support Standards Act (Family Court Act § 413). Colloquially known as the child support "cap," the figure was raised from $80,000 to $130,000, with a built-in mechanism for indexing and adjusting the figure every two years depending upon changes in the Consumer Price Index. For combined parental incomes up to the benchmark amount, the Child Support Standards Act percentages are presumptively applied, that is, 17% of combined parental income for families with one child, 25% of combined income for families with two children, 29% for three children, 31% for four children and not less than 35% of income for five or more children. For amounts in excess of the benchmark, which has been adjusted as of January 31, 2014 to $141,000, the Supreme or Family Court considers the ten factors enumerated in section 413(1)(f) of the Family Court Act and section 240(1b)(f) of the Domestic Relations Law and determine whether application of the CSSA percentages to income in excess of that threshold would be "unjust or inappropriate." The court may adjust its determination based upon the ten factors or continue to apply the CSSA percentages or may apply a combination of both approaches. See Family Court Act § 413 (1)(c) (3); D.R.L. § 240(1-b) (c) (3).
An anomaly in the language describing the means by which the combined parental income benchmark is calculated could lead to unforeseen results that may be disproportionate to the actual rate of inflation.
Section 111-I of the Social Services Law provides that the combined parental income amount in the CSSA must be adjusted every two years 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 prior two-year period rounded to the nearest one thousand dollars." It would be more appropriate in the CSSA to utilize the "sum," rather than the "product" of the average annual percentage changes in the CPI-U.
Use of the term "product" was most likely intended to refer to the product of the combined parental income "cap" multiplied by the combined total of the changes in the CPI-U during the preceding two-year period, that is the total level of inflation during the applicable period. However, read literally, the current language might be read to require the change in the first year to be multiplied by the change in the second year. Changes in the CPI-U have been modest
for the past few years - in the 1.5 - 2.1% range - thus not causing a major disparity in the amount of the "cap." But if the CPI-U increases at a rate of 3.5% or higher in future years, significant disparities would emerge. An example for each formula will suffice.
CSSA Cap: Assuming that the annual rate of change in the CPI-U over a two-year period is 3.5%, then using the product of the changes (as under the current statute), 3.5% times 3.5%, yields 12.25%. 12.25% of $141,000, the 2014 "CSSA cap," is $17,272, which, rounded to the nearest $1,000, is $17,000. The "cap" would thus be $158,000 ($141,000 plus $17,000). In contrast, using the sum of the changes, as proposed in this measure, 3.5% plus 3.5%, yields a 7% change; 7% of $141,000 is $9,870, or $10,000 when rounded to the nearest $1,000. The new "cap" would thus be $151,000 - a significant $7,000 difference between the two methods of calculation.
This measure proposes use of the sum of the average annual percentage changes in the CPI-U for each of the two years multiplied by the existing combined parental income "cap" and then rounded to the nearest $1,000. This methodology will yield results reflecting the total amount of inflation for each two-year period and will thus be proportional to the inflation rate. Although the correct calculation has been made for the CPI-U so far, this clarification to the statute would help minimize any confusion or potential for miscalculation in future years.
This measure, which would have no fiscal impact upon the State, would take effect 90 days after it shall have become a law.
2014 Legislative History:
OCA 2014-83R Senate 6784-A (Sen. Avella) (amended and recommitted to Social Services)
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 6784--A IN SENATE March 10, 2014 ___________Introduced by Sen. AVELLA -- (at request of the Office of Court Adminis- tration) -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Social Services -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee AN ACT to amend the social services law, in relation to income amounts to be utilized in issuing orders of child support in supreme and fami- ly court THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Paragraph (b) of subdivision 2 of section 111-i of the social services law, as amended by chapter 343 of the laws of 2009, is amended to read as follows: (b) 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 subparagraph two of paragraph (c) of subdivi- sion one of section four hundred thirteen of the family court act and subparagraph two of paragraph (c) of subdivision one-b of section two hundred forty of the domestic relations law AS OF JANUARY THIRTY-FIRST, TWO THOUSAND FOURTEEN shall be one hundred
[thirty]FORTY-ONE thousand dollars; provided, however, beginning January thirty-first, two thousand [twelve]SIXTEEN and every two years thereafter, the combined parental income amount shall increase by the [product]SUM 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 PRIOR two [year period]YEARS MULTIPLIED BY THE CURRENT COMBINED PARENTAL INCOME AMOUNT AND THEN rounded to the nearest one thousand dollars. S 2. This act shall take effect on the ninetieth day after it shall have become a law.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD13712-04-4