By: Erin Hollenkamp
In most states, child support calculations are based on the income of the supporting parent - that is, how much child support a parent pays depends on how much money he or she makes. And, in many divorce cases, such calculations are fairly straightforward.
In the case of Mariana D v. Frank D, though, child support calculations were a little less obvious. And the ruling of a New York family court judge means that, at least for now, student loans and grants cannot be counted as part of gross income when calculating a parent's child support obligation.
Mr. and Mrs. D divorced in 2000, according to Law.com, when their son was six years old. Since then, Mr. D has reportedly enrolled in dentistry school and remarried a fellow full-time student. Because he takes classes full-time, Mr. D apparently does not work an outside job, but receives approximately $30,000 annually in grants and student loans.
Last year, sources indicate, Mrs. D filed a motion for modification of child support. Her request, it seems, was to have her ex-husband's child support payments calculated based on the "income" he received in the form of educational grants and loans.
According to Mrs. D's calculations, Mr. D used $2,416 each month to cover living expenses. Based on that figure, Mr. D would owe his ex-wife $351 per month in child support under New York divorce law. Under the original decision in the D's divorce case, Mr. D paid only $50 dollars each month.
Sources indicate that Mr. D's divorce lawyer argued on his behalf that he couldn't afford a $301 monthly increase in child support, based on his current situation as a student. Evidently, the judge hearing the case agreed.
Interestingly, New York's Child Support Standards Act has no provision for "income" in the form of financial aid for students. And it seems no similar case has been brought before a New York court in the past. So the judge apparently turned to decisions in similar cases from Kentucky, California, Tennessee and Wisconsin to help him reach a decision.
The ruling seems logical, partly because, according to Mr. D's divorce attorney, Mr. D is already $250,000 in debt for his education and doesn't have much money to spare, and partly because, at the time of the motion, he was in the first semester of his last year of school.
Presumably, Mr. D will have a reasonably lucrative job after he graduates, and will then be able to afford larger monthly child support payments.