The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the parents’ income was not properly calculated for child-support purposes:
The Child Support Standards Act (hereinafter CSSA) “sets forth a formula for calculating child support by applying a designated statutory percentage, based upon the number of children to be supported, to combined parental income up to the statutory cap that is in effect at the time of the judgment … . …
A calculation of “the basic child support obligation for the children, . . . is done by (1) determining the combined parental income and (2) multiplying the amount of combined parental income up to the statutory cap by the appropriate child support percentage” … . “[A] court has broad discretion to impute income when determining the amount of child support, and is not bound by the parties’ representations of their finances”… . The court may impute income to a party “based on the [party’s] employment history, future earning capacity, educational background” … , “resources available to the party, including ‘money, goods, or services provided by relatives and friends'” … , or “when it is shown that the marital lifestyle was such that, under the circumstances, there [is] a basis for the court to conclude that the [party’s] actual income and financial resources were greater than what he or she reported on his or her tax return[ ]” … .
Here, the Supreme Court improperly determined the parties’ income by averaging their reported earnings over the preceding four years … . Furthermore, under the circumstances of this case, where the plaintiff is employed by his family and his tax returns show substantial downward fluctuations in income, the court should have conducted an analysis as to whether to impute income to the plaintiff. Koutsouras v Mitsos-Koutsouras, 2021 NY Slip Op 05328, Second Dept 10-7-21