As of January 31, 2016, the “income cap” for maintenance is $178,000.
The presumptive final maintenance formula on the first $175,000 of the payor’s annual income only just came into effect 6 days before that, for cases filed on or after January 25, 2016 (New York’s Laws of 2015, chapter 269 (D.R.L. §236[B][b]). For temporary maintenance, the $175,000 income cap under D.R.L. §236(B)(5-a)(b)(4) became effective for cases filed after October 24, 2015.
The Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) to the $175,000 income cap is to be made every two years:
“[B]eginning January thirty-first, two thousand sixteen and every two years thereafter, the income cap amount shall increase by the sum of the average annual percentage changes in the consumer price index for all urban consumers (CPIU) as published by the United States department of labor bureau of labor statistics for the prior two years multiplied by the then income cap and then rounded to the nearest one thousand dollars. The office of court administration shall determine and publish the income cap.”
However, the income cap for child support purposes is still the $141,000 that has been in place since January 31, 2014.
Why? Because under New York’s Laws of 2015, chapter 347, Social Services Law §111-i was amended to change the COLA date from January 31st to March 1st. The child support cap will remain $141,000 until March 1, 2016.
The COLA calculations are based upon the changes in the consumer price index for all urban consumers (CPI-U) as published by the United States Department of Labor. Generally, CPI tables may be found at http://www.bls.gov/cpi/cpi_dr.htm#2015.
The calculations for the change in the maintenance income cap compared the CPI-U for December, 2015 (the CPI-U for January, 2016 will not be released until February 19, 2016) to that of December, 2013.
It appears that OCA uses Table 1 of those reports. For December, 2015 the CPI-U index was 236.525; for December, 2013 the CPI-U index was 233.049.
Personally, I find it a lot easier just to compare those two numbers: 236.525 divided by 233.049 equals 1.01491…; or an increase of 1.491…%. Multiplying that percentage times the “old” $175,000 maintenance income cap equals $177,610.18. That is to be rounded to $178,000 (the nearest thousand dollars). I am not sure how OCA actually determines “the sum of the average annual percentage changes” in the CPI-U for the prior two years.
Also, for agreements, I like to use Table 10, and not Table 1 of the CPI reports. Table 10 is the “Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U): Selected areas, all items index, using the index for New York-Northern N.J.-Long Island, NY-NJ-CT-PA.” Had that index been used, the comparison would have been 259.941 to 257.284, a change of 1.0327…%. That would have changed the $175,000 maintenance cap to $177,000, rounded from $176,807.24.
For the March 1st child support calculations, the percentage will be based on the January, 2016 compared to January, 2014 CPI-U indices; not the same exact percentage change as was made to the maintenance income cap. Moreover, with the date shift, the new child support calculation eliminates consideration of the change in the CPI-U between December, 2013 and January, 2014.
However, using the December indices, we can expect that the $141,000 cap will be changed to $143,000 (rounded from $143,103.06).
I would think it would be a truer calculation to always compare the index for the month before the effective dates of the starting amount in the statutes ($175,000 for maintenance; $141,000 for child support) to the index for the month before each change date. This would eliminate the compounded effect of basing each new calculation on the prior rounded income cap.
By Administrative Order A/O/0004/16, New and Revised Forms for Use in Matrimonial Actions in Supreme Court were adopted effective January 25, 2016. These form revisions were required as a result of the new Maintenance Guidelines Law and the law as to treatment of maintenance in child support calculations.
The new Notice of Guideline Maintenance form may be found here. The new Maintenance Guidelines Worksheet form UD-8(2) may be found here. The new child support Annual Income Worksheet form UD-8(1) may be found here. The new Child Support Worksheet form UD-8(3) may be found here.
It can be expected that at least some of these brand new forms will have to be replaced effective March 1st when the child support income cap will be changed.
By amending the laws to have the same dates used for making the CPI-U adjustments to both the maintenance and child support caps, the extra work of generating new forms would be eliminated.