The Child Support Standards Act (CSSA) applies to cases of shared custody, such that the court cannot bypass the three-step statutory formula set forth in the CSSA. In those shared custody cases where the statutory formula yields a result that is unjust or inappropriate, the trial court may resort to the "paragraph (f)" factors and order payment of an amount that is just and appropriate. (DRL 240[1-b][f]) In determining a child support obligation in a shared custody case, the Court of Appeals in Bast v Rossoff, has explicitly rejected the use of the "proportional offset formula," whereby each parent's pro rata share of the basic child support obligation was multiplied by the percentage of time the child spent with the other parent, with the two resulting amounts offset against each other and the "net" paid to the parent with the lower amount. The Court of Appeals has held that the trial court should not use the proportional offset formula, but rather, determine, for purposes of the CSSA, which parent has physical custody of the child for the majority of the time and then engage in the precisely articulated, three-step method outlined in the CSSA, after which the noncustodial parent must pay its pro rata share of the basic child support obligation unless the court finds that the amount derived would be unjust or inappropriate. The Third Department in Baraby v Baraby, elaborated on the Court of Appeals decision stating that in cases where the parents' custodial arrangement splits the children's physical custody so that neither can be said to have physical custody of the children for a majority of the time, the parent having the greater pro rata share of the child support obligation, determined after application of the three-step statutory formula of the CSSA, should be identified as the noncustodial parent for the purpose of support, regardless of the labels employed by the parties.
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