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What is Child Support and When does it Occur in New York?

Child support, otherwise known as Child Maintenance, is a periodic payment usually made by a non-custodial parent who doesn't have physical custody of a child for the financial benefit of the ward.

When does it Occur?

This payment is usually made to a custodial parent, guardian, or state after a marriage has ended. It is usually a major part of divorce or marriage dissolution proceedings to cover for the basic and essential needs of a child despite the separation of the primary caregivers.

In the US state of New York, Child support orders are issued by the family court according to the New York Child Support Guidelines, otherwise known as the Child support Standards Act (CSSA). The guidelines are also found within the New York Domestic Relations Law (DOM) and Article 4 of the New York Family Court Act. The Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSS) oversees child support court orders in New York.

According to the state laws, child support is an ongoing payment because parents must financially support their children till the age of 21 unless the child is in Military service or married.

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What Does Child Support Cover in New York?

Child support payments primarily ensure that a child's necessities are met., and according to the Newyork Child support guidelines, it covers "basic needs" and certain "Add ons."

These payments in New York are generally designed to cover;

  • Food and drink
  • Housing costs
  • Clothing
  • Education
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Child care
  • Medical and dental care, including health insurance and other expenses that supports the basic quality of life and needed for personal and academic development.

The Domestic Relation Law requires that certain mandatory add-ons such as unreimbursed medical expenses and daycare be included in all child support orders. Child support doesn't cover any "extra or luxury" expenses such as college tuition or Vehicle insurance.

What is the Average Child Support Payment in New York?

The average child support payment in New York is largely dependent on the parent's combined incomes. Following the CSSA guidelines, basic child support is a set dollar amount calculated in 2 ways;

  • Based on the first $148,000.00 cap of combined parental income, and
  • Based on the combined parental income over $148,000 to a combined income set by the court.

Largely, there is no specific amount paid as child support across the state, and it depends largely on the limits set by the state laws and the parents' combined income.

How is Child support calculated?

In the state, a formula is used to calculate child support payments. First, the actual income is determined by deducting regular expenses like taxes, business expenses, alimony, etc.

The actual income is multiplied by a percentage based on how many children require support according to a court order. The percentages for child support calculations are:

  • 17% for one child
  • 25% for two children
  • 29% for three children
  • 31% for four children
  • 35% for five or more children

The non-custodial parent pays the same percentage of Child support payment as the percentage of annual combined total income contributed annually. Hence, if the non-custodial parent is responsible for 60% of the combined total income, he/she will be expected to pay 60% of the child support payment.

For individuals with lower income, after calculations are made, if the deduction of child support will bring the non--custodial parent's income below the federal poverty guideline, a monthly payment of $25 is ordered.

If the deductions would bring the income below the state's self-support reserve of $16,862.00 annual income, a monthly payment of $50 is ordered by the court.

NB: There are occasions when the court may deviate from the guidelines depending on the circumstances surrounding the case, such as tax consideration, health-related issues, tax, and the child's special needs if there are any.

How do I apply for Child Support in New York?

An individual seeking to apply for child support has to qualify to apply. Anyone who has custody of the child or whoever a child lives with most of the time can get child support for the child: this includes custodial parents and guardians. If the child gets public assistance, the Department of Social Services could file for child support payment against the non-custodial parent, or both parents if the child is in foster care.

One of the most important things to do in filing for child support is to establish paternity.

To establish paternity:

  • Both parents may sign an Acknowledgement of paternity form when the child is born or at the local child support office, or
  • The family court signs an Order of filiation after a paternity case, acknowledging an individual as the father and also giving him custody rights to the child.

After the Order of filiation is signed, the Child support case may begin.

Filing the petition

  • If the custodial parent can afford a family court lawyer, the lawyer may do this. If not, the parent may go to the family court in the county or borough where the child resides and file a petition with the help of the Support Collection Unit (SCU).
  • The petition should contain parents' full names and addresses, child or children's full names, ages, and addresses. It should also state that the non-custodial parent is evading child-support obligations and ask for an order to be made to rectify the situation.
  • The petitioner may also acquire a child support petition form at the Family Court Clerk's office, the Support Collection Unit (SCU), local Department of Social Services, or at some Probation Departments across the state.
  • Some additional information may be required, such as; Parents' dates of birth, home, and work telephone numbers, employer information, and the names of attorneys, if any.
  • The family court will require the petitioner to complete a financial disclosure affidavit or statement of net worth with information about monthly income and expenses, debts owed, properties or assets owned, health insurance information, etc.
  • The petitioner will also be asked to provide the previous year's federal and state income tax returns.
  • The respondent, who is the non-custodial parent, will also fill similar forms and provide the relevant financial information and documents.
  • After the petition is filed, a summons or notice of hearing is sent to both parents.

How do I Get Out of Paying Child Support in New York?

Parents of a child receiving child support may contest court-ordered child support payments by filing a modification petition. There are three reasons recognized by the New York Courts that may warrant a modification petition;

  • a substantial change in circumstances, such as incarceration; however, this situation must not be related to defaulting in child support payments. In other cases, the judge may also examine the circumstances to see if it is enough to warrant a modification.
  • Three years have passed since the order was made or modified.
  • There's been a change of not less than a 15% change in either parent's gross income since the last order was made.

Reasons 2 and 3 only apply to child support orders made on or after October 13, 2010.

If there are any changes in income or circumstances that will affect child support payments, it is advisable to go back to the court where the initial support hearing was heard immediately to file the petition. After the petition is filed in the family court, a hearing date will be chosen, and the custodial parent notified.

NB: the petitioner, in this case, must not reduce or default in child support payments until the modification is passed.

What is Back Child Support in New York?

Back Child support is otherwise known as Retroactive child support or Child support arrearage. It is the amount of child support payment owed to the custodial parent.

In New York, once a child support order has been made in a family court or via written agreement, the non-custodial parent is under a legal obligation to pay a certain amount until the child is emancipated. The Child Support payments are said to be in arrears when these payments are missed.

Under the Domestic Relations Law, an award of final child support is retroactive to the date that it was first requested, that is, the date the summons and petition containing the demand for child support were served.

How do I Get Back Child Support Paid in New York?

When a non-custodial parent fails to pay child support, he or she is subject to enforcement measures to collect child support payments per Federal and New York child support laws. These measures are enforced through the Court, Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE), or the Support Collection Unit (SCU), and they include:

  • Income execution
  • Unemployment insurance intercept
  • Income tax refund offset
  • Submissions to credit bureaus
  • Lottery winnings intercept
  • Property execution
  • Driver's license suspension
  • Suspension of state-issued professional, business or occupational licenses
  • United States Passport denial (new applications or renewals)
  • Lien filing
  • Tax referrals
  • Court-ordered probation or jail sentences

The custodial parent could also file a Child support violation or enforcement petition in the Family court where the court will decide if the violation was willful or non-willful. This means the court will establish if the violation was due to the inability to pay. If the hearing favors the custodial parent or petitioner, a money judgment will be prepared and awarded. It will list the amount of unpaid child support payments and order the non-custodial parent to pay up.

In New York, provided there is a standing Child Support Order, the courts will help collect the money owed.

Is there a New York Statute of Limitation on Child Support?

In New York, there is a statute of limitations on child support for 20 years. This means, per state laws, parents in New York are allowed to collect retroactive child support for 20 years from the first day on non-payment or default.

Custodial parents should seek enforcement of unpaid child support quickly. If a parent doesn't receive compensation within the 20-year limit, the defaulting parent will no longer be required to make any compensation.

Finally, the child support payment by a non-custodial payment is expected to end when the child is 21.

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