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New York Child Support

UPDATED: June 19, 2018

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New York child support may be ordered by courts as a result of divorce or when one parent is non-custodial, which means that the other parent provides the primary residence for the child. These court orders are legally binding and failure to comply and pay as required can have serious consequences.

Obtaining Child Support in New York

To obtain child support in New York, the custodial parent will need an order of support. When two parties divorce and children are involved, the order of support may be issued as part of the divorce proceedings. The parents may either come to an agreement on support or the judge will determine the appropriate amount. In either case, there are state guidelines that dictate a certain support amount and that are presumed to apply unless there is a compelling reason that deviation from the guidelines is appropriate.

A child support order may also be obtained separately from a divorce proceeding in New York. For instance, a separate court motion may be filed to petition for support, or a motion may be filed to both determine paternity and order support. When parents need to obtain a support order or need assistance in proving paternity, New York provides assistance through their Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program. The appropriate CSE office where parents may go to find help can be found using the Division of Child Support Enforcement website.     

New York's CSE program provides a number of services in addition to assisting parents in obtaining orders of support and in enforcing those orders. They can also help to locate missing parents and prove paternity. They don't act as legal counsel for parents seeking support, however, and don't provide help with divorce or legal advice. Parents who wish to protect their own interests or who are involved in more complex support cases should consider speaking with an attorney specializing in family law.

Calculating New York Child Support

Like all states, New York has developed uniform state guidelines used to determine the amount of support a non-custodial parent will pay. The guidelines set the required support amount equal to a set percentage of the paying parent's income as determined by the number of children. For instance, a parent paying support for one child will pay 17 percent of his income. For two, three, four and five children respectively, the parent will pay 25 percent, 29 percent, 31 percent and 35 percent or more.

The non-custodial parent's adjusted gross income is the amount used to set the support obligation. His adjusted gross income is calculated by adding up money earned from all sources and subtracting for Medicare, Yonkers Tax/New York City Tax, social security and other relevant tax obligations. Subtractions are also made if the non-custodial parent is already paying child or spousal support from a previous court action.

If the parent earns more than $130,000, then the court may either use the same percentage factors or may consider other factors in determining what is in the best interests of the child. The non-custodial parent may also be obligated to pay a share of the child's medical and healthcare expenses. Finally, if he spends some time with the child in his care, then the child support may be reduced.

Child Support Enforcement

In New York, both current and overdue child support payments may be collected through Income Execution (IEX) and/or Unemployment Insurance Benefits (UIB) Intercept. Essentially, IEX involves taking money directly out of the paying parent's check before he receives it from his employer, and UIB involves automatically deducting the child support due from unemployment insurance benefits.

When parents don't pay as required and support becomes overdue, New York has an Office of Support Enforcement that will help the custodial parent to collect. A number of different tactics are used to try to recover overdue payments, including intercepting lottery ticket winnings or tax refunds. The delinquent support obligation will also be reported to the credit bureau, and the parent's driver's license may be suspended. It is even possible for financial accounts to be seized or for a lien to be placed on the property of the non-paying parent.

Modifying a Child Support Order

CSE reviews existing support orders every two years to determine if the amount being paid is still appropriate or if a change needs to be made due to a change in the cost of living. An increase in support because of a cost-of-living change does not require going to court.

When either the custodial or non-custodial parent experiences a significant change in his/her circumstances, that parent may also petition the court to alter the support order. When appropriate, CSE will assist the parent(s) in filing this petition for change.

Getting Help

New York attempts to ensure that all children receive the support they deserve, both by establishing laws mandating support and by organizing programs to help parents to get the required support. However, parents who want to ensure that both their own legal interests and the best interests of their children are protected may benefit from the expert legal advice that can only be provided by a family attorney

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