Child Support Law
Child support guidelines are designed to ensure that parents have the resources needed to raise healthy, happy children. The Division of Child Support Enforcement is responsible for overseeing child support court orders in New York under the Child Support Standards Act. Custodial parents file a petition in family court to begin the process of collecting child support. If the child is on public assistance, the case is generally handled by the agency providing assistance.
In New York, child support orders are to be paid until the child turns 21, except in some circumstances. If the child has special needs, the court may order the noncustodial parent to continue paying support after the child turns 21. This happens in limited cases. If a child is emancipated, joins the military or gets married then payments may be terminated before the child turns 21.
Child support in New York is calculated using a formula. In general, parents are responsible for paying support based on income. A parent's income may include pensions, fellowships, annuity payments, workers' compensation benefits, unemployment, Social Security and retirement benefits, along with income from other sources.
Certain items may be deducted from income such as taxes, other child support, expenses related to running a business, alimony obligations or public assistance. Other items may be deducted from income as well depending on your circumstances.
Once income is determined, the amount is multiplied by a percentage. The percentage is different based upon how many children a parent is ordered to support. Of course, it is important to remember that support may be ordered in an amount that is greater or less than the guideline amount.
The percentages for child support calculations are as follows:
The percentage that the noncustodial parent contributes to the total combined income is the same percentage of the New York child support payment they are responsible for. For example, if the noncustodial parent contributes 40% of the total combined income per year, they are responsible for 40% of the costs of raising the child as represented by child support. The parent with physical custody of the child is presumed to be contributing their basic support amount already by providing for the child when the child is in their home.
If a basic child support obligation would bring a noncustodial parent's income to below the federal poverty guideline, then the noncustodial parent is generally ordered to pay $25 a month in child support.
If a basic child support obligation would bring a noncustodial parent's income to below the New York State Self-Support Reserve ($16,862 annual income) then the noncustodial parent is generally ordered to pay $50 per month in child support or the difference between their income and the self-support reserve, if that difference is greater than $50.
When the combined parental income exceeds the baseline amount of $148,000, child support may be calculated by using the percentages listed above, but the guidelines do not require it.
For more information about the child support amount, the federal poverty guideline amount and the self-support reserve, refer to the New York standards chart.
In addition to ordering the noncustodial parent to pay basic child support, the court can also order either parent to provide medical insurance for the child. A judge can also order parents to cover other expenses related to their children. The court can order a parent to pay:
The amounts for these expenses are in addition to the basic child support amount but are still considered part of the child support obligation. While basic support is intended to cover expenses such as shelter, food, clothing and other basic living expenses, the add-ons cover other costs often associated with raising a child.
The child support amount ordered may be different from the guideline amount. Parents may agree or the court may order a different obligation based on several factors including:
The court may consider additional factors as well. The court is obligated to set a child support amount that is appropriate given the circumstances of each case.
Child support orders will often need to be updated and modified. If one parent's income changes significantly after an order has been issued, then a parent can ask the court to adjust the child support amount. This often happens when there is a change in employment, but it can be affected by other financial changes as well. A parent requesting a modification must do so with the same court that issued the initial child support order.
Calculating child support can be complicated by many different factors. Some common issues that may add complexity include:
There may be other unique considerations in addition to these that require further evaluation to determine the appropriate amount of child support.