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Brooklyn Child Support Lawyers

In general, child support cases are heard in New York Family Court. The New York City Bar Association says that in child support matters, a judge and a lawyer for one or both parents will be present in court. Sometimes, a hearing examiner, in lieu of a judge, will hear a case and render a decision. In matters where there are children whose families are on public assistance, the case is heard in a Manhattan Family Court. As soon as all of the evidence is heard by a judge or a hearing examiner and calculations have been made, a decision as to who pays child support, who receives the support payment and how much will be paid is handed down. A child support matter that comes in the wake of a divorce might be heard in Supreme Court.

Which parent is Obligated to Pay Child Support?

Some people are of the false belief that neglecting to maintain contact with their child alleviates the obligation to pay child support. That is far from the truth. Even when a parent never speaks to or sees their children, financial support of the children remains their obligation. The custodial parent is within their rights to file a motion for child support with the assistance of a child support lawyer. According to the New York State DCSE, parents who are unemployed, behind bars and or disabled are still required to pay support. In scenarios where the absent parent is incarcerated or they can prove a minimal income, the support payment will be adjusted to a state minimum standard. In some cases, the custodial parent will be asked to demonstrate that the absent parent is indeed the biological parent of the children in question. The absent parent can also ask for such proof.

New York Child Support Guidelines

Until relatively recently, the standard by which child support was calculated varied widely. The process was finally consolidated and standardized by the Family Support Act of 1988. The federal government passed this act to establish a more concise and uniform system for child custody proceedings. There are three methods for calculating the amount of child support to be paid.

Percentage of Income

A fixed amount is given to the other parent for child support from the non-custodial parent based on their calculated income. Numerous states employ this method for their child support matters.

Income Shares

In some situation, the judge takes the income from both parents into account in determining how much of their income should go towards the maintenance of their children. That number is split evenly between the parents. The non-custodial parent pays half of the decided amount. This model functions on the premise of the standard that a child should receive the same proportion of parental income that they would have gotten if the parents had remained together. The guidelines account for both parents’ incomes in this calculation and the percentages remains the same regardless of each parent’s level of income.

The Melson Formula

The Melson Formula adds a layer to the income shares method. Both of the parents pay equally, but this also factors in cost of living increases over the years. Then, the formula calculates the total remaining combined parental income, and the noncustodial parent’s percentage, and applies the latter to a standard.

Child Support Payments based on Percentage of Income

NY Child Support guidelines consist of fixed percentages of gross income. They only vary on the basis of the number of children to be supported:

  • Parent pays 17% of parent’s income for 1 child;
  • Parent pays 25% of parent’s income for 2 children;
  • Parent pays 29% of parent’s income for 3 children;
  • Parent pays 31% of parent’s income for 4 children; and
  • Parent pays a minimum of 35% of parent’s income if there are 5 children or more.

Additional Considerations

Even with the methods for calculating child support payments, other variables can come into play. Sometimes the custodial parent makes more money than the non-custodial parent, for example. The following considerations come to light in a child support case:

  • Any child support payments from other non-custodial parent
  • Health insurance costs
  • Shared costs and fees for day care
  • Visitation time and other joint custody arrangements that are in place

Child Support Requirements for Step-Parents

Should the absent parent be a step-parent, support would only be ordered if the amount in the order would go towards preventing the child from getting any public assistance. From the moment a divorce is final, the step-parent generally has no financial responsibility for their step-child. Either parent has the right to enter an Order of Filiation. This order establishes the legal, biological relationship between parent and child. Indeed, there are some scenarios where one person’s name is listed on the birth certificate but another person is the actual, biological parent. If the father of a child signed an Acknowledgment of Paternity at the time the child was born, then such an order unnecessary. Even in scenarios where the parent signed the birth certificate, no legal claim exists unless the acknowledgment is signed or the order proves that the child is truly the biological offspring of the absent parent. Should that parent, which in most cases is the father, object to the results of the order, a DNA test is typically ordered to prove paternity.

When Your Case is Over

When all of the paperwork is completed and a designated amount of child support has been determined, a review is conducted to determine how the custodial parent wants to receive the payments and when the payments will be made. In general, payments are ordered to be made in such a way that they follow the pay schedule of the absent payor. Custodial parents who have a child on public assistance is usually ordered to sign over rights to get child support in order to get the public assistance.

A well-informed New York child support attorney by your side from start to finish with your case against the other parent is just what you need. After the ordeal of a divorce, child support matters an be a smooth process or they can be as contentious as the divorce itself might have been. Prepare yourself by retaining an experienced attorney who knows New York family law.

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