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NYC Child Support Lawyers

New York Child Support Lawyers

The majority of child support cases are handled in a New York Family Court. According to the New York City Bar, in child support matters, a judge and an attorney for one or both parents is present in court. In some circumsntaces, a hearing examiner hears the case and renders a decision instead of a judge. matters involving children whose families are on public assistance are heard in a family court located in Manhattan. After all of the evidence is heard by a judge or examiner and the proper calculations have been completed, a decision is given as to who pays child support, who receives the support payment and how much will be paid.  A child support hearing that comes after a divorce might be heard in the Supreme Court.

Who’s Responsible for Child Support?

Often, parents think  that failing to maintain contact with the child relieves them of the obligation to pay child support. On the contrary, even if a parent does not talk to or see their children, support is still their obligation. The custodial parent retains the right to file a motion for child support with the help of a lawyer according to the New York State DCSE. Parents who don’t have a job, those who are incarcerated and those who are disabled are still obligated to pay support. In situations where the absent parent is behind bars or they can prove a minimal income, the support payment is adjusted to a state minimum. Sometimes, the custodial parent may be asked to prove that the absent parent is the biological parent of the child. The absent parent can ask for such proof.

New York Child Support Guidelines

For years, the manner in which child support was determined varied greatly.  Family Support Act of 1988 consolidated and standardized the process. The federal government passed an act to establish a more concise and uniform process to custody proceedings. Three methods are employed to calculate the amount of child support required monthly.

Percentage of Income 

The non-custodial parent’s income is added up.  Then, a fixed amount is given to the other parent for child support. Many states use this method for its child support matters.

Income Shares

At times, the court considers the income from both parents to determine how much of their income must go towards care for their children. That number is divided equally between the parents and the non-custodial parent pays half of the decided amount. This model operates on the basis of the standard that a child must get the same proportion of parental income that they would have gotten if the parents had stayed together. Because of this, the guidelines capture both parents’ incomes in the calculation and the percentages stay the same irrespective of the parents’ level of income.

Melson Formula 

This builds on top of the income shares method. Both parents pay equally, but it’ll factor in cost of living increases over the years. The formula then calculates the total remaining combined parental income, the noncustodial parent’s percentage, and applies the noncustodial parent’s percentage to a standard =

Percentage of Income for Child Support Payments

The guidelines in NY Child Support consist of fixed percentages of gross income.  They only vary  based on the number of children involved:

Pay 17% of parent’s income combined for 1 child;

Pay 25% of parent’s income combined for 2 children;

Pay 29% of parent’s income combined for 3 children;

Pay 31% of parent’s income combined for 4 children; and

Pay a minimum of 35% of parent’s income combined if there are 5 children or more.

Considerations and Determinations

Although the methods for figuring out the child support payments address one of the previous 3 methods, other factors can come into under the microscope. For instance, the custodial parent may make more money than the non-custodial parent.  The following considerations become critical in a child support matter:

Child support from other non-custodial parent

Health insurance expenses

Day care and shared expenses

Time spent and joint custody arrangements that are in place

Child Support: Step-Parents

If the absent parent is a step-parent, then support can only be ordered if the amount would help to prevent the child from receiving any kind of public assistance. As soon as a marriage is dissolved, then the step-parent typically has no financial responsibility for the child. An Order of Filiation can be entered by either parent.  This order establishes the legal biological relationship to a child because there are some issues where one person whose name is listed on the birth certificate and another person is the biological parent. If the father of a child signed an Acknowledgment of Paternity when the child was born, then the order isn’t required. Even in cases where the parent signed the birth certificate, there is no legal claim unless the acknowledgment is signed or the order proves that the child is indeed the absent parent’s. If the parent, which is the father in most matters, objects to the results of the order, then a DNA test is typically ordered to prove paternity.

After Your Case 

When all of the paperwork is processed and a designated amount has been assigned, there will be a review of how the custodial parent wants to receive the payments and when the payments will be made. Generally, payments are ordered to be made so that they follow the pay schedule of the absent payor. A custodial parent who has a child on PA usually has to sign over rights to get child support in order to get the public assistance.

A seasoned New York child support lawyer will be there with you from start to finish with your case against the other parent. In the wake of a divorce, it could be a smooth process or as contentious as the divorce was itself. You should be prepared with an experienced attorney who knows how to navigate family law.

What are the best interests of the child?

There are any number of issues that may cause you to wind up in a courtroom for proceedings related to your child, especially if you’re currently navigating a divorce. In a perfect world, you and your ex would move on in life in a perpetually peaceful fashion, providing for your children’s needs and working together to resolve any problems that arise. In reality, parents often disagree about child-related issues. When the parents in question are trying to settle a divorce or have recently finalized a divorce, they may request the court’s intervention if they’re unable to achieve a solution. In every custody or child support case, the court has the best interest of the child in mind.

How does the court determine what’s best?

Child custody refers to numerous legal issues, such as where a child lives and who has the authority to make decisions on his or her behalf. Such proceedings may also involve issues regarding child support or visitation rights. When a set of parents cannot achieve an agreement on a particular issue, it’s left to a family court judge to decide what is best for the child in question. Such issues are often complex, and the court typically takes numerous factors under consideration before handing down a ruling.

The age of a child is a primary consideration when a family court judge is determining what is best for him or her in a specific circumstance. Additional factors depend on what exact issue is being litigated, such as physical or legal custody, child support or visitation rights. Every state governs such matters under its own guidelines. The court may review various issues, such as income of both parents, as well as each parent’s physical and mental health status. When determining what is best for a particular child regarding physical custody, the court analyzes the relationship the child has with each parent, in particular, whether he or she spent a majority of time with one parent or the other before they filed for divorce.

If one parent accuses the other of being unfit

To protect the best interest of the child, the court considers safety a top priority. If a concerned parent tells the court that he or she believes the other parent places the child at risk, the judge overseeing the case may order an investigation. The parent bringing an accusation before the court must provide evidence to prove that the other parent is unfit and that it would be in the best interst of the child to have supervised visits only or to not have visitation at all.

There is a big difference between opposing styles of parenting and behavior that places at child at risk for physical or emotional harm. For instance, if one parent is upset that the other is too lenient, perhaps, not instituting household rules about bed times or how much time a child may spend on social media, it doesn’t necessarily mean the court will determine that such issues make the parent in question unfit for custody or visitation. On the other hand, if a concerned parent has evidence that the other parent is addicted to drugs or alcohol or has a gambling problem, it may greatly influence the court’s decision regarding the best interest of the child.

Resolving issues regarding the best interest of the child

It’s not uncommon for parents to disagree about child-related issues, especially after divorce. It takes time to learn to co-parent in an amicable manner. In many cases, if parents are willing to peacefully discuss their disagreements in order to search for common ground and achieve a compromise, they may be able to resolve minor issues on their own. Divorce definitely prompts changes in a family’s day-to-day life, but if parents keep their child’s best interests in mind, they can develop a co-parenting plan that provides for their child’s needs and helps him or her move on in life without adding unnecessary stress to the situation.

However, if a parent feels unable to resolve a specific issue, particularly a legal matter, he or she may seek the court’s intervention to protect the best interest of the child. If a co-parent is refusing to cooperate or has disregarded an existing court order, the court can enforce the order or, if it determines cause to do so, can hold a parent in contempt. For instance, if a parent has been ordered to pay child support and payments are delinquent, the court may determine that the best interest of the child is not being served and can take legal action to rectify the situation.

Child Support
When couples with minor children divorce or end their relationship, child support will always be one of the essential matters they must address. Child support is money paid by a non-custodial parent to the custodial parent to help provide financial support for their child or children. When minor children are involved, it’s usually in the children’s best interests for both parents to mutually agree on support, but sometimes they don’t. Let’s take a closer look at child support:

It’s Not About Marriage

Each state has its divorce process, including filing any petitions or requests for child support and then paying for it once a court order is issued. However, child support isn’t about marriage. If you had children while together, you’ll have to address their support at some point, including who will be the custodial parent.

Custodial vs. Non-custodial Parent

When couples with children split up, one parent will usually serve as the custodial parent. In contrast, the other serves as the non-custodial parent. However, child custody matters, whether a couple was married or cohabitating, are frequently complicated. Generally, state laws say the following when it comes to child custody:

  • A custodial parent is the parent who has primary custody of the couple’s child or children most of the time.

The above is simple enough to understand when it comes to which parent has primary custody. Still, the matter is more complex when it comes to non-custodial parents:

  • In most states, a non-custodial parent is the parent who doesn’t have physical custody of a child, though they may have legal custody.
  • Non-custodial parents frequently choose to remain very involved in the lives of their children.
  • Former couples may decide on their own, outside a court’s order as to custody, to co-parent their children.
  • Historically, courts have typically considered fathers to be the non-custodial parents and thus order them to pay child support. These days, though, many mothers find themselves paying child support.

Child Support’s Goal

The state has an interest in ensuring children are supported whenever couples decide to end their relationship. In general, child support’s goal is to make sure parents equitably split the financial responsibility that comes from raising children. The basic rule for child support is this:

  • A non-custodial parent will make regular payments to the custodial parent to help cover the child’s “basic needs.”

Determining an Amount

The matter of just how much the non-custodial parent will pay to the custodial parent is frequently a contentious matter regarding child support. Here are some points to keep in mind:

  • The amount of child support awarded by a court is almost always based on both parents’ income.
  • Each state also has its guidelines used by its courts to calculate child support payments.
  • If you must pay child support and your finances change for the worse in the future, you may need to go back to court and file for a modification to your payments. Until you do that, you’re usually still responsible for continuing your support payments at their court-ordered level.

Child Support Uses

Child support is supposed to be used only for the care of the children involved. For example, if you divorce and your former spouse is paying child support, the funds you receive aren’t supposed to be used for your expenses. Child support pays for a child’s living standards and their basic needs, such as:

  • Shelter, including the rent or mortgage and utilities of your home as long as it’s your child’s primary home.
  • Any food, furnishing, clothing, books, and toys your child uses.
  • Your child’s medical expenses, including doctor’s visits, medications, and eyeglasses. Health insurance could be part of child support if one parent elects to keep the child under their coverage.
  • Most school expenses, such as books, clothing, field trips, and supplies.
  • Your child’s extracurricular activities are also included in support payments. Sports activities and summer camps are allowable child support expenses.

Sometimes, custodial parents find themselves accused by non-custodial parents of misusing child support payments. Take care never to spend your child’s support payments on items or activities not related to them. For example, don’t spend child support money on your clothing, beauty care, or other items.

Consult an Attorney

As noted previously, child support can frequently become a bone of contention between couples who are either divorcing or, if they’re not married, going their separate ways. Always consult an experienced divorce or family law attorney if you’re in a relationship, thinking of ending it, and children are involved.

Child Support Arrears

When child support payments are past due, they are referred to as child support arrears. One of the most frequently troublesome issues following a divorce, past due child support does not disappear. In fact, it can continue to grow over time through interest, court fees, and even the costs associated with paternity testing. Whether you are the custodial parent who is trying to recover the child support payments owed to you and your kids or the noncustodial parent who is behind on making your payments, here is what you should keep in mind regarding this issue.

Calculating Child Support Arrears
When calculating the arrears balance, the amount arrived at will be the difference between what has already been paid by the noncustodial parent and what they still owe. However, if you are the noncustodial parent, it is vital to keep in mind that even if you are successful in having the court modify the current child support order so that your monthly payments will be lowered, this will not be retroactive. As a result, it will not change your arrears balance, meaning you still owe the full amount of your past due payments.

Back Child Support
In addition to the arrears balance, child support payments known as back child support can also factor into how much may be owed. In these situations, this refers to money owed by a noncustodial parent for the time between the couple’s separation and the date of the final court hearing for the child support order. To arrive at this amount, the court will multiply the number of months before the child support order was finalized by the monthly amount of payments ordered by the court. Needless to say, this will likely run into many thousands of dollars. Whether you are the custodial or noncustodial parent in these matters, don’t be passive regarding this matter. Instead, hire an experienced divorce attorney who will aggressively pursue the best course of action for you each step of the way.

Assigned and Unassigned Arrears
If arrears are assigned, this means the custodial parent has received public financial assistance from the state. As a result, the state will then have the authority to keep any child support payments collected to offset the costs of the public assistance that was provided earlier. If arrears are unassigned, this means the state has no claim on any money collected, and thus will simply pass it on to the custodial parent.

Collecting Child Support Arrears
If you are the custodial parent and are determined to see the child support payments owed to you and your kids collected from your ex-spouse, you and your divorce attorney will have numerous options at your disposal. The most common methods used in these proceedings include wage garnishment, withholding tax refunds, revoking professional licensing and/or driver’s license, and in severe cases petitioning the court to hold the noncustodial parent in contempt of court for failure to make their payments. Should the noncustodial parent be determined to not make their payments and thus has moved out-of-state or is in hiding, don’t think you will be able to resolve this matter on your own. Instead, turn to a knowledgeable divorce attorney who has the skills and resources available to get you and your children the money you need to maintain your standard of living.

Making Arrears Easier to Pay
In some circumstances, the noncustodial parent may be able to work with their ex-spouse and the court to make it easier to pay their arrears balance. For example, a petition may be made to the court to waive interest that has accumulated on overdue payments. However, if this is done, the noncustodial parent often has to agree to a formal payment plan, meaning all overdue payments must be made by a specific date. In other situations, a petition may be made to modify the existing child support order, which could lower future payments but not existing ones still owed. Finally, there may have been mistakes made when calculating how much is actually owed. If you believe this to be the case, contact your divorce attorney immediately to resolve this matter.

Penalties for Unpaid Arrears
As for penalties you could face for failing to pay child support arrears, these range from seizure of your passport and assets such as cars and boats to freezing your bank account. In extreme cases, you could be jailed if the amount is extremely high or if you have demonstrated a lack of willingness to fulfill your legal obligation.

Since there are many complexities involved in paying and collecting overdue child support, emotions can run high. To ensure common sense and excellent judgement are used in your situation, schedule a consultation with a well-known and trusted divorce attorney who will protect your rights throughout the process.


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