FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT CHILD SUPPORT

1. Who pays child support?
2. How is child support determined?
3. What if I can’t afford to pay child support?
4. What happens if I don’t pay child support?
5. Until what age do parents have to pay child support?
6. Do I need a lawyer to file for child support?
7. What if the child’s other parent lives out of state?
8. I cannot afford to hire a lawyer for my child support case. What do I do?
9. Can I contest a child support order?
10. Will my child support case go to court?

1. Who pays child support?

In situations where one parent has custody of his or her child, that parent, referred to as the custodial parent, can file a petition in Family Court seeking child support from the non-custodial parent. Child support is money that is generally paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent to help contribute to the costs of the child, including their needs and education.

2. How is child support determined?

In New York State, basic child support awards are determined by a fixed percentage of parental income, depending on how many children the order is requested for. The percentages used in NY are:

  • 1 child: 17%
  • 2 children: 25%
  • 3 children: 29%
  • 4 children: 31%
  • 5+ children: 35% or more

These standard percentages are multiplied by the combined parental income for earnings up to $136,000. After $136,000, the court can decide whether or not they will continue to follow these percentages.

3. What if I can't afford to pay child support?

If your income changes and you are no longer able to afford your child support payments, you can file a petition in Family Court to modify the child support order. In order to modify a child support order, however, there must have been a significant change in either parent’s circumstances, such as a change in income. You must supply proof of this change, through pay stubs, W-2, or tax returns, for instance, and submit the petition immediately after the change occurs.

4. What happens if I don't pay child support?

If you do not abide by a court-ordered child support payment schedule, you are defying an order of the court and can face serious legal penalties. Failing to pay court-mandated child support can result in consequences such as: spending time in jail, garnishing your wages, intercepting your tax refund, seizing your property, suspending your business license, etc.

5. Until what age do parents have to pay child support?

In New York State, parents are generally obligated to pay child support until the child is 21-years-old. In certain circumstances, however, the child is considered “emancipated” before age 21 and at that point the parents would no longer have to pay child support. A child may be considered emancipated if he or she is married, self-supporting, or is in the military.

6. Do I need a lawyer to file for child support?

It is not required that parents filing for child support have a lawyer. However, because filing for and obtaining child support can be a complex legal process, it is highly recommended that people seeking child support obtain legal representation. If you are in need of a child support attorney in New York State, contact a lawyer from Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. for help.

7. What if the child's other parent lives out of state?

If a parent is given legal custody of their child, but the child’s other parent resides in a state other than New York, it is still possible to secure child support payments in a New York court. You can discuss your case with a Family Court clerk or directly with a New York divorce lawyer at our firm.

8. I cannot afford to hire a lawyer for my child support case. What do I do?

If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer to represent you, keep in mind that the Family Court is not like the criminal court and cannot assign you legal representation free of charge. You do not need to have an attorney representing you, but it may be a good idea to do so. If you cannot afford a lawyer and you would like one, please don’t hesitate to contact our firm. We can discuss payment options with you.

9. Can I contest a child support order?

Yes. If you disagree with the child support order that was issued, you have the right to file an “Objection.” Our firm will be able to assist you in filing this document. This must be filed in court no later than 30 days after the finalized child support order was sent to you. Keep in mind that the other parent can make a response to your objection. The Family Court will evaluate the nature of your objection, take into consideration any comments by the other parent, and then make a decision.

10. Will my child support case go to court?

Only some child support cases go to court. If this is necessary in your case, you will have to submit various documentation to the Family Court such as records of your expenses, records of your income and other documentation such as pay stubs, utility bills, etc. After the court receives documentation from each parent, they will compare and make a decision as to what amount of child support would be appropriate for the non-custodial parent to pay.