When couples with children begin the process of divorce or separation, the question of child custody and how one will pay child support can be one of the most complicated processes they will navigate. However, the issue of child support and child custody is not specific to these instances and can be relevant to any family structure and situation. Ultimately, the final divorce order will establish all child custody and child support arrangements in the child(ren)s best interest and safety. Understanding how the state of New York approaches instances concerning child custody and child support will help ensure parents protect their child’s safety and best interests in the best way possible.

New York State and Child Support Laws

Legally, child support is the amount of money or financial support that one parent is required to pay the other parent to support their child’s upbringing. In most cases, the court determines the amount of child support an individual must pay and follows a monthly payment schedule. Typically, it is the responsibility of the non-custodial parent to pay child support to their child(ren) ‘s custodial parent. The non-custodial parent is the parent who does not hold legal custody of the child(ren) or spends less time with the child(ren) than the other parent. The custodial parent is the parent who has primary custody of the child(ren) or spends the most amount of time with them. In New York, child support funds education, healthcare, and childcare costs.

Establishing Paternity and Paying Support for Children:

Per the New York Family Law regulations, parents must pay child support for any legally theirs child. Restrictions require a qualifying child to be under 21 and not emancipated or married. One must establish paternity for the court to require a parent to pay child support. A parent or guardian can establish paternity on the grounds of biological relation through a paternity test or other legal means such as adoption. If a parent has not proven paternity before setting child support, the court will require authentication of paternity before continuing the process. In New York, one can establish paternity by filing one of the following documents with the court: an Acknowledgement of Paternity or an Order of Filiation. Parents seeking a child support arrangement but never married typically use these forms.

Filing for Child Support through the State of New York:

Establishing child support payments in New York does not require one to consult a judge or attorney. The child(ren) ‘s parents can often arrange child support payments without third-party intervention. However, this is not always the case. To begin setting child support with assistance from the state of New York, the custodial parent must contact the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) to file the initial child support application. Upon filing the initial application, the OCSE will continue supporting the custodial parent while establishing paternity and filing all the necessary paperwork to prove a legally appropriate child support arrangement.

The New York OCSE is not an entity of the court. OSCE exists as a separate organization from the New York Family Court system and works alongside custodial parents to begin the process of arranging child support. In New York Child Support cases, the OSCE cannot perform the legal duties of setting and enforcing child support arrangements. Instead, the OSCE assists custodial parents in establishing paternity, ensuring that all the proper paperwork has been filed, and serving the summons. Regardless of the involvement of the OCSE, it remains the duty of the New York Family Court system to draft, establish, and enforce child support orders.

New York Child Support Calculator:

When determining the amount of child support that a non-custodial parent will be required to pay, the court will consider various factors. Primarily, the calculator bases child support on the individual incomes of each parent. The amount of child support the court can order a non-custodial to pay must be determined following the regulations set forth by the New York State Child Support Standards Act (CSSA). The CSSA prevents non-custodial parents from being financially exploited through required child support payments by ensuring that child support payments only consume a fixed percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income. In doing so, the court can ensure that the responsibility of paying child support will allow the non-custodial parent to support themselves while providing their child(ren) with the same quality of life. Furthermore, it maintains the accessibility that they would have if both parents lived in the same home.

The CSSA regulations apply to all child support orders involving a combined parental income of less than $143,000.00. In instances where the parent’s combined income totals more than this number, it is the right of the court magistrate to determine if they will apply the CSSA regulations effectively.

On average, the following percentages help determine child support payment amounts in New York:

  • 17% of the non-custodial parent’s annual income for one child
  • 25% of the non-custodial parent’s yearly income for two children
  • 29% of the non-custodial parent’s annual revenue for three children
  • 31% of the non-custodial parent’s yearly income for four children
  • A minimum percentage of 35% of the non-custodial parent’s annual income when determining child support orders involving more than five children

New York State Back-Child Support Laws:

Once the Family Court System of the state of New York has established the amount of child support a non-custodial parent is required to pay, it becomes the responsibility of the OSCE to keep a detailed record of the child support arrangement. This record creates a complete payment history and details the child support that a parent pays, when they pay it, and if they missed it. In New York, various regulations are in place to ensure parents pay child support promptly. Therefore, several laws ensure child support continues even when the non-custodial parent has fallen behind.

Back-Child Support Corrective Action Enforcement:

The most common corrective action practice enforced by the state of New York upon non-custodial parents who have fallen behind on their payments is the 50% increase. The 50% increase enforcement method increases the initial child support payment amount by 50% until all missed payments are complete. Other common approaches to recovering omitted and unpaid child support are:

  • Payment directly to the OSCE through the non-custodial parent’s tax refund
  • If the non-custodial parent wins the lottery while behind on payments, OCSE will confiscate the award.
  • The OSCE has the right to freeze the non-custodial parent’s bank accounts to recover unpaid child support.
  • The non-custodial parent’s license can face driver’s license suspension until all lost payments are complete.
  • Additionally, the government may bar the non-custodial from receiving a new U.S. Passport, professional licenses, and new lines of credit due to unpaid child support payments.
  • The Family Court System of the State of New York additionally reserves the right to prosecute the non-custodial parent in criminal court because of failing to make their payments and abide by their court order.

Following state guidelines, the state will send non-custodial parents a formal notice that they have fallen behind on child support payments. This notice serves as their initial warning before any corrective action. Non-custodial parents who fail to act or respond to the notification will face penalties until the late payments they make the late payments.

Contact Pride Legal

If you or a loved one are paying child support, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.

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