Child Support Lawyers
When a marriage ends in divorce or an unmarried couple decides to separate, parents still have a legal obligation to ensure their children have the financial means to carry on the same standard of living they had before. Child support laws were established to ensure that children of divorced or separated parents are provided for, even if they no longer live with both of their parents. Food, clothing, shelter, educational needs, and healthcare costs are just a few of the necessities that is provided for with child support payments.
How Child Support is Determined in New York
Sometimes parents are able to agree upon a child support arrangement on their own, in which case the judge will generally honor their arrangement. If parents cannot come to an agreement, there is a formula the judge will use to determine child support. Child support is determined by multiplying the combined parental income (up to $136,000) by the appropriate child support percentage:
- One Child=17% of the combined income
- Two Children=25% of the combined income
- Three Children= 29% of the combined income
- Four Children= 31% of the combined income
- Five or more Children= 35% of the combined income
After the combined income has been multiplied by the appropriate percentage, the amount each parent owes is determined by their share of the total income. Where the combined parental income exceeds $136,000, the court has the discretion to make an award based on this additional income by considering such factors as:
- Each parent's financial resources
- If the children have any special needs
- The standard of living the children would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved
- The non-monetary contributions each parent makes toward the children
- Each parent's educational needs
- Whether or not one parent's income is substantially less than the other parent's income
Shared Custody and Child Support
Shared Custody arrangments may impact child support calculations. Child support to the payor can be affected when each parent has equal physical custody (50/50) of the child. Under those circumstances, the parent having the greater amount of income is considered the non-custodial parent for purposes of child support.
Courts will apply the Child Support Standards Act unless they find that applying the Act would be unjust or inappropriate. This means that even though the parents share the parenting time on a 50/50 basis, the parent that earns more income will still have to pay child support to the other parent. To obtain more information on this topic, please contact us for a consultation.
Child Support Modifications & Enforcement
In order to modify a support order, the parent seeking the modification must allege and prove that there has been a substantial, unanticipated and unreasonable change of circumstances since the date of the last Order, or that the child's needs are not currently being met by the present support obligation along with the custodial parent's contribution.
If the parent seeking a modification is alleging a change in circumstances, the change must be substantial for the support obligation to be modified. Furthermore, it is incumbent upon the parent seeking the change to clearly set forth the alleged unanticipated or unreasonable change of circumstances.
Additionally, unless the parents have specifically opted out of the Domestic Relations Law or Family Court Act in a validly executed agreement or stipulation that the parties enter into, the Family or Supreme Court may modify a support order where (1) three years have passed since the order was entered, last modified or adjusted; or (2) there has been a change in either parent's gross income by 15% or more since the order was entered, last modified, or adjusted. A reduction in income is not considered a reason for modification unless it was involuntary and the parent made diligent attempts to obtain employment commensurate with his or her education, ability, and experience.
We also offer representation to parents seeking an enforcement or modification of a child support order. There are countless parents throughout New York who have failed and continued to fail to make court-ordered child support payments. If your child's parent is not paying child support, we can help you seek enforcement from the court. In addition, if you need help modifying a child support order, whether to increase or decrease the amount, we can help. We've represented both parents receiving support, as well as the parent paying support. We can review your financial records and current situation to help you seek a modification that better serves your specific needs.
During your initial consultation, an experienced attorney from our firm will review with you the critical facts in your case. We believe in starting with your end goals and strategizing backwards to ensure the most efficient and cost effective method of attaining your desired result.