In New York, both parents are required to financially support their child for basic needs such as food, clothing, health care, and shelter. If the parents are not together, one parent may be ordered to make child support payments to the other. Generally, the non-custodial parent (the one the child does not primarily live with) must pay the custodial parent (the one the child lives with more than 50% of the time).
Child support amounts are determined by the non-custodial parent's adjusted gross income. Child support lasts until the child reaches 21 years of age. Only in limited circumstances can the non-custodial parent stop making payments before the child turns 21.
In New York, child support payments may stop when the child is under 21 years of age and:
- Is married,
- Is self-supporting,
- Is in the military, or
- Has left home and does not obey reasonable commands from their parent
If your child's other parent has been ordered to pay child support but willfully stops – and the circumstances do not legally allow them to stop – they are in direct violation of a court order. You may take legal action to enforce payments.
How Do I Enforce Child Support Payments?
Because child support orders are court-issued, you can submit a petition to the court to have it take action against your child's other parent.
Before the court enforces the order, a judge will hold a hearing to determine whether such is necessary.
What Are the Sanctions for Not Paying Child Support?
If the judge determines that your child's other parent has violated the child support order, they may enforce payments in several ways.
Enforcement methods include, but are not limited to:
- Taking payments directly from their paycheck
- Making them pay you a lump sum of what's owed
- Suspending their driver's license
- Suspending their professional license
- Seizing their bank accounts
- Revoking their passport
- Intercepting their taxes
- Imposing a 6-month jail sentence for contempt of court
Can I Deny Visitation If Support Isn't Paid?
Taking matters into your own hands is never a good idea. You might think that you can force your child's other parent to comply with support orders by withholding visitation. Unfortunately, doing such can result in legal action being taken against you.
Child support and visitation are two separate matters. Just as your child's other parent must abide by the support order, so too must you adhere to the visitation order.
To remedy non-compliance, file a petition with the court – as discussed earlier.
Can the Child Support Order Be Changed?
It could be that your child's other parent's financial circumstances have changed, making it challenging to adhere to the current child support order. If that is the case, they cannot willfully stop making payments to you.
You or they must first seek a modification by filing a petition with the court. The court will decide what remedies are appropriate.
It is essential to ensure that your child's needs are being taken care of and both you and your child's other parent are providing the financial assistance necessary for their well-being. If your child's other parent is not abiding by the child support order, speak with a lawyer about your legal options.