Family law is complicated, and it can be difficult to understand child support and how it functions. Often, people have questions about who is responsible for paying and the guidelines involved. There are also legitimate concerns about late payments or an inability to pay. The whole affair can leave you feeling overwhelmed.
If you are going through a divorce, you should learn about rights when it comes to child support. This article offers an overview of the rules surrounding these payments. Learning this information will help prepare you for what happens next.
Overview of Child Support Laws in New York
Under New York Child Support Laws, both parents must financially support their children until they reach 21 years of age. The custodial parent spends a portion of their income on the kids directly, and the other sends payments to supplement those expenses.
The amount of child support each parent pays depends on:
- Childcare expenses
- Educational expenses
- The incomes of both parents
- Medical expenses (for both the children and the parents)
Once the amount of child support is established, it becomes a mandatory expense. Failure to comply with child support orders can result in serious penalties.
Parents can seek assistance from the New York State Child Support Enforcement Unit for help in establishing and enforcing child support orders.
When Do You Start Receiving Child Support Payments in a New York Divorce?
Child support payments usually begin when the divorce is finalized, and both parent sign the divorce agreement.
In some cases, the court may require temporary payments while the divorce is pending. These payments help cover the child’s basic needs until the couple reaches their final agreement.
Once the agreement is finalized, payments typically begin immediately. The payor makes these payments on a regular schedule outlined in the agreement.
What Happens When a Parent Does Not Pay Their Share?
First, the custodial parent typically files a petition with the court, requesting that it takes enforcement measures.
The court can employ a variety of methods to collect unpaid child support, including:
- Garnishing wages
- Seizing tax refunds
- Suspending a driver's license
- Revoking a professional license
Keep in mind, however, that these consequences can go either way. Both parents are required to contribute to the child's needs. Therefore, a custodial parent has an equal responsibility to dedicate part of their income to the children. If they squander their resources and fail to meet their financial obligations, they can suffer the same consequences.
Contempt of Court Consequences
When a parent fails to meet their child support obligations in New York, they could be held in contempt of court. Penalties can include jail time of up to 6 months. This delinquent parent could also suffer legal fees, adding to their economic woes.
What if You Cannot Keep Up with Payments?
If you are having a hard time paying your child support, you can request a payment modification.
In New York, grounds for child support modification include:
- Reduction in Income
A reduction in the parent's income by 15% or more generally applies. Courts will be more sympathetic when this reduction is not the parent’s fault.
- Three Years Have Passed
Generally, you can ask that a court reevaluate their original child support ruling every three years.
- Loss of Employment or Demotion
Generally, courts consider these grounds for modification only when the change is not the parent’s fault.
- A Substantial Change in Circumstances
If there has been a significant change in either parent's finances, or the child’s needs change, you may be able to alter the original ruling.
- The Original Ruling Is Incorrect or Unfair
Child support should not be an undue burden for either parent. If the payor has consistently struggled to keep up with payments, the original ruling may have been biased or simply miscalculated. You may be able to work with your attorney to have this ruling adjusted to reflect your circumstance more accurately.
Keep in mind, modifications can apply in almost any direction. For instance, if you make more money, your co-parent could request more support. Similarly, if they lose their job, they could ask for more money from you.
Law Office of Tzvi Y. Hagler, P.C. is here to help you negotiate fair child support terms, and we can step in when you need a child support order modified. To schedule time with our professionals, you can fill out our online contact form or call our office at (516) 514-3868.