The child support issue arises during a Divorce or when the parents are not married and the custodial mother wants to seek child support from the child’s father. Paternity may be an issue if the parents are not married and the child’s father is not listed on the child’s Birth Certificate. Child support in New York State is governed by the Child Support Standards Act (CSSA). CSSA has a fairly straight-forward formula for determining child support payments based on annual incomes of the parents: 17% for one child, 25% for two children, and so on. Depending on the income levels of the parties and other considerations, the parents can agree to opt out of these guideline amounts, but the deviation from the standard support amount must be justified to, and accepted by, the court.
For High Net Worth Divorces, the New York Child Support Standards Act (CSSA) permits, but does not require, the use of the same child support percentages in calculating the child support obligation where the total income of both parents is greater than $143,000 in 2017.
Other child support considerations include:
- Private schools tuition and fees, including religious schools.
- Specific schooling needs and programs for the children.
- College education until the age of 21 years old (unless the parents agree otherwise).
- Activities and hobbies for the children, including summer camp.
- Childcare or after-school care for the children so that the custodial parent can work.
- Maintaining health insurance benefits for the children.
- Allocation of unreimbursed health care expenses.
- Special Needs Children.
If there is no settlement agreement regarding child support, the Supreme Court judges or Family Court Support Magistrates will issue child support orders, in divorce proceedings or child support petitions respectively. If the noncustodial parent fails to pay child support obligations, a violation petition is brought in court to compel the payment, including possibly garnishing the wages and seize bank accounts or tax refunds. In extreme cases of non-payment, the non-paying parent may lose his or her driver’s license or professional and business licenses, and may even be jailed for up to six months for contempt of court.
Modification of Child Support Agreements and Orders
After the child support amount is determined by the parties or the court, it may be modified if there is sufficient legal basis to do so. Frequent causes for the temporary or permanent downward modification of the child support in the Separation and Settlement Agreement or court order are: passage of three years since the original child support obligation, involuntary and significant reductions in income of the paying parent (15% or more), loss of work and being unable to find new employment, and other legal support obligations. It does not automatically follow that a person with changed circumstances is entitled to a modification: he or she must bring a petition and prove to the court that a modification is warranted under the circumstances. If the paying parent’s income actually increased, the custodial parent may bring a petition for an upward modification of the child support.
If any modification petition is granted, it is effective retroactively to the filing date of the petition in court. However, if the court entered a child support order, agreeing to a modification of the child support amount with the receiving parent (often verbally) is a violation of the support order if there is no modification petition. All of the money the paying parent does not pay now can be demanded from that parent later, and the parent would have missed the opportunity to file the modification petition. This means that the child support up to the date of filing the petition remains the same and can be collected from the paying parent by the receiving parent.
The Law Offices of Leo Mikityanskiy represents clients in matters concerning paying or receiving child support and modifications of support orders and agreements in Brooklyn Courts in New York. Contact experienced New York Family Law attorney Leonid Mikityanskiy at our Brooklyn, NY office at (718) 256-3210 to discuss your child support issues today.
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