If you’re considering separating or divorcing as a parent of minor children in New York, you may be worried about child support. Whether you’re the one who will be paying child support, or the one who will be receiving it, understanding more about the process can help you prepare for what’s to come. Child support matters can cause tension between parents, but it’s important for both parties to remember that child support is supposed to help children thrive after their parents split up. Even when matters are contentious, remember that the court will try to do what’s in the best interest of the children.
How child support works
The custodial parent is the parent that has primary care and custody of the children and, in most cases, the parent eligible to receive child support. The noncustodial parent is the one obligated to pay child support. In New York, both parents are legally obligated to support a child until that child reaches 21 years of age. If you have a child under 21, you are eligible to file for child support through the court system.
If you file for child support, parentage must first be established by one of the methods deemed legal in the state. This includes a voluntary acknowledgment option or a court-ordered paternity test. Once parentage is established, the court uses a percentage-based system to determine how much child support the noncustodial parent will pay. This amount varies based on the noncustodial parent’s income and the number of children you share. The state also allows provisions for low-income individuals.
Modifications and other things you should know
After two years, you may request a cost-of-living adjustment if circumstances have changed significantly. Either parent can ask the court to modify the child support agreement if an income changes or there are other life developments that concern the finances of one or both parties. As the custodial parent, on the rare occasion that you are overpaid child support funds, it is your responsibility to return that money to the noncustodial parent.
Child support laws are in place to financially provide for New York’s children in cases where their parents aren’t together. If you need to request a child support hearing, it’s important to know that you don’t have to act alone. The process can be complicated, especially if you’re unfamiliar with how the law works. It’s always advisable to ask for help before undertaking an important legal matter like seeking child support.