The Child Support Formula
According to New York Domestic Relations Law §240, the support obligation of each of a child’s parents applies a mathematical formula based on the combined incomes of the parents. The greater number of children involved can subsequently increase the amount of support owed. Obligations for health insurance premiums, uncovered health care costs and child care expenses are also apportioned.
Even if you are unemployed, you are not released from your obligation to pay support. The court can impute an income and almost any form of compensation from any source can be considered income in this context, including unemployment benefits, pensions, and social security. However, certain public assistance income could be excluded. The same formula and requirements apply to unmarried parents and can be pursued, enforced and modified in the Family Court.
Modifying an Order of Child Support
If you believe a previously established child support order is no longer appropriate, you may petition the court for a modification. After receiving such a petition, the court can review the financial circumstances and child’s needs and adjust the amount you or your child’s other parent should pay if it finds a change in circumstances requires adjustment
In the same vein, a child support order that has been in place at least three years may be modified. In this case, the court no longer requires the petitioning party to demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances but only that at least three years have passed or a party’s income has changed by 15 percent or more since the last order.
Violation of Child Support Orders
In some cases, a parent may fail to pay some, or all of, the ordered child support. Violating such an order can result in a charge of contempt of court, a finding of which could result in a mandate to pay attorney fees and even imprisonment.
When a payor parent violates a child support order, the other parent may request enforcement through court action. The New York Division of Child Support Enforcement Unit can assist in collection of current and past due child support.
The Division, if used to collect support, can garnish wages, intercept tax refunds and suspend the payor’s driver’s or other licensed privileges. In addition, a delinquent payor parent may have property seized, professional licenses forfeited or invalidated, or a lien placed on their home or business.