Child Support Attorney In Nassau County
If a couple is estranged, splitting, or pursuing divorce has minor children, New York law requires that child support payments be made as part of the marriage dissolution. Consequently, one of the most important aspects of any divorce settlement is coming to acceptable terms for child support. Our legal team has an in-depth understanding of child support laws and can help you resolve this aspect of your divorce.
Contact us today at (516) 406-8381.
New York's Child Support Standards Act
In 1989, New York enacted The Child Support Standards Act with the goal of trying to ensure that child support awards granted were both fair and consistent from case to case. In trying to reach its goals, New York has established support awards based on a fixed percentage of the parental income and the number of children that the couple has. Percentages are based on the total income of both parents and allocated by prorating the proportion based on what each parent provides to the combined total.
Under the law's guidelines, child support is set at:
- 1 Child - 17% of the parental income
- 2 Children - 25%
- 3 Children - 29%
- 4 Children - 31%
- 5 or More Children - a Minimum of 35%
Generally speaking, these percentages are applied to a couple's combined income up to $136,000, which is an amount adjusted annually based upon an index. Beyond that amount, the court may or may not use these percentage guidelines. Additionally, there is an agreement that a child's medical expenses and educational expenses be provided for through emancipation, which is 21 years old in New York.
Do you need assistance with a child support arrangement?
While New York's laws regarding child support may seem straightforward, the reality can be a little more complicated. In many cases, it is helpful to retain the services of an attorney who can help you establish an appropriate award or modify child support that has already been established. Our Nassau County divorce lawyer can provide you with the legal assistance your case requires.
When a couple first dissolves their marriage, the court approves the child support arrangement based on the income of each parent at the time of the divorce proceedings. This is not always simple because the court has leeway in determining what an appropriate award is.
For example, while the most recent tax returns would normally provide the court and the parties with a fairly accurate figure for calculation, according to the law, the amount must include not only regular income from employment, but also income such as:
- Workers' compensation benefits
- Unemployment insurance benefits
- Disability payments
- Veterans' benefits
- Pension or retirement benefits
- Fellowships, stipends, grants or awards
- Annuity payments
While the income listed above often appears on tax return schedules, other types of income that the court may consider might not, such as:
- Fringe benefits
- Income provided by relatives and / or friends
- Income that a parent is entitled to
Additional Income to Consider in Child Support Cases
In addition to the type of income described above, there are some forms of income that are non-recurring, but which the court should consider in its calculation, including:
- Lottery winnings
- Life insurance proceeds
Certain amounts, such as taxes or other legally obligated payments that are paid by either parent are deducted from the income figure. The court can also take into consideration expenses such as childcare and healthcare expenses in making its calculation of support, as well as other anticipated costs, such as extraordinary educational expenses for the children.
If the court determines that the child support payment based on the established statutory guidelines are for some reason unjust or inappropriate, the judge retains the discretion to establish his or her own child support obligation, just as long as reasons why the amount ordered is both fair and appropriate are provided.
Child Support Modifications
At Jason M. Barbara & Associates, P.C., we understand that income levels do not always remain consistent after divorce. If one spouse loses a job, suffers an unusual hardship, or experiences a sharp rise income, child support modification may be necessary. Under New York law, there is no automatic provision for an adjustment of child support in the event that the income of one or another spouse experiences a decrease or increase in income.
Given the nationwide economic upheavals experienced in recent years, the New York legislature recently passed a law that provides for either parent to seek modification of child support under three specific scenarios:
- A parent has experienced a substantial change in circumstances
- It has been 3 years since the support order was entered, adjusted, or last modified
- Either party has experienced a change in income by 15% or more
The obligation to pay remains fixed unless a modification of the child support arrangement is approved by the court, even if one parent files for bankruptcy or becomes unemployed.
Failing to Pay Child Support
If the court changes your order, it will go back to the date that you filed your petition. If you stop paying support for any reason and you don't file a petition for a modification, the amount you owe will quickly add up; the term for back child support is arrears.
If you have arrears, the child support agency will take certain actions to collect the money owed; for example, it could:
- Take your tax refund
- Intercept lottery winnings
- Take money from your bank accounts
- Suspend your driver's license
- Notify the credit reporting agencies
- Sentence you to time in jail
Call us today at (516) 406-8381!
Whether you are currently navigating a divorce, are having difficulty arriving at a satisfactory child support agreement with the parent of your child, or need to modify an existing child support arrangement, the experienced divorce lawyers at Jason M. Barbara & Associates, P.C. can assist you.
Our firm has provided advice to many clients who seek practical and workable child support payment plans. We are adept at identifying income that should be included in the calculation and at finding creative solutions that are acceptable to all interested parties.