Nassau County Child Support Lawyer
Serving Long Island, Nassau County, Suffolk County & All Five Boroughs
When a couple with children decides to divorce, becomes estranged, or separates, the State of New York requires that support payments be agreed upon and followed as part of the dissolution. This is often one of the most contentious matters in any family law proceeding, but our attorneys are prepared to help. We have an in-depth understanding of the law and will help you resolve your legal matter in a way that protects your best interests and the best interests of your child.
New York's Child Support Standards Act
New York enacted The Child Support Standards Act in 1989 in an attempt to ensure child support payments are fair for the parties involved and consistent in every case. Awarded support is thus based on a formula that involves a percent of the parent’s income and how many children the parents have. The percentage is calculated based on the combined total income of both parents prorated by how much each parent provides to that total.
Under The Child Support Standards Act, support payments are set at the following:
- One child is 17% of parental income
- Two children is 25%
- Three children is 29%
- Four children is 31%
- Five children or more is 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 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 that the court should consider in its calculation, including:
- Lottery winnings
- Life insurance proceeds
Certain amounts, such as taxes or other legally obligated payments 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.
Modifying Child Support
At Jason M. Barbara & Associates, P.C., our Nassau County child support lawyers understand situations where inconsistent income may create a hardship for either parent, such as after the loss of a job or when one parent gets a new job. In these cases, a modification is necessary to adjust support payments.
Under New York law, either parent may seek a modification when they experience the following:
- A significant change in their circumstances
- Three years have passed since support was modified or entered
- There has been a change of income by 15% or more
It is important to remember that the obligation to pay to the terms of your child support agreement remains until the modification has been approved by the family law court. This is true even in cases of unemployment and bankruptcy, as modifications are not automatically triggered. You must speak with an attorney.
Failure to Pay Child Support
Arrears is the legal term for owing back child support. This can add up quickly, which is why it is vital that you always pay the agreed upon amount or seek a modification as soon as your circumstances have changed.
If you are in arrears, the state can take action to collect. This can include:
- Taking any money directly from your bank accounts
- Notifying credit agencies, which will mar your credit report
- Using your tax refund or lottery winnings
- Suspending your driver’s license
- Sentencing you to time in jail
Call Jason M. Barbara & Associates, P.C. to Discuss Your Situation
Whether you are currently navigating a divorce, experiencing difficulty arriving at a satisfactory child support agreement with the other parent of your child, or need to modify an existing child support arrangement, the experienced Nassau County child support 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 acceptable to all interested parties.