Child support is money that one parent pays the other for the purpose of providing financial support to their child. This can include expenses like the child’s health insurance, medical costs, educational expenses, and even childcare, while the custodial parent is at work or school.
In most cases, child support must be paid until the child reaches 21 years old unless there’s some kind of agreement otherwise. (N.Y. Dom. Rel. § 240 (1-b)(b)(2)).
The court may suspend or terminate child support if the child is older than 16 and is able to live apart from both parents by being financially self-supported, or if they legally get married or enter into military service. However, in any of these circumstances, the duty to pay child support does not stop automatically. The parent will need to ask the same court that produced the child support order to allow them to stop making payments because of the child’s emancipation.
Generally, the court calculates the amount of child support in New York based on both parents’ income per year and the number of children for whom the parents are responsible. The court applies a formula to come up with a basic “child support obligation” by adding the income of both parents and multiplying that total by a percentage per child (child support percentage). For these purposes, “income” is the gross income reported on the parties’ most recent federal income tax returns. According to the NYC Department of Social Services, the percentages are as follows:
The child support calculator can also be used to get an estimated annual child support amount https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hra/help/child-support-calculator.page.
In addition to the basic child support obligation, the court may add on other payments to cover childcare costs if the custodial parent is working or going to school and for the child’s health care expenses.
Even if the parent is not working, they may still be receiving income through disability, unemployment, social security, veterans, retirement benefits, workers’ compensation award, fellowship, or annuity payments. The State of New York recognizes any of these as income for child support purposes. Public assistance, on the other hand, is not defined as income.
Child support could change several times due to changes in circumstances or the child’s needs. When the court calculates the basic child support obligation, it can also consider whether your share is unreasonable. If this is the case, you will need to explain to the court why the amount is too much for you. Perhaps your income has significantly decreased from past years because of market changes or other reasons. If you explain your situation to the court and show proof of decreased wages, it is possible that the court will reduce your payments based on your particular hardship.
You can ask the court to reduce your child support payments by filing a petition (application) for modification. The petition must be filed with the same court that initially ordered the child support obligation.
Latonia Early-Hubelbank, Esq. at Early Family Law has been representing divorced parents in child support cases for several years. Latonia knows the ins and outs of family court and thoroughly understands the system in New York when it comes to child support obligations and its calculated amounts.