Table of Contents
When it comes to navigating the intricacies of child support in Suffolk County, there’s one name that stands above the rest – Louis L. Sternberg. With a stellar reputation for excellence and a proven track record of success, Louis Sternberg, is regarded as a top Suffolk County child support lawyer you can trust to champion your child’s financial future.
New York Child Support
All parents want what is best for their children and want to be able to provide for their family. Child support is intended to ensure that your children (and both parents) can meet their financial needs. A reasonable and appropriate child support order is often an essential component in determining whether the children and their parents will go forward with an appropriate standard of living in light of the financial circumstances of the family.
Whether you are a parent seeking child support or are facing the reality that you may be required to pay child support, you will benefit from the advice of an experienced child support lawyer.
What is Child Support and Who Has to Pay Child Support in New York?
According to New York’s Family Court Act and Domestic Relations Law, “the parents of a child under the age of twenty-one years are chargeable with the support of such child and, if possessed of sufficient means or able to earn such means, shall be required to pay for child support a fair and reasonable sum as the court may determine.”
Types of Child Support Proceedings in New York
Generally there are three types of child support cases in New York:
- Establishment of Child Support (which may include a paternity proceeding)
- Modification of Child Support
- Enforcement / Violation of Orders of Support
Establishing Child Support
Calculating Basic Child Support in New York
A parent may demand child support either during a divorce action or in a separate Family Court case. During that litigation, the following procedures are utilized to calculate the presumptive basic child support obligation under New York’s Child Support Standards Act (often referred to as CSSA).
- Income Calculation: Child support in New York is primarily based on the income of both parents. Income includes wages, salary, bonuses, commissions, pension and retirement benefits, social security benefits, and more. Income can also include imputed income if one parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed.
- Combined Parental Income: The total income of both parents is calculated, and this combined income determines the basic child support obligation. The New York Child Support Standards Act (CSSA) provides guidelines for determining the percentage of combined parental income to be allocated for child support.
- Income Cap: New York State has an income cap for child support calculations. This means that the basic child support obligation is first calculated based on a cap on the combined parental income. If the combined income exceeds this cap, child support is calculated based on the cap, and additional support for the child’s needs may be awarded based on certain statutory factors.
- Percentage of Income: The CSSA sets a percentage of combined parental income to be used for child support based on the number of children. For example, as of my last update, it was 17% for one child, 25% for two children, 29% for three children, 31% for four children, and 35% for five or more children.
- Pro Rata Share: Each parent’s share of the child support obligation is determined based on their individual income as a percentage of the combined parental income. For example, if one parent earns 60% of the combined income, they are responsible for 60% of the child support obligation.
Deviation from Presumptive Child Support Obligations and Factors in Exceeding the Income Cap
The Child Support Standards Act allows for deviation from presumptive child support obligations or utilizing income in excess of the statutory cap based on an analysis of factors set forth in the Family Court Act and the Domestic Relations Law, including:
- The financial resources of the custodial and non-custodial parent, and those of the child;
- The physical and emotional health of the child and his/her special needs and aptitudes;
- The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage or the household not been dissolved;
- The tax consequences to the parties;
- The non-monetary contributions that the parents will make toward the care and well-being of the child;
- The educational needs of either parent;
- The determination that the gross income of one parent is substantially less than the other parent’s gross income;
- The needs of the children of the non-custodial parent for whom the non-custodial parent is providing support who are not subject to the instant action and whose support have not been deducted from income pursuant to [DRL 240 (1-b)(5)(vii)(D)], and the financial resources of any person obligated to support such children, provided, however, that this factor may apply only if the resources available to support such children are less than the resources available to support the children who are subject to the instant action;
- Provided the children are not on public assistance, (i) extraordinary expenses incurred by the non-custodial parent in exercising visitation, or (ii) expenses incurred by the non-custodial parent in extended visitation provided that the custodial parent’s expenses are substantially reduced as a result thereof; and
- Any other factors the parties determine are relevant in each case.
It’s important to note that a court’s decision to deviate from the CSSA guidelines must be supported by specific findings and reasons that demonstrate why the deviation is in the best interests of the child. Failure to properly state such reasoning may be grounds for an appeal or objections.
If you believe that a deviation from the CSSA guidelines is appropriate in your case or if you are contesting a proposed deviation, it is advisable to consult with a Suffolk County child support attorney specializing in family law in New York. An attorney can help you navigate the legal process and advocate for your position to ensure that child support is calculated fairly and in accordance with the law.
Child Support Add-ons in New York
In addition to the basic child support obligation, the court will also calculate the parties’ obligations to pay for:
- Child care
- Unreimbursed health care costs
- Educational expenses
Who Pays Child Support in 50 / 50 Custody Arrangement in New York?
In Bast v. Rossoff (91 N.Y.2d 723 ) the Court of Appeals was confronted with the issue of determining parental entitlement to child support in shared custody arrangements. The Court held that “[s]hared custody arrangements do not alter the scope and methodology of the [Child Support Standards Act].” Thus, in 50 / 50 custody matters, the Courts are obligated to determine each party’s presumptive child support obligation and the “greater monied party” is deemed to be the non-custodial parent for purposes of calculating child support. In reaching this conclusion, the Bast Court explicitly rejected a proportional offset approach utilized in some states, wherein a non-custodial parent would be entitled to offset his support obligation based on the amount of time spent with the children.
Adult Dependent Care
Under recent amendments to New York’s Family Court Act, a parent may pursue support for an “Adult Dependent.” Pursuant to Family Court Act § 413-B, a parent may be obligated to provide further support for an adult dependent who is “developmentally disabled as defined under subdivision twenty-two of section 1.03 of the mental hygiene law” provided that the “child” both lives with and is dependent upon the party seeking support.
Pursuant to the relevant Mental Health Law statute, a developmental disability is defined as follows:
- (1) is attributable to intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, neurological impairment, familial dysautonomia, Prader-Willi syndrome or autism; (2) is attributable to any other condition of a person found to be closely related to intellectual disability because such condition results in similar impairment of general intellectual functioning or adaptive behavior to that of intellectually disabled persons or requires treatment and services similar to those required for such person; or (3) is attributable to dyslexia resulting from a disability described in subparagraph one or two of this paragraph;
- originates before such person attains age twenty-two;
- has continued or can be expected to continue indefinitely; and
- constitutes a substantial handicap to such person’s ability to function normally in society.
Termination or Modification of Child Support
Generally, a child support order can be modified upon a showing of substantial change in circumstances of a party such as a loss of a job or a change in custody. Once such a change has been proven, the court will then recalculate the order in the same manner that a new order is calculated.
Additionally, a support order can be modified or terminated when:
- The child is deemed to be emancipated
- The child has Abandoned / forfeited the right to support
- The child is of employable age and is self-supporting
- The child enlists in the military.
- The child has legally married.
- The child has reached 21 years old (unless otherwise extended by agreement of the parties or if the child is entitled to further support as an adult dependent).
- The parent has passed away
- The custodial parent has wrongfully interfered with visitation
In 2010, the New York State Legislature passed a law that permitted either party to seek a modification when:
- Three (3) years have passed since entry or modification of the support order; OR
- The income of either party has increased by 15% or more.
Violation / Enforcement of Orders of Support
New York law provides for a number of mechanisms to enforce child support and to punish violations of child support orders.
- Garnishment (also known as Income Execution Order / Income Deduction Order) – A process by which payments for current and/or overdue support are deducted from a noncustodial parent’s wages or other income by the noncustodial parent’s employer or income payor. Additionally, a noncustodial parent’s pension can be levied.
- Entry of Judgment – A money judgment will be awarded when a court finds that the noncustodial parent is in support arrears, regardless of whether the failure to pay support is willful or non-willful. A money judgment also acts as a lien against any interest in personal property or real property (such as a house) in the county in which it was filed.
- Interception of Financial Awards (Including Tax returns, Unemployment Insurance Benefits, Lottery Winnings) – Noncustodial parents who are receiving unemployment insurance from the New York State Department of Labor will have current and/or overdue child support payments automatically deducted from their Unemployment Insurance Benefits, state and federal tax returns and lottery winnings.
- Seizure of Property – Financial assets of the noncustodial parent, including bank accounts, may be seized in order to satisfy overdue child support.
- Sequestration – An enforcement mechanism by which the noncustodial parent’s property is held as security for payment of the support.
- Payment of Undertakings and Cash Deposits – The court can order that a noncustodial parent post a bond to ensure that future support payments are made.
- Suspension of Licenses – New York State licenses, including professional licenses, occupational licenses and driver’s licenses can be suspended if a noncustodial parent fails to make support payments regardless of the willfulness of the failure.
- Probation – Although it is done very infrequently, courts have the power to put a noncustodial parent on probation for failure to pay support.
- Incarceration for Contempt – A noncustodial parent can be incarcerated for non-payment of support.
- Civil Contempt – The Family Court and Supreme Court have the power to order the incarceration of a noncustodial parent on a showing of a willful failure to make support payments.
- Criminal Prosecution under NYPL §260.05 and NYPL §260.05.
- Legal Fees – In many support enforcement cases, the noncustodial parent may be required to pay the custodial parent’s legal fees / attorney’s fees. This can result in a custodial parent being represented by an attorney at no cost.
Please note that these remedies are generally only available when the custodial parent has an order of support issued by a court. These remedies may not be available in situations such as when there is an out-of-court agreement.
This is not complete list of remedies available in enforcing a support obligation and it is always advisable to contact a family law lawyer when deciding upon how to proceed in a support action. Contact us if you’re looking for a lawyer for a child support violation.
Top Suffolk County Child Support Lawyer
With an unrivaled track record of success and vast experience in Suffolk County Family Court, Louis L. Sternberg is the advocate you need in your corner. Our dedicated team is committed to ensuring that your child’s financial well-being is prioritized and that your rights are protected throughout the process. From calculating fair and equitable support payments to navigating complex legal proceedings, we provide you with the guidance and support you need during this crucial time. Trust in our experience and expertise – contact the Law Office of Louis L. Sternberg, PC today and take the first step toward securing the future your child deserves.