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Child support

What is child support?

  1. Child Support is money paid by a parent for the financial care for their children.
  2. Child support is paid directly to the custodial parent (parent whom the child resides with most of the time) for use for the needs of the children. Even if parents share physical/residential custody of the children, the higher-earning parent may have to pay child support to the lower-earning parent.

Child Support usually includes:

  1. Basic child support intended to pay for housing, food, clothing and other basic needs of the children.
  2. Child care – contribution by the non-custodial parent for childcare necessary for a third party to take care of the children while the custodial parent is at work.
  3. Extracurricular activities and after-school activities of the children
  4. Medical insurance and unreimbursed medical, dental and related needs of the children.

Even if the child works part time or is a college student and lives away at college, the non-custodial parent may have to pay child support

How do I receive child support?

  1. Child support is paid based on a court order.
  2. A custodial parent may receive child support through a divorce proceeding in Supreme Court or through Family Court.  Both are court proceedings/cases where a judge issues a Child Support Order (decision).
  3. Child support may be paid directly in cash or by check by the non-custodial parent, or collected by the Support Collection Unit from the payor parent’s payroll and wages from the payor’s work wages
  4. The parties have to follow the state child support guidelines set forth in domestic relations laws, or may agree to opt-out and agree to a different amount with a written spelled out explanation for the deviation reasoning (for example: if the non-custodial parent waives claims to certain assets, they may pay a lower child support).

How is child support calculated?

There is a specific income-based formula for calculating child support.  The court applies this formula to the incomes of both parents.

The court will ask to see your 3 most recent tax returns, W-2 forms and 1099s, proof of any other income including pensions, disability insurance payments, unemployment insurance payments, social security benefits, business earnings, and several fresh current pay stubs for proof of income for both parents.

Certain tax payments and payment of other child support is subtracted from the gross income before the formula is applied.

Once the adjusted gross income figures are clear,  income of both parents is added together.

Next, the court multiplies the combined parental income by a percentage:

  • 17% for one child
  • 25% for two children
  • 29% for three children
  • 31% for four children
  • 35% for five or more children

Third, the court divides that amount based upon each parent’s income so that the non-custodial parent pays his/her share to the custodial parent.  Percentages are applied proportional to the relationship of the parents’ income to each other. The higher earning parent pays a higher % of the child support.

Finally, the court considers other factors and circumstances relevant to the calculation to ensure that the child support awarded is fair to both the payor and the payee

What if I pay child support and I lost my job or became disabled??

If the payor parent is no longer financially able to pay the child support ordered earlier by the Court, he should file a petition with Family Court to reduce the child support obligation based on a change in his financial circumstances.

To reduce child support and receive a new order for a lower child support amount, you must show documentation that proves your new lower earnings or that you are making efforts to find new work, or that you are now collecting disability insurance and how much.

The court can lower your child support obligation if:

  • there has been a substantial change of circumstances in your situation since the last support order, or
  • the last support order was issued over 3 years ago, or
  • your income has changed by 15% or more (you are now earning 15% less than before).

When can I stop paying Child Support in NY and NJ?

  1. Child support automatically ends when the child turns 21 years for most people. Some people agree in their divorce agreements that the on-custodial parent must pay child support even when the child is over 21, but is a full-time college or graduate school student.
  2. Child support ends before the child turns 21 if the child becomes emancipated.  Emancipation is a legal proceeding where a child declares herself independent of her parents.
  3. If your child marries someone.
  4. Your child is adopted by someone else and your surrendered parental rights.
  5. Your child enlists in the military.
  6. Your child dies.

What are some circumstances that do not affect Child Support obligation?

  1. Child Support does NOT end when your child is still under 21 and goes away to college.
  2. If you signed a divorce settlement agreement or other support agreement where you agreed to continue paying child support past the child’s 21st birthday.
  3. Child Support does NOT end when the other parent earns a lot more than before; however this may reduce your contribution.
  4. Child Support does NOT end when the custodial parent remarries or starts cohabiting with someone else.
  5. Your child is now living with a third party non-parent guardian, like a grandparent or a guardian. This only means that you will have to pay child support to the guardian.
  6. If the custody arrangement has changed and you are now the custodial parent of the child based on new circumstances, you must file a petition with Family Court to establish the new custody arrangement officially and to end your child support obligation and receive support from the now-noncustodial parent whom the child is no longer living with.

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