What Does Child Support Cover?
Every parent has an obligation to financially support their child. When a relationship ends, this duty continues and you will need to decide who will pay for your child’s care, health insurance, school tuition, and other expenses. When you are a non-custodial parent, the court will order you to make child support payments that ensure your child’s welfare.
Child support, as its name implies, is money paid to a child’s custodial parent to help cover the expenses associated with raising a child, such as the need for food, childcare, sufficient housing and transportation, utilities, the child’s school supplies and personal items, and even the child’s enrichment through extracurricular activities and toys. Your child support order may specify that payments are to be made weekly, biweekly, monthly, or bimonthly.
While parents typically must pay child support until their child’s 21st birthday, there are exceptions to this rule. You may not have to pay child support if your child (who is at least 16 years old) becomes emancipated and:
- Is living independently from both parents
- Financially supports themselves
- Joins the military
Notably, the circumstances do not allow you to unilaterally stop child support payments. Instead, you must get the court’s approval and an order ending your child support obligation. For more information, consult with an experienced child support lawyer.
If you do not pay court-ordered child support, you can face serious penalties. The custodial parent can file an enforcement action against you, garnishing your wages, unemployment benefits, or tax returns. You may also lose your driver’s license and passport. If you need help either collecting unpaid child support or modifying an existing child support order, contact The Colwell Law Group, PLLC.
How Is Child Support Determined in New York?
In New York, child support is governed by the Child Support Standards Act. Child support orders are created with the intention of giving a child the same standard of living that he or she would have enjoyed if his or her parents had not divorced.
A basic child support order is for a specified percentage of the paying parent’s income. The percentage they must pay is determined by the number of children they have to support.
- 17% of your combined parental income for one child
- 25% for two children
- 29% for three children
- 31% for four children
- At least 35% for five or more children
However, these percentages are only the beginning of your child support analysis.
For Parents Living Below the Poverty Line
If the paying parent is living below the poverty line ($11,880 in 2016), a child support order of $25 per month may be put in place. For individuals whose income is below New York’s Self-Support Reserve level of $16,038, a child support order of $50 may be established.
New York sets child support guidelines that help parents calculate their support payments.
Other factors, like income received through workers’ compensation and disability payments, the child’s educational expenses, and which parent provides medical insurance for the child are also considered when determining an appropriate child support amount.
For Parents With Higher Incomes
When parents have higher incomes, the math can get more complicated. Each year, the State of New York sets a new child support threshold. If parents’ combined income exceeds this threshold, the court can decide to simply use these percentages — or they can weigh a series of additional factors when calculating your child support. These factors include:
- Your financial resources
- Any income disparities between the co-parents
- Your child’s physical and emotional health
- Whether your child has any special needs or talents
- What your child’s standard of living would have been if you had not divorced or separated
- Whether you contribute toward your child’s care and well-being non-monetarily
- How child support will impact your income taxes
- Whether you or the other parent are attending or enrolled school or another training program
- Whether a non-custodial parent has other children that require care and support
In 2018, these factors may apply if your combined income is more than $148,000.
Requesting Added Support
A custodial parent can also request added support for some of their child’s needs. These include:
- Child care costs
- Health insurance premiums
- Unreimbursed medical and dental expenses
Under certain circumstances, parents may demands payments for extra-curricular expenses like tutoring, summer camps, and other activities.
An Albany NY Child Support Lawyer Can Help You Estimate Child Support in Your Case
Because New York’s child support calculations are so nuanced and personalized, you can’t simply input your combined income into an online calculator and get a reliable or realistic child support estimate. Instead, it’s in your best interest to consult with an experienced child support lawyer. At The Colwell Law Group, PLLC, we work closely with our clients and get to know them. Then, we take their unique circumstances into account when we calculate potential child support amounts. For a no-risk, confidential assessment, contact our office today.
Can I Alter My Child Support Order?
Yes. Sometimes, life circumstances like job loss, illness, and retirement make it impossible to continue paying a court-ordered amount of child support. If you find yourself in this position, talk to your lawyer about modifying the amount of support you are required to pay. Do not, under any circumstance, allow yourself to become delinquent with your payments. This can lead to criminal charges and potential penalties like wage garnishment and a driver’s license suspension. Failing to pay your child support is an act of contempt of court and in extreme cases, can result in jail time for the delinquent parent.
To modify your child support order, you must submit a petition to the court that demonstrates one of the following:
- At least three years have passed since the creation of the initial order, and in that time, one or both parents’ incomes have changed;
- Either you or your former partner have experienced an increase or decrease in income by 15 percent or greater; or
- You have experienced a significant change in circumstances, such as an illness or loss of your job.
Why Choose a Child Support Lawyer at The Colwell Group, PLLC?
When it comes to your family, we handle your case with care. Our firm’s mission includes superior client service by:
- Listening closely
- Maintaining respect
- Openly communicating
- Making wise choices for your case
- Working efficiently and effectively
Our attorneys have gleaned skills over years of practice which allow them to be aggressive advocates for our clients in court but that never takes away the compassionate care we provide our clients.
Understanding your rights and responsibilities as a parent is key when approaching the subject of child custody. We keep our clients informed and educated on the laws and topics that may affect the result of their case while striving to find the best possible solution for them and their children.
Consult With an Albany Child Support Lawyer
If you have questions about support payments, a child support lawyer at The Colwell Law Group, PLLC can help. Our experienced lawyers guide parents through difficult and emotionally-charged child support actions. This includes establishing support obligations, modifying child support orders, and holding non-custodial parents accountable for non-payment. To request a consultation, contact our office today.