Long Island Child Support Lawyers
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Child support is the right of any child. They need education, health care, child care, food, clothing, shelter, and much more. They are entitled to this support from each parent and most parents, even in divorce, understand this. The biggest issue in divorces is how child support payments can be equitable for all parties. This contentious issue is just as much of a problem in Long Island divorces as anywhere else in New York. This is why it’s important to have a long island child support lawyer who can ensure that child support is equitable and fair.
What is child support?
Child support is providing financial support for your children. Child support is designed to cover the expenses of rearing a child. New York law provides that children need to be supported until they are 21 years of age and this includes health care as well. Parents are expected to provide for education expenses, health expenses, as well as basic needs. The only exceptions to this are if the child is married, self-supporting, or in the military.
The State of New York imposes child support obligations on both parents, but it is usually the non-custodial parent that is the one who must pay the child support. While child support is usually only paid by the non-custodial parents, sometimes child support is paid by a custodial parent when both parents share joint custody.
How is child support calculated?
New York uses a relatively simple formula for calculating basic child support based on combined parental income. It’s a percentage of the total parental income that varies by the number of children. The following chart is generally required for determining child support obligations when total parental income is less than $143,000 per year (this amount increases every year).
* 17% of combined parental income for 1 child
* 25% of combined parental income for 2 children
* 29% of combined parental income for 3 children
* 31% of combined parental income for 4 children
* Minimum 35% of combined parental income for 5 or more children
There are a few exceptions to the table. For example, if combined parental income exceeds $143,000 a year, the court may use other factors to set an appropriate level of child support. Sometimes this $143,000 figure is referred to as a child support cap because of this, but long island courts tend to not observe it as a cap. It’s very important to have an attorney when combined parental income exceeds this cap because judges have very wide discretion on how much child support they can order. Furthermore, this cap is often exceeded in long island divorces.
If the non-custodial parent’s income is lower than the federal poverty line, their child support is capped at $25 per month. If their income is below NY’s Self Support Reserve then child support is capped at $50 per month.
If a negotiated or mediated settlement, both parties can choose to discard the formulas and come to an agreement on the amount of child support to be paid. When these kinds of negotiated settlements are paid, they need to take into account the child support factors stipulated in the law. A good child support attorney can be very helpful in ensuring that negotiated settlements provide the best child support for parents without involving judges who are unfamiliar with the family situation and needs.
What happens if child support is not paid?
Failure to pay child support comes with many different penalties. As arrears in child support build up, the penalties stack. Some of the penalties are automatic under the law. For example, at $500 in child support arrears, the state will have your state and federal tax refund offset. If a person is more than $1,000 behind on child support, credit bureaus will be notified. With 4 months of past due child support, driver’s licenses, business licenses, and professional licenses are suspended. Passports are denied at $2,500 in past due child support.
Courts become involved when child support arrears reach higher amounts. Judges can place liens on real estate and other property. They can place non-custodial parents into jail for failure attend violation hearings. Non-custodial parents who willfully refuse to pay child support can be referred to criminal prosecution where they can face jail terms of up to 6 months. Courts have wide latitude to determine what is willful refusal to pay child support.
All of these negative outcomes can be mitigated with a child support attorney who knows long island courts and can ensure that the rights of both parents are respected through equitable child support.
How can child support orders be modified?
If there is a significant change in the family circumstances, child support orders can be modified. Generally, child support modifications can be made in three cases. If the child support agreement is a negotiated agreement, it can be modified. If three years have passed since the last child support modification, then it can be modified. If income has changed more than 15% then it can be modified. Income that drops more than 15% is usually viewed with skepticism by the courts so it should be backed up by a child support attorney who knows the law and rules.
A long island child support lawyer is the best defense you can have to ensure that your New York child support order is fair and equitable. The attorney can ensure that your rights are protected throughout the divorce process.