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What is child support?
Child support, also known as child maintenance, is a payment made by one parent to another parent in order to financially support their child or children. Typically, a non-custodial parent pays support to a custodial parent. This can vary greatly depending on the financial circumstances of the parties involved and the amount of time each parent spends with the child.
How Support is Determined
Each state has their own laws when it comes to deciding who pays support (the obligor) and who receives support (the obligee). Child support is often calculated as part of a divorce or separation, although the parties do not have to have a relationship in order for support to be established. Paternity and maternity does need to be established in order for support to be determined.
Many factors are taken into consideration when deciding on support. The financial situation of both parents, the amount of time each parent spends with the child, and the costs associated with raising the child are all considered. Generally, courts like to see the child maintain a lifestyle to which they were accustomed to prior to the relationship between the parties ending.
Some states have a specific formula they use for calculating support payments. A certain percentage is used based on the number of children needing support. The obligor is usually the parent with the higher income, although this may vary in joint custody situations where the parents spend an equal amount of time with the child.
What Child Support Covers
Support payments are to be used for the basic needs of the child, including food, housing, and clothing. Additional support payments may be ordered for medical expenses, educational expenses, and extracurricular activities that the child participates in.
Although a non-custodial parent is usually the one to pay the custodial parent support, this may differ if both parties spend an equal amount of time with the child. If the custodial parent has a higher income, they may be ordered to pay support to the non-custodial parent so that the standard of living is equal at each home. In joint custody situations, support may not be ordered at all if the parents have similar incomes and spend an equal amount of time with the child.
How Support is Paid
When support is determined through the court system, a child support enforcement unit may set up an account out of which the obligor will pay the obligee. The support payments will be either deducted directly from the obligor’s paycheck, or paid to the support unit who will then distribute the funds to the obligee.
In amicable support cases, payments may be made directly by the obligor to the obligee. It is recommended that payment be made in the form of a check or money order in these cases so a paper trail is established should any future issues arise. Support payments can be modified anytime a significant change in circumstances takes place for one of the parties.
Once child support is determined, can it be appealed?
Issues surrounding child support represent some of the most contentious, and legally complex, matters in divorce, post-divorce, and paternity proceedings. If you are heading into a case that will involve child support issues, or if you are in the midst of that type of proceeding, you likely have a good many questions.
One question that you might have is whether you have the ability to appeal a child support determination once it has been made. The specific facts and circumstances of a case establish what possible avenues you might have available to you to seek an appear or reconsideration of a child support order handed down by the court.
Appeal of Final Order of the Court
The word “appeal” is a technical, legal term of art. In most instances, the word appeal means taking the decision of a lower court to a higher court for review and reconsideration. The best known appellate court in the country is the U.S. Supreme Court, although an appeal of an issue regarding child support is not at all likely to ever end up in that tribunal.
What you may be able to do is appeal a decision regarding child support to an appellate court in the state in which the order was issued. In order to accomplish this type of appellate review of a decision, you must have what legally is known as a final order from the trial or lower court in a particular case. For example, you must have a final divorce decree in order to challenge a court’s decision regarding child support via an appeal.
Motion to Reconsider Child Support Order
While the underlying case involving child support is still pending before the court, you also may have the ability to file what is known as a motion to reconsider. Although not technically an appeal, you are nonetheless asking the court that issued a child support determination to reconsider its decision and order.
Motion to Alter or Amend Child Support Order
If a child support order was entered some time ago, and if legally appropriate reasons exist for a court to entertain a possible alteration of that order, you may be able to file a motion to alter or amend child support order.
There exist some proverbial loops that you need to jump through in order to proceed with a motion to alter or amend an existing child support order. For example, most states require a certain amount of time to lapse before such a motion can be filed. In addition, there must be a material change in the circumstances of a party to the case to warrant a reconsideration of an existing child support order in the first instance.
Due to the complexities of child support issues, you typically are best served seeking the professional assistance of a skilled, experienced attorney to assist in appealing a child support determination. As a matter of practice, an attorney typically schedules an initial consultation with a prospective client, at no cost, to discuss a child support issue.
How much Child Support will I have to pay
Figuring the amount of child support a non custodial parent owes a custodial parent is often determined by a number of different factors. For starters, every state is different in the way it determines, as a whole, child support guidelines. Each case may also differ depending on the judge presiding over it, as they often have the final say in situations such as child support.
All fifty states follow one of four main child support calculation models. These four calculations are the income shares model, the flat percentage model, the varying percentage model, and the melson model.
Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia all follow the income shares model. This model uses a calculator that takes the number of children, the non custodial parents’s monthly net income, the custodial parent’s monthly net income as well as the amount of time the non custodial parents has the child/children all into account to help figure out a child support amount.
Alaska, Illinois, Mississippi, Nevada, New York, Wisconsin, and Wyoming are states that all generally follow the flat percentage model. This model uses a calculator that takes the number of children and the monthly gross income of the non custodial parent into account.
Arkansas, North Dakota, and Texas all usually follow the varying percentage model. This model takes the number of children and the monthly net income of the non custodial parent into account when figuring out a child support amount.
Delaware, Hawaii, and Montana all follow the melson model. This takes the number of children as well as the monthly net income of both the non custodial and custodial parent into account to figure out an amount.
As shown above, the factors that go into figuring an amount of child support depend upon each person’s individual situation. The above can act as a small guideline in figuring a roundabout idea of how child support amounts may be decided. Remember, however, that outside factors can often influence the amount of child support as well. These factors are generally discussed by lawyers and decided upon by the judge, who will then enforce what he or she decides.
Does child support change if my ex remarries and has a new child?
It’s common for parents to remarry after a child support order goes into place. They may even have additional children. It’s natural to wonder whether child support changes if your ex remarries and has a new child.
In most cases, the answer is no, child support doesn’t change when your ex remarries and has a new child.However, there are some important exceptions. It depends on the sequence of the child support orders and the unique circumstances of the case.
An additional child generally doesn’t change an established child support order
New York domestic relations law 240 governs child support orders in New York. The law determines child support based on the payer’s income and allowable deductions. Additional children are not mentioned in the law.
Therefore, the general rule is that the existing child support order isn’t affected by a new child. The first child support order is based on the parent’s gross income and allowable deductions. The additional child’s needs don’t come into play when doing the math to determine the amount.
An additional child in the other parent’s home
Until several years ago, the courts didn’t make any provisions for additional children. The theory was that the parent knew their obligations to the first child when they chose to have more children, so the first children shouldn’t receive any less, the courts said. Over time, the courts have relaxed this rule. The courts agree that it may be impractical in some cases to refuse to account for additional children. They say that whether or not the parent knew about their original obligations, the additional children have needs too.
The court is allowed to consider additional children on a case by case basis. To lower a child support order, they must determine that the order would be unfair or inappropriate. The courts don’t lower existing child support orders for additional children very often. In the vast majority of cases, the child support order stays the same regardless of additional biological or step children in the paying parent’s home.
The second child support order
If your ex has another child and they pay child support for that child, the second order may be lower because of the first child support order. A child support order is based on a parent’s gross income and allowable deductions. What a parent pays under an older child support order is an allowable deduction.
For example, if a parent has a gross income of $4000 per month and pays $680 per month for that child, the court deducts $680 from the parent’s gross income before they apply the percentage multiplier to arrive at a child support figure for the additional child. In that case, the second child receives $564.
Remarried spouse with no additional children
Finally, when a parent remarries, their spouse’s additional income generally doesn’t count for calculating child support. There might be an exception if the paying parent chooses not to work and depends on the new spouse’s income. However, generally, the additional spouse has no obligation to financially support their spouse’s children.
Why you need an NYC child support lawyer
Certain aspects of the legal process can be quite emotional. In these trying times, you need legal assistance that will help you to make the right decisions in the midst of your turmoil. The dedicated legal experts at Raiser & Kenniff want to ensure that your emotional burdens do not also become financial burdens.
The Spodek Law Group is a New York City based law firm with years of experience in family court related matters. We are the go to law firm for many of the world’s most famous and private people – they come to us for discretion and effective legal representation in a time that can be emotionally difficult.
Perhaps your case has some of the characteristics of one of these cases. If it does, then you have firsthand proof that we have been successful in circumstances similar to yours. If not, we have thousands of others that we can tell you about in order to ensure you that you will be represented by the most dedicated attorneys in the business.
Both attorneys and clients of the Spodek Law Group have been mentioned in some of the world’s biggest media outlets in CNN, CBS, NBC, CNBC – the list goes on. We handle very high profile cases in the same way as cases that may not generate as much publicity – with care and diligence. There are too many of our competitors in this city only out for long billing hours and cavorting with celebrities. We see you as a person in your situation as a unique experience that requires unique dedication.
Although we are centrally located in Manhattan, we can and have represented clients in all five boroughs of New York. For your child support case, you will be assigned to two dedicated lawyers as well as a third lawyer strictly to gather evidence. We understand the severity and the immediacy of child support cases, and we will do everything in our power to assure that your children get everything that they deserve from the court.
The reason that we assign so many lawyers to your case is to gather a wealth of perspective concerning the evidence of the case. We also bring the experience of all of these lawyers in the courtroom to gain the best understanding of the personalities that are going to affect the health of your family. Our lawyers know the habits of the judge that you will be facing. We will commit to developing a strategy that is unique for those people who will be present making decisions about the livelihood of your children.
Our offices are centrally located within walking distance of the 2, 3, A, C and E trains. Whether you are from Queens, Staten Island, Brooklyn or New York City proper, we are the convenient law firm as well as the dedicated law firm for you.
Because our firm was built on the word-of-mouth support from previous clients, we understand customer service like no other law firm in our area. If you believe that something was not handled as well as it could have been during your family law case, you can sit down with us and we will make it right at no additional cost to you. We want to be sure that have the absolute best representation before and during your case, and we understand that emotions may fly high at any point during the proceedings. We want you to be happy with the service that you receive from us so that you can pass the word along to your social circles.
We have lawyers who are regularly on trial in both the Family Court and the Supreme Court of New York. This means that we are prepared to confidently and properly represent you no matter how far the case may go. We know the people in the courtroom, and we know how to get the best out of them. We have over three decades of experience dealing with all of the emotions that would otherwise dampen your case.
The earlier that we get in touch with you, the more quickly that we will be able to assign you your team and put them to work gathering the evidence that will bring you justice in your child support case. Give us a call or an email for a free consultation with absolutely no pressure or obligation to have us represent you in court.
Are stepparents required to pay child support for their spouse’s child?
The difference between a stepparent and a parent is different in almost every case. Some stepparents are introduced late in the game when children are already grown and living on their own. Others are introduced so early in a child’s lives the child considers their stepparent the main parent. Other kids have both loving and attentive parents and stepparents while others are being raised by a stepparent because they haven’t another parent. There are so many variations of parent and stepparent it’s nearly impossible to discern the similarities. However, there is one question many people have when they divorce a spouse with whom they have a stepchild. Does the stepparent pay child support?
There is No Right or Wrong Answer
The laws in every state are different, and they all have something different to say about stepparents. A stepparent who legally adopts their spouse’s child as their own becomes the child’s parent. They are no longer a stepparent. They are the parent on file now that the other parent has signed over their own parental rights. When this happens, the stepparent is legally obligated to pay child support if it’s necessary during a divorce and custody hearing.
If there is a scenario in which the legal parents of a child die and the stepparent is the only parent left, many states will recognize the stepparent as the parent of this child in all legal manners including financial support. Regardless of the law in any state, there is one situation recognized in every state. If a stepparent signs a premarital or postmarital agreement with their spouse stating they will pay child support for their non-biological child in the event of divorce, the signed document is enforceable during the divorce proceedings.
There are some instances when a stepparent adopts their spouse’s child. This is not automatic when a marriage occurs a second time. If the other biological parent is actively involved and wants to maintain their parental rights in this situation, the stepparent has no legal right to the child. If the biological parent wants to sign over his or her rights to the new stepparent, the stepparent is now the legal parent of this child. When adoption occurs, the parent has the right to pay child support if divorce occurs. It’s as simple as that.
If you are a stepparent or you are a parent with a child about to marry someone else, you might have questions about the legal rights you have or your new spouse has regarding a child. The law is different in every state, but an attorney in your state is available to answer questions and help you understand the law and what it means for children and their new stepparents. Call an attorney to ask specific questions, to file for legal adoption, to file for child support, or even to ask how you can maintain your own rights as a parent when your ex remarries someone else.
What if my finances change and I can’t make my child support payments?
Caring for your children is the purpose of child support. It gets a bad reputation for being something deadbeat parents pay because they don’t spend any time with their kids or take care of them. In fact, child support is something even the best parents pay if they don’t live with their kids following a divorce because their spouse has primary custody. Child support is sometimes offered by one parent to another, and sometimes it’s court-ordered. However, it’s almost always negotiable if you can no longer afford to make your payments.
Talk to Your Ex
If something happens and you cannot afford to make your child support payments, talk to your ex. If you have a good and trusting relationship, he or she might not mind if you need a few weeks or months to get your financial life in order. Being upfront can be helpful in this situation, but you should never just stop making payments and let the situation unravel. Talk to your ex so he or she understands what is going on and is on your side.
Approach the Court
If you have an official child support payment plan on record with the court, you need to speak to the court about a modification. Even if you speak to your ex and work out an agreement with him or her, it’s always wise to make it legal. You can apply for a child support modification if you lose your job, take a pay cut, or something else major happens in your life.
The best way to do this is by contacting the Office of Child Support Enforcement with which your plan was enforced. You’ll need to discuss the situation and provide proof your income situation changed dramatically. Once you do this, there is no reason they won’t allow you to modify your payments for a while to let you get back on track with your own financial life.
If You’ve Already Stopped Paying
Perhaps you didn’t know there was another option available to you, and you already stopped paying your child support. If this is the case, you might be faced with a court hearing after failing to pay support. This is not good news, but don’t skip this hearing. You still have a chance to prove you weren’t trying to negate your payments, but skipping means there could be an arrest warrant issued in your name.
You can also hire an attorney to help you with this situation. A divorce attorney who specializes in child support modification might be able to help you make the best of this situation and figure out something that can help you get through this difficult time. The best way to handle a situation like this is with openness and honesty from the start. Hiding it and attempting to fix it on your own isn’t beneficial to anyone involved. If you have questions, call an attorney to ask what rights you have and what you can do.
When does the obligation to pay child support come to an end? Child support laws in the state of New York can be confusing at times. For example, the state of New York requires that a parent is liable for child support until the child reaches the age of 21. This child support obligation is added to the general requirement that a parent can be held responsible for the child’s college education.
Yet, at the same time, the law also states that New York children reach the age of majority at 18 years of age. It stands to reason, then, that where a child reaches the age of majority, he or she is no longer considered a child, but rather an adult. As an adult, the former child can no longer be considered to be in the custody of either parent.
This apparent conflict in child support laws leaves us with the contradiction that a parent of a child over the age of 18 can be ordered to pay child support for a “child” who is no longer in either parent’s custody. Neither parent has custody of the “child” yet a duty of support is owed.
There is one certain circumstance where child support comes to an end. When a child attains the age of 21 or other conditions exist, that child is considered “emancipated” by the state of New York. The term “emancipated” means that from the perspective of the state of New York, the child is considered an adult who is no longer eligible for child support.
The next question to be answered then is, what are the ways a child can become emancipated? Very often the two parents enter into an agreement during the course of divorce and/or custody cases in which they come to an understanding about what events would trigger a child’s emancipation. Often these agreements are very detailed.
If the parties are unable to reach an agreement on child support, their case would go before a court in the form of a child support hearing. Under these circumstances, the court will adhere to applicable state statutes which outline when a child becomes emancipated.
Sometimes emancipation is triggered when a child becomes financially independent. A child can become finanically independent when he or she enters into marriage, enters the military or military academy, or simply finds full-time employment. When this issue is presented to a court, the judge would most likely be concerned about whether the child is financially independent for the long-term. In other words, will the child be able to support himself or herself for a year and beyond?
When a child obtains temporary employment, he or she is clearly not emancipated. Once the summer employment ends, for example, the child will no longer be able to support himself or herself and that obligation would fall back upon the parents. Another example that would not trigger emancipation is where a child is simply working to save money for college expenses. In both situations, the child has not obtained permanent employment or financial independence.
Financial independence, however, is not the only way in which a child can become emancipated. If a mentally competent child is at an age where full-time employment is possible and that child voluntarily and without cause abandons the family home to avoid the control of a parent, against the will of a parent, then that child may be considered emancipated.
Moreover, if a child intentionally discontinues all contact with a non-cutodial parent, he or she may be considered emancipated for purposes of child support. There is an exception, however, to this last example in that if a child has good reason to either leave the family home or to discontinue contact with a non-custodial parent, then that child will not be considered emancipated. The idea here is that the conduct of the parent cannot be the cause of an abandonment of the home or a discontinuation of contact between parent and child.
Resumption of Support After Emancipation
Sometimes events occur that change the circumstances giving rise to the emancipation of a child. If the circumstances which provided for emancipation change significantly to the point that the child is no longer economically independent, then the child support obligation may be reinstated. In effect this means that emancipation only serves to suspend child support while the child remains under the age of 21.