Representing Parents In Support Matters
Parents in New York have an obligation to provide for the financial needs of their children until they are 21. When divorce occurs, or when parents end a nonmarital relationship, support is calculated using the New York Child Support Guidelines. Child support is paid monthly. The guidelines set the amount at a fixed percentage of the parents’ combined gross income, ranging from 17% for one child to no less than 35% for five or more children. The cap determining the combined about of child support is increasing every several years. The law also provides for methods to modify and enforce child support orders and agreements.
Although these guidelines provide a formula to calculate the amount of support due each month, it is only a guideline. The court can order support that deviates from that formula. Deviation from the presumptive amount of child support can also be discussed in mediation or collaborative divorce without the need to go to court.
Whether you expect to receive child support or pay it, it is important to work with a knowledgeable New York family law attorney when reaching an agreement on child support. The support order, along with an order on spousal maintenance, will play a large role in determining your financial foundation for post-divorce life. The Law and Mediation Office of Helene Bernstein, PLLC, protects the interests of parents and children in child support matters.
Mediation And Child Support
It is possible — in fact, many would say preferable — to reach an agreement regarding child support through mediation. A child’s parents are most familiar with their financial situation and the needs of their child. Addressing support issues in mediation allows both parties to remain focused on their priorities for the child and consider the realities of each parent’s financial capabilities.
Understanding How Child Support Is Determined
New York uses what is known as an income shares model to calculate child support. This model is based on the concept that a child should receive the same amount of financial support from parents as he or she would receive if the parents still lived together. The percentage of income that a parent is expected to contribute is adjusted depending upon how many children both parents have together, as well as whether the noncustodial parent has children from another relationship for whom he or she is paying support.
As with child custody orders, modifications to child support orders may be warranted if there are substantial changes in either parent’s situation or if the child’s needs change substantially, causing an increase in the cost of raising the child. This includes a change in either parent’s gross income by 15% since the order was entered or three years have passed since the order was entered in court. Ms. Bernstein assists clients in Brooklyn and Manhattan with petitions to modify an existing support order or responding to a petition to modify an existing support order.
There are situations where the parent required to pay support fails to do so either willfully or due to factors such as the loss of a job. Ms. Bernstein can assist in filing a downward modification of the support order or agreement in Family Court. She can also file an enforcement and violation petition on behalf of the parent who is not receiving their court-ordered child support which may include a request to put the nonpayer parent in jail for failure to pay their court-ordered child support. Ms. Bernstein has been successful in receiving a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) in Family Court from a nonpaying parent’s pension in order to pay off past-due child support.