Child support refers to payments by a non-custodial parent to a custodial parent for the benefit and maintenance of a minor child. State laws govern child support, but judges have some discretion. In New York, child support is treated as a separate matter from visitation and custody. A parent cannot withhold child support payments because the other party is interfering with his custodial or visitation rights.
Basic Support Calculation
Under New York law, the income of both parents is considered when calculating child support. All money reportable on a federal tax return, including employment wages and investment income, is counted. The law also counts unearned income, such as Social Security and unemployment compensation. A judge may consider other types of income or even fringe employment benefits received by a parent. The court deducts expenses from the parents' income before applying the support percentage. Deductions may include unreimbursed employee business expenses, court-ordered alimony, child support paid for another child, and mandatory payroll deductions. As of 2012, if the total income for both parents after deductions is $130,000 or less, the support amount for one child is 17 percent of the paying parent's income after deductions. For parents with combined incomes greater than that amount, the judge decides whether the basic guideline percentages are appropriate or if it's best to deviate from the guidelines.
New York law allows for additional child support for certain expenses. This amount is in addition to the basic income percentage. Add-ons include day care costs, health insurance premiums, medical costs and educational expenses. The court decides the amount using various figures, including how much each parent makes and how much each add-on costs on average.
As of 2012, either parent may file for a support modification in New York if the income level of either parent has changed by at least 15 percent since the last order was entered; the order or last modification was filed more than three years ago; or a substantial change in circumstances has occurred. For example, if a child develops a serious health condition after the support order is entered and medical costs not covered by insurance are incurred, circumstances have changed. A paying parent who loses his job may experience both a change in circumstances and a reduction of income exceeding 15 percent. The law gives courts discretion in modification cases.
New York law allows for a cost-of-living adjustment to child support. The original support order can be modified under this provision without a court hearing. State child support agencies review active cases every two years. As of 2012, the adjustment is applicable if the area cost-of-living has increased by more than 10 percent since the order was entered or last reviewed. The agency may automatically raise the support amount by the cost-of-living differential or notify parents of their right to request this adjustment.
The law provides various means of enforcing child support in New York state. If an obligated parent doesn't pay the required amount, the individual's state tax refund may be seized. Other remedies include seizure of bank accounts, mandatory paycheck deductions, driver's license revocation and denial of a U.S. passport. In addition, a parent who is delinquent on child support may be found in contempt of court and could face fines and jail time.
In New York, child support usually ends when the child turns 21. Support may end when the child turns 18 if the paying parent files in court and shows the child is emancipated or financially independent. If the child enters the military, marries or has a permanent, full-time job, the court may consider the child financially independent. If the child leaves the custodial parent's home without permission to avoid parental control, the court may consider the child emancipated. However, if the paying parent approved the child's move or the child moved for a good reason, as determined by the court, the child support obligation will remain in force. If the parents had a legal agreement, such as a marital settlement, that terminated support before the age of 21, the paying parent may be able to stop child support prior to the child turning 21 per the agreement.