New York Divorce Guide

Child Support

As if there weren’t enough Child custody strategieschallenges, you may feel like you’ve been thrown under the divorce bus. And a city bus at that. It’s not the end of the world, although it probably feels like it. Hopefully we’ve covered the details enough here to give you a good framework with which to work.

**Special notice: New York State has finally passed laws that permit couples to divorce with no-fault grounds. Now all 50 states permit no-fault divorces. Welcome to the Twenty-First Century New York!

Q. My spouse and I are separating. Do NYS child support laws permit temporary child support or spousal support (maintenance)?
Yes, both child support and maintenance is possible. You will need to petition the court, and provide a financial statement.

Save yourself the hassle by downloading divorceĀ forms here

Q. I know child support is based on the incomes of the parents. What are the percentages of parental income per child?
NYS child support guidelines require the following percentages be paid from gross income:

  • 17% for one child
  • 25% for two children
  • 29% for three children
  • 31% for four children and
  • 35% or more for five or more children

Q. I can’t afford a lawyer, but I know I need one. What can I do?
There are any number of organizations that provide free legal advice. Contact the New York Bar Association using the link above and they will refer you. Also be aware that if one spouse has complete control of the marital money and does not allow the other spouse access to hire an attorney, the court can order the attorney fees be paid out of the funds of the controlling parent.

Q. I hear that because the NYS child support are so archaic the state recognizes a Dominican Republic divorce. Is that true? Does New York child support get settled there?
Yes, that is true. Your state’s divorce laws are archaic and New York does recognize these divorces. Both parties need to travel there to get it done, but do your states laws if you live outside of NY. In many cases you do not need to return back to court. As an aside, divorce in Guam is universally recognized, and after the parties appear there, the divorce normally goes through in a matter of weeks. Child support must be settled in a state court, rather than a territory.

Q. I can no longer afford my child support payment I was ordered to pay. Can I get them lowered?
Modifications to child support orders can be made if one petitions the court and demonstrates a significant change of circumstances. Even if you merged your divorce agreement into the divorce judgment, you can still have it modified. This of course also applies to one petitioning the court to raise the amount.

Q. Can the court reduce or eliminate my arrears of NYS child support?
No. Any accrual that occurred prior to a petition to get child support lowered cannot be reduced or eliminated.

Q. If you sign over your parental rights to a child do you still have to pay NYS child support?
It really will depend on your jurisdiction or state. Signing over parental rights does not necessarily relieve one of the child support obligation unless the other parents agrees. Where adoption is involved, being absolved of child support is more frequent.

Q. I want joint custody so I don’t have to pay any child support. How can I get this done?
With joint physical custody there is still a payment of child support from the higher income parent to the lower income parent, usually determined by a sliding scale based on time with each parent.

Q. Will a new spouse have to pay child support?
No, a new spouse is not legally obligated to support the children of the new spouse’s previous marriages or relationships. However, if the new spouse has joint assets (such a Community Property state) or a joint checking account those assets can be attached.

Q. Is there a place on-line that I can go to so that I might see the child support payments in my case with my ex-spouse?
Yes, the DCSE (Department of Child Support Enforcement) has a NYS child support log-in page where you can track payment status.

Q. At what age does NYS child support end?
The paying of child support ends with the child’s 21st birthday, unless that child becomes emancipated.

NY child support online:

[Domestic Relations Laws – Article 13 – Sections 236, 240, and 243]

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