New York Child Support Laws – What You Need to Know

New York law strives to protect the interest of children. In the event parents are separated or divorced, the court may order a parent to pay child support. The law considers the parent’s duty to support the child financially to be independent of other factors such as the reasons for the divorce or the behavior of the parents.

Section 413 of the New York Family Court Act discusses “Parents’ Duty to Support Child”. Basically, if you are the parent of a child the state will expect you to support that child from the child’s date of birth to the day the child turns 21. However, there are exceptions.

Some Exceptions to Paying Child Support

If you feel your child is too independent to receive child support, check if one of these categories applies:

  • Your child got married against your will
  • Your child has abandoned their home which was not provoked by the parents
  • Your child is in the military
  • Your child has a full time job
  • Your child is over the age of 21

New York Courts Will Still Exercise Discretion

Note that not all these categories are automatic and the court may exercise discretion to protect the interests of the child. If the parents are shirking their duties, then the courts are unlikely to relieve them of their obligation to pay support. However, if a child is rejecting parental authority, then the courts may relieve the parents of their obligations. Furthermore, in some cases, the parents may have negotiated child support arrangements – for example to provide for a child attending post-secondary education even after the age of 21 – and in this case, the courts may enforce this agreement.

Low Income and Child Support

If you feel you are paying too much child support or should not be paying child support, then check if your income is below the threshold where the court would consider you to be “possessed of sufficient means” to pay child support. The cut off is calculated to be slightly higher than the poverty income guideline and is recalculated annually. In 2011, the figure is $14,702. Individuals earning under this amount need only pay $300 per year.

How Much Child Support Can You Expect To Pay

New York law uses formulas to calculate the support payable. A major advantage of formulas is that it reduces the cost of litigating and negotiating child support. This approach can also reduce the conflict between parents since this is not a figure they need to try to agree to – the amount is more or less decided by the system.

If you have one child, the court will expect you to pay 17% of your income in child support. If you have two children, you will be expected to pay 25% of your income in child support.

That said, parents with a combined income of over $130,000 may negotiate an arrangements outside of the guidelines.

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