Child Support Lawyers in New York City
Parents have a legal obligation to provide for their children, and this obligation extends after divorce. In New York, the parent who does not have custody typically pays child support to the custodial parent. This money is not a “windfall” for the custodial parent but is instead money to defray the costs of raising a child.
Child support is often less contentious than child custody disputes, but it still can be complicated. Helpfully, New York has standardized the process somewhat so that you should be able to determine fairly quickly how much they will need to pay. Nevertheless, anyone involved in a child support case should retain qualified legal counsel to ensure that their legal rights are protected. To schedule a free consultation with a New York City child support attorney, call the Levoritz Law Firm today at 718-942-4004 or contact us online.
How are Child Support Payments Determined?
New York has adopted a formula to help calculate the amount of basic child support non-custodial parents pay. Basically, the formula relies on only two numbers—the combined income of both parents and the number of children being supported. This formula will apply in most cases.
The formula can be found in the Child Support Standards Chart release every year:
- One child supported: 17% of the combined income
- Two children supported: 25% of the combined income
- Three children supported: 29% of the combined income
- Four children supported: 31% of the combined income
- Five or more children supported: At least 35% of the combined income
Each parent then pays their pro rata share of the child support. If a couple has a high net worth, then income is capped at $148,000. But the judge has discretion as to whether to use a percentage for that income in excess of $148,000.
Kathy and Damon have a combined income of $80,000. Kathy makes $50,000, and Damon makes $30,000. They also have two children together. Damon is the custodial parent who has the children for more than 50% of the time, so Kathy needs to pay him child support.
Based on their income and the number of children they have, the couple has $20,000 a year in child support. Kathy’s share is 5/8 of that amount since she earns 5/8 of the couple’s combined income. So she will end up having to pay $12,500 a year to her ex-husband. Kathy obviously doesn’t need to pay $7,500 to herself, but that is the amount for which the state believes she is responsible.
Now imagine that Mike and Sheila have a combined income of $250,000 with one child. Mike earns all the income while Sheila stays home with their son. Based on the formula, child support will equal at least 17% of $148,000, which is the income cap. The judge will then need to decide how much of the excess (up to $250,000) Mike needs to pay in child support. If the couple enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, then Mike will probably need to pay more support to Kathy.
New York’s formulas provide a “basic” child support amount. There are also many other add-ons that parents will be responsible for, so these get added on top of the basic amount. For example, parents are responsible for:
- Medical care for their children. If a child is disabled, then medical expenses could be considerable.
- Child care expenses, such as daycare.
- Private schooling, including tuition and room and board.
- Extracurricular activities.
Generally, judges will look at the recent past to determine how much the couple has been spending on these add-ons and use those amounts as a guide.
How Long Do I Have to Pay Child Support?
Unlike other states, which allow parents to cut children off at age 18, New York requires that parents financially support their children until they turn 21. This also includes providing health insurance to the child. However, if the child is emancipated through enrollment in the military or marriage, then a parent does not need to pay. A child might also be self-supporting, which should terminate the child support obligation.
If a child is disabled, then parents might need to provide financial support for much longer. They should consult with an attorney about how to provide for a special needs child.
How Can Our Child Support Lawyers Help You?
Although New York relies on formulas to determine child support, there are many situations where a person needs the help of a lawyer.
For example, a spouse might choose to hide assets, which means they will not be used to calculate child support. Many of our clients suspect that their spouse has more assets hidden somewhere but are unsure of how to find proof. This is where we come in. We can use different tools to uncover the existence of hidden assets. Sometimes, this requires sending subpoenas to different banks or brokerage companies. In other situations, we might need to use a forensic accountant to help us trace where money has been deposited.
In other circumstances, a non-custodial parent might deliberately try to make less money so that they can minimize their child support obligation. For example, a parent with considerable education will take a lower-paying job soon after filing for divorce. When judges make a child support calculation, they can impute income to the parent, but this requires a detailed presentation of the facts.
Also, there are some situations where our clients need more child support than the formula provides. Judges have the discretion to deviate from the formula, but you need to convince the judge that it is necessary to do so. This requires an experienced legal advocate who can marshal the facts in your favor.
Contact a New York City Child Support Lawyer to Get Started
Parents always have the right to reach an agreement on child support themselves and then ask the judge to sign off on their agreement. But when an agreement is not possible, they will probably end up in court. Make sure you have an experienced legal advocate in your corner.
At the Levoritz Law Firm, we have helped many divorcing men and women obtain child support. We have also obtained support orders for unmarried couples once paternity has been established. To schedule a free consultation with a child support lawyer in NYC, call us today at 718-942-4004 or contact us online.