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Buffalo Family Law Blog

What single parents should know about child support

After divorce, parents must still provide financial support for their children. Laws and court orders governing child support can be confusing, complex and viewed as being unfair. Generally, parents without physical custody must pay the other parent with custody until the child becomes an adult. Calculations are usually based upon the parents' gross incomes after deductions for health care premiums and work-related childcare. Courts consider salary or self-employment earnings and may also include tips, commissions, bonuses and annuities.

New York and other states use a formula for setting child support to assure that the child is protected and supported. Deviations are prohibited unless a parent has extraordinary assets, health problems or there is another unusual situation. Divorce mediation can usually resolve most issues, except for child support. Even if both parents have joint custody, the parent with the higher income will pay more.

Things to know about child support

Issues involving children can make divorce even more complicated. While New York law has guidelines to help courts calculate child support, there are some important things to keep in mind. Courts usually require a parent to pay child support so that the other parent who has primary custody does not have sole financial responsibility for keeping up their children's standard of living. Calculating support depends on each parent's income, the number of children and the amount of time each parent spends with their children.

Courts may also take other factors into consideration, such as whether a parent pays spousal support and which parent pays for childcare, health insurance, education and academic expenses. However, the need for support is the most important consideration. Courts can also modify their support orders when a parent argues that there was a change in circumstances. Modification may be based upon a parent losing their job, becoming disabled, substantially increasing their income or receiving a large inheritance.

Divorce post-script

A marriage may legally end with a divorce decree. Planning for divorce, however, should also include taking actions after the decree is issued. A spouse who was on their ex's health insurance policy must obtain their own policy. Likewise, the ex must be removed from a spouse's policy and the insurance carrier should receive notification about the change in their marital status.

Joint expenses need to be changed because a spouse may be liable for their ex-spouse's spending. The former spouse should be removed from items such as credit cards and utilities and as an authorized user on individual financial accounts. Joint accounts need to be closed. A spouse should have their name removed from any credit cards held by their ex.

Stay off of social media in a custody dispute

You feel comfortable putting a lot of personal information on social media. Your name. Your age. Pictures from your latest vacation. Information about where you work and where you went to school.

There was a time when people liked the internet because it was anonymous. That's changed. These days, everything seems to find its way online. And, in many cases, you can't delete it or take it back.

Adoption reform bills introduced

Some of New York's adoption laws have not kept up with the times. Even though open adoption has contributed to child's biological parents' involvement, the state keeps birth certificates and adoption records secret. However, legislation was recently introduced which would automatically allow access to birth records for adoptees when they reach 18 years of age.

Adoption records have remained secret in New York since 1935. Governor Herbert Lehman, an adoptive father, signed a law that sealed adoptees' birth certificates. This was intended to protect the privacy of parents who, at that time, faced cultural shame for having children out of wedlock and who were unable to care for their child.

Unfriending some technology in divorce

Electronic media and personal electronic devices can become a headache after a couple ends their marriage or a relationship. because of this, a person should make important technology changes when planning for divorce.

Couples usually know each other's mostly-used passwords for online bank accounts, health care and entertainment. When the divorce process is beginning, it is important to separate these type of accounts and change passwords. This will help alleviate meddling or curiosity from the soon-to-be former ex, their friends and significant others.

Adoption by same-sex couples

For several years now, same-sex couples have the right to marry. New York and all other states also recognize adoption by gay and lesbian couples. Thus, they need to prepare for options such as agency adoption and undertake many of the procedural steps other couples must undergo.

The 2010 U.S. Census showed that 115,064 same-sex couples had children. According to a 2013 study by the Williams Institute, 13 percent of LGBT families had adopted children while three percent of heterosexual couples had adopted children.

Basics of same-sex divorces

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down legal restrictions to same-sex marriages in 2015. But these marriages are not immune to the possibility of divorce that impacts other marriages. Same-sex couples planning for divorce also face unique problems.

Before the Court invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act which restricted same-sex marriages, these couples lived in different types of relationships such as domestic partnerships. This often depended on the state where they lived. There have been approximately 491,000 same-sex marriages in this country.

Divorcing parents should understand New York child support basics

Going through divorce forces couples to learn and experience things they likely never expected. There are many unique legal and financial considerations during and after divorce. For couples with children, one of the most pressing issues will be child support.

Understanding how New York handles child support can help you make informed decisions in your divorce, regardless of whether you expect to pay child support or collect it for the care of your children.

Changing agreements after marriage

Pre-nuptial agreements may be helpful to resolve matters if a couple ever decides to divorce. But a prenup may not be modified or amended after marriage. Couples, however, can prepare new post-nuptial agreements that can deal with issues such as property division if their marriage ends.

Postnuptial agreements may address circumstances that have changed since marriage. These include receiving an inheritance, using separate property to purchase a joint asset or giving up work or school to stay at home to raise the couple's children.

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Linda M. DiPasquale, Attorney at Law

Linda M. DiPasquale, Attorney at Law
1 Niagara Square
Buffalo, NY 14202

Phone: 716-800-2591
Fax: 716-854-0059
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