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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.

The focus of child support is the comfort of the children

The main reason that the state of New York requires child support is to ensure that the children have a similar standard of living as they experienced when both of their parents remained in the marital home.

The state requires payment as a portion of the non-custodial parent's income. That percentage increases with the number of children in the family. For example, child support for a single kid will typically be 17 percent. For a family with four children, the parent paying child support will have to pay 31 percent of their income in child support.

For those who make more than $148,000 a year, some of that income may be exempt from child support requirements. The courts make a determination on a case-by-case basis.

The courts can take drastic measures to secure payment

Sometimes, one parent wants to refuse to pay child support. Maybe they feel like the amount is too high, or perhaps they don't feel like they get to see enough of their children. Regardless of the reason why a parent withholds child support, the state of New York can take legal action against a parent who fails to meet support obligations.

The state often starts with an attempt to garnish wages. If that is unsuccessful or insufficient to recoup the amount of owed support, the courts may also seize tax returns, or gambling or lottery winnings. In some cases, the state can place a lien against the property of the noncompliant parent or even arrest them for failing to pay child support for a significant amount of time.

Your ex can't waive the requirement to pay child support

Some people will do anything they can think of to avoid paying child support. They might even convince their spouse to sign a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that states there will be no such child support. Some people may attempt to secure the same outcome through divorce mediation or an uncontested divorce.

However, when the courts review the terms of your divorce, they are unlikely to approve waving child support obligations unless the custodial parent has the means to support the family. Financial support to children is not just a moral and familial obligation, but also a legal one in New York.

Anyone who believes they will soon divorce should explore their rights and responsibilities under the law in New York. Failing to familiarize yourself with how the state handles divorce proceedings could leave you vulnerable to complications and issues later in your divorce.

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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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