FAQs on Collaborative: Child Support

Collaborative Divorce has many finer points that clients and students often ask about. These FAQs posts clarify some of these muddier details, giving you the opportunity to accrue as much helpful information as you can. Whether you are considering your divorce options, seeking more knowledge about the process you’ve already chosen, or hoping to learn more about Collaborative Divorce more generally, the FAQs on Collaborative are a straight-forward teaching tool to answer specific questions you might have. If you have more questions, please feel free to contact the Miller Law Group at 914-738-7765.

What factors help determine a child support award in New York?

It may be helpful to think of child support as being comprised of two parts. There’s the basic child support obligation, which is intended to cover expenses like food, shelter and clothing for the child or children. Basic child support is usually paid from one parent to the other to help support the child or children in the recipient’s home. The New York Child Support Guideline statutes calculate this “basic” child support as a percentage.

Then, there are the “add on” categories in addition to the “basic” the child support award, which include child care, health care and educational expenses. These add-on expenses are often paid to a third party such as a doctor, babysitter or tutor. New York Law does give parents the right to opt out of the statutory formula and choose a different structure for certain reasons that must be clearly articulated, as long as particular criteria are met.

Can child support be modified over time?

Parents may seek a modification or change of a child support order based upon a showing of:

  • A substantial change in circumstances. What exactly constitutes a “substantial change of circumstances” varies from case to case. Some examples include changes in a child’s needs, a paying parent’s illness or significant involuntary decrease in that parent’s income.
  • The passage of three years have passed since the order was issued (this only applies to agreements or orders made on or after October 13, 2010). A parent can file a petition for the court to recalculate a child support order every three years in situations where either parent’s income has changed. It is important to note that the ability to file a petition is by no means a guarantee that a change will be granted; or
  • A 15% increase or decrease in either parent’s income since the original order was issued (this only applies to agreements or orders made on or after October 13, 2010). If a paying parent’s income decreases by at least 15%, he or she can file a petition for “downward modification,” or a reduction to child support. Parents petitioning a court for a downward modification because of a decrease in income must be able to show the court that the reduced income was not voluntary and that they engaged in real efforts to secure more income or other employment. If the paying parent’s income has increased, the receiving parent may petition the court for an “upward modification” or increase to the previous child support order. It is important to know that none of the above circumstances create an automatic change nor do they allow a parent to change the child support being paid without the written and acknowledged consent of both parents or a court order.

Katherine Miller

914-738-7765

katherine@westchesterfamilylaw.com

www.westchesterfamilylaw.com