Syracuse Child Support Lawyer
Parents in New York State must support their children financially until the children are either emancipated or reach the age of twenty-one (21). A parent must support their child regardless of the nature of the relationship between the co-parenting partners or between the paying parent and the child.
As part of a divorce or separation, parents must arrange child support. In most cases, the parent who provides the child’s primary residence receives support from the other parent.
Because child support negotiations are often emotional discussions between parties that are often working on other tense issues unrelated to the child or his/her support, many parents find it helpful to work with an experienced family attorney when negotiating the terms of a child support order. Modifications to a child support order are often made due to changes in the parents’ circumstances. A Syracuse child support lawyer can assist a parent with modifying an existing child support obligation if allowed by the circumstances presented. In addition, a Syracuse child support lawyer can guide a parent through the process of involving the Court in order to collect child support arrears.
Determining the Amount of Child Support
Child support is based on a percentage of the parents’ combined gross income. The formula is straightforward. The percentage that parents must allocate for child support increases with the number of children, from seventeen (17) percent for one (1) child to thirty-five (35) percent for five (5) or more children. That amount is divided between the parents, with each being responsible to pay an amount proportionate to their income. For example, if one parent earns two-thirds of the couple’s gross income, they would pay two-thirds of the amount allocated for child support to the other parent.
.Deviations from the straightforward percentage-based child support formula can be made by the Court or through the agreement by the couple. Either the Court or the couple is able to determine a child support amount outside of the formula. If one parent cannot afford to pay their full percentage or circumstances make it unfair for them to do so, the Court is able to approve a lesser amount as long as the child’s needs are met. If the family enjoyed a privileged lifestyle when the parents were together, the Court might require a larger child support payment than that in the formula so that the child does not experience a significant change in their standard of living due to their parents’ separation. A couple is also able to determine and agree upon child support arrangements together, and put their agreement in writing. If their agreement deviates from the amount the guidelines would provide, New York State’s Domestic Relations Law § 240 (1-b) requires the couple to state in their written agreement that they are aware of the deviation and that they waive the right to the guideline amount. An experienced Syracuse child support attorney can formalize a couple’s agreement into a written document which will comply with all legal requirements.
Modification of a Child Support Order
Child support is a Court-Ordered, legally enforceable obligation. Parents must pay child support according to the Court’s Order until the child is twenty-one (21) years old, or until the court issues a new support Order.
Circumstances change as time passes, which may necessitate for a parent a necessary or beneficial change to the child support Order. The law in New York allows a parent to petition to modify child support if they demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances. Changes in a parent’s circumstances that might qualify include:
- A job loss
- A substantial increase in income or assets
- Health problems
Additionally, a significant change in the child’s needs may qualify as a change in circumstances.
The parents can negotiate a modification between themselves and present the agreed upon change to the Court, for approval. If one parent resists modifying the agreement, the parent seeking modification must convince the Court that it would be in the child’s best interests. A experienced, skilled lawyer can help a parent prepare a strong case – either for or against – the modification of a child support agreement in Syracuse.
Enforcing Child Support
Sometimes a parent will experience temporary financial difficulties and fall behind on making their child support payments. In such circumstances, the parent can petition the Court to modify the child support Order until the parent is able to catch up. If the Court grants a modification, the parent remains obliged to pay the arrears plus interest.
If one parent has fallen behind on support payments, a proactive attorney in Syracuse could help a receiving parent enforce the child support Order. An experienced child support lawyer is able to file a motion asking the Court to Order the defaulting parent to pay what they owe or face contempt charges. The Court has broad discretion to enforce child support, and may:
- Impose fines
- Garnish a parent’s wages
- Attach their tax refunds or bank accounts
- Order a parent to jail
Sometimes a parent withholds access to the children if the other parent does not pay child support, or a parent might refuse to pay support unless they get more access to their child. In either situation, the action is illegal and damaging to the child. Financial support and parenting time are separate issues: Courts consider it an affront to the child’s rights when a parent connects one issue to the other.
Contact a Syracuse Child Support Attorney for Assistance
Child support is an emotional issue and can easily become contentious between parents. Sometimes, having a professional handle the dispute is the best way to manage the matter productively.
A Syracuse child support lawyer knows the law and how challenging support disputes can be. Call today to get a knowledgeable attorney working for you.