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New York Child Support Lawyer

Legal conflicts involving family relationships can be complex and emotionally charged, especially when children are involved. If you are in a legal battle involving child support, you need a child support attorney in Manhattan you can trust. Stepanian Law Firm will help you successfully resolve your child support case and will work hard to provide the personalized, attentive service you deserve.


What is Child Support?


Child support is the financial support one parent pays to the other to help care for their minor child. Child support is meant to cover basic living expenses (housing, groceries and clothing) and ‘add-on’ expenses (extracurricular activities, sport, camp, etc.)


Who Pays Child Support?


Usually, the parent, who has residential custody of the child, will receive child support payments. The non-custodial parent, generally, will pay child support. In cases where both parents spend an equal amount of time with their child, the spouse with higher income will likely be responsible for paying child support.

For how long do I pay or receive child support?


You must pay child support in NYC until your child turns 21, or until your child becomes legally emancipated. Generally, a child is deemed emancipated when:

  1. The child is married; or

  2. The child is in the military; or

  3. The child finishes college; or

  4. The child is working full-time. This does not county summer jobs.

  5. The child permanently leaves home.


Do I have to go to Court for Child Support?

No, if both you and your spouse agree on the amount of support to be paid. But if you are worried that your Ex will make an agreement with you and then back out, you should consult with a Manhattan child support attorney.
Upon consulting with your child support attorney, they will prepare a written child support agreement, which will stand up in Court. Then, they will initiate a Court proceeding to convert your written agreement into a Court order. If after you receive a child support order from the Court and your spouse defaults in making the payments, then you can take your Order and demand for a judge to enforce it.
Additionally, if you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement about child support, then you must look to the Court to decide on your behalf. In this case, the Court uses a standard formula to calculate child support.


How is Child Support in NYC calculated?

In the interest of fairness, the Court will use a standard formula to calculate how much child support a person should pay. The amount paid is based on how much the parties earn in a year and on the number of children involved.

The court first determines your gross income.

Gross Income Factors in a Divorce

Income from tax return
Net Investment Income = Income – Expenses
Voluntarily deferred income
Worker’s Compensation Benefits
Disability benefits
Unemployment insurance benefits
Social Security Benefits
Veterans Benefits
Pensions and retirement benefits
Fellowships & Stipends
Discretionary Imputed Income: Non-income producing assets; Meals, lodging, memberships, automobiles; Fringe Benefits; Money, goods or services provided by others.
Mandatory Imputed Income: Imputed earning capacity; Excess depreciation deductions; Excess travel and entertainment deduction.
Non-recurring payments: discretionary, e.g.: life insurance policy, discharging debt; recovering bad debts; gift & inheritances; lottery winnings.
Then, the Court will deduct certain items from the gross income:

Deductions from Gross Income in a Divorce
Unreimbursed employee business expenses
Alimony to non-party spouse
Alimony to party spouse if the agreement or order provides for this deduction
Child support for child not subject in this action
Public assistance
Supplemental security income
NYC or Yonkers income taxes
FICA – social security tax + Medicare tax
Upon subtracting the above deductions from the gross income, the Court will multiply the adjusted gross income by the standard guideline percentage for the number of children. These percentages are as follows:

Example of a Child Support Calculation in NYC






Payer Portion = $57,991.93 / $96,653.22         60.00%
Payee Portion = $38,661.29 / $96,653.22         40.00%






The Court will order child support as provided above unless it finds that the payments would be unjust. In considering whether payments are just, the Court will evaluate the following:

Parties financial resources
Child’s special needs and abilities either physical or emotional
Child’s standard of living during the marriage
Tax consequences to the parties
Parties’ non-monetary contributions
Either party’s educational needs
Income disparity among parties
Non-custodial parent’s child support obligations for children not subject to the instant action
If child is not on public assistance, extraordinary expenses incurred by non-custodial parent to exercising visitation and
Any other relevant factors


Additional Child Support Payments

In addition to support payments, the Court may also order “add-ons” for your child’s childcare costs, camp, uninsured medical expenses, tutoring and other educational expenses.
In determining the sum to be paid for add-ons, the Court, first, will determine the amount of add-on expenses. Second, the Court will determine each parent’s pro rata share of the add-ons.
The court will compute each parent’s pro rata share of add-on expenses by:

  1. Computing both parent’s annual income;

  2. Combining the parental annual income; 

  3. Dividing each parent’s individual annual income by the combined parental income.

Can I ask the Court for Child Support even if I never got married?

Yes. Regardless of marital status, both parents are liable for the financial support of their child. Keep in mind though that a question may arise as to whether the father has a legal obligation to support the child. In this instance, you must establish that your partner is your child’s father.


You may do this by showing the Court that

  1. the father signed an admission of support;

  2. the father signed the birth certificate; or

  3. you may commence a Paternity Proceeding in the Family Court and ask for the judge to determine whether your partner is your child’s father.


Am I responsible for the Support of my Adopted Child?

Yes. Mothers and fathers are liable for any children they adopt, whether as single persons or as part of a married couple.

Why are father’s more likely to pay child support?

As provided above, the non-custodial parent usually is required to pay child support. The custodial parent may be the father or the mother. Therefore, the sex of a parent does not determine which parent pays.
Prior to 1980, the law stated that a father was responsible for the support of his minor child. The mother would be responsible for the financial support of the child only if the father was dead, incapable of supporting his child, or outside of the state.
These laws were challenged as discriminatory against fathers and led to Court decisions finding that courts had a duty to apportion child support costs between the mother and the father "in accordance with their respective means and responsibilities, without regard to the sex of the parent." The law was then changed to require that both parents are responsible for support of their minor child.
It is an interesting irony that, under the old, sex-based rule that made fathers primarily liable for support, non-custodial fathers probably ended up paying less, proportionately to the combined parents' incomes, than non-custodial fathers do today under the sex-neutral Child Support Standards Act (CSSA). The reason for this result is that child support orders were generally much lower prior to the CSSA, so that custodial mothers who received inadequate child support orders were forced to make up the difference out of their own incomes, which were usually very low. The combined effect of sex-neutralizing the statutes and enacting the CSSA is that both non-custodial mothers and non-custodial fathers will probably end up paying more than they would have under prior law. This is not a great change in liability for fathers--merely a difference in amount--but it is a radical change for non-custodial mothers, who often paid no child support under the old sex-based rules.
The above is a quote from NY Civil Practice: Family Court Proceedings § 10.04


When Can I Start Receiving Child Support?

The effective date of a child support order relates back to the date a request was filed with the Court. In Family Court, the request for child support is made by filing a child support petition. In Supreme Court, the request is made by filing child support motion papers.


Am I Eligible for Child Support Services from the Support Collections Unit?

Any parent or caregiver acting as a guardian of at least one child under the age of 21 is eligible to apply for child support services. Such a person is considered the custodial parent in the child support case. If you are applying for, or receiving, Temporary Assistance for the child, child support services may be provided to you should you apply to the program. Child support services may also be provided if you are applying for Medicaid for yourself and the child and you complete an application/referral for child support services. Child support services will continue after you stop receiving Temporary Assistance or Medicaid unless you request your child support case be closed. Child support services are also provided for a child placed in foster care and may continue after the foster care placement ends. If the child returns to you after being discharged from foster care, child support services will continue unless you request otherwise. A child under the age of 21 or a non-custodial parent or father may also apply or be eligible for child support services.
For more information go to:


Can I modify a prior child support award?

Yes. Either parent may seek an upward or downward child support modification of the order under certain circumstances:
There is substantial change in the income or expenses of either one or both spouses by 15% or more; or
Three or more years have passed since child support was first decided or was last modified.
The Court cannot modify your child support order unless you formally request the change, which you may do by filing a petition or motion papers. Even if you are requested a downward modification, you are still responsible to make payments as initially order until the Court issues an amended order. Note, that the modified order will be affective retroactively to the date when you first made your request for modification as such it is important that you apply for child support modification as soon as possible.


How can the Child Support Enforcement Unit help me?

The following services are provided by the Child Support Enforcement Unit:
Establishment of a case record.
Location of the noncustodial parent or putative father, including obtaining information about addresses, employment, other sources of income and assets, and health care coverage.
Assistance to establish paternity (legal fatherhood) for a child born to unmarried parents by voluntary acknowledgment of paternity or by filing a petition with the court.
Assistance with filing court petitions to establish and modify an order of support according to the New York State child support guidelines, including obtaining health insurance benefits, if available, from either parent.

Assistance in making an order of support payable to the Support Collection Unit.
Collection and distribution of support payments. This may include collection and distribution of child support; child and spousal support; educational expenses; child care expenses; and cash medical support, if any of these are included in the order of support made payable through the Support Collection Unit.

Enforcement of support obligations using all available administrative remedies including, but not limited to: income withholding from employment, benefits, or other income; interception of federal and New York State tax refunds; seizure of assets; credit reporting of support debt; suspension of the noncustodial parent’s New York State driving privileges; and referral to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance for collection. Court ordered health insurance benefits are also enforced by the Child Support Enforcement Unit.
Filing and prosecuting violation petitions to enforce an order of support through court when administrative remedies are unsuccessful.

Legal services (optional to the applicant) upon signing a Right to Recovery Agreement for Legal Services (LDSS- 4920) for court proceedings. Costs will be recovered for legal services.
Child support services listed above where parents live in other counties, states, or countries.
Continuation of child support services listed above when a family is no longer eligible for Temporary Assistance, Medicaid, or foster care.
You can visit for more information about child support enforcement in New York or call the helpline at 888-208-4485.
The above is a quote from the New York State Information about Child Support Services Guide.


What should I do about Child Support if I lose my job?

If you are Court-ordered to pay child support and you lose your job, you should ask a New York child support lawyer to file a request to suspend or modify your child support obligation amount immediately. Losing your job is a valid reason for modification, as it substantially alters your financial and life circumstances.


Can I Quit My Job to Get a Support Modification?

No. If the only reason you are quitting your job is to request a downward modification for child support or spousal support, don’t quit your job!! If your spouse can prove you did this in Court, then you will not receive a downward modification. The Court will instead ‘impute income’ to you, meaning that they will base your income on what you earned in the past or what you are capable of earning. This is based on your job history, local job opportunities, education, and skillset.

Low-Income Parties

The Child Support Standards Act states that the Court cannot order child support below 25 dollars per month. Thus, even where the parent without custody of the minor child is on welfare, an award of at least $25 per month must be made to the parent with custody. One reason for this law is to remind each parent that no matter how poor he or she is, providing support for his or her minor child is a legal obligation. It also allows the Court to order that debts be paid at a later time when resources become available, typically from employment. It also permits the parent without custody of the child to be tracked and monitored for improved ability to pay child support.  

Compassionate Representation by a New York Child Support Lawyer

Child-related legal matters can be devastating. That is why Stepanian Law Firm does everything possible to bring about a positive resolution to your child support case while minimizing stress and hassle. Our child support attorneys based in Manhattan pledge to handle your child support case with the utmost professionalism and compassion while working to protect your best interests.

Our Firm’s philosophy is that clients come first. If you are involved in a child support conflict, Stepanian Law Firm is here to help. Schedule a consultation with our New York child support lawyers today or call us at (646) 596-6874.

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