Child support is something that almost all divorcing parents have to worry about, both emotionally and financially. This article answers many of the questions you may have about your upcoming child support settlement agreement and how the seasoned child support attorneys in Nassau County can help you in preserving your child’s well-being.
How do Nassau County Courts Determine Child Support?
When settling a child support agreement, the Nassau County courts will turn to the New York Child Support Standards Act (CSSA). Put simply, and this act seeks to fairly and justly determine the financial cost of raising a child fairly and justly.
With this, the courts will take a percentage of the combined income between you and your spouse of up to $148,000 annually. Then, they will proportionally distribute the support between you and your spouse. This percentage will vary depending on the number of children you and your spouse have. These percentages are 17, 25, 29, 31, and at least 35 percent for one, two, three, four, and five or more children, respectively.
Additionally, the courts will consider any other factors that they deem relevant to reach a child support settlement agreement. This is done on a case-by-case basis, as the ultimate goal is to ensure that your child maintains their standard of living. The other considered factors may include the following:
- Your child’s age and health.
- Your child’s education.
- Whether your child has any special needs.
- Your child custody agreement.
- Your and your spouse’s education and earning capacity.
- Your and your spouse’s yearly income.
- Whether you or your spouse has any debts or liabilities.
Do Higher-Income Families Have to Pay More for Child Support?
As mentioned above, with the CSSA, the Nassau County courts will take a percentage of the combined income between you and your spouse of up to $148,000 annually.
However, if you and your spouse’s combined income exceeds this cap, the courts may determine that more child support is necessary. This is particularly the case with higher-income families because the child’s lifestyle would likely substantially change if support was only granted up to the cap.
The courts do not look favorably on higher-income non-custodial parents that rely on the cap as a way to pay less for their child than they would have if they had not divorced their spouse. Therefore, if you are the custodial parent in this situation, it is essential to retain the services of an attorney who will argue to the courts that additional support should be granted based on the additional income beyond the cap.
On the other hand, the court is less likely to award additional support when the additional income beyond the cap can be mostly or entirely attributable to the custodial parent. Thus, if you are the non-custodial parent in this situation, your attorney can claim that additional support is not required.
What is Covered under Child Support in New York State?
Child support covers essential obligations such as your child’s food, clothing, and shelter.
With this, there are mandatory add-on expenses, and you and your spouse are responsible for your proportional share. These expenses include the following:
- The cost of your child’s health insurance.
- The cost of unreimbursed health care expenses (i.e., co-payments).
- The cost of any necessary child care expenses while the custodial parent is at school or work.
Other add-on expenses that are not mandatory but that the courts may deem relevant are educational expenses, religious expenses, and the costs of extracurricular activities, among others.
Am I Allowed to Change the Terms of My Child Support Agreement?
Child support is a settlement agreement commonly prone to a post-judgment modification.
For example, if your child has reached the age of emancipation, this is considered grounds for termination of your child support agreement. Other grounds for termination are if your child gets married, joins the military, or it can be proven that they are now financially independent.
However, if you are a non-custodial parent, your custodial parent may counter by requesting extensions on child support past the legal age of emancipation. This request may be made if your child plans on attending higher education, has special needs, or they otherwise have valid grounds to receive an extension of support.
What if My Ex is Refusing to Pay Child Support?
One of the best ways to resolve the issue of your ex refusing to pay child support is to file a contempt complaint.
During the contempt proceeding, if the Nassau County judge determines that your ex has only missed child support payment, they may order your ex to pay the outstanding amount in addition to a penalty fee. Or, if they determine that your ex has repeatedly refused to make child support payments, they may sentence your ex to jail.
It is important to note that a contempt of court charge is a serious offense with severe consequences, aside from potentially receiving a jail sentence. For example, this offense may allow you to file for a post-judgment modification proceeding, enabling you to alter your divorce order. Ultimately, this may result in your ex losing their right to visitation or custody.
When am I Allowed to Stop Paying Child Support?
While modifying your child support agreement can be difficult, it is still possible. However, it will usually only be limited if a major, unexpected change occurs in your life.
For example, if a change in your circumstances restricts you from paying child support, you must go to court as soon as possible to file a petition for a modification of the order. If you stop paying without making an official request, your owed payments will continue to add up.
Contact a Nassau County Child Support Lawyer
When it comes to child support, an experienced Nassau County family law attorney can make all the difference. With us on your side through every step of the legal process ahead, you and your child are in good hands. Contact Barrows Levy PLLC today to schedule your initial consultation with our firm.