Child support is often established at the time of divorce, though it may be amended or adjusted as circumstances change. Essentially, it ensures that the non-custodial parent is contributing to the child’s care through regular monetary payments. While child support laws vary from state to state, the laws that govern New York state’s courts are fairly straightforward. A basic understanding of these laws and how support is determined can help you understand more about pursuing child support in Brooklyn courts.
How is Child Support Initiated?
Typically, issues of child custody and support are addressed at the time of a divorce or through mediation. After the couple separates, the welfare of minor children will have to be addressed, so custody and support will have to be determined. Once custody of the children has been established, the custodial parent has the ability to file a petition with the court to request child support payments from the other parent.
In some cases, the issue of child support may not have been addressed at the time of the divorce. This means the custodial parent will have to initiate a new case and the court will have to determine if it can still enforce a judgment for support. Once the case moves forward, the parties will appear in hearings just as they did, during their divorce.
It’s not uncommon for the noncustodial parent to pursue a child support order. There’s a practical reason for this in that a child support order provides proof that the noncustodial parent is meeting his or her financial obligations to the child. In pursuing custody or visitation privileges, judges often ask the noncustodial parent to provide proof that he or she has been helping in the financial support of the child. Court-ordered support payments establish that proof.
How is Child Support Determined?
While Brooklyn family courts will follow the guidelines established by the state of New York, those guidelines must adhere to the federal government’s Child Support Enforcement Act. The court system uses a precise mathematical equation in determining how much the noncustodial parent must pay in support. This amount largely depends on the needs of the child, which includes food, shelter, clothing, education, and healthcare. Additionally, any special needs of the child, the cost of recreational activities, and the number of minor children in the family may also influence the amount needed for raising the children. That amount is compared against the income of each parent to determine how much each parent should invest in the child’s care.
Enforcing and Changing an Order for Child Support
If a noncustodial parent isn’t making court-ordered child support payments, the other party has the right to take action. This would require filing another petition with the court, so a new hearing can be scheduled. If the noncustodial parent is found to have violated the order, a judge may order the individual’s wages to be garnished. In more extreme circumstances, the court may freeze the individual’s bank accounts, seize personal property, or subject their real estate holdings to liens.
The goal is to convince the parent to act in the child’s best interests, but noncustodial parents don’t always take their responsibility seriously. When this happens, the court may also withhold income tax returns to make up what’s owed in support. When money can’t be obtained through alternative means, the individual is considered delinquent and may face the suspension of various privileges, such as driver’s licenses, passports, and other licenses. In New York, failure to comply with a child support order can ultimately result in jail time.
Over time, the amount of child support may need to be changed or modified. As the cost of living rises in the community, the cost of caring for a child also rises. Additionally, the child will likely require more in the way of educational costs, nutrition, and clothing as he or she ages. When the custodial parent feels there’s a need to modify the child support order, he or she must file a new petition with the court. During the hearing, the custodial parent must be able to show evidence that justifies the request for additional support.
Alternatively, a noncustodial parent may also ask for a modification. This is usually done when the individual loses a job or receives a pay cut. In these cases, the court may allow a decrease in support to compensate for the loss of income. Again, the parent will have to show evidence to prove his or her case in making the request for modification.
As these facts indicate, establishing child support through the courts is a complex matter. To obtain the best possible result, it’s important to hire an experienced attorney. A knowledgeable family law attorney will help you protect your rights, while ensuring your children receive the best possible care.