Child Support Awareness Month: The Dos and Don’ts of New York State Child Support Laws

New York State Child Support

In a divorce, children are just as, if not more so, affected than adults. Not that it isn’t hard for everyone, but the children are left dealing with changes they had no part in making. That’s why it’s so important that they are supported during this time, not just emotionally, but financially also so they have the standard of living to which they are accustomed as well as the stability and the opportunities they deserve. August is Child Support Awareness Month, a time to shine a spotlight on an income support program that helps millions of children and families. As such, we’d like to increase awareness of New York state child support laws.  

The Facts on Child Support Programs

In 2021, child support programs collected $32.7 billion nationwide and served 13.2 million children—1 in 5 children in the United States according to the Administration of Children & Families. These programs provide custodial parents with assistance in obtaining financial support and medical insurance coverage for their children by locating parents, establishing parentage, establishing or modifying support orders, and collecting and distributing child support payments.

New York State Child Support Laws

Child support is a mandated payment from a non-custodial parent to a custodial parent that’s meant to provide financial support for their children. Because both parents are responsible for the financial needs of their children, the general idea is to make sure the payment provides the same amount of support they would have had if their parents had not divorced. In New York state, child support can be ordered in the following ways:

  • During a divorce case
  • By filing a support petition
  • By written agreements between the parents (which must meet specific requirements)

New York state child support laws state that both parents must financially support the child until they are 21 years old. However, if the child is under 21 and married, self-supporting, or in the military, then they are considered emancipated and the parents can discontinue the support.

The state uses the income shares model to calculate child support which is based on the notion, as mentioned above, that a child should receive the same proportion of parental income that they would have received had the parents remained together. As such, both parents’ incomes are used in the calculation and the percentages are the same regardless of the parent’s level of income.

Keep in mind that child support orders aren’t set in stone. After the child support order is in place, you can file for a modification based on major changes in circumstances such as losing your job or relocation. What’s more, the child support law requires an automatic review for cost-of-living adjustments every two years.

New York State Child Support

What New York State Child Support Laws Do Cover

Under New York state child support laws, payments should be used for items such as:

  • Food and drink
  • Housing costs
  • Clothing
  • School fees
  • Medical and dental care
  • Household expenses that support the child’s basic quality of life.

What New York State Child Support Laws Don’t Cover

On the other hand, child support payments are not legally expected to cover:

  • Expenses not directly related to the child
  • Luxury items not needed for school
  • Daycare and after-school care
  • Babysitting
  • Extracurricular club and sports activities
  • Private lessons for sports, music, etc.
  • Tutoring
  • College tuition
  • Vehicles and car insurance

Mediating for More

For many, the list of items that child support payments don’t cover is considered as essential to the children as their clothing and housing costs. This is where mediation can help. In this process, a neutral third-party trained in effective communication strategies can help you and your spouse negotiate amicably towards an agreement that can be added to your divorce decree on which non-covered items to split. Mediation is often cheaper and quicker than fighting it out in court. What’s more, we offer fully virtual mediation services for added flexibility and convenience – you don’t even have to be in the same room!

To learn more about child support and mediation, contact our experienced team for a free consultation today.

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