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New York child support, custody, visitation, and wage garnishment rules

Use this New York child support law to learn about your child support rights and responsibilites.

How is New York child support determined?

In New York, either or both parents may be ordered to pay for the support, maintenance and education of the child. The courts may also order a parent to provide health insurance coverage for the child.

There are official New York Child Support guidelines, designed to be in the best interests of the child, that the courts use to help determine the correct amount of child support. These guidelines are based on the belief that both parents will share the responsibility for the support of their children. The state child support guidelines will be followed, unless the parents agree to an amount other than that calculated by the guidelines, or the courts decide the guidelines are unjust based on the
following considerations:

  • the financial resources of the child;
  • the health of the child and any special needs or aptitudes of the child;
  • financial resources, needs and obligations of both parents;
  • the tax consequences to both parents;
  • the non-monetary contributions the parents make toward the care and well-being of the child;
  • the educational needs of either parent;
  • whether one parents income is substantially less than the others;
  • any needs of other children belonging to the non-custodial parent;
  • any extraordinary expenses the non-custodial parent spends in order to visit the child;
  • any other relevant factor.

The child support guidelines are based on the presumption that the non-custodial parent should pay a certain percentage of their income each month to cover all expenses with the exception of the following:

  • additional expenses of child care;
  • uncovered medical expenses;
  • educational expenses

These are usually prorated in proportion to each parent’s income. The custodial parent is expected to pay for everything else.

The state guidelines are generally based on the percentage of the non-custodial parent’s net income after taxes, as follows:

  • One child 17%
  • Two children 25%
  • Three children 29%
  • Four children 31%
  • Five children 35%

At what age does child support payments end?

Generally, the obligation ends when the child reaches 21 years of age. A child over the age of 21 will also automatically be ineligible for child support if that child is removed from disability status by a court order.

New York's custody guidelines:

Generally, the parents agree upon decisions about parenting and custody. If there is no agreement, then the courts will make these decisions.

In New York, joint or sole custody may be awarded, based on the best interests of the child and without any preference given to either parent. There are no specific factors for consideration listed in the statute.

New York's medical insurance guidelines:

Generally, the decision as to which parent is going to provide medical insurance coverage for the child and how medical bills will be paid is set out in the marital settlement agreement. If it is not, the courts may order a parent to provide medical insurance coverage for the child. Usually, if a reasonable medical insurance plan is available through one of the parent’s employment, they are required to cover their child on it.

How permanent are the provisions for New York child support and custody ?

Court orders providing for support and custody of children are subject to change or modification to reflect significant changes in income, and/or living arrangements of the children.

While all orders concerning the children are modifiable in the future, we encourage you to not enter into an agreement based on the idea that it can always be changed or modified later.

Wage garnishment for child support payments:

Most states, including New York, have a provision for withholding child support directly from the earnings of the parent who has been ordered to provide support. It is withheld much like income tax is withheld from earnings payments.

This way of paying and receiving child support is generally easier for both parties and considered a very dependable solution. The way it typically works is, once the support is withheld, it is then sent to the state agency authorized to receive and disburse payments. Once it has been verified that the support was paid, it is then sent to the parent designated to receive the support.

How does joint custody work?

Joint custody is now widely recognized by parents, courts and state legislatures as the preferred parenting plan.

In New York, joint custody can be broken down in to two areas – legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody has to do with who has the legal rights to make major decisions affecting the child. There can be joint legal custody or sole legal custody, based on the parents’ determination as to who should be making these decisions.

Physical custody refers to where the child should live. There are three options here: joint physical custody, sole physical custody and split physical custody. Sole physical custody usually means that the child lives predominantly with one parent and spends less then 26% of the over nights in a calendar year with the other parent. Split physical custody usually means the child essentially has two homes and lives at each close to an equal amount of time, generally a 50-50 sharing of time. But it can also be a 50-50 split of the children. If there are two children, split custody could mean that each parent has physical custody of one child.

How New York determines child visitation:

Generally, parents are free to visit with their children at all times that are mutually agreed to by both parents. However, when parents cannot agree to exactly when visitation will occur, the standard visitation schedule accepted most everywhere in the nation is:

  • every other weekend;
  • four to six (4-6) weeks during the summer;
  • alternating holidays.
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