Just For Dads
Custody & Visitation
If you are the parent of a child, New York State law says you are responsible for the financial support of that child until the child is 21, even if you have never lived with the child or do not live with the child now.
If the child does not live with you, you will have to make child support payments to the other parent or to the person who is taking care of the child. This support should start the day your child is born.
The office of Child Support & Enforcement helps people obtain child support orders, collect child support payments, and take actions against people who should pay child support and are not paying.
To contact your county Child Support & Enforcement office, click here or call 1-800-846-0773
When a person who is a single parent or guardian of a child applies for temporary assistance, that person is automatically sent to the child support enforcement agency for child support services. A person can also get the agency's help just by going into its offices and filling out an application.
If you are the legal parent of a child and do not live with the child, you or the other parent/guardian can go to court to get a court order for child support. The court order will set the amount you have to pay for child support.
If someone besides you starts a court action to get you to pay child support, you will find out about it by getting two documents. These documents are a petition and a summons. The petition shows that someone has asked a court to make an order against you. The summons tells you that you must come to court for a hearing about this. The summons also tells you where you have to go, when you have to be there, and what, if anything, you have to bring with you. You may get these documents in the mail, someone may give them to you in person, or they may be left at the door where you live or work.
You do not need a lawyer for the hearing, but you can hire one if you want. You should bring your latest tax returns, W-2's, paycheck stubs, and everything else you have to show your current income. The judge or hearing examiner will use this information and other information presented by other parties to figure out what you should pay for child support.
Not Showing Up for a Hearing
If you do not appear in court at the time the court expects you to, the court can make an order that you are the father of the child and order you to pay child support even if you are not there. If you are not there the judge will decide how much you have to pay for child support, without knowing how much you really make. The judge will also determine how much money you owe in past child support, without knowing how much money you made during that past period of time.
If you do not go to court and show the judge your financial situation, the amount the court orders you to pay may be more than you think you can afford. Because you did not show up, the court based the order on what it thought you earned, or on the needs or standard of living of the child, whichever is greater. As far as the law is concerned, that is what you owe. If you do not pay what you owe, steps will be taken to collect the money from you. The court may also enter a warrant for your arrest. Remember that these steps will not be taken if you show up at court when you are supposed to, with all the documents you need to show what you earn.
Money You Will Owe
Besides support payments, you may also owe support dating back to the time your child was born. You may also have to pay for your child's childcare costs, uninsured health care, and education expenses. Your basic child support responsibility is based on your gross income. If you have certain deductions, your income for child support purposes is reduced or "adjusted."
The court multiplies your "adjusted" gross income by the guideline percentage for the number of children for which you are ordered to pay. These percentages are:
17% for one child
25% for two children
29% for three children
31% for four children
at least 35% for five or more children
You have to pay child support even if you receive unemployment benefits, disability benefits, social security payments, or worker's compensation payments.
If you have a job, the child support agency will send a notice to your employer who will take the amount you have to pay directly from your paycheck. Your employer will send the payments directly to the child support enforcement agency. They will keep track of how much you owe and how much you have paid. It is child support's job to see that you make payments regularly and to take action if you do not pay.
Changes to the Amount You Owe
Every two years the child support enforcement agency automatically reviews each child support case to determine whether the amount to be paid should be increased due to cost of living increases. If the cost of living has increased by more than 10% during the two years, your order amount will increase by the amount that the cost of living changed. Child support enforcement can make these cost of living increases to your order amount without going to court. However, before any change goes into effect, you will receive a notice telling you of the change and what you need to do to challenge the change.
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© 2007 Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance