Pros and Cons of Using the New York Child Support Collection Unit

Team of lawyers in the law library at the university

This blog article will discuss some, but certainly not all, of the features and reasons for or against having payments going through the New York Support Collection Unit. Any recipient of child support has the right to ask that the court order provide that the payments be made through the Support Collection Unit. Payments could initially be made by the payor sending payments to the Support Collection Unit in Albany, New York. As long as the payments are sent on a timely basis, in that case an income deduction order or income execution order might be avoided. One disadvantage to the custodial parent or payee of child support for payments going through the Support Collection Unit is that it takes longer for the payments to be received by that parent. The payments need to go through Albany, get processed, and then distributed.

The Support Collection Unit, however, will keep a clear record of payments received. In the event of a “violation” case, in court, a representative from the Support Collection Unit can be summoned to the court room to provide a statement and report of payments received and balances due, if any. A lot of non-custodial parents like this idea as well since it eliminates debate about what was paid or not. Something for everyone to keep in mind when payments are ordered through the Support Collection Unit is that payments made in some other fashion might not get credited as child support. For example, if someone gives a direct payment of cash there is a danger that the recipient would not acknowledge it or that it would be called a “gift” instead of child support. Usually the question is asked to the custodial parent whether there have been any direct child support payments, even though the payments should have been through the support collection unit, but paying in some other way can be dangerous territory.

What are methods that the Support Collection Unit has to enforce an order if the non-custodial parent does not work regularly or gets paid in cash?  A violation petition can be filed by support enforcement or your child support lawyer.  The ultimate sanction for a willful violation is up to six months incarceration but your lawyers can argue for or against such measures.  Outside of court, enforcement techniques include automatic billing, notices of delinquency, property attachment, credit bureau reporting, interception of tax refunds, and liens. The enforcement office also can cause the suspension or revocation of: driver’s licenses, professional licenses, recreational and occupational licenses if the payor falls into arrears. This brings up an important question, which is if a license is suspended can a payor parent get their license back if they do not fall into arrears. Child Support Enforcement will make a plan with a parent that is in arrears on payments if a certain amount of arrears are paid and a plan to pay down the rest is made, while paying any ongoing support. Be aware, however, that if a plan is made and broken that a new plan might not be available in the future. Of course paying all the arrears might clear the way for restoration of licenses, if the arrears was the only impediment to the individual getting a license back.

A final feature that I will mention in this blog article of payments through the Support Collection Unit in New York is that Cost of Living Adjustments or COLA increases can be made if the support order meets the requirements. A COLA increase is a change in the support order to reflect how much the cost of living has increased. If an order is paid through the support collection unit they are supposed to review it to see if it qualifies for a COLA increase every two years. Either side to the case, however, can contact the support collection unit at any time to find out if the order qualifies for a COLA increase. An interesting feature in the law is that if the support collection unit sends notice of a COLA increase that if either side makes timely written objections to the order the Family Court is supposed to schedule a de-novo proceeding for a determination of child support. That means a new determination of child support, based on current income, could be possible, even if the order would not otherwise qualify for a modification. This technique might be of interest to the custodial or non-custodial parent. Please see my blog from April 18, 2014 for a more detailed analysis of this topic. Please see my other blog articles and website for more information about various matrimonial and family law topics and processes.

Or, as always, please call about your free initial consultation. It would be our pleasure to speak with you.