Articles Posted in Child Support

At some point in a New York divorce case, the court will generally make a child support determination, a spousal support determination, or both. Support determinations can have an enormous effect on both of the parties to the divorce, and the court is supposed to rely on specific information when making them. However, in some cases, a court may rely on information that was not correct, or it may have made a determination without considering all of the relevant information.

FrustrationIn such cases, New York family law allows for the adversely affected party (the debtor) to bring this to the court’s attention. Under New York Consolidated Laws, Article 52, section 5241(e), the party can claim that the court’s determination was based on a “mistake of fact.”

A mistake of fact is defined as “an error in the amount of current support or arrears or in the identity of the debtor or that the order of support does not exist or has been vacated.” Most commonly, the mistake is related to the amount of support ordered by the court.

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When a divorce takes place between partners with children, there’s a lot more to consider than just who will maintain custody of the child. One of the standard issues that I address with my TaxDivorce-300x200clients is who will be able to claim the child as a dependent on their tax returns. After all, the tax credits associated with caring for a child can be substantial and may help a great deal with transitioning to the new life.

As usual I advise that I am not a tax lawyer and therefore for specifics about taxes everyone is advised to consult with tax professionals such as CPAs.  This blog, however, is to outline some of the new concerns, after passage of the tax reform law, that people need to think about regarding children, taxes and child support agreements.  Because of the new tax laws passed in December 2017 in the United States, the rules surrounding tax and support in New York divorces and everywhere will change dramatically, which could lead to more complex discussions between divorcing parties. For instance, in the past, it has been common for the custodial parent to claim for the child.  The parties often make agreements that the non-custodial can claim the children or some of the time claim the child(ren) if he or she was responsible for a significant amount of child support. Now, as my last blog pointed out, that after 2018 maintenance (alimony) payments will no longer be able to be deducted from income for tax purposes, it may be that child support paying party might find the dependent claim more important than in the past for tax purposes.  The deductibility of child support payments is not changing as still child support payments are not deductible for child support purposes and it is not income for the recipient.  Continue reading

While any person’s definition of “family” might be unique to them, it’s important to remember that it’s the court of Woman-Couple-Pregnant-300x200New York’s delineation that matters most when decisions are to be made around child custody, parenting time, and visitation. As a child custody attorney, I’ve been involved with several complex cases around how a child should be supported and raised by people within their family. As I have reminded my clients in the past, up until now, only a “parent” – as dictated by the courts, will be able to petition for visitation or custody according to the outlines of Domestic Relations Law § 70. Perhaps one of the issues that makes this idea so complicated, however, is that Domestic Relations Law § 70 does not define what a “parent” is. This means that the courts need to determine that for themselves.

In issues presented to the courts of New York, except for in the case of “extraordinary circumstances” a parent should prevail over a non-parent in a custody battle. The law, up until now, is that for unmarried couples, partners that have no biological adoptive connection with the child had no standing to seek parenting time and custody. However, extraordinary circumstances like abandonment of the child, surrender of parenting rights, and more can alter the situation. The court of Appeals in New York highlighted the definition of parentage in New York in the case of Alison D. v Virginia M., 572 NE2d 27 (N.Y. 1991). However, this outline has become less applicable in a modern world, where the family relationship is now more varied and complex than ever. The case that presented the previous definition of “parent” was established in 1991, and since then, times have changed significantly. Continue reading

As a divorce mediator and family law lawyer, I know that there are questions people have when bringing an end to aMediation-Picture-300x200 marriage. Though divorce is never easy, it becomes particularly complex when children are involved, as the end of a relationship also means a huge change in family dynamics for all parties. Since the aim of any divorce and child custody agreements should be to come to terms on agreement that preserves the safety and comfort of the child in question, I offer my clients a range of alternative dispute resolution methods to choose from, alongside standard litigation.

I find that many of my clients prefer to use the less-combative strategy of mediation when it comes to making decisions for the benefit of their children. After all, not only does mediation allow both parties within a divorce to come to an agreement that suits either side, but it can also preserve some of the relationship that remains between divorcing couples, which can be key to joint custody and visitation agreements. One of the many important issues I address with my clients during the mediation process, is “child support”, and what that term should mean to both parties involved. Continue reading

When parents are divorced, they have several concerns they need to think about when it comes to maintaining theSuit-Child-Support-300x200 best interests of a child. For instance, they may need to make a decision about parenting time, custody, and visitation, or whether one of the parties should be asked to pay child support to help ensure that the child in question can continue to live a comfortable life after a marriage comes to an end. Importantly, however, it’s worth noting that decisions about child support don’t have to be limited to the discussion that occurs during a divorce.

When I am acting as a mediator it is usually for married divorcing couples.  In that instance I usually find that my clients are most likely to address the concept of child support during mediation and they will make an agreement that eventually will become part of their divorce. However, non-married couples can also come to me to discuss child support through mediation. Continue reading

When a couple splits up in a New York divorce, and the couple has children together, the court, or the divorce lawyers involved, must determine whether either of the parties is entitled to child support.  If the matter is handled in Family Court, in making this determination, the court looks at New York Family Court Act section 413, which outlines the considerations that must be taken into account when ordering child support. The exact formula is somewhat complicated, but essentially it looks at each parent’s income and the number of children involved.

Wedding RingsOnce a court makes a determination as to child support, that order will remain in effect unless one of the parties asks the court to reconsider the child support amount. Courts routinely make changes to child support orders based on either party’s changing circumstances. For example, if one of the parents loses a job, that parent may then petition the court to adjust the child support payments they are required to make. A question that often comes up in New York divorce cases is whether the income of a remarried parent’s new spouse can be used when calculating child support payments.

The general rule under New York law is that a step-parent has no obligation to support their step-children. However, there are ways that the income of a step-parent may be relevant to a child support determination. For example, assume parent A and parent B have two children and get divorced. Parent A has custody of the children, and Parent B is ordered to pay child support. Later, Parent B remarries. Normally, when it comes to determining Parent B’s child support obligation, Parent B’s new spouse’s income would not be considered. However, if Parent B has a child with the new spouse, the new spouse’s income may become relevant because the needs of the children that live with the non-custodial parent of the subject children of child support case  can be taken into account. According to the statute those children’s needs can be considered to deviate from the guideline amount of child support, but only if the resources available to support the children living with the non-custodial parent are less than the resources available to support the child or children that are the subject of the divorce or post judgement divorce or child support case.

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The college application process can be a daunting thing not FinancialNeutral-300x200just for aspiring students, but also for the parents that hope to support their children’s education. When it comes to children of divorce, the concerns regarding which schools to apply for and what courses to take can extend to additional worries about which parent should be expected to pay the ongoing expense of tuition, room and board, books, travel, and the rest of it.   In New York, the rules regarding college costs for child support cases or following divorce are often impacted by something called the “SUNY” cap. The SUNY cap is a concept commonly used by the New York courts to address the issue of how college education should be paid for. Parental payment for their children’s college isn’t automatic in the state of New York, the trend has been for courts to use a more child-friendly approach to financing college education.

The legislature has codified in the Domestic Relations Law and Family Court Act that courts need to order parents to contribute to a child’s college education, depending on the circumstances at hand, and the child’s best interests.  The cases have held that this determination is done according to the parent’s ability to pay, the expectations the parents had for the children (such as their own educational backgrounds), and the children’s academic abilities. Continue reading

Today’s blog is a blend of some of my prior blogs and/or website articles over the years on child support. As a New Happy-Blue-Sky-Family-300x200York divorce lawyer and family law attorney, one of the most common types of cases I deal with involves the issue of child support. Under the law of New York State, both parents responsible for a child are required to support their child financially until that child turns 21 years old. Regardless of whether the parents have been involved in a divorce or not, they remain financially responsible for their child.

In any divorce or child support case that I encounter as a family law professional, I find that it’s important to outline the details that go into determining how much child support is possible. Child support is a very complicated matter, and if it’s something that you’ve never encountered before, you might find yourself getting confused, or overwhelmed. Here, I’ll talk a look at a few things that you might not know about New York child support. Continue reading

DefaultDivorces in New York follow many of the same procedures as other lawsuits. The plaintiff spouse filing must provide the defendant spouse with notice consisting of a summons and either a copy of the divorce complaint or a notice describing the nature of the lawsuit. Delivering these documents to a defendant is commonly known as service of process. Failing to do this properly can delay a case or even result in its dismissal. Once the defendant has been served, they must file an answer or else risk a default judgment on some or all of the plaintiff’s claims. An interesting question arises when a plaintiff spouse serves a summons with notice—meaning without a copy of the divorce complaint—and the defendant spouse defaults. Does a defaulting spouse have a right to service of the actual complaint? The scant amount of caselaw on the topic, suggests that notice, without the complaint, is sufficient for a divorce but not for issues like custody and support.

New York law requires a plaintiff to file a summons, along with either the complaint or a notice that describes the nature of the complaint. If a plaintiff chooses the latter, known as “summons with notice,” they must file the actual complaint at a later time. The exact deadline depends on how the defendant responds to the lawsuit.

The New York Domestic Relations Law (DRL) and Civil Practice Law & Rules (CPLR) govern service of process in divorce cases. Section 232(a) of the DRL requires a summons to clearly state that it is for an “action for divorce.” Rule 320 of the CPLR states that the defendant has 20 days to respond if they were personally served, or 30 days if they were served by any other means. The plaintiff can seek a default judgment under Rule 3215 and DRL § 211 if the defendant does not file a response with the court clerk.

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In any divorce or child support case that involves children identified as minors, it’s crucial to determine how much support needs to be Lawyer-Presentationprovided to give those children an on-going, and undisrupted lifestyle following a divorce or separation of parents. Child support is often a very complicated issue within divorce cases, and I often remind my clients that the courts of New York must examine a number of crucial factors before determining how much should reasonably be awarded.

Generally, the guideline amount of child support is determined by the parent’s income.  There are a number of factors upon which a deviation from the guideline amount of child support can be based, including, but not limited to:

  • The non-custodial parent’s financial abilities
  • The custodial parent’s earning capacity: Both parents have a duty to support their children, thus the earnings of the custodial parent must also be considered.
  • Other factors that a court might deem appropriate.

Here, we’ll examine the difficulties that can become present during a child support case when it comes to considering combined income in excess of $143,000.00 (the initial cap in 2017, when this blog was written on child support), and the ultimate financial abilities of the paying spouse. In determining parental income, the courts of New York adhere to the Child Supports Standard Act, starting with an evaluation of parent’s “gross” income. Often, this income is evaluated according to the numbers on that individual’s most recent income tax return. Once that gross amount has been considered, the court continues to evaluate potential other compensation including, but not limited to voluntarily deferred, or additional income. Continue reading