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Articles Posted in Child Support

In cases of paternity in New York,  a child that was born during marriage is legally presumed to be abiological product of that marriage, and this presumption historically was one of the most persuasive in law. However, it’s important to note that this presumption is still subject to the sway of reason, though statements have varied regarding the sufficient evidence required to rebut such a presumption. For instance, in the context of a case wherein a child is born during a marriage, the presumption should not fail unless there is evidence to demand reconsideration. In fact, if a husband and wife live together, legitimacy is often presumed, and even if the couple are living apart, the court can provide a fair basis for the believe that a child was born as a product of times the couple were brought together.

During recent years, case law that enunciates the presumption of legitimacy in paternity cases where a child is born during a marriage has been pulled into question. This isn’t necessarily because the reasoning and logic behind that case law has changed over time, but because the passage of time have delivered new updates in technology and science that make determining legitimacy accurately, more possible. In past cases, one of the primary – if not the only determining factor in the application of a presumption of legitimacy in court was access between the husband and wife. However, as we have progressed further into modern times, DNA tests and blood tests have also acquired a new ability to sway reason. Because of this, while the presumption of legitimacy still serves a laudable purpose, it remains to be just another legal presumption that can be used when conclusive evidence to the contrary is not available.

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Family Court Support Magistrates and Written ObjectionsThere are many complex nuances to consider when evaluating the hurdles and complications of family law – including cases that involve child support and spousal support. Typically, cases of support, are initiated when petitions are filed with your local New York family court, except divorces, which also can have elements of support, are done in the appropriate local Supreme Courts. Family Court support and paternity cases, are assigned to support magistrates. These professionals are responsible for hearing and helping to determine how support will be awarded. They have the power to grant or determine various forms of relief according to the Family Court Act, regarding proceedings that involve support, the enforcement of support, paternity, or matters regarding the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act. Within any applicable case, the support magistrate present will be given the authority to issue summons, decide motions, and deliver subpoenas according to section 153 of the Family Court Act, as well as deciding proceedings according to section 5241 of Civil Practice Law which involves income executions for support.

What Can Support Magistrates Do?

The part that a support magistrate will play in any given court proceeding will depend on the distinct and unique features of each case. For instance, in a proceeding intended to establish paternity, the magistrate must advise both the putative father, and the mother regarding their right to access counsel. In the same circumstances, the magistrate will advise the putative father and the mother of their right to request DNA tests and other genetic marker testing, however these tests are not always appropriate or ordered as detailed below if estoppel or similar circumstances apply. If a genetic marker test is allowed, from that point, the support magistrate will be given the power to determine all matters regarding that proceeding, including the delivery of an order of filiation which officially names a man the father of a child. An order of filiation can allow a father to file for visitation or parenting time with the child, custody of the child in some cases, and, if the father is the non-custodial parent, the responsibility of paying child support. Once the order of filiation has been issued, and child support becomes relevant, the support magistrate will be given authority to make a temporary and/or final order of support. Continue reading ›

Divorce mediation in New York is a voluntary settlement process used by spouses who wish to divorce. The process is facilitated by a mediator who works with both spouses to negotiate a settlement that both parties can live with and that is in the best interests of the family. The mediator typically tries to conduct the sessions in an atmosphere of respect and cooperation. For many couples, especially those with children, mediation is a better option than litigation because it is less expensive and involves negotiation to find a good solution for everyone.

However, it is recommended for each spouse to have a review attorney to discuss their legal rights, if not before, then after a settlement agreement is drafted with the terms agreed upon in the mediation. The mediator might give options about different ways that the issues are handled in court cases, but does not serve as legal counselor to either of them.  Whether or not individuals heed the advisement to seek the counsel of a review attorney, in most instances, people will be bound by what they agree upon by a properly drafted agreement through a divorce mediation. Continue reading ›

Parties are free to agree upon what is fair for child support, equitable distribution, and maintenance when they negotiate their own divorce terms though mediation, settlement negotiations or collaborative cases. In litigated cases, in general, when it comes to making determinations during a divorce case about issues such as child support, equitable distribution, and maintenance, the court will generally follow a set of pre-appointed guidelines or principles that have been developed through years of case precedents or outlined in the most recent relevant statutes. This makes it easier for judges to establish a starting point from which to create orders. However, there are particular circumstances in a variety of different cases, which may allow for the standard amounts to be deviated from. This blog will be a summary about the awards at the end of a divorce case for child support, maintenance (alimony), and equitable distribution. Pendente lite or temporary awards (that which is ordered while the case is pending) has been the topic of previous articles and will be the topic of future blogs.

Child Support

In child support, the suggested basic child support amount may be changed as a result of the courts close consideration of the finances each parent has and the needs of the children to be cared for. Another reason why the court may deviate from guideline child support amounts could be attributed to the emotional or physical health of the child in question, as well as any aptitudes or special needs that child might have that may require extra expenses to be paid. What’s more, the court will need to consider the standard of living that the child has gotten used to within the parental relationship that they had previously – ensuring that a state of comfort remained intact following a divorce procedure. Aside from the reasons mentioned above, tax implications may cause a judge to deviate from a basic amount of support, as could the non-financial input a father or mother contributes to the wellness of a child. Continue reading ›

For child support cases proceeding in a New York Family Court, the court, pursuant to statute, should make a temporary child support order, while the case is ongoing, of an amount that is enough to meet the needs of the child.  According to the law, this should be done regardless of whether immediacy or an urgent need is shown.  The law provides that even if the financial disclosure, which is required to be provided ultimately in the case, has not been yet provided, that the court should still enter the order.  If the information that would be on the financial disclosure is already provided at the time the temporary order would be entered, such as income and assets of the respondent or the parent that should be paying child support, then the court should make the temporary child support order in accordance with the child support standards act formula.  If the information is not yet available, then the child support amount to be paid should be based on the child(ren)’s needs.

Ultimately, when the child support order is finalized, the court needs to make the final order according to the child support standards act formula, unless an acceptable agreement is made for a different amount between the parties.  The payor would then be given credit for any payments made under the temporary child support order that was in existence prior to the finalization of the case.  At times, the temporary order might have been in an amount more than the final order.  If that were the case, then the payor parent might have a credit against future support payments.  The court is to make the amount of child support due under the final order retroactive to the filing date of the petition for child support.  In cases where public assistance was involved, the order can go retroactive to the date that public assistance started.  Often times there are arrears for child support due at the time the final order was made.  The arrears may be because of the retroactive date that child support is due from or as a result of the possibility that the temporary child support order was lower than the final order.  Both reasons might be applicable.  Arrears, as well as the ongoing support payments, will need to be paid to the residential custodial parent as the child support order continues. Continue reading ›

It’s important to recognize that step-parents are a common and familiar part of everyday life, and just like their partners, everyone may want to know their legal rights and responsibilities regarding their step-children. Over time, many step-parents who spend time with their step-children develop a strong attachment and commitment to those youngsters – taking responsibility for them on a moral and financial level. However, somewhat crucially, a step-parent doesn’t automatically receive standing in New York to ask a court for custody or parenting time rights if a mother and father are already legally established. Step-parents do not instantly receive the “parental authority”, including the rights, powers, duties, and responsibility of a biological mother or father, simply because they marry the child’s mother or father. Step parents do not gain parenting time and visitation rights except if they are legally appointed guardian, adopt or if there is a paternity finding for the step-parent.

Step-parents may be required to pay for child support, while married to the other parent of the child (ren) if the children involved are in danger of becoming “public charges”. Frequently, this information can act as an incentive to prompt parties into getting a divorced finalized, if other compelling reasons haven’t presented themselves. If the children are not in danger of becoming public charges, usually step-parents are not in danger of becoming obligated for child support of their spouse’s children, that is, unless they become a parent by the legal doctrine called equitable estoppel. Continue reading ›

The New Significant Other and Child Support

Last week’s blog article was about child custody and the new boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife. Like with child custody, I frequently get inquiries and new cases about child support when there are new significant others. As always, people should keep in mind that there are different processes available to deal with child support, like other family law issues, such as mediation, litigation, negotiation, and collaborative law. Why is it that a new relationship might cause child support issues? Like with child custody, the reasons this happens with child support can vary and be complex ranging from emotional issues, such as jealousy, to what is actually supposed to be the focus of child support cases, financial matters.

From a legal standpoint, I think one of the more important reasons is that the gross income of the parent that has to pay child support (the non-residential custodial parent) is reduced before the guideline child support calculation is made, by support orders that are first in time or support that is actually being paid pursuant to a written agreement. The first in time support order could be for child support or alimony also known as maintenance. So, the need to address child support, when there is a new relationship, may simply boil down to a race to try to maximize finances. Continue reading ›

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. Continue reading ›

In a previous blog post, we touched upon issues of discretion of judges and other triers of fact (referees, judicial hearing officer and support magistrates), and the ways in which parties in a legal proceeding, and their attorneys may have the ability to shape the decision of a judge or court. In matters of family law, there are a number of discretionary points to consider that may help to change or manipulate the decision a judge makes at the end of a case or hearing. These matters can range from imputation of income, to the determination of what should be considered “equitable” distribution in the dissolution of a marriage.

Imputation of Income

In child support and spousal support cases, for example, the court may conclude that an individual involved within a particular case has attempted to diminish their assets or income in an attempt to avoid a child support or spousal support obligation. If such circumstances are found to be true, then a court may choose to “impute” income or calculate someone’s income based on their previous resources or income, lifestyle or based on expenses paid on their behalf by other people. For example, this may happen if the court believes that the individual in question chose to voluntarily leave their previous jobs, were fired for cause, or personally chose not to work either full time, or at all. In combination to previous earnings, a court may consider the education and ability to learn of the party involved. Whether that party has chosen to diligently apply for employment in a manner that is commensurate with their experience, abilities and background could become an important factor when determining income. A judge or support magistrate may consider what people with similar backgrounds and educations are capable of earning when imputing income. Continue reading ›

 

When dealing with issues of family law, there are often many considerations to take into account, from the goals that you are hoping to achieve, to the appropriate steps you must take, the way you should present your case in court, and the factors that could diminish your chances of a successful outcome. Sometimes, it can feel as though you are completely at the mercy of the judge presiding over your case when you are in court, as this is the person with the discretion to decide what the results of your legal proceeding will be. However, it’s important to remember that with the right legal guidance, it is possible for parties and their lawyers to influence and shape the result that the judge decides upon. The following information refers to when people need the court to decide the case or want to be guided by the default law. Remember, that many different things can be agreed upon whether in litigation, mediation, a collaborative case or settlement negotiation.

Child support, despite having a formula contained in the New York Child Support Standards Act, still is chock full of a lot of discretionary matters. Calculating the appropriate amount of child support for any given case can be something of a complex matter and certain nuances will apply to particular circumstances. For example, if there is a combined income between the two parents that is in excess of $141,000, there could be discretion on the amount of child support – if any – that should be ordered for the income that exceeds the first $141,000.00. Similarly, the determination of what amount of income to utilize within the formula is also a significant source of debate, as there is discretion about whether certain employment perks should be included in the income or not. Income can also be determined based on the previous employment of an individual, or the expenses paid by other people on that party’s behalf (this is called imputation of income). Once the amount of income has been decided, the combined income will help to determine a rate of child support by multiplying the amount by either 17% for one child, 25% for two children, 29% for three children, 31% for four children, or 35% for more than five children. Then the non-residential custodial parent would be responsible, as a basic amount of child support, to pay their pro-rata share of the combined child support obligation. Currently, the presumption is that the percentages of this formula create the correct level of child support for the first $141,000 of the combined parental income. That threshold number increases from year to year. Continue reading ›

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