Child Support Bullets Part 8: Add Ons for Child Supportand Support Arrears

Lawyers-Office-300x200Welcome back to this continued series of bullet-point guides on Child Support. If you’ve seen one of these guides before, you’ll know that it’s my way of bringing together useful information, that I have covered in more depth articles over the years, about a topic in family law, in a way that’s easy to absorb. These guides can offer valuable insights to anyone who might be pursuing family law or divorce cases.

In this particular series on child support, we’ve covered several topics so far, addressing things like the reasons to deviate from child support guidelines, and what those guidelines might be. Today, we’re going to look at what issues might arise when a party attempts to add the costs of higher education to child support payments.

I’ll also briefly discuss the topic of arrears with child support payments.

Adding Elements to Child Support Payments

Child support in New York is calculated according to a specific formula that requires the court to consider various elements, including the income of the parties involved, and, at times, the specific needs of the child or children receiving support. In child support payments, there are basic support payments and added components. The basic components are calculated based on the examination of the combined parental income amount. Added components are based on a variety of factors.  This formula is uniform throughout the state of New York so you can check with your Nassau County Child Custody Lawyer, Long Island or New York City lawyer to learn about it.  However, each area might have certain nuances.

  • There are several elements that can go into the determination of how much child support should be paid to a custodial parent by a non-custodial parent. The guideline amount of basic child support is calculated based on the formula in the Child Support Standards Act.
  • When assessing the income of a parent for child support purposes, it’s worth noting that the court can add or impute income for a parent. If the court feels it is appropriate, they can also evaluate perks and benefits from a person’s job as being a component in their income. For instance, housing and car expenses that are paid by an employer may be added to the income.
  • Just as the courts can consider other factors to determine the income of the parent responsible for child support or that receives child support, they can also consider various elements that may require the parent to pay below or beyond the amount suggested by the standard formula. In the case of education, a parent is typically intended to pay towards the expenses of a child receiving a grade school education. However, college expenses may be agreed upon prior to children becoming college age, but college expenses often aren’t awarded until it’s determined whether a child will be attending college.
  • It isn’t always mandatory that a parent should have to pay towards the college costs of a child who chooses to go to college. When determining whether to make the award, the court may consider various factors, including the ability of the parents to pay, their educational background, the parent’s history of paying for these sorts of costs, and so on.
  • In some cases, the court will determine that its appropriate for a parent to pay towards college fees because that was the parents plans for the child and it’s likely that the child would have gone to college if the parents had stayed together. Child support awards will often aim to ensure that the child can continue, as much as possible, to maintain the same quality of life that they would have had if the parents had remained married.
  • In some situations, the court may reason that it’s appropriate to award additional expenses in the best interests of the children, if these costs will allow the child to continue living a certain standard of lifestyle after the end of a parent’s relationship or marriage.

Child Support Arrears in New York

In New York, both parents are expected to support their children to a certain degree. Generally, a parent without custody will pay support to the parent with custody when the parents do not live together, or a marriage comes to an end.

  • When a payment of child support is not made, there are ways for the Support Collection Unit or custodial parent to enforce payments. Parents that are backed up on payments of child support from a specific time are described as being in arrears. The unpaid arrears will accumulate interest, if a violation is filed and a civil judgment awarded by the court for the arrears, even if someone pays child support later. The amount of the principal amount of the judgment collecting arrears may be reduced over time if ongoing payment and an additional amount towards the arrears and interest is paid.
  • When child support payments are issued through the Child Support Enforcement Bureau, or the Support Collection Unit, this entity will be responsible for keeping accounts of how much support is owed, as well as the amount collected. When a parent falls behind in their payments, they can take automated and administrative action in some cases.
  • If you’re a parent with support orders to pay, or you owe arrears, you may be able to take part in a credit program which can reduce the amount you owe if some of the arrears are owed to the Department of Social Services in an arrears reduction program.
  • When parents are in arrears, it may be decided that the collection unit take ongoing child support payments owed and an additional amount towards arrears, with certain maximums in place depending on whether dependent children live with the payor or not. If you owe a significant amount, your assets may be frozen or seized.
  • Parents often pay their child support through salary deductions, and the bank account for the parent may be frozen if the balance reaches a certain point. If any parent feels as though they’re unable to pay the amount owed for child support, and if they are entitled to a downward modification, it is important for them to either file for this themselves, or if they are able, they should seek assistance from a legal professional immediately to address the problem. Once arrears accumulate there are not many reasons that the arrears can be reduced without paying them down.

You can find additional guidance on these topics on my blog or website or connect with my office via phone or contact form to schedule a consultation for up to the first half an hour of your initial consultation would be free.

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