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New York Child Support Modifications

Parents of minor children who get divorced (or were never married to begin with) must work out an arrangement for the financial welfare of the children. Generally, this means the noncustodial parent must pay child support to the custodial parent. The amount is based on a number of factors, mainly the noncustodial parent's income. But life is unpredictable -- people change or lose jobs, for instance -- and there may be instances where you'll need to recalculate child support in the wake of life's inevitable twists and turns. This process is called modification of child support.

In New York, as in other states, you may not retroactively modify a support order -- so if you've fallen behind on your payments after a job loss, for example, you'll still be responsible for those arrears. This is why it's so important to act fast once you've experienced a significant change in income or circumstances.

New York Child Support Modifications at a Glance

When you're reeling from a change in circumstances and scrambling to make ends meet, the last thing you have time for is a crash course in legalese. Since we believe the law should be accessible to everyone, we've included the helpful chart below to highlight the main points of New York's laws regarding child support modification.


New York Consolidated Laws FCT § 413. Parents' duty to support child

Requirements for Modifying a Support Order

New York law allows either parent to seek modification of a support order (either increasing or reducing the amount) under the following circumstances:

  1. There has been a "substantial change" in circumstances (increase in cost of raising a child, change in parent's income, etc.);
  2. Three years have passed since the original order or last modification (court may reevaluate the calculations); or
  3. Either parent has experienced an involuntary change in income (up or down) of 15% since the original order or last modification.

Note: Quitting your job or being fired for cause may jeopardize your ability to lower your child support obligation. The amount may be calculated by "imputing income," or basing it on what you earned in the past or what you're capable of earning.

How to Modify a Support Order

If you already have a support order signed by a judge, you may modify that order by following these steps:

  1. Gather the following information: Name and address of the other parent; copy of the support order; names, addresses, and birth dates of the children.
  2. File a petition for modification using either the online DIY Family Support Modification module (if you don't have an attorney) or by filing the appropriate form in family court (typically through your attorney).
  3. If the court rules in favor of the modification petition, it will become effective as of the date the petition was filed.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

New York Child Support Modifications: Related Resources

Need to Modify a Child Support Order? An Attorney Can Help

Situations can change at a moment's notice. Maybe you lost your job, were injured and have incurred steep medical expenses, or have suffered some other financial setback. Whatever the reason, you'll want to be proactive and modify your support amount as soon as possible. An experienced New York family law attorney can help you successfully modify a support order.

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