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Your Long Island Child Support Case: The Basics

It started out all Scenes From an Italian Restaurant, but now your ex is Movin’ Out. Your relationship is a bit more like Hicksville’s own Billy Joel’s sad tunes than you’d like, and you’ve got to figure out how to provide for your children. Like hopping on the Long Island Rail Road to avoid the traffic on the Expressway, hopefully starting with this article may help you avoid some common child support problems. Here are just some of the basics of your Long Island child support case.

How Does Child Support Work?

As part of divorce or separation proceedings, the court may order one parent to pay the other money in the form of child support. Under New York child support law, the custodial parent is eligible to apply for child support from their non-custodial ex. If the custodial parent is the mother seeking child support from the father, she must first establish paternity. If the parents are married, the father’s paternity will be presumed. Otherwise, you can establish paternity with a voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity or when a court determines the father of the child and issues an “order of filiation.”

Child support obligations in New York continue until your child turns 21, unless he or she joins the military or gets married first. Even then, you must get permission from the court to end child support payments.

How Can I File For Child Support in Long Island?

If you and your ex can agree on child support terms, you can waive the basic child support obligations by writing your own child support agreement. Both of you must agree to go around the guidelines and the court must approve the agreement before it takes effect.

You can get general information and the application for child support from the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.

The Child Support Enforcement Unit in New York can help with:

  • Locating a noncustodial parent or possible father;
  • Establishing paternity (legal fatherhood) for a child born to unmarried parents;
  • Filing court paperwork to begin or modify an order of support;
  • Collecting and distributing support payments, or enforcing support obligations; and
  • Legal services.

Nassau County and Suffolk County also have their own Child Support Enforcement Bureaus, and child support requests can be filed at the family courts in Long Island:

Family Court, Nassau County
1200 Old Country Road
Westbury, NY 11590
(516) 493-4000

Family Court, Central Islip
400 Carleton Avenue
Central Islip, NY 11722
(631) 853-4289

Family Court, Riverhead
889 East Main Street, Suite 308
Riverhead, NY 11901
(631) 852-3905

Child support payments are handled through the Child Support Enforcement Bureau (CSEB), a New York State agency.

How Much Can I Get For Child Support?

Long Island uses the standard New York guidelines to determine child support, which covers living expenses like food, clothing, health insurance and medical costs, and can include educational expenses and childcare expenses. The guidelines are based on how much each parent earns in a year and how many kids are involved. After accounting for deductions like Medicare, Social Security, and taxes, the court multiplies the combined income of both parents by a certain percentage depending on the number of children they have:

  • 17% for one child
  • 25% for two children
  • 29% for three children
  • 31% for four children
  • At least 35% for five or more children.

That total is then split between the two parents, depending on their percentage of the combined income. This is a fairly complicated calculation so an example might help:

Annie and Bill have two children, Catherine and Danny. Bill’s salary is $150,000 per year, while Annie earns $50,000. Sticking to the guidelines, if Annie keeps both kids, Bill would pay $37,500 per year: their combined income of $200,000, times 25% for 2 children, multiplied by his 75% share of their combined income.

If parents’ combined income is less than $143,000, the court would normally apply the formula. If the combined income is more, like in example above, the court may consider other factors when deciding the full child support obligation.

Can I Modify a Child Support Order?

You or spouse can ask a court to change child support payments if there is a substantial change in circumstances for you, your spouse, or your child. You can file a petition with the same court that issued the original order. Even if you have an agreement with your ex, only a judge can change what you owe once child support has been ordered. Normally, the court will allow a modification if either parent’s income has changed by 15% or more since the original order, or if the original child support order is over three years old.

What If My Ex Doesn’t Pay Child Support?

If you are not receiving child support from your ex, you can contact the Suffolk County Child Support Enforcement Bureau or the Nassau County Child Support Enforcement Bureau. Parents should be aware that child support issues are distinct from custody and visitation issues. You may not withhold visitation rights if your ex does not pay child support. At the same time, if you and your ex are having visitation issues you must still pay child support. If a parent doesn’t make ordered support payments, a child support enforcement agency can take money from a tax refund or bank account, suspend a driver's license, and notify credit agencies about the debt. A court can also sentence a non-paying parent to jail.

Get Legal Help with Your Child Support Issues in Long Island

Sorting out child support issues can be a complex legal and emotional process, and consulting with an attorney could make it a little easier. So, if you're dealing with child support issues, it's best to contact a local child support lawyer who will advocate on your behalf and help ensure the best outcome for you and your child.

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