Manhattan (NYC) Child Support Attorney


Child Support Attorney ManhattanAfter child custody has been decided, child support needs to be addressed. Determining fair and appropriate support for your child(ren) can be complicated and stressful. There are rules for determining NYS & NYC child support and, if you want to deviate from those rules, you need to document it properly.  You want, of course, for your family to be properly provided for.  Nobody wants to be taken advantage of.  You need a skilled and devoted lawyer to help determine the fair and appropriate child support for your circumstances.  And even if negotiations up to this point have been tranquil, a money dispute can strain and disrupt an otherwise peaceful and agreeable divorce. Reach out to Manhattan Child Support Attorney Chaim Steinberger to get the wise and effective legal representation you need and want. We will give you a voice in the fight for fair support for your child(ren).

How to Calculate Child Support in New York:

After studies revealed that the standard of living increased significantly for men after divorce and decreased precipitously for women and children, the federal government tied federal benefits to each state’s enactment of some form of child support standards. Each state, therefore, enacted some form of the federal child support standards. In New York, the “child support standards act” (“CSSA”) appears in section 240 of the Domestic Relations Law (“DRL”) and almost verbatim in section 413 of the Family Court Act (“FCA”).

Calculating child support, therefore, begins with applying the statutory formula of the CSSA. In general the process then is that: (i) each parent’s income is determined; (ii) what each parent’s percent of the total income is determined; (iii) the child support is determined by multiplying the factor for the number of children (from the table below) by the parents’ combined total; and then (iv) each parent is obligated to contribute their pro rata share of the combined child support total. This is the basic child support obligation.  To add to the complexity, there are then mandatory child support add-ons, discretionary child support add-ons, and the discretion of the court to award child support on income above the “cap.” Child support in New York goes until the child is emancipated or reaches 21 years of age, in the belief that a college education is necessary.

Child Support Percentages

Based on the studies of intact families and how much parents typically contribute to their child’s needs, the formula developed for child support uses the following percentage of the parents’ combined gross income, less FICA and local (city) taxes (but, importantly, not deducting federal or state income taxes):

Lawyers and courts sometimes mistakenly tack on charges for items the costs of which should already be included in the basic child support award. Private schools are a discretionary add on item and, by case law, should not be added unless there is a particular reason that justifies the expense. It might be the parties’ prior practice or that this child has a particular aptitude or need that requires private or other particularized schooling. If the parties have a disagreement about religion, however, the court should not determine which religious belief is the correct or better for the child.

Here in New York (or at least downstate), college is believed to be necessary for all children so that they can have productive futures. Whether the college should be a public one in the State University or a more expensive private one, however, depends on the circumstances of the parties and of the child. If both parents went to expensive private colleges and they have the money, a court may conclude that the only reason a parent is not willing to contribute to the child’s college is because of the divorce and an anger towards the ex-spouse. In that case, a court may require the parent to contribute in a fair amount, to the child’s private college costs. Sometimes parties agree, or the court requires, that a parent contribute to a child’s private education but only to the same amount a SUNY education would have cost (commonly called a “SUNY cap”).

Help With Complicated Support Issues

To explain and deal with all these issues you need a skilled, experienced lawyer to guide and protect you through this process so that your children receive what they are entitled to and so that you are not taken advantage of. At Chaim Steinberger, P.C., our practice is dedicated to divorce, marital, and family law -allowing us to provide exceptional representation in matters of child support.

If the non-custodial parent is supporting other children, the proper amount of support is complicated by that fact.  There is some inconsistency in the case law dealing with this issue and you should call us to discuss your particular situation.

The court can direct a father to take a paternity test if paternity is disputed. If a father has admitted paternity (on the birth certificate or elsewhere), the issue is more complicated and you should call us to discuss your particular situation.

Even if both parents and the child move out of New York State, the duration of the child support is a non-modifiable aspect of the child support award. That means that though courts can, as circumstances change, modify the child support amount, it cannot modify the duration of the order from what was originally ordered. We have successfully represented parents who, after they moved to New York, were then sued for support to go beyond the age of the original support order and until the child attained the age of 21, as per New York law. We were able to challenge those claims and get them successfully dismissed.

While the income of a new spouse, or live-in paramour, of the non-custodial parent cannot be claimed for child support, it might be used to reduce the living expenses of the non-custodial parent thereby making more of the non-custodial parent’s income available for the payment of support. Like with these other issues, you will have to call us to discuss the particulars of your individual case and to find the best strategy that works for you.

Foreign support orders can be enforced against a non-custodial parent who lives in New York State. We have used the mechanisms of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act to enforce orders from other states and territories of the United States, and often of other countries that are entitled to comity.

Modification of Prior Child Support Orders

People often ask, “Can a child support award be modified?”

Child support orders can be changed whenever circumstances change. Moreover, the law now allows courts to entertain a modification petition every three years or whenever a party’s income has changed by 15% or more, unless the parties specifically opted out of this regime. FCA § (3)(b). In addition, a party whose child support is being collected by the Support Collection Unit (“SCU”), may request a “cost of living adjustment” (“COLA”) every two years. FCA § 413-a.

When Does a Support Award Take Effect?

The effective date of any modified order relates back to the date the petition was filed.  Remember the taxi-meter-flag from the days of yore?  When you entered the cab the flag dropped and the meter started to run.  It continued running throughout the trip and, when the cab ride ended the flag came back up and the passenger paid the fare that accrued during the entire trip.  So too with a child support proceeding.  When a petition is filed in the court a metaphorical flag drops. While it may take months and even sometimes years for a case to be adjudicated or resolved, when it is, the obligation starts to run retroactively to the day the petition was filed and accrues during all the time the case was pending.

Child Support if you Lose Your Job

This is why it is extremely important that if you are court-ordered to pay child support and you lose your job, the first thing you should do the morning after you lose your job is to file a petition to suspend or modify your child support obligation based on your new circumstance. People are usually too depressed to do that when they lose their jobs; they are also hopeful that they will quickly find other work that pays as well or better than the old job. However, sometimes it takes weeks or months to find new employment. All the while child support continues to accrue.  Then when they get a new job (sometimes paying less than their old job) they struggle to pay the then-current child support and can never make up the missed support payments.  This leaves them with a debt they cannot meet, affecting their credit scores and ability to find better work.  Moreover, the child support statute precludes a judge from waiving child support arrears that have previously accrued. So you must file a child support modification petition immediately when you lost your job so that the Court can make the appropriate adjustments.  It will likely be many months before the issue is resolved.  If by then you have a new job, terrific. You might not need the brief respite from the support order. But if your job search takes longer, or you get a lesser-paying job, at least the court will have the authority to grant you relief from the support order you could not afford while you were unemployed.


To learn more about this or another topic relating to divorce and family law, check out our free Divorce Guides or call us today!

Contact A Manhattan NYC Child Support Attorney Today

Of course, you will need a skilled lawyer to protect and defend you and your rights. Call our offices for a free telephone consultation and to learn how we can help you. A Manhattan Family Law Attorney at Chaim Steinberger, P.C. can give you a solid foundation for meeting your goals during divorce, legal separation, annulment, and more.

The official Child Support Standards Act Guidelines are available for download and you can access the court’s worksheets and calculators (Adobe Acrobat and Excel) here.

NOTE: This monograph is intended as an educational guide and not as legal advice. Legal advice should only be obtained from a qualified lawyer who is familiar with all of the facts and circumstances of your matter.