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Under NY Law, Who Must Pay Child Support?


Without a doubt, one of the most time-consuming issues in any divorce involving children is going to be deciding the questions of, who pays child support, and how much. In this post, we will provide a brief summary of this important topic, but if you’d like to speak an experienced New York divorce lawyer about your own case, contact our firm.

A common misconception about child support is that if you and your spouse have joint custody and the child spends 50 percent of the time with one parent and 50 percent of the time with the other parent, then neither parent has to pay child support. This is untrue. New York State courts still require one parent to pay child support. Generally, the parent who earns more income is the parent who pays child support.

In situations where the child spends more time with one parent than the other, the custodial parent receives child support from the other parent, referred to as the non-custodial parent.

The non-custodial parent will pay base child support to the custodial parent.  In addition to the base child support, the parents will divide, usually on a pro-rata basis to income, extra expenses for the child. Extra expenses could include: educational costs, extra-curricular activities, camp, unreimbursed medical expenses, health insurance premiums, child-care when the primary custodial parent is working and/or seeking work, and sometimes college.

The New York State  Bar Association provides information on how the courts determine child support payment amounts based on NY guidelines. When the parties share joint physical custody, it can be factor that the court considers when  awarding child support payments, but it is certainly not a complete bar to payment of child support.

Even when there is no contact with the child or the parent is not working or is drawing disability, the courts can require that the parent pay child support. Being in prison, living in another state, or in another country also does not bar the court from ordering child support payments.

Courts are very strict about child support and will ensure that the child is adequately provided for.

If you have questions about your obligations to pay child support or want to modify a child support order, discuss your matter with a New York child support lawyer.