Child Support Modification Attorney, Garden City, NY

Parents of minor children who divorce must work out a financial arrangement on behalf of the children. This usually means that the non-custodial parent will pay child support to the custodial parent. There is a very specific formula in the state of New York, which is based on a number of factors, including the total combined income of both parents. This is income from all sources, usually based on the prior year’s tax returns. Next, applicable deductions are subtracted from the total combined income of the parents. These deductions include:

  • Non-reimbursed business expenses for employees;
  • FICA taxes;
  • City income taxes;
  • Any child support or spousal maintenance paid to a former spouse;
  • Public assistance, and
  • Supplemental security income (SSI).

Once the income and deductions have been calculated, a percentage of the adjusted income is determined based on the number of children being supported. For one child, the percentage is 17 percent, for two children, the percentage is 25 percent, for three children, the percentage is 29 percent, for four children, the percentage is 31 percent, and for five children or more, the percentage is no less than 35 percent of the parents’ total combined income.

The court will assign a pro-rata share of child support, which is assigned to each parent, based on the amount each parent contributes to the total income (each parent’s total income, divided by the combined income of both parents). Additional support may need to be calculated for daycare costs and medical expenses for the children. While the calculations are very straightforward, there are times when the circumstances of one parent may significantly change, and a modification of child support could be warranted.

Those who want to have their child support modified should speak to the New York family lawyers at The Law Office of Katherine Ryan, P.C. Attorney Katherine Ryan can help parents determine whether a modification is likely to be granted, then can file the legal documents to get the process started. It is important to note that a child support order may not be retroactively modified—a parent who has fallen behind in child support payments is still responsible for the arrears, therefore, it is definitely in the best interests of the parent to speak to a family law attorney quickly.

What is Considered a Significant or Substantial Change in Circumstances?

A substantial or significant change in circumstance usually means a permanent change, but in any case, it cannot be very temporary or be the result of something the parent voluntarily did, such as quitting a job. The changes in circumstance which are most likely to result in a child support modification include:

  • A substantial decrease in income for either parent—When one parent loses his or her primary income, they may be unable to meet their child support obligation. On the flip side, the custodial parent may have lost his or her job and may seek an increase in support. However, the reduction in income must not be the fault of the parent.
  • An increase of responsibilities for the minor child—Often, as children get older, their needs increase. A child might require braces or might want to participate in a sport or other extracurricular activity. The custodial parent might decide that a private school would be better for the child’s educational needs, so he or she is seeking an increase in child support to help cover the costs.
  • An increase in family responsibilities—The non-custodial parent could remarry and have more children, so might seek to decrease his or her child support obligation.
  • Either parent could experience a significant increase in income or receive a large inheritance, therefore, the other parent might ask for a modification of child support.
  • The non-custodial parent could experience a serious health issue and could ask the court to lower the amount of child support, or the custodial parent could experience a serious health issue that leaves him or her unable to work, so might ask for an increase in child support.

Temporary Modification vs. Permanent Modification

A temporary modification of child support could be for a large, one-time expenditure for the child’s needs, such as the cost of braces. A permanent modification would reflect either an ongoing substantial change in the needs of the child, or an ongoing substantial change in the parent’s circumstances.

What are Some Other Issues Related to Child Support Modification in New York?

In most cases, three years must have passed since the original child support order or the last modification, or either parent has experienced an involuntary change in income of 15 percent since the original order or last modification.  A parent asking for relief based on a 15 percent change in income can file a petition for a “downward modification,” or reduction to child support. The parent asking for this relief must be able to show that the decrease in income was not voluntary and that he or she is actively looking for ways to increase income or find other/additional employment. If the non-custodial parent’s income has increased significantly, the custodial parent may petition the court for an “upward modification” to increase the prior child support order.

It is very important to note that quitting a job as a way of avoiding child support payments is never a good idea. Voluntarily quitting a job or being underemployed will only result in the court imputing income and determining an amount of child support for the non-custodial parent to pay. In other words, the non-custodial parent’s income will be based on what he or she earned in the past or is capable of earning based on factors such as job history, local employment opportunities, skills, and education. While parents are allowed to set their own terms and conditions which would justify a child support modification, such an agreement may not sacrifice the needs of the child. Further, such an agreement must be accepted by the judge and incorporated into the original child support order.

How The Law Office of Katherine Ryan, P.C., Can Help with a Child Support Modification

Parents who feel their situation warrants a child support modification can get the help they need from The Law Office of Katherine Ryan, P.C. Attorney Katherine Ryan uses her experience, skills, and knowledge to help every client fully understand his or her legal position. Katherine is responsive, returning phone calls and emails promptly, and believes her law firm consistently provides a dedicated, focused level of service. Katherine Ryan represents clients in Garden City, Stewart Manor, New Hyde Park, Mineola, Huntington, Melville, Woodbury, Commack, Smithtown, Syosset, Jericho, Roslyn, and Manhasset.  Contact The Law Office of Katherine Ryan, P.C., today.