Buffalo Child Support Lawyers
Divorces are unpleasant, but arguably a necessary step that some couples need to take. But even if the couple is better off with a divorce, the couple’s children, if any, are usually not. Eliminating any emotional harm to the children caught in the middle of a divorce is a noble but rarely achieved goal. However, the courts will attempt to minimize the impact and disruption to the children due to a divorce. One way they do this is by ordering one of the parents to pay child support. Our experienced Buffalo child support lawyers have assisted countless clients with child support matters throughout Western New York.
What Is Child Support?
Child support refers to the financial support a noncustodial parent will pay to the custodial parent to help with the financial cost of raising a child until the child is 21 years of age. The noncustodial parent is the parent who has less than 50% of the physical custody of the child. If both parents have 50% physical custody, then the court will decide who the noncustodial parent is for the purposes of deciding who pays child support. This is usually the parent who earns the most money.
What Does Child Support Pay For?
Child support payments are for the purposes of raising a child. Child support covers the money needed to clothe, feed and house the child. Other needs of the child that are to be covered by child support payments include costs of child care, healthcare costs and health insurance premiums for the child.
How Is Child Support Calculated?
New York has a specific law, called the Child Support Standards Act, that calculates the basic amount of child support. The formula will calculate the noncustodial parent’s child support payment by adding up the incomes of both parents, multiplying that amount by a certain percentage based on the number of children to be supported, then prorate that value based on the percentage of each parent’s income. The final result will be how much the noncustodial parent is supposed to pay in child support for the year.
The following is the percentage value based on the number of children to be supported:
- One child = 17%
- Two children = 25%
- Three children = 29%
- Four children = 31%
- Five or more children = at least 35%
Let’s look at a hypothetical situation to make this easier to understand. Let’s say you have a divorced couple with two children. The father is the custodial parent and makes $35,000 per year while the mother makes $45,000 per year. Since the mother is the noncustodial parent, she will make child support payments to the father.
The first step is to add up the parents’ incomes, which totals $80,000. Since there are two children, we will multiply that number by 25%. This results in an annual child support requirement of $20,000. The father is responsible $8,750 since his income only amounts to 43.75% of the $80,000 total. The mother is responsible for $11,250 since her income amounts to 56.25% of the $80,000 total. Therefore, the mother will make $11,250 worth of child support payments to the father throughout the year.
In the above hypothetical, $11,250 is the noncustodial parent’s base child support obligation. However, the base child support obligation can be adjusted by requiring the noncustodial parent to pay more child support for certain costs, such as child care, health insurance and medical expenses.
If the combined incomes of the parents exceed a certain threshold (it changes every two years, but is roughly $141,000), the court may use the Child Support Standards Act formula only for the first $141,000, and then consider a variety of factors to decide how to account for the combined incomes that exceed $141,000. Or the court may just use the Child Support Standards Act formula on the entire combined income amount.
What Happens If the Court’s Child Support Calculation Is too Much for the Noncustodial Parent to Pay?
If the noncustodial parent feels he or she can’t afford to make the child support payments, the noncustodial parent will need to provide a hardship to explain to the court why the child support payments should be reduced.
Can the Child Support Payments Be Reduced?
Yes. If the noncustodial parent has a significant change in income or financial situation, they can petition the court for a modification of child support payments. Since only the court can modify the child support payment obligations, the noncustodial parent must continue making the full child support payments until the court issues a new child support order.
Can the Parents Agree to Their Own Child Support Plan?
Yes, but it must be reviewed and approved by the court. The court will require the parents to explain why they believe their child support plan should replace the Child Support Standards Act formula. The court will also make sure that the best interests of the child are protected.
What Happens if the Noncustodial Parent Doesn’t Pay Child Support?
If child support payments aren’t made, the noncustodial parent is deemed to be in arrears. If this occurs, the child support enforcement agency can take collect the amount owed in child support using a variety of steps, such as intercepting tax refunds, suspending the noncustodial parent’s driver’s license and garnishing wages.
Contact Our Buffalo Child Support Lawyers For Compassionate Care
If you are facing difficulties with child support, it is extremely important to speak with one of our Buffalo child support lawyers for experienced representation. Cole, Sorrentino, Hurley, Hewner & Gambino, P.C. are dedicated to helping clients in these situations and have four convenient offices to make meeting our Buffalo child support lawyers even easier.