Child Support in New York


What is child support?

Child support is money paid by a parent to help support a child.  Child support usually includes cash payments to the person taking care of the child.  Child support can also include other expenses, like paying to keep health insurance for the child. The parent who pays support does not usually live with the child.

Who can get child support?

A person who has physical custody of the children for more than half of the time can usually get child support from the other parent.  Child support is ordered by the Family Court,  or in the Supreme Court as part of a divorce case.

If the parents share physical custody 50/50, there should still be a child support order, but it is more likely that the court will order an amount that is different than the standard amount set by the child support guidelines.

How do I get child support?

If your children are living with you and you do not have a child support order, you can start the process by a filing a petition for child support in your county’s Family Court.  The Child Support Enforcement Unit at the County Social Services Department can help you, even if you don't get any type of public assistance.

How does the court decide how much child support should be paid?

First, the court looks at how much the noncustodial parent makes. Then, it subtracts expenses, such as social security taxes and child support for other children. This number is called the ‘adjusted gross income.’ The court then multiplies that number by a percentage. The percentage depends on the number of children.

The percentages are:
· 17% ---------- one child
· 25% ---------- two children
· 29% ---------- three children
· 31% ---------- four children
· 35% ---------- five or more children

Next, the court looks at how much each parent makes. Then the court decides what each parent should pay. The noncustodial parent pays their share to the custodial parent.  The court usually follows these guidelines, but does not always have to follow them and can make other arrangements if they are fair.

What else can the court order the other parent to pay for?

Health care costs that are not covered by insurance are divided between the parents based on each parent's income. If the custodial parent is working or going to school, child care costs are divided as well. The court can also divide the cost of education between the two parents.

What happens if I am the noncustodial parent and I do not show up for court?

If you get a notice but do not show up for a court date, the court can decide that you are the legal parent and make you pay support. The court will also decide the amount you owe. You will not get a chance to say what you think you owe if you do not go to court. The court can also get a warrant for your arrest. Make sure you show up to court!  If you live far from the court, you can ask the clerk to let you attend by telephone.

What if I can't pay my child support?

You can file a "petition for modification" with the court that issued the support order. Only the court can change what you owe. Just because you think you cannot pay, do not stop paying. Continue to pay what you can while you wait for the court to make a decision. You should know that the court will only change the amount of support you need to pay if there has been a ‘substantial change’ in your ability to pay.

What is the Child Support Enforcement Unit (CSEU) and what can it do for me?

The CSEU is the part of the Department of Social Services that collects and distributes child support.  The CSEU can help you in different ways. The CSEU can:

* Help the parents who have custody of the child locate the other parent
* Help establish who is the father of a child
* Help custodial parents get support orders from Family Court
* Set up a way to collect support payments
* Help make sure that the parent who must pay support does so
* Help the custodial parent get medical support for their child

Who can use CSEU child support services?

If you are receiving child support for a child in your care, you may be eligible for CSEU services. Parents, guardians, and caretakers of children can also apply.  If you are not sure if you are eligible for help, contact your local CSEU office.

How do I apply for child support services?

Contact your local child support office. You can find the phone number for your local office by calling (800) 846-0773. A list of child support offices in New York can be found here. A copy of the application form can be found here.

Do teen parents have to pay child support?

Yes. Even if the parents are minors, the noncustodial teen parent must pay child support until the child turns 21.

How do I pay child support?

If your child support order involves the CSEU, you must send all of your child support payments to the CSEU offices in Albany, New York.  Call and check with CSEU staff to ensure you have the right address.  If you send your payment anywhere else you will not receive credit for it.

How do I collect child support?

You can collect your child support payments by debit card, direct deposit, or paper check. For more information, please visit the state’s child support website here:

For more information about child support, please visit the New York State Division of Child Support Enforcement web site at

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This article provides general information about this subject. Laws affecting this subject may have changed since this article was written. For specific legal advice about a problem you are having, get the advice of a lawyer.  Receiving this information does not make you a client of our office.

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