Child support orders resulting from a divorce agreement or family court order are one of the most common proceedings. Although a case may have been resolved, a party’s failure to comply with their child support obligations, whether that includes basic child support or add-on expenses for childcare, healthcare, education, or extracurricular expenses, must be handled by a competent family law attorney to ensure that the parent receiving support gets exactly what their children are entitled to.
Child support enforcement involves several different possible procedures. Ensuring that you are well prepared before going to court will greatly increase the likelihood of a successful, expedited resolution.
Contact our office today to arrange a consultation. We help clients with child support issues throughout Long Island and New York City.
What Is Child Support?
All parents in New York are obligated to support their children until the age of 21. The noncustodial parent typically pays child support to the custodial parent on a monthly, biweekly, or weekly basis. Basic child support is intended to provide for the child’s home, food, clothing, and other necessary expenses. Basic child support is to ensure that a child’s basic needs are met.
In addition to basic child support, an agreement or court order might obligate parties to contribute towards add-on expenses including, for example:
- Health insurance
- Health care expenses (copays, prescriptions, orthodontia)
- Education (private/parochial school, tutoring, college expenses, school supplies)
- Extracurricular activities (sports, dance, music, etc.)
- Cell phones, car expenses, or other categories if set forth in an agreement
Because delaying or failing to make support payments directly affects the child, who has a right to the support, violating a child support order can result in harsh civil and criminal liabilities.
How To Enforce a Child Support Order in New York
In New York, there are two ways to enforce child support orders – administrative or court proceedings. If you are not receiving child support payments, we can help you file a Violation Petition with the Family Court to enforce the order. Sometimes it may be appropriate to bring the application to the Supreme Court, especially if other issues such as custody or equitable distribution need to also be addressed by the divorce judge. Yet most child support enforcement proceedings are brought in Family Court and are assigned to a Support Magistrate who handles child support matters exclusively and expeditiously.
The court will hold a hearing at which the parent enforcing the order must prove what should have been paid or reimbursed and what is outstanding. The delinquent parent then must explain why they have not made the child support payments or why they could not make the payments. In some cases, there may be a reasonable explanation for a delay in child support payments, such as a sudden loss of income, affecting a parent’s ability to pay. However, the paying parent must take steps to ask the court to modify the order – lost income is not an excuse for not paying child support without the court’s approval of a modification.
If the delinquent parent violated the order without cause, the court has several options to enforce the order, such as:
- Issue a wage garnishment deducting payments from the parent’s paycheck
- Place a lien on that parent’s real property
- Seize the delinquent parent’s savings or other assets
- Incarceration of up to 6 months
- An award of counsel fees to avoid further defaults
If the delinquent parent is a repeat offender or the court finds that they willfully refused to pay child support, the court may find them in contempt, which could result in jail time and fines. Most courts use this as a last resort and most custodial parents are reluctant to do this because incarcerated parents cannot pay child support or see their children. Yet the threat of jail is often a strong incentive for the defaulting party to pay up what is owed.
Disputes Over Child Support and Parenting Time
In a perfect world, the paying parent would make child support payments on time, and visitation would occur without any problems. Regardless of the reasons for unpaid child support, the custodial parent cannot interfere with the other parent’s visitation rights or parenting time. Similarly, if the custodial parent interferes with the other parent’s visitation rights, the non-custodial parent cannot withhold child support in retaliation.
How Aiello & DiFalco Can Help
Whichever side of a child enforcement case you are on, we will protect your rights and make sure you receive fair treatment. You can depend on us to:
- File the necessary documents in family court to enforce the child support order
- Help you prepare all of the necessary evidence to prove your case
- Negotiate with opposing attorneys
- If necessary, seek a modification of child support payments due to changed circumstances, such as illness, injury, or unemployment
- Represent you if you must appear at a hearing regarding child support
Above all, our family law attorneys will treat you with the dignity and respect you deserve and work to find an amicable solution to your child support issues.
Contact Our Experienced Long Island Child Support Enforcement Attorney
At Aiello & DiFalco, we know nothing is more important to parents than their children and yet child support disputes are common causes of stress between two former partners. Whether you need assistance pursuing or defending a child support enforcement action, we can help. Contact our office today so we can start working on your case.