Children need the emotional and financial support of both parents. However, some parents are frustrated by the fact that only one parent is required to pay child support – the noncustodial parent. Nevertheless, parents that disregard their obligation to pay child support can face serious consequences, and in some circumstances, jail time.
This article provides a general overview of how to enforce your child support order in New York. If after reading this article, you have questions about obtaining or enforcing child support orders, contact a local family law attorney for assistance.
Generally, one parent (the noncustodial parent) must pay child support to the other parent (the custodial parent) on behalf of the children. Once child support has been established by a judge or child support agency, the parent required to pay child support must do so as long as the child support order is in place or until the child reaches the age of majority. Child support in New York is largely dependent on the parents' respective incomes. For more information on how child support is calculated, see Child Support in New York.
If you do not currently have an order for child support, you may apply for child support through New York's Division of Child Support Enforcement, (DCSE) through the online application. If you use DCSE to collect child support, you may be charged a $25 service fee once a year unless to qualify for a fee waiver. Additionally, DCSE provides the following services:
Once a child support order has been established by a judge or through New York's DCSE, the noncustodial parent (parent required to pay child support) must obey the child support order by paying the required amount of child support to the custodial parent. In situations where the obligor parent refuses to obey the child support order by paying less than the amount of child support required, that parent may face severe fines or even jail time if they are found in contempt of court.
A parent who is owed child support and is not receiving it may bring a child support action on his or her own or with the help of a private attorney. While DCSE can help you enforce your child support order, they do not assign an attorney to your case and will not bring an action in court. Instead, DCSE may help you collect child support owing to you by garnishing the other parent's wages or bank account.
A judge has more ways to enforce child support and may punish the non-paying parent in ways that DCSE cannot. If you want to bring a child support enforcement action through the court system, you can hire a private attorney who will file the correct paperwork and attend a hearing on your behalf, or you may complete the paperwork on your own. The forms needed to pursue a child support enforcement action, also called an Order to Show Cause, are found here.
After you have filed the correct paperwork and properly provided it to the other parent, the court will set a hearing on your Order to Show Cause. See the article, What is a Show Cause Hearing for more information. If you have additional questions on what forms to file or how to prepare for your child support enforcement hearing, contact a local family law attorney for advice.
A New York parent who refuses to pay child support may be subject to one or more of the following:
In addition, a judge may hold a delinquent parent in contempt for failing to pay support. Contempt is essentially a declaration by a judge that a parent has disobeyed a court order. The non-paying parent will have to pay all the child support owing and may additionally be subject to fines and even jail time.
If you have additional questions about how to enforce a child support order in New York, contact an experienced family law attorney for assistance.
For more information on enforcement of child support orders in New York and to read the relevant child support statute, see New York Code Domestic Law, Section 240.