Can Child Support Amounts Change?

Courts approve the amount of child support a parent must pay. Parents can determine this amount, or a court will do it for them. In New York, courts come up with this amount by following the Child Support Standards Act. This provision has a formula that considers the number of children and the incomes of both parents.

Calculating Child Support in New York

Once the court defines the parental earnings, it selects a percentage that relates to the number of kids involved. This percentage gets multiplied by the collective income to come up with a child support amount. In New York, the fraction is 17 percent for one child, 25 percent for two and 29 percent for three kids. This formula relates to joint earnings of up to $136,000. Courts can use a different formula for incomes above this amount.

Parents can agree to pay less, but need to meet some conditions:

  • They must include a statement about awareness of the Child Support Standards Act.
  • They have to acknowledge the amount of child support that relates to this act.
  • The parent without attorney representation has to receive a copy of this act.
  • Parents should give a reason why the proposed amount is different.

The court has the last say and can overrule the agreement. This ensures adequate support of the children involved.

Modifications of Child Support

Child support amounts can change. You can ask for modifications to an existing child support order. This applies when circumstances of the parent have changed substantially, when income has decreased by at least 15 percent, or when three years have passed on orders established after October 13, 2010. "Substantial changes" vary, but they can include variations in medical bills for the child and illness of the paying parent.

In these cases, a parent has to request a modification in court because child support orders don’t alter automatically. Modifications become effective on the date the petition was filed, not when circumstances changed. You can’t just pay less without having a new order because this would violate the existing court order. Paying less child support than decreed by the court can lead to fines or jail time.

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