New York Child Support Laws

Child Support Laws as they apply to the state of New York

Everything you need to know about New York child support laws, updated for 2020.

New York child support guidelines say that upkeep ends when a child reaches 21, and it is the legal responsibility of both parents to provide said upkeep.

At 21, a child is practically an adult. So, the question is why, and how does the judge decide how much child support you will pay? Also, there are ways to lower your obligation and end upkeep early. Keep reading to find out.

But before we begin this discussion, let us start with the basics of child support in the financial capital of the world.

How to apply for child support in New York

In New York, any guardian, caretaker, or parent can apply for child support services. To do that, you must first download the state’s child support application form here or call 888-208-4485.

Alternatively, you can contact a family court attorney in your area or apply for child support online here.

What to remember:

  • NY DCSS (Department of Child Support Services) enforces upkeep in the state.
  • Beginning October 1st, 2019, the service fee applied after the obligor pays more than $500 of support, increased to $35.
  • Custodial parents pay the service fee annually.
  • New York’s child support program also offers services including locating non-custodial parents, paternity establishment, support establishment, support collection, child support modification services, medical support establishment, and support enforcement.
  • If either parent moves to another state, you must notify the DCSS.

How is upkeep determined under New York child support guidelines?

New yolk child support guidelines warrant the use of standard guidelines to determine parental obligation. What that means is parents in the state pay child support based on the adjusted gross income of the non-custodial parent. How does it work?

  1. The court determines the non-custodial parent’s gross income (s).
  2. After which the court makes deductions including Medicare, social security, Yonkers tax, and all other relevant deductions as per New York child support guidelines.
  3. The parent’s adjusted gross income is the figure that results after deductions.
  4. The court then multiplies adjusted gross income by the state’s standard guideline percentage in the table below.
NO. childState standard guideline %
17%One child
25%Two children
29%Three children
31%Four children
35%Five plus children.

Table 1: New York standard child support %

To aid estimation, either use the state child support worksheet or official court calculator.

Download the New York child support worksheet here.

What are the factors that determine child support amount/ support modification in New York?

Before the judge decides how much you owe, the courts consider the best interests of the child and the financial well-being of the parents. Therefore, the factors that determine your financial obligation towards your child are:

  • The educational needs of either parent.
  • Physical, emotional, and educational needs of the child.
  • The standard of living the child would enjoy if the parents never split.
  • Both parents’ earning capability.
  • Extraordinary expenses incurred by the non-custodial parent in fulfillment of the child’s needs such as visitation.
  • All other relevant factors as per New York Child Support guidelines.

I must also mention that when applying you will need the following information.

Necessary documents

According to the DCSS. The more information you have on your ex, the faster your case will proceed.

Consequently, if you have your partner’s income information, social security number, last known address, health insurance information, or any other relevant information. You should provide it to the DCSS.

You will also need the child (ren) birth certificate (s), social security number, insurance cover information, and last known address if you are not the custodial parent.

Child Support in the Big Apple

How to modify child support in New York

New your child support laws allow parents in the state to petition the family court to increase or decrease support amount on condition. That is “a substantial change in circumstances”.

Parents may also use this program if the other parent disobeys the child support order

What to remember:

One, Orders before 2010 are subject to the DCSS treating incarceration as “voluntary unemployment”, and thus the court or DCSS may not modify such orders.

Two, Conditions for child support modification in New York are:

  • The passage of three years since last order modification, adjustment, or entry.
  • A 15% change in either parent’s adjusted gross income.


  • Modifying child support in New York is a judicial process.
  • If the parents agree and are willing to stipulate to the modification petition, no further court hearings are necessary.
  • Non-IV-D cases pay filling fees for modification.
  • Child support staff visit correctional facilities to assist incarcerated parents.

Overall, it is important to petition for modifications as soon as your circumstances change to avoid arrears accumulation.

Grounds for child support order modification in New York

  • Involuntary reduction of income.
  • Change of custody arrangements.
  • Emancipation.

To request modification, either visit the family court, Office of Court Administration, or call 888-208-4485.

What happens if you do not pay child support in New York?

In New York, the “Add Amount” program means that the court may temporarily increase your support order by up to 50% of the ordered amount until you honor your obligation. Furthermore, the court may also employ any of the following tools to recover child support.

  • Tax refund offset: if the amount owed is $500 or more, the OCSE (Office OF Child support Enforcement) will divert your returns to child support. This rule also applies to lottery winnings above $600.
  • PEX (Property Execution): this option allows the OCSE to access the delinquent parent’s bank account or financial assets and collect child support.
  • The OCSE or court may also suspend the obligor’s Driver’s, professional, or business license.
  • Credit bureau reporting.
  • The OCSE may also seize the payor’s assets if back support owed is equal to or greater than four months.
  • Passport revocation: if the amount owed is more than $2500, the State Department may revoke or deny the parent’s passport.

Judicial enforcement processes

If the payor fails to honor his or her obligation, the receiving parent or OCSE can file a “violation petition” with the courts. The consequences of that action for the payor are:

  • Arrest and incarceration for up to 6 months.
  • Cash deposit: the court may order up to three years’ worth of future child support.
  • The court may place a lien on the payor’s property until he or she pays owed support in full.

If you are unemployed or underemployed, the court may refer you to ‘STEP’. STEP or Support Through Employment program exists to help parents build skills or secure employment.

Criminal non-support New York

Depending on the amount owed, the court may refer the case for criminal prosecution. That escalates non-support to a federal crime. For a first violation, the punishment is up to four years in prison or 5-year probation.

Remember, non-support is a class E felony in New York, and the remedies escalate with each subsequent violation. Also, to prove nonsupport, the accusing party must show that failure happened knowingly and willfully.

Hence, we encourage you to contact the OCSE, family court, or former partner to modify support orders as soon as your financial situation changes.

What to remember:

  • Child support enforcement (statute of limitations) is 20 years from the date of the default payment.
  • The court or OCSE only uses the listed enforcement procedures when the non-custodial parent fails to pay.
  • Liens on property or assets remain in place until the parent pays back support owed in full.

When does child support end in New York?

If a written stipulation exists in your child support order, for example, university tuition or special needs. Then your payments will continue beyond 21 following the conditions of the order.

However, if all factors stay constant, your child support order will automatically terminate on your son’s or daughter’s 21st birthday.

Can you legally move out at 16 in New York?

Yes, New York, child support laws allow emancipation. But the process is not as straightforward as it sounds. Why?

A minor cannot petition the court for an emancipation order in New York. Instead, the court decides during other cases whether the child is suitable for emancipation. For example, when a parent abandons or neglects the child.

Therefore, if you are under 21, conditions for emancipation are one, marriage, joining the military, 18+ fully independent young adults, or ending your relationship with your parents by leaving home.

If you are after emancipation, we advise you to consult with a family court attorney in your area.

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