Child Support Agreement PaperworkAfter a divorce or separation, noncustodial parents are typically required to pay a percentage of their income to child support. Even when both parents enjoy co-equal custodial and visitation rights, the parent with the higher income may be ordered to make additional payments for child care and maintenance. Under most circumstances, child support orders cannot be changed or amended.

However, if the noncustodial parent has a compelling reason, they may ask the court to modify or reconsider the terms of the child support order.

How the Empire State Determines Child Support Payments

Child support orders are usually issued by a New York Supreme Court. A child support order could be issued contingent on the existence or outcome of the following:

  • Divorce proceedings
  • A Family Court order
  • A written agreement between the parents

When the court orders child support payments, the judge will typically consider factors such as the parents’ combined incomes and the number of children from the relationship who are under the age of 18.

After assessing the family’s characteristics, the court may order child support payment on the following schedule:

  • If there is one child, then child support payments may be set or capped at 17% of the parent’s combined income.
  • If there are two children, then child support payments may be set or capped at 25% of the parent’s income.
  • For three children, child support payments may be set or capped at 29% of the parent’s income.
  • For four children, child support payments may be set or capped at 31% of the parent’s income.
  • If there are five or more children, then child support payments will be, at a minimum, 35% of the parent’s combined income.

Once a child support order has been issued, it cannot be modified unless the parent requesting a change can demonstrate that they qualify for a revision.

Who Qualifies for a Modification of a Child Support Order in New York

Either parent—the noncustodial parent, or the custodial parent—can request a modification of the child support under certain circumstances.

In New York, the court may consider an amendment if any of the following three circumstances exist:

  1. Substantial change in circumstances. The court may modify a child support order if the circumstances surrounding the child’s upbringing or development change. For example, if the child develops a disability or begins attending school, the noncustodial parent may be asked to increase their support payments.
  2. Enough time has elapsed since the initial order was issued. New York law allows a child support order to be revised after three years have elapsed since the initial order was issued. Either parent may request a modification, which could increase or decrease the amount of regular support payments. When assessing a request to modify a child support payment, the court may request information about the parent’s earnings, assets, and income.
  3. Either parent’s income has significantly changed. If one parent has suffered an involuntarily decrease in income, they could ask the court temporarily amend their child support order provided that the parent is actively seeking work.

However, even when parents qualify, the court may still ask that they provide substantial evidence of their need to modify a child support order. Since the court has the ultimate authority to determine whether an order should be modified, potential petitioners must understand not only the court’s expectations but the state’s deadlines and filing requirements.

A New York child support attorney could help you file a successful claim for modification by:

  • Collecting the evidence that you need to secure a modified child support order.
  • Ensuring that your petitions are filed timely and in accordance with state law.
  • Defending your claim against unfounded allegations and accusations.