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If my new year is not great, can I adjust my child support?

On Behalf of | Jan 30, 2024 | Child Custody

If you owe child support in Long Island, New York, the question of adjusting support amounts due to changing financial circumstances is valid. After all, your financial circumstances change, and if they do, you may need to change your support obligations. The key is to not allow your obligations to fall behind because then you will face severe consequences.

Understanding child support

Child support constitutes financial assistance one parent provides to the other for the upbringing of their child. Typically, child support is court-ordered in a divorce, after separation or between unmarried partnerships. The amount is determined by a formula considering both parents’ incomes, the number of children and other factors. The calculation applies to combined parental income up to $154,000, with the court deciding whether to maintain the same percentage or use a different amount for income exceeding this limit.

Circumstances for child support modification

Child support orders are not immutable, though. They can be altered if there is a significant change in circumstances impacting either the parent’s ability to pay or the child’s needs.

Specifically, in New York, you may qualify for a modification if either party’s gross income changes by 15% or more. You may also qualify if 3 or more years have passed since the last modification or order entry, the custody of the child changes or the child is legally emancipated. You can also come to an agreement with your ex-spouse that can prompt a modification, if formalized in writing and court approved.

Requesting a modification

To initiate a child support modification, filing a petition in Family Court is necessary. Utilizing the online Support Modification Petition program streamlines the process by assisting in completing the required paperwork. Information about your current income, expenses and child support payments, along with the reason for modification, must be provided. Serving the other parent with a copy of the petition and notifying them of the court hearing date and time is essential and required.

Modification hearing

After you request the modification, the court will have a hearing. During the hearing, you or your lawyer presents evidence supporting the modification. Proof of income, such as pay stubs, tax returns or bank statements, can be used. Documentation of significant changes, like job loss, medical conditions, custody alterations or shifts in the child’s needs, should also be provided. The other parent has the opportunity to respond and present their own evidence themselves, or through their lawyer.

The court evaluates the petition, evidence and the best interests of the child to decide whether to grant or deny the modification. Applying the same formula used for the original child support order, unless a valid reason for deviation exists, the court ensures a fair decision.