When children are involved in a divorce, there is an obligation to ensure that they are financially taken care of until they are 21(or under 21 if they are in the military, married, or otherwise self-supporting, or if they have left the home).
That obligation is child support.
However, when there is “substantial change” in circumstances, a modification of child support may be warranted.
Those substantial changes may include:
- Involuntary job loss
- Change in income of 15 percent or more
- Serious medical illness or condition faced by either parent or the child
- Child custody has changed
- Incarceration, providing it is not for non-payment of child support or an offense against the custodial parent or the child
In addition to substantial changes in circumstances, the court may consider modification if three or more years have passed since the original support order or the last modification.
Petitioning for modification of child support in NY
If you are the non-custodial parent (the parent who pays support) and you are seeking modification, you will need to file a petition for modification of child support .
Both the custodial and non-custodial parent have the right to file a petition.
In addition to basic information, the petitioner needs to include a statement as to why modification is being sought.
In order to “keep the peace,” you and your ex-spouse may want to discuss a mutually agreeable compromise and get it in writing, so you have something to present to the court.
Discuss any agreement with your attorney, too, so that you can feel assured that the agreement is in the best interest of your child (since that’s what the court will take most into consideration) and that it is something you can live with.
Upward modification of child support in NY
An upward modification is a request for an increase in the amount of child support being paid.
If the original agreement was made before the law changed in 2010, the court will only consider the request if the child’s needs aren’t being met or there was an unanticipated (and provable) change in circumstances.
For agreements made after October 14, 2010, acceptable reasons for requests for upward modification include:
- An increase in the income of the non-custodial parent of 15 percent or more since the original order or a modification that occurred at least three years ago
- An involuntary decrease in the custodial parent’s income of at least 15 percent or an involuntary job loss
- An increase in the cost of raising a child
- Costs of medical care for the custodial parent or the child
Downward modification of child support in NY
The most common reason for a downward modification of child support is job loss. The job loss must be involuntary (in other words, you were laid off as part of a reduction in force or let go for reasons not of your own doing).
You must also prove that you have been actively seeking work since your job loss. You cannot quit your job and then ask for a reduction in child support.
If your hours were reduced or your wages or salary were reduced by 15 percent or more, you may also request a downward modification.
Incarceration is only considered if it doesn’t involve non-payment of court-ordered child support or any offense against the child or the custodial parent.
Make sure you get solid, reliable legal advice if you are seeking or defending against a modification in child support
Child support is taken seriously by the New York courts and any modification request will be weighed against what is in the best interest of the child.
To find out more about your child support modification, please call our office at (212) 349-1600 or contact us online to schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced New York City child support attorney.