What you need to know about child support in New York State.

Rhoda S. Jacobs

Assemblywoman Rhoda S. Jacobs

Need more information about child support?

Child Support Enforcement Helpline
(212) 226-7125

New York State Office of Children and Family Services
(212) 961-4121

Department of Social Services Human Resources Administration Infoline
Toll Free:
(877) 472-8411
(718) 557-1399

Kings County Family Court
(718) 643-2652

Rhoda S. Jacobs

Dear Friend,

Financial support is a child's right and a parent's responsibility. That's why, under New York State law, children are entitled to adequate child support from their parents even if the parents aren't currently living together.

This brochure outlines the responsibilities of parents under New York's child support system. It also explains ways for custodial parents to make sure they are getting the support their children deserve. This brochure is informational in nature, and is not meant to be a substitute for advice from an attorney or your local Department of Social Services Child Support Enforcement Unit (CSEU). Please check with these sources before making any decisions regarding child support.


Rhoda S. Jacobs
Member of Assembly

Room 736 LOB, Albany, New York 12248
(518) 455-5385

2294 Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11210
(718) 434-0446


The Facts About Child Support

Child support is determined by the courts.
The Child Support Standards Act requires the courts to issue fair, adequate and standardized support awards for all New York children. With that in mind, child support is based on the gross annual income of both parents.

The combined income of the parents is multiplied by the following percentages:

  • 17% for one child
  • 25% for two children
  • 29% for three children
  • 31% for four children
  • no less than 35% for five or more children

The basic child support obligation is then divided proportionately between the parents, based on their respective incomes.

The court can deviate from the standardized award when it finds the support established in a particular case is inappropriate or unjust based on factors like the financial resources of the parents, the child's physical or emotional health, or special needs.

Health care, child care and education costs are divided between the parents.
Courts must order a non-custodial parent to enroll a child in that parent's health insurance plan if the parent's employer pays a substantial portion of the premium. When medical coverage is ordered, insurers and employers must enroll the child immediately. Health care not covered by insurance is divided between the parents based on their incomes.

When the custodial parent is working or going to school, child care costs are divided between the parents based on their incomes and added to the child support award. If the custodial parent is looking for work, the court may divide child care costs.

If the court determines post-secondary, private, special, or enriched education is in the best interest of the child, these expenses may also be added to child support.

The Child Support Enforcement Unit will determine any adjustments.
If you believe your current award does not reflect the cost-of-living, you may request the Child Support Enforcement Unit (CSEU) to review your order (CSEU reviews orders without request for public assistance recipients). The CSEU adjusts orders every two years, based on changes in the Consumer Price Index (the CPI must increase by at least 10% for an adjustment).

If you have a child support order issued prior to 1989 varying by at least 10% from the child support standards and you receive CSEU services, you can have your order reviewed and adjusted by CSEU based on current parental income and resources. You may also request the court adjust your order based on a change in circumstances.

How to Get the Support Your
Child Deserves

The Legislature has strengthened and simplified the methods for enforcing child support orders. Many of these methods can be used to collect overdue spousal maintenance also owed to you. In addition, the CSEU may be able to help locate a non-paying parent, collect payments from a parent living in another state, or establish paternity so custodial parents become eligible to collect support.

If you are having trouble collecting child support, you should call the CSEU or an attorney. Most CSEU services are free and available, whether or not you receive public assistance.

Income Withholding
To ensure that custodial parents receive support with less risk of default and delay, all new or newly modified child support orders require that payments be immediately withheld from the wages or other income of the obligated parent, unless other arrangements have been made by the parties. Unfortunately, for old orders, it is usually necessary to wait for missed payments before the obligated parent's income can be withheld for child support payments. If the obligated parent misses three payments, a private attorney or the CSEU may send a notice requiring an employer to deduct past-due support and future support from the person's paycheck. This method of enforcement may also be used if the obligated parent refuses to pay medical support.

Tax Refund and Lottery Interception
The CSEU can intercept a parent's federal and/or state income tax refund checks as well as lottery winnings of $600 or more for failing to pay child support.

License Suspension
If support is four or more months late, the CSEU can suspend the driver's license of the parent. The court can also suspend professional, business and recreational licenses of the obligated parent.

Notifying Credit Bureaus
If the obligated parent has failed to pay $1,000 or two months in support, the CSEU can notify the major credit rating agencies to prevent extension of credit.

Making the Obligated Parent Post a Bond
If the custodial parent convinces the court that other enforcement methods will not work, the court can order the obligated parent to deposit a sum of money, or bond, with the CSEU or a private attorney. Then support payments can be deducted from the money whenever there is a default.

Getting a Money Judgement
If the custodial parent keeps accurate records of the amount owed, the courts can issue a money judgement. A judgement is very important because without it, there could be a problem collecting support. It's good for 20 years, and even if the parent doesn't have any money when it is issued, it can still be enforced if he or she has money in the future.

Seizing Assets or Placing Property Liens
The CSEU can freeze the obligated parent's bank account, IRA, or other financial assets and seize the amount of money owed. The CSEU can also place a lien on real estate or personal property, like cars or boats, after four months of failing to pay support.

A court can impose a jail sentence for willful refusal to pay if they believe no other method of enforcement will be effective.