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Much of New York Child Support Owed Is Not Paid


A recent U.S. Census Bureau report about child support payment obligations paints a sobering picture. The total amount of child support owed in the U.S. in 2009 was $35 billion, but only just over 60 percent of that was actually paid.

The data is revealed just as more and more custodial parents need the support. The Census Bureau estimates that 22 million children live with only their custodial parent, not both parents. This does not include children living with grandparents or foster parents. The majority of custodial parents, 80 percent, are mothers.

Half of custodial parents have an agreement to receive child support, either through a court order or through some other agreement.

New York’s Child Support Standards Act governs the amount of child support a custodial parent should receive. It attempts to keep the child to the same or similar living standard as if he or she lived with two parents, and is based on a percentage of the income of the parents. A custodial parent does not need to be married or divorced to receive child support; any parent living with and supporting a child can receive child support from the other parent.

Child Support Enforcement

Those who do not pay timely child support after a court orders them to do so are at risk for penalties. A non-custodial parent, who the court finds is “willfully and voluntarily” not paying court-ordered child support payments may be held in contempt of court. A court can jail any individual found in contempt of court for up to six months. In order to ask the court to find the non-paying parent in contempt of court, the petitioner (the custodial parent) files a violation petition. This petition must be served to the non-paying parent.

Besides contempt of court, other methods a custodial parent has to enforce child support payments are:

  • If the noncustodial parent is employed, garnishing (taking) his or her wages
  • Intercepting state and federal income tax refunds
  • Taking lottery winnings
  • Seizing bank accounts
  • Suspending driver’s, professional or occupational licenses
  • Refusing a passport application or denying a passport renewal

A Family Law Divorce Attorney Can Help

If you are seeking child support or child support enforcement, it is advisable to contact a lawyer experienced in child support awards and enforcement.

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