New York Court Help

Frequently Asked Questions
Child Support

Q. How old does a child have to be before child support ends?

Q. Is there any other reason why child support might end?

Q. I am a parent who wants child support. How do I get it?

Q. What happens when a child support case goes to court?

Q. What can I do if I disagree with the support order?

Q. And if I still disagree?

Q. My child's other parent won't pay the child support order that I have. What can I do?

Q. How do I get a support order changed?

Q. I have legal custody and the child's other parent lives in another state. Can I get child support in a New York court?

Q. Do I need a lawyer for a Family Court child support case?

Q. Can the Family Court assign a free lawyer to help me if I want a lawyer and I cannot afford to hire one?

Q. What if I want to hire a lawyer in a child support case, but the Family Court will not assign a lawyer and I cannot afford to hire one?

Q. How old does a child have to be before child support ends?

A. In most cases, 21. If a child is under 21 and is either married, self-supporting, or in the military, a parent doesn't have to pay child support.

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Q. Is there any other reason why child support might end?

A. A child between 17 and 21 who has left home and refuses to obey parents' reasonable commands can be considered "emancipated" by a court. In that case, child support might not have to be paid.

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Q. I am a parent who wants child support. How do I get it?

A. When the parents are not together, and one of them has legal custody of the child, that parent can file a petition in Family Court to ask the other parent to pay child support.

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Q. What happens when a child support case goes to court?

A. The parents must give the court their most recent tax returns. They must file pay stubs and tell what they earn and spend. The court will usually ask for proof of the expenses, such as for food, rent, clothing, medical costs, child care, and education. The court will listen to all of the evidence from both parents. It will then decide how much the parent who does not have custody has to pay for child support.

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Q. What can I do if I disagree with the support order?

A. You can file an "Objection." An Objection must be filed in court within 30 days of the date the court order was sent to you. The other parent will have a chance to reply to the Objection. The court will then make a decision on the Objection. The court might leave the order as is, or change it, or order more hearings.

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Q. And if I still disagree?

A. Either parent has the right to appeal the Objection decision to a higher court. Talk to a clerk in the Family Court if you wish to do this.

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Q. My child's other parent won't pay the child support order that I have. What can I do?

A. You may file a "Violation" petition in Family Court. There will be a hearing and the court will decide if there was a violation and what to do next. There are many things the court can do to a parent who doesn't pay a support order. For example:

  • Order the Support Collection Unit (SCU) to take the payments from the parent's paycheck.
  • Order a lump sum payment and/or payments over time on the money owed.
  • Suspend the parent's driver's license and/or professional or business license.
  • Jail the parent for up to six months for not paying just because the parent doesn't want to.
  • You can use the free and easy DIY Form program to make your violation petition.

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Q. How do I get a support order changed?

A. You can file a petition to change the order in Family Court. There will be a hearing. To change an order, there must have been a change of circumstances.

You can use the free and easy DIY Form program to make your petition to ask the Family Court to change your support order.

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Q. I have legal custody and the child's other parent lives in another state. Can I get child support in a New York court?

A. Yes. Talk to a clerk in the Family Court about how to do this.

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Q. Do I need a lawyer for a Family Court child support case?

A. You do not need a lawyer in such a case. You have the right to appear without one. But it is a good idea to talk to a lawyer if possible, and you have the right to hire a lawyer if you wish. If you need help finding a lawyer to hire, click on http://www.nycourts.gov/courthelp/lawyers.html to get help finding a lawyer referral service.

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Q. Can the Family Court assign a free lawyer to help me if I want a lawyer and I cannot afford to hire one?

A. In most cases, the Family Court will not be able to assign a lawyer to you at no cost unless your case is a proceeding against you for violation of a child support order.

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Q. What if I want to hire a lawyer in a child support case, but the Family Court will not assign a lawyer and I cannot afford to hire one?

A. The website www.lawhelp.org can tell you about free or low-cost legal services in your area. Most legal service agencies can only provide free help to people who have very low income and very little property. The parent with whom the child lives may also apply for the assistance of a Child Support Services Attorney at their local County Support Collection Unit.

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Last updated on April 6, 2011

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