Starting a Child Support Case

Under New York State law, both parents must financially support their child until the child turns 21 years old.

If the parents weren't married to each other when the child was born, the legal father must be established before a child support case starts. This is called paternity. Paternity can be established in two ways: (1) both parents sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity, or (2) the court signs an Order of Filiation after a paternity case.

A child support case is started automatically after an Order of Filiation is signed.


Who Can File for Child Support

In general, whoever the child lives with most of the time and has custody of the child can get child support for the child.

When two parents don't live together and one parent has custody of the child, the custodial parent can get child support from the other parent, the non-custodial parent. The custodial parent is the parent who has physical custody of the child. This means that the child lives with this parent most of the time.

If the child lives with a non-parent who has custody or guardianship of the child, the non-parent can get child support from one or both of the child's parents.

If the child is not emancipated but does not live with either parent, the child can get child support.

If the child gets Public Assistance, the Department of Social Services (DSS) could file for child support against the non-custodial parent. If the child is in foster care, DSS could file for child support against both parents.


Filing a Child Support Case

Child support cases are usually started in Family Court in the county where the child lives. There is no filing fee in Family Court.

After a child support petition is filed, the other side must be "served" a summons, the petition, and the financial disclosure form. The person who filed the petition is the Petitioner and the other side is the Respondent. The summons tells the Petitioner and the Respondent when and where to come to Family Court for a hearing The Child Support Enforcement Unit can help you start the case.

Both the Petitioner and the Respondent have the right to hire their own lawyers. If a party can't afford to hire a lawyer, the court may assign one at no cost.


Chat with us to find legal information and free legal services near you.

YouTube DIY Forms Ask a Law Librarian