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Law Office of Richard Roman Shum, Esq., PLLC.

Manhattan Child Support Lawyer

Manhattan Child Support Lawyer | NYC Child Support Attorney | The Law Office of Richard Roman Shum

Child custody and support are two major family law concerns that go hand in hand. Once the matter of child custody has been determined, the question of whether child support should be provided must be addressed. Under New York law, there are specific rules that govern how much support should be provided and how often. While parents can and do sometimes create their own agreements, the court will still evaluate their agreement to determine if it is in the best interests of the child or children involved.

Although you and your spouse only want what’s best for your child, financial discussions can often turn an amicable divorce or separation into one full of contention and strife. Getting the help of an experienced Manhattan child support lawyer who can negotiate the terms of your child’s financial support can prevent additional heartache. At the Law Office of Richard Roman Shum, skilled New York City divorce attorney Richard Shum has assisted families through the legal processes involved with divorce, including child support.

To learn more about how we can help you, call us today at (646) 259-3416 to schedule a free consultation.

“I was very impressed with how astute, detail oriented and methodical Richard is with his work. He is experienced, technically proficient, highly effective and an excellent negotiator, who is proactive and knows the law inside and out. Richard kept me informed regularly and was responsive to all my requests and queries. All the traits that any good lawyer worth his salt should possess.”

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Top-Rated NYC Family Law Attorney Richard Roman Shum Explains New York Child Support Laws

In New York, parents are required to continue supporting their children financially until they get emancipated, turn 21 years old, or demonstrate special needs which raises the age requirement to 26 years old.

The Child Support Standards Act (CSSA) aims to provide an economic baseline by which parents can calculate an equitable amount of child support. Following it is not mandatory however, parents who seek to deviate from the standards must make sure to provide justification for why they chose to deviate.

To calculate the base amount of the child support obligation, each parent must provide the actual amount of their income as indicated on their most recent tax return.

The following counts as income under the CSSA:

  • Wages, business income, and interests earned in shares and investments
  • Deferred income
  • Cash benefits such as worker’s compensation, disability benefits, unemployment, Social Security, Veteran’s benefits
  • Pensions
  • Fellowships, scholarships, and academic stipends
  • Annuities
  • Spousal support or maintenance payments

Gifts from relatives and friends as well as employee benefits can also be included as income as determined by a judge. SSI and Public Assistance do not count as income; certain deductions can also be allowed.

After the deductions have been calculated from each parent’s income, they should be added to determine their combined total income. 

The combined parental income up to the earning cap of $163,000 (as of March 1, 2022) should then be multiplied by the specific percentage applicable for the number of children they share. This value is their combined child support obligation. 

Number of Children

CSSA Percentage

One child


Two children


Three children


Four children


Five children or more


To get each parent’s share of the child support obligation, their total income should be divided by the amount of their combined total income. This is the parent’s percentage of combined income which should be multiplied by the value of their combined child support obligation. The resulting value would be the individual parent’s child support obligation.

This calculation aims to ensure that the amount of child support the non-custodial parent is required to give is adjusted based on how much more they earn compared to the custodial parent. 

For the purpose of clarity in determining who pays child support, New York courts determine that the parent who has the children for more than 50 percent of the time is considered the custodial parent. In cases where the parents have equal or joint custody, the parent with the higher income will be responsible for paying child support to the other parent. A deviation from the CSSA calculation may be accepted in this situation.

The government recognizes that children in a divorce hold no fault and that they should continue to live life in a manner that is as unchanged as possible. New York child support is meant to support the costs of providing food, shelter, clothing, everyday expenses, and education including college to children caught in a divorce. Child support is not meant to cover expenses such as childcare, health insurance, and other extracurricular expenses unless included in a prior agreement by the parents.

Private schooling is considered a discretionary add-on, the inclusion of which may be discussed by the parents, unless the child requires specialized learning. The court can also require a parent to contribute to a child’s college education up to a certain cap depending on the parent’s individual circumstances as well as the child’s.

In New York, Supreme Court or Family Court can give out a temporary child support order regardless of whether there is a need. To make sure that the child’s needs are met, the court can order the non-custodial parent – the one whose house the child sleeps less – to pay child support to ensure that the child’s needs are met. If the parents’ financial disclosures have not yet been filed, the court can issue a statutory order until the disclosures have been provided.

The final child support order will either reflect the agreement made by the parents or reflect the child support obligation calculated through the CSSA. If the temporary order was higher than the final support order, the extra amount can be credited to future support payments. 

Your child’s support order should hinge on your child’s quality of life. It’s important to seek the help of a Manhattan child support attorney who has the necessary experience and knowledge to defend your best interests and who can see you through the most rigorous of cases. 

Richard Roman Shum, a top-rated New York family law attorney, has helped many families navigate through the process of divorce and discussions of child support. He understands the importance of ensuring amicable communication between spouses when negotiating, but also knows how to provide aggressive representation when necessary.

To learn more about how we can help you, call us today at (646) 259-3416 to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced New York family law attorneys.

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Determining Imputed Income

When determining child support payments, the court will make a comprehensive evaluation of the parents’ circumstances. If the court finds that a parent is earning less than the amount they are capable of earning or has become voluntarily unemployed so as to avoid paying financial support after the divorce to their spouse or their child, the court can assign them an imputed income.

Imputed income is assigned income based on a person’s employment and wage history, as well as their educational background. If the non-custodial parent does not have an employment history, the court can impute income based on minimum wage.

Imputed income is a means to avoid bad faith or fraud in instances when a parent willfully quits a well-paying job to avoid the responsibility of paying financial support. Imputed income can also be calculated from assets that do not provide income by themselves but appreciate in value such as real estate. Comparisons between a person with the same educational background and potential income-generating capacity as the non-custodial parent can also be used as a basis to impute income.

A payor or non-custodial parent is allowed to provide justification as to why they have a reduced income, are unemployed, or are underemployed.

The court will accept exemptions if the reason for the reduction in wage-earning capacity is due to circumstances beyond the parent’s control, such as the following:

  • Company layoffs
  • Underlying medical condition
  • Economic conditions

Just as the court can investigate additional factors as to a parent’s income capacity, it will also accept any documentation that proves that the parent’s tax returns include income that is not actually received, commonly referred to as phantom income.

The calculation of the child support obligation in New York is heavily influenced by the parents’ income. It’s important to inform your attorney beforehand and submit the required documents to avoid having imputed income imposed on you on top of your reported income. Negotiating with your spouse on the amount of child support may also be helpful.

Getting the help of experienced NYC child support lawyers who can assist in mediating negotiations as well as defending you against the imposition of imputed income is crucial if you are a non-custodial parent in a child support case. At the Law Office of Richard Roman Shum, our skilled child support attorneys have dedicated their careers to providing quality legal services aimed at protecting the rights of our clients. We may be able to help you build a case if the court decides to impute income. Call us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our Manhattan child support attorneys.

“Attorney Richard Shum assisted my family and I with a very difficult landlord. At a time of a lot of concern and uncertainty, Mr. Shum was there for us every inch of the way, his confidence and vast knowledge of the law, together with his passion for it and for helping people, provided us the serenity to go on about our life, while he took care of they daunting matter. At the end we reached an agreement only Atterney Shum could achieve. Since I recommended his service to any friends that is in need of help with legal matters, from Landlord/Tenant to family court, and in every case I receive a thank you call from said friends, following the successful outcome he provided. So, as I say to my friends, if you need an Attorney that will fight for you, and not stress you out, call this guy. you will thank me.”

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Can a Child Support Order be Changed?

Once the child support order has been finalized, the only way it can be changed is if there have been substantial changes in the circumstances of the parents and the child. 

Each parent can file a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) once two years have passed since the initial child support order was given. If there has been a 10% change in the Consumer Price Index for urban areas (CPI-U) as determined by the federal government compared to the year the initial order was issued, the court may grant an adjustment in the child support order.

The New York Child Support Program reviews child support orders every two years. If there is a child support order for a safety net assistance case, the COLA adjustment can be applied as soon as the case becomes eligible. The Child Support Program also assists in matters where a parent’s financial situation can affect the support order, such as if the payor parent suffered from an involuntary loss of employment or medical concern.

If either parent’s income increases or decreases compared to the amount used to calculate child support, a child support modification may also be approved. For custody changes between parents, a modification may be ordered so that the previous custodial parent is now required to pay child support to the other parent. 

Child support orders are meant to be binding even if the parents or the child move out of New York. While the amount of child support may change as the parents’ circumstances change, the duration of child support will continue to be served until the child turns 21 or is emancipated. Although the income from a parent’s new partner or spouse cannot be used to modify the child support order, if the new marriage results in a parent having less living expenses and giving them more disposable income, the child support order may be changed to reflect the new income.

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What Happens When a Parent Does Not Pay Child Support?

Supporting your children financially is mandated by New York law regardless of custody and child support payments should continue for the duration of the order. In cases of non-payment of child support, there can be legal consequences if a parent required to pay child support defaults on this responsibility.

If the payor parent willfully stops paying child support, the receiving parent can file a petition to the appropriate court to enforce the child support order and compel the payor parent to pay. The payor parent can be held in contempt of court, be ordered to pay additional fines, and can face criminal penalties including jail time.

The court has the power to administer the following sanctions on a parent who refuses to pay child support:

  • Garnishment of wages
  • Garnishment of income tax refunds
  • Seizure of property
  • Putting liens on the parent’s home or business
  • Passport and driver’s license suspension or revocation
  • Revocation of occupational or professional licenses
  • Inflicting negative points on their credit score

The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act allows the court to come after parents who have stopped paying child support even if they have moved to another state.

Regardless of whether you are the receiving or the paying parent, it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities under the law to avoid any complications. At the Law Office of Richard Roman Shum, we will assist you in navigating the legal processes involved with imposing a child support order. If you are unable to pay child support due to a change in circumstances, we may also be able to represent you and defend your rights to prevent you from being held in contempt of court.

To learn more about how we can help, call us at (646) 259-3416 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation.

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Working with an Experienced New York City Child Support Lawyer

When you are going through a divorce, it is easy to get overwhelmed in the midst of everything that needs to be addressed. A skilled lawyer can help you keep up with all the things you need to consider when it comes to New York child support. Our Manhattan child support lawyers at the Law Office of Richard Roman Shum understand the importance of the legal choices you make during a divorce and how it impacts the future of you and your family. As such, we put in the work to make sure that our clients receive quality representation and counsel to protect their best interests. We may be able to help you reach a child support agreement that takes your child’s well-being seriously or help represent you in court to determine a fair child support obligation.

Our experienced lawyers are available for a free consultation. We can assist with ongoing child support cases as well as filing a petition for a child support order modification. Contact us today at (646) 259-3416.

“In both cases attorney Shum was great to work with. Navigating both of these situations was, at times, confusing. Attorney Shum made the details of both matters easy for me to comprehend.”

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