In many situations, child support becomes a messy and difficult issue between divorced parents. In New York, unless the child is married, self-supporting, or in the military, both parents must financially support their child until the child turns 21 years old. The law, in theory, is a simple one, however disputes often arise over the amount of child support and how it relates to custody and visitation rights. If a parent moves to a different state, the situation can become even more complex.
The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act
The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) was drafted in 1992. In 1996 Congress mandated that all states enact UIFSA. The law contains provisions on the procedures for enforcing child support obligations. Under UIFSA, a state can proceed directly against an out-of-state parent if the state can establish personal jurisdiction over that parent. Jurisdiction under UIFSA includes an expansive long-arm provisions and relaxed rules of evidence. The goal of UIFSA is “one order, one time, one place” so only one court hears the matter for modification or enforcement.
Personal jurisdiction refers to whether a court has power over the person being sued. The most common way a state can obtain personal jurisdiction over a nonresident is through the use of “long-arm” jurisdiction. UIFSA enables a state to assert personal jurisdiction over a nonresident for the purposes of enforcing child support.
Establishing Support Obligations
Each state has established child support guidelines to be used by the courts and the state child support enforcement agency. The guidelines are used to determine the child support obligation. The child support guidelines take into consideration:
- The needs of the child
- The child’s present and future well-being
- Other dependents
- The ability of the non-custodial parent to pay
Under UIFSA the non-modifiable terms of any order may never be changed. Those terms include the duration of the support order. For example, a Virginia court modifying a New York order may not reduce the age from 21 to any other age unless the child is otherwise deemed emancipated under New York law.
Collecting Child Support
Income-withholding accounts for more than 70% of all child support collected in New York State. An Income Withholding Order is issued in almost all child support cases. The non-custodial parents’ employer will receive a withholding order, at which point the employer must forward the money to the state child support enforcement agency within a certain time period after the employee is paid. Income withholding ensures that child support payments are made and distributed regularly.
Enforcing Child Support Obligations
If the non-custodial parent fails to make their regular child support payments, there are several enforcement methods available to the state.
- Suspending the non-custodial parent’s driver’s license
- Interception of Federal and State income tax refunds
- Interception of lottery winnings, unemployment compensation, retirement payment, and workers’ compensation benefits
- Reporting information regarding past due child support to credit bureaus, which can affect the non-custodial parent’s credit rating
- Placing a lien (claim an asset) on real estate and personal property such as cars, boats and bank accounts
- Imposition of a jail term for non-compliance with the court order
Need Assistance with Child Support?
If you need assistance with child support across state lines, don’t hesitate to contact McCabe Coleman Ventosa & Patterson. Our experienced family law attorneys can offer support and advise you on your rights as a parent. Schedule your flat fee consultation today.