Getting a divorce can be a very traumatic event, and the pain and distress is only heightened if children are involved. This, as the presence of children raises the sticky issues of child custody and child support payments; issues that most often very difficult to resolve.
When considering child custody issues in New York State it is important to know the various nuances of the law that might affect your particular case. Firstly, issues of custody relate to those children who are eighteen years old and under, and may be divided into two different types of custodies; legal custody and physical or residential custody. The parent who is granted legal custody of the child is responsible for making legal decisions on the behalf of the child, while physical or residential custody simply refers to where the child will reside. If joint custody is awarded, then both parents have to collaborate on making major decisions for the child, while if sole custody is granted, then only the parent with custody of the child is qualified to make decisions on the child’s behalf.
While it is often thought that mothers are favored in custodial hearings, it must be noted that in the state of New York the law does not favor one parent over another. Rather, New York law emphasizes making rulings based on ‘what is best for the child’. In determining this, judges assess a range of factors including the parenting skills of each parent, their ability to provide for the child, work schedules, their health (both mental and physical),history of violence, and the desires of the child, if the child is old enough.
Once the issue of custody has been settled then the issue of child support has to be addressed. New York law dictates that parents are responsible for providing financial support for their offspring until he or she attains the age of twenty-one years. In the case of joint custody New York state laws require that the parent who has the higher income make payments to the parent with the lesser income so that both parents each contribute 50% of the child’s expenses. However, if sole custody has been awarded, the non-custodial parent will be required, by law, to make payments to the parent with custody of the child. In determining exactly how much this payment should be, New York law indicates that a percentage of the parent’s Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) be calculated based on the number of children involved. This holds true if the parent earns less than $80,000 annually. This means that if support payments are being made for one child, then 17% of the non-custodial parent’s AGI will be paid as child support. These percentages vary, with the highest being not less than 35% of AGI for five or more children. Note that if you fail to pay child support, your NY license can get suspended.
There are countless other issues that may crop up when going through a divorce that involves child custody and support issues in the state of New York. As such it is important to become very familiar with the laws of New York pertaining to this delicate area of family law. After all, your knowledge of the law, or lack thereof, may just determine you and your child’s future.