Child Support Services

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For anyone who applies, the child support program provides the following services. These services are provided jointly by the New York State Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) and each of the 58 local district Child Support Enforcement Units (CSEU).

These services are available whether the noncustodial parent lives in or outside of New York State.

Annual service fee

Custodial parents may be charged a $25.00 service fee once a year. The fee applies only to parents who have never received TANF benefits and who have a case with more than $500 in support collected during the federal fiscal year (October 1–September 30 of the next year). The fee will continue to apply in each federal fiscal year. For more information, visit the service fee questions and answers page.

Child Support Video Online

The child support video What You Need to Know About Child Support Hearings and Services can now be viewed online. Click on the video title to play the video automatically in Windows Media player. If you need to install the Windows Media player, you can download it from the Microsoft Downloads site.

Start video; new windowWhat You Need to Know about Child Support Hearings and ServicesWMV, 20 minutes

Explains what you should bring with you to a child support hearing, what to expect during the hearing, and what to do after you receive a child support order
Court video transcript

Location Investigation

If the custodial parent does not know where the noncustodial parent or putative (alleged) father lives, child support will attempt to locate the parent by checking the last known address and place of employment and through other local efforts. Federal, State, and local resources are also used to help locate the noncustodial parent or putative (alleged) father.

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Paternity Establishment

For a child born to unmarried parents, there is no legal relationship between the father and the child. This legal relationship can be established either by completing a voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form or by filing a paternity petition in court. Child support staff can assist unmarried parents to complete and file a voluntary Acknowledge of Paternity form. If there is any doubt about the identity of the father, child support staff can assist either parent to file a paternity petition for the court to determine the identity of the father. This determination will be made using genetic marker or DNA tests.

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Financial Investigation

To determine a noncustodial parent's ability to pay child support, child support staff will investigate the noncustodial parent's income and assets. This investigation is completed through inquiries to employers and banks. Child support staff also conduct computer searches of the State Wage Reporting System (WRS), the New Hire Reporting System (New Hires), and state and federal income tax information.

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Support Establishment

Local child support staff will assist custodial parents to file a petition in Family Court to obtain a child support order. Information about the noncustodial parent's ability to pay is presented to the court to use to calculate the support amount. The court uses a standard guideline to figure out what the noncustodial parent will pay. The child support amount is based on the noncustodial parent's adjusted gross income and on how many children are involved. The court multiplies the adjusted gross income by the standard guideline percentage for the number of children. These percentages are

A share of child care, medical, and educational expenses is added to the percentage amount. The share of expenses plus the percentage amount equals the basic child support amount. The standard guideline percentage is applied to almost all parental income up to $130,000 (minus certain local and Social Security tax amounts). Income includes worker's compensation, disability payments, unemployment benefits, Social Security payments, and certain other forms of income. For annual income over $130,000, the court determines whether or not to use the percentage guidelines, and the court may consider other factors in setting the full support award.

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Support Collection

The child support order will require the noncustodial parent to send all child support payments to the local Child Support Enforcement Unit's (CSEU) Support Collection Unit (SCU). The local SCU will keep track of how much child support is due and how often it is due. If the noncustodial parent's employer is known, a notice called an Income Execution (IEX) is sent to the employer notifying the employer of how much child support to withhold from the noncustodial parent's wages and where to send the child support payment. If an employer is not known, the noncustodial parent will receive billing coupons that will indicate how much and when the payment is due and where to send the payments. The SCU is also responsible for distributing payments to custodial parents. Thus, when a payment is received by the SCU, the SCU will send a payment to the custodial parent. If the custodial parent is on temporary or safety net assistance, the first $200 of current support collected during the month will be sent to the custodial parent—this is called a support "pass-through" payment. The remainder of the money received from the noncustodial parent will be used to reimburse the local, State, and federal government for temporary or safety net assistance paid to the custodial parent.

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Support Enforcement: Administrative Process

Administrative enforcement processes are actions that the child support agency can take without going to court. These actions include

Before any administrative enforcement action is taken, a notice will be sent to the noncustodial parent that explains the process, provides a time limit frame and instructions to comply with or challenge the action, and explains the consequences of failure to comply with the payment instruction. Several enforcement actions may occur at the same time based on the amount of past-due child support or the length of time that past-due payments have been accruing.

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Support Enforcement: Court Based

When administrative enforcement processes do not succeed, the SCU will assist in preparing and filing a violation petition with the court asking the court to enforce the order. The court can order mandatory money judgments for past-due payments; order the noncustodial parent into a work program; order that a hearing take place to suspend state issued professional, business or occupational licenses; or issue probation or jail sentences.

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Medical Support Establishment and Enforcement

The CSEU will also assist the custodial parent in obtaining and enforcing a court order for health insurance coverage for the child, if it is available through the noncustodial parent. The CSEU will help file a petition with Family Court to get health insurance included in the support order and will enforce the coverage if it is available through the noncustodial parent's employer but has not been provided as ordered.

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Modification of Child Support Orders

Either parent or the CSEU can file a petition in Family Court to request a modification (change) to an existing child support order. The modification petition should be based on the fact that either the custodial or noncustodial parent's circumstances have materially changed (e.g., change in income or other changes in circumstances).

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Cost of Living Adjustment

Every two years the child support agency automatically reviews each child support order to determine cost of living increases. If the cost of living has increased by more than ten percent since the order was made or since the last review, the child support order amount will increase by the amount of the change in the cost of living. The cost of living adjustments can be made without going to court. For non-temporary assistance or non-safety net cases, a notice is sent to both parents when a case is eligible for a cost of living adjustment, and either parent may request the adjustment. For cases where the custodial parent or child is on temporary or safety net assistance, the cost of living adjustment is automatically made when the case becomes eligible— without either parent requesting the adjustment.

Get the address and telephone number of your county child support office.