Access Child Support Services Safely
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Get Child Support Safely
New York State's Child Support Program is committed to making this process as safe as possible for parents and their children. It is important to have both parents contribute to the economic well-being of their children.
You can speak privately to a child support worker whenever you're concerned about your safety
New York State is committed to the safety of all families. Many state agencies ask routine questions so the right services can be provided. You can always speak privately to a child support worker if you have concerns about your children's or your own safety at any time during the child support process.
Consider these questions to decide if you want to speak privately about safety concerns:
How do you feel?
- I feel safe around the other parent.
- I trust the other parent to respect me and not hurt me.
- I can safely pursue child support.
- I am comfortable with the other parent having parenting time with our children.
- I am comfortable meeting together with the other parent at the Child Support office.
If you answer "No" to any of these statements, you may want to talk privately with a child support worker about steps to help keep you and your children safe.
Has the other parent…?
- Accessed your finances
- Put you down, yelled at you, called you names, or told you you're worthless
- Threatened to harm your child or pets
- Threatened you if you pursue child support
- Monitored your activities (who you see, where you go) and/or your social media
- Hit, slapped, kicked, pushed, or punched you, pulled your hair or in some way hurt you
- Threatened or attempted suicide
- Used a weapon against you or threatened you with a lethal weapon
- Forced or coerced you to do things sexually that made you uncomfortable
- Caused you to seek an order of protection
These behaviors all suggest a potential for safety concerns that may be considered during the child support process. You can talk privately with a child support worker about resources, policies, and procedures to help keep you and your children safe during this process.
If you need to talk to someone immediately about safety
NYS Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline
Free, confidential, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in most languages
Highly trained advocates are available to talk confidentially with anyone experiencing domestic or sexual violence seeking resources or information or questioning unhealthy aspects of their relationship.
Is it safe to pursue child support?
If the New York State Child Support Program is aware of your safety concerns, we can help.
- If you cannot safely receive mail at your address, we can generate and file an Address Confidentiality Affidavit to obtain permission from the court to use an alternate mailing address.
- You can request telephone or video testimony instead of an in-person appearance in court.
- A request can be made to the Court to not reveal your location, residence, or employer. The Court can offer additional precautions before, during, and after the hearing for your physical safety.
- Your location/residence or employment information can be removed from petitions, notices, or any required financial disclosure. However, the name of the county is on all official court documents and cannot be removed.
- Your laboratory appointment for genetic testing to establish parentage can be scheduled separately from the other parent.
- Your child support case can be marked to keep your personal information confidential.
Public benefits and child support
Talk about your safety concerns with your temporary assistance caseworker and your child support worker at any time throughout the process. If you indicate the presence of domestic violence, a referral will be made to the Domestic Violence Liaison (DVL). The DVL will assess your situation and determine the need for a domestic violence waiver for Child Support. Please note that meeting with a DVL is voluntary and any disclosure is kept confidential.
- A domestic violence waiver and/or good cause determination can release you from all or part of the requirement to cooperate with the Child Support Program. You can request a domestic violence waiver when you apply for Temporary Assistance or anytime thereafter if you feel that filing for child support will put you and/or your child(ren) at risk of harm. A DVL will work with you to assess your situation and grant the domestic violence waiver as necessary.
- Violence or your fear of violence may be a "good cause" to allow you to receive public benefits without cooperating with the Child Support Program. Good cause does require some documentation.
Your safety is a priority
The safety of families applying for or receiving child support services is critically important. There are parts of the child support process that may raise safety concerns. These processes may be modified or eliminated to help address these concerns.
You may have concerns that Child Protective Services (CPS) will become involved if you disclose family violence. Child Support workers focus on child support. They are only required to make a report to CPS if they have reasonable cause to suspect a child is being harmed or in imminent danger of harm. CPS is not involved in any decision to set or enforce child support.
Custodial parents may update information about safety at any time, even if they've previously indicated no concerns to their child support worker. Situations change and safety is always a priority.
Family Violence Resources
The New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV)
If you are unsafe at home, reach out to an advocate at any time. Private and secure phone, text or chat services are available 7 days per week, 24 hours per day.
You are not alone. If you're not sure if you are a victim of domestic violence, use this OPDV checklist to help you identify whether you are being abused by your partner.
The OPDV website offers access to information regarding special protections available under the law to help keep you safe while accessing benefits and resources.
The New York State Address Confidentiality Program (ACP)
The Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) is a cost-free State program that allows you as a survivor of domestic violence to protect your actual address. You are assigned a substitute address which you can use for receipt of all first-class, registered and certified mail.
The New York State Unified Court System
Whether you are ready to leave the abuser or not, the NYS Unified Court System provides resources that have free and private help and information.
The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS)
The abuse of children and families is against the law. Find out how you can report abuse and get domestic abuse support.
The OCFS web site offers a list of domestic violence services available in every county in the state.
New York City Human Resources Administration (NYC HRA)
The NYC HRA website's Domestic Violence Support page offers access to a wide variety of resources including community based domestic violence services and the Teen Relationship Abuse Prevention Program.