Going to court?

Make sure you are prepared so that you—and your children—don't lose out.

The Court will send you and the other party to your case a summons, a copy of the child support petition, and a Financial Disclosure Affidavit by mail or email. The summons will include the date, time and location of the hearing and state whether the hearing will be held in-person or virtually.

You must provide detailed information about your income and expenses. Make sure you bring or submit documents such as your:

If your hearing is being held virtually, the court will give you instructions on how and where to upload or email these documents before the hearing.

You may choose to hire a lawyer, or you may represent yourself.

Know what to expect at the hearing.

Whether you are attending your hearing in-person or virtually, here's what to expect.

In some cases, a lawyer or representative from the Department of Social Services (DSS) or the Support Collection Unit may be at the hearing. If so, the person is there on behalf of the Child Support Program—he or she does not represent you or the other party.

The Support Magistrate will listen to testimony and review the information provided by both parties to determine your income and expenses. The Support Magistrate will calculate the amount of support the paying parent must pay to the other party and enter an Order of Support. The order is calculated using the child support guidelines and should be based on the paying parent's ability to pay. The Support Magistrate will also set when and how often the payments are due.

If there is an agreement between the parties, the Support Magistrate may enter an Order of Support on Consent.

If the Support Magistrate is not able to enter an Order of Support, the case may be adjourned (postponed to a later date). The Support Magistrate might adjourn the hearing if you need time to submit more documentation, get a lawyer, or find a job. But you may still get support (or have to pay support) in the meantime—the Court may issue a temporary Order of Support until there is a final Order of Support.

What happens after the hearing?

Orders of support issued by the Court are usually paid through the Support Collection Unit. The order is given to the Child Support Enforcement Unit to set up a child support account.

If you are the paying parent, the Support Collection Unit will issue an income withholding order (IWO) to your employer. The IWO requires your employer to take your support payments from your paycheck and send them to the New York State Child Support Processing Center. Until an income withholding order is in place, you must still make your child support payments—you can pay by check, money order, or online.

You can also call the NYS Child Support Helpline at 1-888-208-4485 (TTY: 1-866-875-9975) or email your local Child Support Office if you have any questions.

Note about court operations and COVID-19

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, each court may have different practices in place for hearings, such as holding hearings by phone or video. Visit the New York State Unified Court System for more information on current procedures for the Family Court in your county. Information about how to virtually appear in court is available on the courts' Customer Self-Service Portal.

Key terms

Financial Disclosure Affidavit
An official document describing a person's income and expenses
Order of Support
An order entered by a support magistrate or judge, directing that a specified amount of money be paid to the petitioner for a child
petition
The written document that forms the basis for a court proceeding
summons
Legal papers that tell a person to come to court on a certain date and at a certain location
Support Magistrate
Person who can hear and decide parentage, child support, and spousal support issues in Family Court
testimony
Evidence that a witness gives under oath at a trial or hearing, in an affidavit, or at a deposition