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The basics of child support

When parents of children either separate or divorce, or only one of the parents of an unmarried couple has custody, a New York family court may decide to order the non-custodial parent to pay child support. The non-custodial parent is considered the parent with whom the child does not live the majority of the time. Also, but less frequently, if neither parent is granted custody, the family court may instead order child support to be paid by both parents to a third party who has been granted custody to take care of the child.

It is helpful to think of child support as the legal right possessed by the child in order to help pay for his or her care as well as upbringing, regardless of the parent or third party who receives the child support payments. The amount that is to be paid is based heavily upon the income of the non-custodial parent as well as his or her number of children. Additionally, the court will consider other relevant factors when deciding on the amount of child support, such as the needs of the child or children in addition to the income of the custodial parent.

In the case of an unmarried mother seeking child support, the first step is often to legally establish who the father is -- the paternity of the child. The father may choose to do this voluntarily, but in other cases, the mother may sometimes need to file a lawsuit in order to establish paternity -- this is often done through DNA testing. In the event the putative -- also known as the alleged -- father does not voluntarily agree to a paternity test, the court will order him to do so. Once paternity of the child is established, the court will then proceed in a similar manner to a divorce situation and will issue the child support order.

When New York parents face a potential issue or dispute regarding child support, they typically consult with an experienced family law attorney. Such an attorney can help by zealously and fairly representing either side in the child support proceeding. A lawyer can help by obtaining the most favorable result in the entry or enforcement of a child support order, and he or she can also help disproving or establishing paternity.

Source: FindLaw, "Child Support Basics", Accessed on Feb. 10, 2016

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