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What Happens if My Child Turns 21 but My Ex Still Owes Child Support in New York?

The Law Offices of Ian S. Mednick, P.C. > Child Support  > What Happens if My Child Turns 21 but My Ex Still Owes Child Support in New York?

What Happens if My Child Turns 21 but My Ex Still Owes Child Support in New York?

Child support payments after 21

Picture this: Your child is about to blow out the candles on their 21st birthday cake. Amid the celebrations, a nagging worry surfaces. Your ex still owes a substantial amount of child support. What happens now? Does turning 21 mean the end of child support obligations?

This blog explores the intricacies of child support laws in New York and the legal actions you can take for overdue payments.

Understanding Child Support in New York

Child support is crucial to ensuring a child’s well-being following their parents’ separation or divorce. In New York, the non-custodial parent typically pays child support to the custodial parent to help cover the costs of raising the child. This financial support covers housing, food, clothing, education, and medical care.

Calculation of Child Support

New York uses a standard formula to calculate child support, which considers parents’ incomes and the number of children. The basic formula is as follows:

1. Combine both parents’ adjusted gross incomes after FICA is deducted to determine the total parental income.

2. Apply a percentage based on the number of children:

  • 17% for one child
  • 25% for two children
  • 29% for three children
  • 31% for four children
  • No less than 35% of five or more children

3. After calculating the total child support amount, it is divided proportionally based on each parent’s income.

Collection of Child Support

In New York, the Office of Child Support Services (OCSS) oversees the collection and distribution of child support payments. This can be done through income withholding orders, directly deducting the support amount from the non-custodial parent’s paycheck. Other methods include garnishing tax refunds, unemployment benefits, and even lottery winnings.

Consequences of Falling Behind on Child Support

Falling behind on child support payments is detrimental to the child’s well-being and carries significant legal consequences for the non-paying parent. New York State takes unpaid child support seriously and employs various enforcement measures to ensure compliance.

Enforcement Actions

If a parent falls behind on child support, the following actions can be taken:

Income Withholding: Directly taking the owed amount from wages or other income sources.

Tax Refund Interception: Seizing federal and state tax refunds to cover unpaid support.

License Suspension: Revoking or suspending driver’s, professional, or recreational licenses.

Credit Reporting: Reporting the delinquency to credit bureaus, which can negatively impact the parent’s credit score.

Contempt of Court: Holding the non-paying parent in contempt can result in fines or jail terms of up to 6 months.

What Happens When Your Child Turns 21?

Turning 21 is a significant milestone but doesn’t automatically erase child support arrears. Here’s what you need to know:

Continuation of Arrears Collection

Even after a child turns 21, unpaid child support (known as arrears) remains enforceable. The custodial parent or the state can continue to pursue collection efforts until the full amount is paid. This includes wage garnishments, tax intercepts, and other enforcement measures.

Statute of Limitations

In New York, child support arrears are not subject to a statute of limitations. This means the custodial parent can pursue payment indefinitely if an outstanding balance exists. The obligation to pay off the arrears does not vanish when the child reaches adulthood.

Legal Recourse

If your ex owes child support and your child has turned 21, you have several legal options to enforce payment:

File a Motion for Contempt: This can compel your ex to appear in court and explain why they haven’t paid. Non-compliance can lead to penalties, including jail time.

Seek a Judgment: Obtain a court judgment for the unpaid amount. Like any other debt, this can be enforced through property liens or bank account seizures.

Enforcement Agencies: Continue working with the OCSS to utilize state enforcement mechanisms.

Know Your Rights as a Custodial Parent!

Navigating child support issues can be complex and stressful, especially when dealing with unpaid support after your child turns 21. For personalized guidance and effective legal solutions, consult The Law Offices of Ian S. Mednick, P.C.

We have over 20 years experience in New York child support laws and is dedicated to helping you secure the financial support your child deserves. Don’t let unpaid child support burden you—reach out to us today for a consultation and take the first step towards resolving your concerns.