New York law requires a child's parents to support that child until the child reaches the age of 21. However, if a child under that age is married, self-supporting, in the military, or otherwise emancipated, there is no such obligation to support.

A support or F petition is filed when a parent, guardian, spouse, or other relative wants child support from a non-custodial parent. In addition, a child who is not yet emancipated but living away from both parents can file a petition for child support.

The Department of Social Services through the Support Collection Unit/Child Support Enforcement Unit, or in New York City, the Administration for Children's Services (ACS) can also file a petition for support in cases where a child is receiving public assistance or is in foster care. In such cases, support is paid to the social services agency that provides the benefits.

In most countries in the state, the parties initially appear before a support magistrate and have the right to obtain their own legal counsel for child support hearings. The court cannot appoint legal counsel for either party except in very limited cases.

If the non-custodial parent from whom support is sought fails to appear at the hearing, the support magistrate may nevertheless proceed with the case. In some instances, the support magistrate may issue an arrest warrant to compel the respondent's presence in court. However, if the petitioner fails to appear at the hearing, the petition will be dismissed.

At the hearing, the support magistrate listens to testimony and examines other evidence such as pay stubs, tax returns, rent receipts, and medical bills provided by both parties to establish the income and expenses of the parties.

After examining this evidence, the support magistrate will enter an order of support and calculate the amount of support that must be paid to the petitioner.

The support magistrate will also set a schedule for regular payments. Child support can be paid directly to the petitioner or the Support Collection Unit. Payments are made directly from the payer's paycheck.

If the parties were not married at the time of the child's birth, paternity must be established before the support magistrate can issue an order of support.

Both parties can appeal the support magistrate's decision to a judge by filing an objection to the order of the support magistrate within 30 days.

A petitioner may also file a petition when a support order has been violated. If a violation is proven, the support magistrate or a judge may order one or more of the following:

  • Enter a money judgment for arrears or unpaid late support
  • Enter an income deduction order
  • Require the respondent to post an undertaking or deposit with the court clerk
  • Enter an order of sequestration allowing the seizure of the respondent's property
  • Suspend the respondent's driving privileges
  • Suspend the respondent's business or professional license
  • Sentence the respondent for up to 6 months in jail
  • Place the respondent on probation
  • Require the respondent to attend a rehabilitation program
  • Require the respondent to pay the petitioner's counsel fees


In addition, an individual who pays or receives child support in accordance with a Family Court order had the right to petition the court to increase or decrease the amount of support paid.

  • Orders paid through SCU are reviewed in all cases where the child is receiving public assistance, and if a party requests such reviews.


According to the New York Child Support Standards Act (CSSA), {add link} the support magistrate or judge charged with making a child support determination may consider the following factors, among others, in applying the formula for deciding child support:

  • The number of dependents in the relationship
  • The number of hours that both parties work per week, their hourly wages, gross annual incomes and the tax amounts withheld from their respective incomes
  • Whether or not the child receives public assistance
  • The physical and emotional health of the child, as well as special needs and aptitudes
  • Other dependents of the respondent who are not part of the proceeding


The support magistrate or judge compares these factors with the total amount due under the formula, which includes medical and school costs, to establish the amount of child support due.

A Party may appear by telephone, if they live far from the courthouse, upon written application and approval from the Court.

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