Your ex-spouse claims his or her business isn’t doing well and he or she cannot afford to keep paying the same amount in child support. He or she reduces child support payments without consulting you or going to court. Can your ex-spouse do that?
The answer is no. Child support in New York is determined using a statutory formula that considers the income of the parents and the lifestyle of the child before the divorce. Once a court approves the amount of support, the noncustodial parent is obligated to keep paying that amount unless it is subsequently modified by the court or the child reaches the designated age ending support. As a result, your ex cannot unilaterally change his or her payments.
What to do if your ex reduces or refuses to pay child support?
If your ex does it anyway, you have a few options.
- File a motion to hold your ex in contempt. If your ex fails to pay support, you can either file a post-judgment enforcement action or a petition with Family Court. However, the court will not grant a contempt motion unless you show that your ex intentionally violated the order without a good reason and his or her actions must have been calculated to impede the rights of you and your child.
- Challenge your ex’s post-judgment modification application. Your spouse is likely to file an application to modify the child support award once you try to enforce support. However, the standards for modifying child support are high. He or she must demonstrate a substantial change in his or her income that occurred through no fault of their own. The court will also look for evidence that he or she is actively looking for substantially similar employment or to increase business if self-employed. This may include requiring your ex to provide a list of employers contacted and positions applied for to support the requested change or efforts to increase business. In addition, the court will consider what actions your ex has taken to mitigate the impact of his or her reduced income so he or she can continue to pay support. For example, has your ex reduced spending? If he or she is continuing to go on expensive vacations or pay for luxuries, the court may not grant modification.
New York law tries to award support that preserves the lifestyle the child enjoyed prior to the divorce to the extent it is feasible. As a result, courts will compel parents to comply with their support obligations absent a substantial change that warrants a reduction.
Where the terms of a divorce are not being complied with, it is important to speak with an experienced child support lawyer who can explain your options and advocate for your interests.
Contact us to help you find the best solution for your post-divorce dispute.