Child support obligations are a frequent source of disputes among divorcing and divorced parents. Even when the amount of support has been settled, there may be subsequent problems collecting the money. Fortunately, New York law provides an administrative mechanism that allows a parent to enforce a child support award by having payments deducted from the other parent’s wages without going to court. This can save considerable time and money.
New York’s child support enforcement program operates in every county and is known as the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE). A parent can file with the OCSE asking the agency to enforce a child support award through payroll deductions. The OCSE submits an order to the employer of the parent paying support asking the employer to automatically deduct the support amount from the wages of the employee-parent and have them sent to the OCSE.
Importantly, a parent can go to the OCSE as soon as he or she obtains a child support award from the court regardless of whether the other parent is behind on payments currently or has a history of owing money. Essentially, a parent doesn’t have to wait for a problem getting paid to go to the OCSE and get child support sent automatically. This is useful in cases where a parent suspects that they may have difficulties getting payments in the future and wants to ensure there will be no delays.
However, having OCSE handle support payments is beneficial to the payor-parent as well. The OCSE collects, tracks, and disburses payments to the custodial parent so there are no disputes between parents regarding whether money has been sent or received. This is helpful when there is significant acrimony and false accusations going on between the parties.
Where the administrative avenue is unsuccessful, a parent may still go to court and file an enforcement petition with the family court. If support has not been paid, the court can order money judgments for the arrears; order the noncustodial parent into a work program; order that a hearing takes place to suspend state-issued business, professional, or occupational licenses; or issue probation or jail sentences.
If you owe child support or are seeking to enforce a support award, contact us to discuss the best way to resolve your matter.