What You Need to Know About Child Support Hearings and Services
Hi, my name is Gary Williams, and I’m here to give you some important information about how to file a petition so you can request a child support hearing and then I’ll tell you what happens in child support hearings. Then later on I’ll explain a little about the Child Support Agency and its role.
First to request a child support hearing you must file a petition with Family Court.
The petition may be filed by the any of the parties involved.
- Custodial parent;
- Non-custodial parent; or
- Department of Social Services. If the child is receiving public assistance.
Now you know who can file a petition. Now let’s look at how to file a petition.
First go to the child support petition room and ask the worker for a form to file a petition.
Take the form with you and go to the waiting room. Make sure you fill the form out completely and clearly.
The form will ask:
- If you need an interpreter;
- If you already have a court order for Child Support, this child or any other children;
- The type of petition you want to file such as paternity, support, modification petitions.
- Information about you such as:
- Phone number (work and home)
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
- Employer name and address
- Information about your child and
- Information about the person you are filing the petition against including their
- Phone number
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
- Employer name and address
- Dates you cannot appear in court
- Reason why you are filing the petition;
- And what you want to change by filing the petition.
When you completely filled out the form, return it to the worker at the window.
When you return your form the worker will review the information you provided. If information is missing or not clear, they may ask you more questions.
After the workers have all the information they need they will prepare documents needed to file the petition this will also include scheduling a date for you to appear in court.
It will take a while for the worker to review your information and prepare the documents, so please be patient. It usually takes at least 30 minutes to prepare all the documents.
When the documents are ready, the worker will come to the waiting area and call your name.
You and the worker will review all of the information in the petition to make sure it is correct. After the information has been reviewed you and the worker will sign the petition forms.
After the petition is signed the petition is officially filed, and the worker will make copies for you.
After your petition is filed, you are responsible for making sure the other person; you are filing against gets a copy of the petition.
The worker will explain how to properly deliver the petition to the other person and will give you written instructions that describe the process. Take these instructions with you.
Later, at your hearing you will need to bring the “Affidavit of Service” form to show that the petition was properly delivered to the other person. Be sure to bring the “Affidavit of Service” form to your hearing.
You must keep all the papers that the worker gives you and bring them with you to the hearing.
Be sure to show up for your hearing on the right day and time, and bring all the documents you need and plan to spend the whole day in court. You should make the necessary arrangements with your employer or child care provider.
If you cannot go to the hearing call the contact number at the Family Court and tell them you can’t go and why. If you do not show up for the hearing and do not call, your petition may be dismissed.
After you arrive at Family Court, go to the waiting room near where your case will be heard.
When you arrive at the waiting room. Look for the list of cases on the wall outside the hearing room, and make sure that your name is on the list. Your case may not be called in the order listed, so please be patient.
Each waiting room has uniformed Court Officers who are responsible for security during the hearing and the safety of everyone in the building.
Court officers also announce to people in the waiting room when it is time to check in. After the court officer makes the announcement you should check in and tell the Court if you need an interpreter or if you have an order of protection against the other person.
We do not recommend you bring your child in the hearing room but if you have your child with you, you may want to consider taking them to the Children’s Center located in this building.
If you don’t know where the Children’s Center is, ask the Court Officer for directions, but make sure you have checked in first before you leave. The Children’s Center is free and provides a safe and fun environment.
When it is time for your case, the Court Officer will call your name. If your name is called and you are not in the waiting room, you may have to wait longer, or your case may be decided without you or even dismissed.
If you have to leave the waiting area, tell the Court Officer, and make sure you return as quickly as possible. Do not leave for more than a few minutes.
Also, please be considerate of others who are waiting. If you need to make a cell phone call or talk with others, please talk quietly. So you do not disturb those around you.
Please be patient and stay in the waiting area until your name is called.
While you are waiting check to make sure you have the documents you need:
- Most recent pay stubs;
- Most recently filed tax returns;
- Notarized financial disclosure affidavit;
- Orders of support for other children; and
- Receipts for child support already paid.
If the child lives with you, you also need copies of:
- Child’s birth certificate;
- Voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form (if completed)
- Marriage license or divorce decree; and
- Proof of what you pay for
- medical insurance
- child care
- education for the child
If you filed the petition you should also have your completed Affidavit of Service form with you to show the support magistrate. If you don’t have some of these documents, you should tell the Support Magistrate which documents you don’t have when you get into your hearing.
So let’s review the other people who will be at your hearing.
A Support Magistrate is the person in charge of the hearing, and listens to both sides, looks at all of the information, and follows the law to make a decision about the case.
You’ve already been introduced to the court officers.
A clerk prepares the paperwork for the court order and also tape records the hearing.
The petitioner is the person who filed the case.
The respondent is the person against whom the case was filed.
Both parties may hire an attorney if they wish.
The attorneys would sit next to their client.
If the child in the case is receiving public assistance, the petition is filed by the Department of Social Services also referred to as “DSS”.
In public assistance cases, DSS always has an attorney present. This attorney represents DSS, not the custodial parent.
DSS files the petition so they can get the noncustodial parent to repay the government for the assistance the child is receiving. In public assistance cases, a petition for paternity and/or child support must be filed. The custodial parent is not responsible for the petition. DSS files the petition. The custodial parent appears only as a witness for DSS.
Finally you should be aware of some rules you will need to follow in the hearing room:
- you can not chew gum or wear a hat;
- you need to speak clearly and loudly so everyone in the room can hear you;
- you should not interrupt when other people are talking;
- you should not swear or curse;
- you should direct all comments or questions to the Support Magistrate, no one else; and
- If you have any questions wait to ask questions until the Support Magistrate indicates you may speak.
Now that you know the people involved in a hearing and the rules we will begin after the court officer has walked the parties to the hearing room and directed them to their places.
Number 7 on the calendar, docket number F51827-46, in the matter of Johnson versus Jones.
Please raise your right hand.
Ms. Johnson, do you swear or affirm to tell the truth during this proceeding?
State your name, address, and Social Security number.
70 Placid Avenue, Apartment 3-C
New York, NY 10001
Raise your right hand.
Mr. Jones, do you swear or affirm to tell the truth during this proceeding?
State your name, address, and Social Security number.
My name is Marcus Jones
923 Pearl Street, Apartment 13-H
New York, NY 10003
Both parties have the right to request an adjournment to hire an attorney or you may waive the right to counsel and speak for yourselves.
Let me explain what the court officer is saying.
Both sides have the right to hire an attorney, but you don’t need an attorney to proceed with your case. You can waive your right to an attorney and speak for yourself.
If either party wants to hire an attorney, the Support Magistrate may adjourn the hearing to a later date depending on the type of case when a hearing is adjourned to hire an attorney the support magistrate may issue a temporary order for support until the date of the next hearing.
A temporary order means that the respondent must pay the amount stated in the temporary order until the next hearing.
Now let’s get back to the hearing.
Ms. Johnson, do you wish to request an adjournment so that you can hire an attorney, or would you like to speak for yourself?
I’ll speak for myself.
Mr. Jones, do you like to request an adjournment so that you can hire an attorney, or would you like to speak for yourself?
Speak for myself.
A support magistrate can hear four types of petitions:
The first type :
A paternity petition seeks to establish the legal father of a child born to parents who were not married to each other when the child was born.
It is very important to tell the support magistrate if the mother was married to anyone at the time the child was born.
Either party may request DNA testing or the man may choose to admit that he is the father.
The court may order the parties to complete a DNA test.
If a DNA test is ordered, the case will be adjourned.
After the DNA test is complete, the parties return to court. If the court finds that the DNA test indicates that the man is not the father, then the paternity petition is dismissed.
If the DNA test indicates that the man is the biological father, and the man still denies that he is the father, the court will hold a hearing. If the court determines that the man is the father, it will issue an order of filiation which declares that the man is the legal father of the child.
After an order of filiation is issued, the father has the right to pursue custody or visitation with the child. However, custody and visitation are different from child support and require a separate petition. The Support Magistrate cannot determine issues of custody or visitation.
After an order of filiation is issued, the court may determine child support.
The second type of petition is a support petition, which seeks to establish an amount of money that the non-custodial parent will need to pay until the time the child turns 21 or becomes emancipated.
That amount includes money for basic support and a share of medical and child care expenses. The court may also order the non-custodial parent to pay other expenses such as private or college education costs.
In addition, the support magistrate may also order one parent to enroll the child in the parent’s health insurance plan or make other arrangements for health insurance coverage.
The third type of petition is a modification petition, which can be filed by either party when there has been a legally significant change in their circumstances, since the last order was issued, or when the basic needs of the child are not being met by the support order.
It is important to know that when either parent voluntarily decreases their income or becomes incarcerated, the court may find that this parent is not entitled to a modification of the support order. A parent who does lose their job must demonstrate to the court that they have looked for a new job.
If non-custodial parents do experience a significant change in their circumstances, or if there has been a change in the custody of the child, they should file a modification petition as soon as possible so they do not get behind in their payments.
The fourth type of petition is a violation petition this petition is filed by either the custodial parent or DSS when the non-custodial parent does not pay child support.
If the non-custodial parent has not paid child support, the support magistrate may enforce the order in a number of ways including suspending professional or driver’s license, issuing money judgments, or even jailing the non-custodial parent for up to six months.
Now that we’ve reviewed the different kinds of petitions that lead to child support hearings. Let’s look at how child support payment are actually calculated. We’ve asked our child support reporter Liz to look at how the support magistrate calculates the amount the respondent will be ordered to pay.
Thanks Gary. I’ve talked to a number of Support Magistrates, and they tell me there are specific support guidelines that they are required to consider. To calculate how much will be paid, the Support Magistrate will look at a number of things including:
- Number of child involved;
- Both parents’ incomes;
- Whether the child is covered under one of the parent’s medical insurance plans; and
- Costs for the child, such as:
- Child care;
- Education; and
- Medical costs not covered by health insurance.
Support Magistrates use “Support Guidelines” to determine the amount the non-custodial parent will pay for basic support. The support guidelines set a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income to be paid for basic support, and the percentages varies depending on the number of children for which support is being requested.
The percentages are:
17% for one child;
25% for two children;
29% for three children;
31% for four children; and
At least 35% for five or more children.
In addition, to the amounts based upon the guidelines both parents may be ordered—based on their incomes—to share costs the related to child care, education, and unreimbursed medical expenses.
After the support magistrates determine the amount to be paid for support, he or she calculates the amount of retroactive support. This is the amount that would be owed if the payments had started on the date the petition was filed, or, for public assistance cases, the date the child began to receive public assistance.
To repeat the total amount that should have been paid starting on the previous date is called retroactive support that is how child support is calculated
Gary back to you…
Thanks Liz. The Support Magistrate will also credit the non-custodial parent with any money paid under the temporary order or a previous order, so the non-custodial parent should bring receipts for any child support already paid.
Copies of the Child Support Standards booklets are available in the hearing room and the booklets show how much support is due for each level of income. If you are still confused about how the amount is calculated please pick up a copy to review it.
Before you leave, you will be given papers that will tell you your account number, how much you have to pay, the date your first payment is due, where to send payments, and other useful information.
If the order is a temporary order, you will also be given a slip of paper with the date for your next hearing. Be sure to return to court on that date, or the case can be decided without you.
Keep all the information you receive at your hearing and read carefully the court order so you don’t violate the order.
If you are employed, the child support agency will send a notice to your employer telling them how much you owe and when it is due. This is called an income execution. It is your responsibility, make sure that your employer sends the payments in full and on time.
Remember it may be a few weeks before your employer receives the income execution. In the meantime, you should send a money order or certified check made payable to “Support Collection Unit” to the address on the screen. Payments may also be made through participating Western Union outlets throughout New York State. Please not that there is a minimum $3 fee for using Western Union.
To make sure that you get credit for each payment all payments should include your complete name, your child support account number, and your address.
That’s what you need to know about the court hearing and payment process.
So now let’s go back Liz for a look at the Child Support Agency and what it does.
Thanks Gary. The main thing to know is that the child support agency is not part of the family court and works to ensure that the children receive the money that the court ordered in full and on time. The agency has the authority to enforce the court order in a variety of ways, including issuing an income execution to your employer.
The income execution tells your employer to deduct child support from your paycheck and to send in the payment on your behalf.
You should also know that if you stop paying your child support the child support agency can take various actions to collect the arrears – the amount that is past due.
Some of these actions include:
- Suspending your driver’s license and passport;
- Intercepting State and federal tax refunds and lottery winnings;
- Taking money directly from your bank account; and
- Taking property, such as cars and other physical assets.
Before any of these actions are taken, the noncustodial parent will be sent a notice describing when the action will be taken and what can be done to avoid the action. To be sure that the noncustodial parent receives these important notices, they must tell the child support agency if their address or employer changes.
Back to you Gary.
Thanks Liz for that important advice.
I hope you have a better understanding of what will happen at your hearing and what the child support agency does. If you ever need copies of your court order, you can get them in the Family Court’s record room.
If you have anymore questions about the agency, call the Customer Service Help Line at (888) 208-4485, or visit the child support website at newyorkchildsupport.com.
Please note that the website has a secure area that allows you to view payments made to your account. If a payment is missing contact the customer service helpline.
On behalf of myself and my friends at the court and the child support agency thank you for watching this video!
Remember that child support is about making sure that all children get the support they need and deserve.
Your child is depending on you!