In New York State, both parents have a duty to support their child(ren) to age 21. This includes both financial and medical support for the child(ren).

In order to establish the support obligation, a support petition must be filed with family court. The support petition asks the court to make a decision regarding support for your child. The petition requests that the court applies the child support guidelines provided in New York State law to determine how much the non-custodial parent will have to pay.

The support petition also requests medical support be ordered if it is currently available or becomes available at any time in the future to the non-custodial parent. Medical support can mean medical, dental, optical, or prescription drug services or an insurance plan for the child. These benefits may be available through the non-custodial parent's employer. The court may order the non-custodial parent to take advantage of medical benefits for your child(ren).

To set the amount of the child support order, New York State uses the Child Support Standards Act (CSSA) guidelines. This amount is based on a percentage of the parent's income, plus an additional amount for:

  • A share of child care expenses
  • A share of future health care costs not covered by insurance
  • A court-determined amount for present and future educational expenses

The basic child support amount for:

  • One child is 17% of gross income
  • Two children is 25% of gross income
  • Three children is 29% of gross income
  • Four children is 31% of gross income
  • Five or more children is at least 35% of gross income
  • Plus a share of child care, medical, and educational expenses, divided between the parents according to how much each earns

After the support petition is filed, a summons is sent to the non-custodial parent requiring him/her to come to court for a support hearing. Both the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent are required by law to provide full and complete financial disclosure, so copies of most recently filed tax returns, including W-2's, and current and representative paystubs will be required to be provided at the hearing. At the support hearing, the hearing examiner or judge will review the petition and explain the non-custodial parent's rights.

If the non-custodial parent made a voluntary agreement to pay support, it will be reviewed. The court can issue a support order on that agreement. If there was no agreement and both parties have all of their financial information, the court will hear the case. If both parties are not prepared with all of their financial information, the court must issue an order of temporary support and reschedule the hearing.

Whenever the case is heard, both the custodial and non-custodial parent will testify regarding their own finances and availability of health care coverage for the child. Tax returns, pay stubs, child care bills, medical and educational expenses are examined by the court. Typically, the hearing examiner will reach a decision and issue a child support order calculated according to the CSSA and based on the testimony and documentation provided.

Non-custodial parents are ordered to pay support to the Support Collection Unit (SCU). The SCU is the collection and accounting unit of the OCSS.