New York Child Custody and Support

Do you anticipate a child support and custody battle in your New York divorce?

The experienced divorce and child custody lawyers at Bikel & Schanfield can help you.

Determining child support and custody is an emotionally trying process and perhaps the most difficult aspect of a divorce—but you don’t have to do it alone. Our Manhattan-based attorneys are highly skilled in child support and custody disputes and can help you secure a fair agreement that works for you and your children.

How is child support determined in New York?

In New York State, if divorcing parents have children, their divorce agreement must include an arrangement for child support. The amount of support is governed by the Child Support Standards Act formula, known as the “Guidelines”. 

Basic child support, which generally consists of contributions towards food, clothing and housing, is calculated by a two-step process.  The first step involves determining support based upon the first $143,000 of combined parental income; and the second step involves determining support based on combined parental income in excess of $143,000. 

The amount of combined income in excess of $143,000 that is applied to child support is evaluated on case by case basis, depending generally on the needs and expenses of the children.

Each parent’s pro rata share of combined income is then applied to the following formula:

  • One child must receive 17% of their parents’ combined income
  • Two children must receive 25% of their parents’ combined income
  • Three children must receive 29% of their parents’ combined income
  • Four children must receive 31% of their parents’ combined income
  • Five or more children must receive no less than 35% of their parents’ combined income

In addition to paying basic child support, both parents must contribute, in an amount calculated by determining the pro rata portion of combined parental income, to the costs of the child’s educational expenses, health care, child care, and extracurricular activities.

There are many factors that the courts evaluate when awarding child support, and clients must be sure to retain experienced attorneys to help them navigate the child support rules, and to ensure that they achieve the best results possible.

How is child custody determined in NY?

The term child custody is broken down into two parts.  Part 1 is what’s known as legal custody.  Part 2 is what’s called physical custody.  Those two terms are related, but that actually mean different things. 

Legal custody -

the parent who has legal custody is the parent who has the authority to make decisions about a child’s health and medical treatment, education, and religious practice.  In addition, the parent who has legal custody has the authority to make decisions regarding a child’s extracurricular activities and choice of summer camp as well.

In the event that parents agree that they shall have joint legal custody, then both parents have the authority to make these decisions.  Joint custody means that the parents agree to, post-divorce, cooperate with each other, and to make these decisions together.

Physical custody,

as distinguished from legal custody, relates to the parenting schedule, or “time with” the child.  The parent who has physical custody, also known as the primary caretaker, is the parent with whom the child primarily resides.  This is determined by counting overnights with the child.   

Generally, the overnight schedule is calculated by looking at the parenting time during a two week or 14 overnight period.  For example, if one parent has the child 8 out of 14 overnights, that parent has physical custody of the child.  Holidays and vacations are determined separately from the regular parenting schedule.

If the parents share time with the child equally, 7 out of 14 overnights each, then neither parent has physical custody.  There are important financial implications regarding child support that become relevant to the issue of which parent has physical custody.  These financial implications must be carefully analyzed and reviewed prior to entering into a child custody agreement.

What happens when my spouse acts unreasonably and does not cooperate to resolve custody and fairly?

In some cases, child custody negotiations can turn hostile or even dangerous for your children.

Some parents interfere with the other parent’s parenting schedule, disparage the other parent to the child, and even alienate the child from the other parent.   Suddenly, a child who had a good relationship with both parents is now scared and upset when they visit mom or dad.

In cases of parental alienation, the court may order the child to attend therapy or to spend more time with the alienated parent. In serious cases, the judge may revoke the manipulating parent’s custody rights entirely and award custody to the alienated parent.

Another common concern is when the custodial parent puts the child in harm’s way or refuses to follow court orders.

If you believe your spouse is abusing or neglecting your child, or if he or she is planning to move away with your child without permission from you or the court, you may be able to file an emergency application for custody.

In the same vein, if your spouse is falsely accusing you of abuse or neglect to get leverage in divorce proceedings, our attorneys can help clear your name, shield you from false accusations, and demonstrate to the court that you are fit to have custody of your child.

If your ex is alienating your child from you, or if you are concerned about your child’s wellbeing in your spouse’s care, you have legal options. Contact us today.

An experienced lawyer can help you when child custody negotiations turn sour

Judges recommend that parents try to agree on custody and support arrangements on their own, outside of the family court system. But in some cases, when there is conflict between the parents, that’s just not possible.

If your divorce becomes hostile and your partner is threatening your relationship with your child, you need an experienced family law attorney to fight for your interests and go to trial if necessary.

In a child custody or support dispute, you may face off against a partner that is:

  • Failing to pay child support or follow court orders
  • Accusing you of being an unfit parent
  • Making allegations of abuse or neglect against you
  • Inflating expenses to get more child support
  • Planning to move to another state or country with your child
  • Abusing or neglecting your child
  • Interfering with your visitation time

In each of these issues, it’s important to make the right legal moves to ensure that your reputation as a parent is kept intact and your children are kept safe.

How the NY family law lawyers at Bikel & Schanfield will help you

No matter what obstacles you face during your child custody and support negotiations, Bikel & Schanfield will fight for you every step of the way.

Considered New York’s leading divorce trial lawyer, founding partner Dror Bikel and his team draw on decades of experience to take complex divorce cases head on.

No other firm has the same experience representing New York’s well-known families, including political figures, celebrities, C-suite executives, and high-net-worth individuals. Through extensive preparation and unsurpassed courtroom experience, we secure optimal outcomes for our clients.

If you’re in the midst of a child custody fight or want to do your best to avoid one, contact Bikel & Schanfield today. We can help.  212.682.6222 or Contact Online