Unpaid child support is a serious problem in the United States. As reported by CNN in 2012, parents who failed to live up to their financial responsibilities to their children owed $108 billion in unpaid child support. Of the total amount, $53 billion is owed to states such as New York that paid public assistance benefits to the children of the nonpaying parents.

The federal government has been working with the states to improve existing methods of collecting child support and formulate new programs to reduce the amount of money owing to custodial parents and taxpayers. New York has led the way with procedures that begin when a judge first orders that support must be paid.

Income Deduction Orders

Under section 5242 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules, judges must include in all new support orders, or in orders modifying existing support orders, an income deduction order. Instead of waiting for an individual to default in making payments, a judge orders that the amount of the current support obligation, along with an amount to be applied toward arrears, shall be deducted from the paying parent’s earnings or wages.

An employer served with an income deduction order must begin wage deductions within 14 days after receiving it. Up to 65 percent of a person’s disposable earnings may be deducted to satisfy a child support obligation.

Court Decisions Pertaining to Enforcement of Child Support

An income deduction order will only be effective when the parent ordered to pay is gainfully employed. A parent who willfully violates a court order to pay child support may be held in contempt of court as was done in a 2011 case in Nassau County.

At least one court has ruled that the 65 percent cap on the amount that may be withheld in an income deduction order does not apply to payments received from other sources. In Kennedy v. Kennedy, a court ruled that there was no limit on what could be taken from a payment received under a non-competition agreement.

Parents in New York are equally responsible for the support of their children even if they are no longer living together. When a court issues a child support order, it is required, with only limited exceptions, to issue an income execution order.

If you are considering getting a divorce or if you are seeking child support, then you should contact a lawyer, especially if you are not being paid child support or you are behind in payments. Jayson Lutzky is an attorney with over 31 years of legal experience in New York. He handles family court cases and litigates divorce cases as well. Mr. Lutzky offers free in-person consultations. Call 718-514-6619 to set up an appointment and visit www.MyNewYorkCityLawyer.com to learn more about Mr. Lutzky.

Source: CNN, “Deadbeat parents cost taxpayers $53 billion,” Steve Hargreaves, Nov. 5, 2012