Child support is the financial support parents are required to provide for their children. Contrary to popular belief, child support is the responsibility of both parents, not just the “non-custodial” parent. In New York, it is required until children turn 21.
You may start with a temporary amount of support, and later tweak that amount as you learn more about your finances and children’s needs.
Think of child support in two parts. The first part is a regular payment (weekly/monthly/etc.), from one parent to the other. The second part is composed of three special categories of expenses—”additional expenses” or “add-ons,” in New York lingo—that are broken out, and for which parental responsibility is assigned, separately. Both of these “parts” of child support are described in greater detail in separate posts.
When you and your ex come to an agreement about what the regular child support payment between you will be, and how you’ll share responsibility for the special categories of additional expenses, you will outline those commitments in your Separation Agreement. You may follow what the law indicates, to the extent that’s clear, or you may create your own arrangement entirely. Either way, you are required to recite what the law would call for in your Separation Agreement and in the divorce papers that are ultimately submitted to the court. This will require mutual disclosure of your income.
If you’re in a court-based process, child support is due from the first date on which it was formally requested. If there’s some delay between that request and when payments actually begin, the payor will owe support back to the date when it was first requested. If you’re in an out-of-court process, you will begin child support payments when you mutually agree to. Both in- and outside of court, you may start with a temporary amount of support, and later tweak that amount as you learn more about your finances and children’s needs.
Your needs for and ability to contribute to child support, as well as your children’s needs, may change over time. The law provides a mechanism for revisiting your original child support agreement in specific circumstances, and you can create your own mechanisms, as well, based on what would work best for your family.