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New York Law Extends Child Support for Children With Special Needs

Man Sitting on a Cake Graph Mr. Shapiro’s extensive experience within the family law and divorce law environments means he can provide guidance and support to clients concerned about a range of cases. To continue offering as a high a level of support as possible, Mr. Shapiro also strives to keep clients up to date on how the laws in New York might be changing.

One of the most complex areas of family law is going through a period of transformation at the time of writing, within New York, as well as numerous other American states. This change impacts child support, one of the first concepts a set of parents must discuss when agreeing to a divorce or separation. Child support ensures that the parent responsible for providing primary care to the child after a divorce will have the financial resources required to serve that child’s best interests.

For years, the child support formula used to determine how much child support should be given to a parent for their youngster, and how long that support should be awarded for, is based on an assessment which indicates support should stop at the age of 21, unless there is an agreement to go longer (perhaps if the child is in college for example). Recently however, the law has reconsidered when support should end for the parents of children with special needs.

The Changing Laws for Special Needs Child Support

Children who have special needs regarding their mental and physical health present additional considerations for the courts determining how much child support should be awarded to a parent. A law just signed into effect in New York addressees this fact, extending the time period for which a parent can receive child support to the day when the child turns 26, in the case where a developmental disability is present (And diagnosed).

This new law will influence future decisions made about child support for children with developmental disabilities. However, it also means parents whose special needs children have already “aged out” of receiving child support, may want to petition the family court or supreme court for a resumption of child support. Mr. Shapiro’s office anticipates representing both custodial parents or non-custodial parents on these issues depending on the case and our clients.

The new law overrules the previous guidelines which outlined the parental obligations in providing support to a child with developmental disabilities as coming to an end when the child turned 21. New York has now joined 40 additional American states in the acceptance and implementation of the new legislation to support the custodial parents of developmentally disabled children up until the date when the child turns 26.

The new law also applies to the parents of children over the age of 21, whose children have now “aged out” of receiving support. If these children have already been diagnosed by a medical professional as having a developmental disability, they may be able to appeal for ongoing support.

The Guidelines for Additional Support

Crucially, to request the continuation of support after the age of 21 for a developmentally disabled child, a few factors must be in play. The guidelines require for the child with the developmental disability to have been diagnosed by a medical professional as having an intellectual disability, like autism, epilepsy, or cerebral palsy.

The law further notes any other condition can be considered by the courts as a developmental disability if it causes the impairment of the child’s general intellectual function. Notably, the disability in such as case must also have begun to appear in a child before that individual reached the age of 22.

The guidelines of the new legislation outline additional rules which must be considered by any parent considering the option of requesting further child support for a child who has aged beyond 21. For instance, the parents and caregivers of a child who has become disabled after the age of 22 will not be applicable to apply for further support.

The new law, as explained by Mr. Shapiro also dictates that to receive child support, there needs to be evidence of the issues caused by the disability continuing beyond the age of 21. It may also be crucial to show the disability’s side effects can be expected to continue indefinitely. The developmental disability in question must act as a significant handicap to the adult’s ability to function in normal society. For instance, the parent and their attorney may show the child cannot earn a liveable wage while suffering from the developmental disability.

The parent must further show the child in question is living with them, and that they are responsible for providing care for that adult child. Once it has been established that the child’s “developmental disability” falls into the definition guidelines provided by the new legislation, it becomes the court’s responsibility to determine how much child support should be awarded. The courts will usually be advised to use the standard child support guidelines intended for use when calculating the amount awarded to the parent of a child under the age of 21.

Getting the Right Child Support

There are various factors a court needs to consider when ensuring the child in a case is getting the right support for their best interests. The courts need to examine the health requirements of the child, and whether one parent has been given the unfair responsibility of managing that child’s needs from a financial perspective.

Having the right attorney on-hand to help you with your child support request can make all the difference in this case. If you have questions about child support in New York, and how the legislator changes mentioned above may affect you, please contact Mr. Shapiro’s office today to get on our calendar to discuss your case during an initial consultation up to the first thirty minutes free.

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