Child custody can be a complicated issue for divorcing or unmarried parents. Several legal requirements and responsibilities have to be spelled out for the welfare of the family and, first in priority, the child.

Establishing paternity may be necessary as well. If a divorcing or unmarried parent wished to ensure child support through a legal declaration of paternity, there are voluntary options for noncontested paternity and petitions through family court if legal paternity must be assigned without a volunteer.

A parent may also seek a support order for a child. A support order sets the legal requirements and expectations for child support payments paid to a custodial parent for the maintenance of a child’s home, health and education. Nonpayment or any support in arrears is subject to Nassau County’s enforcement.

The basic support award in Nassau County is based on the income of both parents and depends on how many children are involved. Parents with one child can expect to pay 17 percent of their income, while two children are assigned 25 percent of income. This increases to 35 percent with five or more children.

Family court is permitted more leeway in making support decisions if a family’s combined income is higher than $143,000 per year. The court is generally allowed to use criteria other than percentages, but must provide all parties with the reason for its decision in writing.

Parents who are having difficulty understanding or meeting their requirements are recommended to secure legal counsel. An attorney can help process petitions, provide information and fight for a parent’s right to be a meaningful part of a child’s future.

Source: Nassau County Office of Child Support Enforcement, “Child Support Enforcement,” accessed Sep. 20, 2017