Skip to Content

What If I Can't Afford to Pay Child Support in New York?


A child support payment plan following a divorce is meant to provide financial aid to the primary custodial parent without putting undue financial strain on the parent making the monthly payments. Since the majority of child support amounts are based on state-regulated calculations and not the personal plans of the divorcing spouses, it is possible for the amount to be simply too much for the payer to bear. Rather than making their child’s life better, they find that all they have done is make their own considerably worse due to piling up bills and missing payments.

The moment you realize you can no longer afford to make child support payments, you must speak to a family law attorney and notify the court as soon as possible. With the help of a child support lawyer, you can recalculate your payments based on your new financial situation and request that the court modifies the order.

In order to have a child support order modified, you must meet one of two requirements:

  1. Your ex-spouse approves the modification.
  2. The court approves it after seeing you genuinely cannot afford to pay the current amount, despite your best efforts to do so.

Why the Sense of Urgency?

When we advise you to seek legal help and the attention of the court as soon as possible, we really do mean just that. If you stop making full child custody payments and do not have a valid reason, or have not told the court about your hardship, it can be seen as a criminal act. If your ex-spouse decides to push for enforcement of the court’s orders, you might be on the receiving end of some serious legal penalties.

Failing to pay child support can result in:

  • Your wages or income being garnished.
  • Your home or automobile being seized.
  • A lien being placed on your home or business.
  • Suspension or revocation of your professional license.
  • Removal of your driving privileges.
  • Tax refund denial or interception.
  • Negative impact on your credit score.
  • Fines paid to state.
  • Time spent in jail.

As you can see, New York doesn’t hesitate to use the full extent of its power when penalizing people who fail to pay child support without proper reason. It is important that you do everything you can to protect your good name, finances, and future. Start by contacting our Dutchess County divorce lawyers at the Law Office of Dennis R. Vetrano, Jr., LLC today. We have 40+ years of divorce law experience we can call upon to strengthen your case and push for child support modification.