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I have a 19 year old child with a women I am not nor ever was married to. Unbeknownst to me, she has been collecting welfare.

New York, NY |

Over the years I have always supported my son. I received a notice that I am being brought to court to pay back child support. There was never a court order for me to pay child support because I have always supported my child. If I had NOT supported him, I am sure I would have ended up in court to pay child support. Apparently, the state of NY is suing me because she has been collecting welfare. If she did something illegal, I had nothing to do with it, nor was I even aware of it. Can i be ordered to pay back child support for something like this? She and I have never lived in the same state so I am clueless as to what she has been doing as far as state funded programs. Can I be held responsible and made to pay for this?

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

Even though the State is suing you for child support because the mother is on welfare, if you say there was never a court order for you to pay child support, the obligation, if it is determined you must pay, will only go back to the date of the Department of Social Services filing the support petition, presumably quite recently.

Although petitions for support are usually filed voluntarily by a mother, and many people pay informal amounts of support without a court proceeding (your situation apparently), when the mother goes on welfare, the Department of Social Services takes over and seeks to collect support by the standards of the uniform Child Support Standards Act, which is approximately 17% of your gross income less FICA payroll taxes. Social Services does this to "recoup" the welfare it is paying the mother, and it goes to Social Services, not the mother.

Since the child is now 19, your liability going forward will be limited to a two year period, since the obligation to pay child supports ends at 21.

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Jack Richard Lebowitz

Jack Richard Lebowitz

Posted

p.s. The 17% assumes one child. The law prescribes greater percentages if there are multiple children involved in the support petition/order.

Asker

Posted

There is only one child. I am now married with two children from my wife. If she would have informed me that she was about to go on public assistance, I would have taken full custody of him. There was no need for him to go on public assistance. She kept that a secret from me. He is now out of school and working full time. His income actually supports him but he still lives at home and he pays towards the home expenses. So can the public assistance stop for him if I prove that there is no need for him to receive public assistance?

Jack Richard Lebowitz

Jack Richard Lebowitz

Posted

Unfortunately, custody jurisdiction ends at 18, although support continues until 21. It also appears from your follow up that the mother, not the son is on welfare. He probably wouldn't qualify. His income probably counts towards household income for the mother, but she is still below the poverty line. You should probably consult an attorney who is familiar with social services law, but it would seem that you are on the hook unless the son becomes "emancipated", living apart from both his parents and totally self-supporting. It's also not clear whether custody can be changed for support purposes once the child turns 18, if he was living with the mother when he was 17.

Asker

Posted

Thanks for your answer.

Jack Richard Lebowitz

Jack Richard Lebowitz

Posted

You're welcome. Luckily your exposure here is fairly limited because the child is almost aging out of support. Still, it hurts I know but could be worse (the child could be nine years or nine months old!)

Posted

Unfortunately you are responsible for paying the state child support if your child is on public assistance. You should consult with an experienced child support attorney to discuss your options, especially if you have proof that you have been providing her with child suppport the past ten years.

Former Prosecutor and Family Court Law Clerk. I am available for phone consultations at (914) 368-2646. This answer is very general and is not intended to be specific legal advice and does not create any attorney/client relationship. Please consult an attorney with the specifics of your case to determine your best course of action in or out of court

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Asker

Posted

I do have receipts for everything that I have ever given to her. However, I don't believe there is a need for him to be on public assistance. Can I file for custody and stop his public assistance? There is no need for her to file public assistance for him. Now she has two other children by other men, if she chooses to have her and her other children on public assistance, that is not my concern. But I don't feel there is a need for her to have my child on public assistance if I can afford to take care of him. What are my options? Should I file for full custody to stop the public assistance?

Posted

You are best advised to gather the evidence (cancelled checks, money order receipts, etc.) of you paying support. If she was committing welfare fraud, this may not effect your obligation to pay support back to DSSgoing forward (until the child is 21), but may impact the retroactive assessment. I highly advise you to schedule a consultation with a NYC Child Support attorney.

* If you found my answer to be "HELPFUL," or the "BEST ANSWER," please feel free to mark it accordingly.

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