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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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
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.
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