Modification of Spousal and Child Support Obligations


Can I unilaterally terminate my child support payments if my spouse refuses to allow visitation with my children?
No. Although an application may be made to the court to suspend or terminate future child support, the right of the child to receive adequate support is superior to the parents' right to visitation. When it appears that a custodial parent receiving alimony or maintenance has wrongfully interfered with or withheld visitation rights the court may suspend the maintenance payments or cancel any arrears that have accrued during the time that visitation rights are withheld.

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I was ordered to pay maintenance that I can no longer afford. What can I do?
The Supreme Court of the State of New York and the New York Family Court may modify downward the maintenance provisions of a divorce judgment. A court order requiring a spouse to pay maintenance in a divorce judgment made after July 19, 1980, may be modified downwards (or upwards) upon a showing of the recipient's inability to be self-supporting or a substantial change of circumstances, including financial hardship. This modification power also exists where an agreement has been incorporated into an order or judgment and merges into it and ceases to exist as a separate agreement.

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Can the court eliminate the arrears of maintenance in New York?
Any arrears which have accrued under a judgment or order prior to the making of an application for modification cannot be modified unless the defaulting spouse shows good cause for failure to apply for relief from the order directing payment prior to the accrual of the arrears.

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I signed an agreement which requires me to pay maintenance and it was incorporated in my judgment of divorce. What can I do if I can no longer afford to pay?
The Supreme Court of the State of New York and the New York Family Court may modify the maintenance provisions of a divorce judgment made on or after July 19, 1980 where there is an agreement which continues to exist as a separate agreement after the divorce judgment is granted by the court. The modified judgment supercedes the terms of the prior agreement and judgment for such period of time and under such circumstances as the Court determines. The criteria upon which such modification may be ordered is "Extreme Hardship".

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In my New York divorce judgment I was ordered to pay child support that I can no longer afford to pay. What can I do?
A court ordered provision for child support in a divorce judgment made on or after July 19, 1980, may be modified by the Supreme Court of the State of New York and by the New York Family Court, (except for arrears and sums reduced to judgment,) upon showing a substantial change in circumstances, including financial hardship. The New York court may also modify a judgment as to child support upon a showing of the recipient's inability to be self supporting. This modification power also exists where an agreement is incorporated into an order or divorce judgment and merges into it and ceases to exist as a separate agreement.

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I signed a settlement agreement which requires me to pay child support and it was incorporated in and survived my judgment of divorce. What can I do if I can no longer afford to pay?
Where a settlement agreement is incorporated in a judgment of divorce and continues to exist as a separate agreement after the divorce judgment is made, the Court cannot reallocate the child support obligations between the parents if the agreement is fair, unless there is an unanticipated and unreasonable change in circumstances resulting in a showing of financial need. If the child is not receiving adequate support, the Court may increase the amount of child support.

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Can the Court reduce or eliminate my arrears of child support?
Any arrears which have accrued under a judgment or order prior to the making of an application for modification are not subject to modification or annulment.

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For More Information on Child Support