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My name is George, M. Gilmer, Esq. I am an attorney licensed to practice my New York State and have offices in Brooklyn. I am a child custody/visitation parental alienation attorney and a child support attorney. Based upon my 20 years of experience, I have seen situations where parents pay child support for children that hate them, and that they do not see. When I see situations like this, I think that parental alienation may be involved. New York state allows a parent to suspend Child Support where there is parental alienation. If you are a parent involved in a alienation custody battle in New York this article will be interesting to you.

Primer on Child Support

In New York State, parents have a statutory obligation to continually support their children until they are 21 years of age. There is a  formula for calculating New York child support:

  • Add up the combined income of both parents and determine the percentage of each parent’s respective income. 
  • Assume arguendo the combined adjusted gross parental income (in NYC there are deductions of income from the gross) of two New York City parents is $100,000, one parent makes 60k and the other makes 40K, making it a 60/40% split of income. Further, assume that the parent making 40k has physical custody of the child (spends more time with that parent)
  • Determine what percentage of income should be attributed to child support for both parents and multiply it by
    • 17% for one child
    • 25% for two children
    • 29% for three children
    • 31% for four children
    • 35% for five or more children
  • In our scenario, if there are five children, the total child support obligation of both parents after multiplying it by 35% is $35,000.
  • You then multiply $35,000 by 60% to determine the non-custodial parent’s income. ($21,000 a year or $1750 a month or 807.70 biweekly or 403.87 weekly).

Alienation Nightmare

Now imagine if you are paying child support for these 5 kids but never get to see them, teach them, feed them, and play with them.  If you have done nothing to create this situation then you may need to contact a New York Child Support attorney that deals with custody/visitation and parental alienation issues.  A custodial parent can lose custody of a child if there is parental alienation (the law presumes that a parent that interferes with parental access is an unfit parent) against the other parent.  

Importantly, child support payments may be suspended if the non custodial parent shows that his or her right to meaningful access to the child has been unjustifiably frustrated by the custodial parent. A suspension of child support payments is only warranted if the custodial parent “deliberately frustrated” or “actively interferes” with the non-custodial parent’s visitation rights.

What is parental alienation?

Parental alienation occurs as a result of psychological manipulation of the child by a parent which results in the child being estranged from the other parent.  It is motivated by the desire of the parent to exclude the other parent from the child’s life. Some claim that parental alienation should be diagnosable as a mental health disorder in children. Furthermore, some experts say that parental alienation should be recognized as a form of child neglect/abuse or Family violence. Finally it is also believed that alienation can increase the likelihood of the child in having mental illness an adult. 

How do I prove parental alienation to suspend child support?

To show parental alienation, you will probably need to hire a New York Parental Alienation attorney that is familiar with child support cases in the State. Proving parental alienation is very complicated and even may require the opinion of a forensic expert to determine if it exists.

In a case of this type, the non-custodial parent will have the burden of proving that the child has been alienated justifying the suspension of child support payments. If you are at fault for the child’s behavior it is unlikely that your payments will be suspended.

You will need to present all forms of evidence. It will be based on your testimony and possibly the testimony of witnesses ) and documentary evidence to support your claims.

The focus of the hearing will be on the child’s behavior and reaction to you when he or she is with you (or your family). Many red flags may indicate parental alienation (please be advised that this list is far from exhaustive):

  • Your child may have a distorted and illogical view regarding your ability to develop a relationship with them;
  • The custodial parent fails to make efforts to assist the child in developing a relationship with the non custodial parent;
  • The parent encourages negative views of the other parent to weaponize the children against that parent;
  • The mother violates court orders without justification and doesn’t allow you to see your children;
  • The parent withholds the child from the other parent following appropriate and positive interactions between the other parent and the child;
  • Your child for no apparent reason does not want to see you;
  • The other parent declares their hatred of the other parent to the child and discloses inappropriate information to the child concerning the other parent.
  • The child makes false allegations of abuse against the other parent;
  • The child is unreasonably afraid of the other parent or is disrespectful or hostile to that parent for no apparent reason

You and your witnesses can testify to witnessing the above behaviors. You can produce documentary evidence showing the other parent’s acts to alienate the child against you (like text messages, videos, emails). Sometimes it may be necessary to have a forensic expert testify and give his opinion on why the child is acting in this way. 

Can I terminate child support payments because of alienation

No, this is not possible in New York State. The only real way to terminate child support is based on the emancipation of the child.  

Can I cancel child support arrears due to parental alienation

No, the law Domestic Relations Law in 1986 no longer allowed this to be a reason to cancel child support arrears. 

If you are engaging in a parental alienation custody battle in New York, and you, like this article, please share.