The cost of living is the amount of money a person needs to cover essential living expenses, such as housing, food, and healthcare. Inflation increases the cost of living, requiring an increase in an individual’s income. When someone doesn’t have enough money coming in to cover rising prices, they can’t afford to pay their bills.
In New York, Cost of Living (COLA) laws allow a parent to receive higher child support payments when the cost of living increases. This is necessary to compensate for the higher cost of meeting the child’s basic needs.
Either parent is eligible to request an adjustment to their child support order, whether they provide payments or receive payments. There is a specific process to follow, and there are requirements to be met to proceed with this type of request.
What Is New York’s COLA for Child Support?
The Cost of Living Adjustment can apply to a new or existing child support agreement. When you calculate the amount of money necessary to care for a minor, it’s vital also to consider whether inflation will affect the number. The COLA for a child support order increases the amount of the payments the supporting parent must provide when the cost of living goes up.
Your current child support order is eligible for a COLA if payments go through the Support Collection Unit (SCU). However, an increase is not possible if:
• The Support Collection Unit doesn’t have a valid address for the paying parent; or
• The paying parent receives Supplement Security Income benefits or public assistance
Orders based on a percentage of the person’s income and orders involving small $25 per month and $50 per month payments are subject to a COLA review.
The SCU follows the steps below to calculate the new child support payments based on inflation:
• Totaling the amount of the cost of living has increased in your area each year since the last order or starting with 1994, whichever is later, according to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Areas published by the federal government
• Multiply the calculated number by the amount listed in the last court-ordered child support agreement
• Add the multiplied number to the amount listed in the current order
How Inflation Affects the Cost of Living
Inflation affects everyone in different ways. Some people experience financial strain and end up in debt, while others must adjust their monthly spending habits but can still afford their expenses.
The cost of living is the average cost of maintaining an acceptable standard of living. Common expenses include:
• Miscellaneous expenses, such as household supplies and clothing
If you have minor or dependent children, your cost of living also includes expenses for daycare, education, and medical needs.
A higher cost of living means you need more money to support your kids. However, your expenses could exceed your income, preventing you from paying for your child’s basic needs. This is when you must request an increase in child support payments to cover your new monthly costs.
Can I Get a COLA Because of Inflation?
You could file a request to increase the child support you receive during inflation. However, the first adjustment cannot occur unless two years have passed since the date of the original child support order. After that, you can request a COLA once every year.
The Support Collection Unit is not required to approve the COLA request for a child support order. The unit will review the circumstances to determine if the payment amount is eligible for an increase. They will look at the Consumer Price Index for Urban Areas. There must be at least a ten percent change in the cost of living from the year of the most current order you have or since 1994, whichever is later.
How We Could Help
The Mandel Law Firm handles various family law cases for NYC clients. We understand the importance of providing for your children and securing their financial future. When inflation occurs, you need a dedicated legal team by your side to seek a COLA for your child support order.
If you want to discuss your options for modifying a child support agreement in NYC, call us right now at (646) 770-3868 for an initial consultation.