Two years after a couple got married, their first child was born. After about four years of being married, the couple got divorced. Custody was given to the wife, and the court gave the father reasonable visitation rights. The wife got married again shortly after the divorce. She moved to Phoenix, Arizona after and did not notify the father, according to a New York Family Lawyer.
The father contacted missing children agencies in an effort to find the mother and the children, as he did not know where they went. The wife never tried to contact husband to get child support, even though she knew where was. After five years, she contacted father and told him where the children were. He resumed the child-support payments and visitation immediately. Two years after resuming contact, the wife filed a claim for child support in arrears.
In her claim, she reasoned that even if there was interference with the visitation, it is still the obligation of the non-custodial parent to pay child support. Child support and visitation are independent of each other. According to a Staten Island Visitation Lawyer, the Trial Court found the mother guilty of laches, which means she negligent in her making the claim. The court said she is not entitled to the child support in arrears. The mother appealed against this saying, she, being guilty of laches is not an appropriate reason not to grant her petition.
The Court of Appeals said laches is an appropriate reason for child support. The court needs to be equitable in their decision so to determine laches, they look at the length and reasonableness of the delay in seeking payments. A Staten Island Custody Lawyer said there is also the issue of interference or denial of visitation. The wife took the children out of state and did not tell the father where they were for five years, at the time she could have already made a claim. When she re-established contact, it still took her two years to make a claim. She moved her children somewhere the other parent did not so the court is not able to enforce any petition. The children were considered as concealed from the father. This further supports the excuse of the father in not paying child support. The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision saying, in the seven years, she knew where the father was and could have claimed, and she prevented the legal rights of the father to visitation.
The courts do not want a party to be penalized for an action made by another. In cases involving parents and child support, the courts look at both parties. If the other prevented the payment or if their action caused the non-payment, they may not be entitled to child support in arrears. If they had taken too long to make a claim for the child support, then, it may be deemed as a release of obligation for the other party. This depends on the situation.
There is little argument that going through a divorce is an extremely stressful experience. Emotions run high, particularly when there are children involved. Divorce cases can be very complex, and include many secondary issues. You may find that an order for protection is required, or that there is an issue regarding grandparents rights or paternity. To ensure that your rights and the rights of your children are protected, it is important to obtain legal counsel as possible. The sooner you speak to a lawyer, the sooner counsel can set to work and ensure that your case is handled with the compassion and care it deserves.
If you are a parent trying to make a claim for child support, Stephen Bilkis and Associates have experienced lawyers who will explain what options are available to you. We have offices in Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Manhattan to assist you. We also have offices on Long Island in Suffolk County and Nassau County and Westchester County, Long Island. For legal guidance and a free consultation, call us now at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW.