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Court Hears Child Support Case

Frances Bill is the respondent in this case where Gerald Bill was the appellant.

Summary

The Child Support Standards Act is the standard method used to determine child support payments based on the parents income. One of the issues included in the act is that the costs of child care are to be shared by parents in proportion to their earnings, and whether those terms can be enforced when the parties are unaware of the terms of the CSSA. The court ended up agreeing with the Family Court which ordered the father in the case to pay a percentage of the child care expenses encountered by the mother.

Facts

The appellant and respondent were married in November of 1985. Two children were born in 1983 and 1987. The couple purchased a house in New York and later moved to Orange Country. Both are long term employees of BMW of North America, Inc.

The couple separated in 1992 and began divorce proceedings. A New York Family Lawyer said the divorce agreement included custody of the children being awarded to the wife, while the husband was required to pay $325 in child support each week. The stipulation providing for these measured did not include the required statement showing that the couple had been advised of the CSSA, and did also not reference what the child support payments would have been had the standard CSSA formula been applied. No provision was made at the time for the division of child-care costs.

The figure eventually arrived at for child support was $28750. This was calculated by assessing 25% of the combined yearly income generated by both parents. This amount was entered as part of the stipulation of settlement, along with the logic used to arrive at the figures.

Very soon after this was agreed upon, a motion was filed to force the husband to contribute to child care costs. The husband opposed this motion, stating that his initial child support fee was already more than the CSSA would have required him to pay, but the wife stated that he was actually paying less. A Suffolk County Family Lawyer said the disagreement on this figure comes from the fact that income over $80,000 is discretionary in these matters, but no agreement was made as to how this income would be assessed in this case.

The wife alleged that the husband agreed to pay 50% of child care costs, but he maintains that while they discussed it, no agreement was ever reached or included in the settlement terms. However, because the wife had a right to seek those expenses, the husband was subsequently required to pay them. The husband’s objection resulted in the ruling being adapted so that he paid $120 per week for child care until August of 1994 where his obligation increased to 60% of all child care expenses.

The CSSA is designed to provide a balanced tool for assessing the financial needs of children and determining how the income of the parent’s needs to be allocated to provide for the child’s well being. A Queens Family Lawyer critical part of the CSSA states that when child care expenses are incurred by a working parent that the court must assess the fees for that care and split the responsibility for the care services in the same ratio used for creating the child support payments.

When a stipulation is entered into that involves the payment of support for children, the parties are supposed to be notified of the terms of the CSSA and if and why they are deviating from the standard terms used under the act. If this had been complied with, the issues at hand such as the argument over how great the child-care fee is when compared to the income of the husband would be avoided.

Ruling

The existing stipulation does not work as a waiver to any entitlements deserved under the CSSA. As a result, the Family Court was right and the wife has a right to seek child care costs from the husband.

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