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Court Reviews Child Support Standards

In this case, an action for divorce was filed by plaintiff against his spouse before the Family Court, Suffolk County. After trial, the Family Court ordered a judgment of divorce with a stipulation of settlement. The said stipulation contains child support and maintenance provisions.

Later, a New York Family Lawyer said the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the complaint and asking to impose a sanction and for an award of an attorney’s fee before the Supreme Court, Suffolk County. The motion was granted by the Supreme Court saying that plaintiff was already judicially estopped from arguing that certain provisions in the parties’ judgment of divorce and stipulation of settlement should be set aside. With this, plaintiff filed an appeal with the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York.
After careful consideration of the facts of the case, the Appellate Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff and ordered that the order of the Supreme Court, Suffolk County be modified.

The Appellate Court found that contrary to the determination of the Supreme Court, the plaintiff was not judicially estopped from arguing that certain provisions in the parties’ judgment of divorce and stipulation of settlement should be set aside. A New York Child Custody Lawyer said the doctrine of judicial estoppel “precludes a party who assumed a certain position in a prior legal proceeding and who secured a judgment in his or her favor from assuming a contrary position in another action simply because his or her interests have changed.”

The plaintiff’s prior attempt to modify the parties’ child support obligations in Family Court was not considered by the Appellate Court as an implicit acknowledgment of the validity of the judgment of divorce or stipulation of settlement. It was not inconsistent with his position in this case that the child support provisions should be set aside. Furthermore, the Family Court, Suffolk County, in an order dated February 2, 2001, denied the plaintiff’s objections to an order of the same court dated September 18, 2000, denying his application for an upward modification of the defendant’s child support obligation, and the Appellate Court upheld its determination.

A Queens Family Lawyer said the Appellate Court also ruled that both the provisions of the judgment concerning the parties’ child support obligations and the stipulation upon which it was based violated the Child Support Standards Act (CSSA). They failed to include recitals stating that the parties were aware that following the CSSA guidelines would result in the presumptively correct amount of support; they failed to set forth the presumptively correct amount of support that would have been fixed pursuant to the guidelines; and they failed to articulate the reason the parties chose to deviate from the guidelines. Consequently, the Court ruled that they were invalid and unenforceable and should have been vacated.

Hence, a Long Island Family Lawyer said the Appellate Court ordered that the order of the Supreme Court, Suffolk County be modified and denying the motion to dismiss the complaint. The matter was then remitted to the Supreme Court, Suffolk County for the determination of the child support obligation in accordance with the Child Support Standards Act. The Appellate Court further ordered that pending the determination of the Supreme Court, Suffolk County, the plaintiff shall pay child support as set by the pendente lite order previously entered by the Supreme Court, Suffolk County, in the underlying divorce action;

As regards the maintenance provisions of the stipulation, the Appellate Court found that the plaintiff’s contention that the provisions of the stipulation regarding maintenance should also have been vacated was without merit. The record did not support a finding that these provisions were closely intertwined with the child support provisions. Finally, the defendant was found to have failed to establish her entitlement to an award of an attorney’s fee and that there was no basis to impose a sanction.

The fact is, nobody wins in a divorce case. Everyone suffers, and the child suffers the most. If you are going through this great ordeal, you must be accompanied by a good Suffolk County Child Support Lawyer to protect you and your child’s interests. You may visit Stephen Bilkis and Associates Law Firm if you have any inquiry or experience that calls for legal action. Our highly trained Suffolk County Child Support Attorneys will make sure that the future of your child is well-protected after the end of the legal struggle.

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