Articles Posted in Spousal Support

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2017 Slip Op. 01705

Decision

This is an appeal for parts of the judgment of divorce from Nassau County Superior Court. The decision failed to award maintenance fees to the plaintiff, but did award the plaintiff’s counsel the amount of $87,000.

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The defendant was charged by an information sworn to by the complainant with a violation of Section 242, subd. 3 of the Penal Law, in other words, with a second degree assault. Upon arraignment, he was represented by counsel, namely the office of the Public Defender of the County of Nassau. His lawyer asked that the matter be transferred to the Family Court of this County to be there treated as a family offense.

In support of his application, counsel states that the complainant, and the defendant, has lived together at 36 Carney Street, Glen Cove, New York, for a period of time, that they have their shared the same apartment and that in general, they have held themselves out to be man and wife. Defendant’s counsel further informed the Court that the complainant and the defendant have never been married to each other by either a ceremonial service or a civil one, nor has a marriage license ever been issued to them.

None the less, it is asserted that the circumstances under which the complainant and defendant live with each other are such as to constitute them a household within the meaning of Section 812 of the Family Court Act. Since the institution of the Family Court Act in 1962, a number of cases have been heard in this County construing the ambit of Section 812 in situations approximately similar to the one outlined above.

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This appeal presents an opportunity for this Court to clarify the procedure for enforcing a judgment against an award of maintenance. This procedure differs from those applicable to other types of collection efforts because it harmonizes the judgment creditor’s right to reach these funds with the public policy of protecting the recipients of such funds, though they be judgment debtors.

Counsel said that, the respondent and his former wife, were divorced pursuant to a judgment entered in the Supreme Court, Suffolk County. The judgment of divorce incorporated the terms of a duly-binding separation agreement which provided, inter alia, that respondent would make monthly maintenance payments to his wife. Upon respondent’s failure to make these payments, the Supreme Court, Suffolk County, entered an income execution for support directing his employer, the respondent Prospective Computer, to deduct the maintenance payments from his income and to pay them over to the wife on a monthly basis.

Subsequently, in July 2002, the petitioner obtained a judgment against the respondent on her default in Supreme Court, Nassau County, for unpaid legal services. In an attempt to satisfy the judgment, the petitioner served the respondents, with restraining notices alleging that the respondents were in possession of property in which the petitioner had an interest, to wit, the wife’s monthly maintenance payments. When the respondents refused to pay the petitioner, he commenced this proceeding to enforce the restraining notices in Supreme Court, Nassau County, on notice to the wife.

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