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Plaintiff Brings Case for Modification of Child Support


In this case, the petitioner is Petra A. Mac Fadden, and the respondent is Peter R. Martini.

Case Details

The petitioner would like a modification to an original divorce judgment. The original judgment required that $100 in child support was paid every month by the respondent to support the couple’s daughter up until her eighteenth birthday.

One option for the petitioner was to have the court modify the original judgment because the circumstances in place at the time of the initial ruling had changed. Instead, a foreign child-support order was filed under the terms of Domestic Relations Law.

A New York Custody Lawyer said the petitioner can request that the respondent be subjected to New York Law in so far as that may require modification to the ruling made in Colorado. The respondent lives in California and acknowledges that he is the father of the child in question; however, he did attempt to defend himself against the petitioner’s request that his child support payments be increased to $300 each month, and the requirements that the payments last until the child turns 21 instead of 18.

Currently, the Colorado court has issued a statement requiring that $3500 in back-owed child support be paid to the petitioner.

The petitioner then requested that the payments continue from the 18th until the 21st birthday of the couple’s daughter. She also requests that the respondent be required to pay select medical bills and the counsel fees brought up by the case.

Examination and Rulings

Under New York Law, the petitioner is correct in assuming that the respondent is responsible for child support payments until their daughter becomes 21. The fact that they are divorced does not limit his financial responsibility under this law. However, the issue is whether or not the New York Law applies in the event that the terms of child support were already set in a Colorado court.

Jurisdiction over the respondent must be established before proceedings can conclude. A Queens Family Lawyer said the petitioner claims that simply by filing his response with the court that the respondent has placed himself under the jurisdiction of the New York Court, and that any finding would be enforceable in California where he resides. The court however, feels that this response alone is not enough to grant jurisdiction.

The court does have the authority to enforce an existing order laid down by another court. However, modification of that order based upon New York Law does not seem to be provided for in the law. A basic law principle states that information which is excluded from a law is done so intentionally. Therefore, it must be concluded that the exclusion of language which would enable such a modification was done so intentionally and must be respected. Without a change of the circumstances of the case, trying to change the order based solely on the laws of another state would actually be a constitutional violation.

It is also important to note that any change to the amount of child support required would not only require an assessment of the father’s financial circumstances, but also of the other mothers. A Nassau County Family Lawyer said the Equitable Distribution Law requires that the financial situation of both parents be considered when determining financial responsibility for the various expenses related to the raising of children.

The motion for increased child support was denied.

The petitioner also moved to collect counsel fees from the respondent. Two problems exist with this request. First, there was no affidavit submitted which detailed the expenses incurred to her. This makes it impossible to accurately assess her costs. Because the petitioner also did not submit adequate information detailing her own financial situation, it is impossible also to determine her financial need which could affect whether or not the respondent is required to pay for her counsel.

Based on this lack of information, the second motion is also denied.

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