In this case, Thomas B. is the respondent and Lydia D. is the appellant.
Two parents tried to come to a written agreement where child support payments would be terminated because the child being supported had obtained a full time job. However, economic independence of a child is not enough reason to discontinue required child support payments.
Originally, the father in this case was required to pay child support until the child reached 21 or became emancipated as defined by full time employment that does not occur only during a break from education, such as might be obtained by a student during the summer.
In 2006 a motion was brought forward by the mother of the child to enforce payment of the child support. A New York Custody Lawyer said this lead to the petition for reduced payments. He claims that the child is emancipated and that his child support payments should be refunded retroactively to the date of the emancipation.
In order to resolve this action, the court needed to determine both whether or not the child was emancipated and if so, when that occurred. The petitioner requested a summary judgement based on the employment of the child at a music store in 2005. The respondent however, claimed that during this time the child was in a halfway house receiving treatment for substance abuse. The employment was a condition of the treatment and that he was still receiving financial support from his mother to cover living and medical expenses.
In 2005, the petitioner’s motion was granted when the Support Magistrate found that the job qualified as an emancipation event. A refund was ordered for child support paid after August 2005, and legal expenses were also awarded to him. The magistrate said that being compensated for work performed 35 hours a week qualifies as full time work.
The court reinstated the motion because the intent of what emancipation was supposed to initially mean to the two parties was not adequately considered. Upon further consideration, the Magistrate found that the child was working full time, and that the intent when discussing emancipation originally did not affect the outcome of the case. A Nassau County Family Lawyer said he also found that from January 2006 to September 2007 when the child was unemployed, support would have been required except that the earlier emancipation event had cancelled the terms of the previous agreement outright. The Magistrate again confirmed the need for a refund and for the respondent’s need to pay for the plaintiff’s legal fees.
A further objection resulted in the court finding that the Magistrate made a mistake when judging that the entire agreement was cancelled due to a period of emancipation. The Court felt that from 2006 to September 2007, support was owed. A Queens Family Lawyer said that as a result, the petitioner was ordered to pay $3978.18.
Essentially, the law requires that parents provide for their children until they reach the age of 21. Emancipation occurs when a person works full time, enlists in the army, gets married or attains any other type of economic independence.
The keystone of emancipation is financial independence, and it can be debated whether the child in question every truly had this. He was required to have a job by his halfway house program, and testimony showed that his mother was financially supporting him throughout that period. His full time job did not earn him enough money given his situation to earn financial independence, which leads to the conclusion that he was not properly emancipated.
Section 15.06 of the stipulation provides guidance for the responsibility of the legal fees. It states that the party to challenge the ruling or any portion of it would be responsible for the legal costs of both parties going forward. As a result, the respondent will have a later hearing to determine the amount of legal fees owed.
The original order of the Family Court was reversed. A new hearing was set to determine the total amount of payments that were in arrears based on the assumption that the child was never properly emancipated.
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