New York Court Declines to Deem a Father’s Failure to Pay Child Support Willful

The New York courts place great importance on a parent’s duty to financially support their child. As such, if the courts determine that a party neglected to uphold their support obligation, they may choose to impose sanctions on the party. Not all failures to pay child support are sanctionable, though, as demonstrated in a recent New York opinion issued in a matter arising out of a dispute over a father’s financial obligations to his children. If you need assistance with a child support matter, it is in your best interest to contact a knowledgeable New York child support lawyer to assess your rights.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the mother and father shared custody of their three children, and the father had an obligation to pay the mother child support. The father neglected to pay support for an unspecified period of time, and the mother filed a motion for enforcement and for sanctions. The support magistrate determined, among other things, that the father’s failure to pay child support was not willful. He also declined to grant the mother’s request that the court order the father to pay half of one of the children’s private school tuition. The mother appealed.

The Court’s Findings

The appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling. First, the court found that the support magistrate’s finding that the father’s failure to pay child support was not willful was entitled to great deference, as it rested largely on the magistrate’s credibility determinations. Specifically, the magistrate found that the father credibly testified that he was unable to seek regular employment due to his parenting responsibilities.

The appellate court elaborated that the three children the parties shared lived with the father during most or all of the time in question, and he transported them between their home in New Jersey and their school in New York City, and after the pandemic began, supervised their remote learning at home. The appellate court stated that the mother had offered no evidence that the magistrate’s credibility determination should be disturbed, noting that she relied on cases in which a party could have sought employment but declined to do so, which was inapposite.

Further, the appellate court found that there was no basis for the mother’s request that the court compel the father to pay half of their son’s private school tuition, as there was no evidence of an agreement in which he contracted to do so. As such, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Trusted New York Child Support Attorney

While parents have a duty to provide for their children financially, not all failures to pay support will be considered grounds for imposing sanctions. If you need assistance with a child support matter, it is prudent to meet with an attorney to discuss your options for protecting your interests. Ksenia Rudyuk is a trusted New York family law attorney who can assess the facts of your case and gather the evidence needed to provide you with a strong chance of a good result. You can reach Ms. Rudyuk through the form online or at 212-706-2001 to set up a conference.

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