Rapaport Law Firm, PLLC
A New York Divorce Attorney's Thoughts on NY Matrimonial and Family Law
Marc Rapaport has 19 years of experience handling New York family law matters. Marc is the founder and principal of Rapaport Law Firm PLLC, a matrimonial law firm in Manhattan's Empire State Building. We hope that this blog provides you with an informative discussion of New York family law. If you are looking for a divorce lawyer in New York City, call for a free telephone consultation: ph (212) 382-1600.
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Gavel and law books February 14, 2013

NEW YORK APPELLATE COURT REVERSES ABSURD FAMILY COURT CHILD SUPPORT ORDER


Posted by Marc Rapaport

Many New York divorce lawyers will tell you that in the rough and tumble world of New York courts, the Family Courts are among the roughest.  Unlike the Supreme Courts (equivalent to "superior" courts in other states), which decide divorce cases, the Family Courts are where unmarried (and oftentimes indigent) parents try to get their child support, custody, and other family law disputes resolved.  I use the word "try" because the Family Courts do not always carry out their statutory responsibilities.

Experienced NY Divorce attorneys frequently turn away Family Court cases, preferring instead to represent clients in the more predictable and rarified environment of Supreme Court.  In Family Court, it is not uncommon to wait hours until a case is called, only to hear the judge (or referee/support magistrate) announce that a hearing will be delayed for several more months.  

Because the veritable tsunami of cases affects both the pace and quality of justice that is meted out in the family court system, New York's appellate courts are sometimes required to step in. This happened yesterday. In the matter Braun v. Abenanti, the Appellate Division for the Second Department reversed a Suffolk County Family Court decision in which both a support magistrate and judge denied virtually every aspect of the petitioner-mother's child support petition.  After a "hearing", the referee entered an order "directing the father to pay the sum of $20 to her for her unreimbursed medical expenses".  The absurdity of a $20.00 order was apparently lost on the referee who issued the decision and a judge who subsequently reviewed the decision.  The decision indicates that New York child support law was, quite simply, ignored by the Family Court.

The Appellate Division issued its own, quite different order, directing that: (a) the father pay for the subject child's orthodontic expenses directly to the treating orthodontist in the sum of $1,309.00; and (b) directing the Family Court below to enter a new order increasing the father's child support. 

The Appellate Court's decision suggests that the support magistrate and judge who decided the case in Family Court were unaware of the legal standards applicable to child support modification petitions brought to modify child supports order that were not based on an agreement between the parties.  In such instances, the movant need only demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances.   Apparently unaware of that standard, the referee had denied the mother's petition base on an inappropriate legal standard.

The Appellate Division's decision in Braun v. Abenanti suggests that Ms. Braun was a pro se litigant (i.e., she pursued her appeal without representation by an attorney).  Her pro se status only adds to the sense of wonder that this case brings, suggesting that she has an unusual level of strength and fortitude.  Somehow, she rose above a system that dysfunctional and oftentimes demeaning to New York's most powerless residence. I applaud Ms. Braun, as well as the Appellate Division.

Marc Rapaport is a New York divorce attorney with 19 years of experience.  For more information about Mr. Rapaport and his law firm, the Rapaport Law Firm, visit http://www.rapaportlaw.com

Marc Rapaport
February 14, 2013
All Rights Reserved

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Labels: Family Court, Child Support
RAPAPORT LAW FIRM, PLLC.
One Pennsylvania Plaza, Suite 2430, New York, New York 10119
Phone 212.382.1600/Fax 212.382.0920/info@rapaportlaw.com
MARC RAPAPORT IS A NEW YORK DIVORCE ATTORNEY WITH MORE THAN 18 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE. HE IS A CONTRIBUTOR TO NEW YORK MAGAZINE'S "ASK THE EXPERTS" COLUMN, AND HE REGULARLY APPEARS IN THE LOCAL AND NATIONAL MEDIA REGARDING NY DIVORCE AND FAMILY LAW. IF YOU ARE FACING DIVORCE, IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT YOU RETAIN AN EXPERIENCED NY DIVORCE LAWYER. FOR AN APPOINTMENT, CALL THE RAPAPORT LAW FIRM TODAY: (212) 382-1600 or EMAIL MR. RAPAPORT.
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