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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Law Image February 05, 2013

TOUGH LUCK REDUX: DECISION BY SECOND DEPARTMENT OVERTURNS TRIAL COURT AND REJECTS DOWNWARD MODIFICATION FOR FATHER WHO LOST HIS BUSINESS


Posted by Marc Rapaport

Although 2013 has barely begun, there are clear signs that this will not be a good year for New York fathers trying to lower their child support obligations.   Last week, I discussed a recent decision issued by New York's Fourth Department that rejected a father's request for downward modification of child support based on his loss of employment.  The Fourth Department upheld the trial court's determination that reduction of support was unwarranted because the father was responsible for his loss of employment and there was insufficient evidence of the father's efforts to find a new job.

Now, the Second Department has issued a strikingly similar decision. In Anderson v. Anderson, 2013 NY Slip Op 0030 (2nd Dept. 2013), the Appellate Division reversed the Suffolk County Supreme Court's decision granting downward modification.  The Second Department's reversal is notable for at least two reasons.  First, instances in which appellate courts reverse trial court child support decisions are relatively uncommon.  Second, the decision is yet further proof that New York's appellate courts view downward modification motions with considerable skepticism. 

At the outset of its decision in Anderson, the Second Department recites the onerous burden that New York law imposes upon a child support obligor who requests reduction of a support obligation that is the product of a settlement agreement.   He must prove "a substantial and unanticipated change in circumstances" since the entry of the child support decree. The Second Department also refers to the principal that an obligor's self-inflicted financial difficulties are generally not a legitimate basis for reduction of child support.


As is typical of appellate decisions, the decision in Anderson provides only an abbreviated version of the underlying facts.  According to the decision, the obligor-father's modification motion was based on the closure of his business, which, in turn, was the result of a federal criminal investigation.  The court also notes that the record was devoid of any proof that the obligor-father had endeavored to find a new job.

Clearly, the obligor-father in Anderson came to court with some unsavory baggage.  The Second Department's decision gives no hint as to what led the lower court to look favorably upon the modification motion.  However, the decision makes it crystal clear that any motion seeking a reduction of child support will be subjected to a high level of scrutiny in New York.


By: Marc A. Rapaport

http://www.rapaportlaw.com

All Rights Reserved.


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Labels: Downward Modification, 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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