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Case Status Updates: Final Order of Support Entered in Queens County Family Court

Final Order of Child Support: Earlier this week, Attorney Shaffer successfully obtained a Final Order of Support from the Support Magistrate at the Queens County Family Court. Our client, (hereinafter, "X"), and his ex-wife, (hereinafter, "Y"), were initially divorced in 2008.

The divorce decree awarded primary physical custody of the couple's 2 daughters to Y with liberal visitation rights to X and ordered X to pay monthly child support. After falling on hard times, Y asked X to takeover as the primary custodial parent of the 2 girls. X was happy to oblige but informed Y that they needed to go back to court to modify the existing orders.

At the first Court hearing, Y changed her mind and told the Judge that she was not willing to give up physical custody of her daughters, as often happens when a mother faces the reality of losing unfettered access to her children. The main problem was, Y did not have a place for the 2 girls to sleep, as she shared a one-bedroom apartment with another female and was told by the landlord that the girls had to go. In addition, Y's life was in shambles and she needed to get her act together and find a job. Y was appointed an attorney and the case was adjourned to another date.

Attorney Shaffer explained the reality of the situation to Y's attorney, who was able to convince his client to agree to the change in child custody as it was in the best interests of her daughters (who at this point were happily living with Dad for almost a year). Accordingly, the Judge incorporated the settlement agreement into the Final Order, Modifying the original child custody/ visitation agreement. The new order stated that Dad was the Primary Custodial Parent and Mom had liberal visitation rights.

We still had a problem, however, because a Court Order still existed that required Dad (as the non-custodial parent) to continue to pay over $1,000/mo. to Mom in Child Support. Even though there was a new custody order, a separate petition had to be filed to terminate the existing child support order and then another petition had to be filed to ask the court to enter a new child support order! Court Procedural rules are strict and numerous!

We successfully petitioned to the court to terminate the old child support order based on the fact that Dad was now the custodial parent, and thus by law he should not be paying any money to the non-custodial parent.

In light of the fact that Y would not be required to pay more than the statutory minimum of $25/mo. per child, and to avoid the time and expense of a formal court proceeding, X thought it would be based to enter into a formal written agreement with Y stating that she owed him the minimum to allow her the chance to pay him indirectly, without an income withholding order, and if X needed to go back to court to have the agreement entered on the record, it gave him an easier path by filing a Petition for an Order on Consent, as opposed to a general Petition for Child Support.

The path did prove easier, but both X and Y were still required to provide financial disclosure affidavits and documents to the Support Magistrate before she would enter the final order. Ultimately, it all worked out for the best and there is non a Court Order directing Y to pay X child support in support of their 2 daughters.

An important lesson to be learned here: X's income was significantly higher than Y's so X was never too concerned about collecting money from Y. He only filed in Court for a Child Support Order after Y repeatedly failed to pay him any child support. Both parties to a Child Support Proceeding should always bear in mind that the reason the non-custodial parent should pay his or her fair share of support has nothing to do with the parents, it has to with the children involved. Even if you are a billionaire and do not need the support money, you should still collect and put it to use for your children by starting a savings or a college fund for him or her. Even if the child support is the minimum amount, after 18 years, your child will have a nice college fund waiting for him or her!

**If you have need help with child support/custody/visitation/divorce, contact an experienced family attorney at The Shapiro Law Firm, LLC, for help!**

(*please note that all identification information has been removed in order to protect our clients' privacy and in order to fully comply with attorney advertising rules and regulations*)