Father Denied A Downward Modification Of Child Support And Spousal Maintenance Due To A Settlement Agreement Clause

father's rights lawyerJustice John Colanglo, sitting in a Supreme Court part in Westchester County, recently turned down an application for a downward modification of spousal maintenance and child support. In the case presented to him, the father had moved in a post-judgment matrimonial action to reduce his payments of $250,000 in spousal maintenance and $140,000 in child support per year.

The father took the position the terms of the stipulation of settlement allowed him to make an application for the modification of child support and spousal maintenance payments in the event there was a substantial and adverse change in his financial circumstances.

Fathers Salary Takes A Huge Cut

The father, in this case, was earning $3.3 million per year at the time he entered into the stipulation of settlement. However, his financial circumstances had dramatically changed. In 2011, he only made $250,000. This was through no fault of his. How can he pay $250,000 a year in spousal maintenance payments and a $140,000 a year in child support payments when his gross income was only $250,000 before taking out Federal taxes, New York State taxes, FICA, workman’s compensation, New York State disability and all the other deductions that come out of one’s salary?

The father argued that he was entitled to apply for a downward modification in his support payments. Unfortunately, the court disagreed. The court took the position the agreement only provided a trigger permitting the father to apply for a payment reduction. The court’s position was the agreement did not provide a specific standard which would require a reduction in and support payments.

 Father Has 5.5 Million Dollars In Liquid Assets

The court, in its decision, also noted the father had $5.5 million in liquid assets. Therefore, he would be in the position to continue to make the payments pursuant to the original stipulation of settlement. Even if the payments were “somewhat burdensome it would not create an ‘extreme hardship’. Extreme hardship is the standard for the reduction of child support and spousal maintenance payments in New York State.”  Based on the facts the court did not find there to be an extreme hardship for downward modification of child support and spousal maintenance. The application was denied.father's rights advocate

About Elliot S. Schlissel

Elliot S. Schlissel, Esq. has spent more that 45 years representing individuals in matrimonial and family law cases.