Thursday, April 03, 2014

New Child Support Standards Chart released March 12, 2014

          


         According to the Child Support Standards Chart, [LDSS 4515 (3/14)] released March 12, 2014, prepared by New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, Division of Child Support Enforcement, the 2014 poverty income guideline amount for a single person as reported by the United States Department of Health and Human Services is $11,670 and the 2012 self-support reserve is $15,755. 


          The combined parental income amount is $141,000. It is adjusted every two years (effective January 31st) based on the average annual percent changes to the federal Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers. The Child Support Standards Chart is released each year on or before April 1. The income tables are used to determine the annual child support obligation amount pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 567 of the Laws of 1989.  The chart may be downloaded from
https://www.childsupport.ny.gov/dcse/pdfs/cssa_2014.pdf

[See also    https://www.childsupport.ny.gov/dcse/child_support_standards.html]

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Important New Decisions - December 28, 2013




First Department Holds Parents Who Are Directed to Pay Fees of Attorney Appointed to Represent Child May Raise Defense of Legal Malpractice to Attorney's Claim For Fees.

In Venecia C. v. August V., --- N.Y.S.2d ----, 2013 WL 6325172 (N.Y.A.D. 1 Dept.), the divorced parents had three children, age 17, 14 and 11. In the divorce action, although the parties stipulated to joint custody, it was left to the trial court to direct that plaintiff mother would have primary residential custody in the marital apartment in Manhattan. In 2009, the mother moved for an order allowing her to relocate with the children to Demarest, New Jersey, approximately 12 miles outside Manhattan, and the father responded by moving for a change of custody. The motion court appointed the attorney for the children in this context. On November 22, 2011, the attorney for the children moved for an order directing the father to pay the outstanding fees he owed in the amount of $2,034.60, and for an additional sum covering the cost of making the enforcement application. The attorney for the children stated that the father never objected to any of her bills and had previously paid his 30% share of the fees billed. The motion court granted the motion by the attorney for the children, ordering the father to pay the sum of $2,034.60 for his share of outstanding fees, as well as $1,500 for fees she incurred in making the application. It rejected the argument that the Court's ruling in Mars v. Mars (19 AD3d at 196), gave a parent the right to challenge the fee of an attorney for the child on the ground of malpractice. In any event, it found no factual basis for the malpractice claim.

The Appellate Division, in an opinion by Justice Saxe, held that parents who are directed to pay the fees of the attorney appointed to represent the children may raise the defense of legal malpractice to that attorney's claim for fees. He observed that in Mars v. Mars (19 AD3d at 196), the Court held that a parent may assert legal malpractice as an affirmative defense to a Law Guardian's fee application "to the extent of challenging that portion of the fees attributable to advocacy, as opposed to guardianship." He noted that the ruling was limited by the then-prevailing view that attorneys appointed as law guardians for children in divorce cases often functioned in a role similar to a guardian ad litem, advocating for what they believed to be the best interests of the child, as opposed to what the child desired. The Court reaffirmed the essence of the Mars v. Mars ruling, namely that a parent may assert legal malpractice as an affirmative defense to the fee claim of an attorney for a child. The attorney for the child, no less than the attorneys for the parties, is serving as a professional and must be equally accountable to professional standards. That the children cannot hire and pay for their own attorneys, leaving it to the court to make the necessary appointment, does not alter the applicable standards, or the means by which they may be raised. 

Notwithstanding that the father may have standing to assert such a defense, Justice Saxe agreed with the motion court that the father's accusations here did not establish a prima facie showing of legal malpractice and disciplinary violations. He also found that the father never objected to any of the bills presented by the attorney for the children despite the fact that they were in his possession for a significant amount of time (Pedreira v. Pedreira, 34 AD3d 225 [1st Dept 2006] ). The court therefore acted properly in ordering him to pay the fees under an account stated theory (Shaw v. Silver, 95 AD3d 416, 416 [1st Dept 2010] ).



Second Department Holds Petitioner must Demonstrate Respondent’s Conduct Was Intended to Cause, or Recklessly Created a Risk of Causing, Public Inconvenience, Annoyance, or Alarm.

In Casie v Casie, --- N.Y.S.2d ----, 2013 WL 3813824 (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept.) the Second Department, in an opinion by Judge Skelos, held that to establish the family offense of disorderly conduct, a petitioner must demonstrate that the challenged conduct was intended to cause, or recklessly created a risk of causing, public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm.

On February 15, 2012, the petitioner, Dionne Cassie, filed a family offense petition against her husband, Richard Cassie which alleged that, on February 11, 2012, the parties engaged in a dispute or altercation because the husband had promised that he was going to leave the marital home and had "reneged on his promise." According to the wife, the husband attempted, unsuccessfully, to push her down a flight of stairs, twisted her arm, causing pain, and pushed her against a wall. Based upon this alleged conduct, the wife asserted that the husband had committed the family offenses of, among others, attempted assault, assault in the second or third degree, harassment in the first or second degree, and disorderly conduct. The wife requested an order of protection requiring the husband to stay away from her and the marital home.
At the close of the evidence, the Family Court found that the husband "engaged in the offense of disorderly conduct in the home, in that he fought with [the wife]." The court thereupon issued a two-year order of protection , directing the husband to refrain from various forms of conduct, such as harassment and disorderly conduct.

The Appellate Division reversed in an opinion by Justice Skelos. He observed that in a family offense proceeding, the petitioner has the burden of establishing, by a "fair preponderance of the evidence," that the charged conduct was committed as alleged in the petition. (Family Ct Act § 832). Under the Penal Law, "A person is guilty of disorderly conduct when, with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof: 1. He engages in fighting or in violent, tumultuous or threatening behavior; or 2. He makes unreasonable noise; or 3. In a public place, he uses abusive or obscene language, or makes an obscene gesture;..."(Penal Law § 240.20). Justice Skelos pointed out that critical to a charge of disorderly conduct is a finding that the disruptive statements and behavior were of a public rather than an individual dimension". In that respect, a person may be guilty of disorderly conduct only when the situation extends beyond the exchange between the individual disputants to a point where it becomes a potential or immediate public problem. In assessing whether an act carries public ramifications, relevant factors to consider are the time and place of the episode under scrutiny; the nature and character of the conduct; the number of other people in the vicinity; whether they are drawn to the disturbance and, if so, the nature and number of those attracted; and any other relevant circumstances. The complicating factor in this case, which was a family offense proceeding rather than a criminal action, is that Family Court Act § 812 provides: "For purposes of this article, 'disorderly conduct' includes disorderly conduct not in a public place" (Family Ct Act §812[1] ). The husband contended that, even though the Family Court Act specifies that the conduct need not occur in a public place, the petitioner must nonetheless prove either an intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm, or the reckless creation of a risk thereof.

Justice Skelos pointed out that the First and Fourth Departments had held, albeit summarily, that lack of proof of an intent to cause, or reckless creation of a risk of causing, public ramifications, required dismissal of those branches of family offense petitions that charged the respondent with disorderly conduct. Matter of Janice M. v. Terrance J. ,96 A.D.3d 482, 945 N.Y.S.2d 693 (1st Dept); Matter of Brazie v. Zenisek, 99 A.D.3d 1258, 951 N.Y.S.2d 458(4th Dept). Here, the Court now held that even where the conduct at issue is alleged to have occurred in a private residence, in order for a petitioner to meet his or her burden of establishing the family offense of disorderly conduct, there must be a prima facie showing that the conduct was either intended to cause, or recklessly created a risk of causing, public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm. The intent to cause, or recklessness in causing, public harm, is the mens rea of the offense of disorderly conduct. The plain language of the provision of Family Court Act § 812, in contrast, provides only that the conduct need not occur in a public place. The plain language of Family Court Act § 812 therefore pertains only to the actus reus of the offense-specifically, the place where it is committed-and does not speak to the mens rea of the offense. Indeed, since Family Court Act § 812 does not specify an alternative culpable mental state, if the mens rea provided for in the Penal Law were not applicable in family offense proceedings, it is unclear what the mens rea of this family offense would be.

The Court held that that the wife was required to prove that the husband's conduct was committed with the intent to cause, or recklessly posed a risk of causing, public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm. The wife did not sustain that burden. Accordingly, the order of protection was reversed, on the facts, the petition was denied, and the proceeding is dismissed.

2013 New York Legislature Enacts Laws Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence

The 2013 New York Legislature amended  Domestic Relations Law, the Family Court Act and the Criminal Procedure Law, to protect victims of domestic abuse by recognizing, as family offenses, some forms of economic abuse perpetrated against victims by their abusers. 

Family Court Act, §812 (1), Family Court Act § 821 (1) (a), Criminal Procedure Law § 530.11, were amended to add as family offenses, identity theft in the first degree, identity theft in the second degree and identity theft in the third degree (Penal Law §190.80, §190.79 and §190.38), grand larceny in the third degree and grand larceny in the forth degree ( Penal Law §155.35 and §155 30), and coercion in the second degree (Penal Law § 135.60, subdivisions one, two and three.) Laws of 2013, Ch 526, effective December 18, 2013. See NY Legis Memo 526 (2013)


Domestic Relations Law § 240 (3) (a), Domestic Relations Law § 252, Family Court Act § 446, Family Court Act § 551, Family Court Act § 656, Family Court Act § 842, Family Court Act § 1056, and Criminal Procedure Law § 530.12 were amended to provide that an order of protection may require the petitioner or respondent to promptly return specified identification documents to the protected party, in whose favor the order of protection or temporary order of protection is issued. "Identification document" means any of the following exclusively in the name of the protected party: birth certificate, passport, social security card, health insurance or other benefits card, a card or document used to access bank, credit or other financial accounts or records, tax returns, any driver's license, and immigration documents including but not limited to a United States permanent resident card and employment authorization document. Upon motion and after notice and an opportunity to be heard, "Identification document" means any of the following, including those that may reflect joint use or ownership, that the court determines are necessary and are appropriately transferred to the protected party: any card or document used to access bank, credit or other financial accounts or records, tax returns, and any other identifying cards and documents. The order may include any appropriate provision designed to ensure that any such document is available for use as evidence in the proceeding, and available if necessary for legitimate use by the party against whom the order is issued; and specify the manner in which such return shall be accomplished. Laws of 2013, Ch 526, effective December 18, 2013. See NY Legis Memo 526 (2013)

The 2013 legislature amended the domestic relations law, the family court act and the criminal procedure law to protect victims of domestic violence from being charged with and prosecuted for violating their own order of protection.

Among other statutes amended Domestic Relations Law § 240, (3) (b) was amended and a new paragraph i was added. Domestic Relations Law §252 (2) was amended and a new subdivision 9-a was added. The amendments make it clear that victims cannot be prosecuted for violating orders of protection issued in their favor, and are intended to clarify that the protected party in whose favor the order of protection or temporary order of protection is issued may not be held to violate an order issued in his or her favor and that such protected party may not be arrested for violating such an order. The amendments require a notice in orders of protection that make it clear that the order of protection will remain in effect even if the protected party has, or consents to have, contact or communication with the restrained party and that the protected party cannot be held to violate an order issued in his/her favor nor can such party be arrested for violating such an order. The amendments were enacted November 13, 2013 and apply to all orders of protection regardless of when such orders were issued, except for sections of the law that require the addition of a notice on the order of protection, which sections are effective on January 12, 2013, and shall apply to orders issued on or after such effective date. Laws of 2013, Ch 480, effective November 13, 2013.


2013 New York Legislation Restricts Parental Rights of Sexual Perpetrators When a Child Is Born as a Result of Sexual Offenses.

Domestic Relations Law 240 (1-c) was amended to provide that there shall be a rebuttable presumption that it is not in the best interests of the child to be placed in the custody of or to visit with a person who has been convicted (in this state or in another jurisdiction) of one or more of the following sexual offenses, when a child who is subject of the proceeding was conceived as a result: rape in the first or second degree; course of sexual conduct against a child in the first degree; predatory sexual assault; or predatory sexual assault against a child. Laws of 2013, Ch 371, §1, effective immediately.



Domestic Relations Law 111-a (1) was amended to provide that a person who has been convicted (in this state or in another jurisdiction) of rape in the first or second degree; course of sexual conduct against a child in the first degree; predatory sexual assault; or predatory sexual assault against a child shall not be entitled to receive notice of adoption proceedings, when the child subject to these proceedings was conceived as the result of the sexual offenses committed. Laws of 2013, Ch 371, §2, effective immediately.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Second Department Clarifies CPLR 2215 Rule Regarding Cross Motions

In Fried v. Holding, 2011-00620, NYLJ 1202614927053, at *1 (App. Div., 2nd, Decided August 7, 2013) Justice Balkin, in an opinion for the court clarified the rules with regard to the service of a notice of cross motion. She pointed out that before 1981, CPLR 2215 ("Relief demanded by other than moving party") said: "At least three days prior to the time at which the motion is noticed to be heard, a party may serve upon the moving party a notice demanding relief, with or without supporting papers. Relief in the alternative or of several different types may be demanded; relief need not be responsive to that demanded by the moving party."

This vaguely worded provision caused uncertainty about what, exactly, was "a notice demanding relief." The Judicial Conference and the Chief Administrator proposed a solution, namely, the insertion of the phrase "of cross-motion" into the first sentence of CPLR 2215, so that it would say: "[a]t least three days prior to the time at which the motion is noticed to be heard, a party may serve upon the moving party a notice of cross-motion demanding relief, with or without supporting papers." A memorandum submitted in support of the statutory amendment indicated that the proposed amendment was "strictly intended to clarify the obligations of a cross-movant [and] is not intended to place any restriction on the court's powers to grant affirmative relief" (Mem. Office of Court Admin., McKinney's Session Laws 1980, at 1965). The Legislature adopted the change (see L 1980, ch 132). Despite the hope and intent to clarify the "obligations" of a cross movant, the Memorandum itself led to some confusion over whether a notice of cross motion is mandatory 3. Precedent on the issue has not been consistent (see Weinstein-Korn-Miller, NY Civ Prac CPLR ¶2215.01 at 22-89).

Justice Balkin concluded that given the language of CPLR 2215, and the contexts in which it is applicable, the most reasonable interpretation of the statute is that a party seeking relief in connection with another party's motion is, as a general rule, required to do so by way of a cross motion, at least to have a right that the request be determined on the merits. Otherwise, a party who seeks relief by way of a notice of cross motion would be in a position less favorable than that of a party who merely makes the request without a notice of cross motion: the party who makes a formal cross motion would be required to comply with the notice and service requirements and deadlines imposed by the statute, but a party seeking relief merely by requesting it would enjoy greater flexibility. Nonetheless, courts retain discretion to entertain requests for affirmative relief that do not meet the requirements of CPLR 2215. Litigants, however, must be cognizant of an important distinction between the two situations: a party in compliance with CPLR 2215 is entitled to have its cross motion considered; a party not in compliance with the statute must hope that the court opts, in the exercise of its discretion, to entertain the request. Thus, the Second Department was in agreement with the Appellate Division, Third Department, who, in Fox Wander W. Neighborhood Assn. v. Luther Forest Community Assn. (178 AD2d at 872), held that, even in the absence of an explicit notice of cross motion, the Supreme Court is not "prohibited" from entertaining the nonmoving party's request for relief.

Justice Balkin emphasized that as with most matters addressed to a court's discretion, more than one factor is relevant, including the need to encourage careful, forthright practice. Other relevant factors include the interrelatedness of the relief requested by the nonmoving party and the relief requested in the main motion, the prominence in the opposition papers of the affirmative request for relief and the movant's opportunity to address that request, and the interest of judicial economy. Another consideration for careful practitioners is the availability of appellate review. A request for relief made in the absence of a notice of cross motion is not a "motion made upon notice", so an order granting or denying the request is not appealable as of right, and permission to appeal is necessary. By contrast, generally, a party may appeal as of right to challenge the disposition of a motion or cross motion made on notice.

http://www.newyorklawjournal.com/CaseDecisionNY.jsp?id=1202614927053

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Uniform Rules Amended to Encourage Court Conferences By Telephone

The Uniform Civil Rules for the Supreme Court and the County Court, were amended by adding a new section 202.10, relating to appearances at conferences, to provide that any party may request to appear at a conference by telephonic or other electronic means. It appears that “other electronic means” refers to video conference or computer video services such as “skype”. The rule encourages the court to grant the request where “feasible and appropriate”. See NYS Register/June 19, 2013 Court Notices, 80