Wilful Violation of Support Order Can Be Established Without Testimony by a Formal Judicial Admission
In Matter of Columbia County Support Collection Unit v Interdonato, --- N.Y.S.2d ----, 2008 WL 1969647 (N.Y.A.D. 3 Dept.) the Appellate Division rejected Respondents argument on appeal that Family Court erred in finding a willful violation of the support orders and ordering that he be committed based on unsworn testimony. It held that it is well settled that when there is no admission by a respondent, a determination of a willful violation of a support order must be predicated upon proof adduced at a hearing. A formal judicial admission by a respondent may, however, obviate the need for a hearing inasmuch as the respondent, by his or her admission, waives the production of evidence by the opposing party with regard to the facts admitted and the respondent's admission is deemed conclusive with regard to those facts. Here, respondent's unequivocal admission before the Support Magistrate in open court to the facts giving rise to petitioner's claim of respondent's violation of Family Court's orders, that he failed to make the required child support payments, was made with sufficient formality and conclusiveness to be deemed a formal judicial admission even in the absence of an oath. Furthermore, proof of a failure to make required support payments is prima facie evidence of a willful violation. Accordingly, Family Court's order was not based upon unsworn testimony, but was properly made following respondent's admission and, as such, it was affirmed.