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Family Court Restrained From Holding Husband in Contempt for Non-payment of Spousal Maintenance

divorce2-150x150Mr. and Mrs. Vandyke were married for thirty-five years. The marriage ended in 2007. Mr. Vandyke was supposed to pay his wife $400.00 in spousal maintenance (alimony) per week until she reached the age of sixty-two.

Mr. Vandyke failed to make his spousal maintenance payments. A hearing was held before Supreme Magistrate Rika Murray in the Family Court of Albany County. Court Magistrate Murray found that Mr. Vandyke had willfully violated his financial obligations to pay spousal maintenance to his wife. The Support Magistrate found that he was $11,774 in arrears.

Mr. Vandyke Appeals the Support Magistrate’s Decision to Family Court Judge Ducan

Judge Ducan reviewed the decision of Support Magistrate Rika Murray. He found that a party should not be held in contempt for failing to make spousal maintenance payments on a timely basis unless there were no other “less drastic” means of collecting this debt. He therefore refused to confirm the Support Magistrate’s finding that Kenneth G. Vandyke willfully failed to pay his maintenance payments.

In his decision, Judge Ducan compared and contrasted the procedures concerning the enforcement of spousal maintenance in the Family Court and the Supreme Court. Judge Ducan found that in the Supreme Court, a party cannot be held in contempt unless the court concludes that there are no other remedies available to collect this debt. He stated, “Family Court cannot be granted any jurisdictional authority that is not available to the Supreme Court, because Supreme Court has plenary jurisdiction over all causes of action”. Judge Ducan stated that before a court could determine that a party should be held in contempt, it must look into whether there are alternatives, such as giving security or enforcing the judgment by income execution or income deduction audit.

Rules For Contempt

Judge Ducan’s decision indicates that the Family Court should be covered by the same rules regarding contempt as the Supreme Court. He remanded the case for further consideration. This is a victory for fathers’ rights.

Long Island, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens Father’s Rights Lawyers

Our law office has been representing fathers and protecting their rights for three decades. We litigate all aspects of divorce proceedings. We deal with equitable distribution of assets, spousal maintenance, child support, paternity, orders of protection, child custody, child visitation, child abuse and child neglect cases. When our clients lose their jobs, we bring downward modification of support proceedings. When either of the parents need to relocate, we deal with relocation issues related to child custody.

We also represent fathers concerning issues involving parental alienation syndrome. This is where one parent engages in parental alienation of a child by making disparaging comments about the father or criticizing the father in front of the child. Call us for a free consultation at 1-800-344-6431, 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802. Our phones are monitored 24/7.

Paternity by Estoppel: Can This Really Happen?

support-150x150Paternity by Estoppel is a legal doctrine that is now accepted by the New York State Court of Appeals.  This doctrine holds that a man can be required to pay child support for a child if it is proven beyond any doubt that he is NOT the biological father of this child.

In the matter of Shondel v. Mark D., the New York State Court of Appeals held as follows:

“In this child support proceeding, we hold that a man who has mistakenly represented himself as a child’s father may be estopped from denying paternity, and made to pay child support, when the child justifiably relied on the man’s representation of paternity, to the child’s detriment.  We reached this conclusion based on the best interest of the child as set forth by the legislature.”

In the aforementioned case, the father of the child had seen the child approximately four times during the child’s life.  However, he had held himself out to be the child’s father.  He had provided the child with financial support.  He had also signed an affidavit authorizing the child to use his name.

The New York State of Appeals rendered a decision that this man’s actions caused the child to justifiably rely on these representations that he was the child’s father.  The court further reasoned that it was now in the child’s best interest to prevent the father from denying the paternity, even though the DNA proved beyond question that this man was not the child’s father. Therefore, this man was forced to continue to pay child support for a child that was not his.

Paternity by Estoppel

This case and subsequent cases should be a warning to all men.  If you are not absolutely certain you are the father of a child, you should demand a DNA paternity test.  You should not sign an acknowledgment of paternity unless you are absolutely sure you are the father of the child.

If you undertake to provide support for a child, visit with a child or hold yourself out as being the father of a child, should you later find that you are not the biological father of the child, you will be estopped (prevented) from making this argument in court.


Mens’ Rights/Fathers’ Rights Attorneys

Men need advocates in court.  Both fathers and men who find themselves in the Family Court and/or the Supreme Court sometimes run into a hornets’ nest.  The system, in many situations, favors mothers and women.

The Fathers’ Rights defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo litigate issues involving paternity, child support, spousal maintenance (alimony), visitation rights, relocation issues, as well as Orders of Protection and child abuse and child neglect allegations.   We handle all aspects of representing fathers concerning their rights and responsibilities in divorces, equitable distribution of their assets and issues involving parental alienation.  We negotiate separation agreements and we try to amicably resolve our cases whenever it is possible.  Feel free to call us at 1-800-344-6431; 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802.

Murder for Hire – Not a Good Way to End a Marriage

Susan Williams of Garden City, New York, was recently sentenced by Nassau County judge Norman St. George to serve 8 to 25 years in prison for hiring a hit man to murder her husband.


Divorce by Murder

Judge St. George stated, “She wanted a divorce by murder.” He further stated upon sentencing that “The court will show the same leniency to the defendant that she afforded to her husband.”

Susan Williams hired a hit man to kill her husband, Peter Williams. She was having marital difficulties with her husband. Instead of getting a divorce, she decided to murder him and collect his life insurance.

Unfortunately for Susan Williams, the man she hired and gave a five-hundred dollar deposit on a twenty thousand dollar murder-for-hire arrangement was an undercover police officer. This was her way of short cutting the divorce process.

One Million Dollar Life Insurance Policy

Ms. Williams had forged her husband’s signature to a one million dollar life insurance policy in 2009. At the time of her sentencing, her children begged the court for mercy for their mother. On a surveillance video tape, Ms. Susan Williams passed on several chances to let her husband live. She stated on the video tape, “I would do it myself if I could.” The Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said Williams should have thought about her children when she planned to murder their father. Kathleen Rice stated, “She knew what she was doing was going to destroy their lives, and she did it anyway.” Kathleen Rice further stated, after Williams was sentenced, “The tears she’s crying now are for herself.”

New York Divorce Attorneys

rights-150x150A divorce in New York is not so difficult to accomplish. For more than thirty-three years, our law office has been assisting our clients in obtaining divorces. We represent our clients and help them obtain spousal maintenance (alimony) and child support for their children. We help fathers and mothers in issues involving child custody and visitation. We litigate fathers’ rights issues involving orders of protection concerning Child Protective Services (CPS) and the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). We are available to represent our clients concerning issues involving paternity and child abuse. Should you have questions, feel free to contact us at 1-800-344-6431, 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802.

Task Force Created to Investigate Family Courts

FamilyCourt-150x150Steven P. Younger, Esq., the president of the New York State Bar Association, has recently formed a task force to look into the numerous problems and difficulties facing the Family Courts in the state of New York.

President Younger has put together individuals with expertise in diverse areas for the purpose of conducting a study as to how to deal with current and future difficulties facing the Family Courts. The Family Court Task Force will examine numerous issues for the purpose of coming up with solutions as to how to improve the operation of the Family Courts in New York. The following is a list of some of the issues that will be explored by this new task force:

1. Are additional resources required for the Family Court? If so, what resources?

2. How can the staff in the Family Court be best utilized?

3. Are there new technologies and/or efficiencies in the market place that will assist the Family Court?

4. What can be done to improve the level of service provided by the Family Court for the individuals who appear in these courts?

President Younger stated, “There may be no place where shaping the future and restoring confidence in our governmental institutions comes together as clearly as in our Family Court system. To thousands of New Yorkers, Family Courts are the face of our legal system; but, unfortunately, with over-crowded dockets, too few judges, and far too many delays, these courts resemble hospital emergency rooms and our family law attorneys are forced to perform triage.”

The Family Courts deal with “bread and butter” family issues. Child support, child abuse and domestic violence are the types of cases the Family Courts see every day. There were 4,000 filings for every judge sitting in the Family Courts in New York State.

How can one person handle so many cases in a year? The area of the state with the greatest problems presented in the Family Court lies within the city of New York. There have been no new judgeships created in the city of New York since 1991. Since then, the amount of filings in the Family Court have gone from 206,000 to 253,000. In a state-wide basis, there were more than 750,000 Family Court proceedings brought last year.

We don’t need a commission to determine what’s wrong with the Family Courts. We need more judges and more personnel. The state needs to spend more money dealing with family issues.

The Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo

Our law firm represents men, women and children regarding matrimonial and family issues in the Family Courts and the Supreme Courts in New York State. We protect mothers’ rights, fathers’ rights and families’ rights. We handle divorce, custody, paternity and equitable distribution issues. If you have questions on these issues, feel free to contact us for a free consultation at 1-800-344-6431, 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802.

Judge Bars Wife From Home

fathers-150x150Judge Bruno, a Supreme Court Justice sitting in Nassau County, has given a father exclusive occupancy of the marital residence. In New York, a judge can give one spouse exclusive use and occupancy of the marital residence during the pendency of a divorce case. In this case, the court found that the mother’s occupancy in the house caused “domestic strife” and that removing her from the house was necessary to protect the children and father.In this case, the wife had numerous unexplained absences for periods of time. Although she claimed she was in alcohol treatment programs, this could not be verified. Judge Bruno ruled “based on the lengthy periods of time the defendant was living in an alternate residence, which was not necessary for her alcohol related problems, this court finds such a time away from the martial residence to be voluntary on the part of the defendant.” Judge Bruno further stated, “as part of the foregoing, it is not necessary for this court to opine upon whether the time period defendant was absent from the marital residence for alcohol related therapy was considered voluntary”.Counsel for the wife claimed that she was only out of the house due to participating in therapy programs related to her alcoholic condition. Judge Bruno did not buy this argument. The father was given the custody of his children and the mother received visitation with the children.

Fathers’ Rights

Fathers have equal rights to live in their homes. It is common for women in divorce situations to bring applications for orders of protection to throw fathers out of the house for the purpose of obtaining exclusive occupancy of the household. This puts fathers in a very difficult position when arguing for custody of their children.

Mothers sometimes are also involved in parental alienation. They try to turn the children against their fathers. The bad-mouthing of the father to the children can create parental alienation syndrome in the children.

Fathers need to be protected. At the Law Office of Schlissel DeCorpo, we have been protecting fathers for in excess of thirty years. Should you have issues involving divorce, orders of protection, child custody, visitation, paternity, parental alienation or parental alienation syndrome, call us at 1-800-344-6431 or contact us by email. We can help you!

Joinder of Custody Claims and Post-divorce Claims Denied

childJustice Falanga, a Supreme Court Justice sitting in Nassau County, recently rendered an unusual decision in a post-matrimonial lawsuit. The parties had been married and the marriage had ended in divorce. In a post-judgement proceeding, the wife asked the court to hold the husband in contempt for his refusal to pay college expenses for the couples’ minor children.

The husband brought a counter-suit against the wife requesting that his obligations to pay child support for his older children be terminated. The husband, in his lawsuit, argued that the children constructively emancipated themselves (this means the children were independent and either no longer in the wife’s household or they were self-supporting).

The court ruled that the joinder of this two actions would cause “an inordinate delay of the adjudication of the wife’s post-judgement divorce enforcement application for college expenses”. Judge Falanga felt that this would be detrimental to the children. He stated in his decision, “children need to eat everyday”. The judge decided that the husband was obligated to fulfill his obligations for child support. The judge held that decision in the divorce were valid unless there was a further order setting it aside.

The court denied the husbands request to join the two issues. The judge’s decision stated the issue of the older children’s emancipation did not share common questions of law and fact with the wife’s application for payments of college expenses.

When life situations change, it is common for the non-custodial spouse to bring an application for reduction of child support.

Our office has been handling fathers rights case involving divorce, child custody, child support, support modification proceedings, orders of protection and paternity for more than 30 years. Call us at 1-800-344-6431 or contact us by email if you need legal assistance.

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