In New York State, if parents are divorced or separated, then child support is ordered to be paid by the non-custodial parent of a child to the custodial parent of a child. Recently, a New York Appellate Court overturned a New York Supreme Court decision. The decision hinged on technicalities of who had custody of the child.

A millionaire, the father, appealed the lower court’s decision that would have forced him to pay child support to his son’s mother. The two parties, which were not married, ended their relationship a few years ago.

The two agreed that the mother would have primary custody. However, this was only an “informal agreement,” according to an April 18, 2013 Thomson Reuters News & Insight article. The mother went to court to get “legal and residential custody” of the child in 2009. She also asked for child support payments. In the end, the father obtained custody of the son during the school year and the mother, during the summer.

The reason that the father did not want to pay the mother child support was that he had custody of the child for about 56% of the time. The lower court did not agree with that, saying that the two parents had “parallel custody.” This New York Supreme Court ruling did not stop the millionaire father from appealing the decision. The Appellate Court interpreted New York’s Child Support Standards Act (CSSA) very literally. They determined he had custody of the child and therefore, he did not have to pay child support to the mother, the non-custodial parent, as that is what the law says.

One judge wrote in a dissenting opinion that this decision was too rigid and it took away what was really in the child’s best interest. After all, the mother did have custody for a good portion of the year. This case shows that judges can use the CSSA as it is written even if there is a large income gap between the two parties that would make child support payments practical. The article did not comment on any form of alimony, or spousal maintenance.

If you are considering divorce or if you are seeking child support, then contact the law office Jayson Lutzky for strong and experienced legal representation. Mr. Lutzky has over 30 years of experience practicing law in New York State and offers free in person initial consultations. Call 718-514-6619 to set up an appointment or visit for more information.