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Divorce Law

Starting a New Business is not a Sufficient Reason to Reduce Child Support under New York Law According to Appellate Court

Under New York law, a court may reduce a parent’s child support obligation if the parent proves that he or she has experienced a substantial change in circumstances warranting a modification of support. Under this standard, loss of employment may constitute a valid basis for lowering child support. However, in order to obtain an order lowering child support, the parent must establish that the loss of employment occurred through no fault of the parent. The parent must also show that he or she has engaged in a diligent effort to find a new job. In other words, a payer of child support does not get rewarded for having purposely or negligently lost their job or for being inactive in finding new employment.

On February 1, 2017, in the case of Addimando v. Huerta, New York’s Appellate Division (Second Department) upheld a decision by the Westchester Family Court (Hon. Rachel Hahn) rejecting a father’s request for an order lowering his child support obligation. The father’s request was based on the reduction of income that he experienced because he chose to start a solo law practice. The Appellate Division upheld Judge Hahn determination that the father’s voluntary decision to start a new business did not constitute a valid basis for lowering child support, particularly because the father did not submit any proof that he had looked for more lucrative career opportunities before opening up his own practice.

New York Parents who are seeking a reduction in their child support obligation should come to court prepared with evidence that the circumstances which resulted in their loss or reduction of income were beyond their control, and that they have diligently tried to obtain comparable employment.


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