Submitted - October 20, 2017
Michael, Hewlett, NY, appellant pro se.
Wei-Fisher, Upper Nyack, NY, respondent pro se.
WILLIAM F. MASTRO, J.P. SHERI S. ROMAN ROBERT J. MILLER
FRANCESCA E. CONNOLLY, JJ.
DECISION & ORDER
by the father from an order of the Family Court, Rockland
County (Rachel E. Tanguay, J.), dated August 19, 2016. The
order denied the father's objections to an order of that
court (Rachelle C. Kaufman, S.M.), dated June 3, 2016, which,
after a hearing, directed him to pay specified sums in child
that the order dated August 19, 2016, is reversed, on the
facts and in the exercise of discretion, without costs or
disbursements, the father's objections are granted, the
order dated June 3, 2016, is vacated, and the matter is
remitted to the Family Court, Rockland County, for a new
determination of the father's child support obligation
following the mother's submission of the required
financial disclosure; and it is further, ORDERED that, in the
interim, the father shall continue to pay basic child support
in the sum of $663 per month.
parties have one child together, born in October 2009. In
2015, the mother filed a paternity petition and a separate
petition seeking child support. An order of filiation was
entered declaring the respondent to be the father of the
child, and the matter was referred to a Support Magistrate to
establish the father's child support obligation.
Following a hearing, the Support Magistrate issued an order
of support dated June 3, 2016, which directed the father to
pay the mother basic monthly child support in the sum of
$663, plus a percentage of certain add-on expenses, and the
sum of $8, 040 in retroactive child support. The father
submitted objections to the order. In an order dated August
19, 2016, the Family Court denied the father's
objections. The father appeals.
father's contention that the Support Magistrate
improperly imputed income to him is without merit. A court
need not rely upon a party's own account of his or her
finances, but may impute income based upon the party's
past income or demonstrated future potential earnings
(see Matter of Decillis v Decillis, 152 A.D.3d 512,
513; Matter of Abruzzo v Jackson, 137 A.D.3d 1017,
1018). "The court may impute income to a party based on
the party's employment history, future earning capacity,
educational background, or money received from friends and
relatives" (Matter of Rohme v Burns, 79 A.D.3d
756, 757; see Family Ct Act §
413[b][iv]). A Support Magistrate is afforded
considerable discretion in determining whether to impute
income to a parent, and great deference should be given to
the Support Magistrate's credibility determinations (see
Matter of Decillis v Decillis, 152 A.D.3d at 513;
Matter of Julianska v Majewski, 78 A.D.3d 1182,
1183). Here, the Support Magistrate properly imputed income
to the father based on his future earning capacity and the
funds he received from his wife to pay his expenses. There is
no basis to reject the Support Magistrate's credibility
determination that, contrary to the father's testimony,
he had access to his wife's bank accounts which were used
to pay the household's expenses.
Family Court Act § 424-a(a) requires that parties to
child support proceedings submit certain required financial
documents, including the party's most recently filed
state and federal income tax returns. When a petitioner fails
without good cause to file the required documents, "the
court may on its own motion or upon application of any party
adjourn such proceeding until such time as the petitioner
files with the court such statements and tax returns"
(Family Ct Act § 424-a[c]). Here, the mother failed
without good cause to submit her most recent tax returns.
Further, her testimony and the financial documents she did
submit did not remedy her failure to make complete financial
disclosure, since the mother's financial disclosure
affidavit contained inconsistencies, her claimed rental
income was unsubstantiated, and her testimony regarding her
income and expenses was determined to be incredible (see
Matter of Dailey v Govan, 136 A.D.3d 1029, 1031;
Matter of Malcolm v Trupiano, 94 A.D.3d 1380, 1381;
Matter of Skrandel v Haese, 2 A.D.3d 1188,
1189-1190; cf Matter of Mata v Nebesnik, 107 A.D.3d
1369, 1370). Accordingly, the Support Magistrate
improvidently exercised her discretion in failing to adjourn
the proceeding until such time as the mother filed the
father's remaining contentions are without merit or are
not properly before this Court.
we remit the matter to the Family Court, Rockland County, for
a new determination of the father's child support
obligation following the ...