In a May 8, 2013 decision in Mejia v. Mejia, the Appellate Division, Second Department, modified a divorce judgment’s provisions concerning the cap on combined parental income, the disposition of the marital residence, college expenses for three children ages 14, 10 and 6, and judgment inconsistencies with the underlying decision and judgment  formalities.

After the parties separated, they each petitioned the Family Court for custody of the children. The parties consented that they share joint legal custody, and that the father have primary physical custody.

After a non-jury trial on certain financial issues, the Family Court considered the first $200,000 of combined parental income in determining child support, based upon, among other things, “the economic reality of life in Rockland County,” and a determination that the gross income of the mother was substantially less than that of the father. The mother’s pro rata share of the basic child support obligation was 37% of 29% of the first $200,00 of combined parent income was fixed at $1,789 per month in the 2011 Family Court order.

The marital residence, titled in the parties’ joint names, was awarded to the father and the children, based upon the father’s claim that there was no equity in the house. The court further concluded in its decision that the father should maintain health insurance for the children, and that the mother should pay 37% of the college expenses of the children.

The Second Department lowered to $150,000 the applied cap on combined parental income, “considering the substantial difference between the parties’ income, the fact that the [mother] has less income than the [father], and the amount of parenting time awarded to the [mother].” Calculated on that basis, the mother’s pro rata share of the child support obligation was $1,341 per month.

Continue Reading The Second Department Rules on Child Support Parental Income Cap, Transfer of the Marital Residence, and Judgment Formalities

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August 1, 2011 update: For a report on the status of the use of this form, I pass on a communication received from Bruce J. Wagner, Esq., Chair, NYSBA Family Law Section: Please click www.nysba.org/OCAMemoReUCS111A2 to view the memo dated July 28, 2011 from Susan W. Kaufman, Esq., Counsel to OCA’s Matrimonial Practice Advisory Committee, with an important update on UCS Form 111A, pertaining to Erie, Kings, New York and Onondaga Counties.

 

Original Blog:

In order to obtain a Judgment of Divorce in New York (Manhattan) and some other counties, effective April 1, 2011 (see Notice [pdf]), a new form is required to be submitted along with the proposed Judgment, Findings, and other papers.

That form, UCS-111A (pdf), replaces the UCS-111 (pdf) in some counties.  The form, itself, lists its applicability in Albany, Bronx, Erie, Jefferson, Kings, Nassau, New York, Onondaga, and Westchester Counties for each final order granted pursuant to Article 4 (support) or 5 (paternity) of the Family Court Act and in matrimonial actions under D.R.L. §§236B (property, support and special relief), 240 (custody and child support) and 246 (inability to comply with financial orders).  The older UCS-111 continues to be used in other counties.

The Unified Court System is required by law to collect various data concerning divorce proceedings. The form, itself, notes its basis under Judiciary Law §216 which provides at subd. 4:

The chief administrator of the courts shall collect data in relation to the number of cases in which the basic child support obligation, as defined in section two hundred forty of the domestic relations law and section four hundred thirteen of the family court act, was ordered; the number of cases in which the order deviated from such basic child support obligation and the reasons therefor; the incomes of the parties; the number of children, and the amount of child support awarded pursuant to the child support standards act; and amounts of alimony or maintenance, or allocations of property included in orders or judgments that include a provision for child support pursuant to the child support standards act . . .

It is noted that section 216(4) is scheduled to expires and be repealed pursuant to its own terms on September 1, 2011 (Laws of 1985, chapter 505, §5).

The confidential form does gather information which the parties to any divorce action should know before entering a settlement stipulation.  Thus, for example, the form asks for the occupation, annual income and health status of both spouses, the value of property divided and not divided, the amount of financial obligations outside of the divorce awards, the financial details and disposition of the marital home, and information concerning the division of professional degrees and licenses.  Awards of maintenance and child support are also detailed.

The form is reminiscent of public school standardized tests, with instructions to completely fill in the provided circles. In New York County, the forms are available in the Matrimonial Support Office, Room 311 at 60 Centre Street.

Only original forms UCS-111A may be used.  Each form has an individual serial number.

Reciting the requested information in the settlement would show that its terms were more knowingly entered.  The recitation should also facilitate post-judgment modification and enforcement litigation.

Indeed, the form should be completed, signed or otherwise acknowledged by the parties and appended to or referenced by settlement stipulation.  It certainly should not be left to counsel for one party to complete the form without using an agreed-upon statement of facts.