The required C.S.S.A. recitation in an oral open-court stipulation by which the parties explain why they have agreed to a child support obligation varying from the presumptive C.S.S.A. formula may not have to be as “precise” as that required in a written stipulation. Such appears to be the holding of the Appellate Division, Second Department, in its January 22, 2014 decision in Rockitter v. Rockitter.

On August 9, 2010, the parties had entered two stipulations to settle their divorce action. A written stipulation covered the parties’ joint custody of their two daughters. The second stipulation was oral, made on the record in open court and concerned child support and equitable distribution. Both stipulations were subsequently incorporated, but not merged, into the parties’ judgment of divorce.

Approximately 18 months later, the ex-wife commenced this action seeking to vacate the child support provisions of the oral support stipulation and the judgment of divorce. The ex-wife alleged that the support stipulation failed to comply the Child Support Standards Act because the parties did not make the required recitation of the reasons they chose to deviate from C.S.S.A. guidelines. Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Norman Janowitz granted the ex-husband’s motion to dismiss the complaint. The Second Department affirmed.

The C.S.S.A. requires that any agreement varying its presumptive child support formula contain specific recitals:

  • (1) that the parties have been made aware of the C.S.S.A.;
  • (2) that they are aware that the guidelines would result in the calculation of the presumptively correct amount of support;
  • (3) that in the event the agreement deviates from the guidelines, it must recite the presumptively correct amount of support that would have been fixed pursuant thereto; and
  • (4) the reason for the deviation.

Continue Reading C.S.S.A. Recitiation Requirements Relaxed for In-Court Child Support Sipulation

The First Department, in its February 19, 2013 decision in David v. Cruz, threw out an entire settlement agreement because of its failure to include  language required by the Child Support Standards Act.

The C.S.S.A. sets out a presumptive formula for the calculation of a parent’s child support obligation.

Parents are free to agree to vary the formula and fix their own base periodic child support obligation. They may also fix the parents’ respective liabilities for addition health care, child care and add-on expenses, if not others. However if they so agree, the parents must recite in their agreement what would have been the results had the presumptive statutory formula been applied.

As noted by the First Department, an agreement purporting to opt out of the presumptive basic child support obligations set forth in the Child Support Standards Act must include a provision stating that the parties have been advised of the provisions of the C.S.S.A., must specify the amount that the basic child support obligation would have been, and must state the reason or reasons for the deviation (Family Court Act § 413 [1] [h]; Domestic Relations Law § 240[1–b][h]). That required recitation may not be waived by either party or by counsel.

Continue Reading Settlement Agreement’s Failure to Include C.S.S.A. Recitation Invalidates Entire Agreement