Check censoredFinding statements made by a father on the memo portion of three child support checks offensive, the Appellate Division, Second Department, found that such violated the mother’s order of protection.

Doing so in its February 3, 2016 decision in Clovis v. Clovis, the Second Department reversed the order of Orange County Family Court Judge Andrew P. Bivona that had dismissed the mother’s petition.

The mother had alleged that the father violated her order of protection by communicating with her by mail. Specifically, instead of making his child support payments through alternate means, the father knowingly and intentionally mailed to her seven checks for child support and that, on three of the checks, he had written offensive remarks in the memo portion. After a hearing, Judge Bivona stated that the memos on three checks “may be offensive,” yet, without explanation, found that the memos did not constitute a violation of the order of protection.

Reversing, the Second Department found that the mother had established by a fair preponderance of the evidence that the father, by mailing the child support checks, willfully violated the order of protection, which expressly prohibited any form of communication by the father with the mother, including the use of mail. The father admitted at the hearing that he had communicated with the mother by mail, despite being aware that the order of protection prohibited such communication. Moreover, under the circumstances of this case and the history between the parties, the statements in the memo portion of the three checks were offensive.

Kelli M. O’Brien, of Goshen, represented the mother. Richard N. Lentino, of Middletown, represented the father. William E. Horwitz, of Ardsley-on-Hudson, served as attorney for the child.