Westchester County Child Support Proceedings - Willfulness Hearing

In New York State Family Court child support payments are made pursuant to a Court Order. Child support can be made by the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent either directly or through the support collection unit (SCU).

In Westchester County the SCU unit is located in Mount Vernon but in child support court a representative from SCU will be in Court to inform the Court and the parties regarding the status of child support payments from the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent. It is very important that both parties keep track of all child support payments made or received. It is never suggested by any child support lawyer in Westchester County or otherwise that any payments for support be made or received in cash!!

When the noncustodial parent falls behind in child support payments a petition may be submitted accusing the noncustodial parent of violating the child support court order. This petition is very serious since a nonpayment of support by the noncustodial parent can lead to incarceration. Due to the serious nature of this violation it is always recommended to have a family court lawyer in court with you if you are the noncustodial parent or the custodial parent. If the violation of the court order is found to be willful the court must order attorneys fees for the custodial parent.

Recently in the Westchester County Family Court it was found that proof that the respondent (noncustodial parent) Failed to pay court ordered child support is prima facia evidence that the violation of the order was willful shifting the burden to the respondent to offer competent, credible evidence of an inability to pay. Family Court Act section 454(3)(a).

The respondent sustained his burden of demonstrating his financial inability to make payments required by the Child Support Court Order in Westchester County. To sustain his Burden the respondent offered uncontroverted evidence that since losing his position as a security guard in 2004, he has been able to obtain sporadic employment at low wages and he had no savings or other assets.

Under those circumstances it was found that his violation of the Westchester County Child Support Order was not willful.

There is a fine line the Child support court needs to determine when reviewing a petition for failure to pay child support and a child support lawyer is always necessary since the legal issues can be complex.