Cases & Deals

Jones Day delivers a happy ending for mother and child in long and contentious child support dispute

Clients J. M.

Jim Kirk (SECLIT) recently concluded a successful two and a half-year, extremely contentious child support action. The representation included a full trial before a family court support magistrate, and appeals by the father to both the New York's Family Court and Appellate Division.

The father, represented by counsel, initially denied that he was the child's father.  Then, when DNA testing established his paternity, the father claimed to have been let go from his job in the weeks immediately following the child support action being filed against him. The father also claimed that his new girlfriend had brought a child support action against him in another jurisdiction, with respect to two other children. Efforts to settle the case were unsuccessful and the case proceeded to a three-day trial.

The father (an accountant, MBA, and chief financial officer for a local non-profit) was confronted at trial with evidence, uncovered through discovery, of hundreds of thousands of dollars in undisclosed assets. Jim also uncovered evidence that suggested that the later child support action (brought by the new girlfriend) had not been brought in good faith and that the father continued to live with his girlfriend and his children, while telling the court that he had long ago moved out. At the conclusion of the trial, the support magistrate ruled that the father had not been credible with respect to his finances and employment, and that he had not demonstrated that his other alleged child support obligations had been entered into in good faith. The support magistrate took the unusual step of basing the child support obligation for the father on his earning capacity, rather than his documented actual income.

The father appealed the support magistrate's decision to the Family Court, which affirmed the decision of the magistrate. The father then appealed to New York's Appellate Division. Jim argued the appeal to a five-judge panel on January 31, 2013. Three weeks later, the Appellate Division affirmed the decisions of both lower courts on multiple grounds. See In Re McElhaney v. Okebiyi, 2013 NY Slip Op 01177, 2013 BL 45421 (1st Dep't Feb. 21, 2013).

In Re McElhaney v. Okebiyi, 2013 NY Slip Op 01177, 2013 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 1108, 2013 BL 45421 (1st Dep’t Feb. 21, 2013)