Tuesday, April 10, 2012

In Arrears

An attorney who has failed to pay child support has been suspended by the New York Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department:

...the Superior Court of Puerto Rico issued an order finding that respondent had failed to make child support payments for over 36 months and was $90,897.84 in arrears. Based on New York Domestic Relations Law § 244-c, which provides for the suspension of a professional license if the bearer of such license has arrears in child support obligations amounting to four months or more, the Superior Court referred the matter to the Third Judicial Department, where respondent was admitted. The Third Department forwarded the order to this Court, based on the fact that respondent maintains an office in this Department. This Court, in turn, referred the matter to the Committee, which commenced a proceeding pursuant to Judiciary Law § 90(2-a).

In accordance with Judiciary Law § 90(2-a), the Committee, in September 2011, served respondent with a notice of hearing, informing respondent that a Hearing Panel would convene on October 5, 2011 solely to consider whether proof existed that respondent had made full payment of all arrears owed. Respondent was further advised that he could appear in person or by counsel to present such proof, which must be in the form of a certified check showing full payment of the established arrears, or a notice issued by the support collection unit designed by the appropriate social services agency stating that full payment of all support arrears had been made.

A few days prior to the hearing, respondent submitted a purported "Motion to Dismiss and Terminate Proceedings", arguing, among other things, various due process violations, that there was no proper referral under Domestic Relations Law § 244-c because the order at issue was submitted by a private party, and attacked the authenticity of the Superior Court's order. Respondent also claimed that he was not domiciled in Puerto Rico but was admitted as a resident of New York City's Department of Homeless Services, and was receiving public assistance as of July/August 2011. The motion to dismiss did not include any proof of any payment of child support arrearages.

The suspension will remain in effect until the court is satisfied that the arrearages have been paid in full and until further court order. (Mike Frisch)

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