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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 102350
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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Before my daughter was born her father and I, with the help

Customer Question

Before my daughter was born her father and I, with the help of an attorney, put together a "Child Support Contract' stating that $200.00 be paid weekly, with a COLA yearly, providing my daughter a college education, and other such tings. This man, although he signed the contract he has never followed it. He is about $35,000 short not including the COLA, and about $80,00 short with the COLA. My daughter is now 24 years old and has graduated. My question to you is; is the Child Support contract still viable? Can I recoup the money he has owed me during the past 21 years?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Ely replied 11 months ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

I am sorry to hear about this situation. On this website, I do not always get to give good news, and this is one of these times. First of all, courts have serious issues finding such contracts binding. This is because the Court is the proper authority to decide what is "in the best interest of the child," and thus, any such agreement has to be ratified by the court generally to be binding. See MTR OF SHAN F v. FRANCIS F, 88 Misc. 2d 165 - NY: Family Court 1976 for general discussion.

So first, someone in your situation would have to jump that hurdle. It is very hard, and the Court normally tries to void the contract. For example, did you have consideration in your contract? If not, then the contract is void.

Second, even if it is not void, then the court may look at this as a civil contract. If so, it is only enforceable for six years under N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 213(2). So you'd only be able to collect for the last 6 years. In some cases (very few), such contracts have been recognized by the courts as legitimate child support agreements, in which case the statute of limitations reaches back 20 years for anything after 1987. However the problem remains that (1) this may not be valid, and, (2) likely if it is, it can only reach back 6 years.

The courts look at this on a case by case basis. NY does not have a strong precedent for recognizing such contracts and the common law doctrine is NOT to recognize them, so it would be an uphill battle every step of the way.

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Expert:  Ely replied 11 months ago.
Hello again. This is a courtesy check in to see if you needed anything else in regards ***** ***** question because you never responded or replied positively. I am simply touching base. Let me know. Thanks!