Emancipation v. Child Support: Who Decides?

For some parents, a difficult relationship with their child translates to refusal by the child to exercise parenting time with that adult. Is it okay to refuse to pay child support if your child refuses to see you?

The quick answer is no, you may not ignore an order to pay child support until a court terminates your obligation. Before that, a court explores the circumstances of the refusal by the child under the doctrine of constructive emancipation.

In a 2009 case appealed from Nassau County and entitled Gold v. Fisher, the Appellate Division, Second Department held the following in response to a request by a father to terminate his child support obligation because his daughter refused to see him:

  • [A] child of employable age who actively abandons the noncustodial parent by refusing all contact and visitation may forfeit any entitlement to support
  • In contrast, where it is the parent who causes a breakdown in communication with his child, or has made no serious effort to contact the child and exercise his visitation rights, the child will not be deemed to have abandoned the parent

In this case, the court found credibility in reasoning provided by the daughter for the estrangement with her father and affirmed the order of the lower court that child support orders remain in place.

Essential concerns of constructive emancipation include whether the child is of employable age and what reasons exist for the rejection of the parent by the child.

New York expects both parents to contribute to the health and welfare of their children until of age. If you have questions about child support, speak with an experienced attorney at Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C.

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