Child Support Award of 50% AGI Upheld

The case is Cilento v. Cilento, and the appellate court upheld the matrimonial settlement agreement against the defendant/husband’s objection.

In relevant part, the settlement agreement stipulated that the husband/father’s income was $90,000 per year, and that he would pay $4,000 per month in child support until the youngest child was emancipated. That works out to a whopping $48,000 per year child support obligation. Now, it’s probably the case that there were significantly more resources available to the husband/father in this case. However, if he has a $90k income we can run calculations to maximize his child support obligation under the cap – which would top out around $26k per year if the other parent earns enough to hit the cap (his obligation actually increases and decreases simultaneously when the other parent earns income – first it increases because the total support obligation to the child increases, second it decreases because the other parent’s income increases and the first parent’s share decreases).

The appellate court held that stipulations are favored and not lightly set aside – therefore a stipulation that is fair on its face will be enforced according to its terms absent proof of fraud, duress, overreaching, or unconscionability. The husband claimed this agreement was unconscionable – which requires showing a lack of meaningful choice on the part of one of the parties, and unreasonably unfavorable terms in favor of one party.

The appellate court disagreed, and reasoned that the parties had agreed to forego many other options during the divorce process (maintenance, equity interests in their respective businesses, marital home) and that the husband had retained the mediating attorney in the past specifically because that attorney spoke Italian and could explain things to the husband.

Owner of the Law Office of Bryan Greenberg, PLLC

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