The case is Matter of Young v Young and concerns the intersection of family and supreme court in a matrimonial proceeding.
The distilled facts are these: the husband filed for divorce in Supreme Court, the wife filed for spousal support in Family Court. The marriage had lasted only a year.
Why did the wife file a separate proceeding in Family Court? Well, to ask for support in the context of the matrimonial case means filing a motion and paying for various court fees – so, I would bet this occurred because Family Court is much more friendly to pro se (laypersons without lawyers) litigants – they have many more court parts and clerks with easier filing forms and so forth. Oh, and it’s also free to file cases in Family Court.
Usually, since the divorce would encompass interim spousal support and maintenance – it makes sense to consolidate the two cases in Supreme Court. For whatever reason, this didn’t occur and the Family Court, as is within its power under the Family Court Act, entertained jurisdiction and issued an interim and then a final spousal support order. (Of over $1,500 per month, though “final” is relative because it is only until the finalization of the divorce proceeding, of course).
On appeal, the denial of the husband’s objections was further denied as the Court deferred to the Support Magistrate’s credibility determinations (“entitled to great deference”) – and the Magistrate determined that the husband was not credible regarding his inability to pay, that the husband had failed to comply with discovery demands (likely the statutory ones) and that it was a fact established that he had supported the wife prior to the separation during the one year of marriage, and that the wife had lost her job and was subject to evictions and collections proceedings after the separation.
The husband’s contention that the Family Court lacked jurisdiction is belied by the text of the Family Court Act which gives that Court the ability to hear a case upon referral, but also when there is no referral and no temporary support or maintenance set in Supreme Court upon a motion of a party for a spouse likely to become in need of public assistance.
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