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Rose on Behalf of Clancy v. Moody

Court of Appeals of New York
629 N.E.2d 378 (N.Y. 1993)


Facts

A mother had three children. The mother had custody of two of the children. The children’s grandmother had custody of the third child, Robert. The mother was completely dependent on social services for financial aid. The Oswego County Department of Social Services (DSS) filed a petition to compel the mother to pay child support to the grandmother for Robert based on the New York statutory child-support guidelines that provided that a child-support award amount could be no less than $25 per month. The Federal Child Support Enforcement Act (the Act), 42 U.S.C. § 667, required state child-support guidelines to create a rebuttable presumption that the child-support amount determined by the guidelines was the correct amount. The Act permitted this presumption to be rebutted by showing that the amount determined under the guidelines was unjust or inappropriate. The family court found that mother’s annual income was $0 and that the appropriate amount of child support was $0. The appellate court found that the Act preempted the New York law that established the $25 minimum for child support. DSS appealed, seeking to circumvent preemption by arguing that the $25 in child support would not be collected in practice in cases like this, but should nevertheless be awarded “to send a uniform public policy message.”

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Bellacosa, J.)

Dissent (Levine, J.)

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