MCWG represented the Respondent, in opposition to her ex-husband’s petition for a downward modification of his child support obligation. Mr. Garetano argued that his 20 year old son was emancipated, and therefore, Mr. Garetano was no longer required to provide support for this child because he did not reside with Ms. Garetano, and the stipulation of divorce defines “emancipation,” as permanently residing away from the mother. In opposition, we argued that a child under 21 is not emancipated until he is economically independent, and a parent’s child support obligation cannot be contracted away.
After a trial, the Court denied Mr. Garetano’s petition because he had not met his burden to establish that his child was economically independent inasmuch as Ms. Garetano still paid his cell-phone and Netflix bills, and sent him money for various expenses such as food, toiletries and rent. The Court further held that the parental duty of child support cannot be eliminated or diminished by the terms of a separation agreement because the child is not a party to the agreement, and, therefore, cannot be bound by its terms.
Partner Daniel O’Connell handled this matter pro bono for the firm.