The Court of Appeals, in a full-fledged opinion by Judge Garcia, determined Family Court had the power to order father to serve three consecutive six-month jail terms for willful failure to pay child support. Father never claimed an inability to pay:
The father in this case demonstrated the willful flaunting of support orders the Legislature sought to address in passing the Support Enforcement Act. Without making any attempt at an excuse for inability to pay, the father repeatedly failed to meet his court-ordered support obligations. His conduct resulted in a substantial amount owed in arrears and two suspended orders of commitment, one each in 2010 and 2012, for willfully violating Family Court support orders. Both suspended commitments were conditioned upon the father making timely child support payments. In 2013, Family Court found yet a third willful violation of a prior order, revoked the two suspended orders for the past violations, sentenced the father to a new six-month sentence, resulting in three consecutive six-month sentences. Once again, the father made no attempt to plead an inability to pay or seek modification of the support orders.
In ordering the term of incarceration, Family Court determined that the father willfully failed to comply with his child support obligations on three separate violation petitions and found good cause existed to revoke the father’s two suspended commitments. Matter of Columbia County Support Collection Unit v Risley, 2016 NY Slip Op 04325, CtApp 6-7-16
FAMILY LAW (FAMILY COURT PROPERLY IMPOSED THREE CONSECUTIVE SIX-MONTH JAIL TERMS UPON FATHER WHO WILFULLY FAILED TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT)/CHILD SUPPORT (FAMILY COURT PROPERLY IMPOSED THREE CONSECUTIVE SIX-MONTH JAIL TERMS UPON FATHER WHO WILFULLY FAILED TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT)