Amend New York State Domestic Relations Law to Eliminate the Equal Protection Violation sign now

The current New York State Domestic Relations Law and Family Court Act statutes (hereinafter, "DRL" and "FCA", respectively) creates a subclass of individuals unemancipated adults from 18 to 21 years of age that receive preferential treatment under the law while denying this benefit to other similarly situated unemancipated adults. As such, we feel that the current DRL and FCA violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the Federal Constitution as well as Article 1, Section 11 of the New York State Constitution (Equal Protection).

Consider the following: a parent has two adult children, ages 20 and 21. Both children are single, reside in their parent's home, attend college, and are financially dependent on their parents and comply with all reasonable parental demands. Applying the principles of emancipation that have been defined by the courts, neither adult child is emancipated. However, the child who is 20 receives the benefit of child support while the child who is 21 does not. The State has drawn an arbitrary line in sand that discriminates between similarly situated adult siblings.

In 1974 when the Age of Majority was reduced from 21 to 18, the state legislature was aware that an Equal Protection problem might exist. In the January 20, 1972 "Preliminary Staff Report for Use of the Law Revision Commission - Age of Majority Report" authored by John McKenzie and Leonard J. Senzon, on the very last page, page D-5, the report states that "Once majority is lowered an equal protection question may arise as to whether or not a state may continue to treat adults 18-21 in Family Court and criminal matters differently than is does other adults over 21."

Furthermore, in Legislative Document #65 (1974) entitled "Recommendation of the Law Revision Commission to the Legislature - Relating to Reduction of the Age of Majority from Twenty-one to Eighteen Years of Age", on page 5 and 6, it states, "It seems logical to the Commission that if the age of majority is lowered to eighteen, a parent's right to supervise a child, as well as the parent's obligation to support a child, should cease at that age. The Commission wished to emphasize that any reduction in the parental duty of support has fiscal implications for the State."

It is clear to me that, contrary to the widely-held belief notion that child support is there for the kids, post-majority child support only exists because the State stands to lose money if the parental duty to support was also reduced.

Proposed Amendment to Domestic Relations Law:

Matter in bold italics is new; matter in brackets { } is old law to be omitted.

1. Subparagraph 2 of paragraph (b) of subdivision 1-b of Section 240 of the Domestic Relations law is amended to read as follows:

(2) "Child support" shall mean a sum to be paid pursuant to court order or decree by either or both parents or pursuant to a valid agreement between the parties for care, maintenance and education of any unemancipated child under the age of {twenty-one} eighteen years.

2. Paragraph f of subdivision 1 of part B of section 236 of the Domestic Relations law is amended to read as follows:

f. The term "child support" shall mean a sum paid pursuant to court order or decree by either or both parents or pursuant to a valid agreement between the parties for care, maintenance and education of any unemancipated child under the age of {twenty-one} eighteen years.

3. Paragraph 2 of subdivision 1-b of section 413 of the Family Court law is amended to read as follows:

(2) "Child support" shall mean a sum to be paid pursuant to court order or decree by either or both parents or pursuant to a valid agreement between the parties for care, maintenance and education of any unemancipated child under the age of {twenty-one} eighteen years.

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Kristie HickmanBy:
FoodIn:
Petition target:
New York State Senator William J. Larkin, Jr.

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