In the Matter of Alan Lerman v. Haines

CourtNew York Supreme Court Appellate Division
Citation2011 N.Y. Slip Op. 04567,925 N.Y.S.2d 216,85 A.D.3d 1248
PartiesIn the Matter of Alan LERMAN, Appellant,v.Caren HAINES, Respondent.
Decision Date02 June 2011

85 A.D.3d 1248
925 N.Y.S.2d 216
2011 N.Y. Slip Op. 04567

In the Matter of Alan LERMAN, Appellant,
Caren HAINES, Respondent.

Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Department, New York.

June 2, 2011.

[925 N.Y.S.2d 217]

Douglas Walter Drazen, Binghamton, for appellant.Caren Haines, Newark Valley, respondent pro se.Before: SPAIN, J.P., LAHTINEN, KAVANAGH, McCARTHY and GARRY, JJ.GARRY, J.

[85 A.D.3d 1248] Appeal from an order of the Family Court of Broome County (Charnetsky, J.), entered October 28, 2009, which granted respondent's application, in a proceeding pursuant to Family Ct. Act article 4, to, among other things, direct petitioner to pay child support.

The parties were divorced in 2002 pursuant to a judgment of divorce that incorporated their oral stipulation as to custody and visitation of their two children. As pertinent here, in a proceeding originally commenced by petitioner (hereinafter the father), respondent (hereinafter the mother) cross-petitioned for reimbursement of certain medical expenses incurred on behalf of one of the children.1 Following a

[925 N.Y.S.2d 218]

hearing on the cross petition, a Support Magistrate found, among other things, that the father had willfully failed to comply with his child support obligations by failing to pay his portion of the disputed expenses and entered a money judgment against the father in the amount of $2,870.35. Family Court denied the father's objections and upheld the Support Magistrate's factual findings and order. The father appeals.

The judgment of divorce sets out detailed child support provisions that, among other things, direct the father to maintain health insurance on the children's behalf, and provide that specified medically-related expenses not covered by health insurance shall be paid 85% by the father and 15% by the mother. The father contends that certain provisions in the custody stipulation relieve him of the obligation to pay. Specifically, he relies upon provisions that direct the parties to make all major decisions regarding the children upon consultation and consent, provide that if either party makes a unilateral decision, any attendant costs are to be borne solely by that party, and direct the parties to notify each other of matters concerning the children's health. The father contends that he need not contribute to payment of the disputed expenses based upon these provisions, because the mother failed to provide him with adequate advance notice of the child's appointments with the medical providers.

“An oral stipulation of settlement that is incorporated into a divorce judgment ‘is an independent contract, subject to the [85 A.D.3d 1249] principles of contract interpretation’ ” ( LaPierre v. LaPierre, 84 A.D.3d 1497, 922 N.Y.S.2d 627, 628–629, [2011], quoting Ross v. Ross, 16 A.D.3d 713, 714, 791 N.Y.S.2d 187 [2005] ). “In ascertaining the intent of the parties, the entire document is examined and if its language is clear and unambiguous, the court's inquiry is ended” ( Stevens v. Stevens, 11 A.D.3d 791, 792, 783 N.Y.S.2d 683 [2004] [citations omitted] ). We find no ambiguity in the stipulation and conclude that its plain language completely fails to support the father's contention that it was intended to apply to his obligation to pay the disputed expenses.

The parties' stipulation resulted from a settlement reached on the morning of a trial that had been scheduled specifically to address the limited issues of custody and visitation. Consistent with that limitation, the stipulation pertains...

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7 cases
  • In the Matter of Jodi S. v. Jason T.
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • June 2, 2011
    ...of the mother's choice and religious instruction thereat during his parenting time. Likewise, the father had failed to ensure that [925 N.Y.S.2d 216] the children regularly participated in their usual extracurricular activities during his parenting time. However, the evidence also showed th......
  • Kumar v. Kumar
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • June 28, 2012
    ...we must give its terms their plain meaning ( see Dagliolo v. Dagliolo, 91 A.D.3d at 1260, 937 N.Y.S.2d 466;Matter of Lerman v. Haines, 85 A.D.3d 1248, 1248–1249, 925 N.Y.S.2d 216 [2011] ). The stipulation clearly provides that “[a]ll assets that are claimed to be marital property are identi......
  • Adam V. v. Ashli W.
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • February 20, 2020
    ...1382, 1384, 4 N.Y.S.3d 780 [2015] 120 N.Y.S.3d 441 [internal quotation marks and citations omitted]; see Matter of Lerman v. Haines, 85 A.D.3d 1248, 1248–1249, 925 N.Y.S.2d 216 [2011] ). When construing a stipulation made in open court, a court should construe it "in accordance with the int......
  • Gursky v. Gursky
    • United States
    • New York Supreme Court Appellate Division
    • March 29, 2012
    ...within its four corners and we will not add language that the parties did not include ( see [93 A.D.3d 1128] Matter of Lerman v. Haines, 85 A.D.3d 1248, 1248–1249, 925 N.Y.S.2d 216 [2011]; Ross v. Ross, 16 A.D.3d 713, 714, 791 N.Y.S.2d 187 [2005] ). Here, there is no ambiguity. The parties ......
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