Kasowitz v. Kasowitz
Responsibility for his compliance with a support order fell solely on the defendant's shoulders. The marriage of the plaintiff, Sherry Kasowitz, and the defendant, Lewis Kasowitz, was dissolved in 1999, with legal and physical custody of their six children awarded to the plaintiff. The defendant was ordered to pay, relevantly, weekly child support, alimony and unallocated support, plus half of the children's uncovered dental expenses. The child support order terminated in 2007. Alimony expired in 2009. In 2011, the plaintiff filed a motion for contempt alleging that the defendant had failed to make required payments. The defendant objected and argued that the motion was barred by the equitable doctrine of laches. The plaintiff testified that she and the children had virtually no contact with the defendant following the divorce and his former employer, T.R. Paul, Inc. paid support and alimony into 2007. Thereafter, she discovered the arrearage of $100,625.52 and claimed dental expenses owing of $6814. The defendant testified that he was unaware of the expenses and accumulating arrearage and while he received monthly statements from TR Paul, he did not verify that they fully satisfied his obligation. The court found the defendant in contempt and rejected his defense of laches finding the plaintiff's delay excusable as she was getting six children through high school and into college with little help or contact from the defendant. No prejudice to the defendant was found. The court set the total arrearage at $100,625.52 and ordered payments. The defendant appealed claiming that the court improperly found him in contempt. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. The defendant argued that nothing in the record supported a finding that he willfully refused to comply with his support obligations as ordered. He contended that neither his former employer nor the plaintiff informed him of the shortfall. However, responsibility for compliance with the support order fell solely on the defendant's shoulders. Neither T.R. Paul, nor the plaintiff, shared that responsibility. The defendant testified that he never thought about whether his obligations had been met but acknowledged that he was employed as a stock broker, handling other people's money. Given the facts, the finding of contempt and the finding that the plaintiff's delay was excusable were not clearly erroneous.