Does the Duty of Parents to Support the Child End If the Child Leaves the Parents' Home Willingly ?
In Richards v. Richards, 86 AD2d 771 [4th Dept 1982], the court refused to award the custodial parent arrears for child support due under a separation agreement during a period when the parties' child had neither received nor sought support from either parent.
The court reasoned that " 'Although the statutory obligation of parents to support a child ... is stated in mandatory terms, a child who voluntarily and without good cause abandons the parents' home forfeits her right to support.' " (Richards v. Richards, at 771.)
The court noted that it was not the child who was seeking the arrears, but instead, it was the mother who had not supported the child for a period of time. (Richards v. Richards, at 772.)
Clearly, once a minor child has been emancipated, the duty of both parents to support the child terminates.
This court concludes that the child support payments collected by the Support Collection Unit are funds for the exclusive benefit of the infant child.
Although the custodial parent and/or the Support Collection Unit receive the money, an ownership interest in the funds is not obtained by the custodial parent or the Support Collection Unit. (See, Sue Davidson, P. C. v. Naranjo, 904 P2d 354 [Wyo 1995]; Law Office of Tony Center v. Baker, 185 Ga App 809, 366 SE2d 167.)
In the instant matter, respondent Placencia, as the child's custodial parent, stands as a trustee of the funds, administering money as she deems appropriate for the needs and welfare of the child.
As the Georgia Court of Appeals wrote:
" 'When alimony is awarded for the support of minor children, the mother acquires no interest in the funds, and when they are paid to her she is a mere trustee charged with the duty of seeing that they are applied solely for the benefit of the children.
She can not consent to a reduction or remission of the alimony, and ordinarily her conduct can not relieve the father of paying the same as directed by the court' ...