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Decades Of Litigation Experience

Compliance with Court Orders and Voluntary Payments

| Mar 3, 2021 | Civil Litigation, Family Law |

By Jennifer L. Garber

A Court’s Order must be complied with to the letter. For example, if a litigant files a motion for contempt and the Court issues an Order directing the
non-movant to pay a sum certain directly to the movant, the sum certain must be paid directly to the movant. If, for example, the non-movant instead
voluntarily makes payments to third parties on behalf of the movant, rather than the payments directly to the movant, the Order is still being violated.

This principle stems from the “Voluntary Payment Doctrine”, which bars recovery of payments voluntarily made with full knowledge of the facts,
and in the absence of fraud or material mistake of fact or law. Dubrow v. Herman & Beinin, 157 A.D.3d 620 (1st Dep’t 2018) (citation and quotation
marks omitted). A litigant cannot unilaterally decide who, how, and when to pay if there is an Order that contemplates the who, how, and when of the
payments to be made. If an Order directs child support payments, payments made directly to or on behalf of the child(ren) will not absolve the payor of
his/her obligation to pay a direct sum of support to the other parent. Litigants must be mindful of the specifics of Court Orders and their obligations and direct their payments and compliance accordingly.