Matter of Collette v Collette, 2020 NY Slip Op 06778, Decided on November 18, 2020, Appellate Division, Second Department:
In an order dated July 9, 2019, made after a hearing, a Support Magistrate, inter alia, vacated the arrears set forth in the money judgment as having already been satisfied, and directed the Support Collection Unit to stop enforcing the money judgment. In addition, the Support Magistrate determined that the father was entitled to a credit in the sum of $12,270.65 based on overpayments of child support, to be applied to the father’s future child support payments or, in the alternative, to his obligation to pay his pro rata share of unreimbursed medical expenses and/or educational expenses. In an order dated November 4, 2019, the Family Court denied the mother’s [*2]objections to the order dated July 9, 2019. The mother appeals.
We agree with the Family Court’s determination denying the mother’s objections to so much of the Support Magistrate’s order dated July 9, 2019, as vacated the sum of $14,935.33 in arrears against the father set forth in the money judgment, directed the Support Collection Unit to stop enforcing that money judgment, and awarded the father a credit in the sum of $12,270.65. “Great deference should be given to the determination of the Support Magistrate, who is in the best position to assess the credibility of the witnesses and the evidence proffered” (Matter of Musarra v Musarra, 28 AD3d 668, 669; see Matter of Manocchio v Manocchio, 16 AD3d 1126, 1128). Contrary to the mother’s contention, the record supports the Support Magistrate’s finding that the father satisfied the money judgment.
However, “[t]here is strong public policy in this state, which the [Child Support Standards Act] did not alter, against restitution or recoupment of the overpayment of child support” (Matter of Taddonio v Wasserman-Taddonio, 51 AD3d 935, 936 [internal quotation marks omitted]; see Matter of McGovern v McGovern, 148 AD3d 900, 902). “The reason for this policy is that . . . child support payments are deemed to have been devoted to that purpose, and no funds exist from which one may recoup moneys so expended if the award is thereafter reversed or modified” (Matter of McGovern v McGovern, 148 AD3d at 902 [internal quotation marks omitted]; see Rader v Rader, 54 AD3d 919, 920). Therefore, the recoupment of child support payments is only appropriate under limited circumstances (see Matter of McGovern v McGovern, 148 AD3d at 902; Rader v Rader, 54 AD3d at 920; People ex rel. Breitstein v Aaronson, 3 AD3d 588, 589).
Here, there is no basis to conclude that an exception to the strong public policy against recoupment of child support overpayment exists. Thus, the Family Court improvidently exercised its discretion in denying the mother’s objection to so much of the Support Magistrate’s order dated July 9, 2019, as determined that the father was entitled to a credit against his future child support obligation based on prior overpayments of child support (see Matter of McGovern v McGovern, 148 AD3d at 902; Smulczeski v Smulczeski, 128 AD3d 670, 671; Coull v Rottman, 35 AD3d 198, 200). However, inasmuch as public policy does not forbid offsetting add-on expenses against an overpayment of child support (see Matter of Goehringer v Vozza-Nicolosi, 139 AD3d 949; Coull v Rottman, 35 AD3d at 201), we agree with the Support Magistrate’s determination that the father may use the overpayments to offset his share of add-on expenses, such as educational expenses and unreimbursed medical expenses (see Matter of McGovern v McGovern, 148 AD3d at 902; Matter of Fitzgerald v Corps, 86 AD3d 611, 612).”