Father Not Allowed to Use Children's Settlement Money to Buy Fancy House in Florida

Case: In the Matter of the Guardianships of Dante D. R.‑M. and Dylan A M R.‑M., Infants

Court: Surrogate's Court, Bronx County

Date: Decided August 13, 2013

From: New York attorney Gary E. Rosenberg (personal injury and accident attorney and lawyer; serving Brooklyn and Queens; Queens injury lawyer)

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Facts: This case shows how the Court protects the money of children under the age of 18 received in a court case. A father, maybe greedy, maybe lazy, maybe greedy and lazy, trying to live off his children's money. This judge is having none of it.

Two of his children got about $6,000,000 after their mother died. We don't know how old they were or are. The Court put into place protections for the money, designating that the Court and/or a guardian be named on the account so that the money is preserved for the children (known in legal-talk as "infants").

The father can't just use this money. He needs the Court's permission to touch it. Why? The judge reminds us that a parent is responsible to support his or her child, even if the child does have money. Only if the parent is broke can the child's money be touched, and, again, only with the Court's permission and supervision.

So this dad asks the Bronx judge to let him spend $500,000 on a house in Florida. More than just basic shelter, this house has 7 bedrooms, 42 bathrooms, and "high-end amenities" such steam showers, Jacuzzi tubs, and an in‑ground pool with waterfall and raised spa.

If that's not enough, the father wants the children's money to pay the taxes and costs, he "generously" offers to kick in the last one-third of the expenses.

This dad also asks the judge to permit him to take from each child's money $3,000 per month for support and $1,000 per month for "special occasions" such as school vacations, Christmas, birthdays, school supplies, and visiting the grave of their mother.

Dear Readers: You haven't heard the best (worst?) Of it yet.

The father admits to the judge that he's been taking his two children]s monthly (annuity) payments of $1,500 without the court's permission but he says his lawyer says that it's o.k. because he can use the money for the children's support. The judge points out (and thus can't be happy) that the father doesn't even show how he spent that money.

Also, the two children have five or six brothers and/or sisters who also live with the father, but the father is fuzzy about giving details to the judge. Also, dad doesn't say how he supports any of the children or say who works and who doesn't work or if there are any other adults living with him or that he intends to live with.

Now I give the judge credit for not taking a baseball bat to this father's head.

There is a guardian ad litem ("for the litigation") that had been appointed to protect the children, who, apparently, has dropped the ball here and didn't answer a letter the Court sent about this matter to find out what the heck is going on with the children's money.

Held: It is obvious that the father wants to use the children's money for "multiple other persons." Father isn't allowed to use the money to support others. Also, father hasn't shown that he can contribute to the house and the judge asks, "Why not rent a house instead?"

Purchase of the Florida house and withdrawal of additional monies are denied.

Also, since the father seems to be running amuck with the children's money and is not giving the judge a full and clear picture, a new guardian is immediately appointed to oversee the money and figure out what's been spent.

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