Father Moves for Custody in Light of Mentally Ill Mother

October 23, 2014,

A New York Family Lawyer said this is an appeal from an order of the Supreme Court entered 28 April 2009 in Ulster County, which, among other things, awarded plaintiff custody of the parties' child.
The father, plaintiff and the mother, defendant were married in 2004 and are the parents of a daughter born in 2005. Within weeks of her birth, the couple began experiencing marital difficulties, stemming from the father's growing concern about the mother's mental health.

In January 2006, when the child was just five weeks old, the mother vacated the couple's marital residence in Ulster County and traveled to Nassau County with the child. The father immediately initiated a proceeding in Ulster County Family Court requesting joint custody of the child and an order prohibiting the mother from removing the child from the child. Family Court issued an interim order restricting the mother from leaving the state with the child and set a prompt return date.

A New York Divorce Lawyer said that thereafter, a series of litigation between the parties ensued. As relevant to this appeal, within days of the mother's departure, each party commenced an action for divorce in Supreme Court, the father in Ulster County and the mother in Nassau County, each moving, by order to show cause, for an award of custody of the child.

The actions were consolidated and venue was placed in Ulster County. The mother was initially granted temporary custody of the child, with supervised visitation to the father, and remained in Nassau County during the pendency of the action. Throughout the course of the litigation, the father sought and was awarded increased visitation with the child.

A Westchester County Family Lawyer said that by September 2007, when the child was 21 months old, the parties had stipulated to a temporary custody and visitation schedule which provided generous unsupervised and overnight visitation to the father.

A Suffolk County Family Lawyer said that the parties agreed to proceed to trial on the issues of custody and visitation only. Following a 29-day trial, Supreme Court awarded the father sole custody of the child, with liberal visitation to the mother on a set schedule to continue at least until the child began pre-kindergarten.

The mother now appeals.

Eschbach v Eschbach and Matter of Melissa K. v Brian K. held that the principal concern in any child custody dispute is the best interests of the child, to be determined by reviewing such factors as maintaining stability for the child, the child's wishes, the home environment with each parent, each parent's past performance, relative fitness, ability to guide and provide for the child's overall well-being, and the willingness of each parent to foster a relationship with the other parent as enunciated in Kaczor v Kaczor and Matter of Smith v Miller and Matter of Torkildsen v Torkildsen.

The court agrees with great respect to Supreme Court's factual findings and will not disturb the court's custodial determination so long as it is supported by a sound and substantial basis in the record as in Matter of Torkildsen v Torkildsen and Matter of Marchand v Nazzaro.

At the outset, the court rejects the mother's contention that Supreme Court distorted the proof submitted by the parties at the trial and ignored relevant evidence in reaching its custody determination. In its thorough, well-reasoned 46-page decision, the court addressed the parties' respective strengths and weaknesses with regard to each of the relevant factors and fully explained its reasons for rejecting the recommendation of the court-appointed expert which is not determinative in a custody case as held in Bates v Bates and Matter of Aldrich v Aldrich. While there was conflicting evidence on some issues — many of which were irrelevant to the best interests of the child determination — the court accepts the Supreme Court's credibility determinations and concludes that the court's custody determination has a sound and substantial basis in the record as can be seen in Matter of Marchand v Nazzaro.

Neither party disputes that, in light of the extreme animosity between them, an award of joint legal custody would not have been in the child's best interests as held in Matter of Cool v Malone and Matter of Yvette v Yvette. The record reflects that the father can provide a stable home life and appropriate living environment for the child. He has resided in the same home in Ulster County for approximately 10 years in the community where he has spent most of his life and where he has a well-established social network and family support. He maintained a flexible work schedule to allow for visitation with the child during the pendency of this matter and expressed his willingness to adapt his lifestyle to care for the child full time should he be awarded sole custody.

The court finds that the record is replete with testimony attesting to the father's devotion to and concern for the child, as well as his daily routine and interactions with her during visitation. Despite evidence that the father suffered anger and frustration after the mother took the child from the marital home, the father's relative fitness as a parent was not significantly called into question by the evidence submitted at trial. Importantly, Supreme Court credited the father's testimony that, were he to become the primary custodial parent, he would allow the mother free and frequent access to the child and, finding no basis in the record to disagree, the court declines to disturb the court's determination in that regard as in Matter of Smith v Smith.

On the contrary, the mother presented evidence that she resides in a home owned by her father in Nassau County where she has substantial support from her family and friends and where the child is engaged in various social and educational activities, yet she presented no witnesses who could attest to her home environment, the stability that she provides to the child or her daily routine or interactions with the child. Although the mother testified that she believed it important for the child to have a good relationship with the father and affirmed that she would cooperate in any way to facilitate that relationship, she prevented the father from having contact with the child weeks after her move to Nassau County, misrepresented that she was exclusively breast feeding the child in order to limit the father's visitation time and opposed many of the father's requests for increased visitation.

Moreover, although not determinative, Matter of Armstrong v Heilker v Heilker and Matter of Bates v Bates held that the mental health of a parent is necessarily relevant in every custody or visitation proceeding.

In the case at bar, the mother's relative fitness was called into question by evidence that she has never fully acknowledged her long history of anxiety and depression and has not sought regular consistent treatment for it.

The court agrees with Supreme Court that the mother's anxiety and depression, if left untreated, could potentially cause harm to the child and that the record lacks evidence that the mother is aware of this risk or is taking adequate steps to prevent future risk to the child.

The court, therefore, declines to disturb Supreme Court's finding that the best interests of the child tip the scale in favor of awarding custody to the father.

Lastly, it is the mother’s argument that the Supreme Court abused its discretion in failing to sua sponte appoints an attorney for the child to represent her interests in the protracted litigation between her parents. This argument is foreclosed by the mother having taken a contrary position before Supreme Court when she affirmatively opposed the father's pretrial motion for the appointment of an attorney for the child as in Mikkelson v Kessler, Maas v Cornell Univ. In any event, while the recommendation of an attorney for the child may be extremely helpful in assessing the best interests of a child, the appointment of such attorney is not statutorily mandated in contested custody proceedings akin to Matter of Amato v Amato and is a matter committed to the sound discretion of Supreme Court akin to Matter of Swett v Balcom. Given the very young age of the child and the absence of apparent prejudice arising from the failure to appoint an attorney to represent her, we discern no abuse of discretion as held in Matter of Burdick v Babcock.

The court has considered the mother's remaining contentions and finds them to be without merit.
The court affirms the order without costs.

For questions regarding the issues and the pertinent facts mentioned in the case above, please feel free to call our toll free number or visit our office nearest you. Nassau County Child Visitation Lawyers and Nassau County Child Custody Lawyers at Stephen Bilkis & Associates are prepared to take your call or personally discuss with you Visitation and Custody Laws. We will be able to help you with your legal dilemma swiftly and favorably.

Husband Claims Aandonment and Adultery in Divorce Proceeding

October 13, 2014,

A New York Family Lawyer said the parties were spouses who have two children of the marriage. From the date of the parties' marriage until August 2002, the parties and their two children resided in Eastchester, in Westchester County with the wife's mother in a residence owned by the wife's mother. According to the wife, the husband abandoned her in that year. Thereafter the husband resided for some period of time in Nassau County with a woman with whom he has an out-of-wedlock child. The wife and the parties' children moved to Dobbs Ferry New York. The husband resided with the wife and children in the Dobbs Ferry residence for a two and a half week period in April and May 2008. The husband's 2009 driver's license states his address is the wife's Dobbs Ferry residence.

A New York Family Lawyer said that the husband commenced a prior action for divorce in Nassau County. Pursuant to an order, venue of said action was transferred to Westchester County. Thereafter, the husband also commenced another action for divorce against the wife in Westchester County. Both actions were dismissed. The wife has served an answer in the above captioned action seeking dismissal of the within action. She has not interposed a counterclaim for divorce.

The husband became a month-to-month tenant of an apartment in a private residence in Massapequa. His rent is $900.00 a month. Thereafter, he commenced the within action for divorce in Nassau County. His complaint asserts three causes of action, to wit: actual abandonment; social abandonment; and adultery. All the causes of action allegedly occurred in Dobbs Ferry in Westchester County.

In support of the within application, the wife alleges that in order to defend the issue of grounds she will have to call various witnesses who reside and work in Westchester County, to wit: the wife's mother; who resides and works in Westchester County. The wife has summarized the nature of the testimony she intends to elicit from said witnesses. She states that each witness will testify that the husband resided in the Dobbs Ferry premises for two and a half weeks and never resided there after May 2008.

Further, the witnesses will deny that the husband asked them to intercede on his behalf on issues relating to the children because the wife would not speak to him. The wife asserts that the witnesses will be inconvenienced if they must travel to Nassau County to testify.

A Westchester County Family Lawyer said that in opposition to the within motion, the husband alleges the following: he moved to an apartment in Massapequa in August 2009; he was a resident of Nassau County at the time of the commencement of the action; all issues of custody and child support have been resolved by the Westchester Family Court; he will admit that he never resided in the Dobbs Ferry residence; and the wife's mother does not work and can drive to Nassau County with the wife.

The wife replies that her mother is employed and would be inconvenienced if forced to testify in Nassau County.

A Suffolk County Family Lawyer said that the husband's second cause of action sounding in social abandonment is devoid of merit. Further, with regard to the cause of action sounding in actual abandonment, the husband admits he did not reside in Dobbs Ferry after 2008.

Accordingly, it appears that none of the three witnesses identified by the wife will have relevant testimony to offer at trial. Nevertheless, the interests of justice require that venue of the action be transferred to Westchester County.

Both parties indicate that custody and child support issues have been adjudicated in the Westchester Family Court, but neither party has provided copies of any orders issued by that court. The husband's prayer for relief set forth in his verified complaint seeks a judgment of divorce incorporating two Westchester County docket support orders, but makes no mention of any docket custody order. The husband's prayer for relief in this action asks that the judgment of divorce grant custody to the wife and grant him child visitation pursuant to a detailed schedule set forth in said prayer for relief.

The Court cannot ascertain whether or not the child visitation sought by the husband reflects the terms of any existing Westchester County Family Court order. Accordingly, it appears that there may be child visitation issues raised in the context of this divorce action. Even if the Westchester County Family Court has issued final orders of custody and child visitation identical to the relief sought by the husband in his within complaint, enforcement or modification issues, often arise during the pendency of the action for divorce.

The parties' children have resided in Westchester County their entire lives and clearly, issues of custody and child visitation, which may arise in the context of a divorce action should be determined in Westchester County, particularly in the event an attorney must be appointed for the children or a forensic evaluation is required.

In addition, the Court notes that the husband has "struck out twice" in the Supreme Court Westchester County. His acquisition of a month-to-month rental unit in Nassau County at a cost of $900.00 a month, appears designed to establish predicate residency and his commencement of an action for divorce in Nassau County constitutes improper forum shopping.

Based upon all of the foregoing, the motion is granted. Venue of the action is transferred to Westchester County. Within 15 days of the date of this order, the wife shall serve a copy of this order upon the Office of the Nassau County Clerk.

Once a divorce order was issued by a court, the children of the separating spouses should not be left behind. They must receive an ample amount of support from their parents. Their needs should likewise be provided. Here in Stephen Bilkis and Associates, we have our Nassau County Child Support lawyers who will assist these helpless children to obtain an amount of support from the able parent. We also have our Nassau County Family attorneys who will help you in your other concerns. Call us now, we will be glad to help you.

Court Looks at Jurisdiction Issue in Divorce Proceeding

October 12, 2014,

A New York Family Lawyer said the parties were spouses who have two children of the marriage. From the date of the parties' marriage until August 2002, the parties and their two children resided in Eastchester, in Westchester County with the wife's mother in a residence owned by the wife's mother. According to the wife, the husband abandoned her in that year. Thereafter the husband resided for some period of time in Nassau County with a woman with whom he has an out-of-wedlock child. The wife and the parties' children moved to Dobbs Ferry New York. The husband resided with the wife and children in the Dobbs Ferry residence for a two and a half week period in April and May 2008. The husband's 2009 driver's license states his address is the wife's Dobbs Ferry residence.

A New York Divorce Lawyer said that the husband commenced a prior action for divorce in Nassau County. Pursuant to an order, venue of said action was transferred to Westchester County. Thereafter, the husband also commenced another action for divorce against the wife in Westchester County. Both actions were dismissed. The wife has served an answer in the above captioned action seeking dismissal of the within action. She has not interposed a counterclaim for divorce.

A Nassau County Family Lawyer said the husband became a month-to-month tenant of an apartment in a private residence in Massapequa. His rent is $900.00 a month. Thereafter, he commenced the within action for divorce in Nassau County. His complaint asserts three causes of action, to wit: actual abandonment; social abandonment; and adultery. All the causes of action allegedly occurred in Dobbs Ferry in Westchester County.

A Staten Island Family Lawyer said regarding support of the within application, the wife alleges that in order to defend the issue of grounds she will have to call various witnesses who reside and work in Westchester County, to wit: the wife's mother; who resides and works in Westchester County. The wife has summarized the nature of the testimony she intends to elicit from said witnesses. She states that each witness will testify that the husband resided in the Dobbs Ferry premises for two and a half weeks and never resided there after May 2008.

Further, the witnesses will deny that the husband asked them to intercede on his behalf on issues relating to the children because the wife would not speak to him. The wife asserts that the witnesses will be inconvenienced if they must travel to Nassau County to testify.

In opposition to the within motion, the husband alleges the following: he moved to an apartment in Massapequa in August 2009; he was a resident of Nassau County at the time of the commencement of the action; all issues of custody and child support have been resolved by the Westchester Family Court; he will admit that he never resided in the Dobbs Ferry residence; and the wife's mother does not work and can drive to Nassau County with the wife.

The wife replies that her mother is employed and would be inconvenienced if forced to testify in Nassau County.

The husband's second cause of action sounding in social abandonment is devoid of merit. Further, with regard to the cause of action sounding in actual abandonment, the husband admits he did not reside in Dobbs Ferry after 2008.

Accordingly, it appears that none of the three witnesses identified by the wife will have relevant testimony to offer at trial. Nevertheless, the interests of justice require that venue of the action be transferred to Westchester County.
Both parties indicate that custody and child support issues have been adjudicated in the Westchester Family Court, but neither party has provided copies of any orders issued by that court. The husband's prayer for relief set forth in his verified complaint seeks a judgment of divorce incorporating two Westchester County docket support orders, but makes no mention of any docket custody order. The husband's prayer for relief in this action asks that the judgment of divorce grant custody to the wife and grant him child visitation pursuant to a detailed schedule set forth in said prayer for relief.

The Court cannot ascertain whether or not the child visitation sought by the husband reflects the terms of any existing Westchester County Family Court order. Accordingly, it appears that there may be child visitation issues raised in the context of this divorce action. Even if the Westchester County Family Court has issued final orders of custody and child visitation identical to the relief sought by the husband in his within complaint, enforcement or modification issues, often arise during the pendency of the action for divorce.

The parties' children have resided in Westchester County their entire lives and clearly, issues of custody and child visitation, which may arise in the context of a divorce action should be determined in Westchester County, particularly in the event an attorney must be appointed for the children or a forensic evaluation is required.

In addition, the Court notes that the husband has "struck out twice" in the Supreme Court Westchester County. His acquisition of a month-to-month rental unit in Nassau County at a cost of $900.00 a month, appears designed to establish predicate residency and his commencement of an action for divorce in Nassau County constitutes improper forum shopping.

Based upon all of the foregoing, the motion is granted. Venue of the action is transferred to Westchester County. Within 15 days of the date of this order, the wife shall serve a copy of this order upon the Office of the Nassau County Clerk.

Once a divorce order was issued by a court, the children of the separating spouses should not be left behind. They must receive an ample amount of support from their parents. Their needs should likewise be provided. Here in Stephen Bilkis and Associates, we have our Nassau County Child Support lawyers who will assist these helpless children to obtain an amount of support from the able parent. We also have our Nassau County Family attorneys who will help you in your other concerns. Call us now, we will be glad to help you.

Father Seeks to Modify Restraining Order Against Him

October 11, 2014,

A New York Family Lawyer said in a proceeding pursuant to Family Court Act article 8 and Domestic Relations Law article 5-A (Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act), the father appeals from an order of the Family Court, Nassau County, which, without a hearing, dismissed without prejudice his petition, in effect, for a modification of an order of protection of the Superior Court of the State of California, Alameda County, which, after a hearing, inter alia, directed him to stay away from the mother and the parties' three children for a period of five years.

A Nassau County Family lawyer said that the mother and the father lived together in New York for approximately 14 years, without marrying. They have two daughters and a son. Thereafter, the mother took the children to California, allegedly to escape physical and emotional abuse by the father. Later on, the father filed a petition in Family Court, Nassau County, seeking custody of the parties' two daughters. The parties' teenage son returned to New York to reside with the father.

Thereafter, a New York Divorce Lawyer said the mother filed a "request for order" in the Superior Court of California, Alameda County (hereinafter the California court), seeking an order of protection against the father, and in favor of herself and the three children. In the California court, she also filed a request for custody of the children. In her papers, the mother informed the California court of the pending custody proceeding in New York. Nonetheless, the California court failed to communicate with the Family Court.

A Queens Family Lawyer said after a hearing, the California court issued a five-year order of protection which, inter alia, directed the father to stay away from the mother and the three children. The California court issued a separate order granting custody of all three children to the mother, with no child visitation for the father. These orders included the parties' teenage son, although he was not in California at the time, and continued to reside with the father in New York.

A Long Island Family Lawyer said the California court and the Family Court communicated to determine jurisdictional issues pursuant to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (hereinafter the UCCJEA). The courts agreed that New York was the "home state", and that the California court, in issuing the orders of protection and custody, had acted solely in the exercise of its temporary emergency jurisdiction under the UCCJEA.

In the New York custody proceedings, the mother caused the California order of protection to be registered in the Family Court, which issued a New York order of protection with the same terms and conditions. By order, the Family Court granted the father temporary legal and physical custody of the parties' son, with child visitation for the mother as agreed upon by the parties. At a court conference, the parties wanted to enter into a so-ordered stipulation providing for, inter alia, the father's child visitation with one of the parties' daughters, but the court declined to sign it, citing a potential conflict with the California order of protection.

The father thereafter filed the instant petition, in effect, for modification of the California order of protection. Without addressing the merits, the Family Court dismissed the father's petition, without prejudice, for lack of jurisdiction. The father's separate custody proceeding, which, as noted, was initiated in the Family Court prior to the mother's initial filing with the California court, is pending. According to the parties, the Family Court has held the record in the custody proceeding open, pending the determination of this appeal.

The Court reversed, reinstated the father's petition, in effect, for modification of the California order of protection, and remit the matter to the Family Court for a determination of the father's petition on the merits.

Under the circumstances presented, as the California court agreed, New York is the "home state" of the children with jurisdiction to make a "child custody determination," including a custody and child visitation order. Obviously, that jurisdiction carries with it the power to modify the California order of protection, as appropriate, in order to effectuate the child custody determination of the Family Court.

Indeed, California's version of the UCCJEA implicitly recognizes as much. The provision governing its authority to exercise temporary emergency jurisdiction states, in pertinent part, that if a child custody proceeding has been commenced in the home state, which is the case here, then "any order" issued by the State of California "must specify in [its] order a period that the court considers adequate to allow the person seeking an order to obtain an order from" the home state. The statute further provides that the California order "remains in effect until an order is obtained from the [home state] within the period specified or the period expires".

Furthermore, in aid of the latter provision, the California statute further states that upon being informed that a child custody proceeding has been commenced in the home state, as the California court was in this case by the mother's papers, the California court exercising temporary emergency jurisdiction must communicate with the home state. The California court failed to do so in this case, prior to issuance of the order of protection. Thus, the opportunity the statute contemplates to set a realistic duration on the emergency order—and there is no indication that the five-year period of the California order of protection was set with regard to that provision—was lost here.

We further note that the temporary emergency jurisdiction of the California court extended only to children who were then in California and in need of protection. It is undisputed that the parties' son left California, and was in New York, the date of the California orders of protection and custody. The California orders were, therefore, invalid as to the parties' son.

Under the circumstances, including the California court's agreement, subsequent to the order of protection, that California was exercising only temporary emergency jurisdiction, and that New York is the home state of the children with the authority, inter alia, to make a child custody determination, the Family Court had the jurisdiction to entertain the father's petition, in effect, for modification of the California order of protection.

Family matters should be entrusted to smart and diligent lawyers like our Nassau County Family lawyers here in Stephen Bilkis and Associates. For a reliable and helpful advice regarding visitation matters, don’t hesitate to contact our Nassau County Child Visitation attorneys now to receive a quality advice.

Father Appeals Order Granting Sole Custody to Mother

October 10, 2014,

In a child custody proceeding pursuant to Family Court Act article 6, the father appeals from an order of the Family Court, Nassau County, which, without a hearing, inter alia, granted sole custody of the subject child to the mother, with child visitation to the father.

A New York Family Lawyer said that an award of custody must be based upon the best interests of the child, and there is no right of either parent to custody of the child. Since the court has an obligation to make an objective and independent evaluation of the circumstances, a custody determination should be made only after a full and fair hearing at which the record is fully developed. Therefore, as a general rule, it is error to make an order respecting custody based upon controverted allegations without the benefit of a full hearing.

Here, a New York Divorce Lawyer said in light of the parties' conflicting allegations, the Family Court erred in awarding sole custody of the subject child to the mother without the benefit of an evidentiary hearing. Nor did the court conduct an examination of the parties, interview the child, or solicit the opinion of the attorney for the child. Under such circumstances, it cannot be concluded that the court possessed sufficient information to render an informed determination consistent with the child's best interests. Accordingly, the court remits the matter to the Family Court, Nassau County, for a hearing and, thereafter, a new determination on the custody petition.

Thus, the Court Ordered that the order is reversed, on the law, without costs or disbursements, and the matter is remitted to the Family Court, Nassau County, for an evidentiary hearing on the issue of custody and a new determination thereafter; and further Ordered that pending the hearing and new determination, the subject child shall remain in the sole custody of the mother, and the provisions of the order, regarding child visitation shall remain in effect.

In another case, a child custody proceeding pursuant to Family Court Act article 6, the mother appeals, as limited by her brief, from so much of an order of the Family Court, Nassau County, as, after a hearing, denied her petition to modify an order of the same court, awarding the father residential custody of the subject child upon the parties' consent, so as to award her residential custody of the child.

To modify an existing custody arrangement, there must be a showing of a change in circumstances such that modification is required to protect the best interests of the child. The best interests of the child are determined by a review of the totality of the circumstances.

Although the determination of the hearing court which saw and heard the witnesses is entitled to great deference, its determination will not be upheld where it lacks a sound and substantial basis in the record.

Here, the Family Court's determination that the evidence did not demonstrate a sufficient change in circumstances is not supported by a sound and substantial basis in the record. Moreover, modification of the existing custody arrangement so as to award the mother residential custody is in the child's best interests.

Accordingly, a Bronx Family Lawyer said the Court reversed the Order insofar as appealed from, on the facts and in the exercise of discretion, without costs or disbursements, the mother's petition to modify the order, so as to award her residential custody of the subject child is granted, and the matter is remitted to the Family Court, Nassau County, for further proceedings to establish an appropriate child visitation schedule for the father; and it is further Ordered that pending further order of the Family Court, Nassau County, the father shall have child visitation on weekends from Friday until Sunday, or other times as the parties may agree, with the mother transporting the child to the father's residence, and the father returning the child to the mother's residence, or as the parties may otherwise agree.

A Brooklyn Family Lawyer said the Court awards visitation and custodial rights to a parent for the benefit of its children. In every child related cases, the primordial consideration is what is beneficial to the subject child. Here in Stephen Bilkis and Associates, our Nassau County Child Visitation lawyers will render its service to the parent who seeks to visit his child by filing a petition in court to that effect. For family related matters, we have our Nassau County Family attorneys, who will give you an advice to all family related issues you are concerned with. Call us now and receive a dependable advice from our diligent lawyers.

Grandmother Seeks Visitation Rights

September 29, 2014,

A New York Family Lawyer said a grandmother seeks to obtain visitation privileges with her grandson. The child was born and resided with the complainant, his maternal grandmother, for five years. The child's father is in prison, and his mother, who was addicted to drugs, already died.

Previously, a dispute arose between the complainant, as maternal grandmother, and the paternal grandmother, concerning custody of the child. However, the Supreme Court gave the child custody to his paternal aunt and granted both the maternal and paternal grandparents for limited visitation rights.

The paternal aunt subsequently initiated an adoption proceeding in the family court. As a result, they became the adoptive parents of the child.

A New York Divorce Lawyer said the questions presented by the complainant are whether or not the order of adoption outdated the prior order of the Supreme Court setting forth visitation rights to the maternal grandmother, and whether the law entitles the complainant as maternal grandmother to rights of visitation.

A Suffolk County Family Lawyer said sources revealed that adoption by its nature is a proceeding which seeks to establish permanent, as distinguished from temporary, relationships. The many safeguards surrounding adoption proceedings are evidence of the permanency which the proceedings envision. Moreover, it would appear that the court had complete jurisdiction of the adoption proceeding and that it obtained the consents of all those persons as a condition precedent to adoption.

The court then stated that it may well be that the paternal aunt and her husband, may feel that it might be in the best interests of the child to maintain some contact with his maternal grandmother through periods of visitation. As adoptive parents, however, it is exclusively within there own good judgment. Consequently, the appeal has been dismissed.

In a related proceedings, a father appeals from an order, without a hearing, that denied his request to modify a prior order of visitation, and granted the application of the attorney of the child to modify the prior order so as to limit the father's parenting time to brief visits with the child at public places.

A Westchester County Family Lawyer said the father filed a petition to modify a prior order of visitation. In opposing the father's request, the attorney of the child, based on the father's submissions, requested that the court limit the father's parenting time to periods of short duration and in a specific location.

Consequently, in an order, the family court, without a hearing, denied the father's petition and granted the application of the attorney for the child to modify the prior order of visitation, so as to limit the father's parenting time to brief visits at public places. The father then filed an appeal.
Contrary to the father's contention, the court stated that they had the authority to grant the relief requested by the attorney of the child in her opposition to his petition.

However, under the circumstances of the case, the court erred by denying the father's petition and granting the application of the attorney for the child without conducting a full evidentiary hearing. Based on records, generally, visitation should be determined after a full evidentiary hearing to determine the best interests of the child.

As a result, the court ordered that the order, is reversed, on the law and the facts, without costs or disbursements, and the matter is remitted to the court, for a hearing on the father's request and the application of the attorney, including an in camera interview with the child, before a different judge, and thereafter a new determination of the petition and the application.

It is also ordered that pending the hearing and determination of the petition and the application, the visitation order as set forth shall remain in effect.

If misfortune happens to the parent, grandparents are the first person who wants to take care of their grandchildren because of the emotional attachment they have. They are also the first who wants to obtain the custody of the children if need be. If you are in the same situation, you can seek assistance from the Nassau County Family Lawyer or Nassau County Child Custody Lawyers. However, if you want to maintain your visitation privileges, you can hire the Nassau County Visitation Attorney at Stephen Bilkis and Associates to provide you with the legal assistance you need.


Father Seeks to Restrain Mother from Relocating Children

September 28, 2014,

A New York Family Lawyer said in the matter before the Court concerns child custody of two children. The children are the biological children of the divorced parties herein. The current proceedings were commenced when the father filed petitions pursuant to Article 6 of the Family Court Act (FCA) in Albany County Family Court seeking child custody or, in the alternative, to restrain the mother from relocating with the children. After the mother relocated with the children to South Carolina, The Albany County Family Court issued an order granting the father temporary child custody of the children. The father went to South Carolina to obtain physical child custody of the children and then immediately relocated to Nassau County, New York. The Albany Family Court matter was thereafter transferred to this Court. The mother also filed her own petitions seeking child custody.

A New York Divorce Lawyer said that pursuant to a stipulation and Judgment of Divorce, the parties were divorced in 2004. As per the terms of their stipulation, the parties had joint legal child custody of the children with the mother having physical child custody and the father having certain rights of parenting time. At the time of the divorce, the parties were living in the Albany, New York area, having relocated together from Long Island. Immediately after the divorce was finalized, the parties continued to live together for financial reasons, but eventually moved into separate apartments in the Albany area, with the children living with the mother.

A New York City Family Lawyer said the father exercised his parenting rights during this time, though the extent to which he did so is in dispute. The mother met her current husband, a resident of South Carolina, in an online chat room and began a long distance relationship which resulted in one of them traveling once every few months to see the other. At other times they would both travel and meet somewhere in the middle. At some point during 2005 the mother had a hysterectomy which she blamed for causing her to lose her job. The loss of her job, and the father's alleged failure to provide regular child support, placed her in dire financial straits which she believed could only be remedied by a relocation to South Carolina where, aside from the new husband, her mother and sister resided.

A Manhattan Family Lawyer said the mother informed the father on a number of occasions of her desire to relocate. The first time this occurred the father's lawyer sent the mother a letter informing her the father opposed her request to move. On the last occasion, the mother claims the father failed to respond except to say he would think about it, and when she heard nothing further she believed herself free to relocate. The mother claims she was not aware of any such petition, but after being informed by the father that the Court would be involved, she claims she called the Court but was not informed of any pending court date. In actuality, the Albany court had a return date and when the mother failed to appear, the Court granted the father an order of temporary child custody. The father then misled the mother into thinking he was coming to South Carolina to visit the children, and instead showed up to the mother's sister's home, during a barbecue, with his mother, the police and some sheriffs and retrieved the children. The father then took the children and his mother to Westbury, Long Island where the four of them began living in an apartment they continue to live in today.

After returning to the Albany area for a court appearance, the mother claims to have found a summons at her prior residence alongside the railing of a rarely used door. Thereafter, the father's petitions were transferred to Nassau County. Thus, the Court held a hearing and determined the father should continue to have temporary child custody of the children while the child custody case was pending.

This Court ordered a forensic evaluation, which was completed in two parts by separate therapists as a result of scheduling and traveling difficulties of the couple. The Court also directed the Nassau County Probation Department to perform an Investigation and Report (I & R). The parties and lawyers cooperated with one another during the trial to the extent that many witnesses were taken out of turn to accommodate the schedules of the forensic evaluators, school personnel and probation officer. As a result, the testimony of the parties and some other witnesses were frequently interrupted.

The subject children were interviewed in camera on two occasions. The children were much more expressive in the first in camera than in the second one. The Court does not believe either parent imposed any pressure or coached the children for either interview. The children each want to live with a different parent, though they love both of their parents, and each other, very much. The Court never considered splitting them up, despite their wishes.

This case is one of many ironies. The first being that these two parents seem to be perfect foils for one another, in terms of parenting. While the father is only reactive in considering his children's needs, the mother is aggressively proactive which has benefitted the children greatly. On the other hand, while The mother may be prone to overreacting and use harsh tactics when she reacts without reflecting first, The father has a more laid back and patient demeanor which may suit these two special-needs children better. There are number of other examples like this where these two parents seem to be fitted puzzle pieces when it comes to parenting these two children.

While it is different from most in that child custody was actually changed to the non-relocating parent prior to the fact finding but after a hearing, the analysis is the same. The issue of relocation is to be considered depending upon the facts of the particular case and what is in the best interests of the children.

In determining whether to allow a relocation, the Court must consider a number of factors including, but not limited to, the reasons in favor of and against the relocation, the quality of the relationships between the children and the custodial and non-custodial parents, the impact the move would have on the relationship and future contacts with the non-custodial parent, the extent to which the children's and custodial parent's financial, emotional and educational needs will be enhanced by the move, and the feasability of preserving a relationship between the children and the non-custodial parent should the move be allowed. The Court must determine, based upon these and other factors, whether it has been established by a preponderance of the evidence that the relocation would be in the children's best interests.

The reasons given by the mother in favor of the relocation were largely financial. She testified, at length, that a number of factors led her to relocate. These factors included losing her job, not getting child support from the father and being refused unemployment and public assistance. But no evidence was offered as to why she would have better luck finding employment in South Carolina. Indeed, she did not have a job waiting for her in South Carolina at the time of her move. On the other hand, The mother did have family support in South Carolina, where her mother and sister both reside. While it was never clearly spelled out, and none of The mother's family members testified in this trial, The mother testified these family members were available for financial and emotional support for the her and the children.

The two aspects of this factor seem to cancel each other out herein and thus this factor does not assist the Court in its analysis. Similarly, the consideration of the effect upon the children's relationship with the non-custodial parent should the move be allowed is not helpful either. The father has indicated that if the mother is awarded child custody, he will likely relocate to be nearer to them. On the other hand, the mother has already established a significant and meaningful "long distance" relationship with the children which would only likely be enhanced with greater parenting periods if the father is awarded child custody.

Accordingly, the Court does not believe allowing, or disallowing, the relocation would affect the current relationships with either parent substantially. There was some testimony that the mother's financial and emotional needs would be met by the move and those needs would largely be met by the second husband throughout these proceedings, the mother has had problems keeping a job and left New York due to financial straits. While the Court was very impressed with the second husband, the Court must remain cognizant of the fact that he has no obligation to support the children, while the mother has testified to having trouble doing so in the past. One issue of paramount importance to this Court in this case is the stability of these two children, something they have not had much of in their young lives. Stability is presumed to be in the children's best interests.

The current stability in the children's lives has been a product of these prolonged court proceedings, which have been ongoing for over two and one-half years, allowing them to remain in their current school district. Each parent in this case called as witnesses a number of teachers and school personnel in an attempt to persuade the Court that each parent was more involved, or better involved, with the school than the other. Through those witnesses it became clear that the schools themselves were providing a great deal of stability to these children.

That the paternal grandmother could tell the mother that an issue regarding her children is "none of her business" is an example of unparalleled gall and not the first instance of such. This discussion about the parents' behavior is relevant because this Court must also weigh, among all the other factors, which one of the parents is more likely to promote a positive relationship with the other parent. To do so, a parent must place the children's needs before his or her own.
However, even when taking such into account, it seems that The father is willing to work at it, if only to keep child custody of the children. The Court would prefer if his motivation was to become a better parent, but, in the end, as long as he works at it the children will benefit. The Court has also viewed the evidence in this case from the perspective of a modification petition, since both parents are, essentially, seeking a modification of the divorce decree. "The hearing court may order a change in child custody if the totality of the circumstances warrants a modification in the best interests of the child”. In this case, the totality of the circumstances includes the mother's unauthorized relocation, her refusal to put the children's needs ahead of her own, the children's stability as well as their emotional and educational needs.

Though each child expressed a preference for a different parent, the Court never considered splitting the children and does not believe it would be in their best interests to do so. Their wishes are one factor to be considered, but are not determinative. The Court must weigh the age and maturity level of the children when considering their wishes. The Court finds that neither child in this case is old enough, nor mature enough, for his or her wishes to be afforded great weight. Absent the relocation, the Court would have granted sole child custody to the mother, as she seemed to have a much better grasp of the children's medical and educational needs. The Court found The father lacked basic knowledge of his children's education and medical needs and history prior to and including the latest move to Long Island.

Should either parent travel with the children outside the state of their residence, two weeks prior to such, they must provide the other parent with the address of where he or she will be staying with the children and phone numbers to be used only in the case of emergency. Each parent may travel internationally with the children, but the traveling parent must give a minimum of one month notice to the other, in writing, of any such travel. There shall be any other parenting time as is agreed upon by the parties. The decision in this case deviates, depending upon the circumstances, from the recommendations of the forensic evaluator and the children's attorney. Where there is a forensic evaluation and a recommendation by a child's attorney, the recommendations contained therein are not determinative, but are to be afforded some weight. The reason for the potential deviation from the forensic evaluator's recommendation involves different priorities, as well as the credibility and demeanor of witnesses during the hearing.
As the children's attorney also strongly favored the father, the Court's reasoning is the same.
The Court's priority is to give the children the benefit of and attempt to accentuate the dominant parenting skills of each parent, not to punish the mother for her relocation or favor the father because he is more agreeable.

Therefore, based on the foregoing, it is ordered that The mother shall have residential and sole legal child custody of the children if she moves back to New York, within a thirty mile radius of the father's current residence, and it is further ordered that if the mother does not relocate to New York, The father shall have residential child custody of the children and the parties shall share joint legal child custody, as described in this decision; and it is ordered that parenting time shall occur as described in this decision.

In every case involving a child of parents-litigants in a case, the court must take into consideration the welfare of the subject child since he should not suffer the consequences of the case of his parents. Here in Stephen Bilkis and Associates, through our Nassau County Family lawyers, we determine each and every action we make in case there is a child affected in a spousal action. We make it a point that, a sufficient amount of support is given to the child for his nourishment and sustenance. Our Nassau County Child Support lawyers files the necessary pleadings for the benefit of the subject child. Write or call us now, we are always ready to listen and help you with your predicaments.

Father Claims Ex-Wife Willfully Prevented him from Exercising Visitation Rights

September 27, 2014,

A New York Family Lawyer said a man sought an order to have his former wife held in contempt for her willful and deliberate failure to comply with the stipulation of settlement, in that he allegedly interfered with his right to frequent and regular visitation with and telephone access to his children and by alienating the children from him through numerous acts of disparaging.

The court then granted the man's motion by its amended decision and order, to the extent that a hearing was ordered. The contempt hearing was held with set schedules.

A New York Divorce Lawyer said the parties' stipulation was incorporated but not merged into the parties' decision of divorce. Pursuant to the unequivocal terms of the stipulation, the woman was prohibited from alienating the children from the her former husband, placing any obstacle in the way of the maintenance, love and affection of the children for the man, or to hinder, impair or prevent the growth of a close relationship between the children and their parents, respectively, or cause others to do so. Moreover, in sharing joint legal custody of the children, the woman was specifically required to consult with the man regarding decisions affecting the children's education, health and religion.

A Long Island Family Lawyer said the stipulation also clearly provided that each of the parties was to exert every effort to maintain free access and unhampered contact, to foster a feeling of affection and not to do anything which may estrange the children from the man or injure the children's opinion as to the father which may hamper the free and natural development of the children's love and affection for the man.

A Queens Family Lawyer said based on records, to sustain the man's application regarding contempt, he must demonstrate that his former wife had violated a clear and unequivocal court order which actually defeated, impaired, impeded or prejudiced the other party's rights or were calculated to affect those rights.

Sources revealed that the court's findings were based, in part, upon an assessment of the credibility of the witnesses and their character, temperament and sincerity. The court also considered the extensive post-hearing submissions of each of the parties and the attorney of the children.

The instance of alienation started when the woman intentionally scheduled their child's birthday party on a Sunday afternoon during the man's weekend visitation, and then refused to permit the man to attend. She demanded that the child be returned home early, in order to prepare for her party, but the other child was enjoying the time with her father and wished to remain with him until the party began. The woman then reprimands her daughter for daring to invite her father to take a picture of her outside her party.

The woman's taped temper tantrum was then offered into evidence, vividly detailed one instance of how the children have been made to understand that enjoying time with their father will be met with their mother's wrath and threat of punishment.

At trial, the mother conceded that when she completed the first child’s registration card, she wrote that the man is not authorized to take them from school and should ask permission from her. The woman also claimed for fear and that the man would retrieve the girls directly from school. However, she later admitted that the man had never even attempted to pick them up at school.

Sources revealed that the woman’s testimony at trial sharply contradicted her sworn affidavit, in which she stated that the man consistently attempts to pick up the girls unannounced from their schools and activities, which disrupts not only the girls, but those in charge of the aforementioned.

In her sworn affidavit, the woman claimed that she completed the registration card because the man sought to attend at the end of the child's art class and then had the audacity to drive his daughter home. The art class incident occurred well after the registration card was completed by the woman. Moreover, nothing in the parties' agreement prohibits the man from visiting the children at extra-curricular events or from driving them to or from such events.

In vivid testimony, the man recalled how the mother willfully prevented him from exercising his rights of visitation with the children.

Sources revealed that it was observed in the courtroom that the mother smirk as man emotionally relates on how he was deprived of spending Hanukkah with his children, and was relegated to lighting a menorah and watching his daughters open their grandparents' presents in the back of his truck at the base of mother's driveway.

The fact that the children were as angry as they were with the man, demonstrates, in the view of the court, that efforts to alienate the children and their father were seemingly effective. The children demanded that man meet their demands before they would permit him to visit with them again.

The mother's contends that she had no involvement in the children's demands and was belied by the very fact that the children had intimate knowledge of their mother's position on all of the issues. The children, in effect, were evolved into mother's sub-agents and negotiators, having specific details of the financial demands of the mother, and information as to the marital agreement.

The mother also alluded to the ambivalence of the children in seeing the man. But such abrogation to the children's wishes was in violation of the agreement. It was wholly improper for the mother to adhere to the children's wishes to forego visitation with their father.

The mother half-heartedly testified that she wants the children to have a relationship with their father. Her view of the man's role was a numbing, evident by her actions that were without any appearance of involvement.

Consequently, given the finding of a willful violation of the decision of the court, and given the fees requested for parenting coordinator fees, shall be the object of a hearing. While the parties consented to such determination on submission, the issues presented lend themselves to the court's assessment of the parties' finances.

Moreover, the court stated that to facilitate a complete record, a hearing is then ordered. On the court's own motion, the decision and order will be stayed to afford the mother an opportunity to seek appellate review, if so advised, and it is ordered, that the mother is adjudged to be in civil contempt of the judgment of divorce.

The court ordered that the parties and their counsel shall appear for sentencing which date may not be adjourned without written order from the court.

The court further ordered that the mother is sentenced to a period of six weekend’s imprisonment in the county’s correctional facility, pursuant to the schedule set forth. It is also ordered that the order and execution of the sentence shall be stayed. It is ordered that the decision shall be deemed an order and/or warrant of commitment pursuant to and in accordance with the law.

The court also ordered that a copy of the decision and order shall be served upon the sheriff and/or the warden of the county’s correctional facility to facilitate the schedule of weekend incarceration.

It is also ordered that the court finds that the conduct of the mother was calculated to, or actually did, defeat, impair or prejudice the man's rights or remedies.

Because of selfishness, relationships may suffer and it can happen to any children living with one parent and away from the other parent. If you are a father or a mother who wants to seek your rights, you can seek the Nassau County Family Lawyer or Nassau County Visitation Attorney. You can also approach the Nassau County Child Custody Lawyers at Stephen Bilkis and Associates.

Court Hears Combined Adoption and Visitation Proceeding

September 26, 2014,

A New York Family Lawyer said in this combined adoption and visitation proceeding, the mother is seeking to have her son, adopted by her new husband. The father of the child however opposes the adoption and visitation request. The guardian of the child also opposes the mother's petition and requests for forensic evaluation of the parties and the child.

This matter stemmed from the situation where the complainant mother and the father of the child never married or lived together.

A New York Divorce Lawyer said the mother of the child testified that she knew that the father of the child was married when she first met him, even if he told her that the marriage was over. The mother testified that after the father's family arrived, their relationship ended, even if the father of the child continued to call her to discuss the child during the months that followed.

Subsequently, the mother met another man. The following year, the mother moved out of her apartment and move in with the man at his residence. When the mother moved, she submitted a change of address notification form to the post office. She changed her home telephone number but kept the same cell phone number, the same job, the same work address and the same telephone number at work. The mother also notified her landlord about her move. She testified that after her move, he occasionally stopped by at her new apartment to bring mail that was mistakenly delivered to the old address.

Afterward, a Staten Island Family Lawyer said the mother gave birth to her second child. Shortly thereafter, the mother stopped accepting the child support of her eldest child from his father and returned the last two checks that he sent.

A Nassau County Family Lawyer said the mother then married the man. Thereafter, by letter, the mother's attorney notified the father of child about the intent to seek a stepparent adoption of the mother’s new husband.

The father of the child then filed a petition seeking visitation. In his petition, he alleged that he did everything for his child. He also alleged that the mother disappeared with the child. He stated that he only learned of her location when he received notification that the mother intended to have his rights terminated as the father of the child, so that the child can be adopted.

Later, the mother and her husband filed a stepparent adoption. A hearing was conducted over the course of 10 trial dates.

During the hearing both parties testified. The mother also called her mother and her husband to testify. Neither the father nor the guardian presented any additional witnesses.

During the mother's testimony, she acknowledged that the father contributed to the child's support and visited regularly during the first 18 months of the child's life. She contended, however, that the father never shouldered any significant responsibility for the child's daily supervision, education, protection or care. She also noted that the father never seen the child since he was an infant and that he has not contributed to his support for six years.

The father contests the mother's assertions and contends that he paid support and visited regularly until the mother prevented him from doing so. He introduced 14 cancelled checks into evidence. The checks document the amounts he sent to the mother.

He asserts that he never evinced intent to forgo his parental rights and responsibilities. He insists that the mother deliberately dissatisfied his efforts to maintain a relationship with the child by relocating, changing her home telephone number, returning his checks for child support and instructing family members and friends not to disclose her location.

The father testified that he repeatedly attempted to locate the mother and the child after they moved in with the man’s residence. He said that he repeatedly asked the maternal grandmother and mutual friends for the mother’s contact information.

The father also asked their mutual friends for the location of the child and his mother more than 25 times. In addition, he testified that he asked the maternal grandmother for the help every time he saw her. According to the father's testimony, the maternal grandmother repeatedly stated that she would assist him in seeing the child, even if she never actually did so.

The father testified that after a telephone conversation with the mother, he never again attempted to call her at work, nor did he ever go to her place of employment. He said that the mother had asked him not to call her again at work, asserting that if he did she might lose her job.

The father asserts that the reason he was not more aggressive in his efforts to contact the mother or the child was that he was waiting for the maternal grandmother to help him.

The father also acknowledged that he never sent any cards, gifts, letters or support payments to the mother at her place of employment or her prior home address. He also acknowledged that he never sent any cards, gifts, letters or support payments to the maternal grandmother or to their mutual friends with a request that they forward them to the mother or the child. He acknowledged that he never hired a private investigator or contacted the post office or the department of motor vehicles in an attempt to learn the mother's new home address. He admitted that although he knew the mother's former landlord, from when she resided, he never asked him for her forwarding address.

The maternal grandmother also testified that she and the mother maintained contact after the parties separated. They spoke on the telephone, visited at each other's homes and at the home of a maternal cousin. She testified that when they were together they talked about friends and family members. She testified that he occasionally asked her how the child was doing but that he never expressed an interest in seeing him. She testified that he said that he would reestablish contact when the time was right. She testified that the father never asked her for the mother's new home address. In any event, she stated that he always knew how to find her grandson since he knew where her daughter worked and her telephone number at work, as well as her cell phone number.

The maternal grandmother further testified that she moved several times. Nevertheless, she testified that she always kept the father apprised of changes in her address and that he had visited her current apartment on several occasions. According to the maternal grandmother's testimony, at some point of October was the last time that the father spoke with the child.
On that said date, the child called the maternal grandmother while the father was at her home, visiting for her birthday. She testified that after she finished speaking with her grandson, she handed the telephone to the father and that the two of them spoke briefly.

Consequently, the court ordered that the father's request for visitation is denied and the petition is dismissed. It is further ordered that the father shall be deemed a notice. It is also ordered that the attorneys, the guardian and the parties are directed to appear in part 17. At the said time, the court will conduct a hearing to determine whether the proposed adoption is in the best interests of the child.

It is important to spend ample time with your children especially if you’re not living together. Whenever you need help with your child’s custody battle, you can ask the Nassau County Family Lawyer or Nassau County Child Custody Lawyers. You can also hire the Nassau County Visitation Attorneys if you want to maintain your visitation rights. Simply visit or call Stephen Bilkis and Associates office for your queries.

Father Fights for Custody of Eighteen Month Old

September 24, 2014,

A New York Family Lawyer said the Child was born on October 22, 2002 and came into the custody of Department of Social Services (DSS) who placed her with the foster parents on October 24, 2002. The Child has always resided with the foster parents. DSS did not have any contact with the case worker during the months of October and November of 2002. Between November 2002 and January 2003, the Court finds that the second DSS case worker attempted, on approximately six occasions, to have direct contact with the father, by calling him number and leaving messages for him. The father’s number had been given to DSS by the first case worker.

It was not until sometime in January 2003 that the case worker was in fact able to have telephone contact with the father when he answered the telephone. In January of 2003 he was advised of his need to plan for the Child. His response was to give the caller, the DSS worker, an incorrect last name. The court credits the testimony of the case worker that during this first conversation in January 2003, in response to the revelation that first caseworker had named him as the father, he responded “about time." Thus, the court finds that he had actual knowledge of the existence of the three month old Child and he acknowledged that he was the father during the same conversation. The case worker wrote the address she had been given.

A New York Divorce Lawyer said the court does not credit the father’s testimony that it was not until four months later, in May of 2003, that it was he who had initiated the first contact with DSS by making a telephone call. Neither is it credible that the father never received any telephone messages left for him by case worker at his number or that the conversation in January 2003, about which the caseworker testified to at length, never took place.

A Bronx Family Lawyer said that rather the court finds that the first contact between the father and DSS did in fact take place in January 2003, as the result of DSS's attempts to contact him. It was the persistence of DSS that resulted in the father finally answering his telephone. The court finds that from January 2003 when DSS efforts to contact him were successful until September 2003, he took no actions to work with DSS in any way. If the court were to credit his own testimony, that in June of 2003 he asked for visitation, according to this same testimony he was advised of his need to go to court. The court finds that it was not until September of 2003, as the Child was approaching her first birthday and having known of the Child's existence since January of that year and believing himself to be the father, that he made his first affirmative, albeit tentative, outreach to the Child by calling a week after receiving the letter sent to him on September 9, 2003.

A Brooklyn Family Lawyer said when the DSS supervisor, during that telephone conversation in September, advised him to file a paternity petition in Family Court, the father’s response was that he would do so when he was able to have time off from work. The court finds that at this time he had not yet determined to take the steps necessary to obtain custody of the Child so that she could have a permanent place with him. The court finds that the testimony of the DSS workers as well as his own testimony establishes that at best, from January 2003 until September 2003, the father was ambivalent about assuming child custody.

It was only at the end of October of 2003, that the father's behavior started to change. He attended a service plan review and appeared unannounced at DSS with a gift for the Child. On that date, he said he had filed a paternity petition in response to the case worker's inquiry. But in fact it was not so. He did not actually file the petition to establish paternity until six days later. It was not until either the end of November or the end of December 2003 when he dropped off some clothing for the Child, that, according to the testimony of the case worker, he asked for visitation with the Child, who was then between 13 and 14 months old.

The father asserted that he first asked for visitation in June of 2003 and again on October 31, 2003. It is not disputed that his request or requests for visitation could not have been granted because the court had not issued an order establishing him as the biological father of the Child. No order could have been issued at that time because he failed to file a paternity petition until November of 2003.

By the time paternity was established pursuant to the court order, the Child was eighteen months old. It was in or around this time that the father began supervised visitation. The court finds that he has been paying child support and visiting with the child.

In the instant case, the questions of time and status are intertwined. The court finds that Domestic Relations Law (DRL) does not mandate that the court limit its review of the parent's conduct to the six months preceding the filing of the adoption petition, or, in this case, the petition to determine status. The clear meaning of the statute is to provide the court with flexibility to be able to consider the totality of circumstances in any matter.

It may be that the six month period before the filing of an adoption petition or a request to determine the status of a parent is the critical six month period. In this recent case, the court found that despite all the obstacles placed in his way, a sixteen year old father had done all that he could do as soon as he learned of the existence of the child, to have the court determine his filiation and his application for custody and to find that he had the right to object to the adoption of his child. That court found that he had virtually moved heaven and earth as soon as he had learned of the mother's pregnancy to assert his paternity and indeed had the right to object to the adoption of his child.

Prior to November 2003, the father was not committed to the Child. His failure to respond to the calls and letters of DSS, his refusal to give the case worker his correct name and his inability or unwillingness to take time from work to file a paternity petition until the Child was over twelve months old; all of this stalling, demonstrates to the court that he could not or would not act promptly.

It was due to his own failure to act, despite all of the outreach efforts of DSS, that he was not adjudicated the biological father of the Child until April 7, 2004. By that time the Child was eighteen months old.

Based on the foregoing, the court finds that in this case, the father's consent to an adoption is not required. However, he does have the right to be heard in any future proceeding regarding the Child's adoption, pursuant to Social Service Law. This provision of the statute provides that any person adjudicated by a court of this state to be a father of a child is entitled to notice of an adoption. The purpose of this notice requirement is to enable the father to be heard as to the child's best interest. Therefore, it is hereby ordered that the Visitation and TPR (Termination of Parental Rights) petitions are dismissed.

If a child’s parents are unfit to take care of children, the government is there to fulfill their duties. However, if you think that you can raise your child accordingly and you want to regain your child’s custody, visit Stephen Bilkis and Associates and speak with the Nassau County Family Attorney or the Nassau County Child Custody Lawyer.

Court Decides of Petition for Relocation Should be Granted

September 23, 2014,

A New York Family Lawyer said that, the petitioner/mother, and the respondent/father, were divorced by judgment of divorce, dated February 14, 2000 and entered by the Nassau County Clerk on February 15, 2000. The judgment of divorce granted the parties joint legal custody of their children. Physical custody was awarded to the petitioner, subject to the respondent's right to visitation as set forth in their separation agreement, dated August 31, 1998, which was incorporated (but did not merge) with the judgment of divorce. The separation agreement provided, among other things, that the father would have mid-week overnight visitation with the children.

A New York Divorce Lawyer said that, on April 17, 2003, the petitioner filed an application with this Court for modification of the visitation provisions of the judgment of divorce. The petition requested that the respondent's mid-week visitation be eliminated, as it was "not practical" because her new husband, Andrew Smith, had secured employment in the Albany, New York area. The petition stated that she and her four children (the two children and the two children of her current marriage) would relocate to the Albany area to join her husband on or about June 30, 2003, at the end of the school year.

A New York City Family Lawyer said that, on June 5, 2003, the Court ordered that the parties submit to an investigation and report with the Nassau County Probation Department, Family Division. The Court also ordered that Ms. Susan Silverstein, forensic evaluator, prepare a report. On June 30, 2003, the respondent filed an order to show cause with this Court, requesting that the petitioner be enjoined from relocating the children from her residence or, alternatively, why the respondent should not be given custody of the children. A temporary order was made thereafter, dated August 28, 2003, which restrained the petitioner from leaving the jurisdiction of this Court with the Jones children until the time of hearing. The petitioner made arrangements for Joe and Ann to remain in the same school district in Nassau County for the start of the 2003-2004 school year by residing with their maternal grandmother.

A Nassau Child Support Lawyer said that, the parties share legal custody of the children, with residential custody to the petitioner, as a result of their judgment of divorce. In January 2001, almost one year after the parties' divorce was concluded, the petitioner married her current spouse, who was employed by the Village of Williston Park at the time. After the marriage the petitioner, the children, and eventually the two children of this second union lived in Williston Park in a house owned by the parents. An increase in property taxes led the parents to decide to sell the house in which the petitioner and their son lived.

A Manhattan Family Lawyer said thereafter, and as a result of that conversation with his parents, he began to search for a new job, in an effort to effectuate this relocation. In March of 2003, he was offered a job with a waste and recycling company in the Albany area. Although it is the petitioner's contention that she discussed the possibility of relocation with the respondent, there is some dispute as to whether the respondent initially voiced any objection. In any event, Mr. Smith accepted the position and the Smith's house was placed on the market. The house was sold and his parents purchased a home in Ballston Spa for the petitioner, Mr. Smith, and the children. The petitioner ultimately commenced the subject proceeding to terminate the respondent's midweek overnight visitation.
A Nassau Divorce Lawyer said that, petitioner seeks modification of the parties' Judgment of Divorce, dated February 14, 2000, and separation agreement dated August 31, 1998, which was incorporated by reference. It should be noted that the petitioner has not asked the court for permission to relocate with the children. Rather, the petitioner's modification petition made clear that the petitioner had already decided to relocate with the children, and sought modification of the controlling visitation provisions by terminating the respondent's overnight midweek visitation. The respondent, in his order to show cause, seeks to prevent the petitioner from relocating the children.

The issue in this case is whether the petition for relocation should be granted.

The Court of Appeals' decision in the 1996 case is the cornerstone for law governing relocation matters in New York State. In the said case, the Court of Appeals formulated a "best interest standard" and held that each particular relocation application should be decided on its own merits, after consideration of all facts and circumstances, with the "predominant emphasis being placed on what outcome is most likely to serve the best interests of the child".

The Court set forth a series of "factors" to evaluate when making a relocation determination. These are: (1) each parent's reasons for seeking or opposing the move, (2) the quality of the relationships between the child, the custodial and non-custodial parents, (3) the impact of the move on the quantity and quality of the child's future contact with the non-custodial parent, (4) the degree to which the custodial parents and child's life may be enhanced economically, emotionally and educationally by the move, and the feasibility of preserving the relationship between the non-custodial parent and child through suitable visitation arrangements.

While these "factors" have been set forth by the Court of Appeals, they are not all inclusive or to be strictly applied. Rather, the final determination rests with the court, based upon all the proof in the case, and "whether it has been established by a preponderance of the evidence that a proposed relocation would serve the child’s best interests".

This court has duly considered and examined the testimony of the various witnesses. This court also based its decision on the in-camera with the Jones children and the recommendation of the Law Guardian. Each relocation case must be decided on its own merits. The greatest weight must be afforded to the best interests of these children. The factors set forth in in the said case have been weighed against the evidence put forth by petitioner. Therefore, in applying the principles set forth above to the instant matter, in accordance with the decision rendered from the bench after hearing on January 27, 2004, and after having thoroughly considered and reviewed all relevant factors this court finds that the petitioner has failed to meet her burden of proof, by a preponderance of the credible evidence, that a relocation would serve the best interests of the children. Moreover, although the children are not so advanced in age that their wishes should be the overriding concern, it is clear that they would feel more comfortable remaining with their father.

Accordingly, the court held that the custody and visitation provisions of the parties' judgment of divorce and separation agreement are hereby ordered modified. The parties shall continue to share joint legal custody. Physical custody is transferred to the respondent. The petitioner shall have visitation with the children on the first and third weekends of every month. The petitioner shall exercise one of these weekends in Nassau County, and may exercise the other in Ballston Spa, New York. With the exception of the midweek overnight visitation, which is eliminated, any additional visitation provisions specifically set forth in the parties' judgment of divorce and separation agreement that belonged to the respondent shall now belong to the petitioner.

In a petition for relocation of a child, the court should consider the best interest of the child. If you want to contest the relocation of a child, seek the legal advice of a Nassau Order of Protection Attorney and Nassau Child Custody Attorney at Stephen Bilkis and Associates. Call us for more information.

Appeals Court Decides if Trial Court Erred in Terminating Parental Rights

September 22, 2014,

A New York Family Lawyer said that, in a proceeding pursuant to Social Services Law § 384-b to adjudicate the subject child to be a permanently neglected child and to terminate the mother's parental rights, the Nassau County Department of Social Services appeals from an order of the Family Court, Nassau County, entered August 6, 1992, which, after a fact-finding hearing, dismissed the petition, without prejudice to renewal.

A Nassau Order of Protection Lawyer said that, the appellant contends that the fact-finding hearing amply supports a finding of permanent neglect, that it made diligent attempts to strengthen the parent-child relationship, and that, despite its encouragement, the mother, who is the respondent on this appeal, failed to maintain continuous contact with her son on a regular basis and has failed to plan for the future of the child. A Nassau Family Lawyer said that, the child in question is mentally retarded and suffers from cerebral palsy and ataxia. A neglect finding was entered against the mother, and the child was placed in the custody of the father. Several months later, the child suffered a broken leg while under the care and supervision of the father's friend, and he was then placed in foster care on June 21, 1985. Since that time, due to his multiple handicaps, the child has been placed into six different foster homes.

A New York Divorce Lawyer said the issue in this case is whether the court erred in dismissing the petition to terminate the parental rights of the mother of the subject child.

The court agrees. The court in deciding the case said that, a "permanently neglected child " is defined as one "who is in the care of an authorized agency and whose parent has failed for a period of more than one year substantially and continuously or repeatedly to maintain contact with or plan for the future of the child notwithstanding the agency's diligent efforts to encourage and strengthen the parental relationship" (see, Social Services Law § 384-b[7][a]. It has been said that "in a proceeding to terminate parental rights based on permanent neglect, the threshold consideration is whether the agency has discharged its statutory obligation to exercise diligent efforts to encourage and strengthen the parental relationship".

A Long Island Family Lawyer said that moreover, when the child care agency has custody of the child and brings the proceeding to terminate parental rights, it has the burden of establishing its "diligent efforts" by clear and convincing evidence.

Here, the agency established by clear and convincing evidence that it met its statutory obligation to exercise diligent efforts to encourage and strengthen the parental relationship (Social Services Law § 384-b[7][a]. The agency's efforts failed because of the mother's refusal to cooperate. She had no contact with her child for several years after he entered foster care. Thereafter, visitation was minimal and sporadic. The agency referred the respondent to several counseling and parenting skills programs that she failed to complete, and arranged visitation that the respondent failed to attend. Moreover, the testimony established that the foster parents had formed a strong bond with the child, and the respondent conceded that she was unable to care for the child.

A Queens Family Lawyer said the court concludes the petitioner satisfied its burden of proving permanent neglect in that the respondent has permanently neglected her child by failing to maintain contact with him and to plan for his future despite the diligent efforts by the agency to encourage and reunite them.

Upon the finding of permanent neglect, the matter must be remitted to the Family Court, Nassau County, for the dispositional hearing, to be conducted as expeditiously as possible, to determine the best interests of the child.

Accordingly, the court held that the order is reversed, on the law, without costs or disbursements, the petition to adjudicate the subject child to be a permanently neglected child is granted, and the matter is remitted to the Family Court, Nassau County, for a dispositional hearing in accordance herewith.

The rule is that proceeding to terminate parental rights based on permanent neglect, the threshold consideration is whether the agency has discharged its statutory obligation to exercise diligent efforts to encourage and strengthen the parental relationship. If a child is being neglected, seek the assistance of a Nassau Order of Protection Attorney and Nassau Child Custody Attorney in order to divest the custody of the child to the abusive parents. Call us at Stephen Bilkis and Associates.