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Court Rules on Terms of Final Divorce Judgment

Child visitation cases are very common legal battles encountered by a Brooklyn Visitation Lawyer, when children of separated parties become subjects of exchanges of custodies.

A visitation exchange happens when a child moves from one parent to another at a time specified in custody exchanges judgment. In this case, as reviewed by one of our lawyers, the Father of the child appeals to a higher court for a reversal of a prior court’s decision that held the Father in contempt for letting their child fly to from New York to Florida alone, which violated the previous court’s written final judgment. In addition, the Mother stated that the Father had permitted the five year-old child to board a flight with an ear infection.

Custody and visitation cases may naturally bitter and sometimes even result to non-appearance of either of the parties during trial or appeals, according to a Brooklyn Custody Lawyer. In this case, during the time of trial, the Father was a resident of New York City and the Mother was residing in Tampa, Florida and a final judgment was given by a previous court to settle the ex-couples arguments over previous visitation exchanges. These are the things stated on the amended supplemental final judgment: (1.) that all visitation exchanges will transpire Pinellas County Visitation Exchange, (2.) that in case the visitation facility is not open, the ex-couples would each notify the other and the exchange of guardianship will then be held in the airport’s police station, and (3.) that the Court expects that the child will be able to fly all by herself when she becomes 8 years old.

Because of the third stipulated judgment, the Mother filed a motion for contempt against the Father for not accompanying their child and allowing her to fly on an airline with an ear infection, which she claims both breached the settled upon agreement in the final judgment. Because of this, the Father, appealed to a higher court to change the decision that he was acting on contempt. According to our New York Family Lawyer, the motion for contempt filed by the Mother was reversed because of several reasons. The Father claimed that before the exchange happened, he was in Pinellas County and that his current wife was taking care of the child back in New York.

Prior to the agreed date of exchange, the current wife took the child to the airport, where the Father hired an escort service to watch over and accompany the child through the plane ride to Florida. Then the Father and the child met at the airport and later on, took her to Tampa to see her Mother. During that time that they met from the airport, the Father claimed that he did not notice that the child was suffering from an ear infection or did not look to have suffered an ear infection because of the plane ride. These claims as to how the child was escorted and met by the Father at the airport were not contradicted by the Mother. However, she insisted that she had to take the child to the doctor and that the child was diagnosed to have an ear infection. She did not give evidence that proved the ear infection started during the plane ride.

Moreover, each of them were asked to interpret the third stipulation in the final judgment and the Father understood it that the child will not go unaccompanied and that the airline won’t allow it if she did because it was the policy. The mother claimed that she understood the sentence and meant that either the Father or she must accompany the daughter in plane rides going to New York or Tampa until the child reaches eight. The present judge then contacted the “previous” judge who issued the amended final judgment. The previous judge who handled the case agreed with the mother and the current judge that the child must not have flown all by herself until she was eight. Because of this, the Father was indeed found in willful contempt of the final judgment.

According to a Brooklyn Order of Protection Lawyer, the Father, as previously mentioned, appealed to have the decision reversed because according to him, he interpreted the final provisions literally and that his daughter did not technically fly alone but was escorted during the entire plane ride. Moreover, the provision was stated and was made into a written order as “neither of them shall let the child fly alone…” It did not say that either parent must accompany her when flying until she reaches eight. The amended judgment did not really demand that parents must accompany her all the time and that the Father had proof to back his claim that he really hired an escort service. Therefore, it was found out that he did not violate the provision and that he was not acting in contempt.

The case was then compared to a similar one wherein the mother was held in contempt for being unable to fulfill the visitation exchange because she refused to give the child to the husband’s present wife. The court reversed and held that the mother was not in contempt because it was expressly written on the agreement that only she and her ex-partner are allowed to fulfill the transfer of custody and this was why she refused to give her child to the ex-partner’s wife. In this similar case, the mother read the law literally, which was how it should be and that law must be written this way so that the parties will truly be able to fulfill the demands of the provisions.

So although the prior judge to the main case really meant that the child be accompanied by either parent when traveling via airplane, he did not expressly put this provision into writing. To hold the Father in contempt, this provision must have been plainly and expressly written as an order in the final judgment. Therefore, the motion of contempt against the Father for allowing the child to fly with an escort was reversed. In addition, the Mother was unable to provide evidence that supported her claim that the child developed an ear infection from the plane ride. To make matters worse, she intentionally did not allow the child to go back to the Father because she claimed that the child was sick. However, although this was truly the case, it was not indicated on the provisions that a child’s sickness can postpone the transfer of custody. Therefore, the order of contempt against the father for letting the child fly with an ear infection was also reversed and that the Mother instead was found in willful contempt for not allowing the daughter to see the Father only because she was too sick to fly. The orders were also found to have violated the Father’s right for due process because these were made when he wasn’t present at court.

Court provisions may sometimes be a little difficult to interpret, which result to more arguments between parties. Although child custody and visitation cases are usually full of parties’ anger and bitterness, our expert team at Stephen Bilkis and Associates will see to it that your rights are not being pushed aside in this confusing and emotionally stressful time. Also, the welfare of the child or children must take precedent before anything else. We at Stephen Bilkis and Associates deal with numerous cases such as these and we can assure you that we will provide you with the best legal assistance every step of the way. Call one of our offices today.

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