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Sexual Assault Allegations Affect Child Support Ruling

Frances W. is the petitioner and Steven M. is the respondent.

The Issue

The petitioner sought an order of child support against the respondent which was subsequently denied after a hearing.

The petitioner filed in search of support for her niece, the daughter of the respondent in the case. This was filed on April of 2002. This was dismissed until an order was filed that clearly demonstrated the guardianship or custody of the child.

After a two-year hearing, custody of the child was given to Ms. W. The court then needed to decide whether the petitioner should be given child support payments by Mr. M, and whether the daughter had abandoned the father, in which case he would not be obligated to make such payments.

After review, the court decided to not require payments of child support.

History

Originally, the petitioner’s sister was married to the respondent. They had a child, Melissa, in 1987. Possibly related to a history of emotional and psychological problems, as well as chronic pain, the respondent’s wife committed suicide in the year 2000. The couple had been divorced in 1993 when the wife had made allegations of sexual abuse committed against their daughter by her husband. A New York Custody Lawyer said those allegations were eventually found to be baseless, and the father was allowed visitation with the daughter under the terms of the couple’s eventual divorce.

It was later determined that both the mother of the child and her sister had fabricated the allegations of sexual assault against the father. The Referee assigned to the case blamed these fabrications for destroying the daughter’s relationship with her father.

The original interviews conducted with Melissa took place when she was five. The mother maintained that she didn’t want to visit her father because of the abuse, but the doctors who interviewed her felt other dynamics, family stress and other causes were responsible, and were suspicious of the allegations. Later interviews revealed that the child’s only apparent knowledge of the alleged assaults were derived from the stories told to her by her mother. A Queens Family Lawyer said the petitioner throughout this process, despite knowledge of her sister’s mental problems, supported the stories being told to the daughter and certainly contributed to the dissolution of the relationship between the girl and her father.

Although some medical evidence was presented that supported the sexual abuse allegations, the courts dismissed it because of the unreliability of the memory of the doctor at hand, who couldn’t even recall getting permission to examine the girl for signs of abuse.

When determining whether or not the father of the child should have to pay child support, some facts need to be considered. First, the father has zero relationship with the daughters as a result of the brainwashing perpetrated by the aunt and mother of the girl. Because Ms. W.’s actions, which were not proper, caused this behavior, she does not have the right to seek child support payment.

A Nassau County Family Lawyer said that despite all the evidence to the contrary, it does seem as if Melissa believes that her father sexually assaulted her. This is due in large parts to the efforts of the aunt, which must be construed as making an active effort to destroy the relationship between father and daughter. To award her child support would be tantamount to awarding a profit for the fraud committed on the girl.

This does not mean that Melissa could not pursue action against her father. While her Aunt is certainly not entitled to profit, she may very well be entitled to collecting child support payments from her father, which should have been paid in the past. She could choose to pursue that venue at some point in the future.

Ruling

Ms. W.’s motion for child support was denied. A Law Guardian explained to Melissa her options in pursuing a petition for child support owed to herself.

When considering what type of legal action is most appropriate in a given situation, consult the team at Stephen Bilkis & Associates. Our lawyers will provide you with a free consultation via telephone. They will work with you in your given circumstances to help you arrive at an outcome that protects your interests. We have offices located in accessible locations throughout NY.

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