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Court Looks at Husband’s Drug Use in Domestic Violence Case

A New York Family Lawyer said the complainant Wife and the defendant Husband exchanged marital vows in an Orthodox Jewish ceremony in Nassau County. At the time of the marriage the parties were very young New York residents, the Wife was 18 years old and the Husband, 22. Although the Wife had two years of college education at the College for Women in New York City, the Husband merely finished high school. She stopped studying without obtaining a degree after the birth of their first child and three more followed. After the children were born, the Wife became a full time homemaker and parent. The parties raised their children adhering to the tenets of Orthodox Judaism and the children attended the former school of the Husband.

At the time of their marriage in August 1983, the Husband was a Jewish music producer and sole owner and employee of an Orchestra, which primarily booked bands for weddings and other special events. A New York Custody Lawyer said through the Orchestra and the use of professional production studios, the Husband also produced albums and recordings for some well-known Hasidic musical entertainers, both in New York and in Israel. The Husband initially maintained a business office in Queens, which later operated from the marital home. The Husband at some point sold the company name of the Orchestra, but continued in the same business, calling his company with another name. Throughout the marriage, the Husband remained the primary support for the household with these enterprises.

Upon the formation of the new company in or about 1985, the Husband’s income increased to the range of $100,000 to $125,000 per year. A Suffolk County Family Lawyer said this would later include the Husband’s income of $50,000 to $75,000 which is generated from his employment by the non-profit Jewish organization. From 1989 through 1996, the Husband’s primary function with the non-profit Jewish organization consisted of putting together an annual special concert in New York City’s Lincoln Center that raised major funds for the organization. The Husband testified that in one year during the early to mid 1990’s, he had occasion to earn $150,000 as a result of the fundraising concerts and his employment by the organization, although he never attained that income level again.

Although the parties initially lived modestly with the children in rental apartments in Queens County, it changed in December 1989, when the family purchased for $350,000 their marital residence in an Orthodox community within Nassau County. A Suffolk County Custody Lawyer said that from that point on, members of this tight knit community have emotionally aided and financially assisted the family throughout the marriage in the form of loans, barter, gifts and other generosities and kindness of strangers from within the Orthodox community, which extended from Nassau County all the way to Israel. It appears that the Husband scrapped together a down payment in the sum of $100,000, which he said he borrowed from a friend. Title to the home was placed in the name of the Wife and a mortgage was taken with the Savings Bank for $260,000 with a yearly interest rate of 10.75% and a default interest rate of 15.75%. On October 1, 1994, the Savings Bank assigned the Mortgage to a Mortgage Corporation.

The Wife testified that spring of 1995 she saw a notice that their house was in foreclosure, and she had a discussion with her Husband, whereupon he assured her he would take care of everything. In fact, the Wife testified that the last mortgage payment had been made in April 1993, there being non-payment for three years in addition to interest that was accruing. The house went into foreclosure in 1995 or 1996. At the time of the foreclosure, the Husband admitted to the Wife apparently for the first time that he had a drug problem and was using cocaine.

A summons and complaint was filed by the Mortgage Corporation as against the Wife commencing a foreclosure action and demanding an acceleration of payment of the mortgage which at that time totaled over $260,000. A corporation familiar to the Wife’s family became involved in the foreclosure matter as a charitable act to the Wife, and negotiated with the Mortgage Corporation to pay the outstanding mortgage which at that time was approximately $225,000 in addition to accrued interest, which combined totaled $387,000. The Wife’s family Corporation purchased and was assigned the Mortgage Corporation’s rights under the mortgage. The Wife’s family Corporation never took title to the house, which continues to be in the Wife’s name. The Husband testified that he made contributions toward fixing up the marital residence after 1996, but provided no evidence of any upgrades or improvements. An appraisal as of December 5, 2005, indicated the value of the marital residence to be $760,000.

From 1997 to early 1999, the Husband began working for another Jewish agency, as a coordinator of special events and earned, according to his own testimony, somewhere between $45,000 and $48,000 for an annual fundraising concert he organized. The Wife, for her part, testified that the Husband earned $75,000 in salary from the agency and was provided with a medical insurance plan, in addition to income generated by his enterprise for which the Husband had no documentation. A biweekly pay check dated December 31, 1998, indicated that the Husband earned a yearly gross income of $80,410.84 from the agency, which sum of money did not take into account any income derived from the enterprise. In 1999, the Husband had approximately five jobs booked through the enterprise and sixteen (16) jobs booked through the Orchestra, a company through which the Husband also booked musicians, earning about $20,000.

In February 1999, the Husband started working as a day trader and in addition to day trading, the Husband organized all of the owner’s private events and parties. According to the Wife, the Husband was paid $1,500 per week from a private charitable fund controlled by the trading company, and sometimes the Husband was paid even more. The checks continued until 2001. In the year 2000, the Husband earned $100,000 from the enterprise company, in addition to income from the trading company.

Marital difficulties ensued in 2001 in part as a result of the Husband’s drug usage and allegations of domestic violence, prompting the Wife’s institution of a family offense proceeding in Nassau County Family Court which issued an Order of Protection against the Husband, directing him to stay away from the Wife and children, except for agreed upon visitation, and vacated him from the marital home. Shortly thereafter, the Wife commenced the instant matrimonial action against the Husband by Summons with Notice, the parties having been married for over 18 years. In her Verified Complaint, the Wife alleges adultery by the Husband, drug abuse resulting in financial ruin as well as a litany of acts of domestic violence, verbal abuse, intimidation and threats against her and the maternal family. At the time, the Husband had been living in Brooklyn at his father’s residence, while the Wife has been living in the marital home with the parties’ four children.

The Nassau County Supreme Court issued a Preliminary Conference Order where the parties agreed to a discovery schedule, the Wife’s exclusive use and occupancy of the marital residence, and her retention of temporary legal and residential custody of the children subject to the Husband’s visitation rights. These terms were further elucidated in the Court’s pendente lite Short Form Order which directed the Husband to pay $400 per week in temporary maintenance and $1,000 per week for child support for the four children, in addition to paying for the children’s school tuition and extra-curricular activities. The Husband was further directed to pay and maintain current policies of auto, medical and dental insurance on behalf of the Wife and children, as well as all reasonable and necessary medical, dental, orthodontic, optical and prescription medication not covered by insurance. The Husband was also directed to maintain a policy of life insurance with a face value of $200,000 naming the Wife and children as beneficiaries. Interim counsel fees in the sum of $5,000 were awarded to the Wife.

The matrimonial matter proceeded slowly as a result of discovery problems and the Husband’s lack of cooperation. Motion practice ensued and a Law Guardian was appointed to represent the children throughout the course of the divorce proceedings. Because of further issues concerning drug usage by the Husband, it was ordered that he have supervised visitation with the children, which as of the date of the commencement of the trial, consisted of one to two hours on alternate Sundays supervised by the paternal aunt and uncle who reside in the children’s neighborhood. He was also ordered to undergo drug testing, some of which revealed positive results; the most recent drug test results submitted to the court reflected a positive test for cocaine.

A neutral forensic evaluator was appointed by the court concerning contested child custody and parenting access issues. A report was rendered a year later. On the strength of the forensic report, the court ordered the parties and children to engage in psychotherapy that worked with the couple and established therapeutic visitation for the Husband and the children.

By Short Form Order, the court scheduled a contempt hearing based on the Husband’s failure to comply with the child support and maintenance provision of its pendente lite order, denied the Husband’s downward modification application and granted a money judgment to the Wife of $27,595 on child support and maintenance arrears. That was the beginning of the Husband’s continuous failure to fully pay for maintenance and child support to the Wife as well as for the children’s tuition and other necessaries. Although contempt hearings were scheduled, additional delays were caused by the Husband being hospitalized on multiple occasions for diabetes, cellulitis and heart disease, hospitalizations which the Wife alleged were often bogus and arranged by the Husband in collaboration with certain physicians.

Upon reassignment of this matter, the court immediately scheduled a status conference to ascertain the discovery needed and the status of the Husband’s visitation with the children. The neutral forensic evaluator was reappointed to render an updated forensic report and directed the parties to cooperate in securing same; the Husband, however, failed to cooperate. The matter was certified ready for trial and set for an expedited trial.

Following the completion of the trial, counsel summed up for the Court and was afforded the opportunity to submit legal memoranda addressing the issues presented for resolution.
Child support shall commence immediately and will be retroactive to the date on which the Wife made her initial demand for child support. The Husband shall continue to maintain all existing medical, hospitalization and dental insurance for the benefit of the Wife and children until such time as a Judgment of Divorce is signed and entered, and thereafter, only for the benefit of the children. The Wife shall endeavor to use physicians and specialists who are participants and covered under the Husband’s health insurance plan, unless the parties agree to the contrary.
The child’s financial, emotional and psychological needs continue as they grow up. If your partner is skipping child support and is not fulfilling his obligations to his children, you can ask the legal help of the Nassau County Visitation Lawyer together with the Nassau County Child Support Attorney from Stephen Bilkis and Associates.

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