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Mother Challenges Custody Arrangment

A New York Family Lawyer said the parties in this matter initiated a stipulation of settlement which was so ordered by the court. The stipulation provides that it will survive and shall not merge into any decision of divorce.

A New York Custody Lawyer said that also provides for joint legal custody of the parties’ children with residential/physical placement to the mother. It provides for therapeutic visitation between the father and the children with one physician as well as an extensive parenting schedule for the father. The stipulation further provides that the father will pay the child support and certain other expenses.

The father then moved for temporary sole custody of his four children and subsequently granted by the court.

But, a Westchester County Family Lawyer said that such order of temporary custody was reversed by the appellate division based on best interest standards.

Later, by order after a hearing which included the testimony of the court-appointed therapist, the father was awarded with the temporary guardianship of his two daughters.

However, the issues referred to trial are the father’s application for permanent sole legal and physical custody of his daughters, the father’s application for a downward modification of his child support obligations for his two other children, the father’s application for child support from his wife and the father’s application restraining the mother from utilizing the services of another agency and terminating her entitlement thereto.

A Westchester County Custody Lawyer said that at the hearing, the court-appointed therapist testified that she was appointed to engage in therapeutic services of the father and the parties’ daughters. She further testified that she had the opportunity to observe the interaction between the girls and their father.

She further testified that the father would bring toys or arts and crafts to therapy and often brought food, preparing meals for holidays, Christmas and birthdays, which the girls refused. She also states that the father was cooperative with her instructions. She further testified that the father spoke with the girls appropriately and tried to give guidance and set limits. She stated that at times he would sit and wait patiently.

The therapist further stated that during the years she saw the father, the girls got progressively worse. They became more disrespectful, more defiant and acted out more often.

She also testified that the mother never availed herself of the doctor’s services and never reached out to assist the father. She further testified that she had a conversation with the mother about the problems with the visits and gave her some directions, but the mother did not follow them. Finally, she testified that the mother never discussed with her resuming having another physician see the children.

Subsequently, the father testified that at the time of the signing of the stipulation, he anticipated that the doctor would get things back on track with respect to his relationship with his children and he would shortly resume visitation as set forth in the schedule in the stipulation. He also anticipated that the mother would encourage his children to visit him and assist him in repairing their relationship.

He also testified that when he attempted to exercise his rights, he would go to the marital residence and the children would come outside, sometimes accompanied by their mother, but refused to go with him. He further testified that he had conversations with his wife and asked her to encourage their children to visit him, but she gave him no assistance and told him he had to handle the problem himself.

Further, the father asserts that during the six months following the stipulation, he observed bumper stickers on signs and buildings around his neighborhood stating that he was a useless father and that his children ate in food pantries. He stated that the mother made no efforts to foster his relationship with the children and that he could not even get them on the phone. He testified that in the beginning, he made almost daily phone calls to the marital residence. When he spoke to his wife about his inability to visit or get his children on the phone she responded that it was up to him.

He testified that when the children got on the phone, they would say one or two words and end the conversation. The children would be in the driveway when their father came for visitation, but just stood there and refused to come with him. The father testified that he talked to his wife and asked her to please have them come, but she gave him no assistance and made no effort to have the children cooperate.

The father also testified that after his wife was excluded from the visits, the children became hostile. They would climb out windows, refused to eat the food he brought for them, refused to go out to lunch with him, wore headphones and put hoods on and ignored him and refused to cooperate with the doctor. The father stated that the situation continued for a period of time.

The father testified that the court appointed therapist to replace his doctor to effectuate family counseling and therapeutic visitation between the father and the three remaining children.

The father testified that he did all he could to begin with the appointed therapist, but the mother was resistant. He testified that the first session with the therapist did not occur. He further testified that he reached out to his wife on a weekly basis asking her to cooperate with visitation. He further testified that he attempted to exercise visitation during the time period, but had no contact with his children.

The father also testified that he has been an attorney for years and in private practice. He testified that he does criminal defense and car accident cases.
He testified that prior to obtaining custody of his daughters, he worked six days a week and worked until ten or eleven o’clock in the evening on some nights. He regularly saw clients after hours and worked a tremendous amount of hours.

He testified that after he was awarded temporary custody of his daughters, his work schedule changed dramatically. He further testified that his hours of work have been reduced by about fifty percent and his income has decreased.

He testified that the income assigned to him in the stipulation is $180,000+ and he agreed to that because he wanted the divorce to be over and he wanted to move on to re-establish a relationship with his children. He testified that the parties backed into that figure so that the mother could keep the children in the former marital residence.

Based on records, the court is hopeful that the decision will end the parties’ long-standing court case. There have been over thirty motions filed and hundreds of hours of court intervention. The parties’ children are of principal concern to the court and they are entitled to closure of the matter. The court then ordered all attorneys to be present for the issuance of the decision and a determination of how best to proceed notifying the parties’ children.

Consequently, the mother’s argument that the father has failed to comply with the terms of the stipulation and that the father is somehow not entitled to ask for custody because the doctor never issued a letter resuming unrestricted visitation is denied by the record and is without merit.

If you know a couple who wants to be separated legally, you can recommend the reliable Suffolk County Family Lawyer or the Suffolk County Divorce Attorney. However, if child guardianship is the issue, you can hire the expert team of Suffolk County Child Custody Attorney of Stephen Bilkis and Associates.

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