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

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.

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