In this case the Family Court was asked to determine whether to grant a father unsupervised visitation with his child because he lost his job and could not to afford the fees associated with supervised visitation.
The parents of the child were never married. Their relationship ended when the child was 6 months old, and the mother accused the father of domestic violence and received an order of protection. Both parents petitioned for custody. The Family Court awarded the mother custody and the father 4 hours of weekly unsupervised visitation. A few months later the mother petitioned the court for a modification to the custody order, alleging that the father had harmed the child. The court changed the father’s access to 4 hours per week of professionally supervised visitation. The order required that the father pay the expense associated with the supervised visitation.
A few months later the father petitioned the court for another modification of the custody order, asking that his access be changed back to unsupervised as he had lost his job and was not able to afford to pay the fees associated with the supervised visitation. In denying the father’s petition the Family Court noted that according to the father’s own testimony, even before he lost his job he had difficulty paying the supervised visitation expenses. Thus, when he lost his job, there was not a true change in circumstances as required for the court to consider modifying a custody arrangement. The father appealed.