Articles Posted in Custody

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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.

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In this case a father appealed a decision of the Family Court to suspend his visitation. The original custody order followed the parents’ divorce.  The father was granted visitation.  The order was later modified requiring that the father’s parental access had to occur in a public place.  The mother again petitioned the court to modify the custody order, further restricting the father’s access to the child.  The Family Court granted the mother’s petition and suspended the father’s access altogether.  The father appealed.

When the Family Court issues a final custody order, it will only change it if the circumstances have significantly changed, as a custody order is issued only after the court has carefully considered substantial testimony and evidence.  Often there is testimony from medical professionals.  When appropriate the child will testify and give his or her preference.  The goal of Family Court is always to facilitate healthy relationships between the child and both parents, and works with both parents to make sure that they each get to spend a significant amount f time with the child.  However, each case is different.  Ultimately, the child court will take all of the information presented and make a custody decision based on what is in the best interests of the child.  In some cases that may mean that it is necessary to modify the order so that the visitation is restricted.

Circumstances that would warrant a change to a custody order include a change in the lifestyle of the household, such as a new job that requires the parent to be absent often.  Substance abuse or violence in the household would require a modification as it is not in the best interests of the child to be in a dangerous environment.  If a parent experiences physical or mental health problems such that he or she would have difficulties caring for the child or such that the child would be in danger, the court would consider modifying the custody order.  Of course, the court will consider the preference of the child, particularly when the child gets older.

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The issue before the court is whether a parent who adopted out her children had the right to seek custody of them upon learning that the children were being sexually abused by the adoptive father.

The petitioner voluntarily surrendered her parental rights to her three children, 2 daughters and a son.  As part of the post-surrender agreement, the mother retained the right to visit with the children, and she did so regularly. The three children were subsequently adopted.  A few years after the adoption, Biological Mother found out that the children were not living in a safe environment.  One of her daughters was being sexually abused by Adoptive Father.  The other daughter was being sexually abused by an unrelated person.  The son was being bullied in the adoptive home.  In response, Biological Mother sought custody of the children.  Adoptive Father admitted that he sexually abused one of the daughters and was in jail. Adoptive Mother filed a motion opposing Biological Mother’s petition, arguing that she had no standing to file for custody.  Adoptive Mother also stated that she wanted to keep the children and that she was divorcing the adoptive father. In addition, the attorney representing the children opposed Biological Mother’s petition for custody.

The question before the court is whether a biological mother who previously surrendered her children has standing to bring an Article 6 custody petition against the children’s adoptive parents in a case where the adoptive father has admitted to sexually abusing one of the children.

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Matter of B. v J.

2018, NY Slip Op. 02148

L.B., Petitioner, Respondent.

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Matter of Isiah (Terry C.)

NY Slip Op. 06954

October 4, 2017

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E.V. v R.V.

NY Slip Op. 05994

August 2, 2017

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