Articles Posted in Father’s Rights

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In Katz v. Katz, the Appellate Division considered whether a father’s obligation to pay child support could be suspended because the mother interfered with his visitation.

The general rule is that under New York law a noncustodial parent’s access to a child and his or her obligation to pay child support are separate issues.  The court can require a parent to pay child support and also deny the parent visitation.  If a custodial parent refuses to allow the noncustodial parent access to the child, the noncustodial parent should petition the court for custody or visitation.  If there is a custody or visitation order in place and the custodial parent does not allow the noncustodial parent access to the child as required by the order, then the custodial parent is violating a court order.  The aggrieved parent should take up the matter with Family Court.  The remedy is not for the noncustodial parent to simply withhold child support. If the custodial parent is willfully interfering with visitation, upon petition the court may suspend or even cancel the noncustodial parent’s obligation to pay child support.

In Katz v. Katz, upon the couple’s divorce, the mother was awarded physical custody of the couple’s children.  The father was awarded visitation.  The father was also ordered to pay child support in the amount of $10,000 per month.  The father petitioned the court to suspend his obligation to pay child support because the mother was not permitting him to have access to the children as required by the custody order. He also requested a recoupment of the child support that he had already paid.  In support of his petition the father alleged multiple incidents in which the mother interfered with his parenting time and denied him telephone contact with the children.  The mother responded by filing a motion to dismiss.

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In this case the Family Court considered whether interference with visitation was a reason to stop paying child support and whether it would cancel child support arrears. The father was awarded custody of the child and the mother visitation. The mother was also required to pay child support to the father.  She complained that the father was not complying with the visitation schedule.  She argued that she should not have to pay child support if she was not getting access to the child as outlined in the custody order.

The court takes interference with visitation very seriously. When the court issues a custody order, both parents must follow it.  This means that the custodial parent must deliver the child to the non-custodial parent at the time and place agreed upon.  Willful failure to do so is illegal.  If this happens occasionally, the court will likely only chastise the parent and warn him or her to comply with the order.  If it happens repeatedly, the court will view it as willful and take steps to ensure that the order is followed.  One remedy may be suspending the obligation of the non-custodial parent to pay child support.

In Vasquez, the mother filed a petition to hold the father in civil contempt for violating an order of visitation.  As part of the relief sought, the mother requested that her obligation to pay child support be suspended.  She also requested that the court cancel her child support arrears.  While the court noted that it has the discretion to suspend child support payments for violations of an order of visitation, it also made it clear that the court would not have the authority to cancel arrearages.  It further noted that in this case there was no evidence that the father actively interfered with the mother’s visitation.  The evidence showed that at times the child did not want to take advantage of the scheduled visitation, and the father did not force the child.

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This is a proceeding pursuant to Social Services Law § 384-b to terminate parental rights of the natural father. The petitioner, Little Flower Children’s Services, appealed from an order of the Family Court, Kings County dated 22 September 1993, which dismissed the petition. The court affirmed the order, without costs or disbursements.

On 4 December 1985, SG, the subject child in this termination of parental rights proceeding was born.

Sometime in November 1987, when SG was less than two years old, the Commissioner of Social Services removed SG from her mother’s care because of her mother’s drug use, and placed the child with her maternal aunt. SG has remained in her maternal aunt’s home since her initial placement over six years ago, and SG’s mother has voluntarily surrendered her parental rights to the child.

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