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Court Decides Custody of Mixed Race Child


A Caucasian woman married an African-American man on December 5, 1973. They had a daughter. The woman filed for divorce on the ground that her husband was physically abusing her and that he had extra-marital affairs with other women. A New York Custody Lawyer said she then asked the family court for custody over her child during the pendency of the divorce proceedings. She also asked for child support and for possession of the family home.

The husband made counterclaims against his wife. He charged her with neglect, physical and verbal abuse as well as abandoning their home and taking their child from him.

The family court granted custody to the mother during the pendency of the divorce proceedings and also ordered child support to be paid to her. During the pendency of the divorce, the father was to have visitation rights. Once during the divorce proceedings, the child was taken by her father on one of his visits. He never returned the child and the woman asked for an order of protection against the father. The mother then exerted efforts to find her daughter. She succeeded in discovering her husband’s whereabouts and the mother went to San Francisco, California to take custody over her own child and brought her back with her to New York.

During the pendency of the divorce proceedings, the mother left the family residence and moved to a different location without informing her husband. The husband then asked the family court to order his wife to inform him of any future change of residences. A Nassau Family Lawyer said the wife complied and gave her address to her husband.

The family court granted the divorce but it then ordered a hearing on the sole issue of whom between the Caucasian mother and the African-American father should be granted permanent custody over their child who possessed African-American physical features.

Court –appointed psychologists and social workers conducted interviews of the chid and the parents. They interviewed the child’s teachers and they all agreed that between the mother and the father, it is the mother who is more emotionally stable; she is the more financially more stable: she has held down jobs permanently; she is more nurturing and she has made sure that the child was well fed, well-cared for and she has consistently made sure that their child did well in school. They found that the child was exceptionally bright and was well-adjusted. The court-appointed social workers and psychologist recommended that custody be granted to the mother.

Both the mother and the father presented psychiatric experts who were in agreement that the child does not view her parents as either “black” or “white” but only as sources of love, affection and support. They agreed that the child will be regarded by society in general as “black” because of her physical features. A Queens Family Lawyer said they also agreed that as a child of mixed racial heritage, the child will face identity crises as she grows older. They all agreed that it is not the race of the parent who raises her which will determine whether she will succeed in resolving her future psychological and emotional issues regarding her racial identity. They all agreed that it is the stability and consistency of her support system from her home that will determine if the child will be emotionally resilient to weather the host of problems that will stem from her mixed racial heritage.

The family court then granted to the mother the permanent custody over the child and also ordered the payment of child support. The father appealed this order of the Court.

The only question before the Court was whether or not the family court abused its discretion in granting custody to the mother.

The Court held that the issue of race in custody battles was significant only when the custody contest is between people who are not natural parents of the child. That is, the courts of the United States have granted custody to parties who are of the same race as the child only in cases where the parties in contest over custody were adoptive parents or grandparents of the child. There is no precedent for granting custody to the parent of the same race as the child when the parties in the custody battle are natural parents of the child.

The Court held that the best interest of the child is still the paramount consideration. In the Court’s estimation, the grant of custody to the mother over her child is in keeping with the child’s best interest. It is the mother who has consistently demonstrated her care and nurture of her child and it is the mother who has shown emotional adjustment and resiliency. She possessed parenting qualities that will be necessary to help their child through the years ahead when her racial identity will be an issue. A New York Family Lawyer said it is the mother who can best raise the child into adulthood with strength of ego that can withstand the onslaught of problems regarding her race.

Are you the parent of a mixed-race child? Are you in a tight battle for custody over your child? You need the assistance of a Nassau Child Custody lawyer. A Nassau Child Custody attorney will help you present evidence of your fitness as a parent. The Nassau Child Custody attorneys from Stephen Bilkis and Associates can help you prove that you are the more nurturing parent. Their Nassau Child Custody lawyers can help prove that the best interest of your child is best served if custody were granted to you. Contact any of the Nassau Child Custody lawyers from Stephen Bilkis and associates at any of their offices in the New York area

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