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Court Examines Visitation in Light of Alleged Abuse Allegations


Sometimes, people have the knowledge and means to make law work in their favor. Take for example a case that was reviewed by a New York Family Lawyer about how two parents argue about visitation rights to their minor child. Primarily, the mother is seeking review to quash overthrow the “Shelter Hearing Order” made against her which forbids all forms of communication between her and their 11-year-old daughter. This decision was given by the juvenile court, which is the special body for trial and passing of judgment to minors who are involved in crimes and other issues involving children and adolescents.

This started out when the father who was a lawyer applied to permanently make himself the custodial parent of the daughter in 2000. Then the following year, the mother and the father agreed that they would share parental responsibility for their child and no one was to be designated a primary custodial parent among them. A Guardian Ad Litem, or an advocate who is appointed by the court on behalf of the child, along with the psychologist, and the trial judge all agreed upon and adopted the settlement agreement of the parties regarding visitation rights with their minor child several weeks after the main parties agreed upon a settlement. According to a Brooklyn Visitation Lawyer, about two months later, the father started a new lawsuit to temporarily suspend the mother’s rights to visit their child on the grounds that she made up stories and reports that he was abusing their child. He filed a report based on this and had the mother arrested.

She was arrested the day before she was to spend a long summer vacation with her daughter, which was what they have previously agreed upon. As a result, the mother’s visitation rights were reduced to supervised therapeutic visits and she sought to appeal this decision. A Bronx Custody Lawyer reports that the family court granted the father’s move and ordered the visitation rights to be modified. Then, he requested the DCF to file for a petition for dependency without the presence of the Mother and where the Department of Children and Families’ lawyer confessed that the claims contained in the Father’s petition were insufficient to take it into the DCF system. The after a few days, the DCF attorney dismissed the dependency case.

Immediately after, the father filed another dependency petition wherein he also used the same claims and accusations from the petition that was already previously sacked by the DCF. Based on the prior decision of the family court, the present judge said that it would not be right to create an order that is not the same as the one made by the family court judge. Having said this, the present judge still did not dismiss the petition but instead, set a hearing for the petition. The mother was not allowed to make any form of communication and the supervised visitation rights were fixed. After several hearings were conducted, the mother appealed to have the fixed supervised visitation rights reversed and the father afterwards terminated his dependency application in the juvenile court.

Then the mother’s appeal was granted and that the modification was found to violate the use of discretion because the evidence presented by the father were already found to have no bearing by the DCF in a prior petition that the parties already made a previous agreement as to visitation rights, and that no evidence or change was found to be potentially harmful or disadvantageous to the child to warrant a change in the visitation agreement. Therefore, the visitation was then further modified in favor of the mother and to make up for lost visits from the time that she was arrested up to the time that she endured the supervised visitations. The new agreement for make up visitation shall include the daughter spending the entire summer with her mother and that the father will be able to visit every Wednesday and alternate weekends.

According to our Bronx Order of Protection Lawyer, a week before the daughter was supposed to spend summer in her mother’s home, the DCF filed another affidavit and a petition to place the child in shelter for old allegations and a new one which involved the mother pulling her daughter’s hair and pushing her to bed, and making a motion to hit the girl and calling her names. The trial court granted immediate shelter hearing without the mother present. Among those who were there were the DCF, the Father and the Guardian Ad Litem. They stated that they notified the Mother through a phone call but she simply did not oblige. The hearing went on without the Mother being able to defend herself. Thereafter, it was concluded that although the girl reported possible child abuse practices, there were no evidences to support the claim and those alone do not constitute child abuse.

Moreover, the court rejected the DCF’s petition for shelter because the evidence that was used were already rejected before. What was found out, however, was that the child was truly a dependent. Whether her allegations against her mother were true or not, it must be tried on a different time, complete with evidences submitted to the DCF supporting the claims. If this was found out to be true, then the petition of the DCF for shelter must be upheld. Also if the DCF won’t do its job on behalf of the child’s welfare, the other parent must step in for her defense. The claims made by the DCF did not reveal that the child was truly in potential danger and that the Mother was seriously hurting her daughter when she goes for a visit in her house. What the courts were more worried about is the cleverness of the father to use all means and influence to get the DCF and the dependency court to permit him to break a visitation agreement with the mother, even if he presented evidence which were already found insufficient.

Because of this, the visitation rights of the mother were retained and that the shelter order made for the girl against the mother was disregarded. However, if the girl and the father or even the DCF were able to provide concrete evidence that the child was truly suffering from child abuse then it will be another legal battle, will truly strip the mother off her visitation rights and she will definitely be put to jail. It may or may not have been just coincidence that every time the girl would meet with her mother, the father stirs something up to prevent it. The court finds this alarming considering the DCF, the dependency court, and even the daughter were unwittingly being manipulated.

A child custody battle should not be about the angry and bitter exchange between two parties but should most address the issues concerning the child’s welfare. There will always be people who will use their intelligence to their advantage even if it means having to risk damaging a child’s emotions during a custody battle. At Stephen Bilkis and Associates, our team of lawyers put the best interests of children first before anything else. If you and your loved ones are confronted with the same situation, seek the help of one of our lawyers for guidance. We strive to provide you with the best assistance there is in child custody and visitation cases and we want your rights to be honored.

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