Children are especially receptive to issues of infidelity committed by one parent against another. More so if the child actually experienced and witnessed first-hand the act of one parent being unfaithful to another. Usually, it takes a long time for a child to forget and forgive a parent’s unfaithfulness. Most of the time, parents don’t think that children are as affected when either of them becomes unfaithful – that they easily forget and carry on with their lives but in truth, it is the other way around. Psychological impact is great among children who think that they have been betrayed, deserted and intentionally harmed by a parent and it will not only take a very long time for them to forget, but might forever cut the ties and relationship that they have with the unfaithful one. This case, as discussed by a New York Family Lawyer, is an example where one of the children witnessed first-hand an inappropriate and hurtful conduct made by their Father.
William and Kathryn French had three children when they divorced 21 years after their marriage. The Father was a stockbroker had an income of over $100,000 in 1980. During that time, this was a lot of money. The Mother, on the other hand, had previously worked in the fashion industry and even as an assistant editor to a fashion magazine. She had two college degrees but by the time of the dissolution of marriage, she was out of work. In May 1981, the Father left the home and his eleven-year-old son moved onto a boat. After a month, the son told the mother about how frequently he observed promiscuous activities that the Father and his girlfriend were doing on the boat. This prompted the mother to file a divorce or dissolution of their marriage.
At the trial court, the Father admitted that he and his girlfriend had performed lovemaking sessions in the boat but he argued that except for one time, they were very careful not to be seen by the children. Apparently, the girlfriend’s two other children were on the boat, too. The Father claimed that he was not aware that the children saw them perform sexual activities. Upon hearing this, the trial court ruled in favor of Mrs. French and she was granted petition for the marriage dissolution, she was also granted the custody of their three minor children and that the Father was prohibited to visit them. However, the trial court based its decision on the fact that the Father seemed insensitive to the pain that he subjected one of his children to and that he seemed unaware that the child felt betrayed and disillusioned by what happened. According to a Nassau County Family Lawyer, the Mother was further awarded with the full title and ownership of their house with equity given as lump sum alimony and rehabilitative alimony for $2000 monthly for 12 years. In addition, the court ordered the Father to deposit in an IRA or a similar account the sum of $2,000 as permanent alimony. This sum is to be increased to $4000 when the Mother gets employed.
In addition, the Father was ordered to pay for child support of $400/child/month, together with, health care costs, educational expenses and to also pay for the wife’s attorney’s fees. The written final judgment also included a provision to pay the first installment of the daughter’s tuition from her private school where she was enrolled. The Father then moved to contend that the permanent alimony was unreasonable because the Mother did not request for an IRA account, which was otherwise proven because the Mother did apply and sought for permanent alimony. He also argued IRA contributions are applicable only to spouses who are employed and not those who are unemployed but the court found out that the trial judge’s decision was contemplated upon and that it was reasonable considering the inequity of the Father and the Mother’s income and earning capacity.
As to the issue of visitation, the Fourth District states that given the chance, they would have held the Father liable on the grounds of negligence – for the disregard to the feelings of the child who witnessed the illicit affair and would not have based the visitation on a minor issue of impropriety that only earned a final judgment provision of temporary prohibition of visitation rights by the Father. If the visitation was based on negligence and total disregard for the child’s feelings, he would have been permanently banned from seeing the children without any means of communications whatsoever. However, the trial court’s decision meant that the prohibition could be lifted if the Father appealed and was granted to visit to continue the parent-children relationship. According to the Fourth District, if the case is to be sent back to the trial court for revisions, then it must provide appropriate limitations to the visitation schedule and consider that the Father was negligent in his promiscuous engagements that resulted to one of the children seeing the sexual act.
Then, as further explained by a Nassau County Child Support Lawyer, the Father claims that the trial court committed error in including all medical and dental expenses for the ex-wife and children. The District Court agreed with the Father and reversed the trial court’s decision and was suggested to limit the amount to major medical expenses only. In addition, he was required to pay for the children’s tuition and for half of the room and board of the children in the future, when they go to college. According to the Father, this was erroneous he will cease to be obligated to pay child support when the children reach beyond the age of eighteen. In this case, the Father failed to prove that the trial court abused its discretion by ruling against him and imposing expensive costs and child support. The District Court also found that there were no errors as to the trial court’s decision to award all these to the Mother. In addition to all those aforementioned expenses, the ex-wife’s attorney’s fees were also to be shouldered by the Father.
Finally, in his concluding speech, the Judge suggested the appointment of a guardian ad litem, who will be an advocate for children who are at risk to being abused and neglected and that the appointed guardian must importantly, be a lawyer since he must be knowledgeable of all the legal proceedings should there be a need to represent the children and make a call for action. The trial judge must appoint the guardian ad litem to make sure that the children’s rights are upheld. The appointed guardian ad litem will be able to represent the children best if he or she was trained to spot discrepancies that will allow him to thoroughly investigate and make necessary recommendations for the welfare of the children.
If you have a custody or visitation dispute, need an order for protection or are initially filing for divorce, Stephen Bilkis and Associates will provide you with one who can assist you through this difficult time and fairly and reasonably reach a settlement with your ex-partner without putting so much pressure on the children. We aim to help you settle your differences amicably and realistically to be able to protect your children from further disappointment and further psychological harm as well as continue your parent-child relationship as normal as you can even after the your marriage is dissolved because we truly care about our clients’ best interests. Call our office now.