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In New York, a child custody order can only be changed under specific conditions, including if there has been changed circumstances such that it would be in the best interests of the child that the court modify the child custody order. In this case, the Family Court was asked to consider whether a modification of the custody was appropriate given the circumstances.

Background

The mother and father were parents a child.  A March 2017 order granted the father sole custody of the child. The mother now seeks a modification of the order granting her sole custody. The child was born on May 16, 2014. Following the mother’s admission that the child suffered an unexplained injury while in her care, on December 4, 2014, the Suffolk County Family Court issued an order placing the child with the sister of the purported father and permitting the mother supervised visitation. After it was determined that the purported father was not the child’s father, the child was placed with the mother’s aunt and uncle.  On March 10, 2016, a final order of protection was issued against the mother on behalf of the child for two years. When paternity was established, the child’s father filed for full custody and it was granted on March 3, 2017. The mother was granted supervised visits with her mother doing the supervising.

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In a case about a child support arrears settlement agreement, the Family Court was asked to determine whether a mutual mistake of fact was sufficient grounds to vacate the settlement agreement and reinstate the full amount of the arrears.

Background

The mother and father are parents of a child born in 1992.  The father was ordered to pay child support through the Support Collection Unit (“SCU”). However, he quickly accumulated an arrears. As of November 13, 2019, when the parties initially appeared before a Support Magistrate, the father had outstanding arrears of $206,055.44 for the child who was then an adult.

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In Y.Y.W. v. Z.G., the mother filed a petition seeking to modify two prior final orders, which denied her custody of her two sons and also prohibited visitation. The orders gave the father full legal and physical custody of the subject children.

Background

In 2016, Hon. Ilana Gruebel found clear and convincing evidence that the mother had severely abused, abused and neglected the older son and consequently derivatively severely abused, abused and neglected the younger son, with whom she was pregnant at the time. The older son was brought to the hospital and was found to have suffered severe injuries from abuse. There were 49 bruises on his body and puncture wounds on his face. As a result of the abuse, he suffered permanent injuries including inability to breathe on his own, inability to eat on his own, complete immobility, and loss of sight.

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In A.L. v V.T.L., the Family Court, Rockland County, was asked to consider the standard for changing a custody agreement that gave one parent final decision-making authority over health-related decision for the children. Here, the issue that led to the dispute was the mother’s decision to vaccinate their younger child for COVID.

Background

The parties married on January 26, 2008. The have two children together:  A.T.L. born in 2008 and M.T.L. born in 2010.  The parties divorced on May 28, 2015. They signed a Stipulation of Settlement on March 27, 2015 which provide that the parties were to have joint legal custody of the children and that the parties were to jointly consult and agree with each other with respect to the children’s health. It also stated that in the event the parties are unable to agree upon a decision, the mother shall have final decision making authority, subject to the father’s right to seek court intervention.

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While vaccinations have been around for decades, none have caused as much controversy as the COVID vaccine. In C.B. v. D.B., the Supreme Court, New York County, was asked to determine whether a custodial parent require the noncustodial parent to be vaccinated or show a negative test as a condition for assess to the child.

Background

The parties were married in 2015, and their child, a daughter, was born in 2018. After intense marital discord, the mother (plaintiff) commenced this action for divorce in September of 2019. The mother, describing defendant’s history of substance abuse and untreated mental health issues, as well as the significant periods where he had not seen the child at all, sought to have the father’s access subject to supervision. The court agreed.

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When a court makes a decision about custody, parent access, and other aspects related to the custody and care of a child, the court’s decision must be based on what is in the best interests of the child.  In H.K. v R.C., the Supreme Court, New York County, was asked to decide whether a parent’s request to relocate over the objection of the noncustodial parent was in the best interests of the child.

Background

The parties have a parenting agreement dated October 28, 2015 (the “Agreement”), which was incorporated into the Judgment of Divorce that was signed on September 19, 2016. Under its terms, the parties have joint legal custody of the child, but it is specified that the child is to “reside primarily with the Mother.” The Agreement provides father with a regular access schedule of alternate weekends, along with one weekly weekday dinner. It also entitles him to substantial holiday and vacation parenting time.

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In New York there is a presumption that a child born to a marriage is the legitimate child of both parents. The issue before the Supreme Court of New York, Wendy G-M. v. Erin G-M is whether his same presumption also applies to both parties in a same-sex marriage.

Background

Plaintiff Wendy G-M. and her spouse, Defendant Erin G-M. were married. They were legally married in Connecticut before New York enacted the Marriage Equality Act. Wendy and Erin agreed to have a child together and agreed that the birth mother would undergo artificial insemination. Wendy and Erin also agreed that both the birth mother and the spouse would be the mothers of any child born from the procedure. A child was born to Wendy, who was the birth mother, and the birth certificate listed both Wendy and Erin as the parents. Soon afterward, however, Wendy and Erin separated. Wendy filed for divorce in December 2013, less than then three months after the birth of the child. Wendy would not permit Erin to visit with the child. Erin then filed a request with the Supreme Court of New York for access to the child, maintenance, and attorney fees. In opposition, Wendy argued that Erin was not a legal mother of the child.

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In Wissink v. Wissink, there was conclusive evidence that the father physically abused the mother.  However, there was also conclusive evidence that the father never physically abused the daughter and that the daughter wanted to live with him.  The issue that the Appellate Division considered was the impact of a finding of abuse should have on a determination of custody?

Background

Defendant David Wissink and Plaintiff Jane Wissink were married and have a teenage daughter named Andrea, born on June 21, 1986. She is the biological child of the Jane and David. Jane also has a daughter, Karin, by a prior marriage. The parties have had a turbulent relationship marked by numerous episodes of physical violence, police intervention, and Family Court orders of protection. It is clear that David frequently battered Jane. However, he never directly mistreated Andrea, and Andrea favored him over her mother.

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In divorce cases, the primary purpose of awarding one party to pay another party maintenance is to provide the receiving party temporary financial support to give them time to become self-sufficient. During the support period, the receiving party is expected to finish school or complete other training so that they would have the skills necessary to get a job and support themselves. In Lorenz v. Lorenz, Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, was asked to the amount of time and amount of money is necessary to help enable the receiving party to become self-sufficient.

Background

Defendant William Lorenz and Plaintiff Pamela Lorenz were married for 33 years. Pamela filed a petition for divorce. Both parties were 54 years of age. At the time of the divorce, Williams’s income was over $100,000, and Pamela’s income was $20,000.  William was in good health, but Pamela had back problems that affected her work as a hairdresser. The Supreme Court of New York, taking into account the couple’s standard of living prior to divorce, awarded Pamela $500 per week in maintenance from William until such time as Pamela can draw full Social Security benefits, apparently when she becomes 66. William appealed.

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In Weisberger, the Supreme Court was asked to enforce a religious upbringing clause in the parties’ separation agreement that required to the mother to practice full religious observance in accordance with the Hasidic practices or be relegated to supervised therapeutic visitation.

Background

Plaintiff Naftali Weisberger and Defendant Chava Weisberger married in 2002 and divorced I 2009. They had 3 children.  In a stipulation of settlement dated November 3, 2008, the parties agreed to joint legal custody of the children with the mother having primary residential custody. They agreed that the father’s visitation with the children would consist of a two-hour period once per week after school; overnight visitation every other Friday after school until Saturday evening for the observance of the Sabbath; for two consecutive weeks every summer; and an alternating schedule for holidays. The stipulation also contained a religious upbringing clause that the children would be raised Hasidic and that Naftali would choose the children’s school. It further provided that Naftali would pay child support. However, Naftali never paid child support and did not fully exercise his visitation rights.

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