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Court Decides Visitation Rights Issue


A man and a woman had a turbulent romantic relationship that was marked by frequent disagreements. The disagreements resulted in a pattern of a parting of ways, a reconciliation; a revival of love only to end back in disagreements and a parting of ways.

In April 2000 when the man and the woman were living together in New York, the woman gave birth to their common child, a daughter. A New York Family Lawyer said a year later, the woman booted out the man from their shared apartment. That same month, the man filed a petition in the Family Court of New York asking for visitation rights with her natural daughter. Days after the man filed the petition the woman filed her own petition for sole custody of her daughter and permission to relocate to Virginia where, she said she was a permanent resident prior to the birth of her child and that she came to New York only three months before she gave birth. She also claimed that the man was verbally abusive and that he threatened her. The family court issued a temporary order of protection.

Initially, the family court held a hearing to find out if during the pendency of the actions for custody and visitation, the father can be given the privilege of supervised visitation with his daughter. The woman vigorously opposed the granting of supervised visitation rights to the man stating that the man was emotionally unfit as he suffered from depression and that his apartment was too small for her child to visit with her father. The Family Court nevertheless granted the father’s request for temporary visitation rights.

A Nassau Family Lawyer said the woman, however, made excuse after excuse and failed and refused to bring the child for the father’s monthly visitation. The father informed the Family Court that the woman had brought their daughter to Virginia and has been hiding her there with some relatives just so that he could not visit his daughter.

The Family Court appointed a Legal Guardian for the daughter so that her best interest will be safeguarded.

The Family Court tried to locate the child and issued a warrant of arrest for the mother for her to testify and show cause why she should not be held in contempt for removing the child from the jurisdiction of the family court. The woman came to court but refused to disclose the whereabouts of her daughter. The man discovered that the woman had filed another custody petition in Fairfax, Virginia. The man told the court that his daughter might be in the custody of the adult daughter of the woman who resided in Virginia.

On inquiry, the Family Court in New York found out that the custody action in Virginia had already been dismissed. The Family Court also telephoned the adult daughter of the woman but the daughter said that her half-sister was not with her. The Family Court issued a warrant for the arrest of the woman and remanded her. A Nassau Child Support Lawyer said the woman was forced to produce her daughter in Family Court rather than spend time in prison.

The Family Court then ordered the woman to stay within New York. The woman found an apartment and found employment in Long Island. She resigned from a job in Queens that paid $50,000 annually and took a job in Long Island that paid a measly $28,000 annually. The distance between the man’s apartment in Queens and the woman’s home in Long Island was an hour and half commute.

The forensic report by the Family Court appointed social worker was finally submitted and the social worker found that the woman’s declaration that she was willing to give her husband visitation rights was contradicted by her actions in hiding her daughter and feigning illness just so she does not have to visit with her father. The social worker also noted in her report that the woman consulted numerous therapists for her child alleging that she had been psychologically and emotionally abused. The social worker declared that this shows that the woman would go to any length, even subject her daughter to needless therapy, just so the father’s visitation rights can be postponed or denied.

The social worker recommended joint custody but also said that the woman’s pattern of behavior will possibly continue and that she will do all within her power to thwart the man from having any meaningful relationship with his daughter. The social worker further opined that this pattern of behavior of the woman was evident in her relationship with her former boyfriend, the father of her adult daughter in Virginia. When the woman’s relationship with her former boyfriend soured, she took her daughter to Puerto Rico and then came to New York and raised her daughter as a single parent.

The woman’s pattern of behavior was also evident when the man (the father of her infant daughter) tried to form a relationship with her daughter from an earlier relationship. The daughter became a pawn in her relationship with the man. When they did not agree on things, the woman refused the man his visitation rights and prevented her daughter from seeing the man. This type of behavior is repeated with respect to the man’s natural daughter. The social worker even went so far as to opine that the woman’s choice of home in Long Island was to make visitation with the man more difficult than it needs to be.

The social worker reported to the Family Court that the woman spoke openly and negatively about the man even in front of their daughter. The daughter’s mind was being influenced by the mother’s negative view and hostility toward the man. The woman also often belittled the man’s capacity to provide nurture and care to their daughter.

The Law Guardian appointed for the daughter made a different recommendation. He supported the proposition that the woman be denied custody of the child and the father be given primary and full custody. He also recommended that liberal visitation be granted to the woman.

The only question before the Court is whether or not the Family Court’s decision to transfer custody from the mother to the father is proper.

The Court found that the Family Court did not abuse its discretion or commit reversible error in transferring custody from the woman to the man. The Court held that the best interest of the child is still the final standard. The best interest of the child is to maintain a relationship with both her parents. Because her mother refuses and prevents all efforts of the father to establish and nurture a relationship with his daughter, the mother has not shown that she has the best interest of her daughter in mind.

The father has shown that he is loving and capable of providing sound parenting to the child. He is employed and he can provide for the child’s development and well being. The Court affirmed the Family Court’s order transferring custody from the mother to the father and allowing liberal visitation for the mother.

Are you like the father in this case? You want to make full use of your visitation rights with your child but your ex-wife is intent on depriving you of your visitation rights? Visit the offices of Stephen Bilkis and Associates in the New York area. Speak to any of their New York Family Lawyers whether you have a visitation issue or need an order for protection. The New York City Family Lawyers at Stephen Bilkis can help you apply for visitation rights or to modify the visitation rights you already have. If need be, an NYC Family attorney can even help you apply for a change in custody arrangement. Call Stephen Bilkis and Associates today and begin a meaningful relationship with your child through visitation.

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