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Who Gets the House When There Are Children?

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Elliot S. Schlissel has been representing fathers for more than 35 years in all aspects of family law and divorce law.  He and his associates are available for consultation.  To schedule a consultation, please call 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802 or send an email to schlissel.law@att.net.

Father Given Legal and Physical Custody of Special Needs Child

Father's rights lawyerForensic Evaluator Appointed

In a case in Richmond County, New York, a wife commenced a divorce lawsuit against her husband. The issue as to who would be the more appropriate parent to have custody of the parties’ special needs child was presented to the court. Justice Catherine DiDomenico sitting in the Supreme Court in Richmond County appointed a neutral forensic evaluator. The forensic evaluator was appointed to look into the issue of who would be the more appropriate custodial parent. After a detailed examination of the circumstances involving the child’s life, the forensic evaluator wrote a report suggesting the father should have physical and residential custody of the parties’ special needs child.

Wife Had Questionable Credibility

Justice DiDomenico took into consideration the testimony of the parties before rendering a decision. She found the wife’s credibility was at times not to be taken seriously. Her testimony was contradicted by other witnesses. She had lied to both ACS and the Family Court referee with regard to her relationship with her ex-husband, a man who had been convicted of murder. She also had a violent criminal history of her own which made her less acceptable to be a custodial parent.

Father Honest and Forthright

Although the father had prepared a net worth statement which had a number of inaccuracies, the court found he was honest and forthright and credible with regard to his testimony. Justice DiDomenico ruled the father was the parent better suited to meet the everyday needs of the parties’ special needs child. This specifically referred to the child’s medical and educational needs. The court also noted the mother did not even accept, until fairly recently, the fact that her daughter had special needs. The mother was shown to be inflexible and failed to foster a relationship between the child and the child’s father. She was therefore “less fit” to be the residential custodial parent. The father was awarded sole legal and physical custody.

Elliot S. Schlissel is a father’s rights lawyer.Father's rights advocate

Mother’s Relocation Application Denied

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Elliot S. Schlissel is a father’s rights lawyer.  Elliot has been representing fathers in relocation hearings, custody proceedings,  child support hearings and all aspects of matrimonial law and family law for more than 35 years.  Elliot and his associates may be reached for consultation at 516-561-6645, 718-350-2802, or by email to schlissel.law@att.net.

Court Orders Joint Custody

father's rights attorneyCourts usually do not render court orders ordering joint custody. Parents can work out joint custody agreements, but these usually have to be worked out out of court. In an unusual case, a court attorney referee in Nassau County Supreme Court recently rendered a decision which granted both parents joint legal and physical custody of the children. She rendered this decision because she felt it was in the children’s best interests.

Each Parent Wanted Sole Custody

In this case the mother and father each sought sole custody of the two minor children of the parties in their divorce lawsuit. An attorney was appointed to represent the children. This attorney for the children took the position the father was better suited to manage the children’s educational needs.

Equal Parenting Time

The parents had previously entered into a temporary parenting schedule which gave each parent virtually equal parenting time with the parties’ two sons. Referee McCormick referred to the New York State Court of Appeals case of Braiman v. Braiman with regard to the issue of joint custody. This case noted joint custody was inappropriate when both parties were “embattled and embittered.” However, it did not prevent courts from ordering joint custody in all cases.

Referee McCormick found the evidence set forth that both parents were actively involved in their children’s lives. Both of the boys enjoyed spending time with each of their parents. She also found that both parents sought to encourage the relationship between the boys and the other parent. She found the parents lived in close proximity to each other and therefore joint custody was a feasible solution to this case. Referee McCormick found both parents should have a decision making role for their children. She also found the parents should each have about an equal amount of parenting time with the parties’ children. Court Attorney McCormick went on to award joint physical and legal custody to both of the children’s parents based on the fact it was in the children’s best interests.

Conclusion

This is an unusual decision. Courts rarely order joint custody in situations where the parties cannot amicably work out joint custody arrangements on their own. Court Attorney McCormick’s decision is well reasoned and appropriate in this case.child custody attorney for fathers

Parental Alienation Syndrome

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Elliot S. Schlissel is a father’s rights attorney with nearly 40 years experience representing fathers in all aspects of family law.  He and his associates are available for consultation at 516-561-6645, 718-350-2802 or by email to schlissel.law@att.net.

Judge Awards Custody of Sons to Wife and Daughter to Husband

custody attorney for fathersJustice Leonard Steinman sitting in a Supreme Court Matrimonial Part in Nassau County recently had a case before him where the husband claimed the wife had turned his sons against him. He also claimed the wife was trying to turn his daughter against him too. During this divorce case the wife argued the husband was a deadbeat father. She claimed he attempted to “starve” her and the children by intentionally taking action to have his income reduced. Justice Steinman found the sons had “by deeds and words vociferously proclaimed their hatred of their father.” He also noted the daughter had also expressed some hostility towards her father.

Wife Interferes With Father’s Relationship With His Children

Justice Steinman found the wife had intentionally prevented the father from maintaining a loving relationship with his sons. The court had appointed a forensic evaluator in the case. The forensic evaluator concluded the wife had contributed to the boys’ “disenfranchisement” with their father. The forensic evaluator took the position that an award of custody to the mother would result in the sons’ having no relationship whatsoever with their father. The forensic evaluator took the position that an award of custody to the mother would result in the father having virtually no contact with his sons. In addition, the evaluator found the daughter would also eventually adopt the same position as her brothers and it would be impossible to establish a visitation arrangement between the father and his daughter.

Judge Steinman awarded the mother residential custody of her sons. He took this position because if he tried to award the father custody of his sons, it would only foster more hatred between them. However, he found it was in the daughter’s best interest to separate her from her brothers and from her mother. For the purpose of allowing the father to maintain a relationship with his daughter, he awarded the father legal and physical custody of his daughter.

Conclusion

This is a very unusual decision. Judges do not like to break up brothers and sisters. Here the judge had no choice. The mother’s actions would have turned the daughter against the father and he would have lost his relationship with all three children had the judge not taken this action.father's rights attorney

Custody Changed From Mother To Father

father's rights lawyerIn a case before Onondaga Family Court Judge Michael Hanuszczak, a father sought a change in custody due to the mother violating a custody order by preventing him from having access to the parties’ child for a period in excess of one month. He specifically requested physical custody be changed from the mother to him. The mother had brought her own application to the Family Court. She sought a modification of the current custody order from joint custody to sole custody for her.

Mother Violates Custody Order

During the course of the proceedings, the mother acknowledged she had violated the prior custody order by withholding the child from the father. She stated she took this action because the exchanges of the child between the father and the mother had become violent. Judge Michael Hanuszczak found the mother had willfully violated the order of custody. The judge took the position there was enough credible testimony with regard to the change in circumstances warranting a change of the prior custody arrangement. He held the breakdown and deterioration of the parental relationship between the mother and the father was itself a change of circumstances justifying a modification of the custody order.

Father To Provide a More Stable Environment for Child

The judge reached a decision whereby joint custody was no longer viable due to the lack of communication and the hostility between the father and the mother. The judge found the father could provide a more stable environment for the parties’ child. The judge took into consideration that even though the father was unemployed he had stable housing and a family support system. The judge found the mother’s inappropriate behavior during the course of the exchanges of the child and her willful violation of the prior custody order by preventing the father from having parental time with his child was detrimental to the child’s best interests. Judge Hanuszczak therefore awarded the father sole legal and physical custody of the child.

Conclusion

If you find yourself in a situation where the child’s mother is disobeying a custody order which granted you parenting time with your child, you can bring a proceeding to change custody. Children have two parents and both parents have a right to have a relationship with their children.child custody attorney

Child Support Provision Declared Invalid and Unenforceable

child support assistance for fathersJustice Jeffrey Sunshine sitting in the Supreme Court Divorce Part in Kings County presided over a case where the husband moved for a declaratory judgment that the provisions of a judgment of divorce concerning child support payments were invalid and unenforceable. A referee had addressed these issues. The referee found the child support payments of $400 per week should be paid by the husband to the wife. This determination was based on 25% of the husband’s adjusted gross income payable concerning his two children.

The husband alleged in his application to the court this provision did not contain necessary language under the Child Support Standards Act and pursuant to the New York Domestic Relations Law. Wife argued in her papers the support provision was valid and enforceable. She stated the parties knew their rights relating to the Child Support Standards Act and the Domestic Relations Law.

Justice Sunshine found the husband had made a prima facie showing the provision regarding child support was invalid and therefore unenforceable pursuant to New York Domestic Relations Law Section 240(1-b)(c). He stated in his decision that support payments under this section of the law must be based on the combined parental income not only on one parent’s income. Judge Sunshine went on to state the final judgment of divorce only reflected husband’s adjusted gross income. The wife’s income was not taken into consideration at the time of the calculation of the child support. He therefore ruled there was too much ambiguity to speculate on what the combined income of both parents were. He therefore declared the child support section of the judgment of divorce to be invalid and unenforceable.

Conclusion

The child support breakdown must be specifically set out in divorce settlement agreements that are part of the Judgment of Divorce.father's rights lawyer

Parenting Plans

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Elliot S. Schlissel is a father’s rights attorney with nearly 40 years experience representing fathers in all aspects of family law.  He and his associates are available for consultation at 516-561-6645, 718-350-2802 or by email to schlissel.law@att.net.

Father’s Name Removed From Child Abuse Registry

father's rights lawyerAn appeals court has ordered that the New York State Central Register of Child Abuse and Mistreatment remove the name of an aspiring pediatrician. He had been reported for hitting his two year old son on his butt on one occasion. In its decision to remove the father’s name from the child abuse registry, the appeals court stated there was no evidence the incident impaired the child’s physical, mental or emotional condition.

The Facts of the Case

Maurizio was giving his son a bath in July of 2012. His son started to eat soap. He slapped him one time on the butt to discipline him and convince him that eating soap was not something he should be doing. The next day the father noticed his child’s butt was bruised. He told the son’s daycare provider about the incident. The daycare provider reported him to Child Protective Services. Child care providers are one of the many professionals who are mandated under New York State Law to report suspected cases of child abuse and/or child neglect.

An investigation was undertaken by the Suffolk County Department of Social Services. The Social Service worker determined the incident should be considered “indicated” for child abuse, inadequate guardianship and excessive corporal punishment.

Father Requests Child Abuse Report To Be Marked “Unfounded”

The father requested the report be changed from indicated to unfounded. A hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge. The Administrative Law Judge found the father’s inappropriate behavior was supported by a “preponderance of the evidence” and that the “indicated report should be disclosed to all inquiring agencies.”

At the time of the hearing, the father testified he spanked the boy one time, his son cried briefly, and the family thereafter resumed to its normal activities. His son did not complain of pain. There was no negative impact on the boy as a result of the incident. The impression left by the slap on the child’s butt was exacerbated by the boy’s sensitivity due to the hot bath water the boy was in at the time. The father was remorseful and cooperative with the Department of Social Services. He took an anger management program and he had a positive attitude about changing his ways concerning corporal punishment.

His wife, the child’s mother, testified the husband had not on any other occasion meted out excessive corporal punishment to their other two children and their usual manner of disciplining their children was giving them a “time out”.

The Appellate Division (an appeals court) in its decision stated a parent could “use reasonable physical force to promote discipline”. The court reversed the lower court’s decision and changed the fact that he was “indicated” for child abuse to “unfounded”.

Conclusion

Parents live in the real world with their children. Sometimes children need to be strongly reprimanded to put them on the right path, prevent them from being injured, and to drive home points which don’t seem to stick any other way. Child abuse agencies tend to be overly zealous and look at each and every indication of any physical contact between a parent and his child involving discipline to be inappropriate. The pendulum on this issue in many situations has swung too far. The decision of this court was appropriate in setting aside an incorrect ruling concerning this father.father's rights advocate