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Modifying Child Custody Orders

Life is not static. Circumstances and events in parents and children’s lives sometimes necessitate the non-residential custodial parent (parent who doesn’t have custody) bringing a proceeding to change the custody arrangement regarding the child or children of the parties. There is a two-step standard which must be met by the parent seeking to have custody changed. Step one involves providing documentation and evidence to the court showing there has been a substantial change of circumstances with regard to the current situation involving where the child resides. This places a significant burden on the parent seeking to change custody. Step two requires a showing that the requested modification of custody will be in the child or children’s best interest.

Family Court or Supreme Court

If the custody situation involving the child or children was part of a judgment of divorce taken in the Supreme Court, the parent seeking to modify custody has a choice of either going back to the Supreme Court or going to the Family Court and presenting his or her case in that venue. There are strategic reasons as to why one would choose each of these courts. The circumstances and events in each individual case would determine the choice to be made.

In the event the parents were never married, the only available venue to bring the proceeding either to establish custody initially or to modify a prior custody order of the Family Court would be in the Family Court.

Attorney for the Child

When the application to modify custody is made, if the current custodial parent seeks to retain custody they will oppose this application. When the case is presented to a judge, the judge in most circumstances, will appoint an attorney to represent the child or children. The attorney who represents the child or children will interview them, look into the allegations in the petition, and present their point of view to the court with regard to which parent he or she would rather reside with. If there are two children, sometimes, the court will appoint a different attorney for each child. Unfortunately, the attorney for the child or children is strictly an advocate and is supposed to present their point of view which may not necessarily be in their best interest.

Difficulties in Being Successful in Contested Custody Modification Proceedings

The concept of burden of proof is sometimes not understood by individuals who seek to change a child’s custody. The party seeking to modify the prior custody order must show at a hearing by a preponderance of evidence that there is both a substantial change in circumstances with regard to where the child or children are being raised and that this change in custody will be in their best interests. There are evidentiary rules which courts follow with regard to these presentations. The fact that they are unhappy or that the parent bringing the proceeding has a nicer home in a better school district and/or he or she has developed a much stronger relationship with them would not necessarily meet the burden of proof to change custody.

Conclusion

If you seek a change in custody of your child or children, you may only get one chance to bring this proceeding. To maximize your chances of being successful, hire an experienced child custody attorney to represent you in these proceedings.

Father’s Obligation to Pay Child Support Eliminated by Appeals Court

father's rights lawyerThe Appellate Division for the Second Department, an appeals court, in the Matter of Coull v. Rottman, 2014-1516, held a father who had been prevented from seeing his son by the child’s mother no longer would be obligated to pay child support.

In this case, the father had last visited his son in February 2010. During the period of several months thereafter, the father would go to the pick up location on his parenting time days. The mother either would not show up, or would show up and the son would not leave the car.

Mother Extremely Hostile to Father

The mother took the position when she appeared in Family Court of extreme hostility towards the father. She stated on more than one occasion that she would never let the child spend time with the father. She said she would do “whatever it takes” to keep her son away from his father. Based on the mother’s intransigence and refusal to cooperate with regard to promoting the father’s relationship and visitation with his son, the appeals court suspended the father’s child support obligation. The court took the position that where the custodial parent prevents all reasonable access as to a child, the child support obligations may be suspended.

Father’s Visitation Suspended

It should be noted the mother’s cross motion in this case was granted and the father’s visitation was suspended. The child showed great hostility towards the father at the time of the court’s hearing. The court took into consideration the son was 13 years old and even though he had participated in therapy for a number of months to develop a relationship with his father, he was “vehemently opposed” to any type of parenting time between himself and the father.

Conclusion

This is a victory for fathers who have their visitation interfered with. But it is also a loss. As the expression goes, you can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. The same is true with children. Children who have been so alienated by one parent against the other sometimes cannot be therapeutically reunited with the other parent. Hopefully over time the father in this case will redevelop his relationship with his son.father's rights advocate on Long Island

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

Father Granted Supervised Overnight Visitation

In a proceeding before Judge Ann O’Shea sitting in the Family Court of Kings County, the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) brought a neglect proceeding against a father. They alleged the father R.S. had neglected his daughter by committing acts of domestic violence against the child’s mother. They also claim the father had violated an existing Order of Protection which had been taken out by the mother against him. During the course of this proceeding the father was granted temporary visitation. This visitation allowed him to visit with the child for eight hours on Saturdays while being supervised by his mother, the child’s grandmother.

Further Extension of Visitation

The father has now brought a further application to the Family Court asking that his visitation be extended to supervised overnight visitation.

The attorney for the child’s mother has alleged that she opposed the father having further visitation with the child. She was not comfortable with the idea of further overnight visitation. This was in spite of the fact that ACS consented to the further supervised overnight visits by the father from Friday evenings through Saturday.

The court took into consideration that the visitation with the father was going well. The mother argued the child was not comfortable with this further expansion of the visitation and therefore the father’s visitation should not be expanded to overnights.

Judge O’Shea found the expansion of the father’s visitation was consistent with the policy of the Family Court Act and ACS guidelines for determining the appropriate level of supervision regarding family visits. The court found the ACS guidelines allowed for overnight visitation and weekend visits between a parent and a child during the pendency of proceedings in the Family Court for neglect. The court further found the extension of the visitation by the father did not expose the child to negative risks concerning physical, mental or the emotional well being of the child. The court therefore granted the father’s petition extending his visitation.

Father’s Rights

Fathers have an important role to play in their children’s lives. Where a child has two loving, dedicated parents, the child’s life is enhanced. Granting the father, in this case, expanded visitation with his child was in the child’s best interest. Family Court judges should do everything in their power to promote father’s rights to have relationships with their children in all situations where it is shown that the father is having a positive impact on the children’s lives.Long Island CPS defense for fathers

Co-Parenting After The Divorce

Please click on the link below to watch today’s video blog:

Elliot S. Schlissel is a father’s rights attorney with more than 35 years experience representing fathers in all aspects of divorce and custody litigation.  He and his associates can be reached for consultation at 516-561-6645, 718-350-2802 or by sending an email to schlissel.law@att.net.

Child’s Surname Changed to That of His Father

child custody attorney on Long IslandIn a case before Supreme Court Justice Eugene Faughnan from Madison County, New York, a father sought to change the last name of his son. The father claimed he had had custody of his son since the boy was three months old. The mother only had eight hours of supervised visitation each week. Justice Faughnan found the father’s requested name change would promote the child’s best interests. In addition, Justice Faughnan found the mother had failed to come forward with any sustainable objection to the father’s request to change his son’s last name to his.

The Name Change Was In The Child’s Best Interest

Justice Faughnan held the sharing of a surname by a child and his father he lived with was a legitimate issue. He found that it minimized “embarrassment, harassment and confusion in school and social context.” The judge in his decision found the father obtained custody of the child shortly after birth. The mother only had supervised visitation because of her prior misconduct. In addition, Judge Faughnan found the mother had never provided the child with any financial support. The court therefore was satisfied the father had met his burden of proof for the proposed name change and that this name change would be in the child’s best interest.

father's rights lawyer in New YorkElliot S. Schlissel is a father’s rights lawyer. He represents fathers on custody, paternity, visitation (parenting time) cases in both the Supreme Court during divorce proceedings, and in the Family Courts. He practices law throughout the Metropolitan New York area.

Grandmother Gets Visitation of Child Moved to Florida

The Family Court of Rensselaer County, New York, granted a grandmother’s petition for visitation with her grandchild who had moved to Florida. The grandmother brought a petition for visitation concerning her grandchild. She claimed the mother and the grandchild had significant connections with the State of New York. She was able to present substantial evidence that the grandchild’s present and future welfare existed in the State of New York.

Mother Fights Grandmother’s Petition

The mother challenged both the grandmother’s right to have visitation with the grandchild and claimed the New York Court did not have jurisdiction to even hear the case. The Family Court of Rensselaer County, after hearing the case, decided the grandmother would have unsupervised visitation with the grandchild even though the grandchild was currently living in Florida.

The Mother Appeals

The mother appealed the case to the Appellate Division of the Third Department (an appeals court). In her appeal the mother claimed the Family Court should have dismissed the grandmother’s petition because New York did not have jurisdiction to handle the case. The Family Court judge rendered the decision to hear the case based on the fact New York was the home state of the grandchild for six months prior to the grandmother’s commencement of the visitation proceeding. The court took note the child moved to Florida only two months before the proceeding in the Family Court was initiated.

The Appeals Court affirmed the decision of the Family Court giving the grandmother visitation. The Appeals Court ruled the Family Court had both jurisdiction over the grandchild and the mother of the grandchild.

Conclusion

This is a case involving a grandmother living in Rensselaer County, New York obtaining unsupervised visits with her grandchild who now resided in the State of Florida. This case is an example of protecting a grandparent’s rights to maintain a warm and loving relationship with her grandchild.attorney for grandparents seeking visitation

Custody Legal Battles – Part I

father's rights attorneyIn a situation where you are a father who has had an active relationship with your children, and you are now facing a divorce, what should you do to maintain your relationship with your children? To start with, you should do everything in your power to maintain the relationship you had with your children while your marriage was intact after your marriage breaks up. This means you should spend as much quality time with your children as is reasonable. To become the residential custodial parent, showing you are the nurturing parent involved in your children’s daily lives is extremely important. You should seek to have, at a minimum, equal parenting time with your children. If your custody issues are going to be litigated before a judge, you must develop a strategy so you can demonstrate to the court you are involved in the children’s activities on a daily basis. You must show you have a support system, which will help take care of your children while you are working or unavailable. You must provide the court with a realistic presentation demonstrating how you having custody of the children will be in the children’s best interests.

Finding the Right Lawyer

If you are a father who seeks custody of your children, you must choose an attorney who understands your motivation and your desires. Fathers are currently entitled to equal rights to obtain custody of their children. However, even though on paper fathers have equal rights to obtain custody of their children, statistics indicate there is still a bias within the legal system favoring mothers. The attorney you choose to represent you should have experience regarding father’s rights issues. He or she should have a history of representing other fathers in custody disputes. You do not want an attorney who is just getting started and using you as a guinea pig in his efforts to develop a winning strategy on father’s custody cases. Before hiring an attorney, read about the attorney online. Look into his or her previous experience in representing fathers in custody cases. Check to see if he or she has published articles with regard to custody issues concerning fathers.child custody attorney

Attorney for the Child

To watch today’s video blog, please click on the link below:

Elliot S. Schlissel is a father’s rights attorney.  He represents fathers in custody litigation, child support litigation, and issues involving visitation rights and parenting time.  He and his associates can be reached for consultation at 516-561-6645, 718-350-2802 or by email to schlissel.law@att.net.

Mother Sought To Destroy Father’s Relationship With Their Child

Please click on the link below to watch today’s video blog:

Elliot Schlissel is a father’s rights attorney.  He has been representing fathers in child custody matters, visitation issues and all other aspects of Family Law for more than 35 years.  He can be reached for consultation at 516-561-6645, 718-350-2802 or by email to schlissel.law@att.net.