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.


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

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.


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

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.


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

Factors Considered in a Relocation Application

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

Elliot S. Schlissel has been representing fathers for more than 45 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.

Grandmother Granted Custody

grandparents' rights attorney in New YorkThis case involves an appeal by a father seeking to set an Order aside which granted the maternal grandmother custody of the father’s child. The father’s appeal was denied. The grandmother was granted primary residential custody of the child.

History of the Case

The father and mother were not married. They resided together until the baby was six months old. At that time, the father was incarcerated. The mother resided with her mother, her child’s grandmother. There came a time when the mother was also incarcerated. During the time both parents were in jail, the grandmother dutifully raised the child.

Father Obtains Visitation When Released From Prison

When the father was released from prison he obtained visitation rights with his child. The father thereafter brought a proceeding seeking physical custody of the child. He claimed both he and the child’s mother had maintained a continuing relationship with the child.

Justice Elizabeth Garry wrote the decision for the Appellate Division for the Third Department (an appeals court). She found there were extraordinary circumstances involved in this case. The award of primary physical custody by the Family Court to the grandmother with joint custody to the child’s parents was affirmed. She stated in her decision that considering all of the testimony, the history of the circumstances of the parents and the child’s developmental needs, the grandparent was “uniquely qualified to oversee the child’s therapeutic regime…and the father does not understand or refuses to accept the severity of the child’s developmental delay.” It was therefore in the best interest of the child the grandmother be awarded primary physical custody of the child.


This decision is supported by the theory that the best interests of the child should be taken into consideration when the court grants custody. In this case the grandparent was the most suitable and appropriate residential parent. Grandparents play an exceedingly important role in the development of their grandchildren.  In addition to this case being a victory for children’s rights, it is also a victory for grandparent’s rights. New York grandparents' rights lawyer

Custody for Fathers

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

Elliot S. Schlissel is a father’s rights attorney with more than 45 years of experience representing fathers in custody proceedings.  He and his associates handle all aspects of family law and divorce litigation.  He can be reached for consultation at 516-561-6645, 718-350-2802 or by email to schlissel.law@att.net.

Custody Litigation

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

Elliot S. Schlissel is a father’s rights lawyer with more than 45 years of experience representing fathers in all aspects of family law and divorce.  He and his associates are available to discuss the details of your particular situation.  Please call him at 516-561-6645, 718-350-2802 or send an email to schlissel.law@att.net to set up a consultation.

Appeals Court Sets Aside Decision Giving Mother Sole Legal and Physical Custody of Child

A mother had brought a Family Court proceeding requesting sole custody of the parties’ child. The parties had initially been granted joint legal and shared custody of their child. They had also agreed to a “corrected” custody order. The Family Court after a fact finding hearing rendered a decision which found the father had twice violated the prior joint custody order. The Family Court therefore ordered the mother have sole legal and physical custody. The court had noted the father had failed to comply, pursuant to his own testimony, with the provisions of the joint custody order. The court therefore found they should not disturb the finding he was in willful violation of the court order. Based on this willful violation, the Family Court granted the mother’s petition giving her sole legal and physical custody of the parties’ child.

The Appeal

The father had appealed the Family Court’s decision. The Appellate Division of the Third Department, an appeals court, found the relationship between the mother and the father was not so acrimonious as to prevent them from having joint custody. The appeals court also noted the father’s basis for seeking sole custody stemmed not from an expressed inability to get along with the mother but was instead related to her stability. She had documented mental health and alcohol dependency issues. The appeals court in its decision stated neither the father nor the mother showed a sufficient change in circumstances which would cause the modification of the original custody order. The Family Court was therefore mistaken in awarding sole legal and physical custody to the mother. The appeals court reinstated the original joint custody order and sent the case back to the Family Court to work out the details.


Courts are becoming more and more attuned to protecting father’s rights to maintain relationships with their children.father's rights advocate

Father’s Parental Rights Terminated

father's rights advocateThe Family Court rendered a decision which granted a Department of Social Services (DSS) petition to revoke a suspended judgment against a father and permanently terminate his parental rights. The father appealed this decision to the Appellate Division of the Third Department (an appeals court).

The father had voluntarily given custody of his child to the Department of Social Services. In addition, he allowed a judgment for a one year order of supervision to be entered against him. Pursuant to this court order, he had to comply with certain terms and conditions established by the Department of Social Services for him to get his child back. Unfortunately, the father did not comply with the Department of Social Services’ requirements. The Department of Social Services took legal action and received the child from the father’s care and put the child back into foster care. Thereafter the Department of Social Services brought a proceeding claiming the father permanently neglected his children and as a result stated he was unfit to be a parent of this child and his parental rights should be permanently terminated.

The father, through his attorney, claimed his failure to undergo counseling with his fiancé was an inconsequential violation of the court order. These inconsequential violations should not result in the permanent termination of his parental rights to his child.

The Court’s Ruling

The Family Court ruled he was given sufficient opportunity to satisfy the conditions of the original suspended judgment. The court went on to state his failure to make meaningful effort to address the issues which caused his child to be taken away from him in the first place and placed in foster care caused the appellate court to find no basis to reverse the decision of the Family Court judge terminating the father’s parental rights. The court found that terminating the father’s parental rights was in the child’s best interest.


If the Department of Social Services either through Child Protective Services (CPS) or the Administration of Child Services (ACS), brings a proceeding for child neglect or child abuse against you, you should take it seriously. They have the power to bring proceedings to remove your parental rights and permanently take your children from you.lawyer who protects fathers

An Appeal of An Order of Protection May Continue After The Order Expires

father's rights attorney Long IslandThe New York State Court of Appeals, the highest court in New York, recently ruled that the appeal of an Order of Protection which was issued by the Family Court can continue even after the Order of Protection expires. The Court of Appeals unanimously rendered this decision because they held the order, even after it expires, can carry “significant enduring consequences.” The decision by the Court of Appeals allows individuals who are unfairly named in an Order of Protection to have the opportunity to move forward with their appeal even when the Order of Protection has expired. Court of Appeals Judge Abdus-Salaam wrote in the Court’s decision “the appeal is not moot if an appellate decision will eliminate readily ascertainable and legally significant enduring consequences that befall a party as a result of the order which the party seeks to appeal.”

The Actual Case

The name of this case is the Matter of Veronica P. v. Radcliff A.. Veronica P. filed an application in 2009 for an Order of Protection against her nephew Radcliff A. She claimed he grabbed and pushed her in her apartment located in Manhattan. They were both living in the apartment at the time. The Family Court in New York County ruled Radcliff’s actions constituted second degree harassment and it gave Veronica a two year Order of Protection. This Order of Protection required Radcliff to stay away from her and not assault, intimidate or threaten her. Radcliff brought an appeal. Unfortunately, during the pendency of his appeal, the protective order expired. This was due to the fact the protective order was only for two years and appeals can take much longer than two years to be heard by the Appellate Courts. Judge Abdus-Salaam wrote, in the Court’s decision, the very fact the Order of Protection was taken out against Radcliff may lead another Court to readily discern Radcliff committed the offense. In addition she stated “armed with that information, the Court in a future case may increase the severity of any applicable criminal sentence or civil judgment against respondent [Radcliff].”

Long Term Impact of Orders of Protection

Judge Abdus-Salaam also stated in her decision the unchallenged presence of the Order on Radcliff’s record might lead an opposing party in a future lawsuit to use this protective order to impeach Radcliff’s credibility. The protective order is also likely to increase the chances that Radcliff would be arrested if he is accused of similar conduct in the future. In addition, it also may cause Radcliff to receive harsher penalties in the future if accused of similar conduct.

Orders of Protection can create “severe stigma. It can impact on business contacts, social acquaintances and other members of an individual’s family.”

Judge Abdus-Salaam went on to state “perhaps more importantly, potential employers may ask respondent whether an Order of Protection has ever been entered against him, and he may be ethically or legally bound to answer in the affirmative, significantly curtailing his chances of getting a job.”


Many Family Court judges in the Metropolitan New York area grant Orders of Protection to women based on either false allegations, flimsy allegations, or greatly exaggerated allegations against men. The Court of Appeals’ ruling now gives men an ability to purge their record long after the Orders of Protection have expired. This is an excellent decision protecting men’s rightsfather's rights advocate on Long Island