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Custody of Son Changed: Judge Finds Mother Cannot Be Trusted To Be the Custodial Parent of the Parties’ Son

Supreme Court Justice Colangelo sitting in Westchester County recently had an unusual case presented to him. In this case, the mother had paraded her son from one forensic psychologist to another. This was done in a concerted effort to destroy his relationship with this father. In addition, the mother had hired a former actress in soap operas and paid her $57,000 to help prepare her for her starring role as a witness in the custody case involving her son.

The Trial

There was a trial which lasted 18 months before Justice Colangelo. There were 25 days of testimony by the mother alone. Justice Colangelo found she was fixated on destroying the father’s relationship with the son and therefore “cannot be trusted” to make decisions regarding the parties’ son. Justice Colangelo in his decision went on to state “when left to her own devices she misused her decision making authority to trot a mentally healthy child to numerous psychological appointments clearly aimed to deprive him of a relationship with his father – a result that may have, and if allowed to recur certainly will rob [the boy] of his remaining childhood.” Justice Colangelo changed custody from the mother to the father in spite of the recommendations made by the court appointed psychologist and the attorney for the child.

Hired Forensic Psychologist

Justice Colangelo’s decision deals with the issue of parties’ to custody litigation hiring forensic psychologists to promote one parent’s arguments and with regard to the issue of trial consultants preparing witnesses with regard to their testimony. The judge found the mother was evasive during her two weeks of testimony.

Judge Colangelo indicated in his decision the mother had hired Daniel Lobel, a Westchester psychologist, and paid him $6,000 per day to prepare subjective, result oriented testimony. The judge also stated the mother had spent more than 50 hours with a psychologist, Jonathan Gould, who is a well known forensic evaluator, who helped prepare her for her interview with the court appointed forensic psychologist, Stephen Herman, from Manhattan. Justice Colangelo found the mother had met with numerous mental health professionals and a number of lawyers with regard to her desire to “deprive [the boy] of a meaningful relationship with his father.” The judge found “such a goal might have proven laudable had [the father] actually been the abusive monster [the mother] sought to depict.”

Father a Caring Man

Justice Colangelo went on to state there was no evidence presented at trial that the father was anything other than a caring, responsible man who recognized the need for both parents in the child’s life. Justice Colangelo found the mother’s behavior to be “inimicable” to the welfare of the child. The mother’s arguments that the child needed to be protected from his father were completely without merit.

Justice Colangelo in his decision went on to state “absent the imposition of some stringent boundaries on [the mother’s] prerogatives and conduct, based upon her actions to date, [the child] will surely spend the remainder of his childhood being prodded and probed by a constant parade of mental health professionals seeking to find something wrong with a healthy child who needs only a true, loving relationship with both parents.”

It should be noted the mother has appealed this decision.helping father's get custody of their children

Parental Alienation Syndrome: What Is It?

Parental alienation syndrome, which is often referred to as “PAS”, involves a type of behavior of one parent which is designed to disrupt the relationship between a child or children and the other parent. The deprivation of children of a loving relationship with one parent by the other parent can cause the children to experience psychological distress, and the destruction of the relationship with the other parent. When one parent alienates children from the other, this is a type of child abuse.

PAS And How It Is Accomplished

The usual first steps of one parent alienating children from another involve the interference with the non-custodial parent’s rights to have visitation and personal contact with the children. The residential custodial parent is technically obligated to foster the relationship with the children and the other parent. However, in PAS situations, instead of working with the other parent to build a harmonious, loving relationship with the children, one parent interferes with the parenting time and communication of the other parent with the children.

Inappropriate Comments

Negative statements made by the residential custodial parent such as the other parent has abandoned us, has cut us off from money, is a bad person, and similar statements confuses the children and has a negative impact on the children’s respect for the other parent. These actions by the residential parent have a subliminal effect in casting the other parent as a bad, evil, inappropriate person. Even when the children want to maintain a relationship with the other parent, the conflict created by the custodial parent between the custodial parent’s representations concerning the other parent and the children’s love and affection for the other parent creates a conflict that children have difficulty dealing with. What the residential parent is actually doing to the children is conveying his or her negative feelings, dislike and hatred of the other parent to the children and convincing the children to adopt those negative feelings.

Repetition

When the custodial parent continually repeats negative statements, and/or negative incidents to the children concerning the other parent, these statements, even if untrue, end up being accepted as factual by the children. The children replace his or her warm, loving experiences with the other parent with false experiences which destroy the relationship with the other parent.

Conclusion

PAS damages children. Parents who hate each other should not confuse their children or subject their children into being brainwashed into believing they hate the other parent too. Children should love and respect both of their parents.father's rights advocate on long island

Appellate Court Overrules Trial Court’s Decision Giving Mother Sole Custody

father's rights lawyerThere was a marriage between Melissa C.D. and Rene I.D. in 1990. Three children were born from the marriage. A fourteen year old daughter, a five year old daughter, and a seventeen year old son. The parties lived together until October 2010.

In a proceeding in November 2010, acting Supreme Court Justice Ann O’Shea awarded Melissa sole residential custody of the parties’ daughters. She made this ruling in spite of the fact the fourteen year old child wanted to continue to live with her father. Judge O’Shea’s decision was based upon her finding the daughter’s best interests were to have no contact with her father or brother for six weeks after moving. Although Justice O’Shea awarded physical custody to Rene, she gave the parties joint decision making authority with regard to all issues concerning healthcare and education. However, in the event of a dispute between the parties Melissa was to have the tie breaking authority to make the final decision.

Children Alienated

The basis for Judge O’Shea’s decision was her ruling that Rene had alienated the older children. She found the alienation related to Rene making inappropriate comments about Melissa. Judge O’Shea found that as a result of the parental alienation of the two older children, they were “vindictive, cruel, angry and broken children.” Judge O’Shea understood the oldest daughter would not be happy with being forced to live with her mother against her wishes. However, in her decision she stated this was “temporary and far less emotionally destructive than abandoning her to an unfit parent which may leave her with permanent emotional scars.”

Appeals Court Decision

The appeals court found although Rene had made inappropriate comments with regard to Melissa, Judge O’Shea’s ruling was incorrect. They found she was “placing undue emphasis on a single factor, the father’s alleged alienation” of the two children. The appeals court found the decision was not in the oldest daughter’s best interest. The appeals court stated in its decision this would “disrupt her life by removing her against her wishes from her father and brother in Manhattan, where she had always lived, and placing her with her mother and her mother’s lover, a situation that she is not comfortable with, on Long Island, in a community that she does not know.” The appeals court felt Judge O’Shea did not take into consideration Melissa’s inappropriate behavior. The court found Melissa’s inappropriate behavior was a factor in the children’s feeling of abandonment and anger. In addition, the appeals court panel took into consideration a court appointed independent, forensic evaluator at the time of the trial had testified there was no evidence the two older children had been alienated by the father. The appeals court also advised the father to be careful as to what he says to the children in the future. His obligation will be to promote the relationship between the children and the mother.

Conclusion

advocating father's rights on Long IslandThis was a victory for father’s rights.

Father Given Sole Legal and Physical Custody of Children: He is Allowed to Relocate Back to Texas With the Children From New York

helping father's win custody There was recently an interesting case before Justice Lori Sattler who sits in the Supreme Court Part in New York County. A father and a mother had each brought petitions in a post judgment custody proceeding. Each of them sought sole legal and physical custody of the parties’ two children. The father presented in his moving papers there had been problems regarding his visitation with the children, especially during weekends and holidays. He claimed these problems arose right after the wife moved from Texas to New York. The wife, who had received custody of the children from a court in Texas, moved to New York several days after entry of the judgment of divorce giving her custody by the court in Texas.

Mother Alienates the Children Against Father

The father, in his moving papers, asserted the mother had been involved in a program of parental alienation of the children against him. He also argued in his papers the mother was an unfit parent. He claimed she was incapable of taking care of the children because she was continually abusing drugs.

Mother’s Arguments

The mother alleged in her papers the father had sexually abused his daughter. However, the court after reviewing the allegations and the evidence submitted regarding these allegations determined that this was not true. Justice Sattler found the mother to be less than honest in her testimony. She found there were inconsistencies in the mother’s testimony. Justice Sattler held the mother’s testimony created questions with regard to her ability to help develop a loving relationship between the children and the father. She concluded there was a change of circumstances since the entry of the judgment of divorce in 2011 by the court in Texas. She found this change of circumstance required she reevaluate what was in the children’s best interest.

Custody Modified

Justice Sattler determined a modification of the Texas custody order was warranted. She ruled the father was to receive sole legal and physical custody. In addition, she authorized him to relocate back to Texas because this was in the children’s best interests. Justice Sattler went on, in her decision, to state the father was more capable of providing the children with a stable and appropriate living environment. He was better suited to foster a relationship between the children and their mother.

Conclusion

custody for husbandsIn this case, the court found the father was the more stable parent and it was in the children’s best interests to live with the father in another state. The writer assumes the mother’s parental alienation of the children contributed to this judge’s decision to award the father sole legal and physical custody. The author of this article has been involved in dozens of cases where mothers have failed to promote the loving relationship between the father and the children. Alienating children against one parent damages the children. It is in children’s best interest to have two loving parents and not to be participants in a war of roses between the parents.

Parental Alienation

father's rights lawyerParental alienation is a problem that sometimes exists in divorce cases, in the Supreme Court, and custody and parenting time (visitation) cases in Family Courts. Parental alienation is a problem parents, attorneys, and judges deal with within the context of the legal system. Unfortunately, it is a problem without an adequate remedy. In numerous cases of parental alienation, the only successful remedy is changing the custody from the alienating parent to the alienated parent. While in theory this seems like a good idea, sometimes the children are so alienated they refuse to live with and cooperate with the alienated parent. Unfortunately, in many cases the attorney for the child hears from the child that he or she hates the alienated parent and does not want to live with him or her.

The attorney for the child, under the current court rules, is forced to take the position of the child and argue the parent who denigrated the other parent should receive custody of the child or children. This action by the attorney for the children has an impact on the judge. When judges hear children do not want to live with one parent or favor the other parent, they have a tendency to go along with the children’s position.

Parental Alienation Syndrome

Parental Alienation Syndrome is a psychological malady where one parent brain washes the children so they view the other parent with hostility. The alienating parent manipulates the children to the point they lack respect and sometimes fear the other parent who loves them. The children are turned against one parent by the other without a basis in fact or real circumstances. This, unfortunately, takes place within purview of custody and visitation litigation in the courts of New York.

The Parent Involved in Parental Alienation

The parent who has alienated the children from the other parent takes this action for selfish, self-centered reasons. This parent loses sight of what is in the children’s best interest. This parent engages in the process of denigrating the other parent to the point the children believe the other parent doesn’t love them. There is a controlling aspect by the alienating parent over the children.

What Alienated Parents Must Do

The alienated parent must refresh the children’s recollection with regard to happy times and loving situations involving this parent and the children. The alienated parent must continually remind the children how he or she loves them. The alienated parent, if he or she is consistent, shows love and affection to the children during every visit, will be able to reclaim the love, affection and good will of their children.

Conclusion

Parental alienation is a major problem in the Family Courts and in the Supreme Courts concerning custody and visitation proceedings. Judges sometimes do not take the problem of one parent alienating another seriously enough. Judges should move quickly to admonish the alienating parent to cease and desist from this type of behavior. The alienating parent should be warned if they continue this behavior, the court will remove custody from him or her and limit access to the children to supervised visitation.advocate for parents rights

Mother Loses Custody: She Interfered with Father’s Visitation

father's rights lawyersIn a recent decision, the Appellate Division of the Third Department (an upstate Appeals Court) found a mother who “clearly attempted to thwart and frustrate the father’s visitation” lost custody of her child. This case involves a mother who is a graduate of Cornell Law School, and a father who is an assistant professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University.

The mother and father were married for a brief period of time and had a child. A decision was initially made by the trial court judge giving the father custody because the mother had violated a joint custody separation agreement that had been incorporated into a Judgment of Divorce. This agreement had given the mother physical custody of the child and the father parenting time (visitation with the child). The agreement specifically prohibited either the mother or the father from relocating without the consent of the other party or the court.

Mother Relocates

Shortly after entering into the joint custody separation agreement, the mother accepted a job in New Jersey. She relocated with her son over the father’s objections. After a court hearing, the Supreme Court Judge awarded sole custody of the parties’ son, Ethan, to the father.

The court in its decision stressed a party seeking to relocate has the burden of showing the relocation is in the child’s best interest. The mother claimed she took the only job she had been offered. This had forced her to relocate. The Court in its decision stated, “the record amply supports the conclusion that the mother was not entirely willing to include the father in decisions regarding the child.” The mother had acted hostile to the father when the parties exchanged the child.

Conclusion

Relocating a child is not as simple as most parents believe it is. The court will take into consideration the impact the relocation of a child will have on the parenting time (visitation with the child) of the other parent. When moving, the residential custodial parent should obtain consent of the other parent or bring an application to the Family Court or the Supreme Court and obtain a Court Order authorizing the relocation.

helping fathers with custody issuesElliot S. Schlissel is a father’s rights attorney representing fathers in child custody cases, regarding visitation problems and parenting time issues throughout the metropolitan New York area.