In 1989, a couple met. The man is employed as a bus operator and the woman is a certified emergency medical technician. The woman had two sons from her previous relation. The man therefore is not the man of the two children. However, he has played a significant role in raising the woman’s eldest child. The couple met when the eldest child was about ten months old, and moved in together at the woman’s parents’ house a few months thereafter.
The woman alleges that the criminal incidents of physical abuse between them began at some point in 1995. She testified that the man’s temper is changing from time to time. She further testified that she was scared of the man because he’s always been abusive towards her. Assault was in play.
When the parties were living together, the woman stated that she frequently received verbal abuse, often in front of the children. According to the woman, it made her feel like she was worthless. The woman further testified that the man’s abusive action affects her children.
The maternal grandmother also testified to the incidents of abuse. She contends that the man was often verbally and physically abusive towards the woman before they physically separated. The mother testified to numerous incidents that she alleges illustrate the abuse. The woman’s eldest child testified to the same incident. His testimony was consistent with the mother’s, except for one incident.
The woman also testified to an incident that occurred at their marital residence. She stated that the man was in the shower that time when his phone rang in the other room. He yelled to the eldest child to answer it, but before the eldest child got to the phone, she answered it and heard a woman on the line. The man jumped out of the shower, and while he was still naked, started punching and kicking her. The man hit her over the head with his cell phone and broke the phone.
On re-cross examination, the mother admitted that the incident must have happened later in time, as the eldest child was only one year old. The woman further testified that they had a previous argument about finances. As the dispute escalated, the man began screaming, and the woman attempted to leave the marital residence with the child. The man allegedly threatened her that if she left he would kill the whole family.
The man, however, did not testify about the said incident. But, he did confirm that when he graduated from the police academy, he became licensed to carry a gun. He testified that on some occasions, while he was a police officer, he kept the firearm in his home in a locked box without ammunition. However, he initially testified that he only broke it down in the home.
The eldest child also testified to an incident where he saw his stepfather punches his mother in the face with a closed fist. The mother also asserted about an altercation that occurred between her and the man. She alleges that the man began shoving her and tackled her to the bed. Then, he jumped on top of her and choked her. The mother testified that she remembers looking up to the ceiling and thinking that she was going to die that day.
The mother testified that they separated after the man attacked her and her child. The altercation began with an argument between the woman and the paternal grandfather about the way she was disciplining the eldest child. The mother testified that after that incident, she and her children started living together. The eldest child’s testimony confirmed the mother’s testimony.
Subsequently, by order from the family court, the parties were awarded with joint custody, with primary physical custody with the mother.
The man then filed a petition for modification of an order of custody with the family court requesting physical custody of the children. The woman also filed a petition for modification of an order of custody seeking sole custody of the children and the elimination of the man’s Thursday through Sunday visitation period. Due to the woman’s default in court, the court ordered custody of the children to be transferred from the woman to the man.
Afterward, the woman claims that after not seeing the eldest child for two weeks, she went to the police because the younger child told her that his brother was hit and the eldest child told her that she can’t see him until his bruises go away. After the woman called the police, the police escorted her to the man’s house and interviewed the eldest child. The eldest child told the police, in the presence of the man, that his bruise was caused by an accidental fall in the bathroom.
The man testified that he took the younger child to the emergency room for a bruise. The man was driving the car when either the eldest child hit the younger child or the younger child hit his face on the arm rest.
The woman again alleges that the eldest child called and told her that his father punched his younger brother in the leg. The eldest child passed the phone to the younger child, who was screaming and crying, and he confirmed that he was punched. The woman then called an institution and they investigated the incident.
The man describes the children as normal siblings who occasionally fight. The man testified that he disciplines the children in several different ways. He testified that he takes something away from them or does not let them go to their uncle’s house. Other times, he spanks them on the buttocks. He denies disciplining by choking them or punching them. The man said that he boxes with the children, while using headgear, to teach them how to defend themselves. The man claims that he is a disciplinarian and that strong discipline is part of his culture.
The woman testified that she earns $23,000.00 each year. The mother recently changed her hours so that she would have more time at home to take care of the children. The mother testified that if she was awarded sole physical custody of the children, she would still want them to be able to see their father.
The woman plans to support the children by continuing to work. The mother plans to live with the children in her current apartment, but she is seeking a larger apartment. If the mother is unavailable to drop the children off at school or to pick them up from school, she plans to hire a babysitter to drop them off and pick them up.
The mother testified she sometimes needs to discipline the children by separating them when they are in her care. She has seen the eldest child and the younger child hit each other hard.
The maternal grandmother’s interaction with the man is limited to phone conversations regarding visitations for the children. She then testified that she does not see the children interact with their father. The maternal grandmother testified that the man screams and curses at the children when picking them up in the car whenever they forget something in the house.
Based on records, the court must consider the history of domestic violence when making a custody determination.
Consequently, the violence upon the children which has been corroborated is a basis to change custody when the court considers the prior history of domestic violence testified to and the acts complained of. The court further stated that they cannot and will not second guess the previous agreements and orders predicated on them.
Sources revealed that the statutory amendment to the law requires the court to review the events that pre-date those petitions actually considered and stated in the opinion. It is in the best interest of the children that custody be awarded to the mother.
The family court ordered is then modified. The mother is awarded custody and the man is awarded access. The attorney for the child is discharged.
Whenever you and your children suffered abuse from someone, you can ask legal assistance from the Kings County Domestic Violence Lawyer or Kings County Family Lawyer. You can also seek guidance from the Kings County Order of Protection Attorney whenever you want to ask for protection from your perpetrator. You can reach the experts at Stephen Bilkis and Associates office.