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New York Court Discusses Custody Where Child is Afraid of Father


In August of 1973, an orthodox Jewish woman married an orthodox Jewish man in Brooklyn, New York. They were married for 32 years and had four children. The eldest daughter was age 32 and the youngest age 13 when the couple divorced. At the time of the marriage, the husband was 22 years of age and had just graduated from college. The wife was eighteen years of age and was a high school graduate.

Over the first few years of their marriage, the father completed dental school and set up a thriving dental practice. The wife encouraged him in his career and was active within his practice. She did most of the hiring for his practice. The wife purchased the family home and decorated it. She returned to school when he was working in his practice and ultimately obtained a bachelor’s degree in education, a master’s degree, and a post-graduate degree as well as a social work certificate. On June 10, 2005, the husband was granted a divorce.

During the course of this trial and the subsequent hearing on the custody of the minor daughter who was the only child still living at home, several issues arose. The wife alleged years of domestic abuse that included physical, psychological, and sexual abuse by the husband. The court found much of her testimony to be exaggerated and some of it to be questionable in general. By contrast, the court found that the husband was often unable to control his anger and was often inappropriately indifferent to the impact that his own behavior had on his daughter’s reactions to him.

The daughter refuses to see her father. When the court orders that the child spends time with him, she refuses. Much of this behavior is based upon the problems between the parents. The mother has constantly denigrated the father to the child. The father’s behavior fluctuates from docile and calm to outbursts and indifference. This type of behavior has been a contributing factor to the child’s reactions to him. Further, on one occasion, the parents’ argument escalated to cause the parents to “tug of war” over who would take the child with them. The child was in the middle of the violence and was terrified of it. The court allows that the father will have to work with a counselor in order to attempt to restore the relationship that at one time existed between them while recognizing that at this time, the child is truly afraid of him.

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