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New York Supreme Court Rules on Custody in Light of Child Abuse Allegations


On November 4, 2010, a mother requested that the Supreme Court Third Department, of the City of New York Appellate Division review the case of the custody condition of two of her three children. The mother is currently living with her grandmother who is in poor health and her youngest son from a different relationship. They live in a neighborhood which has been defined as having “questionable safety” by testimony of the courts. She depends on her relatives to support her. She has only seen the children a few times since custody of them was awarded to her ex-boyfriend. She has been known to travel to Atlanta, Georgia to visit with the father of her youngest son. [78 A.D.3d 1259] The mother alleges that she is afraid to go to Broome County New York because she is afraid of the father of her first two children. She advised that when she has gone there, they have met in public places. She is seeking a review of her case based on the contention that she is a battered woman. Her contention is made under New York’s domestic violence laws that the Supreme Court has created an Integrated Domestic Violence Part to handle the unique circumstances surrounding cases that have an element of domestic violence. In order for her case to qualify, she would have to prove that there is a preponderance of evidence that point the court to defer to the Supreme Court to evaluate the evidence in this case. While the mother alleged mental abuse and that he had shaken the daughter, the mother had never filed a police report. She had also never filed a complaint in Family Court against the father. The more serious allegations, those of sexual abuse involving the father and the daughter were found to be completely false. The Supreme Court ordered that both children be examined by professionals to determine if they were abused. This appellate section reviewed Supreme Court reports about factual and credibility determinations and determined that the allegations of physical domestic violence in this case were unfounded.

The mother also stated that she did not feel that the courts had given enough credence to her allegations that the father of her first two children had abused her and her daughter. However, in spite of these allegations, the mother did not feel that she was in so much danger when she traveled to New York that she required the father to meet her at a police station. While it is true that the mother’s allegations of domestic violence were discredited in court, she still maintains that she suffered from domestic violence at the hands of the father of her first two children. She stated that she suffered mental abuse and that she had seen him shake their daughter. Both admitted to using corporal punishment, but the mother stated that it was at the insistence of the father. The father stated that as the children have gotten older, the need for corporal punishment has decreased.

The mother accused the father of the children of abusing not only herself, but of sexually abusing her daughter as well. The Supreme Court gave no credit to these allegations and the daughter’s school principal testified that she had admitted to lying about the incidents. She currently states that she was not abused or mistreated. Since the daughter recanted her allegations and the mother failed by all accounts to demonstrate that she was credible by presenting a preponderance of evidence, the Supreme Court declined to consider them in making their custody determination.

Both of the children have lived with their father since early in 2006. First the court gave temporary sole custody to the father, and then following two other hearings he was granted permanent sole custody. The mother is currently appealing this judgment in spite of the fact that the children seem happy where they are. The records show that the father is involved in the children’s school events and learning. He is active in their recreation and sports. He takes them to church and church activities and otherwise maintains their daily needs. He has attended parenting courses, and has provided counseling for the children. The fact that he has ensured their medical and academic needs since 2006 demonstrates to this court that he has provided adequate care for his children during the four years that he has been the sole caregiver of them. The father has also attempted to encourage the children to have a positive relationship with their mother. For instance in spite of the fact that in the past, he has had difficulty with the mother returning the children to him following visits, he continues to attempt to work out the facilitation of visits between the children and their mother. He has gone above and beyond expectation in this regard even providing transportation one way and to otherwise permit regular contact between the children and their mother. On appeal, the mother conceded that the father has provided adequate care for the children these past four years.

In contrast to the mother’s living situation, the father owns his own home which he purchased with an inheritance. The house can even be used as an investment property to increase his income. Although neither parent has steady income, the father has provided a stable life style. The children seem to be doing quite well in their father’s care. The Court acknowledges that both parents have their flaws, when properly weighed between the two, the Supreme Court finds that there is no reason to disrupt this stable life that the children have achieved in the house of their father. The Supreme Court does not believe that the best interests of justice would be achieved by removing the children from the stability that they have experienced during the past four years that they have lived with their father. The children will remain with their father as the sole custodian of their welfare. It is expected that he will continue to encourage them to spend time with their mother.

Issues of law are constantly changing. A person who is not specifically trained in the law cannot begin to know what all of their rights are without the assistance of a professional. Here at Steven Bilkis and Associates, we provide New York Order of Protection Attorneys, New York Domestic Violence Lawyers, New York Assault Attorneys, and New York Criminal lawyers. New York Family Lawyers will stand by you and ensure that your rights are protected. New York Personal Injury Attorneys can argue your side and make sure that you and your loved ones are considered. We make sure that you are rightfully awarded compensation for your suffering.

Stephen Bilkis & Associates with its Domestic Violence Lawyers has convenient offices throughout the New York Metropolitan area including Corona, New York. Our Personal Injury Attorneys can provide you with advice to guide you through difficult situations. Without a Domestic Violence Lawyer you could lose precious compensation to help with your medical bills and the trauma to you and your loved ones following such a frightening experience. This is true even if the Attorney for the assailant has not adequately made their case. In addition to Personal Injury Law, Stephen Bilkis and Associates can recommend Criminal Lawyers who will protect your rights if you are ever arrested.

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