This case is a battle between a man and woman, who are not married, for the custody of their two children, a 12-year old son and an 18-year old daughter. The man and women were in an unhealthy relationship involving domestic violence, for around eight years. The Family Court of Richmond County reviews the facts of the case and explains the reasons for their decision to award custody to the mother.
First, let’s go through the facts of the case. On June 1994, the father brutally assaulted the mother. According to reports, he beat her up and dropped a hot clothers iron on her. He was arrested and imprisoned for this. Their relationship then ended. Two years later, they reconciled and conceived a son. In 2000, the father and mother decided to move together. Two years later, they ended their relationship again.
On September 2006, the mother and the father signed an agreement for a Final Order of Visitation which allowed the father to visit the two children on certain days and gave him access to information on them. The agreement did not mention however who should have custody of the children. On November 14, 2006, the father claimed that the mother had physically abused the son on November 11. The mother was then arrested for child abuse and the children were taken to the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS).
On June 11, 2007, the mother admitted of being guilty of disorderly conduct against her son. She filed for a petition to be allowed to visit him and this was granted by the Court. On April 25, 2007, the father agreed to an order which prevented him from visiting the daughter. On June 2007, he was arrested for attacking his daughter.
On July 2007, the mother filed for custody of the the two children. She said that it was not in the children’s best interests for their father to get custody. On December 15, 2008, father agreed to turn custody of the daughter over to the mother.
During the hearing for custody over the son, the Court ordered a forensic evaluation by a psychologist to determine whether the child was in any danger of becoming either an abuser or a victim of abuse, since he was always in an environment of domestic violence. The psychologist was also asked to determine whether the child’s developmental needs would be affected and what actions could be done to prevent this.
The Court reviewed the psychologist’s testimony and the testimony of other witnesses, and given the facts, decided that the best course would be to award custody of the son to his mother.
Even though the mother had been arrested of physically hurting her son, she had admitted to this and had seemed very sad and regretful that it happened. Furthermore, it had only happened once. On the other hand, the father, who also had a long criminal history behind him, never admitted responsibility for physically hurting the mother, even though there was evidence for this. He always maintained that he was innocent, and that he did not recall any such event happening. In many of his other cases, he would also accuse his lawyers of pleading guilty, even though he was innocent.
Also, the Court was able to prove that the father’s testimony is not believable and that he had lied many times to the Court. Also, even though the father seemed to get along with the son, he father never showed interest in his daughter and in his other child, from another woman. According to interviews conducted with the daughter, this was very painful for her. The mother on the other hand, got along very well with her two children and even with the father’s other child. The three children were also reported to be close.
Given all this, the Court decided that it was in the best interests of the boy that custody over him be given over to the mother. The Court also granted an order preventing the father from approaching the mother and the two children in the future.
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