Friday, December 9, 2011

Appeal: Mother Loses Support, Custody for Interfering With Father's Rights

From the New York Law Journal:
A mother who "deliberately and unjustifiably frustrated" a father's attempts to visit his child was appropriately stripped of child support and primary custody, an appellate panel in Albany has held.

The Appellate Division, Third Department, unanimously affirmed a Schuyler County Family Court judge in a case where the custodial mother had repeatedly hindered her estranged husband's efforts to establish relations with his daughter, even though the father made no attempt to enforce his visitation rights for six years....

The court said that while the father "lost contact with his daughter for several years and did not adequately explain why he took so long to re-establish a connection," by the time of the hearing he had been working for more than a year to connect with his daughter.

"The record supports the finding that the mother deliberately and unjustifiably frustrated the father's visitation, moving without notifying the father and attempting to informally transfer custody to another person…without informing the father," Justice McCarthy wrote in an opinion joined by Justices Karen K. Peters , John A. Lahtinen, Leslie E. Stein and Elizabeth A. Garry.

Appearing were Martha N. Hertzberg of Ithaca for Mr. Luke; Lisa K. Miller of McGraw for Ms. Luke; and Steven J. Getman of Ovid for the child.