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Immunity for Referees/Law Guardians in Family Court Proceedings

In the case of Wilson v. Wilson-Paulson, the wife was granted sole custody of the her daughter. After receiving custody of her daughter, she brought a subsequent proceeding in the family court. She alleged in this proceeding that the daughter’s father had been involved in an attempted assault, aggravated harassment, had been stalking her and various other offenses. The proceeding in the family court was sent to a referee for a fact-finding determination.

The referee entered an Order of Protection. It required the father to stay away from his ex-wife and the parties’ daughter. The father subsequently brought a proceeding in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. In this proceeding, he represented himself. He asserted that under 42USC Section 1983, that the ex-wife, the family court referee and the guardian ad litem had violated his rights under the 14th amendment. He claimed that he was deprived of his fundamental rights as a father.

Judge Gardephe, sitting in the Southern District of New York, rendered a decision that the actions of the guardian ad litem, his ex-wife and the referee were protected by judicial immunity. He found that they could not be sued in their personal individual capacities for acts or omissions that occurred while they were involved in their official duties. The court also dismissed the 1983 claim against his ex-wife. The court found the allegations were insufficient to show she acted “under color of state law”.

Fathers’ Rights Attorneys

Fathers are often treated as second class citizens by the courts. There are numerous situations where fathers’ rights need to be protected. Should you be involved in a divorce proceeding where there are issues of custody, visitation, child support or orders of protection issues, the fathers’ rights attorneys at the Law Office of Elliot Schlissel can help you. Feel free to call us at 1-800-344-6431, 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802.

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