Last March, Judge Posner, sitting in the Family Court of Duchess County, ruled that a woman whose ex-husband had been in and out of jail since approximately 2003, and in addition had alcohol related problems, could leave the state with her nine-year-old son. She could take this action in spite of the fact that she had signed a custody order barring her from removing the child more than 25 miles from her residence without giving ninety days notice to the father.
Mother Wants to Move to North Carolina
The mother was a nurse. She wanted to relocate to North Carolina. She had a support system in North Carolina. Her parents were there. She felt moving to North Carolina would improve her financial condition and allow her to spend more time with her son.
She brought a proceeding before family court Judge Posner in Dutchess County. She claimed that she had an untenable financial situation. The father had not participated in raising the child or supporting the child since 2006. Judge Posner took into consideration the father’s long periods related to his incarceration. He also stated that he had failed to support his son or be involved in his son’s life. In her application, Mom advised the judge that relocating would allow her to work less hours and earn a similar salary, and spend more quality time with her son.
It was the father’s contention that the mother did not present sufficient evidence to support her position. Although the father didn’t deny his alcohol problems and incarceration had kept him away from his son, he expressed a desire to maintain a relationship with his son.
Best Interests of the Child
Judge Posner ruled that the mother had shown, by a preponderance of the evidence, that her relocation would be in the best interest of the child and therefore she was justified in modifying the custody agreement. The Judge also stated he was “confident” the mother, if permitted to move, “will take steps to encourage a meaningful relationship” between the father and his son.
The attorney for the mother was interviewed after the decision. She stated, “that this ruling stands for the proposition that having an addiction isn’t an excuse for failure to observe your parental obligations.”
Fathers have rights that need to be protected. Cases involving child abuse and child neglect are sometimes brought as a cover to obtain custody for the mother. Child Protective Services and Administration for Children’s Services problems can have an impact on a father obtaining custody or visitation with his child. Fathers who are paying child support and are downsized need representation to reduce their child support obligations. Children can be turned away from their fathers due to parental alienation syndrome caused by one parent alienating the child from the other parent by bad mouthing the other parent in the child’s presence. Issues involving paternity, child support and child visitation also acquire aggressive representation. Feel free to call our law office for a free consultation.