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Husband and Wife Both Seek Custody of Children


A woman and his partner both filed for child custody petition in Court. The woman was born and raised in Florida where she lived with her mother and father until her parents divorced. She continued to live with her father until she was 22 and got her own apartment. The woman’s partner was born in Puerto Rico and was raised in Bronx. He has been living in New York for the past 10 years. The parties met on line in 2002 and they actually met in person when the woman came with a friend in New York for vacation. A New York Criminal Lawyer said in May 2004, the woman invited the man down to Florida for the weekend and their relationship became intimate. At some point during their relationship, the parties made the decision to have a child together.

In October 2004 the woman learned she was pregnant and that same month, the man took his two-week vacation and went to Florida to be with the woman. He brought his daughter with him and they discussed the possibility of him moving to Florida. While he was there, he looked for a job by posting his resume on a Web site and checking the local newspapers. The father got a couple of calls but when he went to be interviewed with the County school for a job as a locksmith, he was told that he was overqualified for he was making $17 an hour at his job in New York and they were offering only $10 an hour. A Westchester County Criminal Lawyer said that alhough he said he would start at any entry level, he was not offered the job.

At the end of 2004, the woman was terminated from her job as a general claims clerk in Florida for taking more time off than her allotted annual leave would cover. Although the father admitted they had plans to move, after she lost her job, he told her they would live better in New York since he had a stable job and stable home. The man’s mother would provide childcare, and he does not want anyone but family to care for their son. The woman never wanted to move to New York but agreed to do so because she felt that it would be only temporary until they have saved money for a house and move back to Florida. The woman admitted that her partner never gave her an exact time frame but she assumed that it would be within a few years.

In 2005, the woman moved to New York and began living in her partner’s apartment with his seven-year-old daughter. In 2005, she brought her 11-year-old daughter to live with them. In July 2005, their child was born. As the woman was not working, the household was supported entirely by the man’s salary, money from her income tax refund, and the money that her father sent to her. The man worked on weekends to earn overtime pay while the woman was unemployed. The man acknowledged that at the time the woman moved to New York, the plan was to pay up his bills and save money so they could buy a home in Florida. Because of their expenses, they never started a savings account, were unable to put aside money for a house and the plan never materialized. Since the woman gained employment, the man testified he only worked overtime once in a while because he did not need to earn as much money to support them and preferred to spend time with his son, daughter and family.

When the woman started working, the paternal grandmother took care of all the children, as she had done for her other grandchildren. The man’s mother took care of the man’s daughter with his former wife since she was little while both of the child’s parents worked and after the child’s father obtained custody. The woman and her partner have an indefatigable and infinite resource in their child’s grandmother who comes to their home at 6:30 A.M. and leaves at 7:00 P.M. during the school year as well as the summer recess.

The woman has been in New York since 2005 and other than an older half-sister who lives in Massachusetts, she has no family in New York. The woman and her sister are not close as they did not grow up together and they met for the first time when the woman was 17. She does not have any friends in New York and besides her partner and her child she has no one here to turn to for emotional support. The man acknowledged the woman’s friends were in Florida but said for reasons he did not know, she didn’t stay in contact with them. After she came to New York and became homesick, the man portrayed her as sad and withdrawn. The stress of being pregnant and later trying to find a job caused the woman to become withdrawn. Over time, the relationship faded.

The man offered to introduce the woman to people and his family even offered to take her out but she did not want to. When asked about her relationship with the man’s family, she admitted that she felt accepted, was never criticized by them and was welcomed into the family when she came to New York. She agreed the man’s family invited her and her daughter to attend family gatherings, holiday celebrations, birthday parties and remarks that although she gets along with everybody, she generally just keep it to herself by just going to work and coming home. She explained that she does not seem to have adopted them as a surrogate family.

Other than going to work, the woman does not have any outside interests or hobbies nor does she participate in any recreational activities or classes. She also never used the Internet to look up free or low cost activities for herself and the children because she does not know her way around New York. The woman admitted she would ask her partner to watch the baby if she wanted to go out and was sure her partner would not refuse to watch the baby but she never asked him since she did not actually have the opportunity to go out.

In contrast to the lonely and isolated life she leads in New York, all of the woman’s relatives reside in Florida—each of her parents and stepfather, two uncles, an aunt, a grandmother, first cousins and their children. According to both parties, the woman speaks to members of her family on the telephone everyday particularly her mother, stepfather and father. Although the woman professes to have a close family, none of her relatives have ever come to see her in New York. Only once did one of her best friends come to see her in New York. When the man was visiting her in Florida in October 2004 she never took him to meet her family. According to him, the only time they visited the woman’s home was on the day they decided to leave.

Because the woman is homesick, she wants to leave New York with her child and return to Florida to be with her family where she would live for free with her mother and stepfather. The home is located on one acre of land that is fenced in and has a big backyard, which her apartment in New York does not have, where her son could play. The woman expects to find employment in Tampa which would be a 30-minute drive. Once she gets a job, childcare would be provided to her without cost by her stepfather who is retired and her mother who works at night.

In addition to being reunited with her family, the woman’s other reasons for wanting to move to Florida are to have a better environment to raise the child in, to have the support of her family, to get a better paying job and advancement in a company as opposed to the job she has now, to be able to go at night to career advancement programs and to be able to afford a three-bedroom apartment. She claimed to have found such an apartment for a monthly rent of $750. In contrast to the figure, the apartment she and her partner live in presently costs $1,165 per month, which they presently divide. Because the woman does not know where anything is in Brooklyn and in Florida, she would have her own vehicle. The woman believes there are more recreational opportunities for her and her children and she would be able to take them more places in Florida. When asked if she planned to look for a job in Florida, the mother replied that she had job offers already but on cross-examination she admitted that she actually had only offers of interviews which she was not able to go to while residing in New York.

The woman testified that her wish to return to Florida was absolutely not motivated by a desire to deprive her partner of meaningful access to the child. She said that when she and her partner broke up, she just felt that the only place she could go is home. She denied starting up a new relationship with someone in Florida and she acknowledged that if she was allowed to have the child and move to Florida, it would make it difficult for her partner to have access. She expressed her willingness to permit her partner to have significant visitation with the child by giving him a large chunk of time to spend with him including holidays and summers. She said she would be very flexible and allow him to spend as much time as he can. She volunteered to pay the cost of her plane ticket and half of the baby’s to bring the child to New York for visitation. She would not oppose her partner calling the child every day to talk on the telephone and she would provide a video cam for her partner and child to communicate visually with each other over the Internet.

Having made a thorough examination and inquiry into the facts and circumstances of the case and into the surroundings, conditions and capacities of the persons involved in the proceeding, and having given serious consideration to the various factors at issue in this custody/relocation request, based on the best interests of the child, the court finds that the father proved that relocation should be denied. The court finds there is a sound and substantial basis in the record to grant joint custody of the child to both parties, with physical residence to the mother and regular and frequent contact between the father and the child. In addition to day and overnight visitation, the father may speak to the child by telephone at reasonable times with reasonable frequency.

The Court must also consider the effect of domestic violence upon the best interests of the child if a party makes a sworn allegation that the other party has committed an act of domestic violence against the party making the allegation or a family or household member of either party and such allegations are proven by a preponderance of the evidence.

The present custodial arrangement, the child’s wishes and the existence of domestic violence are not at issue. The evidence shows that the respective home environments, the needs of the child, each parent’s past performance and relative fitness, each parent’s ability to guide and provide for the child’s intellectual and emotional development, and each parent’s financial status and ability to provide for the child, the parents are relatively equal.

Based on the child’s chronological age and developmental stage, the parties should establish a visitation schedule for the father that will not create separations of more than two or three days. Overnight visitation should be included in the schedule the parties create. The parties should develop a plan in which they share or alternate holidays and have the child during their respective vacations. Each parent shall provide the other with a current address and telephone number and will notify each other within 72 hours of any changes to the information. Each parent will immediately notify the other regarding any emergency involving the child. Neither party may remove the child from the jurisdiction of the court without the written permission of the other party. Neither party with custody of the child may relocate beyond a 25-mile radius of where they presently reside without the written consent of the other party.

When couples decide to break apart due to a lot of reasons, their children’s sake should not be jeopardized. It is unusual for couples to agree on something once they consider to get separated. If you are in these kinds of situation, or have been the victim of assault, sex crimes or other domestic violence matter, make sure to discuss your options on domestic violence related cases with the New York Domestic Violence Lawyers. You may also request to be represented by a NY Criminal Attorney at Stephen Bilkis and Associates for your crime-related lawsuits.

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