Monday, November 30, 2015
CHILD CUSTODY AND SUPPORT - ALIENATION OR CHILD'S WISHES OR BOTH?
An example when a child is completely estranged from a parent.
Matter of Coull v Rottman 2015 NY Slip Op 06723 Decided on September 2, 2015 Appellate Division, Second Department:
".....Here, the evidence adduced at the hearing demonstrated that despite the fact that the child had participated in therapy for several months in an effort to foster a relationship with his father, the child remained vehemently opposed to any form of visitation with the father. The Family Court was entitled to place great weight on the child's wishes, since he was mature enough to express them (see Matter of Rosenblatt v Rosenblatt, 129 AD3d 1091; Matter of Luo v Yang, 103 AD3d 636). The court's finding that further attempts to compel the child, who was then 13 years old, to engage in visitation would be detrimental to the child's emotional well being has a sound and substantial basis in the record and, thus, should not be disturbed (see Matter of Rosenblatt v Rosenblatt, 129 AD3d 1091; Matter of Lyons v Knox, 126 AD3d 798, 799; Matter of Luo v Yang, 103 AD3d at 637; Matter of Krasner v Krasner, 94 AD3d 763, 764).
However, contrary to the conclusion of the Family Court, the evidence adduced at the hearing justified a suspension of the father's obligation to make future child support payments (see Rodman v Friedman, 112 AD3d 537; Ledgin v Ledgin, 36 AD3d 669, 670). The forensic evaluator testified that there was a "pattern of alienation" resulting from the mother's interference with a regular schedule of visitation. The evaluator was unable to complete her evaluation because the mother refused to consent to the evaluator's request to speak with mental health providers or school officials, and the child did not appear for his interview. Moreover, after the father's last visit with the child, which occurred on February 7, 2010, the father continued to go to the exchange location on visitation days for several months. On one occasion, the mother and child appeared, but the mother said the child would not come out of the car. On the other occasions, neither the mother nor the child appeared, nor did the mother communicate with the father. The father was never told about the child's medical needs or that the child had been hospitalized until after the fact, nor was he advised of any information about the child's school or school events. Further, the record reflects that the mother, who represented herself before the Family Court, assumed an inappropriately hostile stance toward the father and witnesses who testified in his favor. The Family Court noted in its decision that the mother stated "many times, that she will never allow [the father] to see the subject child and that she would do whatever it takes to keep the subject child away" from him.
Under these circumstances, it is appropriate to suspend the father's current child support obligations (see Matter of Thompson v Thompson, 78 AD3d 845)."