Westchester County Family Court -- Custody Trial
Attorney David Sachs was able to obtain sole legal and physical custody, for his client, after a trial conducted over several days in the White Plains Family Court, Westchester County. Mr. Sachs represented the mother who filed a Family Court Petition to modify a previous custody Order of the Westchester County Family Court. The mother wanted sole physical and legal custody of the child.
The mother (Petitioner) testified that she and the father had an embittered relationship, the the father had threatened her and the father had been arrested twice for violating an existing Order of Protection.
Joint Custody Law
The Court found the law for joint custody demands that decisions regarding the welfare of the child be a reasoned determination of the parents and is premised on the notion that the parents are capable of and can engage in cooperative and civil communication Matter of Yetter v Jones, 706 NYS2d 782.
Also, the Court found that an existing custody arrangement established by agreement should be modified only upon a showing that there has been a change of cicumstances that makes modification "necessary to ensure the continued best intrest of the children" Eschbach v Eschbach, 56 NY2d 167. The Westchetser County Family Court also found that where the record has demonstrated that the parties' relationship is so acrimonious that it essentially precludes joint decision making an award of sole custody is appropriate and in the best intrests of the child. Matter of O'Connell v McDermott, 915 NYS2d 143. Lastly, the Westchester County Family Court found that joint custody is inappropriate where the parties are antagonistic towards each other and have demonstrated an inability to cooperate on matters concerning the child.
The Custody Trial
At trial it was clear the parties could not effectively engage in any form of joint decision making with respect to the child. The father's behavior was marked by repeated complaints to CPS, verbal insults and accusations. The mother stated even routine conversations regarding the child devolved into accusations regarding the parties previous relationship and the mother's lack of parental competence.
Attorney David Sachs was able to show at trial that the father was responsible for the parties lack of cooperation and argued successfully to the judge that joint custody was inappropriate. The judge then awarded sole physical and legal custody to the mother.