In a June 16, 2014 Westchester County, Family Court decision, Judge Michele I. Schauer granted Fredman Baken & *Kosan’s Petition to permit an ex-wife and mother of two teenage boys to move with her children to Northern Virginia, citing economic necessity as warranting the move, over the Father’s and the Attorney for the Children’s objections.
The Decision was rendered after a five day trial that took place over an eight month period from October, 2013 to May, 2014. The Court also dismissed the Father’s cross-petition seeking sole custody of the children.
The Court ruled in C v. C that the mother has met her burden of establishing that her relocation to Virginia would be in the children’s best interests in that it would enhance the children’s lives economically and socially. The Court found that the Mother proved that she has provided the overwhelming majority of financial support for the parties’ children and that the father has been, at best, a reluctant financial contributor to the children support. Judge Schauer held that the Wife proved her claim by submitting documentation of her income and expenses, supported by receipts demonstrating that she has a meager and bare-bones life, worked continuously and provided medical insurance for herself and the children, and that the father had been in arrears of his child support obligation at various times. The Court also credited the Mother’s testimony that her financial difficulties had taken a toll on her physical health, citing to specific physical conditions caused by such stress.
Judge Schauer also determined that the Father had failed to prove that he was able to support himself let alone his two teenage boys. While the Father offered proof, which the Court credited, that he maintained an active involvement in the children’s lives, Judge Schauer found that his ability to be so involved was because he did not have a regular job yet maintained a carefree life, free of adult financial responsibility.
Of particular importance, the Court’s decision took into consideration that the two teenage boys indicated a desire not to move to Virginia, citing their warm relationship with their father and their desire to remain in their current school. The Court held that the move with their Mother to a place where they had many relatives and some friends was preferable to their living with their Father.
On August 21, 2014, the Appellate Division, Second Department denied the application filed by the Attorney for The Children to stay Judge Schauer’s Order, and, in effect, permitted the Mother to remain in Virginia with the children, where they had moved in late June after the school year had ended.
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