- November 4, 2019
& Orgel PLLC, New York, NY (Scott I. Orgel, Elizabeth C.
Garvey, and Courtney E. Dinkins of counsel), for appellant.
Anthony A. Capetola, Williston Park, NY (Michael C. Barrows
of counsel), for respondent.
S. Lowenstein, Woodmere, NY, attorney for the child.
C. DILLON, J.P. RUTH C. BALKIN HECTOR D. LASALLE BETSY
DECISION & ORDER
related proceedings pursuant to Family Court Act article 6,
the mother appeals from an order of the Family Court, Nassau
County (Conrad D. Singer, J.), dated January 31, 2019. The
order, after a hearing, granted the father's petition for
sole legal and residential custody of the parties' child
and denied the mother's petition for sole legal and
residential custody of the child.
that the order is affirmed, with costs.
parties, who were never married, are the parents of one
child, who was born in 2013. Both parties petitioned for sole
legal and residential custody of the child. After a hearing
at which the parties and nine other witnesses testified, the
Family Court awarded the father sole legal and residential
custody of the child, with parental access to the mother. The
court's paramount concern in any custody dispute is to
determine, under the totality of the circumstances, what is
in the best interests of the child" (Matter of
Turcios v Cordero, 173 A.D.3d 1048, 1049, citing
Eschbach v Eschbach, 56 N.Y.2d 167, 171). "The
factors to be considered in determining the custody
arrangement that is in the child's best interests include
the quality of the home environment and the parental guidance
the custodial parent provides for the child, the ability of
each parent to provide for the child's emotional and
intellectual development, the financial status and ability of
each parent to provide for the child, the relative fitness of
the respective parents, and the effect an award of custody to
one parent might have on the child's relationship with
the other parent" (Matter of Wood v Lozada, 152
A.D.3d 531, 532 [internal quotation marks omitted]).
"'The court's determination depends to a great
extent upon its assessment of the credibility of the
witnesses and upon the character, temperament, and sincerity
of the parents'" (Matter of Toro v
Williams, 167 A.D.3d 634, 635, quoting Matter of
Blanco v Corbett, 8 A.D.3d 374, 374). "The
credibility findings of the court are entitled to great
weight and should not be disturbed unless they lack a sound
and substantial basis in the record" (Matter of Toro
v Williams, 167 A.D.3d at 635, citing Eschbach v
Eschbach, 56 N.Y.2d at 173).
the testimony adduced at the hearing established that, over
the course of the proceedings, the mother engaged in conduct
which tended to interfere with the father's access to the
child, and demonstrated a disregard for court orders (see
Matter of Plaza v Plaza, 305 A.D.2d 607, 607).
Notwithstanding the mother's allegations that the father
was an unfit parent, the record demonstrated that the father
provided a safe and appropriate home environment for the
child, ensured that the child was well-dressed and well-fed,
and encouraged her participation in academic and
extracurricular activities (see Bourne v Bristow, 66
A.D.3d 621, 622). Consequently, the Family Court's
determination that the child's best interests would be
served by awarding sole legal and residential custody to the
father has a sound and substantial basis in the record and
will not be disturbed (see Matter of Turcios v
Cordero, 173 A.D.3d at 1049; Matter of Toro v
Williams, 167 A.D.3d at 635-636). Moreover, the
court's determination was supported by the recommendation
of the court-appointed forensic expert which, while not
determinative, is entitled to some weight (see Matter of
Dante v Dante, 170 A.D.3d 829, 831).
mother's remaining contention is without merit.
we agree with the Family Court's determination to grant
the father's petition for sole legal ...