Submitted - September 24, 2019
Kristina S. Heuser, Locust Valley, NY, for appellant.
Siano, Merrick, NY, for respondent.
M. Berkowitz, Northport, NY, attorney for the children.
C. BALKIN, J.P. JEFFREY A. COHEN ROBERT J. MILLER COLLEEN D.
DECISION & ORDER
proceeding pursuant to Family Court Act article 6, the mother
appeals from an order of the Family Court, Nassau County
(Robert LoPresti, Ct. Atty. Ref.), dated April 21, 2017. The
order, insofar as appealed from, after a hearing, granted the
father's petition for sole legal and residential custody
of the parties' children and awarded the mother
supervised parental access with the children.
that the order is affirmed insofar as appealed from, without
costs or disbursements.
parties, who were never married, are the parents of twin
boys, born in June 2013. In July 2013, the father filed a
petition for sole legal and residential custody of the
children, who had been residing with the father since birth.
Pursuant to a series of temporary orders, the children
remained in the custody of the father, and the mother had
supervised parental access with the children. After a hearing
at which both parents, the maternal aunt, and a
court-appointed forensic psychologist testified, the Family
Court granted the father's petition for sole legal and
residential custody of the children and awarded the mother
supervised parental access. The mother appeals.
paramount concern in any custody or [parental access]
determination is the best interests of the child, under the
totality of the circumstances" (Matter of Boggio v
Boggio, 96 A.D.3d 834, 835; see Matter of Wilson v
McGlinchey, 2 N.Y.3d 375, 380-381; Eschbach v
Eschabch, 56 N.Y.2d 167, 171). "Factors to be
considered 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 Andrade v Salvador, 160 A.D.3d 826, 827
[internal quotation marks omitted]; see Matter of Murphy
v Lewis, 149 A.D.3d 748, 749).
court's determination with respect to custody depends to
a great extent upon its assessment of the credibility of the
witnesses and upon the character, temperament, and sincerity
of the parties. Given the court's opportunity to make
firsthand assessments of these crucial considerations, we
accord great deference to its credibility findings and will
not disturb them unless they lack a sound and substantial
basis in the record" (Matter of Vaysman v
Conroy, 165 A.D.3d 954, 954-955; see Matter of
Andrade v Salvador, 160 A.D.3d at 827).
the Family Court considered the totality of the
circumstances, and its determination to award sole legal and
residential custody of the children to the father, which was
consistent with the opinion of the court-appointed forensic
psychologist, is supported by a sound and substantial basis
in the record and will not be disturbed (see Eschbach v
Eschbach, 56 N.Y.2d at 171-172; Matter of Vaysman v
Conroy, 165 A.D.3d at 955; Matter of Stokes v
Stokes, 154 A.D.3d 952, 953; Matter of Yearwood v
Yearwood, 90 A.D.3d 771, 774).
parental access is appropriate where it is established that
unsupervised parental access would be detrimental to the
child (see Matter of Masri v Masri, 171 A.D.3d 1183,
1185; Matter of Henry v Tucker, 157 A.D.3d 892, 893;
Irizarry v Irizarry, 115 A.D.3d 913, 914-915). The
determination of whether parental access should be supervised
is a matter within the sound discretion of the hearing court,
and its findings will not be disturbed on appeal unless they
lack a sound and substantial basis in the record (see
Matter of Masri v Masri, 171 A.D.3d at 1185;
Irizarry v Irizarry, 115 A.D.3d at 914-915).
Contrary to the mother's contention, the ...