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Second Department Order to Show Cause to Stay Family Court Child Custody Relocation

SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
APPELLATE DIVISION:SECOND DEPARTMENT                                          

---------------------------------------------------------------                  Docket No.: 2004-7473
In the Matter of                                                            ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE UPON
JEFFREY DOE,                                                               MOTION FOR A STAY
                                    Respondent,                                & TO RENEW & REARGUE
                                                                                               
            v.                                                                                   Appellate Division                                                           
JANICE JONES,                                                               Family Court:Queens County
                                    Appellant.                                 Docket Nos. V-XXXX/99,V-XXXX/99
-------------------------------------------------------------                                                         
Upon reading and filing the annexed affirmation of SUSAN CHANA LASK, ESQ., at 853 Broadway, Suite 1516, New York, NY 10003, (212) 358-5762, the Affidavits of Appellant Jan Jones-Jones, Dr. William Kaplan and Candida L. Quinones, all duly sworn on the 24th day of September, 2004, the Notice of Appeal to the Appellate Division, Second Department, dated the 26th day of August, 2004, the Order of the Family Court, Queens County, dated the 19th day of August, 2004, and the order of unanimous affirmance of this Court, dated and entered September 9, 2004, and upon all the prior pleadings and proceedings in this action;
LET the Respondent and the Law Guardian for the child, Marc Stone, show cause before this Court at 45 Monroe Place, Brooklyn, New York, on the 8th day of October, 2004, at 9:30 o'clock in the forenoon of that day, or as soon thereafter as counsel can be heard, why an Order should not be made as follows: 
(a) granting Leave to Reargue the Stay pending appeal; and
(b) granting such other and different relief as may be just.


SUFFICIENT CAUSE THEREFOR APPEARING, it is
ORDERED, that service of a copy of this Order and of the supporting papers upon the attorney for the Respondent, Alan S. XXXXX, and the Law Guardian, Mark XXXXX, Esq., on or before the 1st day of October, 2004, by overnight delivery pursuant to CPLR 2103(b)(6) at 91-31 XXXXXX, Suite 405, Elmhurst, NY 11373 and 44 XXXXX, Rockville Centre, NY 11570, respectively, shall be deemed sufficient and timely;  and it is further


ORDERED, that the enforcement of the August 19, 2004 Order requiring the child to reside in New York and enroll in a New York school is hereby stayed pending the hearing and determination of this motion.


Dated:   Brooklyn, New York            __________________________________
September 30, 2004  
                                                        Justice of the Appellate Division
                                                        Appellate Division:Second Department

______________________________________________________________________
SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
APPELLATE DIVISION:SECOND DEPARTMENT                                        

 ---------------------------------------------------------------------x                     Docket No.: 2004-XXXXX
In the Matter of
                                                                                                              AFFIRMATION SUPPORTING
JEFFREY DOE,                                                                                     Appellant’s
                                    Respondent,                                                   ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE
                        v.                                                                                  UPON A STAY & TO RENEW &
                                                                                                              REARGUE
JANICE JONES,
                                    Appellant.                                         Family Court:Queens County
                                                                                                Docket Nos. V-02972/99
 ----------------------------------------------------------------------x                   V-1111/99

STATE OF NEW YORK        )
                                                )  ss.:
COUNTY OF KINGS             )

            SUSAN CHANA LASK, an attorney in good standing and duly admitted to practice law before the courts of the State of New York, with offices located at 853 Broadway, Suite 1516, New York, New York, 10003, affirms the following under penalties of perjury:

 
1.   I am the attorney for Appellant Janice Jones in the above entitled action and am fully familiar with the facts and circumstances set forth herein.  In support of this motion I submit:
(a) This Affirmation;
(b) Appellant’s Affidavit dated September 24, 2004;
(c) Affidavit of Dr. William Smith dated September 24, 2004; and
(d) Affidavit of  Candida L. Smith dated September 24, 2004.

I.  INTRODUCTION
2.  This is a motion to renew and reargue a stay against the Family Court's August 19, 2004 Order mandating:


"The Child is to be enrolled in a New York school in September, 2005(sic).  the child
is to reside in New York with the mother.  If the mother chooses not to make
New York her primary residence as of the first day of school, the father is
to have temporary custody until a final decision on custody and relocation
is made"(Exhibit "A")

A Notice of Appeal (Exhibit "B")  and Order to Show Cause for a Stay, which is part of this Court's record, were filed on September 2, 2004.  Respondent submitted his September 7, 2004 response and Appellant submitted a September 8, 2004 Reply (all part of this Court's record). On September 9, 2004, this Court denied the stay and granted leave to appeal. (Exhibit "C"). 

 

      3.  The supporting affidavits attached hereto are submitted based upon new and additional facts that were unknown and could not have been known at the time of filing the initial September 2, 2004 Motion for a Stay. The difference being that then the child, Mary, now 6 years old, had not left her home, school and family and was in fact enrolled in private school in Virginia as of August, 2004, which was the same school she attended since August, 2003. Since the Family Court's Order forced her and her mother to leave their home, family and school  in Virginia serious psychological consequences developed that demand this Court's immediate attention. Particularly troubling is that every expert in this case, including the Family Court's own expert, testified that Mary should not relocate to New York since her family and all of her bonds are in Virginia for the past three years, yet the Family Court completely ignored Mary's best interests and based its Order solely upon the Respondent's best interests.   It is also notable that during this 5 year case, the Family Court allowed Appellant and Mary to live in Virginia after Appellant's marriage, even allowing Mary to enroll in pre-school for one year and then summer camp in Virginia (see Appellant's Affidavit-Exhibit "D") .  This sudden turn to force Mary back to New York makes no sense and is contrary to the law.


4.  This Court apparently overlooked issues of law and fact as the Family Court's Order is so against (a) the law established in Tropea v. Tropea, 87 N.Y.2d 727,  665 N.E.2d 145,  642 N.Y.S.2d 575 (1996) and (b) the facts ingrained in the testimony.  For the lower court to ignore clear law and fact and to do so before the hearings are concluded is not only unlawful, but unconstitutional.  Accordingly,  an immediate stay to protect the Appellant's and the child's rights is mandated, as well as to insure the Family Court follows the law in this and similar future cases.  The law in Tropea in so many ways establishes that the lower court order is wrong; namely the fact that the fundamental due process aspects of Tropea require a conclusion of the hearings so all evidence is considered by the lower court before issuing a relocation order yet in this case, the Family Court never concluded the hearings, they are ongoing to this day, and  issued a relocation order.  That in and of itself is a serious procedural defect and due process violation that makes the Order defective, null and void;  mandating an immediate stay of this defective order.  Appellant will demonstrate numerous other violations of Tropea by the lower court that demands reversal and an immediate stay by this Honorable Court.


A. A MOTION TO RENEW IS JUSTIFIED AS NEW & DIFFERENT
          FACTS EXIST SINCE THE ORIGINAL MOTION FOR A STAY

      5.    Since Appellant and her daughter, Mary, were forced to relocate on September 9, 2004 to New York and enroll Mary in Brooklyn public school PS214 as a result of the Family Court's August 19, 2004 Order, they live under makeshift conditions at Appellant's parents'
railroad style apartment.  Mary now attends a non-secular public school inferior to the religious private school she was attending for the past two years at her home in Virginia, which she started preschool since 2002.  In reviewing the 2002-2003 Annual School Report for PS214 , one quickly notes the deficient scholastics at this Public School.  For example, historically PS214 since 2001 averaged a low 30% of all students meeting achievement standards and less than half, averaging historically at 33%, of the students are English proficient.  The PS214 student body in 2003 reflects a low 42.2% of students proficient in math.  In science, only about 30% historically scored above the state standards.  The only possible religious private school for Mary in New York would require her to be bused to Queens which appellant, the primary caretaker and retaining sole physical and legal custody does not find suitable, and rightfully acknowledges that it is her opinion and decision as Mary's parent not to force Mary at 6 years old to bus to Queens.


6.  The Family Court's August 19, 2004 Order has pulled Mary from a decent education she enjoyed to a deficient education. Mary and Appellant are both miserable since being forced to leave their family, husband and stepchildren of the past four years and Mary lost her stepfather, brother and sister and her friends, community and school she has bonded with in the past three years she lived there. The negative effects of this forced move upon both Appellant and Mary and Mary's dissatisfaction with the public school required recent and immediate expert intervention by child psychiatrist Dr. William Kaplan (See Kaplan Affidavit, Exhibit "E").  These negative effects presenting now were predicted by every expert that testified in the Family Court case (explained herein below).


7.  Additionally, since the move to Mary's Grandmother Candida L. Smith' apartment on September 8, 2004, Ms. Quinones has observed Mary's change in affect and lower standard educational process in the New York Public School System compared to her private school education in Virginia.  Notably, Ms. Quinones has 31 years in the New York Public School System as a teaching associate and attests to the substandard difference in education that Mary is receiving here in Brooklyn than from her private school in Virginia.  The relocation does not benefit Mary at all but actually deprives her both emotionally and educationally (See Quinones affidavit Exhibit "F"). 
B.  AN IMMEDIATE STAY IS JUSTIFIED AS CLEAR & CONCLUSIVE
                GROUNDS EXIST & THERE IS MERIT TO THE APPEAL

      8.  A stay should be granted where the moving party shows clear and conclusive grounds sustaining its application, including a demonstration that there is merit to the appeal. Sheffield Producers Cooperative Ass'n, Inc. v Jetter Dairy Co., 299 NYS 684 (1937, App Div).  In this case, this honorable Court granted leave to appeal  by its September 9, 2004 Order (See Exhibit "C");thus, merit exists.  Moreso, under  Tropea v. Tropea, 87 N.Y.2d 727,  665 N.E.2d 145,  642 N.Y.S.2d 575 (1996), the Constitution and all of the facts and circumstances in this case, Appellant will further prove merit and clear and conclusive grounds demanding an immediate stay.

 
II.  ARGUMENT
A.         Every Expert in this Case Agrees & the Law Holds that Mary
             Should Not Relocate From her Home, Family & Friends in Virginia
             & Respondent Would not be Deprived of Meaningful Access to her
             as  he is Afforded Extended Visitations for Summers & Holidays
             and Has liberal Access Via Phone As Well As He is Invited
             to Visit Mary  Monthly at Her Home in Virginia

      9.  First, the very fact that every expert in this case, including the court's own appointed forensic child psychiatrist expert, Dr. Paul Marcus, has opposed Mary's relocation to New York evinces a serious error on the Family Court's part to completely ignore their advice made in the best interests of Mary.  The expert reports and testimony in this case are  clear and conclusive evidence that the Family Court's Order forcing Mary to relocate is against her best interests.  Most disturbing is the fact that the Family Court Order completely disregards it's own expert's conclusions-that Mary should be in her home in Virginia, not relocated.  Dr. Paul Marcus returned evaluations of July, 2001 and June, 2002 both favoring Appellant Mother to retain sole physical and legal custody of Mary and providing a liberal and extended visitation schedule for Respondent father. Particularly concluding that when Mary reaches full-time school age then :


"...visitation should be alternate weeks from Friday after school until Sunday
evening.  I feel air travel is a must at this point ...Ms. Jones should be
responsible for 2/3 of the airfare for Allie, and her own airfare if she accompanies
the child...If there is a holiday on Friday or Monday, the visit should be extended.
...If Mr. Doe so desires, he can fly down to Virginia and see Ally for part or
             all of another weekend  each month, theoretically giving him up to three
             weekends a month." (emphasis added) (See Exhibit "G", pp.19-20). 

Consistent with Tropea, Dr. Marcus also provided for extended summers and holiday visitations for Respondent.   Family Court Referee Amy Rood completely ignored such a realistic and quite common extended visitation schedule in cases such as this, in contravention to what this Department and cases in this State have held for a long time---that a mere decrease in frequency of visits does not deprive the non custodial parent of regular and meaningful access to the child.  Specifically the courts will accommodate the complaining parent's schedule exactly as Dr. Marcus has proposed-with extended holidays and summers. Notably, Dr. Marcus even proposed, and Appellant agreed, that Respondent can even visit Mary every month at her home in Virginia.  That was not good enough for Respondent, but the law does not agree with Respondent's unrealistic and unwavering attitude.  For example, in Ladizhensky v. Ladizhensky, 184 A.D.2d 756, 758, 585 N.Y.S.2d 771, 773 (2d Dep't 1992), the mother sought to relocate from New York to Kansas City. The court noted that the mother "expressed the desire to promote the [father's] visitation and has also provided a liberal visitation schedule which increase[d] his summertime visitation...." Id. Although that schedule reduced  the frequency of the father's visits, the court found that the proposed visitation schedule afforded him regular and meaningful access to his child. Id.. Similarly, in Potier v. Potier, 198 A.D.2d 180, 604 N.Y.S.2d 77 (1st Dep't 1994), the defendant sought to enjoin the plaintiff from relocating with the parties' child from New York City to Pennsylvania. The court expressly held that "although defendant's midweek visitation has necessarily been diminished, the court [below] has increased his visitation in other respects." Id. (emphasis added). See also Smith, 187 A.D.2d at 713, 590 N.Y.S.2d at 303 (change in visitation, as a result of custodial parent's move to Virginia, from every weekend to alternate weekends, Jewish holy days, one half of Christmas recess and summer months, was a liberal visitation schedule which did not deprive non custodial parent of regular and meaningful access); Cassidy, 164 A.D.2d at 516, 564 N.Y.S.2d at 583 (reduction of the frequency of visitation rights, from original liberal overnight visit and equal holidays to alternate weekends, summer visits and equal share of Christmas and Easter, provided meaningful and regular access).


10. Many cases have recognized that relocations of distances comparable to, or even greater than, that of Appellant's move are reasonable and preserve the non custodial parent's meaningful and regular access to the child. For instance, in Niemiec, 203 A.D.2d at 732, 610 N.Y.S.2d at 656, the court held that a  120 mile relocation was allowed.  Similarly, in Cassidy, 164 A.D.2d at 516, 564 N.Y.S.2d at 583, the court allowed a move of 190 miles to Connecticut because the move did not deprive the non custodial parent of meaningful access to the child. In Smith, 187 A.D.2d at 713, 590 N.Y.S.2d at 303, a custodial parent's move from New York to Virginia was deemed to preserve the non custodial parent's regular and meaningful access to the
parties' child. Finally, in A.F. v. N.F., 156 A.D.2d 750, 754, 549 N.Y.S.2d 511, 514 (2d Dep't 1989), the court held that a move to Massachusetts would "not unreasonably interfere with the visitation by the father."


11.  Additional cases have consistently held that relocations of similar or greater distances than Appellants do not unreasonably interfere with a non custodial parent's visitation right. See e.g., Von Ohlen v. Von Ohlen, 178 A.D.2d 592, 594, 577 N.Y.S.2d 662, 663 (2d Dep't 1991) (noting that despite the mother and child's move from New York to Arkansas, the father could "maintain meaningful visitation" with the child after relocation); Reyes v. Ball, 162 A.D.2d 770, 771, 557 N.Y.S.2d 683, 684 (3d Dep't 1990) (custodial parent's relocation to Wyoming did not unreasonably disrupt [the non custodial parent's] relationship with his [children ages eight and twelve]"); Schouten, 155 A.D.2d at 462, 547 N.Y.S.2d at 128 (move of 258 miles, requiring the non custodial parent to drive six hours, is a "reasonable distance," would "not be impracticable" and would not deprive non custodial parent of regular and meaningful access to his children); Blundell, 150 A.D.2d at 324, 540 N.Y.S.2d at 85253 (a two and a half hour drive was a reasonable distance and would not effectively curtail visitation rights); Murphy, 145 A.D.2d at 858, 535 N.Y.S.2d at 846 (relocation of some 340 miles away from non custodial parent did not substantially impair visitation rights); Zaleski v. Zaleski, 128 A.D.2d 865, 866, 513 N.Y.S.2d 784 (2d Dep't 1987) (move from Long Island to Syracuse would "not effectively curtail the visitation rights of the father or deprive him of regular access to the children").


B.  The Family Court Order Defies the Court of Appeals
                  Holdings in Tropea

            12.  And of course, all of the cases culminated in Tropea which mandated the lower court to make certain considerations at the conclusion (emphasis added) of the hearing before making a relocation order:
"In the end, it is for the court to determine, based on all of the proof,
(emphasis added) whether it has been established by a preponderance of
the evidence that a proposed  relocation would serve the child's best interests."

This Department has consistently held that only after a full hearing can the lower court decide a relocation case based on sound and substantial factors. Reilly v. Schmidt, 295 A.D.2d 436 [2nd Dept.2002](allowed mother to move to Connecticut based upon the Supreme Court's determination was supported by a sound and substantial basis in the record after full hearing; Kime v. Kime, 302 A.D.2d 564 [2nd Dept.2003](2d dept affirmed lower courts relocation order based upon an in depth Tropea analysis at the conclusion of the hearing); Confort v. Nicolai, 309 A.D.2d 861 [2004 N.Y. Slip Op. 50658(U),2d Dept.2003](2d dept noted that lower court considered all the relevant factors in Tropea). 

13.  There has been no conclusion of this hearing.  The Family Court Order confirms:
"The completion of the trial and the final decision will not be accomplished for at
              least a few more months."

Forgive me for bolding that sentence but I had to as it just screams Constitutional Violation.  It also tells us that the Family Court certainly was not reading Tropea or the line of Second Department cases stating a concluded full trial is required, not something in the middle.  Clearly a full and complete hearing requirement mandated by Tropea is consistent with a citizen's due process rights, and naturally Tropea of all cases would primarily be concerned with due process as forcing relocation touches upon many fundamental rights, such as marriage and travel.  Thus, since the family Court case was not concluded then under Tropea no such relocation order can stand and Appellant submits the order is as null and void and an immediate stay is mandated.

14.  Not only did the Family Court fail to conclude the hearings before issuing its relocation Order, but the Order just smacks in the face of Tropea and all it stands for.  As much as the Family Court threw a cite to Tropea in its Order, it means nothing when the Family Court completely disregards what it stands for-- favoring mobility, especially when one parent remarries.  The Family Court also refused to acknowledge that Tropea provides alternatives when one party needs to move, such as giving the other party extended visitations as well as recognizing that the non-custodial parent can certainly be ordered to take some responsibility and take a plane like a grown man to see his daughter (something  Respondent here refuses to do). 

15.   The common denominator consistently stated in Tropea’s decision was the  importance of mobility for the custodial parent and the child, especially when the custodial parent remarries and the child is involved in the new family unit; to wit:

                        "....other justifications, including the demands of a second marriage
                         and the custodial parent's opportunity to improve his or her economic
                         situation, may also be valid motives that should not be summarily
                         rejected.” at  739. and

                        "...it may be unrealistic in some cases to try to preserve the
                         non custodial parent's accustomed close involvement in the children's
                        everyday life at the expense of the custodial parent's efforts to start a
                          new life or to form a new family unit." at 740

Clearly, Tropea was based on two cases and in each case the Tropea court affirmed the mobility of the custodial Mother and Child where the mother relocated because of a remarriage and the other mother relocated for economic reasons, noting in each case that the Father's visitation schedule could realistically be modified to extended holiday and summer visitations when weekly
or every other week visitations just did not fit into the practicality of a parent's right to move.

16.  The present Order ,which is the same as the past order stayed by this Court, not only completely disregards Tropea as it was made before the hearings were final but is completely one-sided, considering only the Respondent father's interests -not the Appellant mother's right to mobility and marriage,  nor the child's.  It is an Order that by law should not be in effect at this time nor any time, no less should never have been issued in the first place.  It is an Order that makes every effort to accommodate only the father, never considering the child or the Appellant.  And when we really get to the meat of this Order, we see that it is concerned with one thing only-and that is that the Family Court felt  that because the child is tired when she arrives in New York for visitation then the answer wa sto force her to move from her home and family and enroll in a New york School.  That is absurd and against all rationale in relocation cases. The right result under the law of this State would be to follow the Court Appointed expert's opinion, Dr. Marcus,  that gave the Respondent extended visitation and allowed Appellant and Mary to be mobile, to remain married, to go to a school of their choice and to live their life with their family in Virginia as they have for the past three years.

C.  The Family Court Order Defies Every Experts' Testimony
                  Not to Relocate Appellant & Mary from Virginia

            17.  At this point we have a family Court Order forcing a backwards relocation before the hearings are even completed, which is against the law,  Its is a decision that completely ignores the lower court's own expert's realistic approach in accordance with the law which was to give the father extended visitations.  But it gets worse, Referee Amy Rood ignored the testimony of every  expert in this case that agreed with Dr. Marcus, concluding that Mary should not relocate to New York, that the travel was not harmful and that Appellant never interfered with visitation:            
(a) On April 15, 2002, Psychiatrist Victor Rudy testified he met both Appellant
and Mary. Dr. Rudy specifically warned Referee Rood of the harm to
come if Appellant and Mary were removed  from their home in Virginia:
"...i think to forcibly keep her separated from her husband, to whom she is legally
married, and with whom she has established a stable relationship, would be
stressful and harmful to her and her child." (Exhibit "H"-Tr. 12,21-25)

             Each time he was asked whether he had any concerns  about Appellant's parenting
skills, including being asked by Referee Rood,  he stated "None whatsoever."
(See April 15, 2002 Transcript pages as  Exhibit "H"-Tr 82.13-17;83, 6; 11-12,
24-4; 14, 22-24). In response to questioning regarding whether Appellant was

interfering with Respondent's access to the child, he testified that Appellant
"definitely" wants the child involved with the father and that the long trips from
Virginia to New York will not have any adverse effect on the child (Exhibit "H",
Tr 14,4-10; 15, 12-20)
(b)  On April 23, 2002 Dr. Laura Granado, an expert in family therapy and the family
therapist for Appellant, Mary and their new family of Mr. Jones
(Appellant's Husband and Mary's step-father) and Mary's step
brother and sister in Virginia, testified that it would be detrimental to take her                    
away from them:
"To end the relationship...there is going to be a grieving process...It could have life-
long effects, because there's the issue of trust, then, in  future relationships, there is
attachment issues that can result from it... there is a great deal of loss that would
go on. (Exhibit "I"-Tr 17-18, 20-8; 19,3-16)

              She also testified that she never  saw any signs that Appellant would interfere
with Respondent's visitation and  (Exhibit "I"-Tr 16,15-18)
            (e)   On February 5, 2004, Dr. Richard Wagner, the head of Gesher Jewish
Day School in Virginia where Alexander attended since September,2003 
and an educational  expert, testified that Appellant  "is an exemplary mom; an
engaged parent--and an individual who is trying to  identify in her life with the
goals and purposes  of the school."(Exhibit "J", Tr 30, 19-22). 
(f)  The Court appointed law guardian, Marc Strauss recognized the harm
to Mary when Respondent tried to pull her out of School in April, 2004 and
acknowledged that Mary formed bonds in Virginia.  Mr. Strauss interjected:
"Yeah, I'm opposed.  There's only a little bit of school left.  Now with all the
stuff the little girl has to deal with, now if we take her away from whatever
friends--she must have, formed, friendships, she's formed in class and the
teachers know her and so on and so on.  For her to now be yanked out of that
school and put into a new school where all these kids have already interacted
for all these months, that's terrible. I can't go along with that."(Exhibit "K", Tr 109,9-19).

(g)  On April 16, 2002 Barbara Caplan, an expert in psychotherapy, who had two
years consistent contact with Appellant, Mary and Appellant's Husband Mr.
Jones testified that Appellant has a "good, stable relationship" with her present
husband and a "wonderful relationship" with Mary (Exhibit "L", Tr 55, 2-6; 83, 6-23).                                        

She testified that Appellant wants Mary to have a relationship with
Respondent (Exhibit "L", Tr 69, 22-25; 74, 9-12) and that the best scenario for
Appellant and Mary would be that they live in Virginia with their Husband
and step-father because "he has a stable home environment to offer Janice and
Ally in a big enough space, which she doesn't have here."(Exhibit "L", Tr 104,6-8) and
testified:
"The best scenario, I believe, would be for Janice to have--to be the custodial parent,
have custody of Ally. And to be able to relocate with her husband.  So that the
marriage can remain viable and on a daily basis.  And that all the children can be                              

 together.  Because I think Janice is a positive influence for his children as well.
(Exhibit "L", Tr. 104, 12-18). She further testified that Appellant's household is
stable and that stability is crucial to  Mary's development (Exhibit "L", Tr 123, 11-15)


18.  The Tropea court particularly recognized the importance to the child of “stregthening and stabilizing the new post divorce family unit” at 739.  The court in fact reasoned that if the custodial parent opposes the move so much then an option would be to have the custodial parent move closer to the child instead of restricting the child’s and her custodial parent’s mobility.  It stated that a parent opposing the custodial parent’s relocation can have visitation increased by extended summer and school vacations. at 738.

19.  Every expert's warnings that  Family Court Referee Rood ignored came true.  Mary was ripped from her family and home in Virginia because of Referee Rood's order and has since deteriorated along with Appellant.  On September 21, 2004  Board Certified Adult, Child and Forensic Psychiatrist Dr. Kaplan met with Appellant and Mary to analyze and deal with the problems they have resulting from their court ordered forced move.  He concluded that the move was detrimental to the parties and that the present "situation for Mary is stressful and poses a substantial risk of future harm unless addresses promptly" (See September 24, 2004 Affidavit of Dr. Kaplan-Exhibit "E").

20.  The amount of undue stress put upon Appellant and Mary by Referee Rood's order is outrageous when she acknowledges that they have lived in Virginia with their new family for the past three years and then ignores every expert and the law  that a realistic alternative exists of extended summers, holidays and monthly visits are in order for Respondent.   Referee Rood then attempts to justify her Order by explaining that the Respondent just did not receive enough visitation; however, that is completely untrue and she fails to include the fact that when this  litigation started in the Family Court,  5 unreasonable years ago, the Respondent had domestic violence issues resulting in his stipulating in court on April 12, 1999 that he would receive counseling and that he agreed that Appellant should have custody of Mary, which was so ordered (Exhibit "P").  Truly in the beginning of the parties' relationship there were violence issues created by Respondent that by his own misconduct rightfully limited visitation
until he sought help; however, since then Respondent testifies that he has not had any interference with his visitation.

D.  Respondent Chose Not to Visit Mary
  & He testified that He had No problems with Visitation

            21.  Not only does every expert agree that Mary should remain with her new family in Virginia and that Appellant is an excellent caretaker, but Respondent also agreed that Appellant should have sole legal and physical custody in November, 2000.  There was never an issue until Appellant married her present husband in 2000.  Since then she and Mary resided in a better home and community in Virginia with their new family.  During their new residence in Virginia, Respondent testified in April, 2002 that there were no problems with visitation as Appellant brought Mary to New York to see him, he had daily phone access to Mary in Virginia and he was even invited to visit Mary in Virginia, but he has since chosen never to take this opportunity and ever visit Mary, her friends, home or her school (Exhibit "M", Tr. 60-61, 24-7 & 91, 15-17; 63, 22-24; 76, 6-7).  Respondent's admissions are vital to the fact that no Order was required to relocate Mary to New York:
Q.  Have you ever been to the Jones house in Virginia?
A. No.
Q. And isn't it true that you've been invited there?
A. Correct.
Q.  But you yourself never chose to go and see where your daughter sleeps sometimes; is that correct?
A.  That is correct. (Tr. 60-61, 24-7)
Respondent further admits that he was invited to Appellant's new household with Mary, admitting Appellant's more than reasonable invitations of overly liberal visitation extensions to Respondent, stating that : "If I was available to be a guest in the Lacker home in Virginia, I would hope that I would be invited to be a guest in whatever residence she'd be in New York."  Of course, Respondent shamelessly attempts to make this invitation based upon a forced move to New York.
There was never a reason for Respondent's demands to force Mary from her home, as he admits he never had visitation problems;
Q. And now, in the past year, have you had any problems with visitation?
A. Not in terms of physical custody, no. (Tr. 63, 22-24)
and always had daily phone contact, stating "...I call my daughter on a day-to-day  basis and it's always in Virginia." (Tr 76, 6-7).

 

            22.  The Family Court completely ignored these admissions of fact from Respondent that there is no barrier to meaningful access to the child, and meaningful access is the key in Tropea.  Instead, the Family Court creates an illusory basis  that since the child is tired then she must move to New York away from her family!


E.  THE FAMILY COURT ORDER  IMPERMISSIBLY VIOLATES APPELLANT'S            
            CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OF TRAVEL, MARRIAGE, AND FAMILIAL PRIVACY,
            WITHOUT NEED OR JUSTIFICATION & Without Due Process

             23.  The Family Court Order compels Appellant to either move or lose custody of her child without a hearing to determine custody.  Appellant's Due Process Rights are violated when a full custody hearing has never concluded and most importantly, never have facts been raised nor heard as to the recent fitness of the biological father to take custody of the daughter.  The Order gives an undue alternative that either Appellant moves to New York or the father gets custody-such a choice is malicious to impose upon Appellant to choose between her husband in Virginia or moving back here with her daughter.  And it is outright baseless for an Order to make a present determination of future rights either based on presumed facts, or is imposed regardless of the facts. Either way, the Family Court Order denies due process. Cleveland Board of Education v. LaFleur, 414 U.S. 632 (1974); Bell v. Burson, 402 U.S. 535 (1971); Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319 (1977); Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U.S. 645 (1972); Zablocki v. Redhail, 434 *18 U.S. 374 (1978).  Moreso, such denial of Appellant's rights as the custodial parent of the child is outrageous when Appellant has a legitimate expectation, as a parent and caregiver, that her rights will not be forfeited without a hearing. Smith v. Organization of Foster Families, 431 U.S. 816 (1977); Perry v. Sinderman, 408 U.S. 593 (1972); Bd. of Regents v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564 (1972); May v. Anderson, 345 U.S. 528, 534 (1953).  Naturally, we also discussed New York's long line of cases herein above and Tropea, all requiring a full and complete hearing which is in perfect harmony with Supreme Court law requiring full hearings in support of Amendment XIV s 1 of our Constitution, providing:

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction
thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or
immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person
of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within
its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

The Family Court Order defies our Constitution, defies our State's laws and defies its own expert's recommendations against a forced relocation to New York.  The Order was void from the start and can not stand another  minute.

24.  There is no reason for the Order to defy and interfere with Appellant's fundamental rights to travel, marriage and parent.  Every United States citizen has a virtually unqualified right to migrate, resettle, find a new job, and start a new life. Shapiro v. Thompson, 394 U.S. 618, 629-31 (1969).  The right to travel is a "Fundamental Right"  guaranteed by our Constitution. See San Antonio School District v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 1, 28, 93 S.Ct. 1278, 1294, 36 L.Ed.2d 16.  The custodial parent's constitutional right to interstate travel is addressed in many  Supreme Court decisions and nationwide.  Jones v. Helms, 452 U.S. 412, 418-19 (1981); United States v. Guest, 383 U.S. 745, 757-59 (1966); Edwards v. California, 314 U.S. 160, 177-81 (1941). Cf. Edward Sivin, Note, Residence Restrictions on Custodial Parents: Implications for the Right to Travel, 12 RUTGERS L.J. 341, 348-50 (1981) (recommends an intermediate level of scrutiny for interstate relocation because custodial rights are an important value).

25.  State laws restricting travel based upon a parent's status as custodian are an unconstitutional infringement. See Carlson, 280 Cal. Rptr. at 840 (indirect infringement because only custodial parent's status as custodian at stake); Zwernemann v. Kenny, 563 A.2d 1139, 1141 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 1989) (found that denial of permission to remove does not bar travel, but merely imposes legal consequences on that right).  Although the right to travel is commonly discussed in context of interstate movement, a right to international travel, though not as fundamental of a right, is also recognized. Califano v. Torres, 435 U.S. 1, 4 n.6 (1977) ("the 'right' to international travel has been considered to be no more than an aspect of the 'liberty' protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment" and "can be regulated within the bounds of due process."); Kent v. Dulles, 357 U.S. 116, 126-27 (1957). And in this jurisdiction, and in fact this Department, in Hemphill v. Hemphill, 572 N.Y.S.2d 689 (App. Div. 1991)  a custodial parent's right to remarry, travel, and generally live their lives was accounted for in allowing a parent to  move to England.

26.  Thus, any penalty imposed upon the exercise of right to travel, which is a federally protected right, is subject to heightened scrutiny because it is a personal right fundamental to our system of government. U.S.C.A. Const.Amend. 14.Appellant  argues in favor of the need here for a compelling state interest review because the Family Court Order disadvantages custodial parents who  exercise their constitutional rights to travel and marry else they loose their custodial rights to the child--there is no worse a penalty other than imprisonment, which in effect this relocation order imprisons Appellant and the child to New York; they can not live their life freely as they choose anymore and they are ripped from their family and home.  The role of our courts is not to tear apart families and make life harder for our citizens-at all costs, the courts must acknowledge the right to make a better life for yourself in these difficult times-not make people's
lives more difficult.

27.  The right to marry is another of our fundamental rights (Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1, 87 S.Ct. 1817, 18 L.Ed.2d 1010).  Marriage is a fundamental right where freedom of personal choice is protected to a heightened degree. Loving, id.; Zablocki v. Redhail, 434 U.S. 374, 98 S.Ct. 673, 54 L.Ed.2d 618; Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 486, 85 S.Ct. 1678, 1682, 14 L.Ed.2d 510, supra; People v. De Stefano, 121 Misc.2d 113, 121, 467 N.Y.S.2d 506). Thus, an expanded zone of privacy attaches to the marital relationship (Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 485, 486, 85 S.Ct. 1678, 1682, 14 L.Ed.2d 510, supra ). Clearly then absent compelling state interests, interference by the state with the intimacies of the marriage relationship violates this right to privacy. Appellant contends a forced separation from her husband by order of the Family Court is an interference with her right to marry because of her custodial position.

28.  Appellant wants to live with her family in Virginia.  She has custody of Mary and has the right to travel from Virginia to New York if she chooses so as  to so as to keep her  home, family and life she created in Virginia, which is a better life for her and Mary, in a 5 bedroom house with siblings and a husband who provides for this family, as well as Mary benefits from a private education there. The Constitution protects the fundamental right of travel. Shapiro v. Thompson, 394 U.S. 618 (1969).  There is also a constitutional right to marry, to create a new family and to enjoy the privacy of that familial association. The Supreme Court has many times emphasized the constitutional status and importance of the family. See Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U.S. 645 (1972); Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923). Traditionally  and constitutionally  family association is effected by the right to marry, itself an independent constitutional right. Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967). The Supreme Court emphasized the primacy of the parent over the state in caring for children within a family. Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158, 166 (1944); Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972). These rights rely on the central right to privacy, also  and independently  protected by the Constitution.  In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 112 S. Ct. at 2807, this Court said that:
"Our law affords constitutional protection to personal decisions relating to marriage,
procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing and education.... These
matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a
lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty
protected by the Fourteenth Amendment." 

Appellant's rights should not be disregarded by an unreasoned Family Court Order.  That Order must be stayed immediately and pending this motion and appeal as undoubtedly the Order is in error in numerous instances and will not stand.


               F.  THIS COURT GRANTED A STAY ON A SIMILAR PRIOR
                     ORDER OF REFEREE ROOD

       29.  This Court  recognized the law of Tropea by issuing a Stay on November 25, 2003 against the previous duplicate Family Court Order.   We beg this Court to put itself in the position it was on November 25, 2003 when this it honorably upheld the law on a prior similar Order ofFamily Court Referee Rood, to wit:

            "ORDERED that the motion is granted and enforcement of the Order requiring
the subject child to reside in New York with the appellant pending completion
of the trial and requiring the child to be enrolled in a school in New York City is
stayed pending the hearing and determination of the appeal..." (Exhibit " N")

I beg this Court to recognize again that we are at the same exact point--the hearings are not concluded yet the family Court issued an Order relocating Mary and her mother "penidng completion of the trial".  This Court must recognize again the harm it obvioulsy recognized in November, 2003 and grant the stay today, as now the harm has become a reality to Appellant and Mary.  Dr. Kaplan's psychological report of September 24, 2004 confirms the harm and every expert testified that this damage to Mary and Appellant would occur if they were ripped from their family, home and community of three years. And so too does the law of this State recognize the harm done when such an order is made before completion of the hearings.

III. EXPLANATION OF PRIOR COUNSEL'S UNINTENDED NEGLIGENCE

30.  With respect to the first stay that former counsel failed to perfect, I beg  in the interests of justice and for compelling reason that Appellant and the child should not suffer at the expense of their prior counsel's, Ms. Floyd, negligence.  Ms. Floyd admits her negligence in her September 8, 2004 Reply papers at pages 3-4, paragraph 9, filed with this Court and made a part of these proceedings, that "I have apologized to this Court for my failure to complete the appeal we brought last year...Having learned this lesson I will complete the process this time."; Appellant realized that Ms. Floyd needed to be replaced with appropriate counsel; especially after Ms. Floyd  just informed Appellant on September 18, 2004 that her failing to withdraw last year's appeal was "my big mistake" (referring to herself).  Appellant hired me on the spot.

31.  Your Affirmant acknowledges that prior counsel's conduct may be deemed disrespectful and show indifference to the Court and its rules; however, I respectfully beg that at all costs the right decision needs to be found here not just for Appellant and Mary, but for all children and parents in this detrimental, confusing situation that only the wisdom of this Court can fix.  Appellant and Mary's rights under Tropea and their Constitutional rights as outlined herein as well as their rights to be heard for an immediate stay due to irreparable harm to the child
should not be prejudiced or lost because of some very bad lawyering of prior counsel.     It is the duty of myself as an officer of this court and the courts also to insure our citizen's rights are protected under the law and the Constitution. I therefore beg this Court to acknowledge the errors of the Family Court Order and the issues resulting therefrom.

 


IV.  CONCLUSION

 
32. Appellant shows herein, upon clear and conclusive grounds, that an immediate stay of the Family Court Order is a must as it violates the law of this State in Tropea as well as numerous due process and constitutional issues that must be addressed.  Most importantly, the Family Court Order does not anywhere consider the best interests of the child as it actually dismisses every expert's opinion, even its own expert, not to relocate Mary from Virginia and her family and siblings there and then on top of that infringes on Appellan'ts rights to travel, marriage and parent.  The Order also was made without concluding the hearings which are ongoing this very moments and it predetermines custody to the biolgical father  if Appellant does not relocate without a hearing on his recent fitness-all violating due process rights of Appellanat and definitely not in the best interests of the child.  Because the Order is so in error and unbalanced, a stay must immediately be granted else for every minute that Order is allowed to stand then Appellant and Mary's rights under the law and the Constitution are being infringed and the loss of those rights for even a minute more is a great loss for the respect of our law and guaranteed rights, which must be upheld, not disposed of.  

            WHEREFORE, it is respectfully submitted that the Court  immediately stay the August 19, 2004 Order of the Family Court Referee Amy Rood until this motion is decided and until the appeal is completed, and for such other and further relief as this Court may deem just and proper.

 Dated:  New York, New York            Yours, etc.,
September 28, 2004             
                                                           ______________________
                                                          Susan Chana Lask, Esq.
                                                          Attorney for Plaintiff-Respondent
                                                           853 Broadway, Suite 1516
                                                            New York, NY 10003
                                                            (212) 358-5762

To:      Alan S.XXXXX, Esq.
91-31 XXXXXXXXX, Suite 405
Elmhurst, NY 11373  

Marc E.XXXXX, Esq.
44 XXXXXXXXXXXXX
Rockville Centre, NY 11570  

___________________________________________________________________________________------

     

SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
APPELLATE DIVISION: SECOND DEPARTMENT                                      

 ---------------------------------------------------------------------x Docket No.: 2004-7473
In the Matter of                                                                                                       
                                                                                                AFFIRMATION OF NOTICE
JEFFREY DOE,                     Respondent,           
                        v.                                                                     Appellate Division
                                                                                               
JANICE JONES,
                                                Appellant.                             Family Court: Queens County
                                                                                                Docket Nos. V-XXXX/99
----------------------------------------------------------------------x                    V-XXXX/99

STATE OF NEW YORK        )
                                                )  ss.:
COUNTY OF KINGS             )

 

      SUSAN CHANA LASK, an attorney in good standing and duly admitted to practice law before the courts of the State of New York, with offices located at 853 Broadway, Suite 1516, New York, New York, 10003, affirms the following under penalties of perjury:

        On September 29, 2004 at 1 p.m., I faxed the attached letter notifying Respondent’s counsel the date, time and place I was to present this Order to Show Cause as well as I called and faxed Marc E. Strauss, Esq. and spoke in detail with him. 
Dated:  New York, New York
September 29, 2004                                         

                                                              

 

                           ______________________
                           Susan Chana Lask, Esq.
                          Attorney for Appellant
                             853 Broadway, Suite 1516
                             New York, NY 10003
                           (212) 358-5762

  1. Taken from http://www.nycenet.edu/daa/SchoolReports/03asr/319214.pdf
  1. Respondent to date has refused to visit Alexandra at her home of the past three years in Virginia or even visit her school, and has always placed the onus on Appellant to transport Alexandra when Respondent wants to see her in New York.