Pursuant to New York law, parties in custody actions may enter into stipulations setting forth terms defining custody and child support rights, and the courts will generally affirm such agreements if they are in the best interest of the children in question. Essentially, the court-approved agreements in custody actions are contracts and will be interpreted and enforced as such. That does not mean that the terms of such agreement cannot be modified by the court, however, as demonstrated in a recent New York ruling issued in a custody matter. If you are engaged in a custody dispute, it is advisable to consult a skilled New York family law attorney to discuss your rights.
The Background of the Case
It is reported that the parties married in 2002 and had two children together. The wife filed an action for divorce in New York in 2012. The husband insisted that any divorce take place in France, however, where the parties previously lived, and in April 2013, the District Court of Paris entered a judgment of divorce stating the parties were to exercise joint parental authority and deemed the wife’s home as the children’s usual residence. The judgment also granted the father parental access and ordered him to pay child support.
It is alleged that in March 2016, the parties entered into a stipulation regarding custody that stated, in part, that they had joint legal custody of the children. The stipulation also granted the mother primary residential custody and the father parental access. Further, it provided that the parties were to work with a parent coordinator and that, barring an emergency, neither party should return to court without first consulting the coordinator. In June 2018, the wife filed a motion to modify the stipulation and certain aspects of the divorce judgment. The court then issued an order directing a hearing to aid in the disposition of the motion, noting that while the parties were required to use a parent coordinator, such use was of no help. The husband appealed. Continue reading