June 3, 2022
By PetroskeLaw

Matter of Soumare v. White, 2021-03369

The father petitioned to enforce a Family Court order of parental access, asserting that the mother was violating the order.  The petition alleged that on a recent Sunday, when the father arrived 10 minutes late to pick up the child, the mother left the pick-up location with the child, did not permit the parental access to occur, and then failed to bring the child to the next four parental access sessions.

The lower court addressed the father’s petition by conducting two conferences, at which the parties made statements under oath.  The court issued an Order, which, in large part, restated the provisions of the 2016 order.  Also, the Order added one hour to the father’s weekly parental access sessions and included a provision stating that “[t]here is a 15 min window for all pick up and drop off’s.”  The father appealed.

The lower court was not required to hold a hearing on the enforcement petition.  The father’s petition did not involve a custody determination, which generally “should be rendered only after a full and plenary hearing and inquiry” (S.L. v. J.R., 27 NY3d 558, 563).  The petition did not seek any custody-related relief, but instead, alleged only that the mother failed to drop off the child for parental access pursuant to the 2016 order, and thus sought enforcement of that order.  After eliciting sworn statements from both parties, the court “fashioned a workable remedy” (see Matter of Sheavlier v. Melendrez, 296 AD2d 622, 623-624).

Given the circumstances of this case, including the young age of the child and the absence of demonstrable prejudice to the child’s interests, the father’s argument that the lower court improvidently exercised its discretion in failing to appoint an attorney for the child is without merit (see Matter of Quinones v. Quinones, 139 AD3d 1072, 1074).