The Third Department determined Family Court did not adequately consider mother’s request for unsupervised visitation with her children and improperly delegated the court’s authority to determine visitation to the father:
…Both the children and the noncustodial parent have a right to meaningful visitation … . “[I]n providing for visitation that will be meaningful, the frequency, regularity and quality of the visits must be considered [and] [e]xpanded visitation is generally favorable absent proof that such visitation is inimical to a child’s welfare” … . While Family Court’s best interests determination in visitation matters is ordinarily accorded great deference …, the court’s consideration of numerous important factors is not apparent here. These include the children’s ages, needs and wishes; the mother’s progress with substance abuse treatment; the availability of adding supervised time or of additional supervisors of visitation, including family members; the passage of a great length of time with only highly restricted and limited supervised visits (since May 2011, at least); the fact that the visitation facility did not allow the children’s siblings (i.e., the mother’s infant born in June 2011 and adult daughter) or maternal family to attend; the father allowed only two unsupervised visits; the possibility of attaching conditions to unsupervised visitation; and the fact that the mother had been assessed as not posing a risk to herself or others in her treatment. The foregoing factors, among others, represent a change in circumstances requiring, at the least, a reassessment of the existing visitation restrictions; … .
Moreover, Family Court erred in “delegat[ing] its authority to determine visitation to . . . a parent”… . Matter of Fish v Fish, 514662, 3rd Dept 12-19-13