The Fourth Department reversed Family Court finding changes in circumstances sufficient to modify the custody arrangement and award sole physical custody to mother. The evidence demonstrated father imposed excessive corporal punishment. The Fourth Department noted the Family Court judge placed too much emphasis on mother’s sexual conduct:
Although the father testified that each of [the] types of physical discipline was a one-time occurrence, the records of the daughter’s medical examination documenting that the daughter had “multiple bruises all over her body in different stages of healing,” as well as the son’s statements with respect to the frequency of the father’s physical discipline, support the finding that the father repeatedly inflicted excessive corporal punishment on the daughter. We thus conclude that there was a sufficient change in circumstances to warrant an inquiry into the best interests of the children … . Furthermore, even crediting the father’s assertion that the daughter’s injuries resulted from tantrums, we conclude that there was a sufficient change in circumstances inasmuch as the father was admittedly unable to handle the daughter’s behavioral issues, resorted to inappropriate physical discipline to punish the daughter for her alleged misbehavior, and requested that the mother remove the daughter from his care … .
We further agree with the mother and the AFC that the court’s custody determination lacks a sound and substantial basis in the record … . Upon our review of the relevant factors … , “including an evaluation of the character and relative parental fitness of the parties” … , we conclude that it is in the best interests of the children to award the mother sole legal and primary physical custody. Matter of DeJesus v Gonzalez, 2016 NY Slip Op 01059, 4th Dept 2-11-16
FAMILY LAW (EXCESSIVE PUNISHMENT BY FATHER CONSTITUTED SUFFICIENT CHANGE IN CIRCUMSTANCES, CUSTODY AWARDED TO MOTHER)/CUSTODY (EXCESSIVE PUNISHMENT BY FATHER CONSTITUTED SUFFICIENT CHANGE IN CIRCUMSTANCES, CUSTODY AWARDED TO MOTHER)