The Second Department determined Family Court’s award of sole legal and physical custody to mother was not supported by the record. The court noted that the preference of the children was not adequately considered:
“Since the Family Court’s custody determination is largely dependent upon an assessment of the credibility of the witnesses and upon the character, temperament, and sincerity of the parents, its determination should not be disturbed unless it lacks a sound and substantial basis in the record”… . “However, an appellate court would be seriously remiss if, simply in deference to the finding of a trial judge, it allowed a custody determination to stand where it lacked a sound and substantial basis in the record”… .
In this case, the Family Court’s determination awarding the mother sole legal and physical custody of the children does not have a sound and substantial basis in the record. Specifically, the court’s finding that the mother was “better equipped to meet the physical, mental and emotional needs of the children” was not supported by the record. The record also fails to support the court’s determination that the father did not indicate a willingness to co-parent with the mother. In addition, while a child’s expressed preference in a custody proceeding is not determinative, it is some indication of what is in the child’s best interests, particularly where, as here, the court’s interview with the sons demonstrated their level of maturity and ability to articulate their preferences … . Here, although the children indicated a preference for living with the father, the court merely indicated that it understood their positions without explaining its reasons for rejecting them … . Matter of Tofalli v Sarrett, 2017 NY Slip Op 04125, 2nd Dept 5-25-17
FAMILY LAW (AWARD OF SOLE CUSTODY TO MOTHER NOT SUPPORTED BY THE RECORD, PREFERENCE OF CHILDREN NOT ADEQUATELY CONSIDERED)/CUSTODY (FAMILY LAW, AWARD OF SOLE CUSTODY TO MOTHER NOT SUPPORTED BY THE RECORD, PREFERENCE OF CHILDREN NOT ADEQUATELY CONSIDERED)/APPEALS (FAMILY LAW, AWARD OF SOLE CUSTODY TO MOTHER NOT SUPPORTED BY THE RECORD, PREFERENCE OF CHILDREN NOT ADEQUATELY CONSIDERED)