The Third Department, reversing Family Court, determined the judge, sua sponte, should not have dismissed father’s modification of custody petition for failure to state a cause of action because mother did not request that relief. The Third Department went on to consider mother’s motion for summary judgment and deny it:
“[A] motion for summary judgment may be utilized in a Family Ct Act article 6 proceeding, but such a motion should be granted only when there are no material facts disputed sufficiently to warrant a trial” … . “In a custody modification proceeding, the controlling ‘material fact’ is whether or not there is a change in circumstances so as to warrant an inquiry into whether the best interests of the children would be served by modifying the existing custody arrangement” … .
Here, the mother failed to meet her initial summary judgment burden. There can be no dispute that only five months had elapsed since entry of the March 2018 order and, as such, the “automatic” change in circumstances provision incorporated in that order had not been triggered. The father, however, sought modification based upon several other alleged changes in circumstance, including that the mother had been disparaging the father in front of the children in violation of the March 2018 order and that she is living in a homeless shelter. The mother, in her motion for summary judgment, makes no mention of these allegations or otherwise attempts to refute them in any way. Matter of Anthony F. v Christy G., 2020 NY Slip Op 01228, Third Dept 2-20-20