The Second Department, reversing Family Court in this custody proceeding, determined the judge should not have ruled on father’s petition to locate with the child to New Jersey and mother’s cross-petition for sole custody without completing the hearing:
“Custody determinations . . . require a careful and comprehensive evaluation of the material facts and circumstances in order to permit the court to ascertain the optimal result for the child” … . Accordingly, “custody determinations should ‘[g]enerally’ be made ‘only after a full and plenary hearing and inquiry'” … . “This general rule furthers the substantial interest, shared by the State, the children, and the parents, in ensuring that custody proceedings generate a just and enduring result that, above all else, serves the best interest of a child” … . “[W]here . . . facts material to the best interest analysis, and the circumstances surrounding such facts, remain in dispute, a custody hearing is required” … . Here, the Family Court erred in making a final custody determination without completing the hearing on the father’s petition and the mother’s cross-petition in order to determine what arrangement was in the best interests of the child … . Matter of Janvier v Santana-Jackson, 2023 NY Slip Op 05732 Second Dept 11-15-23
Practice Point: In the midst of COVID the judge ruled on father’s petition to relocate with the child and mother’s cross-petition for sole custody without completing the related hearing. Reversed.