The Orange County New York Family Court ruled against me this morning and in favor of my mother who sued for custody of my daughter who will turn 18 years old on 1/17/2009. My relationship has been strained with my daughter due to her general behavior, verbal abuse and refusal to accept responsibility for it. My parents have excused the behavior and undermined my authority having never supported me as a parent trying to modify her behavior. I took my daugher's cell phone away and they replaced it and put her on their plan. They live in the state of Florida, have never had any more that 1 or 2 visits with her per year for no more than a week or two at a time.
The court's decision recognized that I am a fit father and have provided for my daughter with a clean, safe home, food, personal needs, vehicle, financial etc. There is no abuse, physical of verbal. The court also recognized that it is not unusual for a strained relationship to exist between an adolescent and parent where the adolescent is about to graduate high school, separate from the parent and go on to college. The court found that the child is loved by and loves me, the father.
The court struggled with the child's age at almost 18 and stated in the decision that had the child been 11 or 12, the court would have ruled in my favor, but since she had one foot on either side of the fence at this point, she was close enough to 18 to rule in favor of the petitioner, my mother in order to satisfy the wishes of the child to leave.
This is an awful day for parents in the state of New York as far as I'm concerned. If I appeal and win, it will cost me more time and money. She will also be 18 by then so she can stay in Florida if she wants, I will just not be responsible for support. I believe I could conceivably win but simply can't afford the time or money to pursue it. It also means that "close enough to 18" is now a criterion by which extraordinary circumstances exist as it relates to the Bennett v. Jeffreys custody case and grandparents rights.