In a brief August 22, 2012 decision, the Appellate Division, Second Department, in Sano v. Sano, reversed the December, 2011 order of Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Daniel Palmieri and reinstated the provisions of a prior Family Court custody and visitation order under which the mother had been awarded residential custody of the parties’ child.
The father argued that the mother’s interest in spiritual and paranormal phenomena warranted the change of the primary residence of the child.
The Second Department disagreed, noting:
A modification of an existing custody arrangement should be allowed only upon a showing of a sufficient change in circumstances demonstrating a real need for a change of custody in order to insure the child’s best interests.
The appellate court held that the father failed to meet that burden. He had not established that the mother’s interest created a change in circumstances that showed the continued residence of the child with the mother was contrary to the best interests of the child.
The decision did not discuss the particulars of the mother’s “interest,” nor indeed whether this interest of the mother developed after the January, 2011 order of then Family Court Judge Hope Schwartz Zimmerman that initially awarded the mother residential custody (Judge Zimmerman now serves as Supervising Judge of the Nassau County Supreme Court Matrimonial Parts).
The Second Department also noted that the father had presented evidence of an isolated accidental injury of the child while in the mother’s care. That, too, was an insufficient basis on which to change the custodial arrangement.
Accordingly, the Second Department held that Justice Palmieri’s was not supported by “a sound and substantial basis in the record.”
The mother was represented by Stephen W. Schlissel, Neil S. Cohen, Hillary S. Reinharz, of Schlissel Ostrow Karabatos, PLLC, of Garden City. The father was represented by Danielle J. Seid of the Law Office of Anthony A. Capetola, of Williston Park. James E. Flood, Jr., of Massapequa, served attorney for the child.