In its February 14, 2013 decision in Melody M. v Robert M., the Third Department affirmed an order of now-retired St. Lawrence County Family Court Judge Barbara R. Potter which modified a prior joint custody order to award the father sole custody of the parties’ three children (ages 8, 9 and 12). The Third Department also affirmed Judge Potter’s imposition of an order of protection against the mother that prohibited her from, among other things, posting any communications to or about the children on any social network site.
The parties had entered into a separation agreement in 2006 providing for joint custody of their children with alternating physical placement. In February 2009, they stipulated to continue joint custody, but with the father having primary physical custody. In July 2010, the mother commenced the first of the four proceedings determined by Judge Potter’s order, seeking to alter her parenting time so that she would have the two youngest children from Wednesday to Sunday of each week and the oldest child from Sunday to Tuesday of each week. The father opposed the proposed schedule change, filed violation petitions and filed a modification petition seeking, among other things, sole legal custody of the children.
After a hearing, Judge Potter found a change in circumstances sufficient to conclude that the joint custody arrangement was no longer viable and that an award of sole legal custody to the father would be in the best interests of the children.