Westchester County Family Court
custody dispute the primary document used is called a petition. Either parent
may file a custody petition with the Family Court. Once the custody petition
is on file with the court either party may make an application to dismiss
the petition for a variety of reasons.
Some reasons for dismissal is that the petition is defective, the petition
is missing vital information or is simply insufficient.
In the White Plains Family Court a mother made an application to dismiss
the father's custody petition on the grounds that the parties had
a signed and notarized agreement as to custody and visitation. The mother
in the White Plains Family Court claimed that since there was this signed
agreement the agreement itself should control and the Westchester County
Family Court did not have jurisdiction because the agreement was a contract
and as a contract the only court that court have jurisdiction was the
New York State Supreme Court.
The father by his attorney
Andrew Proto, objected to the dismissal and argued that the Westchester County Family
Court was the appropriate jurisdiction. The father also argued that simply
because there was a written agreement he was not precluded from filing
a petition with the Family Court because there was a change in circumstances
in the agreement and the Family Court was in the best position to hear
all arguments to determine facts regarding custody of the parties 5 year
The Family Court agreed with the father and denied the mother's motion
The primary argument behind any custody petition is what is in the child's
best interest including issues the parties may raise involving legal and
physical custody. The importance of the initial petition should not be
overlooked as it is the foundation of the entire proceeding. Any Family
Court petition should be drafted by a Family Court lawyer with knowledge
of the individual facts of the case and a great knowledge of the New York
State Family Court Act (FCA) and the New York State Domestic Relations
It is common for attorneys to have insufficient petitions dismissed or
use an insufficient petition against the party as a failure to state a
cause of action.
If you or a loved one has a Family Court matter, custody or otherwise it
is important to contact a top Family Law lawyer.