My ex violated our custody order and caused emotional distress...

by Michael
(New York)

My ex and I have a court order governing custody of our child. I am supposed to get my daughter 2 times minimum per week, 8am to 5pm. We're also supposed to switch major holidays with her, and inform each other of all social, school and medical activities.

I haven't been able to watch my daughter for the last 7 months and I hear nothing of her activities. When I ask, all I get is that she's doing good. I haven't been able to see her, not one holiday. I am really stressed, hurt and feel her mother is trying to prevent me from knowing my daughter.

My daughter is 3 years old, and I have lost a lot of special times in her life that I cannot get back. How can I get this resolved? Can I file a suit against my ex for the loss of time with my daughter, and the emotional stress this has caused me? Any information you can give would be greatly appreciated.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "My ex violated our custody order and caused emotional distress...":

Michael (New York):

While your situation is unfortunate, New York State Laws do not directly provide financial relief for emotional distress caused in custody matters. Instead, contact the attorney who handled your divorce. From the facts you present, your wife's actions are in direct contravention to the divorce decree. As a result, you have a right to relief from the court (the presiding judge in your divorce case).

While the law doesn't directly provide for compensation for emotional distress caused by a spouse's failure to abide by the terms of a court ordered divorce and custody decree, the presiding judge in your case can "sanction" your spouse for contempt of court.

Within that contempt order the judge can order your spouse to compensate you for any reasonable costs you incurred directly related to your spouse's failure to abide by the terms of the court ordered divorce decree.

Such costs can include your attorney's fees, reimbursement for lost wages you might have sustained when making plans to spend time with your child or while having to be in court pursuing the contempt petition, and other financial losses you sustained directly related to the time you were supposed to have been with your child.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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