Actions don’t always speak louder than words. New York State law is starting to recognize verbal abuse.
A recent decision in Rochester granted a mother the right to live in the family home with the children, forcing the father to find different living arrangements, in order to protect the children from being exposed to constant verbal abuse and arguments between their parents. This was while the divorce action was still pending.
That’s an important development, says Elizabeth DiPirro, since it places the children’s emotional welfare above the property interests of their parents in the months prior to the Judge hearing and making a final decision on which parent should, ultimately, be awarded the house and/or custody of the children.
Confronting a request for exclusive use and possession of a marital residence, during the pendency of an action, is a trial for any judge. The balancing of parental interests – property rights of a titled spouse, financial costs of dislocation and the strain of two households on a family budget, uprooting a parent without a full hearing on the merits of who is responsible for the hostile environment in the home – is an Augean challenge.
But, in a state which reveres the best interest of children as the touchstone for judicial determinations in family matters, those interests must trump any other parental interests if a hostile and abusive environment persists in the home during the pendency of a divorce action and the only available remedy to quiet the turmoil is removal of a parent.
L.M.L. v. H.T.N., 17/7645, (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2017)