On November 10, 2022, a few weeks after a forensic evaluation in a pending New York Family Court divorce and custody case, a Mother abducted her child from New York to India. Her NY lawyer withdrew from representation, and the court issued a variety of orders, including a contempt order, an arrest warrant, and a sole custody order to the Father. On December 19, 2022, after receiving copies of the orders, the Mother emailed the NY court and indicated that she commenced an Indian custody action, and considered the NY case withdrawn.
Especially since the Mother did not participate in the custody and divorce suit in NY, the court awarded sole legal and physical custody of the child to the Father, and “[c]onsidering the various relevant factors, and especially in consideration of Plaintiff’s outrageous and egregious conduct in absconding with the child, a distributive award of marital assets 100% to Defendant [Father] and 0% to Plaintiff [Mother] is equitable and just.” The Court further found the Mother to be highly educated and employable, and further said, “[a]ny contributions made by the Plaintiff to the marriage, such as by being a homemaker and primary caregiver, are vastly outweighed by her egregious actions [she disposed of his financial documents, destroyed his passport and visa, and took the child], which have undermined the Defendant’s ability to earn income and saddled him with severe trauma, depression, and anxiety.” The NY Family Courts have found, in the past, that a parent’s abduction of their child (particularly to India, which is not a Contracting State to the Hague Abduction Convention), their refusal to return, and their disobedience of court orders, to shock the conscience and should be considered in the equitable distribution of the marital assets and debts.
The trial court opinion can be found here.