09:29, April 24 381 0 abajournal.com

2017-04-24 09:29:04
Judge ‘inexplicably’ threatened private school over custody disagreement, appeals court says

A New York judge should not have reopened settled issues in a custody case after the parents were unable to agree on physical custody of their child for a 2½-hour window on Fridays, a New York appeals court has found.

Nor should the judge have “inexplicably” threatened to send the child to a private school, or have rejected the parents’ agreement on which school district the child should attend, according to the April 20 decision (PDF) by the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division.

The judge is Catherine Cholakis of Rensselaer County, the Albany Times Union reports. She declined the newspaper’s request for comment.

When the parents couldn’t resolve the 2½-hour custody issue at a January 2015 hearing, Cholakis declared that, if there is a trial, “everything is opened up,” according to the appeals court opinion. “If I’m going to sit here and we’re gonna hear testimony,” Cholakis said, “I want to hear it all.”

Cholakis went on to suggest she might direct the child be sent to an “outrageously expensive” private school.

After the hearing, Cholakis rejected the parents’ agreement to send the child to kindergarten in the mother’s school district, despite a lack of evidence supporting the change, the appeals court said.

“The scenario created by the judge is troubling,” the appeals court said, “for Family Court was repeatedly informed by all counsel prior to the hearing that the parties had settled the key dispute as to where the child would attend school and yet insisted on an all-or-nothing resolution.”