Children's Issues

During the early stages of my legal career, I had the opportunity to work on a tragic case, Khan v. Rajput, which resulted in the unpublished appellate decision,

The case centered around my efforts to facilitate the return of two young children to their father, Mr. Khan, after their mother removed them from New Jersey to Pakistan, without his consent. Ms. Rajput, then a medical student in the US, escorted the children back to her homeland to live with her family. After several months, she returned to the US without the children in order to complete her schooling. Upon arrival, she was arrested at the airport but patently refused to return the children to their father. She was subsequently released from custody, and we instituted trial court proceedings to ensure the children’s swift return. However, Pakistan’s unwillingness to be a party to Hague Convention meant that unless the case became a national story that it would be an uphill battle to compel their return.

Continue Reading Child Abduction: Capital Anonymity. A True Story about the Hague Convention

 Previous blogs on this site have dealt with arbitration of various aspects of matrimonial disputes. N.H. v. H.H. is another in the developing law of arbitration of family law issues.   This article will deal with the subject of arbitration in the context of children issues, as the financial issues raised on appeal are less timely and more routine (as the law is well-developed in this area) as the issues relating to the children.

By way of background, the parties’ agreement in this case provided that they would be bound by the recommendations of an appointed psychologist who had been retained by them to conduct a custody evaluation and to render written report. Their agreement articulated that they desired this procedure in order to avoid “ . . . lengthy, protracted and divisive litigation over custody and parenting time issues . . .” In such posture, they agreed “. . . to be bound and to abide by the recommendations set forth in [the psychologist’s] report and to implement said recommendations immediately upon receipt of [the] report.”

The foregoing agreement came about in the context of the alternative dispute resolution method known as mediation in which the parties had first engaged the services of an extraordinarily well-respected former judge who had extensive experience in both the Family Part and the Appellate Division in reconciliation, but then switched his role to one of mediator.

After his investigation, the psychologist rendered a ninety-three page evaluation. In viewing the report, the Appellate Division went on for pages to describe in excruciating detail the methodology employed by the psychologist. The parties, the mediator, and the psychologist thereafter met to discuss the report. During that meeting, additional events concerning the issue of the wife’s consumption of alcohol in front of the children came to light. Thereafter, the psychologist supplemented his report in which he opined that the wife was in need of inpatient treatment, and recommended supervised parenting time with the children.

In response, the wife sought a judicial determination whereby the court would adopt the psychologist’s initial report, but reject the supplemental report. That application was denied by the court, effectively leaving both reports intact. Thereafter, the husband requested a determination that the agreement was enforceable and sought economic relief, and the wife cross-moved for various forms of relief including setting aside the agreement. Upon consideration, the court denied her application relative to the economic aspects of the agreement, but granted her request to set aside the custody and parenting provisions.

Continue Reading Arbitration of Children Issues