Matrimonial and Family Law Blog

Monday, March 28, 2016

Manhattan Attorney Fined $10, 000 for Exhibiting Bad Behavior in Court Has Now Lost Custody of His 2-Year-Old Son

How is it possible to lose custody of your child during a hearing to determine child custody?

The assumption that "fair" child custody arrangements include similar access by each parent to the child or children in question is often erroneous. In a case last year, a Manhattan attorney, who had previously been fined $10,000 for his bad behavior during a divorce and child custody proceeding, ended up forfeiting all rights to raise his young son.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper originally imposed the fine on Anthony Zappin, the 30-year-old father of a 2-year-old son, after ruling that, during the early stages of the custody proceeding, Zappin had used "his law license as a tool to threaten, bully and intimidate" judges and others involved in his court battle. Later, Judge Cooper further ruled that Zappin should only be permitted to have supervised visits with his son. The boy's mother, Zappin's wife, Claire Comfort, also 30 years of age, was granted full legal and custodial custody of the child. According to her lawyer, Robert Wallack, this was entirely reasonable since Comfort is "a wonderful mother."

Safety First

The decision was "a triumph for this little boy's welfare," said Wallack, "... since mandated supervised visitation will provide a protective shield to ensure [the child's] safety... during time spent with his father." Judge Cooper agreed, saying that the 13-day trial had established a pattern of "coercive, controlling behavior" by Zappin, and proved that Zappin had physically assaulted his wife eight times around the time of their son's birth in late 2013. As a result, the judge has also given Comfort a 5 year order of protection from Zappin who, he declared, has an "antisocial personality disorder."

Judge Cooper declared that Zappin's violent history with his wife, coupled with the explosive anger he evinced in the courtroom, were cause enough to arouse serious fears that he might injure his son and/or teach the little boy by example that "it is acceptable to abuse other people."

In child custody cases, protecting the child(children) always has to be the most important consideration. If you are caught up in a contentious child custody battle, particularly if domestic abuse has been an issue, it is essential that you consult with a skilled and compassionate family law attorney who will guide you safely through the process.

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