New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department
Custody and visitation
Counseling as a component
Bonilla-Wright v. Wright Jr.
Appealed from Family Court, Monroe County
Background: The respondent father appealed from an order that appealed from a prior order of custody and visitation. After an argument that escalated to a physical encounter during a visitation exchange, the father punched the mother and the mother filed the petition seeking to modify the prior order by terminating the father’s overnight visitation. The court decided to reduce the father’s visitation by conditioning the resumption of unsupervised weekend overnight visitation on the participation of the father and the children in counseling and, in the interim, provide one hour of supervised visitation per week at a particular supervised visitation agency.
Ruling: The Appellate Division vacated the conditions to resume unsupervised overnight weekend visitation on the participation of the father and the children in counseling and to vacate delegating authority to a supervised agency to determine the father’s receipt of weekly supervised visitation. The court held that there was a discrepancy between the order and the decision and that the court does not have the authority to order counseling as a prerequisite to custody or visitation, but as a component of a custody or visitation order.
Janet C. Somes, of the public defender’s office, for the respondent-appellant; Carolyn Walther, of the conflict defender’s office, for the petitioner-respondent; Jessica L. Wright, attorney for the children.