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Family Judge Bars Grandmother's Visits

New York Law Journal
March 5, 1999


A GRANDMOTHER who is married to an alleged organized crime figure has been barred from seeing her 6-year-old granddaughter for at least a year after showing up unannounced at the child's school with gifts on her birthday last December.

Family Court Judge Ingrid S. Braslow in Matter of B. H. obo N. S. v. B. S., filed Feb. 23 in Family Court, Westchester County, White Plains, granted the child's mother's petition for a permanent order of protection for one year, directing the grandmother, identified only in the decision as B. S., to stay away from the child and not to attempt to communicate with her through any third parties.

The child's father and grandfather were arrested last year, and the grandfather was apparently slated to testify soon for the prosecution in a "highly publicized organized crime trial." The girl's mother and father were divorced recently, and her mother took precautions to protect the child from any fallout from the trials, the court's opinion said.

The mother became very alarmed when she arrived at the child's school on Dec. 9, 1998, the child's birthday, and saw the grandmother run to the child with shopping bags in hand. The mother reached the child and immediately took her away.

At a hearing before Judge Braslow last month, the mother claimed the child's face expressed panic; the grandmother conceded that she went to the school without asking her former daughter-in-law's permission but said the child was happy to see her.

Judge Braslow rejected the grandmother's contention that her actions were merely those of a loving grandmother. "[T]he intent to harass, annoy or alarm petitioner and the child is established by the inferences drawn from the surrounding circumstances."

The judge noted that the grandmother had only been in contact once shortly after her husband's and son's arrests and, "rather than attempting to establish an open, honest and loving relationship and rather than attempting to try to appreciate the [mother's] feelings, she surreptitiously tries to make contact with the child behind her mother's back."

"The subject child in the case at bar in less than one year lost her family unit due to divorce and lost her father and paternal grandfather due to incarceration. Despite her mother's best efforts, she is most certainly in a fragile state and experiencing one of the most difficult periods of her life. The court will not allow her grandmother, despite her asserted good intentions, to inflict any further disruptions," Judge Braslow concluded.

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