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In re Application of Anna Goldfarb for Right of Visitation of Robert Henry Frenchman

Decided: December 15, 1949.

IN THE MATTER OF THE APPLICATION OF ANNA GOLDFARB FOR THE RIGHT OF VISITATION OF ROBERT HENRY FRENCHMAN, AN INFANT


Schettino, J.s.c.

Schettino

Plaintiff seeks a judgment granting her a right of visitation. She is the maternal grandmother of the infant. Relief was granted to her pendente lite by order dated November 19, 1948. Contempt proceedings were later instituted against the father of the child, charging violation of the temporary order. Both matters have been fully heard and are herein determined.

I regret that I must conclude that plaintiff cannot be granted the relief which she seeks on her complaint.

The parents of the child were married in 1941. The father was then in military service. The mother, except for periods when she lived with her husband at his posts of duty, lived with the plaintiff. The child was born on February 16, 1945, and the mother and the child lived with plaintiff from then until July 1, 1945. At that time, the mother and child joined the father in Massachusetts where he was then stationed. All three returned to Newark in the early part of August, 1945, to attend the funeral of the mother's father. The mother became ill on the night of the funeral and died on September 20, 1945.

Plaintiff was engaged in business and by reason thereof and the emotional disturbance resulting from the deaths of her husband and daughter, was not able to care for the child. Plaintiff's brother undertook such care for a period of about two weeks and then the father of the child took it to the home of the paternal grandparents. The father was separated from the military service on October 17, 1945, whereupon he joined the household of his parents. In March, 1947, the father remarried and since that time the child has resided with him and his present wife. On June 24, 1949, during the pendency of these proceedings, the wife obtained a judgment of adoption of the infant.

Plaintiff visited the infant with regularity while it was at the home of the paternal grandparents. Upon the remarriage,

however, the father forbade visitation by plaintiff and plaintiff did not see the child until the temporary order referred to above, dated November 19, 1948. Within a short time after the remarriage, the father became enmeshed in litigation with his own father and apparently the paternal grandparents have not since visited the child.

The defendants explain their position with reference to the visitation by plaintiff in this way. They say that when they returned from their honeymoon, the child was found to be nervous and stuttering; that they received medical advice to cut the child's ties with the past; and that upon doing so, the child returned to normal. The child, of course, was only two years old at the time of the alleged manifestations, and there is nothing in the record to suggest that visitation by the plaintiff was causally connected therewith. The defendants make many charges along the theme that plaintiff sought to alienate the child from them but the charges are not substantiated by the proof.

In support of the claim that visitation by plaintiff upset the child, the father caused a recording to be secretly made of one of the visitations made under the court order. The avowed purpose of the proof was to discredit plaintiff's testimony that the visitation was without incident. The recording revealed that plaintiff treated the child with natural affection and understanding while the behavior of the child was incredibly poor. The recording convinced me that the father conditioned the child to abuse and insult its grandmother in a manner wholly unnatural for an infant. The father was present throughout the meeting and, although he, unlike plaintiff, knew that the incident was being sound-recorded, made no respectable effort to curb the child or to inspire a behavior which the situation of the principals would normally require. No father would permit a child so to treat any adult, let alone a grandparent. A child does not normally so react. I have no doubt that, barring the training which the father gave the infant, the child would have embraced and returned the affections of its grandmother. The worst that can be said of plaintiff is that she persisted in her efforts to

see her grandchild to the annoyance of the father and his wife, an annoyance which originated with them and which was not predicated upon any misbehavior of plaintiff.

One cannot but sympathize with plaintiff. However, there are other considerations which lead me reluctantly to the conclusion that the court ...


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