Thursday, December 18, 2008

Courts to decide if ex-spouses may sue for turning children against parents

Should parents be allowed to sue their ex-spouses for turning their children against them?

A judge in Morris County said no in a case he decided in August. But last month, a Hudson County judge ruled the opposite way, state law does not bar a parent from making a parental alienation claim in civil court.

The two cases are now headed to an appeals court, which will decide an issue that's being closely monitored by family law attorneys who are split over the issue.

"What do you do when a child is being programmed to hate the other parent?" Woodbridge attorney John Paone Jr. asked. "I believe you can't get justice in these alienation cases in the family court."

Attorney Cary Cheifetz, treasurer of the New Jersey chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, disagrees.

Such lawsuits "would cause more damage than good to society, families and children," he said. "The proper remedy is to fix the issue and undo the alienation by restoring the relationship." If such litigation were allowed, he said, children would have to give depositions and testify in front of a jury.

In the Morris County case, Superior Court Judge David Rand dismissed a complaint by retired multimillionaire developer Moses Segal against his former Canadian common-law wife, saying "New Jersey law simply does not allow recovery for the causes of action Segal asserts."

Rand cited the 1935 Heart Balm Act that abolished alienation of affection as grounds for a lawsuit.

Ruling in another case, Superior Court Judge Maurice Gallipoli, sitting in Jersey City, disagreed. Gallipoli found the alienation claim barred by the Heart Balm Act pertained only to the marital relationship, not the children, and that a parent's claim of emotional distress resulting from being alienated from his children can be pursued in civil court.

"The Heart Balm Act doesn't prohibit what we're trying to do here," said Attorney Steven Resnick, who represents both Segal and Hoboken resident Vincent Smith, the father in the Gallipoli decision. "We want a jury to decide this."

In the Hudson County case, Vincent Smith sued his ex-wife, Rose Marie Smith, and her parents, accusing them of lying to his two daughters and making allegations of sexual misconduct and molestation.

Gallipoli allowed Smith's lawsuit against his in-laws to proceed but dismissed the case against the ex-wife, saying Smith would first have to take his fight against her to Family Court. But the Family Court judge could allow Smith to seek monetary damages for his emotional distress claim in civil court, Gallipoli ruled.

"The big win is that the claim itself can go forward. Right now, we have a live case against the grandparents," Resnick said.

The grandparents attorney, Marc Raso, said he believes the Heart Balm Act was intended to bar such claims.

"The plaintiff is trying to shift the focus away from the best interests of the children and focus on compensating a parent with money damages," Raso said.

On Monday, Raso filed a motion asking an appeals court to rule on his case alongside the Segal case, which already is on appeal. He said Smith's allegations against his clients "are without any merit whatsoever."

Denise Luckenbach, Rose Marie Smith's attorney, is not appealing since Gallipoli dismissed the claim against the mother.

Resnick is using Gallipoli's ruling to resurrect another parental alienation case in Essex County. Based on Rand's ruling, an Essex County judge dismissed Michael Besen's complaint that alleged his estranged wife, Sandra, caused him emotional distress by badmouthing him to the children and damaging their relationships.

"It's about time this nonsense comes to an end," Resnick said.

Dale Console, president-elect of the New Jersey chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, said such litigation sides with Resnick.

"If you are intentionally alienating, and go out of your way to turn the child against the other parent, maybe you are responsible for damages," Console said. She pointed out such a claim would be very difficult to prove.

When Segal filed his lawsuit in Morris County against Cynthia Lynch in 2007, it was seen as a first in New Jersey. Segal claimed Lynch cut him off from their two children and told lies to turn them against him -- including telling them that Segal had hired a hitman to kill her, according to family court records.

After Lynch left Toronto with the children in June 2006, Segal hired a private investigator who tracked them to Long Hill Township.

Rand wrote that even if the Heart Balm Act didn't govern, he still would have dismissed Segal's civil case because he failed to show Lynch's actions rose to the level of intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress.

"If Segal has become emotionally estranged from (the children) it is, to a large degree, the result of his own actions and not because Lynch 'intentionally and maliciously' poisoned their relationship," Rand wrote, noting that Moses had moved away from the children before Lynch relocated.

Courts to decide if ex-spouses may sue for turning children against parents - Breaking News From New Jersey -

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Anonymous said...

Thank Louise for this article. This is truly an amazing event, move forward in our war for justice where the abuse of children and thier parents occurs.
Robert Gartner

Anonymous said...

Could it be that both of these men are actually guilty as sin and should cough up some proof that they are not the problem themselves?

Unknown said...

Another glenn sacks site did have 60 something comments many of which had to do with old girlfriends of Vince Smith stating what an opportunist he was , how dishonest he was, how he used and abused them for financial gain etc. Yet they have now deleted most of these comments. all of them had to do with how very much Vince Smith has heartlessly distressed women for the purpose of economic gain. Some of the comments came form his current fiances family, basically stating that he was not welcome in their family. What I have to say is that she isn't welcome in our family either. After all, anyone that helps to provide the economic needs of a man like this just isn't right. furthermore when Vince's mother's brother died in December 2006 neither Vince nor his fiance could have cared a less. Don't invite family to the wedding you two, because we are not blessing it.

Unknown said...

There were around 70 blog on another website in regard to this article about Vince Smith wanting to file suit against his ex for distress .These blogs talked about this case of Vince Smith claiming to be "distressed" yet telling another side of the story that in their personal experiences with him he distressed them to appoint of no return without conscience, ethics, morals, or the slightest concern with his dishonesty and deceptions. He was portrayed as a man that had lack of integrity toward several wealthy women whom, it sounds, according to the blogs by all these women, he attempted to use for the economic gains to pay his attorney fees, counseling fees etc that were related to allegations that he sexually and otherwise abused his daughters, and allegations that he was a sex addict. If that can’t be proven that he did or didn’t abuse them, it sounds that it can be at least be seen that he manipulated and distressed several women. It seems from the blogs that were posted on another website , which have since been erased, that Vince Smith needed wealthy women not only to help him regain financial security, as he was having economic problems due to so many attorneys fees, but also needed their wealth to finance his desire to move from the state of New Jersey, where he was worried about child protective reports made against him. He couldn’t afford to live in Manhattan where he worked, and wanted out of New Jersey in hopes child protective services where reports had been filed against him. Suddenly the blogs were erased from the other websites altogether when several woman wrote in to recount the distress Vince Smith caused them. I can't recall all the names of the women that wrote these blogs on the these sites but some of them were Susan, Deb, and Marie, as well as several others. Most said they met Vince Smith on Internet dating sites. It became very clear that there was a common theme. These women had been extraordinarily distressed by Vince Smith. Each had been victim of an extreme lack of integrity while dating Vince Smith, who appeared from the blogs to be guilty of everything from adultery to claiming he was unmarried and without children while he had a relationship with one of them, whom he was dating while his wife was out of state with his very young daughter ,whom the mistress knew nothing about, while the daughter was hospitalized for cancer treatment. All of these women were quite wealthy which was his prerequisite, as in each case he proclaimed his undying love for each of them, claiming, falsely, his monogamous relationships with each. The blogs themselves showed he couldn’t have been monogamous to any one of them, and that he was extraordinarily deceptive and manipulative. Each were completely convinced by him of his faithful love while in fact he was out only for the financial gain to get him out of New Jersey and into Manhattan, where he couldn’t afford to live himself, but wanted to live to avoid the legal system in New Jersey. It at least appears that Vince Smith’s claim to be a New Jersey resident was false even at the time of this October 2008 hearing in which he wanted to file suit against his ex and his in laws. He was cohabiting with yet another wealthy woman in another state and his New Jersey condo was empty and listed with a real estate agent while he actually lived in NYC. He finally hooked and reeled in a wealthy woman to support him. If she had any idea how many others he manipulated and the degree of those manipulations and deceptions she would get out while she could. Even the woman’s own relatives wrote into the other websites saying they had dug up lots of dirt on Vince Smith. According to the other websites though, few could resist the charms of Vince Smith until the deceptions started rolling in. One even said that when Vince’s daughter extremely disliked the newest girlfriend, he chose the girlfriend over the daughter and simply stopped visiting the young daughter. Others claimed he has no visitation rights whatsoever with the daughters due to sexual abuse lallegations. Vince Smith attempting to redirect attention to his exwife seems despicable from all that I read he did on to distress so many people that wrote in on these other websites about Vince’s dishonesty and deception that he didn’t have an ounce of remorse or conscience over. What it sounds like to me is that perhaps the man is simply actually guilty of allegations against his daughters and wants to redirect the attentions to the exwife. He has the economic means to do so simply because he just kept trying to find a woman to use for her money until he finally found one he could manipulate. Let’s see. Should the ex wife be sued for stating what her ex husband (potentially/ allegedly) did to the daughters just because he now has found the financial means to put the attention off o f himself and the allegations towards him in relation to the daughters? f you read the stories of all the wealthy women Vince Smith manipulated it would move you to tears how dishonest and deceptive he was toward good, honest, religious, women whom he distressed and their stories o f the man they though was so charming deceivi g them. Not to mention he didn’t even live in New Jersey at the time of this New Jersey hearing. If he cared about the daughters why did he tell women he was single without kids? Why did he stay to date one woman while his wife went out of town with the young daughter who was hospitalized with cancer rather than being with the ill daughter? Women seemed to be distressed repeatedly by him in manipulative ways too numerous to repeat here according to all the blogs written on these other websites. Why is this relevant? Because his suit is in regard to filing suit against a former love, his ex wife, for distressing him. Should some of these women that wrote the blogs on the these other websites whom were extraordinarily distressed by Vince’s lies and deceptions file suit against Vince for distress? Each of these women came across as intelligent and sincere, yet he was able to con each of them. Should each of them file suit against him for ‘distressing” them? There were too many blogs to repeat here but let me just give you a sampling. Susan, of his hometown of Oaks PA, met him on an Internet dating site, and believed his stories that he was unmarried and without children. She had been told his limited availability was due to his very tough work schedule, but found out he had a wife and children. A deeply religious woman, she didn't believe in premarital sex, and wanted a commitment first. He gave her that commitment when he wasn't free to do so, as he was actually married despite the fact that on the dating site she met him on he said he was single. Another said on the blogs that to show his lack of integrity, he doesn't even live in Hoboken, New Jersey, or anywhere in the state of New jersey at al, and didn't at the time of his October 2008 hearing either. He owns an empty condo in Hoboken but cohabits with a girlfriend ( another one!) in NYC. This came from a woman that he also met on a dating website whom also was very wealthy. The problem was that on the website she registered with a location of Manhattan, which is where she worked. When Vince Smith found out she lived in Hoboken and not Manhattan, he became so enraged that she was frightened of him. It turned out he wasn't actually interested in the supposedly monogamous relationship with her but was interested in moving out of New Jersey and into Manhattan for the purpose of avoiding the many child protective service complaints that had been registered against him in New Jersey,and needed to find a woman to marry who lived in Manhattan where he works . He had treated her like she was the love of his life, yet she found that the reason they couldn't ever go back to his condo was that he had another girlfriend whom frequently cohabited with him. These stories were many and by many different women. He appears to be a dishonest man that manipulates and deceives without conscience or remorse. Should he be able to file suit for someone distressing him because he found someone to pay for it for him? It sounds like he is just trying to take attention off o f the allegations that were made that he abused his daughters. That is just how it sounds.

Anonymous said...

There were quite a number of blogs on other websites about Vince Smith being a womanizer in search of wealthy women he would woo. All o fthe women that wrote in thought the was hopelessly devoted to them and found he was using him. He apparently had quite a number of maniplulative lies up his sleeve for each of them to convince that he did nothing wrong. Now his fiance clearly has a personal ad on with a user name of Madisonvenue.I work for Credit Suisse and was matched with her on match .com. That's got to be her that i was matched with. The profile fits Vince Smith's former (?) fiance.I didn't act on being matched with her on the dating site though! At least one woman saw through Vince Smith, but I will bet she is hurting. Although it may appear at first that this has nothing to do with the issue at hand, I believe it is relevant. He claims he should be able to file suit against a woman for distressing him yet he seems to distress quite a few himself. Should they file suit against him for distressing them? It sounds like his exwife is a horrible woman for doing what she did to these children, but from all I read that has now been erased on other sites this man really is dishonest with the women and distresses them to pieces.I still believe he should sue the Hell out of his ex for destroying the kids and his right to the kids though as even a womanizer can still be a good parent as long as the kids don't know what a womanizer he is.If he wnats to open the door to being able to file suit against someone for ditress though it sounds that he may be opening the door to being sued himself.