The Court Report
Family Court and Supreme Court-Matrimonial Part
Judges Must Reconcile The Inequities Inherent In The Monied Litigant v. The Pro Se Litigant
Westchester County Family Court, White Plains Support Magistrate Rosa Cabanillas-Thompson Presiding
Wednesday June 13th Marc Warnock, and Suzanne Stephans, formerly Mrs. Suzanne Warnock, both of Irvington, appeared in Westchester County Family Court, White Plains, with regard to an Order To Show Cause filed by Mr. Warnock’s attorney, Clifford George Kleinbaum of White Plains. The purpose of the filing was to initiate compliance by Stephans with regard to child support payments she must now make to Mr. Warnock for their three children, ages 6,7, and 11, who are no longer in her “residential, joint legal and physical custody,” as of May 1, 2007.
The children who had resided with Stephans, their mother, for some five years, following Mr. Warnock’s departure from the marital household, and subsequent divorce, attend school in Irvington. Their residential, and joint legal and physical custody was taken from their mother, and given to their father who has remarried, as “sole legal and physical custody”, following a recent 13-day trial before State Supreme Court Justice William Giacomo. Giacomo who had initially stated from the bench, “These are great kids. They are doing great in school. They are healthy, and someone is obviously doing something right with these kids,” apparently had no problem, however, tearing them away from that “someone,” their mother, to accommodate the questionable
agenda of appointed Law Guardian Theresa Malach.
That mother, Suzanne Stephans, charged, “Malach did not have the best interest of the children, or their relationship with their father, and mother in mind when she wrongfully charged their mother with parental alienation.”
She added, “This has devastated our children.” According to Stephans the law guardian came to court with, and left with, her former husband, held private meetings with him outside the courtroom during their trial, and acted
as though she was Mr. Warnock’s private attorney, treating Stephans as the “enemy,” rather than maintaining neutrality between the opposing parents while working in the interest of the children.
Stephans, who appeared pro se, (representing herself) no longer having funds to retain an attorney, came out of last Wednesday’s court session concerned because the child support formula to which she will be held, for at
least two months before the next scheduled hearing, is outdated and inaccurate as pertains to her actual income. It was obvious to this reporter that Mr. Warnock’s high-powered attorney was behaving aggressively, almost belligerently, toward the mother of his client’s children, scarcely allowing her the opportunity to respond to his allegations. At one point when Ms. Stephans, who is employed full-time, attempted to inform the Court of the fact that she actually presently earns approximately $40,000, and not the $60,000, including bonuses, that she had once earned more than a year ago, Mr. Kleinbaum told the Court, “Perhaps she’s under-employed.”
Magistrate Cabanillas-Thompson acknowledged the financial hardship to Stephans that she was about to set in motion, but expressed her powerlessness to rectify so recent an order imposed by Supreme Court Judge William Giacomo, declaring, “I don’t have the jurisdiction or the authority to alter it.”