Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly’s wife was fined by a Supreme Court Justice in Nassau County, New York for $319,000.00. She was fined this amount because she violated the terms of a custody agreement regarding the couple’s two children. Bill O’Reilly and his ex-wife Maureen McPhilly entered into a separation agreement in 2010. Pursuant to the separation agreement they had shared custody of their two children. The parties were granted a judgment of divorce in 2011.
In April of 2015 Supreme Court Justice Sondra Pardes modified the shared custody arrangement. She gave the mother custody of the children. Mr. O’Reilly had parenting time (visitation) with the children. Mr. O’Reilly appealed and Judge Pardes’ ruling was affirmed.
The parties have a daughter identified in court papers as M and a son identified as S. They are respectively 17 and 13 years old. M was supposed to spend a week at the father’s home in October of 2015. However, the mother would not cooperate with regard to this scheduled parenting time. As a result, Mr. O’Reilly moved to hold the mother in contempt. In his contempt argument, he alleged a child of M’s age was not in a position to determine parental visitation issues. He asked that the mother be fined $2,500.00 a day for each day of non-compliance with the parenting time arrangements since October 11, 2015. The mother argued M was old enough to “vote with her feet” and continued to refuse Mr. O’Reilly’s request for parenting time with his daughter.
Judge Gianelli found Ms. McPhilly in civil contempt. Judge Gianelli’s decision stated that while a mature child’s desires can be considered, a child’s preference cannot be determinative. Justice Gianelli cited a case of Vera King v. Ira King, 124 Misc.2d 946 (1984). It stated a parent may not use their child’s wishes to shield them “from the consequences of disregarding his duty to obey the court’s lawful mandate.” Judge Gianelli stated in her decision Ms. McPhilly had determined early on that she was “the parent more deserving of the children and their loyalty.” – and she never had a “sincere intention” to follow the couple’s original custody agreement of 2010.
Written by Elliot Schlissel
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