BY DYLAN SKRILOFF
The controversial child custody case pitting Maryland woman Susan Carrington vs. Rockland’s John McNelis of the influential Rockland County McNelis family has taken a sudden turn in her favor.
At a Rockland County Family Court hearing last Thursday in which McNelis sought action against Carrington for allegedly violating an order preventing her from contacting her two pre-teen daugthers via social media, normally McNelis-friendly jurist Family Court Referee Dean Mendehlson slapped McNelis and abdicated New York’s jurisdiction in the case.
Because McNelis had fled to Florida in recent months with his daughters, claiming among other complaints that press coverage of the story in the Rockland County Times was affecting his quality of life, Mendehlson said New York courts no longer have cause to be involved in the case.
It seems McNelis failed to account for the fact this move out of state would nullify New York’s jurisdiction. During the Thursday hearing, McNelis listed his address in court as a street in Nyack, but Mendehlson rejected this based on his new permanent residence in Florida.
Now it is not immediately clear where the case stands, but Carrington had been granted joint custody in Maryland under court orders that still stand
in that state. She had contended all along that McNelis had no right to even bring the children to New York in the first place.
Once in New York, she said lawyers and judges friendly to the McNelis family have rigged the case against her. So extreme has her predicament in New York been that Carrington has not even been able to see her children in five years, for reasons that are entirely unclear.
Now that McNelis is in Florida with her children, without any custodial jurisdiction, Carrington hopes to finally enact the Maryland order granting
her custody. As McNelis has no known legal standing to maintain custody of the children in Florida as no custody in that state has been established, Carrington is hopeful she can gain full custody of the children.
In fact, as New York no longer takes any claim to the case, and the only existing custodial orders are based in Maryland, Carrington may have a case to portray McNelis’ Florida runaway with the kids as a parental kidnapping.