An unmarried Queens dad whose kids were allegedly whisked off to California by their mom against his wishes says New York’s virus-shuttered Family Court has failed him.
“I want to be heard,” said Juan Miranda, 32, who says he hasn’t seen his two sons since mid-June, after their mom abruptly bolted Astoria, relocating to California in search of work.
Closures from coronavirus have wreaked havoc in courts across the city and state, including in Family Court, which deals with domestic disputes and child custody issues.
If Miranda and his former high school sweetheart had been married and divorced, the dad could have brought his case to state Supreme Court, which started taking new cases on May 25.
But the couple never got hitched, leaving Family Court — which has yet to begin hearing new cases, even as the rest of the court system slowly comes back to life — as the only place for Miranda to turn when his ex left with the kids, said his lawyer, Steven Gilden.
Miranda sued the city and state in Queens Supreme Court in a bid to have new cases like his heard.
In his July 7 court papers, he slammed Family Court’s refusal to take on fresh complaints as “rampant institutional discrimination against parents who simpl[y] just happen not to be married to each other.”
“It doesn’t make any sense,” said Gilden. “They chose to open a court for these cases where not everybody can go.”
A court spokesman confirmed Family Court is only dealing with pending or already filed cases, and declined comment on the litigation.
Miranda, a line cook at a Manhattan restaurant, had seen his sons, Damian, 15, and Allen, 11, two days a week since 2017 and had them full time for six weeks in April and May while their mom battled COVID-19 symptoms, he said.
“I would teach them how to cook,” he said. “We would make scrambled eggs. We made burgers and meatballs and spaghetti from scratch. During the six weeks they were here their grades went up dramatically.”
Their mom allegedly ignored his pleas not to take the boys, with whom he texts daily, said Miranda. He says the two are now staying in a cramped Airbnb.
“I can’t eat, sleep. I’m just thinking about my kids,” he said.
The mom could not be reached for comment.
By Kathianne Boniello