Divorce judge says 'hero' Giuliani did not spend enough time with children

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The Independent US

New York's former mayor Rudolph Giuliani may be a hero to his city, to his country and to most of the world – but not to the judge who is handling his divorce case.

In a ruling this week, Judge Judith Gische denied Mr Giuliani joint custody of his 15-year-old son Andrew and ordered that neither the boy nor his sister Caroline, 12, be allowed to make overnight visits with their father if his partner, Judith Nathan, is there.

Basically, Judge Gische argued, the former mayor had been too busy with his job, particularly after the terrorist attacks of 11 September, to tend to his family duties.

"During the eight years he was in office, and more profoundly in the last four months, his pressing public obligations limited the time he had to spend with his children." Andrew and Caroline, she wrote, "need to establish a new routine of time spent with their father without competing for his attention".

As matters stood, they did not have a "comfortable familiar relationship" with Ms Nathan. They were not psychologically ready to have overnight stays when she was in the house, "and it is unclear exactly when they will be ready," the judge ruled.

Mr Giuliani therefore will have the same visitation rights as before: every other weekend, and separate midweek dinners with each child.

The judgment, and the reactions of the interested parties to it, do not bode well for the divorce case itself, which begins on 5 June.

While Mr Giuliani's estranged wife, Donna Hanover, welcomed the decision, his own lawyer attacked it as "just plain inaccurate.

"He has been to every one of these children's events except one since 11 September," he said. "Very few fathers in New York could match that record." He indicated he would appeal the ruling.

In the meantime, the former mayor and Ms Hanover have failed to reach a deal of their own on custody.

In fact, as the judge noted, "child-related disputes have only intensified," and "the court no longer has any reason to be optimistic".

The court is appointing a mental health professional to make the final decision on permanent custody.

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