Matter of Stein (Stein) --
In a decision issued on September 23, 1999, the Second Judicial Department, Supreme Court (Queens Division) (Satterfield, J.) refused to confirm a Beis Din decision (arbitration award) dealing with issues of custody and visitation. The husband and wife who had submitted their dispute to the Beis Din also were parties in secular court, in an civil divorce proceeding commenced by the wife.
The court reaffirmed that arbitration "is an accepted method for dispute resolution, and . . . that most issues rendered by a Beth Din will be binding on the parties." However, citing the appellate court in Glauber v. Glauber, 192 A.D.2d 94, the lower court held that "[c]ustody of children, . . . is no longer the subject to arbitration based upon public policy . . ." which requires that courts -- not arbitrators or parents -- decide custody and visitation orders based upon the best interests of the child.
The court also noted that a condition precedent to confirmation of an arbitration award is adherence to all statutory safeguards mandated by New York's arbitration statute (absent the valid waiver of certain procedural safeguards). Here, however, the court found procedural irregularities -- including the failure off the Beis Din to abide by the New York arbitration law's requirement for an eight day "waiting period" between the appointment of the arbitrator and commencement of the hearing -- that also precluded confirmation of the Beis Din's arbitration award.
A copy of the Stein opinion may be obtained online on West's, at New York Law Journal Volume 222, Number 60.