Friday, August 15, 2014

Child Custody And Religion Again

We've got another child custody and religion case from New York, about, at least ostensibly,  what should happen when one parent, but not the other, decides to "change horses mid-stream" in terms of the child's religious upbringing.  

A closer reading of the facts suggests that other facts played a much greater role in the decision than the religion issue did, and that the judge may have used the religion issue as a tie-breaker as between two fairly horrendous-sounding parents, to decide who was the "least bad" parent. 

The interesting question, when the hard facts are stripped away, however, is the extent to which a general presumption that "stability" is good for kids, (and good for kids of divorcing parents, and good for kids of high-conflict divorcing parents) should weigh against the right of parents, under the First Amendment, to change religions, if they want, as frequently as they change their socks.

 A (waterproof) hat tip to Doc Volokh at UCLA, with hopes that they get the campus dried back out before Fall Semester.

P.S.:  ...and this just in from Florida, again by way of Volokh:

a trial judge who restrained a Jehovah's Witness non-custodial father from doing "...anything in front of the children or around the children...” that “...conflicts with the Catholic religion...." (practiced by custodial mom) was reversed, the appeals court noting:  "While the mother’s concern that exposure to two different religions could confuse the children may be reasonable, neither that concern nor the evidence presented below established the requisite showing of harm to grant the mother ultimate religious decision-making authority for the children and to restrict the father..."

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Grandparent Custodial Rights

    Interesting read regarding grandparent rights.  The Court of Appeals upheld a Dependency Court order granting a grandmother visitation rights.  It’s a case right here in Los Angeles County involving DCFS.

Grandparent rights come up relatively regularly, but I don't believe that this case will necessarily significantly broaden the law that currently exist.  In the absence of DCFS involvement or a Dependency Court case (such as in this case), or the consent of the parents, grandparents typically have limited, if any custodial rights to their grandchildren.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Does Marriage "No Longer Work" For Most Americans?

Professors June Carbone and Naomi Cahn assert, in their Marriage Markets, that marriage is no longer a functional institution for many Americans, and that American children are bearing the brunt of that breakdown.    Thoughts, anyone?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Interference with Child Custody

  Maria Jose Carrascosa, 48, is a native of Spain and lived in Fort Lee, New Jersey. She had a child, a daughter, with Peter Innes while in New Jersey and the couple separated in 2004.  They signed a parenting agreement prohibiting either parent from taking the child out of the country without the consent of the other.  In 2005, while custody was still unresolved, Carrascosa took the child, then 4, to Spain.

    In 2006, the New Jersey Court ordered the child returned, but Carroscosa refused.  Carrascosa returned to New Jersey and was promptly arrested for contempt.  She has been in jail for the last five years.  The child, now 14, is still in Spain and has not been returned.

    Carroscosa was sentenced to 14 years in 2009, after being convicted of interference with custody.  She has recently been paroled but has not been set free yet.  Innis has not seen his daughter since she has been taken to Spain.  As the article states, until she returns the child to New Jersey, she is still in contempt and she can be placed back into prison.

    When there are court orders regarding custody, make sure to follow them.  When, as Carroscosa did here, one parent makes it difficult/impossible for the other parent to see their children, then this will certainly be taken into account when making future orders.  In California, this type of behavior, whether just restrictive gate-keeping parenting, or whether more extreme like this case, can serve as a basis for a modification or custody orders and even a change of custody entirely.  Judges want to see co-parenting, and in the absence of that, will award custody to the parent that they feel will encourage the relationship between the child and the other parent.  As always, you should consult an experienced family law attorney before making any major decisions regarding the children especially those that will impact the custodial time of the other parent.