Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Why "Self Help" In Child Custody Cases Is a Bad Idea

    Kelly Cooney, 35 of Lee’s Summit, Missouri has been charged, in Iowa with conspiracy to commit first degree burglary, conspiracy to go armed with intent, and child endangerment.  Kevin Carter, 50, from Raytown, Missouri has also been charged, in Iowa, with first degree burglary, going armed with intent, assault while causing serious injury and carrying weapons.

    Apparently, Cooney and Carter broke into the house of Cooney’s son’s father.  Carter used a stun gun on the father while he was holding the child and Cooney took the child from the father.  Cooney and Carter attempted to flee with the child.  The ex-husband of a neighbor saw what happened and had a valid weapon permit.  He retrieved his gun and fired several shots to deflate the tires of the Cooney and Carter’s vehicle.

    Cooney and Carter are being held in Boone County Jail in Iowa.

    There are some reported custody issues between Cooney and the boy’s father.  It is unclear whether there are existing orders, or whether there are legal proceedings in Missouri or Iowa.

    There are limited, if any, instances in which exercising self help in a family law matter is appropriate.  Even if one party may not be doing anything technically against any rules, self help typically implies a lack of communication and cooperation.  Using the example from above, even though it’s an extreme one, let’s assume there were no custody orders in place and there wasn’t even a case filed.  It would be true that the father had no more custodial rights to the child than Cooney.  Even if she is a perfectly competent mother, she would be hard pressed to find a judge that would be able to overlook the facts (assuming they are true), that she broke into the house, used a stun gun on the child's father, then tried to forcibly remove the child from the father.  At this point, she may be hard pressed to find a judge that will give her anything other than monitored visitation with her child, and that’s after she’s released from jail.

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