Monday, August 25, 2014

Exercising Self-Help in Custody Cases

    Kathleen Aubain is in the Oneida County Jail in New York for violating a court order.  Aubain has a two and a half year old daughter, Isabellah Rose Campos with Eric Campos.  All three were living in Arizona.  Campos has custody of Isabellah. Aubain’s mother says the only reason Campos has custody is because Aubain didn’t bring Isabellah back to him at the end of her custodial time.

    Aubain then left the state of Arizona and fled, with Isabellah, to Utica, New York.  She didn’t have permission to leave Arizona.  She has been arrested and is currently in jail.  She is refusing to tell authorities where Isabellah is or who is caring for her.  Aubain claims that she is protecting Isabellah who she believes is being abused by Campos.  The Arizona social worker determined that the police investigator who examined Isabellah found the bruising to be consistent with Campos’ account that the child’s five-point safety harness used while riding a Rhino vehicle on rough terrain in the desert caused the bruising.

    I have said it before.  Do not exercise self help.  Do not defy a court order.  If you feel like there is something happening, such as abuse, notify the proper authorities, and make a request through the court.  Exercising self help is a good way to lose custody.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Child Custody And Religion (Again): What Should Happen When One Parent Converts?

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.