Thursday, March 03, 2005

Court can alter visitation to punish parent

John sends this Boston article
The [Mass.] state Supreme Court has upheld a judge's decision to award a father more child visitation because his ex-wife had interfered with his previous visitation schedule. ...

Writing for the high court majority, Associate Justice Linda Dalianis said that while judges must consider the children's best interests when awarding or modifying custody, they do not have to rule on the children's interests when changing visitation. ...

Chief Justice John Broderick disagreed, saying the children's best interests should always be front and center. He said he saw "no meaningful difference" between changes in custody and visitation that would have allowed the family court judge to ignore that issue.

"Children have independent interests in divorce proceedings and may not be used as pawns to punish a non-cooperative parent," he wrote.
This exposes one of the dirty little secrets of the family court. They are supposed to be acting in the best interests of the children, but they routinely withhold child custody and visitation rights in order to punish parents for alleged sins.

The common examples involve domestic violence. If a man beat his wife, and they are now divorced, then it is not clear that the issue has anything to do with the children at all. And yet the courts routinely punish the children by denying them contact with their fathers.

If the father is a threat to the mother, then we have more than enough laws for dealing with the problem. It is very easy for the mother to get a restraining order, and to enforce it. But when the court uses the issue to punish a parent, then it is punishing the children as well, and not acting in their best interests.

No comments: