Saturday, February 04, 2006

Awarding sole custody

In Brown v Yano, the father Yano lost custody of his son Cameron in 1999. His wife Brown was permanently awarded "sole legal and physical custody" of Cameron for reasons that the California supreme court summarized as follows:
The 1999 order included findings that: (1) Yana had not been honest or truthful with the court, his attorney, and others; (2) following a license suspension for driving under the influence, Yana drove without a license with Cameron in the car and put Cameron at risk of being taken into protective custody; and (3) Yana engaged in at least two other instances of unwise parenting.
These seem like extremely weak reasons to me. If Yana committed perjury, then he could be prosecuted for that. I wish they would prosecute perjury in the family. Apparently, the DAs just assume that everybody lies in family court.

Even stranger is the accusation that Yana lied to his attorney. There is no law against lying to one's attorney. The court would never even know unless the attorney backstabbed him. If Yano's lawyer claimed that Yano lied to him, then perhaps the lawyer should be disciplined or reprimanded for betraying a confidence, but it should not be used as an excuse for punishing the kids.

If the strongest of 3 examples of "unwise parenting" is merely that Yano drove with a suspended license, then he is probably a good parent. I've heard cops say that a quarter of traffic stops in California reveal some licensing problem. It is a minor infraction that would not have put his son at risk. I am shocked that a father could completely lose custody for such flimsy reasons, and the California supreme court would endorse it.

The 2004 appellate decision tells the story a little differently.

There could be more to the story about the father, but we also know in this case that the mother ultimately abandoned Cameron to the father after winning the case. It seems quite likely to me that Yano is a fit father who never should have lost custody.

No comments: