Sunday, February 26, 2006

Justifying legal fees

I was looking over my papers, and I found this where Judge Kelly lectured me on hiring a lawyer. He had just ordered me to pay $20,000 in attorney fees for Miss Jennifer Gray.
THE COURT: But I just encourage the two of you to try and put this money to your children rather than to the cost of litigation. But I can only encourage you. I can't go any further.

MR. AngryDad: well, yes, I hope so. From my point of view I see as long as I'm paying for her lawyer, this is going to go on forever.

THE COURT: Well, you might find it cost effective to hire your own counsel. If you don't have good skills let's say dealing with Miss Gray, your attorney might, you know. But that's your call. I tell a lot of couples that it is cost effective to get professionals involved on both sides because they can go right to the heart of the issue. They know what the law is. They know what the local tradition is on various issues, how things are going to resolve. Just like if you had a D.U.I., drunk driving arrest, you can defend yourself and do all the legal research. But you don't have the benefit of experience. An attorney can read that police report and tell you in five minutes what's going to happen on your case although it could be months away from resolution. But they just know from reviewing that, the data. This is a skill that you develop over time. I used to as a prosecutor could tell if I was going to get a conviction just from the jury panel came in, not even when I had my 12 people. Just looking around behind me I could I have a sense of where my case was going. But this comes from years of guessing wrong at times, and over time you get that experience. And it's – attorneys aren't cheap but on the other hand, they can do in ten minutes what it might take a private person a couple of months to do just because they have that experience they bring to bear. Any event ...

MR. AngryDad: Yeah, I understand that but major issue here that has been custody and custody is kind of not really a legal issue. It's your call based on, you know, whatever you think the best interests are and I could have hired lawyers. I really don't think it would have made a significant amount of difference on the custody issue.

THE COURT: custody issues, I think you're right. When you start getting into the financial stuff, there's a lot of law involved. There's a lot of number crunching. You can certainly help an attorney in terms of number crunching, but they can swiftly put together an equitable dissolution. And they've got the software. They've got everything to just plug in the numbers. That's an option anyway and I would encourage that. I'd like to see – the two of you are very both gifted, bright people. I’d rather you spent your energy in more productive areas. [May 13, 2005 transcript, p.25-26]
This was after Miss Gray burned $40,000 in legal fees in an attempt to win sole legal custody. So Judge Kelly was essentially acknowledging that her work was a big waste of money, but ordered me to pay half so that she could stay on the case and do some "number crunching".

Miss Gray stayed on the case a few more months, but she never did any number crunching. Any moron can plug numbers into a computer program. We don't need to pay $40k legal fees to plug numbers into a computer program.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Making prisoners pay

NY Times letter:
Perhaps the most frequent cost we confront at the Fortune Society with men returning from prison is child support. A man paying $400 a month in child support does not have a suspension of bills while incarcerated. If he is locked up five years, he will be faced with a bill of $24,000 accumulated during all the time he was locked up and had no income.
If a man has no money, then he should not have to pay.

SubGenius mom loses custody

A blog reports:
A Catholic judge took away from Rachel Bevilacqua custody of her son (which had previously been granted) based on pictures he saw of her, taken at a "Church of SubGenius" event called X-Day. The rationale was that, based on her participation in several pieces of "performance art," she was insane and unfit to be a mother. The child was, mind you, not present at this or any other X-Day event. ...

After the exhibits were entered, Judge James P. Punch announced that the images were "so disturbing" that he had to take a recess to compose himself. When he returned, he heard testimony from Jeff Jary and Rachel Bevilacqua. His Honor interrupted Jeff's lawyer to pose his own questions for Ms. Bevilacqua about the pictures, repeatedly asking "Why a goat?" and demanding that Rachel explain what was humorous in each of the photographs. Judge Punch became visibly angry and ended the hearing with a verbal outburst calling Ms. Bevilacqua a "pervert" and accusing the X-Day festival of being a venue for "sex orgies". He then ordered that Rachel Bevilacqua was to have no contact with her son from that moment on, not even in writing.
The story sounds wacky, but the judge should not be making custody decisions based on whether these goofy pictures are humorous or not.

Shared parenting proposed in NY

WorldNetDaily reports:
Hoping to change the overwhelming awarding of child custody to the mother in divorces cases, legislators in New York are trying to bring some equity to fathers living in the state with three bills that advocate "shared parenting."

A.330 in the New York State Assembly would guarantee "statutory presumption of joint custody" in divorce cases "so that both parents can continue to share in the responsibilities and duties of the children's upbringing."
Sounds good to me. The site has had more men's rights stories lately.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Amended minute order

I just got this in the mail:

HONORABLE Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph, presiding CLERK: Janet Garland ...

Counsel/parties address(es) the issues now before the Court. The matter is submitted.

FINDINGS AND ORDERS: The Court states its findings which include, but are not limited to, the following:

The motion on calendar is not really a motion for reconsideration.

The motion fails to comply with CCP 1008 requirements as there is no evidence of changed or new circumstance or fact or law.

Respondent is incorrect re statement that citiations were not given by the Court as Respondent was told to see In re Sheriton; the Court now includes Dacumos, Disteen and DeGeigne; the dividends argument is fallacious; the co-habitation issue is incorrectly stated as the dissomaster does allow input of funds received from the new spouse/significant other; a Writ is the appropriate instrument to be filed re Judge Kelsay's rulings and the same for Commissioner Joseph's rulings; all the rulings of the court have been based on the best interest of the minors; and the issue of attorney fees is improperly brought and the prior order for payment in the amount of $6,500 remains.

Respondent's motion is denied.

Either party is directed to prepare the order pursuant to Rule 391.
This doesn't make much sense to me. The clerk apparently amended the minute order, but I was never sent the original minute order so I don't know what the change is. It might have made sense for the clerk to include the proper case citations, but "Sheriton" is still mispelled. It refers to Judge Kelsay's rulings, but his rulings were not involved at all.

The statement is a little different from what Commissioner Joseph said in court, so perhaps he is trying to improve his rulings after the fact so that they will look better on appeal.

The statement is still extremely lame. The order should be giving justifications based on the law, not on "dissomaster does allow input". The dissomaster is a silly computer program that the judges are dependent on.

The minute order also claims that "all the rulings of the court have been based on the best interest of the minors". That is certainly false. Commissioner Joseph has been the acting family court judge for about 8 months now, and I have yet to see him base a ruling on the best interest of children.

Update: Just to clarify, this was a rejection of my motion for reconsideration. The Comm. Joseph had issued some non-guideline support orders in December. Under California law, he has to give a justification for deviating from guideline, but he said that I'd have to make a motion for reconsideration in order to get one. So this is his explanation.

My ex-wife's remaining monetary complaints will be heard at the trial on April 17.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Judge schedules a trial

My ex-wife presented some unresolved financial matters this morning, so Commissioner Joseph scheduled a trial on April 17 at 1:30. He suggested that we file a stipulation to account for her new job, but she would not cooperate.

The judge acknowledged that I had filed a notice of appeal, and said that made it necessary for me to provide my address to the court clerk. My address was on the top of the notice of appeal and on every other court filing, so that did not make any sense to me. I expected the judge to comment on how the appeal would affect the ongoing case, but he did not.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Notice of appeal

I just filed a Notice of Appeal with the court. The way I understand the law, litigants are supposed to wait until final judgment before appealing. However, the local family court never seems to make any final judgments. It issues various oral and written orders from time to time, but then it unpredictably goes back and changes those orders.

It cost $755 to file the notice. I hope the 6th District California Court of Appeal treats the statutes a little more seriously than the local family court.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Ex-wife makes new demands

My ex-wife just handed this to me:
Attachment B- to Status Conference Statement Family Law

Currently, Petitioner requests that the Court set a schedule for hearing the issues involving property division. The anticipated issues are the following:

A. Petitioner claims an interest in property acquired during marriage, including, the following:

1. The car she is driving (Subaru);

2. one half interest in the value of the appreciation in the residence that Petitioner and Respondent built during their marriage; and

3. one half interest in all patents that have been or will be issued to Respondent, the subject of which Respondent worked during the marriage.

B. Respondent will most likely claim that Petitioner is not entitled to anything acquired during marriage because she signed a Marital Settlement Agreement which he will claim gave away all of her interest in community property assets.

C. Respondent claims the "Marital Settlement Agreement" was invalid for the following reasons:

1. Signed under duress (evidenced by prior courtroom proceedings involving the children's safety while in Respondent's care);

2. Unconscionable and one sided;

3. Respondent did not disclose his net worth or the necessary information for Petitioner to make an informed decision;

4. This Marital Settlement Agrement was never presented to the Court, or incorporated into a Judgment therein. Had the Court seen this Agreement, and queried Petitioner about whether she was signing it under duress, she would have responded in the affirmative; and

5. If it is considered a valid contract, Respondent breached the Agreement.
Her only duress was her guilty feelings about leaving me for another man. Our status conference with the judge is on Wednesday.

I really don't see how her alleged duress has anything to do with the children's safety, but I guess she'll be explaining it to the court.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

High paternity fraud rate

WorldNetDaily reports:
WASHINGTON – More than three years ago, a Maine district court judge ruled that Geoffrey Fisher no longer had to pay child support for a child that wasn't his.

But that didn't stop the state from revoking Fisher's driver's license and coming after him for thousands of dollars it says he owes in back payments.

Last year, Maine sent Fisher, 35, a letter seeking $11,450 in child support, even though officials know that DNA tests proved he isn't the father of the child in question.
The article goes on to claim that paternity fraud rates could be as high as 30%. That seems improbable to me, but I don't know.

When I was in family court on Thursday, the case ahead of ours was a man who got tricked into admitting paternity and paying child support. He produced a DNA test that proved that he was not the father. The mother was there, and did not contest the result. He was relieved of making any more support payments. The mother was not prosecuted, and did not have refund any of her fraudulently-obtained money.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Shut out in court

The judge just ruled against me in court today.

I had filed a motion to reconsider some of Commissioner Irwin Joseph's earlier rulings, because they seem directly contrary to law and precedent. He had invited me to file a motion to reconsider if I thought that he was wrong, and that is what I did.

I asked for a statement of the decision so that I could appeal to a higher court.

One of my complaints was that he deviated from support guidelines under some theory that had no justification in the law. Today, he denied it. He said that he cited In re Marriage of Cheriton (Sept 2001) 92 Cal.App.4th 269, 111 CalRptr2d 755, to justify imputing income from investments.

This is partially true. At the last hearing, I challenged Judge Joseph to give some justification for what he was doing. He mumbled something about he thought that there was a case with a name something like "Sheraton". I couldn't find the case, and he didn't put it in written decision. Maybe it is my fault for looking under "S" instead of "C". I did find some other cases, but they didn't support Judge Joseph's decision.

Now that I have found "Marriage of Cheriton", I can see that it doesn't say what Judge Joseph implied at all.

We still have to go back to court next Wednesday so my ex-wife can report on her new job. She also asked for a court date so she can ask for more attorney fees for her ex-attorney, Jennifer Gray. Miss Gray was there in the courtroom, but not representing my ex-wife.

After Judge Joseph summarily rejected my motion, I asked if I could speak. I wanted to point out a couple of factual errors that he made. He said that unless I was going to thank him for reading the papers and giving a decision, he didn't want to hear it!

No, I didn't thank him for that, because I am not sure he read my papers. He didn't address any of my arguments, except to give the reference to the Cheriton case. It is not even clear when he expects me to pay the extra money, and how much.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

San Jose missing kids returned

San Jose news:
Two missing San Jose children who were allowed to roam their neighborhood unsupervised were found at a Milpitas shopping mall Monday, 24 hours after they left their East San Jose home with a story about going to the library. ...

After launching a massive hunt for the children, Santa Clara County sheriff's deputies found the 9-year-old girl and her brother, 8, at the Great Mall about 3 p.m. Monday and put the children and their two siblings in protective custody. The children's father had not reported them missing until midnight, seven hours after the library closed at 5 p.m.

"They're very active, very social, very smart kids -- they're firecrackers," the children's father, Brad Bishop, said in an interview shortly after they were found. Bishop said the children were often out late into the evening.

It is not clear where Erica and Cain spent the night, but neither child was the victim of foul play, sheriff's spokesman's Serg Palanov said. It appears they simply rode a light-rail train away from home for 24 hours of adventure. ...

Chief Assistant District Attorney Karyn Sinunu said she expected to receive a report on the incident. She said she did not know enough about the situation to say whether the parents could be charged with child endangerment. ...

When asked why the children and their 11-year-old brother and 5-year-old sister were being placed in protective custody, Palanov said, "Just the fact that they were allowed to be out that long at night -- although apparently without their parents' knowledge -- is very disturbing to us and we're looking into it as well, and that's one of the reasons they are being taken into protective custody." ...

The children -- described by Palanov as "a little sophisticated" and "astute" for their ages -- were apparently well acquainted with the light-rail system because they had ridden it with relatives.
I just listened to KGO talk show host Ronn Owens spend an hour complaining about this case. His complaints were: (1) that the kids did not have cell phones; (2) that the parents did not call police sooner; and (3) that the parents have not (yet) been charged.

A caller raised the obvious point that if we criminally prosecute parents of runaway kids, then parents will be reluctant to report their kids missing. Owens insisted that the parents' only concern should be getting their kids back, and that they should not worry about the consequences of notifying the police.

Well, these parents notified police, and as a result, they do not have their kids back. If they had kept their mouths shut, they would have their kids safely back at home. Next time, they won't call police.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Preparing for the evaluation

A reader writes:
To person requesting preparation for custody evaluation, I recommend two things. (For the record, the custody recommendation was for me to get 80%; I got 65% signed & entered into the record last week in CA, although the eval took 2 years, all told. I am also a dad, and angry too, despite getting off lucky.) First, find a lawyer who knows local evaluators--- the value a lawyer gives by knowing the people in the trade and what to expect from each far exceeds the value from their knowledge of the law. 2nd, there are two guides that evaluators use as manuals of how to do an evaluation. It is essential to read them dispassionately to get a real idea of what the evaluator looks for, which is very different from what a loving parent looks for. One of them is called Conducting child custody evaluations [by Philip M. Stahl]. I read about 10 books, from parenting to law to tirades, and that was the most useful by far.
The author of that book was on a list of court-approved psychological evaluators, but he is really based about 80 miles away and he is booked up months in advance. Having written a couple of books on custody evaluations, the courts treat him as if he has some expertise.

I am not sure that it would have helped me to have read that book, because my court-appointed custody evaluator didn't follow the recommended procedures. But that book does give useful insights into how some custody evaluators see their jobs.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Freedom isn't free

Michigan news:
GRAND RAPIDS -- After 13 years in prison, Larry Souter found out freedom isn't free: He owes $38,000 in back child support.

Never mind that the debt accumulated while he was locked up, wrongly convicted of murder.

Souter, 53, was ordered to court Wednesday to explain why he shouldn't be held in contempt. If the hearing had not been postponed, his answer was simple: He was in prison before his second-degree murder conviction was overturned late last year. Prison wages barely covered necessities. ...

In 1987, Souter was ordered to pay $100 a week in his divorce with Christine Souter. He stopped paying when he went to prison in 1992, but didn't ask to have payments suspended until 1995.

Court documents show that in 1997, he owed $23,000 in back support. As of last month, interest and penalties had pushed it to $38,082.25.

Federal law prohibits judges from retroactively wiping out such debts, Souter's attorney, John Smietanka, said. ...

His ex-wife's attorney, David Sarnacki, wrote in court records that she "has endured the substantial burden of raising her two children without defendant's contribution of child support."
Think about this story the next time you hear about some deadbeat dad. It may have been completely impossible for him to pay, and he will still get blamed.

In this case, the mom has enjoyed the luxury of her freedom, and sole custody of the kids. The dad has been rotting in prison for a crime he did not commit. And yet it is the mom who is complaining about her "substantial burden" and demanding money. The children are grown, and they will not benefit, even if the dad could pay. So this case is not about supporting children. It is about punitive anti-father laws. She will win, because of the Bradley Amendment. He could escape a bad murder conviction, but he cannot escape a bad support judgment.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Creating confusion

My ex-wife just said this to the court:
Due to the resulting massive legal costs from Mr. AngryDad's boldly unrelenting and litigious behavior, as his most recent motion for reconsideration exemplifies, I find myself unrepresented. I conservatively estimate that for every hour which Mr. AngryDad spends trying to create confusion, at least ten hours are spent by various individuals correcting the results.
This is ludicrous. I made every attempt to settle this outside of court. I even negotiated a marital settlement agreement with her. She got legal advice, and signed it. She is a lawyer herself.

Then, out of the blue, she hired Jennifer Gray as her lawyer for $40k and filed a motion for sole legal custody of our kids. She made an assortment of false claims in order to get custody and more money.

I didn't even make any counter-claims or motions. I just defended myself against her false charges. At all times, she refused to negotiate and vowed to punish me in court.

She did succeed in getting primary custody (and increased child support) for a year, but ultimately all of her legal attacks were fruitless. We are back to 50-50 custody, and the court rejected all of her allegations. Her whole legal effort has been one big waste of time and resources, and has made the kids suffer needlessly.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Yana, BIOTC, and move-aways

Here is another excerpt from Brown v Yana, mentioned below. The father (Yana) tried to comply with silly California precedents requiring him to show that the move-away would be detrimental. The California supreme court said:
Yana merely offered to produce "a lot of evidence about Las Vegas, Nevada, such as the high student-to-teacher ratio; the fact that the state of Nevada has one of the highest dropout rates in junior high and high school of any state in the nation; the amount of crime over there; the volume of people moving in and out of the community of Las Vegas, Nevada, and what the transient effect has upon people in that community." Like the trial court, we conclude this was insufficient to justify an evidentiary hearing given the record as a whole. ... such evidence did not suggest that Cameron could not or would not thrive in the new location with his mother, stepfather, and two half siblings.
One would think that there would be some obvious detriment to separating a boy from his father and his friends. The court doesn't accept that, so Yana tried to give objective measures. The court didn't accept that either. The court said:
The trial court enjoys "wide discretion" ... That is, a reviewing court generally will leave it to the trial court to assess the detrimental impact of a proposed move in light of other relevant factors in determining what is in the best interest of the child. [emphasis added]
As usual, the Best Interest Of The Child (BIOTC) is just a smokescreen. The court keeps saying that it is the deciding factor, but whenever BIOTC evidence is presented, the court just refuses to look at it. The court shuts the father out of the child's life altogether, and does not do any BIOTC analysis at all.

This case did have a happy ending, and the boy is now living with his father. I wonder what the Supreme court judges will think when they read about their decision in the newspaper. They will learn that the father had a rock-solid case, that the court was cruel and idiotic, that they have set a dangerous precedent, and that the boy had to take matters into his own hands in order to undo the damage that the court had done.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

No limit on proving paternity in Ohio

Ohio news:
The Ohio Supreme Court upheld a state law Wednesday that gives men unlimited time to use DNA proof that they are not biological fathers, which means they could stop paying child support.

Previously, men had one year to challenge support orders with DNA. The law removing the time limit, enacted by the General Assembly in 2000, was challenged by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutors Office.

Thousands of the 685,000 child support orders in Ohio could be overturned, sending mothers and child support enforcement agencies searching for the real fathers. ...

Former State Rep. Peter Lawson Jones, a Shaker Heights Democrat, sponsored the bill five years ago.

"I feel great," he said Wednesday, after learning of the Supreme Court's unanimous ruling. "No man should be forced to pay for children that are not his. It's just pure, unadulterated common sense."

It's not that simple, said Gallagher and her colleague Timothy Spackman.

The law doesn't allow judges to consider the overriding concern in Juvenile and Domestic Relations courts -- the best interests of children, they said.

"I've been involved in a case where the boy was a Junior," Gallagher said. "It's heartbreaking. It's to hell with the kids.' "

Spackman added: "I've been involved in cases where teenage kids ended up in psychiatric hospitals" after they learned the man they called dad was not their biological father.
Heartbreaking? Maybe so, but why blame the man who is not even the father. It is the mother who betrays her husband, is sexually unfaithful, lies to her man and her child, and finally commits paternity fraud by falsely claiming that she knows the man to be the father and suing him for a quarter of his income. It is the mother who should be jailed.

Florida is more typical:
Florida's paternity law requires men to obey the original court orders. Fathers must be current on their support payments before they are eligible to have them lifted with a DNA test of non-paternity. There are no refunds.
So if the man doesn't pay because he can prove his innocense, then Florida makes him pay anyway. If the mother commits paternity fraud, then she gets to keep whatever she can collect.

Justifying child support

A reader writes:
Hey George, what I don't understand is why if you have 50/50 custody of the kids, and you both have jobs, and she is living with another man who takes care of her and the kids and is about to get married, why do you still have to pay child support?
I have gotten this question from others. People think that child support is based on the necessity of supporting the child, so there is no need for it if both parents are self-sufficient and equally sharing custody.

In fact, what is called "child support" is not really child support at all. It is an alimony system for equalizing the incomes of the parents, regardless of the needs of the child. The parents can spend the support money however they please, and it need not be spent on the children.

I know of a case where both parents are millionares, and yet the father still pays child support. The family court follows formulas applied to both incomes. If the custody if 50-50, then the parent with the larger income will always be ordered to pay the parent with the smaller income, if the latter parent demands it.

Yes, this system is absurd. If the parents are both making middle class salaries and sharing custody, then there should be no child support. That is the way it is in amicable divorces that I know. Court-ordered support payments make cooperation on child-rearing issues difficult.

I think that my ex-wife is doing this all out of spite. I was paying her generously before she went to court, and she does not need the money.

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.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Ex-wife gets a job

My ex-wife just notified me that she got a full-time job as an attorney, starting Monday. She said that she will accept slightly reduced child support, starting on March 1.

Her gross pay is less than what she was asking me to pay her lawyer. I guess she must have found some poorly-paid area of law. One benefit might be that she'll have less time to cause trouble for me and the kids.

California high court favors move-aways

LA Times reports:
SAN FRANCISCO — The California Supreme Court on Thursday shifted the balance in fights between divorced parents with a ruling that eases the way for a parent with custody — usually the mother — to move away over her former mate's objections. ...

The high court disagreed, in Brown vs. Yana. The court ruled that a parent who lacks custody, usually the father, would have to show that the move would harm the child before he would be granted a hearing.

A hearing "in a move-away situation should be held only if necessary," Justice Marvin Baxter wrote for the unanimous court.

A trial court may deny a hearing if "the noncustodial parent's allegation or showing of detriment to the child is insubstantial in light of all the circumstances presented in the case," Baxter said. ...

Thursday's decision will not affect Cameron's current custody arrangement. After moving to Nevada with his mother, Cameron decided he would prefer to be with his father, and his mother eventually allowed the child to live with Yana in Santa Maria.

At a court hearing in November, "the boy testified unequivocally how unhappy he was with his stepfather and his mother," Helbert said. "He wasn't doing well in Las Vegas."

At one point, the boy refused to board a plane to return to his mother, the lawyer said.
The Frisco paper says:
The unanimous ruling overturned an appeals court's decision that a judge must always hold a trial-type hearing, with each side calling witnesses and presenting evidence, whenever one ex-spouse challenges another's decision to take their child to a new location.

In a series of decisions since 1996, the court has set guidelines for "move-away" cases, allowing the parent with primary custody of the child to relocate but giving the other parent the right to seek a change in custody or visitation rights. The parent without custody must show that the move would harm the child and that a new arrangement would be in the child's best interests.

Thursday's ruling presents a new challenge to the parent contesting the move: coming up with enough evidence of likely damage to the child to convince a family court judge that the couple, expert witnesses and perhaps the child should be called into court to testify.

Without such a hearing, there is little chance that the judge would interfere with the move.
The case is Brown vs. Yana. [pdf doc] I'll have to find it and read it, because it sounds bad.

From the above account, it should have been obvious to anyone that moving the boy away from his dad was going to bad, and yet the dad could not even get a hearing. Furthermore, the court has gone out of its way to try to block such hearings in the future.