Friday, July 27, 2007

Use martial arts class to win custody

Prof. Volokh, an indignant law blogger, writes:
From what is otherwise a pretty standard "best interests of the child" analysis in a child custody case, Foster v. Waterman, 2007 WL 2119125 (Iowa App. July 25):
Harold argues that Anjela is a child of one-fourth of Korean heritage and it is important for her to be allowed maximum involvement with her heritage.
Seems to me that courts have no business deciding, whether in a child custody case or elsewhere, how much and what sort of a connection a child should have "with her ethnic heritage." ... And it's just zany for a court to view a parent's willingness to enroll the quarter-Korean child in a martial arts class as remotely relevant to the child's best interests.
So a white mom get custody of a 7-year-old quarter-Korean girl in part by promising to enroll her in a martial arts class!

Volokh doesn't do family court cases, or he might be outraged by how all the other child custody cases are decided as well.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Preparing for a Broken Home

James Andrew Miller writes in the NY Times:
Dividing up money and assets after a marriage falls apart can be a mess, but it's often nothing compared with the agony and emotional torment of a custody battle -- dividing up the children. Money is, after all, only money ...

Engaged couples should enter into a new kind of arrangement, ... With a custody schedule outlined before marriage, children could have a single structure for their new lives from the moment their parents separate. They would know where they will be and when, they wouldn't have to witness their parents arguing about the details, and they might not be subjected to custody evaluations or, worse, be required to testify in court.
It ought to be that the marriage itself guarantees that the parents will have joint custody of the children. But that is no longer true, and the state courts do not uphold custody agreements.

In my case, I had a written and signed custody agreement and parenting plan. Judge William Kelsay ignored it, and ordered a custody change based on nothing but his own personal prejudices. He did not even accept any testimony or evidence. After a custody trial proved that he acted in error, Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph ordered another change contrary to the outcome of the custody trial. It took another six months to prove that he was in error, and get back to what our agreement said in the first place.

I appreciate Miller's suggestion that parents try to anticipate parenting and child custody, but his comments are directed at the wrong people. It would take a change in the law to make marital agreements about children to be binding.

Here is how Judge Kelsay treats a fellow judge, in an unrelated matter:
In 2004, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge William Danser was convicted of eight misdemeanors in connection with a major scandal at his court house. In 2005, the California Commission of Judicial Performance found Danser had engaged in willful misconduct 32 times, and the following year he was convicted of a felony for fixing parking tickets for his friends and members of two street gangs. However, fellow Superior Court Judge William Kelsay later reduced Danser's felony conviction to a misdemeanor on the basis that the felony would hinder Danser from finding new employment.
I guess Kelsay figures that Danser can now legally answer No if a future employer asks him if he has ever been convicted of a felony. It seems dishonest to me.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Funeral Protester Charged in Flag Stomp

WashPost reports:
Omaha, Neb. -- A member of a Kansas group that has drawn criticism for protesting at soldiers' funerals was charged Thursday with misdemeanors after her son stomped on a U.S. flag during a demonstration last month.

Shirley Phelps-Roper, 49, of Topeka, Kan., was charged with negligent child abuse, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, flag mutilation and disturbing the peace.
That Kansas group is a bunch of kooks, but it is certainly not child abuse to let a minor stomp on a flag in a protest. It is legal to stomp on a flag. This just shows how the authorities can abuse these laws for political purposes.