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 ...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.
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.
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.