Sunday, October 30, 2011

Obesity Fuels Custody Fights

The WSJ reports:
The nation's waistline is expanding, and so too is the role of obesity in child-custody battles in the U.S.

Family-law practitioners and legal experts say mothers and fathers in custody lawsuits are increasingly hurling accusations at each other about the nutrition and obesity of their children, largely in attempts to persuade judges that their kids are getting less-than-optimal care in the hands of ex- and soon-to-be-ex-spouses.

The evidence used to support the allegations varies. In some cases, it's a grossly overweight child. In others, it's evidence that soft drinks and potato chips make up a disproportionate part of a child's diet. In still others, it's that the other parent is too obese to perform basic child-rearing functions.

"It's come up quite a bit in the last couple of years," said Douglas Gardner, a family-law practitioner in Tempe, Ariz. "Typically, one parent is accusing the other of putting a child at risk of developing diabetes or heart disease -— or saying that the child is miserable because he's getting made fun of at school."

For judges in many states, the question of custody turns largely on one question: What is in the best interest of the child? Some states such as Pennsylvania recently altered their definition so that the criteria now clearly include the physical as well as the emotional well-being of the child.
So family courts are now regulating whether a kid can eat potato chips?!

As absurd as this is, it makes more sense than asking psychologists about the child's emotional well-being. At least the weight of a child can be objectively measured, and a parent with a potato chip court order will know how to comply with it.

In my case, the only complaints about me concern subjective opinions about the future emotional well-being of my kids. There is no substantiation of any of the complaints, and no way for me to comply with their silly parenting ideas.

I have no doubt that the family court would come to completely wrong conclusions
about food. The Sacramento Bee reports today:
Fast food alone cannot be blamed for high obesity rates among people with low incomes, according to a new UC Davis Center for Healthcare Policy and Research study.

The research calls into question stereotypes that have led some cities in Southern California to cite obesity when passing laws limiting or banning new fast-food restaurants in poorer communities.
It turns out that people making $60k/year eat more fast food than poor people. They have busier schedules, it appears.

If the court were really concerned about the best in terest of the child (BIOTCh), then of course that would include physical well-being, diet, exercise, athletic skills, and fat. These are all things that psychologists have no expertise in, and they should not be giving court-ordered opinions on the matter.

The next step should be to consider the intellectual well-being of the child. I had a CPS social worker claim that it was child abuse to teach math to a girl at above her grade level. The woman obviously knows nothing about development of a child's intellectual well-being.

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