Child Custody and Trial by Combat

While most issues in child custody cases are settled, those which are not are decided in a bench trial – a trial presided over by a judge. Family cases are not generally tried by jury. One man, however, asked for a seldom seen alternative resolution for his case: trial by combat.

Child custody trial

Child Custody but with Honor

The father, in a motion he filed in court, asked the presiding family judge to allow him to fight his former wife and her attorney in a duel, so he can “rend their souls” from their bodies.

The father also asked the court to give him 12 weeks “lead time” in order to buy or forge two Samurai swords. The father wanted help resolving his dispute of reasonable telephone and video communication with the children. The father also asked for money from his ex-wife to pay for property taxes of their former house.

“Trial by combat was still regarded as a legitimate method for dispute resolution when the Constitution was ratified by the United States and by the original 13 colonies. To this day, trial by combat has never been explicitly banned or restricted as a right in these United States.”

Court records in the case since the parties’ initial filing are filled with assertions by the father that his communication with the children is lacking when the children are with his ex-wife, who has primary physical care.

When asked, the father told the Des Moines Register that he got the idea after reading about a 2016 case in New York. Apparently, New York Supreme Court Justice, Philip G. Minardo, acknowledged in an order that, in theory, the court had the power to permit a trial by combat.

The New York Supreme Court considered the issue after a Staten Island lawyer asked the judge to authorize trial by combat. The request for trial by combat was sought to resolve a civil suit for damages. The movant felt trial by combat would clear the lawyer’s good name, after the lawyer was accused of helping a client fraudulently transfer assets.

Florida Child Custody

I’ve written about child custody before – especially about problems parents were having during the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Unlike Iowa for example, Florida does not use the term “custody” anymore. Florida has the parenting plan concept. For purposes of establishing a parenting plan, the best interest of the child is the primary consideration.

In Florida, the best interests of the child are determined by evaluating all of the factors affecting the welfare and interests of the particular minor child and the circumstances of that family, including the mental and physical health of the parents.

Some of those factors include the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required, and of course, the mental and physical health of the parents. None of the statutory factors involve Samurai swords.

Till Death Do Us Part

In what can only be described as a shameful day for the entire legal profession, the ex-wife’s attorney chickened out:

“Although the respondent and potential combatant do have souls to be rended, they respectfully request that the court not order this done. We humbly request the court deny this motion, as the potentially life-ending ramifications surely outweigh the severity of the petitioner’s proposed legal remedy of trying to avoid responsibility for property taxes and to acquire additional telephonic communication.”

The family judge was not amused, temporarily suspended the father’s visitation, and ordered a psychological evaluation.

The evaluation determined he is not troubled, but has “adjustment disorder with mixed emotional features,” the father told he Des Moines Register. “It essentially says I’m not crazy, I just don’t like being denied access to my children,” he said.

The Des Moines Register article is here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.