Tag: child custody disputes

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.

New York Judge Orders Child Vaccinated Over Parent’s Objection

More news on child custody and vaccines as a family judge in New York orders an 11-year-old child to get vaccinated against COVID over a parent’s objection. It is a surprising child custody dispute over vaccination between a child’s lawyer/mother and scientist/father.

Child Custody Vaccination

Start Spreading the News

Donald and Jeannie Figer were divorced in 2012. Their divorce did not end the controversy. The mother, Jeannie Figer, is a lawyer in Rochester and her ex-husband, Donald Figer, is reported to be a scientist and professor at Rochester Institute of Technology. Their dispute? Must their child be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The recent decision comes out as the highly transmissible Omicron variant is quickly taking over. New York is becoming known as a state with some of the strongest vaccine mandates. While New York only encourages children to get vaccinates, New York City just expanded its COVID-19 mandates, setting vaccine requirements for children as young as 5 years old, and for workers at all private companies.

The father, who has himself been vaccinated, didn’t want them to rush the shot for his daughter as there were not any studies conducted on long-term side effects of the vaccine on kids, court papers say.

But Monroe County Supreme Court Judge Richard Dollinger ruled that time is of the essence in getting the 11-year-old vaccinated against the virus, and sided with Jeannie, who works as an attorney.

‘”Waiting — to be ‘sure,’ as the father asks — is simply untenable, when the specter of a killing or incapacitating disease is swirling in the environment surrounding this young girl. Scientists may never catch up to this ever-evolving and elusive virus and variants.”

The judge ordered the mother to get her daughter a vaccination appointment as soon as possible. It is unclear if the girl has since had the shot.

Florida Child Vaccinations

I’ve written about the injection of vaccines into Florida child custody cases before. In Florida, the prevailing standard for determining “custody” is a concept call shared parental responsibility, or sole parental responsibility. Generally, shared parental responsibility is a relationship ordered by a court in which both parents retain their full parental rights and responsibilities.

Under shared parental responsibility, parents are required to confer with each other and jointly make major decisions affecting the welfare of their child. In Florida, shared parental responsibility is the preferred relationship between parents when a marriage or a relationship ends. In fact, courts are instructed to order parents to share parental responsibility of a child unless it would be detrimental to the child.

Issues relating to a child’s physical health and medical treatment, including the decision to vaccinate against COVID-19, are major decisions affecting the welfare of a child. When parents cannot agree, the dispute is resolved in court.

At the trial, the test applied is the best interests of the child. Determining the best interests of a child is no longer entirely subjective. Instead, the decision is based on an evaluation of certain factors affecting the welfare and interests of the child and the circumstances of the child’s family.

In Florida, a court can carve out an exception to shared parental responsibility, giving one parent “ultimate authority” to make decisions, such as the responsibility for deciding on vaccinations.

The decision to vaccinate raises interesting family law issues. It is important to know what your rights and responsibilities are in Florida and other states.

New York State of Mind

Judge Dollinger noted that Monroe County – where the child lives – has the second-highest rolling seven-day average of new cases per day since November 22nd. Many speculate the judge also worried about the rising Omicron variant of the virus, and an uptick of cases locally in upstate New York.

Judge Dollinger himself noted that he was confused about to why:

“an accomplished scientist and professor would oppose a child vaccine authorized by the CDC and universally encouraged by state and local physicians and other health officials.”

Jeannie Figer pointed out that both she, Donald, and their 19 and 17-year-old daughters have already been vaccinated and wanted the 11-year-old to join them. The ruling adds that the girl’s doctor has also recommended the vaccination.

Judge Dollinger also found that the risks of side effects from the vaccine are lesser than what would happen if she tested positive for virus, including spreading it to others.

‘”This court is unwilling to kick this can down the road,. ‘It could be years before any researchers have exacting accounts of either the short or long term consequences of the administration of this vaccine on 11-year-old girls with this child’s physiological makeup.'”

The Centers for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices in November unanimously voted 14-0 to recommend the Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid pediatric vaccine dose for five to 11-year-olds. Over 700 children in the U.S. have died of COVID, but many American parents have cited the relatively low risk COVID poses to children as reason to hold off on vaccinating younger children.

The MSN article is here.