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Thursday, April 07, 2005

Comments

Have you read the opinion? I don't think it's right to say that the court ignored the coaching. It considered it along with everything else in the record, and decided that although it was a close case, the mother was still likely to be the better custodial parent. (One big issue was that the father travels a lot on business, and so would be leaving the twins with their stepmother frequently. Given that the twins were conceived in his extramarital affair with the model/actress, who is a lot younger than his wife, the court wasn't sure the stepmother would really be motivated to take the best possible care of them.) Also, there was some evidence that the impetus for the coaching came largely from another adult who was living in the home, who is no longer there.

The point of a child custody decision is not to "punish" or "reward" either parent. It's to find the best place for the children. While coaching the children to make false accusations against the other parent is a powerful indicator that the coaching parent is likely to be less fit, there are no per se rules for custody determinations.

Elizabeth, I agree with most of your points. In fact, I was careful to point out that I wasn’t sure which of the two parents deserved custody. I certainly was not defending Alsyworth. And I agree that the courts shouldn’t regularly be in the business of punishing parents in custody cases.

Unless, as in this case, the lying is egregious or criminal. It seems to me that this sort of lying is a form of perjury that defames the father. As a guy in the workplace, I’m particularly sensitive to false allegations. While I know men who have been appropriately punished, I also have known men who have had their entire careers destroyed by facetious attacks. I don’t see much difference if such lies are spread through the workplace or in court in terms of the damage it causes.

If the courts are going to oversee child custody issues, they must uphold the law much they would in a civil or criminal case. Maybe Marks should still have gotten custody, but the courts should have punished her in some fashion for committing a crime of the court.

My concern is the precedent this case sets, which is equally detrimental to women as it is men. What if the father is the one lying, claiming the mother beat her children, to gain custody? When I write about an issue such as this, I try to look at it from both sides of the fence. If the guy was coaching his children to say that mom was beating them, I’d half expect to find him in prison – and rightfully so – the next morning.

On the other hand, I feel awful for the twins in this case. It sounds like neither parent is an award-winner. I told my wife that I wish we or one our blogger friends could take the kids in. We’d do a better job.

(By the way, I looked on www4.law.com for the case, but couldn’t find it. Maybe you could help me find a better resource?)

I found a link to the opinion on Blogging Baby - it's at http://www.shanahanlaw.com/Marks-Decision.pdf

Since the original case was in family court, I don't think that the court had jurisdiction to punish the mother. That doesn't mean that a prosecutor couldn't charge her with perjury in a separate action, or that the husband couldn't sue her for defamation. But the family court is only allowed to decide family law issues - child custody, child support, and property division, pretty much. (I am not a NY lawyer, so I'm not 100% certain of this, but that's how it works in my state.) Maybe it could impose some kind of contempt sanctions, but even that might be stretching it a bit.

Thanks for the link. This was an appellate court decision, so I thought they would have given more weight to perjury than the family court. But then, New York has always had a slightly different court structure than most of the states I've lived in. Maybe there is a family law branch of appellate court? Not sure.

I can't say this was a surprise since I live in New York state, and family court made a mess of my life too (fortunately it was just my life -- my ex and my daughter were spared). But it really seems the mother should not be allowed to get away with this without at least some mandatory parenting classes. If she doesn't understand the damage this type of "coaching" produces, she'll continue to do it.

I can't say this was a surprise since I live in New York state, and family court made a mess of my life too (fortunately it was just my life -- my ex and my daughter were spared). But it really seems the mother should not be allowed to get away with this without at least some mandatory parenting classes. If she doesn't understand the damage this type of "coaching" produces, she'll continue to do it.

Thanks for the welcome, Brett. I love your site & look forward to reading more.

The mother was required to have counseling.

The appellate court doesn't have any more jurisdiction than the court the appeal came from, Brett. The case could go all the way to the US Supreme Court, and they couldn't impose sanctions that the original court didn't have the power to impose.

Jeff: Thanks for the compliment.

Elizabeth: Well, I'm glad to hear she was required to have counseling. That is clearly needed. Dad should be required to get some counseling too. I do wish there was a stronger punishment for directly lying to the court, though.

You ended the moral of your story with "If you get divorced and your ex-spouse decides to lie about you in court, tough luck." The entire article was interesting, but proved to be pointless when I reached the end because in the Bridget Marks case, she did not lie about an ex-husband. His wife also did not lie about him.
The correct phrase would have been, "If you cheat on your spouse while you're married and your mistress (whom you knocked up) decides to lie about you in court, better luck next time."

Good point.

Female Court Witness's Names on the Internet
----------------------------------
Sexual Assault, Rape, Under Age Sex and Pimping

Every day a story comes up in the headlines about Underage Sex, Rape
and Pimping
where is the other side to the story? is the whole world full of just sick old men, praying on innocent young girls (16-18)

I see these stories in a diffrent way. I know 3 groups of girls who are
setting up guys and lying about their ages and working in strip clubs
part-time. when things go bad for them, they go to the police and cry rape
or abuse or hell even pimping type stuff. (no one puts the true out come in
the headlines when the case is done) when the case comes to court they
don't show up or the full scope of their past gets side stepped. If you look
you will see a pattern of the same girls going to court and crying rape
about every 10-24 months or so. the guy go's to jail and their back on the
streets in the same biz, soon to blame some new guys for the life style
they have picked out to stay with.

This has become a game for some young girls. (it has to stop!) The Internet is one great tool for change.
I feel a Black List of these Girls names should be posted on the internet with pictures and video's, to warn the public about them, and keep us safe too.

vote here
http://boards.aetv.com/poll.jspa?pollID=800000372

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