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Child custody case over sports injury may go to trial

Football is among the most popular sports in the country, but with more studies showing neurological and cognitive damage that plague former players later in life, some parents are fearing the sport is too hazardous for their children. This has been a subject that has led an increasing number of divorced or separated parents to family court in a child custody battle. Typically, it is the mother who is more cautious about this subject, but one Pennsylvania father is now trying to keep his 17-year-old son from playing for his high school. The father is fighting for full custody rights to the boy.

The man and his ex-wife had three sons who all played football beginning at five years of age. Both parents enthusiastically cheered their sons as they played all through school, with the oldest son going on to play in college. However, their youngest son began having vision problems and headaches as a result of concussions, and the father wanted the boy to stop playing.

The mother saw no reason for her son to quit playing football as he had been medically cleared after each concussion. Even after her ex tried to get her to see his point of view, she expressed her own, stating not only was the boy being consistently monitored by the team coaches, he was old enough to know the dangers and risks and make up his own mind about continuing to play a sport he loved. Although the parents have been through mediation ordered by the court, they cannot come to a mutual agreement and may be headed toward a trial. The father worries that the process will be drawn out until the boy turns 18, and the father will no longer have any say in the protection of his son.

No matter the reasons for the child custody battle, it can cause considerable stress for the parents and the child. When a parent is rigid in his or her stance, he or she can lose sight of the best interest of the child. A Pennsylvania attorney can give the advice needed to establish a reasonable agreement.

Source: New York Times, "Football's Brain Injury Crisis Lands in Family Court", Ken Belson, Mar. 5, 2018

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