It has been said that divorce can bring out the worst in people. That may pale in comparison to what can happen in some child custody disputes. Pennsylvania fans of "Dr. 90210" may remember Dr. Brian Evans, a plastic surgeon, and Dr. Susan Evans, a dermatologist. The two doctors have been involved in a child custody dispute to modify their current custody arrangement that has recently intensified.
Under certain circumstances, such as the death of a child's parents, it will be up to the Pennsylvania courts to determine what will happen to that child. In the absence of another parent, the child's grandparents are normally the next relative that can petition for custody. As things stand now, other relatives such as aunts and uncles do not have the right to petition for child custody except under specific circumstances.
A woman in Pennsylvania successfully rescued her child from another country after he had been missing for about 20 months. Her son had been kidnapped in 2011 by his father. The couple was divorced, and he illegally attempted to gained child custody. After utilizing $100,000 to seek her son, she finally has him back home. The ex-husband is currently wanted by federal authorities for forgery.
Few Pennsylvania readers would argue that the world seems a smaller place in 2013. Sometimes, a parent might try and use that to his or her advantage when confronting issues over child custody. We have written several articles over the past year about international custody disputes, and the attempts of parents in the United States to retrieve their children from abroad. A recent story making national news concerns the plight of two parents who fled from the United States with their two children in the face of an adverse child custody order.
Pennsylvania readers may be interested to learn that the head of a grandparents' rights association from a southern state has been using his personal experience as motivation to seek changes in child custody proceedings across the country. He raised his two grandchildren, along with his wife, since shortly after the kids were born. However, that all changed in 2010, when his state's Department of Social Services stepped in and removed the children, claiming that the man and his wife were too old and medically unfit to continue to raise them. The experience turned him into a spokesman for grandparents' rights.
Pennsylvania readers may recall that, last December, we wrote about the ongoing divorce battle between former NFL great Deion Sanders and his now former wife, Pilar ("Deion Sanders divorce: Pilar fights for child support, annulment," Dec. 12). The court battle between the two has continued for months and recently resulted in a trial over child custody issues. Both Deion and Pilar sought sole custody of their three children, and the issues were recently tried before a jury of 12 men and women.
Marijuana use is currently a hot topic in the United States. Though Pennsylvania has not yet followed suit, a number of states have approved the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. One western state recently approved use of the drug for both medicinal and non-medicinal use. That action has prompted some to question how passage of the Amendment will affect child custody litigation within the state.
Pennsylvania parents confronting international child custody issues may be interested in a federal trial just underway in a northeastern state. The child custody dispute got its start in 2006 when a Turkish court granted a divorce to a father and also awarded him custody of the two young children of the marriage. The mother, an American citizen, subsequently took the daughters and left the country, enlisting the help of a mercenary to whom her parents paid $70,000. After several years in hiding, she was granted the opportunity to return to the United States with the children and has since lived here with them.
When it comes to the rights of fathers toward their children, the American court system sadly lags behind the shift that has taken place within our society. Fathers have become far more involved in the lives of their children in recent decades, and many shoulder as much or more of the responsibilities of childrearing than their wives. However, Pennsylvania fathers still face considerable challenges within the legal system in child custody cases. The recent court victory of one father reminds all others of the need to protect one's legal interests in relation to their children.
Modern technology has made its impact on divorce and child custody in Pennsylvania. The seminal movie about child custody from the 1970s, Kramer vs. Kramer, portrayed the struggles of parents in an environment where the mother was typically awarded child custody, and the father was relegated to weekend walks in the park and ice cream cones. Now, courts across the country are more focused on meaningful shared custody. Such an arrangement virtually compels parents to remain in communication, even if they are less than enthusiastic about doing so.