Donna Dougherty Law P.C.

Controversial child custody ruling sparks national outrage

In each divorce case heard in every family law courtroom across the state of Virginia and the entire country, all child custody decisions are intended to account for the best interests of the children involved. Consequently, the judges who are typically responsible for establishing child custody arrangements not only weigh the wishes and concerns of each parent but also often consider the wishes of the children. That was not the case in one courtroom recently, and the actions of the presiding judge have led to public concerns and criticism.

A Facebook group was recently established to support the three children involved in the high-profile custody dispute, and petitions demanding that the judge presiding over the case be fired had reportedly gained thousands of signatures. Still, some legal experts argued that the judge acted within her legal rights.

The controversial child custody ruling was part of proceedings in a divorce case that has carried out for around six years, and involves claims of wrongdoing and dishonesty by each parent. The father in the case argued that his ex-wife was denying him access to his children, while she claimed that her ex-husband put the children in danger.

Ruling on custody arrangements for the three children involved, who range in ages from 9 to 15, the judge responded to the children’s refusal to visit their father by sentencing them to a juvenile detention facility for an undetermined amount of time. The judge claimed that the children were being defiant and had been influenced by their mother. The judge also instructed that the children should not see each other while in custody. The judge is scheduled to review the case in September.

Source: Huffington Post, “Judge Throws 3 Kids In Juvenile Center For Not Being Nice To Their Dad,” Kate Abbey-Lambertz, July 10, 2015

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