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Old 09-19-2013, 03:02 PM   #1
doglover
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Default "Custody Suit" was not realistic

I am a family law attorney, and this was not realistic. Now, I will say that I do not practice in California so I am not familiar with family law there. And, things could have significantly changed since the early 1980s. Still, based on what I know, this episode was not realistic. Had I been the Chief's lawyer, I would have immediately filed a Motion to Dismiss and asked for attorney fees from the aunt. She had no grounds to take the kids. The Chief's attorney told him that if the judge believed one word of what the aunt said, that he would never see his kids again. I nearly fell out of my chair! That is not correct. In order to take the kids from the Chief, the aunt would have to prove that he is an unfit father.

"Unfit" means severe neglect, abuse, not taking care of the kids, and/or being a danger to the kids. None of these things were true. And, the test if not comparative. Even if the aunt had been able to prove that she could provide better for the kids, it still wouldn't have been enough. A parent has a fundamental, constitutional right to their kids, and unless they are unfit the parent will always prevail. Between two parents, the test is best interests of the child. Between a parent and a non-parent, the test is fitness and harm to the child. The aunt's attorney asking the Chief about time spent with his kids and implying that he was an absent father would have been questioning you would see in a fight between two parents in a custody battle.

The aunt's rights were *not* equal to the Chief's. His were constitutional. Hers were statutory at best. The Chief said his lawyer was the best. No he wasn't, LOL. His lawyer never spoke in court. It was Nell who won the case. And that's another thing. No way would a judge allow a scene like that to take place in his courtroom. He would have told Nell and the aunt to shut up. Proving a parent unfit is a significantly high burden to meet. The aunt didn't have a leg to stand on. Also, the court generally will take a child's preference into consideration if the child is 12 or older. All three girls were over 12 so they would have been able to express their opinion.

Sorry, I'm sure eveyone loved reading a brief overview of family law, but I just had to point out how badly done this episode was. If they wanted to do this one, they should have had the aunt bring up things that might have made the Chief seem unfit. I don't know what it would have been though. He made sure his kids were cared for by Nell when he was working. They had what they needed, were going to school, and were generally well-adjusted. I suppose the aunt could have pointed out the occasional spanking, but I can tell you for sure that it wouldn't work now, much less in the early 1980s. Courts still today like to let parents raise their kids as they see fit.
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Old 09-20-2013, 07:31 AM   #2
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I agree with you 100% and I'm not a lawyer. To me it was common sense just with the age of the girls alone, she had no leg to stand on! It was nothing short of a frivalous lawsuit and should have been tossed out before it was even heard.
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Old 10-09-2013, 08:02 PM   #3
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i agree with both of you i watched the ep on dvd yesterday and any judge would have laughed the aunt right out of the courtroom with that lawsuit
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