All too often, the divorced parents of minor children behave at a maturity level lower than their children. Custodial and non-custodial, female and male parents can be guilty of this behavior, and finding the right way to deal with these situations if often extraordinarily difficult. Usually the parent or parents are so caught up in their own little lives they forget that the guiding principle is supposed to be the best interest of the children. A convenient way to illustrate what I am talking about is to give examples from my experience:
Exhibit A: A father of Lebanese extraction wanted to take his young son to visit the home he grew up in just outside of Beirut, Lebanon. He and his parents were really pushing hard for this. At the time, there was a war going on in Lebanon and Beirut was the scene of violent bombing and artillery attacks. On behalf of the mother I filed a petition to restrict the father (the non-custodial parent) from taking the child outside the State of Georgia. The judge laughed when the father’s lawyer declared that it was in the best interests of the child to go with his father. He compared it with taking a child for visitation to Berlin in April 1945. The result was an Order that provided that the father post a cash bond in the sum of one million dollars with the Court before taking the child outside the State of Georgia. He also restricted possession of the passport to the child’s mother. My client and her son never heard from the child’s father again.
A lesson to be drawn from this example is that sometimes it is best to be proactive and seek a court’s help before the damage is done.
Exhibit B: This is recent. Prior to the Paris ISIS attack the divorced father (non-custodial parent) had scheduled a trip to Paris and London with his daughter with the mother’s consent. After the Paris attacks the mother told the father that a trip to Paris and London was too dangerous and withdrew her consent. The father said he agreed and would take his daughter to visit his parents. In fact, he lied to his former wife and induced his daughter not to tell her mother the truth. While the mother thought her daughter was visiting her former in-laws, one week after the Paris attack the eleven year old girl was with her father in Paris. The mother learned of this only when her ex-husband and daughter returned to the United States. The father told his daughter not to tell her mother about any of this and to conceal the pictures she took. Needless to say, the moment the young girl saw her mother she told her everything and exhibited signs of the stress she had been under.
The father’s duplicitous behavior, especially his willingness to expose his daughter to danger recognized by the whole world, and to lie to her mother is worthy of severe sanctions. A case can be made for requiring the father to undergo a psychiatric examination and to restrict his visitation to supervised visitation. A serious question exists whether his continued relationship with his daughter is in her best interests.
Exhibit C: A non-custodial father took his son, without consent from his ex-wife, to Europe. He used falsified documents to do this. He told her by email he would not return and she would never see her son again. I obtained an ex parte order giving my client sole custody and ordering the child to be returned to this country instanter (right now). With that Order my client flew to Europe after hiring a lawyer in Prague, the Czech Republic, where she had good reason to believe her former husband was staying with her son. The lawyer and a private investigator found him with the child and forcibly took custody of him. While doing so the investigator did some serious bodily damage to the ex-husband who had resisted.