Judges Can Consider Your Parenting Style
Video Transcribed: My name is Brian L. Jackson. I am a Tulsa father’s rights attorney. I’d like to talk to you guys today about a fundamental issue of law that comes up in all child custody litigation cases. This is ultimately at the core of any time you’re talking about child custody, and that is the best interest analysis.
I get a lot of questions from clients all the time asking me, “Well, is the judge going to care about this? Is the judge going to care about that? Do they care that I drink? Do they care that I smoke pot? Do they care that I smoke cigarettes? Do they care that I play video games?”
To the extent that it has a bearing on the best interest of your child or children, yes, it is relevant. And yes, the judge can consider it. Now, obviously how much they consider it is going to depend on your specific facts. It’s going to depend on the judge, his temperament, and their judicial philosophy.
But the reality is, with the best interest analysis almost anything is fair game. Really the only outside limits to that are the judge isn’t allowed to consider classifications that are obviously suspect. They can’t consider your race, for example. They’re not supposed to consider your gender, although that’s a whole separate conversation. They’re not allowed to consider if you’re gay or straight. They’re not allowed to consider your religion. Because those are all that are called suspect classifications.
That being said, almost anything else is fair game. If you get a stodgy old judge that thinks gamers are douchebags, guess what? They can consider that. If you get a judge who disapproves of gambling, guess what? The fact that you go to the casino could become a consideration for that judge and its fair game. If you drink too much? Yeah, they’ll consider that, 100%.
There are certain things the judges are required to consider by statute, and substance abuse is an example of that. Also, if you have a certain type of criminal history… felonies are definitely coming in… but the court has to consider it. For example, you have a history of child abuse, you’ve been convicted of domestic violence, you have a DHS history… these are all things that are most definitely getting considered because they’re required under the statute.
Serious mental illness? That’s coming in. And they can consider that, and they will consider that. Who you date? Most judges probably won’t care if it’s someone you date who you never bring around the children. Although if you’re spending a lot of time out dating and not a lot of time with your children, that tends to look bad and that can cost you.
If you’re not bringing a person around the children, it is with limited relevance. But it’s not necessarily irrelevant and the judge can consider it. If it’s somebody you are bringing around the children, the judge will consider it and they can consider that person’s character. Which includes whether or not they have a criminal history, whether or not they have a history of domestic violence, whether or not they have a DHS history.
Judges can consider your parenting style. Some judges really have strong feelings about corporal punishment. Is it illegal? No. There’s actually a statute directly on point that says you have the legal authority and privilege to spank, paddle, or switch your child, and use other reasonable force to control your child.
But the devil’s in the details because reasonable, to some extent, is a subjective standard. What one person considers reasonable, another person may not. So yeah, that’s absolutely a consideration. Quality of education? If the child’s getting an education, the level of control you exercise over the child, vis-a-vis, the child’s age, any of those things are fair game and the court can consider it. So probably if you have to ask, “Does my habit of doing X, have a bearing on my child custody case,” the answer is yes.
Okay. I’m going to talk in more detail about some specific types of issues that are really highly relevant in some upcoming videos. But for right now, I just kind of wanted to give you guys the overview of what the courts are looking at with child custody determinations. It’s the best interest standard, and that’s a very broad standard. And the result of it is, that… yeah, almost anything is fair game, guys. So be aware of that.
I mean, I wouldn’t sweat it hard. There are a lot of things that, although they’re relevant, they’re not going to hurt you seriously. But I do think that the thing to understand about best interest is, if there’s something that you think the judge might want to consider, you probably want to tell your lawyer about it before you stand in front of the judge and have to answer questions about it, so that they can be prepared for it.
It May not matter too much, but they need to know. That’s the long and short of it. If you have questions about this issue or any other issue affecting your rights as a father, then you should go to Dads.Law and talk to me. Dads.Law fathers are not disposable.