Monday, August 08, 2005

Family Court

Parents are usually considered to be grown-ups. Even teenage parents are expected to act in the best interests of their children. Unfortunately, that expectation is quite often unmet. In a recent decision on a case of first impression, a Texas court has decided that in the best interests of the child, the court could restrict who could sleep over at a consenting adult's house when his or her child is there.
In Peck v. Peck, the court ruled that the father was not acting in the best interest of the child by sharing his (the father's) bed with another woman while the child was there (in another room, in another bed). During the trial, the court also found that the ex-husband acted inappropriately by "expos[ing] the child to 'several different women in dating relationships.'"

Think about that for a moment. It's not in the best interest of the child to enter the dating pool. Apparently the concept of a "stable family unit" that the monogamous relationship Mr. Peck was in was not in the best interest of the child.

I think that this sounds completely ridiculous, and reeks more of envy or jealousy than concern over a child's best interests. With this ruling, it is entirely conceivable that a divorced person could never date again. With all the studies that show it's better to have a complete family unit than single parents, why would the courts try to prevent relationships from occurring?
And what about equal protection? If it's not in the best interest for a divorced parent, then how could it be in the best interest for a single parent, the unmarried mother or the widower father? Bad decision all around.


Gramma said...

One more reason I don't want to live in Texas. Do Texas courts also have the right to deny divorces because they are not in the best interest of the child? Will they be able to tell a parent, "No, you can't work in a night shift job" because it is not in the best interest of the child?

I think Mr Peck's civil rights are being infringed, and I think he needs to contact the ACLU.

Michelle said...

Wow, civil libatarians would have a field day if that was introduced here!