Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Case Law Development: Parent's Continual Litigation to Increase Parenting Time Grounds for Granting Sole Custody to Other Parent
The couple in this case divorced in 1997 and agreed to joint legal custody of their 3-month-old child, with mother having primary physical custody and father having every other weekend visitation. In 2000 and 2002 the court approved modifications that increased father's parenting time and required mother's consultation with father on a wider range of decisions. In 2003, father moved for another modification, to further increase his parenting time and to eliminate his child support obligation. Mother responded with a motion to modify the joint custody arrangement to give her sole custody. The court denied father's motion and granted mother's request for sole custody based on the prior history of litigation:
...evidence from the family relations counselor, psychologist and court-appointed guardian ad litem.... indicated that the child suffered extensively from the detrimental effects of consistent litigation initiated by the defendant in his efforts to spend more time with the child. The court found that the frequent and repeated litigation served to harm the child and deprived him of the ability to grow and develop. The court found that the defendant failed to recognize the harm caused by his "strategy of attrition by repeatedly asking for small increases in his parenting time." Each success resulted in encouraging the defendant to seek more time. The court concluded that to break this cycle, it was in the child's best interest to deny the defendant's request for additional time.
The case includes significant excerpts from the trial testimony of the child psychologist and would provide an excellent vehicle for class discussion on the effects of extended divorce litigation on children.
Daddio v. O'Bara, 2006 Conn. App. LEXIS 390 (August 29, 2006)
Opinion on web (last visited August 29, 2006 bgf)