Do you think a courtroom is the best place to resolve disputed custody cases? Is there an alternative?

Flora Smith and Harry Smith have one child, ten-year-old Mary Smith. Flora and Harry are separated. Flora wants supervised visitation of Mary by Harry Smith because he often misses child-support payments and has a girlfriend who is an alcoholic. Flora is afraid that if Harry takes Mary to his home, she will be exposed to drinking. How should the court rule?

a. What options does Diane have?

b. Under what circumstances can the child be interviewed about the alleged molestation? Are there any restrictions on such interviews?

c. Can Diane be jailed for contempt of court if she refuses to obey an order to disclose Mary’s location following a court decision that there was no sexual abuse by George? If so, for how long? Indefinitely?

a. Was Allen denied custody because of his immoral behavior?

b.

(i) For Allen, prepare a list of factual allegations that support his position that he should be given custody rather than Farrow.

(ii) For Farrow, prepare a list of factual allegations that support her position that she should be given custody rather than Allen.

(iii) In class, be prepared to be called upon to debate who should have custody.

c. Is it relevant that Allen married Soon-Yi soon after the case?

d. What responsibility, if any, did the court assign to the behavior of Mia Farrow? Did she help cause Allen’s deterioration with the children?

e. If Allen is correct that Farrow has poisoned his relationship with the children, wouldn’t keeping him away from them reward her efforts?

f. The court said Allen agreed to have a biological child “apparently only after Ms. Farrow promised to assume full responsibility for the child.” If Farrow did make this promise, what legal effect do you think it would have? For example, would it affect Allen’s duty of child support?

g. The dissent says that in the “clinical judgment” of Dr. Brodzinsky, an adoption expert, “Allen had more awareness of the consequences of his actions than he was able to articulate in the adversarial process.” What do you think Brodzinsky meant? Do you think a courtroom is the best place to resolve disputed custody cases? Is there an alternative?

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