Thursday, July 09, 2009

No free speech for divorced dads

Law prof Volokh writes:
"Father Shall Not Use Profanity or Racial Epithets in the Boys' Presence or Within Their Earshot"

That's from a Delaware Family Court order that came out in 2002, JJ.W. B. v. K.A. B., 2002 WL 31454072 (Del. Fam. Ct.), but that I just came across. If the father used such words in violation of the court order, he would be subject to criminal prosecution for contempt (though practically speaking it seems likelier that the court would further reduce his visitation time with the children).
I am appalled that some lawyers there argue that married parents and single parents have free speech rights, but divorced parents with joint custody have no such rights.

There is no good cause for any judge to tell a parent what opinions he can express to his own kids. Period. Unless the parent is objectively causing some serious harm to the kids, the court should butt out.

One commenter suggests requiring that "a prenup in which all the terms are hashed out and agreed in advance.

At one time, the marriage contract was a way of publicly and legally acknowledging the rights and responsibilities of parenthood. But no more. Family courts now decide custody citing only the Best Interest Of The Child (BIOTCH), regardless of any marriage or prenup. About 40% of American births today are to single moms. It is about 25% for whites, 50% for Mexicans, and 75% for blacks.

There is just no possibility that anyone is going to sign a prenup restricting free speech rights years into the future, and no possibility that any court would pay attention to it, and no possibility that any such rule or practice would have any impact on American child-rearing.

Marriage and marriage law in the USA is not what it was just a few years ago. Most people do not seem to realize or accept this. Even most lawyers don't.

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