Judge Judy On Child Custody

When Judy Sheindlin was on Larry King Live last week, the issue of joint custody came up. Here is an excerpt from the interview:

"I’ve always thought in this country we do a terrible disservice to fathers."

SHEINDLIN ("Judge Judy"): I was a lawyer in the family court for ten years. I worked for the corporation counsel’s office of the City of New York. I prosecuted juvenile delinquency cases. I did support and paternity. So, I was in the trenches and even then, Larry, it took me time.

KING: I had a judge who became a federal judge told me once that the hardest thing to decide was custody cases. First he had no experience. Who has experience with custody cases? He’s been happily married, has children. Who gets whom? Isn’t that the hardest to give a child from one parent to another?


SHEINDLIN: Yes. Sometimes it’s relatively easy because the choices are clear but I’ve always thought in this country we do a terrible disservice to fathers. You know there was a time many years ago when we had what we called the Tender Years Doctrine, which meant children of tender years, young children, always went to their mother.

And then all of the courts in this country said that’s not fair. We have to be equal. So, on the books there is a law that says no one parent is favored over the other, now that’s honored more in the breach than it is honored in actuality. And, I have been a proponent for many years of there being a presumption in this country for joint custody of children. That’s where courts should start.

KING: That’s where you begin?

SHEINDLIN: That’s where you begin and if you’re going to deviate from that, you have to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that there is some valid reason why you’re going to deviate from that because one parent is crazy, one parent has a drug problem, an alcohol problem, something’s wrong.

But that should be the standard joint custody because children are entitled to be raised by two parents even if the parents don’t get along anymore. I mean I think it’s horrendous when one parent picks up and moves out of the state or moves 250 miles away and some judge in the family court, the domestic relations court usually if it’s the mother who has moved away says, "Well, we’ll have a hearing to determine whether it was the right thing."

No, no, no, no, no. You can’t say to people who you’ve lulled into this sense of I’m equal, you’re an equal father. You can take off paternity leave. We expect you to participate in the rearing of your children, to go to open school night, to be out there to play with them. Very often there are two people working in the household. They divide authority and you’re equal except when there’s a divorce.

And then, how often, Larry, I ask you, do you hear it quoted in the paper "He lost custody of his children"? You don’t hear that. You hear "She lost custody. There must be something wrong with her."

Well I think that that has to change in this country because it was my experience in the family court, and I left the family court ten years ago, but even my experience on the television courtroom suggests to me that there are as wonderful a group of fathers out there as a group of mothers and it’s about time that this country recognize that in not only the letter of the law but the spirit of the law as well.

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13 comments on “Judge Judy On Child Custody

    Nice to learn about ur views on custody of children it is really very hard to take decision regarding issue.

    I spent over $100,000 and 9 months defending myself from false allegations and parent alienation efforts by my ex. I was determined to never give up on my 4 children and it worked ,,, be persistent,, never give up no matter how the courts and system are stacked against you. my oldest son now lives with me 100% of the time and the other 3 have very regular visitation on wed and every other weekend !

    Your right never ever give up! I have 5 sons going through the same thing and 3 of them have won there custody battle! Woking on the other 2 cases

    There’s a difference of giving up and being driven into poverty and bankruptcy..I can’t afford no more filing fees I refuse legal aide her lawyer is the boss of legal aide .its cost me two homes ,my vehicles,my savings even my kids education fund is gone,what wasn’t stolen by ex was taken to pay lawyers.now my 8 year old has been suspended from 2nd grade three times once in kindergarten failed first grade yet the court charges me to file motion the dismiss them before they even get heard

    I should be fined because I’m an unwed parent? My children are growing up in a more stable home with an awesome father. We choose not to be married and it works for us well. The issue isn’t marriage. It’s spiteful exes who want to hurt the other parent.

    Father Whose Children Were Illegally Abducted!
    Judge Judy has spoken the truth regarding the fact of the unjustness of family courts toward fathers (yes, they are sometimes unfair to mothers too!). 84.4% of mothers get custody of the children. Unfortunately, that reduces fathers to being visitors in their children’s lives when they are fortunate enough to be allowed into their children’s lives. other than that, they are mostly sperm donors and ATM machines. Our children are the ones who suffer greatly at the tearing apart of their family and the usual isolation and alienation from their fathers.

    Children need both parents….caring, loving,wanting, willing parents, in order to become the fully developed, healthy and successful person they may become. Too deny a loving parent (usually the father)access to a child, and the child to that parent is tantamount to child abuse and soul murder. Children after all, are a composite of both parents. Why would anyone want to “kill” that within a child that is needed for growth and maturation? There are many obvious answers including selfishness, retaliation, immaturity, mental damage, narcissism, etc., by one parent against the other parent. When a coupe divorces or separates, you don’t divorce the child from those parents, well, you shouldn’t be allowed to.

    The family court system in this country is a disaster. It’s basic premise is erroneous and draconian. Why does it have to be that only one person “gets” custody of the child? If both people parented the child before, both people obviously have demonstrated that they did it and can continue to do it, though now separately. So really, it’s a matter of logistics, schedules and timing that needs to get worked out between the two parents. This splitting of the child, or complete separation, is akin to splitting the child in two from the story of King Solomon and the two mothers (the real mother and the fake one). It is evil, it is hurtful, it is damaging, and it is criminal to parents, children and families. And, it must stop now!

    We need to institute Equal Shared Parenting, Court Reform and Judicial Accountability in the family court system. Until that takes place, family courts will continue to operate as the court cartels they are kidnapping and trafficking in children for money. And that, is an obscenity!

    Dads only have fake rights.
    In my life I have had two children born to two relationships. The first was my daughter (now 14 yo). Her mother kept her away from me for years. Only after years of fighting my case, going into debt and suffering much un-needed stress did I get custody. She fled with my daughter three times and tried to take her to two different contries. Finnally the Courts gave me sole custody after she neglected (on record) my daughter. My word was never accepted!

    Now my wife of 8 years, who helped me on the last leg of my prior battle with hell, has abducted my son (now 7 yo). She was ordered to stay in TN and completely disregarded the Courts Orders. Her defense is I am abusive. Yet her claim that I was going to chop her up with a hatchet was so unreal that she felt safe enough to stay home with me when her sister lived less than 1 mile away. And she agreed that she was not in imediate danger. Obviously now she’s claiming that she has the right to abduct my son because I’m such a monster.

    Ask my son what his favorite book is and he will tell you the one his dad wrote (title withheld due to hoping to publish). Ask him what his favorite thing to do is and he will tell you “playing baseball with my dad”, ask him how many times his mother reads to him and he will just stair at you with a blank look. Ask him who he wants to live with and I’ll bet he says his mom because she is crying and needs him. Point being that a child wants to help the weaker parent because the stronger parent is ok.

    Dads are the most integeral part of a childs upbringing (provided the dad is a good parent). Fact is, children raised without a dad are way more likely to be a problem for society when they grow up.

    My favorite movie is the “Lion King” because it acuately depicts the need of a dad.

    But more important is the fact that this country needs to find a way to reduce divorce by not allowing marriage to happen until the people seeking marriage have cohabitated and undergone two years of pre-marriage counseling prior to being issued a license to marry and those who choose to be unwed parents should pay financial penalties to the state for later maintenance of the broken children. If people can’t open their eyes on their own then make them pay for the problems they create!

    I want nothing more than my marriage to work out and for my children to have two full time parents. But I am only me.

    Political Director
    Why can’t law firms who profess to be about protecting dads and children get it as easy as Judge Judy does. Also, if this country was the country it professessto be, why do dad’s and children’s rights need to be protected in a court of law anyway. If we can get away from the love of money and start caring for each other, this world will be a better place.

    Thank you Judge Judy! She really gets it. I only pray that other Judges follow in her common sense.

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