Link – Judge was unaware he gave joint custody to father accused of raping the then-12-year-old mother
I’m sure many of you saw the original story over the past few days, and now that the judge has come out and clarified what happened, I hope we can put the brakes on the tar and feathers campaign, at least for the judge.
But, we may want to hang on to the tar and feathers for a system that seems to have so many “automatic” rules that no one even bothered to stop and figure out what was going on.
As I understand it, the mother tried to enroll in the state aid program for her child. That automatically triggered the state to find the father and sue for back child support, because the state always wants to try and find a father to help support a child instead of doing it themselves. That seems like a fairly laudable idea, but it is an automatic event. The mother has no say in it.
Then, when they found the “father”, he actually agreed to pay child support. (Maybe he felt guilty about what happened, maybe he figured it wasn’t worth fighting). This triggered the default action at hearing where the judge, having heard no reason not to, awarded partial custody or some sort of visitation for the father who was living up to his support obligations.
Again, this is all pretty automatic in family courts. To the point that, no one even asked if he wanted custody, and he hadn’t actually expressed any desire for it.
No, the problem here wasn’t the judge, it was a system that was on auto-pilot so much, that no-one bothered to read a file or talk to either party. I fail to see how that can be good for the child. Do you?
Again, I’m not against the default behaviors here. Mothers trying to get financial aid for their kids should also be helped to get support from fathers too instead of just getting it all from the state. Fathers wiling to meet their responsibilities should be afforded a chance to see their kids. But somewhere along the way, someone needs to figure out what has happened, and whether the default action is actually the best action. Sometimes, clearly, it isn’t.