A Manhattan child custody case recently gained national attention after the judge handling the case allowed a man’s attorney to question his former wife about an abortion. During trial, the woman—who is seeking custody of her two children—testified that she became pregnant by a longtime friend and that she placed her children in the care of her mother while she had the abortion procedure.
The procedure reportedly became known when his attorney reviewed medical records.The woman had claimed that she was under great stress, and that the stress was only caused by her ex-husband. The abortion operation took place after she separated from her husband.
The man’s attorney argued that the abortion was relevant to determine the circumstances under which she became pregnant and in order to show that it was not only the woman’s ex-husband that caused her stress. The man’s attorney had argued that the abortion had traumatized the mother, and that that would affect her children’s well being.
The case had gained a lot of criticism from those who feel an abortion would not be relevant to a determination of child custody. When it comes to determining the best interests of the child, though, a great many things can be taken into consideration. Texas law, as the law in other states, enumerates various considerations for judges in making best interest determinations, but judges have the ability to consider factors outside of those which are specifically enumerated.
When going into a child custody dispute, it is important for parties to be aware that their personal lives could be held up to scrutiny if a judge deems that the information is relevant to a best interest determination.
Source: ABA Journal, “Judge allows abortion to be used as evidence in high-profile child-custody case,” Martha Neil, September 25, 2013.