When two parents are going through a contentious divorce, actions they take to spite one another often have negative consequences for their children as well. For this and other reasons, major parenting decisions during this time are sometimes subject to approval by the court. Of course, some parents remain intent on getting their way at all costs.
A wealthy Florida businessman was recently sentenced to 180 days in jail after a judge found him in contempt of court. The man's offense shows how difficult it can be to co-parent well and make the best decisions for your children during a particularly contentious divorce.
The couple at the center of the dispute has a teenage son who has been diagnosed with both ADHD and oppositional defiance disorder. After unsuccessfully bouncing him around between boarding schools, his mother asked the court two years ago to have him sent to a specialized school in Utah.
The boy's father disagreed and a lengthy court battle ensued. Eventually a judge ruled in favor of the mother. The boy was set to report to the new school in December 2010; the same month that he turned 16 years old. However, he never showed up.
On the day after his birthday, his father took him to Las Vegas, where he married the 18-year-old daughter of the family's housekeeper. In the eyes of the law, the marriage meant that he was emancipated and was therefore no longer required to abide by the court ruling sending him to boarding school.
After the incident, the now-emancipated son returned with his father to their shared Florida home. Earlier this month, a Florida judge determined that the father had been in contempt of court, as his actions were "clearly intended to thwart" the court order to send his son to a boarding school.
The man is now serving a 180-day jail sentence for a stunt that clearly upset the presiding judge. In his order, the judge wrote: "It is hard for this court to imagine a bolder, more egregious example of indirect criminal contempt."
Source: Miami Herald, "Fisher Island man jailed for marrying off teen son during divorce proceedings," David Ovalle, July 12, 2012
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