Family Law, Child Custody decision by Courts and the Celebrity Factor in India and abroad
The strange parental life of Wacko Jacko aka Michael Jackson makes us wonder about the Child Custody decisions taken by courts for Celebrities versus the other regular mortals. Michael Jackson was leading a weird lifestyle with marital discord, alleged child abuse and paedophilia, bisexuality and drug abuse. Despite these circumstances, Michael Jackson was allowed to bring forth three children into the world of questionable parentage. And, that too, after bringing yet another child into the world from a woman in an existing marriage.
Do the laws of the land and morality apply differently for celebrities and lesser mortals?
These questions bring us to the quirky laws in our own country and to the Child custody battle of Mrs Chetana Kumble (current wife of Anil Kumble) and Mr Kumar Jahgirdar (the first husband) over their daughter.
Did Anil Kumble’s celebrity play a role in the previous Child Custody decisions taken by the Court?
The earlier Court decisions negatively impacted the biological father, by noting that Kumar Jahagirdar had ‘no female companion/relative’ to take care of his daughter. Does a BIOLOGICAL FATHER need a female escort to monitor his movements with his own biological daughter (in the absence of any allegation of Child abuse)? Can Mr Kumar Jahagirdar not be a better Father than Michael Jackson?
The laws relating to families have changed abroad as judges and legislators have revised the legal issues involved in divorce, child custody, child support, domestic violence and other family law matters. Family law has become entangled in national debates over family structure, gender bias and morality.
Issues such as child custody have also advanced in the courts as cultural and societal attitudes have changed. Mothers have been favored in many custody disputes of the past, but fathers are given much more consideration than in the past.
Custody battles, while always difficult and emotional, have become even more complicated as reproductive technology has increased the ways in which people can become parents.
Family law lawyers and judges are faced with new, difficult and sensitive questions such as who gets custody of fertilized embryos when a couple that was involved in infertility/assisted-reproduction treatments separates. Surrogate parenting also presents custody issues when the surrogate fails to abide by the surrogacy contract or wants visitation with the child. Equally difficult issues can arise when sperm or egg donors make some claim to their genetic offspring. These issues involve questions relating not only to custody laws, but also to those involving adoption, children’s rights and paternity.
Another major change in family law in recent years is the recognition that many family disputes can be resolved through alternative dispute methods, such as mediation, as opposed to the traditional litigation process. As a result, many states have begun to explore other, non-adversarial alternatives, such as mandatory mediation in family law cases, which can save time and money and help maintain relationships.
How does a court decide which parent will get custody of a child?
When the parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement, the court will make the decision for them. When determining the child’s best interests, the court may consider may factors, including the following:
The child’s age
The child’s gender
The child’s physical and mental health
The parents’ physical and mental health
The parents’ lifestyles
Any history of abuse
The emotional bonds between the parent and the child
The parent’s ability to give the child guidance
The parent’s ability to provide the basic necessities, such as food, shelter, clothing and medical care
The child’s routines, including home, school, community and religious
The willingness of the parent to encourage a healthy, on-going relationship between the child and the other parent
If the child is above a certain age, the child’s preference
Who has been the child’s primary caretaker?
Biological Fathers, who have committed to bringing their Legitimate children into the world after a ‘process’ which includes a Committed Marriage with the mother (and now ex-wife), deserve more respect than Celebrities like Michael Jackson who have brought children into the world by questionable means. And, the least a Biological Father needs is Equal Custody (and not visitation) and the opportunity to shower love & affection to their biological children.
There needs to be changes in Family Law which respects Pro-family Biological Fathers like Kumar Jahgirdar who are committed to their legitimate offsprings. And, ‘other’ Fathers like Michael Jackson can wait after justice is delivered to Legitimate, Biological Fathers.