What should be heard in child custody cases?

There are rules about what kinds of evidence can be heard in Texas courts, but when it comes to family law, the rules are a little bit different. Sometimes that means very personal information can become evidence and used in determining child custody. It make sense to allow more information into evidence, as child custody decisions need to be made in a child's best interest, and any bit of information could be relevant. There are certain things, however, that should have no bearing on whether a parent can care for a child.

The head of a Texas bank and his ex-wife were in court recently to settle a child custody dispute when his lawyer asked her about an abortion she had. While many people in Dallas likely think an abortion sheds no light on the mother's ability to parent the children, the family court judge allowed the testimony to remain in evidence.

It should be noted that this child custody dispute does not appear before a Texas judge, but this kind of case has sparked a debate about what kinds of testimony should be allowed in court, even one as lax as family court.

The husband's attorney has argued that she was merely trying to show that it was not just the husband who caused the woman stress, implying that the pregnancy was a stressor. In addition, the attorney wanted to know how the woman became pregnant.

Surprisingly, the judge allowed the testimony, saying that the mother claimed she had never had any men in her home. Whether this was really relevant to child custody is debatable.

Source: ABA Journal, "Judge allows abortion to be used as evidence in high-profile child-custody case," Martha Neil, Sept. 25, 2013

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