Jun 26, 2014
Jun 20, 2014
Jun 11, 2014
May 29, 2014
Murder-suicide revives custody-rights debate
An Amherst doctor who works at the V.A. Medical Center in Manchester drives to Vermont in a rental car and shoots his ex-wife's husband before killing himself.
These horrific acts of violence all had something in common: They were committed by fathers embroiled in court disputes over child support or custody.
State Rep. Jeff Oligny, R-Plaistow, submitted 13 bills dealing with parental rights and child custody issues in the last legislative session. All 13 were found inexpedient to legislate.
Oligny, an engineer and a divorced father of two teenagers, contends the system for determining "parental rights and responsibilities" - what used to be called child custody and support - is deeply flawed.
A better way, Oligny said, is "joint parenting," something he's been trying to get into New Hampshire law for several years. It's a main reason he ran for office.
"If there's no abuse or neglect, then government should not be in that family. If you force Mom and Dad to work things out ... they will."
It's not that simple, said Patricia Murphy, a Manchester attorney who has specialized in family law for 20 years. She called it "a very Pollyanna way of thinking, that all people are reasonable and all people can come up with their own solution."
She noted that RSA 461-A requires the court to determine "parental rights and responsibilities" based on the "best interests of the child." The law requires the court to consider such factors as each parent's relationship with the child, the ability of each to provide food, clothing, shelter, medical care and "a safe environment," and potential effects of changes to the child's school and community.
"The system does not create the chaos. What creates the chaos is the couple who comes to the courthouse doors," she said.
When she started practicing law, Murphy said, courts routinely awarded physical custody to mothers, and fathers got every other weekend and one night a week with their children.
But Murphy opposes making that the law of the land. "Because every case that comes before the court is as unique as the people who come before the court, and the needs of the children should trump the desires of the parents," she said.
Judge Edwin Kelly is administrative judge of the Circuit Court, which includes the Family Division. He said lawmakers created the first family courts in 1995 so that cases would be heard by judges familiar with this most difficult area of the law.There are now 32 locations statewide.
He noted all divorce cases involving children are required to go to mediation first within 30 days of filing. He estimated more than 80 percent are resolved within nine months of filing.
Kelly said it's a very small percentage of cases that are "high conflict."
He'd like to see a separate docket created for such cases, with dedicated judges and staff assigned to try to resolve them more quickly.
Oligny said he's heard the argument from other lawmakers that the system is working fine for the majority of families and it's only a minority of parents who feel the system has treated them unfairly.
"I guess what we're saying is it's OK to lose a couple of kids, it's OK to lose a couple of parents, it's OK to lose a couple of citizens because, in general, we're doing pretty well.
- Mazzaglia to be sentenced Aug. 14 for murder of UNH student - 0
- Man arrested in two Portsmouth robberies - 0
- Manchester man arrested for attempted robbery in Laconia - 0
- Dover man among two sought in connection with Maine murder - 0
- High-speed chase starts in NH, ends in Massachusetts - 1
- Justices send drug case back to Rockingham County Superior Court - 0
- Backlash from former detective's early release increasing - 10
- East Kingston man sentenced to prison in sex assault case - 0
READER COMMENTS: 0
- Lost Massachusetts hikers found safe in NH - 0
- GOP criticizes Shaheen flip flop on gas tax - 6
- No one has a clear claim to NHMS supremacy - 0
- Sentence fragment: Coco's cuckoo release - 0
- Charles Arlinghaus: Does Concord have a big spending problem? - 1
- Ban fireworks? Get serious - 5
- Another View - Kevin Smith: Londonderry is showing how to make NH business-friendly - 0
- Philadelphia outlasts Revolution, weather in U.S. Open Cup - 0
- Rock Cats sweep Fishers in rain-makeup doubleheader - 0
Police say Manchester woman arrested for punching ex-boyfriend during custody exchange in Walmart parking lot
Bikers say under-30 generation isn't interested, and can't afford many of the top motorcycles
Praising freedom: While curtailing it
Ban fireworks? Get serious
GOP criticizes Shaheen flip flop on gas tax
- Total Votes: 917