Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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Divorce heats up after father refuses to take son to McDonald's

Many Worcester, Massachusetts, residents are aware that divorce can be a highly emotional, stressful ordeal, and sometimes an ex-spouse may feel anxious and display regrettable behavior. Unfortunately, such acts can quickly escalate in a way that benefits no one.

In one recent case, a father filed a defamation case against a psychologist who recommended to a family court judge to limit or eliminate his visitation rights to his child. He stated that the psychologist deemed him an incapable parent after he refused to let his 5-year-old son eat at a McDonald's restaurant, and he let the boy choose whether he would have dinner somewhere else or nowhere at all. The boy chose not to have dinner and he took his son back to his ex-wife's home. While they waited for her to return from work, he attempted to persuade the child to reconsider.

The father said that he is not a very strict parent and he only refused to take the child to the fast food restaurant because his son has been eating too much junk food. However, the court-appointed psychologist reported the incident and allegedly urged a judge to limit his custody and visitation rights.

The man has dinner every Tuesday and alternate weekends with the child. The man has been divorced for several years but he has been in a contentious divorce with his estranged wife for over two years.

The possibility of a child custody dispute is likely difficult because most parents are concerned about the best interests of the child. A court-appointed psychologist can influence the decision of the court about whether the parent is suitable to assume parenting responsibilities. This lawsuit is not uncommon; many ex-spouses who are in the middle of custody disputes have sued the psychologists who act as evaluators. The best way to settle custody issues is for the divorced parents to work closely with their legal counsel and to settle the issue as amicably as possible before it turns contentious.

Source: The Denver Post, "Suit: NY dad criticized for denying son McDonald's," Jennifer Peltz, Nov. 8, 2013

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