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Child custody battles heat up in several celebrity breakups

The idea that celebrities can settle their domestic disputes in a kinder, gentler way than more typical people has taken a hit in recent months. The Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie breakup brought shocking charges that Pitt had been abusive to one or more of their minor children. Lisa Presley and her fourth husband have recently been fighting in an unfriendly manner for child custody of their twin girls. Some of these celebrity battles may be even more contentious than many heated custody cases in Texas and the rest of the country.

It is true that every case has its own unique characteristics. There is always the potential for an emotionally-charged child custody case regardless of the combatants. Nonetheless, several estranged celebrity couples have waged particularly gruesome-looking custody battles in the past year or so.

The most recent public spectacle involves singer Robin Thicke and his former wife, actress Paula Patton. Patton charges that Thicke altered a custody order and tried to get her arrested in front of their 6-year-old son. The couple are beginning an extended trial based on Patton's request for a permanent restraining order against Thicke.

She already won a temporary order on Jan. 26. Now the court will decide whether to make the order permanent for a five-year period. The order will not prevent child visitation by Thicke but will, if extended permanently, impose severe restrictions on his visitation rights. This may include some form of supervised visitation.

Patton's attorneys foresee 26 witnesses during a 15-day trial period. Patton accuses Thicke of a concerted pattern of harassment, intimidation and "unlawful domestic violence" against her and their son. Thicke's attorneys claim that Patton manipulated the child to get full custody. Some of the claims are common in child custody courts, including in Texas, but that does not make them favored by the custody court. When the charges are this venomous, the family law judge faces the difficult task of fact finding and decision making that must above all try to protect and further the best interests of the child.

Source: usatoday.com, "Robin Thicke's ex-wife accuses him of evidence tampering in custody battle", Anthony McCartney, Feb. 23, 2017

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