Massachusetts sports fans may be aware of the custody battle waged between football star Deion Sanders and his estranged wife, Pilar. The former couple has been at odds with one another for months concerning the care and custody of their three children, as well as details of their divorce. A recent court decision in the matter is being heralded as a major victory for fathers' rights.
The pair went before a family court judge to argue for the right to parent their three children in the manner each saw fit. After hearing testimony and reviewing evidence in the case, the judge made a ruling that divides parenting duties between the parties. The ruling grants both parents shared/joint custody of the three children.
All three are to rotate between the two households on a weekly basis, whereas the previous arrangement placed the two boys in Deion's care and the daughter in the care of her mother. Deion will retain the right to make all educational decisions, and will also have control of decisions involving their athletic pursuits. More importantly, Deion will have the right to determine their place of residence, which can be significant in any future hearings on the matter.
This case demonstrates that family court judges in Massachusetts and elsewhere have a great deal of leeway in making determinations involving child custody. As long as the best interests of the child or children at the center of a custody dispute are being served, a judge can order a wide range of conditions pertaining to child custody. In this case, granting Deion Sanders the right to determine the residency of his children, as well as the ability to control their education, can be viewed as a significant win for fathers' rights.
Source: nbcdfw.com, "Judge: Deion to Make Educational, Residential, Athletic Decisions for Children," Frank Heinz, Jan. 16, 2013