Letting a Child Attend a "Pink" Concert…a Question for the Courts?
Sep 7, 2018 | Written by: Share|
Divorced parents in the midst of a contentious and lengthy custody dispute asked the Court to opine on whether it was appropriate for their 11-year-old child to attend a Pink concert. The father objected to the child’s attendance at the concert, citing concerns of profane language and sexual content. The father asked the court to find that the mother of this young girl abused her parental discretion, and that this purported abuse be considered as part of the pending custody matter.
The court disagreed.
Is this type of disagreement between parents one that the court systems are equipped to handle? Should the legislature and judiciary contemplate such disagreements? Should disputes over parenting styles be brought to the Court? What is the measurement for determining whether such an extraordinary (and expensive) measure is warranted?
Judge Jones addressed some of these queries in a 2014 opinion, Zoe v. Zoe, in which he stated:
“Clashing over parenting styles will sometimes be unavoidable. This does not mean, however, that a parent serving as a “joint legal custodian,” or even one who is serving as a primary custodian, has an automatic right to script and control from afar every move the other party makes in his or her own house during parenting time. Rather, each parent has a basic constitutional right and ability to exercise reasonable discretion on child-related issues during his or her own parenting time, so long as such choices do not unreasonably compromise the child’s general health, safety and welfare.”
Judge Jones went on to explain:
“The law does not prohibit parents from permitting their own children to experience works of the creative arts which contain some verbal profanities. The reality is that minors in the United States are potentially exposed to profanities all the time through movies, television, and the internet. Further, the fact that a minor hears a profanity in the context of an artistic performance, with parental consent, does not automatically render a parent’s decision wrongful or age-inappropriate. To the contrary, in the context of story-telling as creative art, profanities are frequently implemented as part of socially acceptable artistic dialogue.”
In this case, Judge Jones indicated that he reviewed the concert set list, lyrics and even You Tube videos to acquaint himself with the music in controversy. He ultimately concluded:
“The messages in these examples are inherently valuable to teens and pre-teens who often grow up in a world of relentless stress, pressure, tension and self-doubt. These songs and messages are age appropriate in this case, and the fact that the artist may use some profanities in these or other songs on an album or in a concert set list does not logically disqualify the entire work or performance as “age inappropriate” for a teen or pre-teen’s ears.”
This case exemplifies everything that is good and bad with family law. The good is a judge taking the time and having the inclination to write such a thoughtful opinion, truly addressing with great thought the issue at hand. The bad is the example this codifies when divorced parents disagree, and the way they sometimes handle those disagreements.
If you are experiencing difficulties with co-parenting, speak with an experienced matrimonial attorney to determine whether the issues are the type that require intervention and what that may mean for you.
 FM-15-623-07N, 2014 NJ Super. Lexis 3078 (N.J. Super. Jan 23, 2014).
Diana Fredericks, Esq., is a partner with Gebhardt & Kiefer, PC and devotes her practice solely to family law matters. She is a Certified Matrimonial Attorney and was named to the NJ Super Lawyers Rising Stars list in the practice of family law by Thomson Reuters in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, and to the New Leaders of the Bar list by the New Jersey Law Journal in 2015. Contact Ms. Fredericks for a consultation at 908-735-5161 or via email.
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