Collaborative law could have helped this family

Few legal matters are more contentious than child custody cases. The care and custody of a child raises a number of emotions in Florida parents, and it can be easy to let emotion overrule reason in fighting for parenting time. Unfortunately, the outcome of a lengthy and bitter child custody case can be negative for all involved. An example is found in an unusual case that is making headlines across the nation. Had these parents taken a collaborative law approach, the outcome could have been far easier to accept.

The matter centers on a 10-year-old girl who shows signs of being a golf prodigy. The little girl has won more than 20 of the 33 tournaments that she has played in over the past two years. Golf experts who have seen her play believe that she is on track to receive a college scholarship for the sport, even though she is not yet out of elementary school. The girl’s parents have been fighting over custody for some time.

In an unusual ruling, the judge in the case recently ordered that the little girl cannot play in any golf tournaments for the next year. Restrictions were also placed on how much time can be spent playing golf, with a maximum of either one round or five hours of play. For a child who has set her sights on a scholarship or career path in golf, that time off could be disastrous.

The child’s mother has full legal and physical custody, while the father has visitation rights. The father has been behind his daughter’s involvement in the sport, giving her a set of plastic golf clubs when she was just 3 years old. There has been little information provided by the child’s mother on the matter, and it is unclear whether she asked the court to place such strict limitations on the girl’s golfing. Just as in Florida cases, both parties will be expected to adhere to the ruling, even if the mother, father and the girl herself want to continue on a path of rigorous training.  Had these parents made use of collaborative law practices, they could have reached an agreement that worked for both sides, while also allowing their daughter the chance to expand on her gifts and talents.

Source: ABC News, “10-Year-Old Golf Prodigy Ordered to Stop Playing Tournaments Amid Parents’ Custody Battle“, July 4, 2016

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