Authored by: Lloyd C. Rosen, Esq.
We are once again confronted with the news of a horrible tragedy, involving the death of an innocent child at the hands of a parent. On Sunday December 22, 2013, a man involved in a custody dispute who was supposed to turn his 3‑year‑old son over to the boy’s mother that day, instead, threw the child off the roof of a 52‑story Manhattan apartment building before jumping to his death, police said.
While there is no logical or acceptable explanation for such a selfish act, one must wonder what would drive a person to take the life of their own child. We are hearing more frequently of stories with such heinous acts stemming from a custody or visitation dispute. We may never know the full facts of the dispute in this particular case, but it is not hard to conclude that the parents were obviously engaged in some kind of battle, a tug-of-war of sorts, over this child. All too often, children are treated by one or both of the parents as property, and that custody is something that is either “won” or “lost.”
As a matrimonial and family law attorney, I try to counsel my clients that their children are not property to fight over or weapons to use for leverage. Their children should be the source of pride and unconditional love and devotion. The child should not be forced to choose one parent over the other, and should not be led to believe that demonstrating love to one parent constitutes an act of mutiny against the other.
Children who are lucky to have two parents willing to fight over them, need parents who are smart enough to know that the fight is usually not worth the casualties.