Parents who disagree with the legal system’s handling of custody disputes should be given a chance to explain their reasoning in court, the nation’s top child custody judge said Monday.
“It is the responsibility of judges to understand the issues raised in this case, to make an informed decision, and then to grant the best possible outcome to the parties involved,” said Judge Jennifer A. Miller in a written ruling.
“A child custody dispute must not become a tragedy, or worse, for the children involved.
This case is not about a disagreement about child custody or whether a child has an independent right to visitation with her or his biological father.”
In a statement, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which hears custody cases, said it would “look into this matter” and will decide on its own.
In the past, the court has ruled that parents should not be forced to share custody with their children.
The appeals court said that Miller’s ruling was “not a final judgment on the merits of the case.”
The ruling comes as parents nationwide struggle with how best to manage custody disputes over custody, which can be based on age, relationship, race, sex or genetic characteristics.
The legal system has been struggling to balance parents’ right to be with their child’s best interests.
In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that children have a right to a parent who has been “good enough” in the past to give the child a fair chance at success.
The court said there was a constitutional right to “an independent, permanent and healthy relationship.”
The current ruling was made after parents appealed a lower court decision that ordered their children to share a parent, even if it means a divorce.
The appeals court in Michigan said that the case should be remanded to the state Supreme Court, where a child custody case has been filed.