Notable Custody Cases of 2021 (And What We Can Learn From Them)

Posted by Jonathan Jerkins | Dec 20, 2021 | 0 Comments

The anxiety and uncertainty of an impending custody battle can lead to endless hours of handwringing and internet research. However, those investigations do not have to be in vain. Separating couples can learn quite a bit from examining the facts surrounding current custody decisions. To that end, here are 3 notable custody cases from 2021 to consider.

Domestic Violence and The Gendered Custody Trap

In upstate New York, a mother lost custody of her teenage son to his father despite domestic and child abuse allegations. The mother maintains that the judge presiding over the case has a gender bias against domestic violence victims, and statistics reveal that this may be a systemic issue. 

A study funded by the National Institute of Justice found that women who report abuse aren't believed and face judges who can misinterpret their trauma as emotional instability. This misjudgment puts them at an increased risk of losing their child during a custody fight. Because of this, domestic violence victims must seek legal counsel at the outset of their custody case to ensure their rights are protected.

Sherry Shepherd, Ex-Husbands, and Child Support

Sherri Shepherd, actress and former The View host, struggled to settle two custody cases with her two ex-husbands this year. One case involved a child conceived with a donor egg shortly before Shepherd filed for divorce from her second husband. Shepherd claimed she had no legal responsibility to that child because there is no genetic link. The other case involved a neglect claim related to Shepherd's care for her eldest son from her first marriage. His father claimed she is neglectful because she works too much and doesn't adequately care for their son's special needs.

The donor egg case was groundbreaking because the court found Shepherd legally responsible despite the lack of a genetic link. This means that parents in a similar situation could face the same fate. However, the custody case for her older child is still ongoing.

Native American Children And Custody

A Supreme Court worthy challenge ensued when local officials told a Texas couple they couldn't adopt a Native American child according to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The ICWA requires that social workers consider the family, Tribe, or another Native home first before allowing the adoption of a Native American child by a non-native family. The federal government passed the law in 1978 to rectify past government programs that purposely removed Native children and placed them with white families. Today though, the Texas couple argues that the law is unconstitutional. When the Supreme Court takes up this matter, it will decide the fate of Native American families in the future, no matter the outcome.

Whether you are facing a standard custody claim or something more notable like the cases noted here, Jay Jenkins can help. Contact attorney Jay Jerkins or call 919-719-2785 to discuss your matter today.

About the Author

Jonathan Jerkins

Jonathan "Jay" Jerkins, a native of Raleigh, North Carolina, intentionally focuses his practice on all aspects of North Carolina family law litigation and negotiations. Jay was admitted to the practice of law in North Carolina in 2014.


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