Friday, November 2, 2007

October 29, 2007

Hard Questions

How does a court decide whether to take a child from an uncle and aunt who are doing a fantastic job and give her to a father who isn’t horrific but isn’t great? The answer, of course, is “it depends.”

This Appeals Court decision, in In re Estelle, Mass. App. Ct. No. 06-P-1612, is interesting for another reason. It’s an example of an appellate court reversing a trial court while simultaneously giving the trial judge thinly veiled instructions for how to do what it was trying to do in its original decision.

Finally, it’s difficult to see how the law can play any effective role in an arena that is so intensely personal and emotional. For some, the notion of voluntarily relinquishing the right and immeasurable joy of raising a daughter is unimaginable. For others, it appears, not so much. But for these latter folks, maybe there ought to be an irrefutable presumption that you’re not a fit parent. That would certainly make cases like this one a lot easier to decide.

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