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Resolving disputes creatively

Bode Miller and ex-girlfriend in New York child custody dispute

When New York parents end their marriage or their relationship, one of the most difficult decisions they have to make is which parent is going to be the primary custodian of their child. On occasion, the court may choose to award joint custody. Another common resolution is for the court to assign legal custody to the parent deemed best suited to ensure the well-being of the child, and provide the other parent with regular visitation rights.

Sometimes the parents fail to agree on a child custody arrangement. This was the case recently in New York, where Olympic skier Bode Miller and the mother of his son were unable to agree to a shared parenting schedule at a Family Court conference. The judge said if the couple were unable to reach an agreement by April 7, she would schedule a hearing and take testimony from witnesses.

The mother has also alleged that Miller, who married another woman after his relationship with the mother ended, has paid no child support for their son. Miller's attorney disputed this allegation, saying that the parties were working on a child support agreement in a separate court proceeding in California, where Miller lives.

In earlier days, the courts used to follow the so-called "tender years doctrine," which generally meant the best interests of the child would be served by staying with the mother, at least during the initial years of the child's growth. This doctrine is no longer used, but the best interests of the child remains the standard.

Source: New York Daily News, "Bode Miller's custody battle with Sara McKenna over baby son still on as former couple can't reach agreement," Nathaniel Vinton, March 31, 2014.

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