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Child custody: Abuse allegations often complicate matters

Minnesota judges often have their work cut out to determine whether there is merit to accusations of child endangerment or abuse when a parent petitions the court for sole custody. Child custody proceedings can sometimes include issues that are black and white, and when parents agree, they simply need to workout the details of their co-parenting arrangements. Other cases are far more complicated, however, such as those involving parents accusing each other of being a detriment to a child's well-being.

That is what is happening in reality TV star Bethenny Frankel's case against her former spouse, Jason Hoppy. Both parents have accused each other of child detriment. Frankel says Hoppy is emotionally and mentally abusive and that his presence places her daughter's emotional stability at risk. Hoppy told the court that Frankel has exposed his daughter to unsavory things, including possible illegal drug use by Frankel's now-deceased boyfriend, Dennis Shields, who passed away after a drug overdose.

The court takes parental abuse allegations quite seriously. A judge overseeing a custody case has the child's best interests in mind. While some accusations are provable, others wind up being nothing more than drummed-up assertions when one parent is creating falsehoods to try to make the other look bad in court, which would definitely not be looked upon favorably by any family law judge.

If a Minnesota parent believes a co-parent is a detriment to a child, he or she needs to be able to substantiate the claim with evidence. If the court believes there is merit to an accusation, it may order supervised visitation or prohibit any and all parent/child contact, as warranted. An experienced child custody attorney can advocate on behalf of a concerned parent to help protect his or her rights as well as the best interests of the child in question.

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