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Parent's questionable acts may impact child custody arrangements

Most parents going through child custody disputes hope that the judges hearing their matters see them in the best light possible. In New Jersey, family courts consider the best interests of the children affected by their decisions, and how the children's parents behave can influence who has physical and legal custody of the kids.

A New Jersey father of four has taken an unorthodox approach regarding how he has presented himself to the court hearing his custody case. In 2012, the father founded a pro-Nazi organization and since has worn Nazi apparel to the Hunterdon County Family Court for his hearings. The father is seeking custody of his youngest child, who was taken shortly after birth, along with his three siblings, from his parents by New Jersey Youth and Family Services after an investigation into allegations of abuse. Three of the children were given Nazi-inspired names, and according to the father, the children's mother is no longer involved in their lives.

Courts in New Jersey can grant parents sole custody of their children as well as joint custody with the children's other parent. While either parent may receive sole custody of the kids, courts will consider whether the parent's relationship with the children is healthy.

While the father in this story alleges that he has not seen his children in two years, it is unclear as to how the court will decide this interesting matter. The record regarding the father's custody hearing has been sealed and is not available to the public.

This story presents a fascinating situation where the expression of First Amendment rights by a parent may adversely impact his right to the custody of his own children. While allegations of abuse will surely play into the court's decision over whether the father will be able to see his children, his decision to presumably endorse imagery associated with the propagation of hate could result in the continued denial of his custody requests.

Source: NBC 10 Philadelphia, "Nazi-Naming Dad Fights for Right to See His Son," Vince Lattanzio, June 4, 2013

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