Deposing the family czars

The Idaho Supreme Court recently issued a decision  that explores the role of familycourt. While generally unremarkable, the ruling is insightful in its examination of the limits of the court’s power. In Allbright v. Allbright, http://tinyurl.com/phk9tj, filed August 21, 2009, the Court reversed a trial court that held that a custodial parent could not relocate a distance that would interfere with the non- custodial parent’s parenting time. In  its ruling, the Idaho  high court mused on the role of  family court in resolving family disputes. Specifically it held that, ” a court presiding over a child custody matter does not become a family czar with unlimited authority to order the parents to do anything the court believes is in the best interests of the child. The court’s authority comes from the Idaho code…”

Daily people bring their problems to the court, and the court responds with decisions on such matters as soccer camp vs. football camp, or whether junior should wear red pajamas versus blue ones. But family micromanagement is not what a court should do.  Family courts need to be more circumspect in the exercise of their powers, not becoming czars over  all domestic turmoil. Family courts, while unique in the subject matter they adjudicate, are nevertheless courts,  subject to definite statutory and jurisdictional limitations.  And frankly, if the courts refuse to adjudicate petty matters, maybe litigants will find a way of resolving these matters on their own, without the seductive need to “go to court…”

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