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According to Superior Court Judge Lawrence R. Jones' 37-page decision, taking your 11-year-old daughter to a Pink concert is not sufficient grounds for a claim of abuse of parental discretion.

The allegations were made when the girl's father, as part of an ongoing custody dispute, claimed that the mother's decision to expose the 11-year-old to a Pink concert was a mistake of judgment that adversely affected the child. In the complaint, the father made the accusation that the performance was age-inappropriate due to "lyrical profanities" in some of Pink's songs, and that the dances and performances were sexually suggestive. The mother of the girl disagreed with the characterization of the performance, arguing that the concert was an overall positive experience, as the performance highlighted gymnastics and aerobics which the child has a particular interest in.

Judge Quotes Lyrics in Decision

Judge Jones, in finding that the mother did not abuse her discretion in taking her daughter to the concert, delivered his decision by giving a brief synopsis of rock n' roll history, stating that, "Pursuant to N.J.R.E. 201(b), the court takes judicial notice that over the past sixty years, in the United States, rock has grown into one of the most popular, deeply engrained, and culturally significant forms of creative artistic expression in the history of the nation and world... rock music has become not only an audio art form, but a highly visual art form as well."

Referring specifically to the lyrics of Pink's songs, the judge noted that "More significantly, the lyrics in many of the songs are not only age-appropriate for teens and pre-teens in 2014 America, but from an artistic standpoint are particularly noteworthy in addressing important social themes and messages which are objectively relevant and very relatable to young Americans in high schools and junior high schools throughout the country." Judge Jones went on to list several of these lyrics in his decision, including lines from Pink's songs "Perfect" and "The Great Escape."

So What Can Constitute An Abuse of Discretion, Exactly?

In finding that the mother in this case did not abuse her parental discretion, the court provided some guidance for parents who might be considering challenging their child custody rights:

  • When both parents are acting as joint legal custodians, public policy encourages communication, cooperation, and consistency between the parties on parental decisions
  • While parents aren't expected to agree on every single child-raising issue, no parent (even the primary residential custodian) has an automatic right to script and control the other parent's decisions. Each parent has a basic constitutional right to exercise reasonable discretion on child-related issues
  • The touchstone of the court is always the child's welfare and happiness

If you believe that your former spouse is failing to live up to these guidelines, or if you are being accused of harming your children by the way you are raising them, don't hesitate to contact an attorney who is willing to help protect you and the best interests of your child. Call the skilled family law attorneys at Smith & Doran today to see how we can help.

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