Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mel Gibson’s Custody Trial

by Wendy Alton

Judge Gordon in Los Angeles is once again the trial judge for a celebrity couple. He has previously decided issues of custody for Britney Spears and Kevin Federline, and is currently the trial judge in the divorce of Frank & Jamie McCourt and in that case will determine who will own the Dodgers.

Now, Judge Gordon will determine custody, parenting time and child support for the daughter of Mel Gibson and Oksana Grigorieva. Specifically, Judge Gordon will have to decide who has custody, how much child support should be paid, how frequently each will see their daughter, and under what conditions—meaning whether or not it should be supervised.

In Michigan, the trial judges also make custody, parenting time and child support decisions. However, the ultimate decision doesn’t go to the judge unless the parents cannot agree on those decisions. In divorce or custody cases, the parents have many options for resolving these issues, including mediation before the case, mediation during the case, and mediation with Friend of the Court.

If the issues cannot be resolved prior to trial, then the Judge must make those decisions, always focusing on what is in the best interests of the child. This means that the Judge must hear testimony and review evidence involving 12 factors that can be found here: Best Interests of the Child Defined.

Ultimately it is better if the parents can agree on issues of custody and parenting time since the parents will have to co-parent for years to come, and must make decisions together about their children. If, however, an agreement is impossible, the judge will make that decision—but it will be based upon what is best for the child, not what the parents want.

You can read more about the Mel Gibson custody issue as reported by the New York Times: In Family Court, a Reckoning for Gibson’s Career

If you are interested in learning more about custody, parenting time, child support, divorce or family law, please call Wendy Alton at 248-380-9976 or email her at

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