A New York mom is caught between a rock and an appellate courtroom.
The upstate girl has been advised she must ditch a driveway ornament painted with a confederate flag or threat dropping custody of her blended race little one — although a household courtroom decide didn’t think about it to be a difficulty when it was raised throughout trial.
“Given that the child is of mixed race, it would seem apparent that the presence of the flag is not in the child’s best interests, as the mother must encourage and teach the child to embrace her mixed race identity, rather than thrust her into a world that only makes sense through the tortured lens of cognitive dissonance,” judges with the Appellate Division’s Third Department in Albany wrote in a ruling launched Thursday.
The “presence of the confederate flag,” when “viewed pragmatically,” “is a symbol inflaming the already strained relationship between the parties,” the judges mentioned.
They dominated if the rock is just not eliminated by June 1, “its continued presence shall constitute a change in circumstances,” that means the dad and mom’ custody settlement could be revisited, and “Family Court shall factor this into any future best interests analysis.”
The dad and mom — recognized solely as Christie and Isaiah within the paperwork — have lengthy had joint authorized custody of the lady, born in 2014, however the mom desires the dad to solely see his daughter each different weekend, and the daddy desires sole custody.
While he raised the problem of the rock beforehand throughout their custody trial, the daddy made a broader argument to the courtroom that his dwelling was extra appropriate for the lady.
The case made its option to the appellate courtroom, which introduced the rock to the forefront of the dispute.
“Although not addressed by Family Court or the attorney for the child, the mother’s testimony at the hearing, as well as an exhibit admitted into evidence, reveal that she has a small confederate flag painted on a rock near her driveway,” the judges wrote within the ruling.
Jason Leifer, the lawyer representing the kid, mentioned it was just like the appellate judges “pulled something out of a hat” as a result of the rock was by no means the topic of the dad and mom’ disagreements.
“Bringing politics into the family court is probably the worst possible thing you could do, and it seems like that’s what the appellate division has opened the door to,” Leifer advised The Post by telephone.
“Hopefully it’ll be fixed by the Court of Appeals.”
Amid a modern-day civil-rights motion after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the usage of the confederate flag has come under intense scrutiny, with many opponents arguing it’s a “symbol of racism and slavery” and “inappropriate for public display,” according to Britannica.
In December, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law preventing the sale of confederate flags and different “hate symbols” prefer it, such because the swastika, on state property. The legislation additionally severely limits the flag’s show until deemed related to serving an academic or historic goal.
Proponents of the flag argue it remembers “Southern heritage and wartime sacrifice,” Britannica says.
Regardless of its symbolism, Michael Stutman, an lawyer specializing in matrimonial legislation and the present chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Matrimonial Law Committee, advised The Post he thinks the judges made “a very dangerous statement.”
“I think that it is a rather astonishing extension of wokeness in now that the door seems to be opening that someone’s political viewpoint reflects on their fitness as a parent,” Stutman mentioned.
“It is without doubt one of the clearest infringements on somebody’s free speech by the state to have a courtroom threaten to limit a dad and mom’ rights to their little one based mostly upon … the propriety of a particular person’s political views.
“I don’t think that such a decision would ever stand constitutional challenge,” he mentioned.
“You could easily find a conservative court saying that a person who flies a rainbow pride flag on their front door is an unfit parent because that judge does not believe in sexual choices, say, that are beyond that of just males and females,” the lawyer added.
“I think it was a real error.”
The little one’s mom could not be reached however an lawyer for the daddy advised The Post he and his consumer “certainly… felt that the issue was important and needed to be raised.”