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Family law decisions are not reflected in cable TV reality shows

The cable television soap opera called “Teen Mom 2” is filled with separations, divorces, marriages and custody battles. The program, however, should not be used as a real-life guide to these matters, whether one lives in Pennsylvania or another state. In family law cases, the adventures of reality television stars are not good signposts to determine how to measure one’s own strategies, lifestyles or actions.

The possibility that the stars are acting or overreacting for the dramatic effect on the ongoing viewing public must always be kept in mind. That they may be playing the fates of their children for the sake of ratings is another potential danger to keep in mind. On the other hand, there may be some general common-sense patterns that may come out of observing the antics displayed by the characters from week to week.

For example, the fiancé of one of the stars last week won full custody of his daughter. Apparently, due to drug and alcohol use, the mother will be put on a visitation schedule in which she will have to be closely monitored. The father had been given temporary emergency custody after prior hearings before the family law judge. This past week the judge modified the prior order to give the father full legal and physical custody.

The order also requires that the mother’s visitation with her daughter shall be supervised by her own mother. In custody matters, visitation can be awarded on a liberal basis and can include overnight visits and totally unsupervised time with the children. When there is some evidence of drug and alcohol use that has put the children in real or potential danger, however, the order will be less liberal and considerably narrowed. These types of broad principles can govern the decisions of state family law judges here in Pennsylvania as well as nationwide.

Source:, “Teen Mom 2’s Jenelle Evans’ Fiance Wins Full Legal Custody Of His Daughter“, Lindsay Cronin, June 1, 2017

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Louis Emmi

Louis Emmi