Berman & Asbel, LLP

Spanking allegations prompt judge to deny Robin Thicke custody

Divorcing parents in Pennsylvania and around the country have become embroiled in fewer bitter child custody disputes in recent years due to the growing popularity of co-parenting solutions and the large body of scientific research attesting to the benefits of these arrangements. However, the wealthy and famous often find it difficult to take a pragmatic approach in these situations, and contentious court battles over property division or child custody occur often enough to give gossip columnists and celebrity news websites plenty to write about.

One such case involves Robin Thicke and his former wife Paula Patton. Thicke appeared in a California court on Jan. 26 hoping to be awarded sole custody of the couple's 6-year-old son, but a judge denied his request and issued a restraining order against him instead. The order prevents Thicke from approaching his son or ex-wife, and the decision to issue it was made when Patton and personnel from the boy's school said that the boy had told them that he feared his father and his harsh spankings.

Thicke has denied the claims, and the 39-year-old performer's attorneys say that a California Department of Children and Family Services investigation determined that the spanking allegations were unfounded. Thicke has also said that Patton has been investigated by the DCFS for emotional abuse. He admits to occasionally disciplining his son physically, but he maintains that all punishments fell well within the bounds of accepted parental supervision.

Child custody disputes can cast a long shadow, and experienced family law attorneys may seek to avoid them whenever possible in contested divorce cases. When parents are unable to reach an amicable agreement, attorneys may suggest that they explore alternative dispute resolution venues like mediation.

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