Judicial Weapon 5: Justice Strikes Back for Mel Gibson

California Justice Scott Gordon has amended an existing custody agreement between Mel Gibson and his estranged ex-wife Oksana Grigorieva so that Gibson will now have joint physical and legal custody of Lucia, the couple’s “forever young” daughter.  The judge clearly does not know “what women want.” The previous agreement gave Gibson about 6 days of visitation time, with 3 overnight visits, every two weeks. The modified agreement will now give him about 24 more hours of face time with his daughter. The changes were approved despite Grigorieva’s vehement efforts to strip Gibson of any overnight or extended visits with his daughter (perhaps as “payback” for the  restraining order Gibson filed against her?).

Joint legal custody is exercised by parents if they cooperate in making decisions on issues that are essential to the child’s well-being, including school enrollment, change in residence, practice of religion, major developmental transitions, emergency medical treatment, and general medical care.

In the 2000 landmark case of Troxel v. Granville, the Supreme Court held that a natural parent has a fundamental right in the care, custody, and control of their child. A biological parent will usually be denied their parental rights only if their involvement in the child’s life poses a significant risk of harm to the child, as in child abuse. Although Gibson’s agreement is a relatively minor change in circumstances, the increase in visitation reflects this judicial reluctance to completely remove a natural parent from a child’s life.

Therefore, a judge will not heed any “conspiracy theory” Grigorieva may have about how Gibson’s presence in their child’s life is harmful to the child unless she can present some legitimate “signs” of actual or potential child abuse by Gibson. And no, having a potty mouth does not count.