The Jaime King/Kyle Newman divorce has been splashed across the tabloids since late May, with new accusations hurled back and forth between the two. It's a salacious read, a distraction during a pandemic and—maybe—a cautionary tale. And that's even true across the country from Hollywood, even here in Pennsylvania.
The couple's divorce has all the drama, theatrics and accusation-slinging of a Hollywood script. Actress and model Jaime King and filmmaker Kyle Newman have gone to battle over custody of their 6 and 4-year-old sons, James and Leo, currently—and perhaps temporarily—residing in Pennsylvania. Both accuse the other parent of being unfit, with Newman claiming King struggles with alcohol and opioid addiction and King claiming Newman has been abusive. They're both seeking sole custody. The details get ugly, including accusations that King has only seen the kids for a handful of days during the months of quarantine. King claims Newman is manipulating the legal system to his advantage. Her argument won her joint legal custody and slapped Newman with a restraining order.
Without knowing the veracity of either side's arguments, we can still assess the case in terms of its legal approach.
Substance Abuse and Child Custody
In cases ripped from the tabloids, substance abuse is a common theme. But what does that really mean in non-Hollywood cases of divorce and in settling child custody? Courts generally step in when one or both parents or guardians are unable to care for the child. But if one parent struggles with substance abuse and the other doesn't, that can jeopardize the rights of the parent with the addiction. Cases against that parent are built by documenting DUIs, police reports, or professional complaints (struggles at work or in the community). Conversely, proactive moves (like seeking treatment), community service, support groups, and medical attention can build the case for the parent who is struggling with addiction. The bottom line is substance abuse can adversely affect your claims for custody but don't necessarily have to.
Allegations of Child Abuse
In any custody case—or any case in general—clients must take some time to cool off before speaking about anything resembling child abuse. That cooling-off period can't be too long, though, since Pennsylvania requires some people to report child abuse when they learn of it. Such mandatory reporting will fast track the investigation of child abuse and may result in the removal of children by child protective services.
Dangers of Claiming Child Abuse
A potential accuser needs to understand the potential pitfalls—and liability—in child abuse claims. This can be trickier than it appears. When making a criminal accusation, the accuser will forget or misjudge their role in the alleged crimes. For example, according to the American Bar Association, “when one party alleges that the other engaged in selling illegal drugs, his or her own actions may suggest direct participation and thus equal culpability”. The same holds for child abuse. You may be culpable of being an accessory to a crime.
The Jaime King-Kyle Newman tug-of-war custody case is one for the legal books—one that shows the treacherous landscape of child custody battles. If yours feels just as fraught, the Lento Law Firm can help. Call us at 888-535-3686.