There’s been a very public and highly-charged custody case going on in Texas regarding a transgender child that has conservative lawmakers and action groups in an uproar. We’ve discussed the many twists and turns in this case before — but a new incident has now thrown the case back into the spotlight prematurely — and illustrates some of the dangers of trying a custody case in modern times.
Dallas County Judge Kim Cooks presided over a trial by jury in the custody case a few months ago. In that trial, the father of the child, who was assigned male at birth but identifies as female, demanded full custody of the child. He claimed that his wife was forcing the child to identify as a girl and wanted to emasculate him. The jury agreed that one parent should have full custody — but said it should be the child’s mother, instead.
Judge Cooks disregarded the jury’s recommendation and left the current custody order in place — which gave both parents equal say in their child’s life. Some speculated that political pressure from higher up may have influenced her decision — since it is highly unusual to just ignore a jury’s decision.
Before any appeal could be heard, however, the judge posted about the case on her Facebook page in a way that indicates she was quite aware of attempts by the governor and legislature to interfere in this case — although she denied bowing to their influence. That post has since been deleted — but the judge has also been removed from the case over questions about her impartiality.
This incident highlights the fact that custody cases are supposed to be driven by whatever is best for the child — not what parents, government officials or anybody else may want. Social media has long been a minefield for unwary parents in custody cases — with posts being used as evidence against them in many ways. Now, however, it’s clear that social media can also reveal hidden judicial biases, as well.
If you have a difficult custody issue, find experienced legal assistance early for the best results. It takes a determined effort to overcome many obstacles, so the earlier you begin, the better.