Discipline decisions by divorced parents

Dickinson Law Des Moines, Iowa Mary Zambreno Iowa Family LAw

Posted on 02/14/2017 at 08:47 AM by Mary Zambreno

Joint legal custodians are traditionally required to discuss major medical, educational, and religious decisions with each other but the day-to-day decision-making is generally left to the parent with parenting time at that particular moment.

Should joint legal custodians also be required to also agree on the form of discipline for their children?

A case came before the Louisiana appellate court in January regarding a parent’s choice to discipline his child. In Tinsley v. Tinsley, the father forced his 13-year-old daughter to post a picture of herself on her Instagram account holding a sign that said “I WILL BE A LEADER, NOT A LIAR!!” The father and his wife posted the same photo on their own Instagram and Facebook pages. The child’s mother argued that this form of discipline was inappropriate, humiliating, and demeaning and sought an injunction. The trial court ruled that granting the injunction could be interpreted as a way of dictating how the father could parent the child and that the social media activity was not so improper as to rule that the mother should be permitted to control the rearing of the minor while in the father’s care.

The 13-year-old child asked to go to the park and the father told her that she could not meet up with anyone else there. It turned out that the child and her friend met up with a boy there and when the father asked the child about it, the child lied. He made the child write the sign and took a picture of her with the sign so that her family and friends would know what she had done. 

Because the mother requested an injunction, the Appellate Court opined that there was no irreparable damage – as would be required in granting an injunction – even though the Court also noted that the father’s forced takeover of the child’s social media account was improper and inappropriate. The Court went on to say that “this court, like the trial court, is reluctant to interfere with a fit parent’s constitutional right to parent and make decisions for their child as they see fit.”

In the Tinsley case, the mother and father clearly disagreed on the form of discipline and the Court determined that a fit parent had a constitutional right to make such disciplining decisions for their child as they saw fit.  

The material in this blog is not intended, nor should it be construed or relied upon, as legal advice. Please consult with an attorney if specific legal information is needed.

Categories: Mary Zambreno, Family Law


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