Russell R. Silva
Gilbert Holmes, dean of the College of Law, talked about family matters at the faculty lecture Monday, highlighting the importance of understanding the emotional distress brought on by custody battles.
More than 25 faculty members and students gathered in the President’s Dining Room for Holmes’ lecture on family law.
Holmes explained that family law is the most influential practice around. He started his private practice in New York City and continued it for 16 years before he moved to California to teach.
“People told me I was foolish, so I opened my practice on April1,” Holmes said.
His practice’s purpose was to represent abused children and foster children. He also represented a foster agency at one point.
“It is important to know that the courts must take the view of what’s best for the child and not best for the court,” Holmes said.
He said the issue with family law is that two individuals practicing their constitutional rights have the same rights, so there is a tough decision that courts face when deciding custody a divorce or separation.
“I find what is interesting, is that a child can petition to live with a distinct parent in another state,” Professor of Humanities Al Clark said.
Children 10 years or older can petition rights they feel the court has taken from them. The court will then take the child’s opinion into consideration and make a ruling based on the child’s decision to file.
“Research has shown that the best way to raise a child is with their biological parents,” Holmes said.
He said he once reviewed a case of a child wanting a relationship with his mother, who suffered from multiple personality syndromes.
The child told the court that he understood his mother’s disorder and when to avoid dealing with her.
Holmes said in that case, the issue the court had was in deciding whether to revoke parental visitation completely, or decide if the child would be allowed to have visits from his mother.
This leaves the opportunity for a relationship or departure on the child’s behalf upon adulthood.
Holmes also said that if the biological parents cannot be part of the child’s life, research has shown that a married foster couple is the second best way to raise a child.
“It doesn’t matter if the couple is heterosexual or same sex … a child has been shown to be less affected when raised by a married couple,” Holmes said.
Holmes said he was optimistic about the legalization of same sex marriage in the not so distant future.
The next faculty lecture will be presented by Professor of Public Administration Jack Meek on Monday at noon.
Russell R. Silva can be reached at email@example.com.