Case Law Update: Separating Siblings

I sometimes have clients who, for whatever reason, think that they should have custody over one child, while there spouse should have custody of their other child. As a general rule, courts are against splitting siblings between parents, and that is what I usually advise my clients. However, in Bolton v. Bolton, handed down by the Mississippi Court of Appeals on May 24, 2011, the court did just that. In that case, Randy and Stephanie Bolton divorced in 2003. Randy later filed to modify custody, seeking to obtain physical custody of his and Stephanie's son, Tyler. The trial court modified custody as requested, which resulted in Tyler's separation from his sisters (who apparently lived with Stephanie). The Court of Appeals noted that the trial court reviewed the Albright factors, as is required in a modification of custody. The Court of Appeals court also noted that the Albright factors are used to help the trial judge determine the overall consideration, which is what is in the child's best interests. While courts generally do not like to separate siblings, that is not one of the Albright factors, and it is within the trial judge's discretion should he find that is in the child's best interest. In the situation before the trial judge, it was found that the separation was in Tyler's best interest, and was therefore justified. Photo Credit: Ruth L

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