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Family law disputes can spread onto the gridiron

We have written before about the broad scope of issues family law can deal with. We offered a rundown of a few of them in one recent post. Since then, a story has made headlines that serves to reinforce the point we sought to make. And so, we are taking this post to dig into that a little.

The backdrop of the story is football - a significant pastime in Ohio. Football is big whether at the professional, college or high school level. And it is that extracurricular activity that is the source of contention in this child custody dispute. While it's playing out in Pennsylvania, it's reasonable to believe similar cases are active in other states, including Ohio.

According to the story, a father concerned for the safety of his son, is fighting in court seeking to maintain joint legal custody over this facet of his son's life. The youth has a history of three concussions already and the father, citing research that questions the safety of football, wants to prevent something worse from happening.

How this ended up in court

By way of background, the father previously supported his son's wish to play for more than 10 years, but that changed as he became aware of recent medical research into the hazards of football concussions. When summer practice was due to start this past year, the father told the school he didn't want the boy to play. Because of the legal custody arrangement, the school complied.

The boy's mother, holding the position that the teenager knows the risks and has a right to play if he wants to, went to court last August seeking to allow participation. When the judge denied her request, she petitioned to modify custody to gain sole legal custody - at least for the son's extracurricular activities. This time, the judge agreed and the boy played last season without injury.

With the dispute still unresolved, the parents are in court-mandated mediation and are slated to appear before a judge soon. If they can't agree, the father says he is prepared to take the matter to trial, hopefully before the new season begins.

The father acknowledges that the case is already straining his family relationships. He also recognizes the expense of going to trial. But he suggests he's willing to go that route to prevent his son from suffering potential brain damaging injury. 

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