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How the Golden Arches are front and center in visitation dispute

If you were to take an informal poll of a group of kids between the ages of five to ten to learn what they would eat for dinner every single night if given the choice, there is a very good chance the answer would be unanimous: fast food. Interestingly, one young child's love of a particular fast food chain and his father's subsequent denial of his wish to eat dinner there is now taking center stage in a bitter divorce case that has made headlines across the nation.

According to reports, the mother and father of a nearly five-year-old boy are currently in the midst of prolonged divorce in New York City. During the duration of the divorce proceedings, the father, an attorney and employee-benefits consultant, was granted visitation time with his son every other weekend and every Tuesday night for dinner.

In late October, the two met for dinner, with the father informing his son that they would be going to a restaurant in Manhattan for dinner that they had gone to several times before. The son, however, had different ideas and demanded that instead they go to McDonald's for dinner.

The father, worried that his son had been consuming an abundance of junk food, denied his son's request, a move that quickly resulted in a temper tantrum.

Wanting to spend quality time with his son, but also wanting to send a disciplinary message, the father presented his son with the following ultimatum: eating dinner anywhere but McDonald's or him going directly home to his mother.

The boy elected the latter option, and the father took him back to his mother's apartment building -- attempting to change his mind along the way -- where they waited for her in the lobby to return from work.

Interestingly, in the aftermath of this seemingly harmless and fairly typical parent-child scenario, the court-appointed psychologist assigned to the divorce case stated in a hearing that the father's denial of the boy's fast food cravings "raise[d] concerns about the viability" of his alternate weekend visits and recommended that the court greatly reduce the visitation time of this otherwise "wholly incapable" parent.

Both stunned and outraged over this recommendation, the father has since filed a defamation lawsuit against the psychologist, arguing that she had lied to the presiding judge and failed to discuss any concerns with him beforehand.

It should be very interesting to see how this case develops. In the meantime, those with questions or concerns regarding child custody, child support or other divorce-related matters here in Minnesota, you should strongly consider consulting with an experienced attorney who can outline your options and enforce your rights.

Source: ABC News, "Suit: NY dad criticized for denying son McDonald's," Jennifer Peltz, Nov. 8, 2013; Time, "Not lovin' it: Dad accused of 'unfit parenting' for refusing to take his son to McDonalds," Madison Gray, Nov. 8, 2013

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