Clark W. Griswold Would Be Proud: Citing Importance Of Summer Vacations, Family Part Permits Parent To Take Child Abroad

by:  Peter J. Gallagher (@pjsgallagher)

I loved the movie National Lampoon's Vacation as a kid but I did not truly appreciate it until I had children of my own and experienced family vacations from the parent perspective. This perspective may have been most eloquently summarized by Clark W. Griswold when he finally snaps near the end of his family's journey to Wally World:

I think you're all [expletive deleted] in the head. We're ten hours from the [expletive deleted] fun park and you want to bail out. Well I'll tell you something. This is no longer a vacation. It's a quest. It's a quest for fun. You're gonna have fun, and I'm gonna have fun . . . We're all gonna have so much [expletive deleted] fun we're gonna need plastic surgery to remove our [expletive deleted] smiles! You'll be whistling 'Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah' out of your [expletive deleted]! I must be crazy! I'm on a pilgrimage to see a moose. Praise Marty Moose! Holy [expletive deleted]!

[For a similar take on family vacations, you can also check out Louis CK who describes his personal "vacation" as the few seconds he gets between closing the door on one side of the car and walking around to the driver's side before getting in and starting the real "vacation."]

I was reminded of these, admittedly cynical, impressions of family vacations when I read a recent decision, Lang v. Lang, from the Family Part. In that case, divorced parents fought over whether the mother could take their six-year-old son to Holland for the summer. Sprinkled throughout the court's opinion were descriptions of the importance of family vacations, including the following:

Vacations provide highly unique and valuable opportunities for a child to bond with parents and other family members, while creating highly positive and lasting  memories. The entire point of vacation travel is for adults and children alike to enjoy a invigorating break from the tedium of everyday schedules and responsibilities, and to mentally relax and rejuvenate by journeying to new  destinations, experiencing new sights and adventures, and simply enjoying themselves in as carefree a manner as possible.

The court obviously has fonder memories of family vacations than I do. I remember turning blue while driving through the safari at Six Flags in a Dodge Dart with the windows closed and no air conditioning. Nothing too invigorating about that.

 

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Are You A Bad Parent If You Take Your Child To A Pink Concert?

 by:  Peter J. Gallagher (@pjsgallagher)

This was, literally, the question before a Law Division judge in Zoe v. Zoe. In that case, the parents of an eleven-year-old girl were in the midst of ongoing litigation over physical custody of their child when the mother took her daughter to a Pink concert at the Prudential Center. The father claimed that the mother abused her parental discretion by doing so because the concert was not age appropriate. Specifically, the father claimed that there was profanity in some of Pink’s songs and that the concert included sexually suggestive themes and dance performances. He claimed that if he had been at the concert with his daughter, he would have walked her out rather than let her stay.

The court rejected the father’s claims and held instead that: (1) after divorce, each parent has a right to exercise reasonable parental discretion over a child’s activities; (2) after divorce, each parent has a constitutional right to exercise reasonable parental discretion in introducing and exposing their child to the creative arts; (3) the court will generally not interfere with decisions made by parents that are consistent with these rights; and (4) the decision by the mother in Zoe was a reasonable and appropriate exercise of her rights.

 

 

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Not Quite “Lord of the Flies.” New Jersey Court Rules on Liability For Injuries To Minors During Sporting Events

by:  Peter J. Gallagher (@pjsgallagher)

When I was around ten-years-old, I showed up for soccer practice a little late and found an ambulance at the field waiting to take one of my teammates to the hospital. He and another one of my teammates collided while both were going after the ball and one of them broke his leg. As far as I know, no lawsuit was ever filed. Earlier this week, the Appellate Division issued its opinion in C.J.R. v. G.A., and established the standard that might have applied had my teammates (or their parents) been a little more litigious.

    In C.J.R., the Medford youth lacrosse team was playing the Marlton youth lacrosse team. In the waning seconds of the game, with Medford ahead by one goal, plaintiff, a member of the Medford team, had the “ball nestled in the basket of his stick” when defendant, a player on the Marlton team, struck him in the forearm. The blow knocked plaintiff to the ground. He was later taken to a hospital and treated for a fractured arm. Plaintiff’s father sued both defendant and defendant’s father (the latter for negligent supervision). The trial court granted summary judgment to both defendants and plaintiff appealed, but only as to the dismissal of his claims against the child.

 

 

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