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Father allows teen to marry to avoid boarding school

Minnesota families know how difficult it can be to reach a child custody agreement, especially in a situation where a child has unique educational or healthcare needs. Each parent usually has a different idea of what would be best for their child, and often the court steps in to help provide a solution from a neutral perspective.

Unfortunately not all parents abide by court ordered child custody decisions and the results can be more drastic than either party anticipated. In one unique case, an entrepreneur has been sentenced to a 180 days in jail for contempt of court.

The charges came out of what the judge in the case said was a blatant strategy to negate the court's decision that his son should be sent to a boarding school for children with behavioral difficulties. The strategy was apparently to facilitate a marriage between his son and a friend of the family which rendered him a legal adult not subject to the court's ruling.

A review of the records by the court showed that the boy's mother was not aware of the marriage and that only his father consented. His father admitted to signing the consent form but both he and his son have insisted that the marriage had nothing to do with the boarding school order. The boarding school rejected his application, citing the ongoing divorce litigation as the reason. However, the court believes that the father persuaded the school to reject the application and had used the marriage as a backup plan, since the school has a rule against married students.

When the father signed the marriage consent form he probably didn't imagine that he could end up in jail because of its impact on his divorce agreement. Similarly, many Minnesotans may not be aware of the unintended consequences of deviating from a divorce agreement which makes the advice of an experienced family law attorney very important.

Source: The Miami Herald, "Fisher Island man jailed for marrying off teen son during divorce proceedings," David Ovalle, July 12, 2012

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