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Custody Drama "Sheen Style"

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By: Huffington Post, March 17, 2011

Reviewed by: Attorney Nichole A. Collins, Family Law Division Leader

It seems impossible to escape the latest Charlie Sheen drama these days. Whether receiving updates through media interviews, following Charlie Sheen on Twitter or simply standing around the water cooler, everyone is talking all things Charlie Sheen.

Last week, Sheen's estranged wife, Brooke Mueller, petitioned the family law court in Los Angeles for an order granting her sole custody of the couples' two year old twin boys because Sheen alleged threatened Mueller and due to Mueller's increasing concerns over the environment in Sheen's home. The Court Ordered that the boys be removed from Sheen's home and placed with Mueller.

In this case, however, there is an unusual twist: it appears the Mueller herself isn't exactly in the best shape herself to parent the children. Mueller's lawyer admitted to the court on March 16, 2010 that she is currently in rehab, and that she, herself, will only see the children for four hours per day. Her mother is going to care for the children while they are in Mueller's exclusive custody.

In Pennsylvania, Courts are supposed to award custody based on the "best interests" of the child. In determining what is in the child's best interests, Pennsylvania Courts are guided by House Bill 1639 (now Act 112 of 2010), which requires Courts to consider factors affecting the health, safety and welfare of the child. The court will consider the existence of family violence as well. The likelihood of an abuser receiving exclusive custody is slim, especially if there are allegations of child abuse. The new PA statute mandates that a court discuss this factor in an opinion if it exists.

The allegation made by Mueller is certainly a serious one and the Court should have entertained it as such. However, the disclosure that Mueller herself is in rehabilitation raises the question of whether either one of these individuals are really appropriate to parent these very young children. In granting custody to Mueller, it appears that the court actually granted custody to her mother, someone we know little, if anything about. Thus, a grandmother received custody by virtue of the fact that her daughter was not available to care for her children and her son-in-law had been restrained from having custody.

If neither parent is fit to parent the children, the law provides the Commonwealth to seek custody of the children and place them in foster care. It is imperative that you seek knowledgeable counsel for your custody matter to either safely remove your child from an abusive situation, defend against allegations of abuse or you are facing termination of your parental rights. Your children will thank you for it later. Contact Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC at 717-695-8849 or log onto http://www.shafferengle.com/Family-Law/ for more details. Email us directly at nichole@shafferengle.com.

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