New York Judge Rules that Evidence of Abortion Should Be Allowed in Child Custody Case

A child custody case coming out of Manhattan is making headlines news because of the judge’s seemingly alarming holding—New York Supreme Court Justice Lori S. Sattler has ruled that divorcee Lisa Mehos, who is in the middle of a custody battle with her former spouse Manuel John Mehos, must provide testimony concerning an abortion she had after their divorce.  Lisa Mehos and Manuel John Mehos were married for six years and divorced back in October of 2011.  Manuel John Mehos heads a bank in Texas and has made headline news before when he was arrested for allegedly hitting his ex-wife in front of their children.  The charges were later dropped.  The Mehos are now embroiled in a custody case.

A week before Judge Sattler’s ruling, Manuel Meho’s attorney, Eleanor Alter, raised the topic of Lisa Mehos’ abortion after discovering it pursuant to a subpoena for Ms. Mehos medical records.  Alter noted that the abortion took place over Easter weekend in 2012, during which time Ms. Mehos had requested custody of the couple’s two young children.  Alter urged the judge that she should be able to question Lisa Mehos concerning the abortion, as it calls into question her presented motives for requesting custody back in 2012 and is relevant to Ms. Mehos’ complaints of being under constant stress due to Mr. Mehos.  Alter urges that the abortion should be looked at as a possible source of stress, rather than Manuel Mehos.  Lastly, Alter stated she should be able to question Lisa Mehos concerning the abortion in order to determine whether the children were exposed to the man who impregnated her.

Judge Sattler agreed with Manuel Mehos’ attorney.  She ruled that Lisa Mehos must provide testimony concerning her abortion because it is relevant to her credibility.  Sattler seemed particularly troubled by the fact that Lisa Mehos had previously testified she did not have men over to her New York apartment, which she felt the abortion called into question.  Forced to open up about the abortion, Lisa Mehos testified that she became pregnant after a one time sexual encounter with a friend at his place.  Her mother cared for the children while she had the abortion.  Lisa Mehos told reporters she felt violated having been made to talk about the abortion.

Sattler’s ruling has sparked outrage among women’s rights activists and many citizens.  Was Judge Sattler’s ruling correct?  Take a look at the following facts:

  1. A parent’s behavior and willingness to foster their child’s relationship with the other parent are relevant factors for a determination of custody.  Manuel Mehos’ attorney Eleanor Alter claims the abortion is relevant because:
    1. It shows Manuel Mehos did not cause Lisa Mehos’ household stress—the abortion did
    2. It indicates Lisa Mehos’ acted hypocritical in keeping the kids for Easter weekend for the apparent reason that Mr. Mehos is an atheist
    3. It allegedly showed Lisa Mehos might have lied about having men over to the apartment
  2. While these are the purported reasons for admission of the evidence—it seems in reality the evidence is designed to paint Lisa Mehos as a bad parent for her actions in becoming pregnant and choosing to have an abortion
    1. Alter’s purported reasons for requesting the testimony as described above all seem fairly far-fetched and trivial to require a woman to testify to a very private medical procedure
    2. The judge could have considered some alternative to requiring Lisa Mehos to testify in open court as to her abortion, such as an in-camera review of her intended testimony.
    3. It seems the relevancy of the testimony is outweighed by its potential for unfair prejudice.

If you are involved in a child custody dispute or fear you may become involved in one, call The Law Office of Matthew S. Poole.  Matthew S. Poole is a passionate and experienced Mississippi child custody attorney who will fight tirelessly for you to achieve the child custody arrangement you desire.  Call him today at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a consultation.

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