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Child Custody and Trial by Combat

By: Hannah E. Smith, JD

We all love a good Mulan-esque warrior story with a happy ending. Family law attorneys have seen it all and are the warriors and champions of family law related issues. Delving into the chaotic family disputes that clients present daily means almost nothing could come as a surprise.  Yet, when a Kansas man challenged his Iowa ex-wife to a trial by sword fight to settle their child custody dispute, it appeared that there may indeed be something new under the sun.

David Ostrom of Paola, Kansas, filed a motion for trial by combat back in January of this year.  He asked the Iowa District Court in Shelby County to allow him to settle his child custody dispute with his ex-wife via a duel. Ostrom requested that the Court grant him 12 weeks “lead time” to give him an opportunity to source katana and wakizashi swords. He argued that “To this day, trial by combat has never been explicitly banned or restricted as a right in these United States…” Frustrations with his ex-wife’s attorney, Matthew Hudson, prompted Ostrom to file the motion in the highly contested child custody dispute.  In turn, Attorney Hudson requested the Court suspend Ostrom’s visitation rights and order him to undergo a court-ordered psychological evaluation.

In North Carolina, one party may file a motion with the Court requesting the judge order the other party undergo a psychological evaluation if the party’s mental health is called into question. The psychological evaluation will determine if a psychological disorder exists and possible treatment plans. In terms of custody, psychological evaluations can be an important factor in deciding what is in a minor child’s best interest.

In March, the judge in Ostrom’s case granted Attorney Hudson’s request for Ostrom to undergo a court-ordered psychological evaluation and temporarily banned Ostrom from seeing his children unsupervised. Ostrom’s psychological evaluation results indicate that he has an “adjustment disorder with mixed emotion feelings.” Essentially, Ostrom is not troubled but is experiencing anger stemming from the dispute with his ex-wife. Ostrom hopes that the results from his evaluation will allow him to show the Court that he deserves more time with his children.

While trial by combat is not a practical method for resolving a child custody dispute, the attorneys at Woodruff Family Law Group will certainly fight for all your family law needs. Whether your case is in the beginning stages or you’re already in the thick of things and may be facing a psychological evaluation, we are here for you. Give us a call to schedule your initial consultation today.