Pink concert

You can’t always please your teenager, but you have to try

A New Jersey father used a Pink Concert to try and persuade a family court judge that his ex-wife was a bad parent, in a family court case released April 25, 2015.

The Pink concert was the final straw for father, C.Z. He and mother D.Z., were engaged in protracted litigation over the custody and parenting arrangements of their 11 year old daughter, A.Z. and her two brothers.

C.Z. accused his ex-wife making an inappropriate parenting decision, when she took their daughter to a Pink concert on December 11, 2013.  However, Superior Court Judge Lawrence Jones found that the mother “in no way shape or form exceeded the boundaries of reasonable parental judgement” when she took the girl to the concert during her parenting time.  He also ruled that taking the child to the concert did not cause any unreasonable risk of harm, or compromise her health, safety, or welfare.

The court held that each parent had a constitutional right to exercise reasonable parental discretion when it came to exposing the child to the arts. Moreover, he found that while parents may disagree about certain “performances of the creative arts”, each parent should have the freedom to do so without interference of the other parent, unless it is objectively age-inappropriate.

The father expressed his concern that some of Pink’s songs included profanities, and that the dance performances during the show were overtly sexual in nature.  He asked the court to infer that, because she took their child to a Pink concert, his ex’s parenting skills were inferior to his own.

The child’s mother noted that the concert tickets were very desirable to her daughter, and that before deciding to take her daughter to the Pink concert she researched the singer-artist by watching clips of other Pink concerts on YouTube.  The concert had no age restrictions.

Judge Lawrence Jones interviewed the girl, and learned that although there was one “bad” song during the concert, she didn’t listen to the words and put her earphones on instead.  In an examination of Pink’s lyrics and music, the judge found that the use of profanity was not substantial, and that in fact the themes of the songs were very relevant to Jr. High and High School students.

The written decision offered not only commentary on this particular case, to but also noted a trend for parents to involve the courts when they encounter parenting disagreements:

“While the present matter involves a parental disagreement over a child’s attendance at a rock concert, the case exemplifies an ever-growing challenge for family courts which extends far beyond disputes over a child’s exposure to rock music.  Specifically, the system is often inundated with battles between warring ex-spouses who come to court with grievances and allegations about each other’s parental skills and decisions. In a great many of these circumstances, the dispute actually boils down to one parent, or sometimes each parent, attempting to micromanage how the other parent raises the child during his or her parenting time.”

The Judge further stated that, “it is important for joint legal custodians to recognize and appreciate the right of each parent to exercise reasonable parental discretion in one’s own home and under ones’ own watch”.  Another element for consideration is the age and maturity level of the particular child.

Not only did the judge decide that attending the concert was not a poor parenting decision, he also commented that most importantly, the child and her mother had a night out together, sharing an experience which was clearly very important to the girl.

The parents were subsequently able to negotiate joint custody of their daughter and sons, as well as a parenting schedule, without further court involvement.

Jayne Embree, M.A.

Jayne holds a Masters in Psychology and is a highly experienced Divorce Coach and Child Specialist.  She is currently working with the Administrative and Human Resources Departments of Butterfield Law.