NEW YORK, June 12, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- According to a 2010 Pew Research Study, by 2008 1 in 7 new marriages in America were between interracial or inter-ethnic couples. This reflects multi-cultural Americans marrying, Americans marrying foreign-born individuals, and foreign born couples from the same or differing countries marrying each other and raising their families in the United States. These statistics beg the question, when intercultural relationships involving children fail, how does the American judicial system evaluate the appropriateness of multi-cultural parenting models in child custody actions?
"Cultural differences profoundly influence parenting techniques and should be taken into consideration when it comes to child custody," says Liz Mandarano, a Manhattan family law and divorce attorney at Bikel & Mandarano, LLP and frequent blogger for the Huffington Post Divorce Vertical.
Dr. Stephen P. Herman, an internationally recognized forensic psychiatrist who has served as a child custody expert throughout the United States for over thirty years, has extensive experience in examining multi-cultural custody issues in American courts. Some cases relate to rarely observed cultures, such as a New York divorce action involving two members of the Roma culture (Gypsies). He notes that Roma fathers automatically receive custody of children upon a divorce. However, a New York court declined to defer to Roma cultural norms and granted custody to the mother, who was consequently barred from her community for seeking outside help.
Ms. Mandarano adds, "Even culturally mundane stereotypes may suddenly be exaggerated to raise flags in custody actions, ranging from the overly-emotional Mediterranean style of expressing anger to the cold, indifferent German who can't express loving sentiments. So where should courts draw the line?"
Dr. Herman encourages that the judicial system take the following steps in determining how much, if any, deference should be given to cultural beliefs in assessing whether behavior is an acceptable or unacceptable form of parenting:
1. Identify our own cultural ignorance as evaluators and seek to question and perhaps suspend our biases.
2. Examine how that culture's family laws differ from American ones.
3. Review available literature and interview members of the culture to confirm that the parenting style is an acceptable norm within that culture or whether it is in fact a combination of culture and abuse.
4. Evaluate the bonding attachment between parent and child. Dr. Herman points out that irrespective of different parenting techniques, there are certain cross-cultural universals to healthy parenting.
5. Determine the parents' plans for raising their children to see if there is a logical connection between the behavior and developmental goals.
6. Spend time with the child and his or her educators to see how, if at all, the particular parenting child impacts the child.
Mandarano says, "Given the infinite number of cultural combos and uniqueness of each family, there can be no clear-cut formula. However, by applying the above principles the American judicial system can meaningfully assess how much weight should be given to cultural considerations and evaluate when a behavior has reached a point where it is considered excessive cross-culturally."
HJMT Public Relations Inc.
Bikel & Mandarano, LLP is a midtown Manhattan-based boutique law firm devoted exclusively to matrimonial, divorce and family law as well as related legal matters such as estate planning. The founding members, Dror Bikel and Liz Mandarano, have a unique combination of strong trial experience, effective negotiation skills, and attention to detail that achieve the best resolution possible. As a boutique venture, the firm seeks creative solutions and invests all of their resources to provide their clients depth and scope of legal expertise in their specialized practice. For more information visit www.bikellaw.com, call 212 682-6333 or email email@example.com.
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