Dispute over McDonalds turns into child custody issue


A father is fighting against a recommendation by a court-appointed psychologist that his parenting time be reduced. The recommendation was made after a particularly rocky visit between the father and his four-year-old son during which the young child threw a temper tantrum and refused to eat dinner anywhere except for McDonald’s.

This sort situation is probably familiar to most parents, and going through the emotional difficulty of a divorce can make children more irritable and upset over smaller conflicts. In this case, what happened next was more unusual. The son refused to eat dinner at another restaurant and the father stood firm, taking him home to his mother at the end of the visit without dinner. The mother found this to be objectionable and brought it to the attention of the court-appointed psychologist who found that the incident indicated an inability to handle caring for the child.

The case has gained national attention recently as parents and family law experts weigh in on whether refusing a meal at McDonalds is good parenting. The reactions vary on both extremes, with many supporting the father’s decision not to feed the child an unhealthy meal or to give in to a temper tantrum. Others see the situation differently, finding it more important to make sure the child eats than to be picky about what exactly they consume.

The conflict shows just how widely opinions can vary on basic parenting question and the difficulty of co-parenting with someone in the midst of a divorce battle.

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Source: ABA Journal, “Punished in custody battle after nixing son’s demand for Mickey D’s meal, law grad sues psychologist,” Martha Neil, Nov. 8, 2013.

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