Law Sample Paper on The Rothman Decisions
Rothman V. Jewish Child Care Association is a case that was held in the Supreme Court of New York County before its ruling on November 5, 1971 (Goldstein, Anna and Albert,p. 71-95). This case concerned the placement of an eight-year old fosterling, Stacey, daughter of the petitioner in this case, Ms. Rothman. The petitionerhad voluntarily given her daughter to the Jewish Child Care Association for temporary child custody since she had been befallen by a mental illness. She voluntarily got admitted to a hospital.
Ms. Rothman got out of the health facility for a short time but was hospitalized again soon after. Her second spell in the hospital lasted until December 1969, a full 5 years since her initial surrender of her daughter’s custodianship to Jewish Child Care Association. Since her release in 1969 to 1971, the time of the case ruling, Ms. Rothman had never been readmitted to the hospital. On the contrary, she had been able to secure a 140-dollar-a-week job as a secretary, a probable sign of her total recovery.
Consequently, Ms. Rothman went to court seeking the return of her daughter to her custodianship. Jewish Child Care Association is against giving Stacey back to her mother since they argue that she is mentally unfit to take care of her daughter. Additionally, the respondents argued that the relationship between Ms. Rothman and her daughter Stacey was not good. The court overruled this argument since the unhealthy relationship between mother and daughter was due to the mother’s illness and the Childcare’s hindrance, such as denial of visitation.Moreover,the respondents failed to not only substantiate that Ms. Rothman is unfit to care for her daughter but also how separating Stacey from her mother relates to her well-being.
Ms. Rothman on the other hand, argued that the fact that she has been healthy since her release from hospital was a sign that she was in fact fit to regain custodianship of her daughter. She also argued her case referencing her active contribution to social, charitable and religious contribution to the community. Moreover, she petitioned that since she was living with her parents (Stacey’s grandparents) her daughter’s development process would be smoother.
There are elements of Elaine Hasday’s “Family Law Canon” that are applicable in the case of Rothman V. Jewish Child Care Association. One example is the element of Federalism and the Family, discussed in the first chapter of “Family Canon Law”. This element describes the canon exerting that family law is an uncommon form of localism through which the federal government controls almost all facets of life (Hasday, p. 16-67). Additionally, exponents of this narrative sometimes argue that the localism of family law’s is often subjective and an issue of common sense. In our case, it may be a matter of common sense that Stacey, the foster child, would in time be more comfortable living with her family than with a child care association.
The Progress Narratives for Adults, discussed in the third chapter of this book, may also apply in the case of Rothman V. Jewish Child Care Association (Hasday, p. 159-195). This chapter discusses the family law’s handling of adults and their historical transformations.The psychological torture that Ms. Rothman experiences after being separated from her child for so long is evident as she seeks legal intervention. With all the emphasis on the well-being of the child, the best interests of the parent have often been disregarded. However, the judge in this case took into regard the apparent feelings of Ms. Rothman. He stated that during the hearings the court had observed the sincerity and desire she had to care for her daughter.
The third chapter also weighs in on the basics of contract agreements; presuming that contract rules prevails over status rules. This is evident in the case of Ms. Rothman V. Jewish Child Care; in which we find out that both parties had agreed to a temporary transfer of Stacey’s custodianship. This is despite the fact that the definite timeline of the custodianship had not been stated. Consequently, the court had to side with Ms. Rothman since the respondent’s appeal to keep permanent custodianship of Ms. Rothman’s daughter was not in accordance with the initial agreement.
The judge implies that family law is inherently local when he reverses custodianship of Stacey to her mother and grandparents. Moreover, since the initial decision to surrender custodianship was locally made by Ms. Rothman, then it was fair that she regains custodianship. The judge also implies that family law rejects market principles when he restores custodianship to the petitioner. He bases his judgement on a variety of family issues and not just the financial capability to raise a child. Finally, it is clear that family law prioritizes children’s interests over other parties. The court made the ruling that was best for the child, such as sanctioning a smooth reverse of custodianship through visitation.
Principles from “Beyond the Best Interests of the Child” can be applied to this case (Goldstein, Anna and Albert, 1973). The best interests of the child refer to the protection of both a minor’s physical and psychological well-being. It entails the placing a child’s interests above any other claims. In the case of Rothman V. Jewish Child Care Association, the judge’s ruling can be said to be in the best interest of the child. Directing that Stacey’s custodianship be reversed to her mother was in the best interest of the child especially psychologically. Moreover, the fact that all parties agreed to a smooth transition of custody through visitation is an indicator of their commitment to the child’s well-being.
The least detrimental alternative, on the other hand, refers to the option that comparatively offers the most seamless placement and/or promotes favorable development of the child under scrutiny (Goldstein, p7). Between the child’s mother and a child care facility, the court had to decide who of the two was the least detrimental alternative. Settling on the mother was justifiable since it enables a psychological parent-child relationship with the biological parent. This was despite the mother’s past mental health problems which the respondents argued made the parent unfit to care for the child.
A psychological parent is one who develops a bond and shares deep feelings with a child (Goldstein, p11). The biological parent, the sire, is Ms. Rothman in our case. The respondents argued that she was not capable of becoming Stacey’s psychological mother due to her past mental illness.However, this was substantiated since Ms. Rothman proved that she had recovered. Given time, mother and child could develop a psychological relationship.
Conclusively, I agree with the judge’s decision concerning both the best interests and least detrimental alternative in this case. Reversing custody of the child to her biological mother was in the best interests for both the child and the mother. Moreover, the judge agreed to a smooth transition of custody by first allowing visitation and so as Ms. Rothman and her daughter would start developing a psychological connection after a long period of separation. Allowing the child to live with her family was also the least detrimental alternative compared to letting Stacey live in a child care facility.
Goldstein, Joseph, Anna Freund, and Albert J. Solnit. Beyond the best interests of the child. New York: The Free Press, 1973.
Goldstein, Joseph. The best interests of the child: The least detrimental alternative. Simon and Schuster, 1996.
Hasday, Jill Elaine. Family law reimagined. Harvard University Press, 2014.