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Mother could lose child custody over pageants

Somerville parents may have watched the reality show 'Toddlers & Tiaras' which airs on TLC. Regardless of one's personal feelings about the show, one mother is now under fire for allegedly "sexualizing" her daughter after allowing her to wear a Dolly Parton costume. She is now embroiled in an intense child custody battle with the little girl's father. He is seeking full custody and appears to have the backing of the court-ordered psychologist.

The psychologist condemned the girl's participation in the pageant circuit and has recommended the father become the child's primary guardian. However, the woman is adamant that her behavior was in no way harmful or illegal. She claims she was only attempting to represent her state when she dressed the girl up in the Dolly Parton costume, and pointed out that the same costume is available for retail purchase as a Halloween costume.

She could very well have a difficult legal battle ahead of her, especially given the input from the court-appointed psychologist. The outcome of this case stands to set an important legal precedent and could affect parents across the country. The pageant Mom pointed out that such a precedent could have ramifications for parents across the country in terms of which extracurricular activities they allow their child to participate in. She suggests that if children are not allowed to participate in sports or pageants, there might not be Olympic athletes or adult pageant winners. Further complicating the case is the fact that the child's father has seen his own share of legal trouble and has a lengthy criminal history of arrests that include alcohol and drug violations.

A child custody battle can be difficult and expensive for Somerville parents. However, this mother apparently had no idea her actions could backfire in what could be a permanent way. The case is in the hands of the court and could be decided soon. For now, the woman would do well to ensure she is aware of her legal rights concerning the child custody laws in her state. Doing so could only help her as she seeks to keep custody of her young daughter.

Source: Fox News, "'Toddlers & Tiaras' mom could lose custody of daughter because she puts her in pageants," Meaghan Murphy, Aug. 17, 2012

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