Mom fighting for custody of multiracial child ordered to remove confederate flag-painted rock

An upstate New York mother is being ordered by an appellate court to remove a confederate flag-painted rock in her driveway or risk losing custody of her multiracial child.

A family court that had previously handled the case didn’t consider the rock to be an issue during the trial, but the higher court sees it as problematic.

“Given that the child is of mixed race, it would seem apparent that the presence of the flag is not in the child’s best interests, as the mother must encourage and teach the child to embrace her mixed-race identity, rather than thrust her into a world that only makes sense through the tortured lens of cognitive dissonance,” judges with the Appellate Division’s Third Department in Albany wrote in their ruling on Thursday.

The judges unanimously declared that the “presence of the confederate flag,” when “viewed pragmatically,” “is a symbol inflaming the already strained relationship between the parties.”

The court ruled that if the painted rock was not removed by June 1st, “its continued presence shall constitute a change in circumstances,” which means that the parents’ custody agreement could be revisited, and then threatened that “Family Court shall factor this into any future best interests analysis.”

Only the first names of the parents, identified only as Christie and Isaiah, appear in the documents. Their daughter was born in 2014 and they have shared custody of the child since 2017. They have apparently never been married and the mother now wants the father to only have visiting rights every other weekend. The father is now seeking sole custody and the battle has gotten ugly.

The father originally raised the issue of the rock during their custody trial, the New York Post reported. He’s now making a stronger argument in court that his home provides a better environment for the child. The mother testified during a fact-finding hearing that she had the rock at her rented home in her driveway. She also claimed that she does not use racial slurs.

The painted rock became a serious issue once the case made its way to the appellate court.

“Although not addressed by Family Court or the attorney for the child, the mother’s testimony at the hearing, as well as an exhibit admitted into evidence, reveal that she has a small confederate flag painted on a rock near her driveway,” the judges noted in their ruling.

Jason Leifer, the child’s attorney, claimed it was as if the appellate judges “pulled something out of a hat” because the rock was never part of the conflict between the parents.

“Bringing politics into the family court is probably the worst possible thing you could do, and it seems like that’s what the appellate division has opened the door to,” Leifer commented to the New York Post. “Hopefully it’ll be fixed by the Court of Appeals.”

According to Michael Stutman, who is an attorney specializing in matrimonial law and the current chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Matrimonial Law Committee, he believes the judges made “a very dangerous statement.”

“I think that it is a rather astonishing extension of wokeness in now that the door seems to be opening that someone’s political viewpoint reflects on their fitness as a parent,” Stutman contended. “It is one of the clearest infringements on someone’s free speech by the state to have a court threaten to restrict a parents’ rights to their child based upon … the propriety of a person’s political beliefs.”

“I don’t think that such a decision would ever stand constitutional challenge,” he remarked. “You could easily find a conservative court saying that a person who flies a rainbow pride flag on their front door is an unfit parent because that judge does not believe in sexual choices, say, that are beyond that of just males and females,” the attorney continued. “I think it was a real error.”

The father’s attorney said that his client “certainly… felt that the issue was important and needed to be raised.”

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