On Thursday night, August 13, 2009, Lower Heidelberg Township Police were dispatched to the Gosselin residence in Wernersville, Pennsylvania.
As we all are aware, Jon & Kate have a custody arrangement wherein Jon spends a week with the children at the Wernersville home and then Kate spend a week with the children. The agreement provides that each parent will have exclusive possession of the home – in other words the other party is not permitted to be there or interfere with that parent’s custody time.
Apparently Kate did not abide by the agreement. Last Thursday night she returned, unannounced, to the parties home during Jon’s week with the kids. Jon would not let her in. Kate called the cops. The cops arrived and told Kate to leave. Kate complied. The end.
So why did Kate show up at the house in the first place? Allegedly Kate was upset over Jon’s babysitter – 23-year-old cocktail waitress Stephanie Santoro. It has previously been reported that Ms. Santoro often spends the night at the house for reasons other than watching the children.
Jealousy, no mater how understandable it may be, is no reason for Kate to get the police involved. However, giving Kate the benefit of the doubt, it is possible she believed her children were not being cared for appropriately by Ms. Santoro.
Regardless of the reason, unless the kids were in physical danger or there was an emergency situation, Kate was out of line. Kate must respect Jon’s “exclusive” time with the children and stay away. Furthermore, calling the police for a routine custody dispute (although I imagine it escalated into Kate and Ms. Santoro exchanging choice words with one another) is never a smart decision.
But it happens all the time.
Parents routinely call the police when they believe the other parent is violating a custody order/agreement. If the order is clear as to which parent has custody of the children at that moment, then the police may assist in transferring the kids to that parent. Absent that, the police are generally powerless to do anything (except as previously noted) and, as in the Gosselin’s case, usually just inform the parties their dispute is a “civil matter” and they need to deal with it in family court. Further, judges do not look kindly on a party who involves the police for simple custody matters. Most judges are quick to berate a parent in open court for using the police in that manner. I’ve heard the courtroom lecture from Judge’s countless times: “Don’t you think the police have more important things to do then deal with your personal problems?!” (Always directed at my adversary’s client of course).
If you read my previous blogs, you know the Gosselins have not filed for custody (see Jon minus Kate: What about the 8?). If Kate is going to make an issue regarding Ms. Santoro’s continued care over the children or presence at the house then Jon & Kate may be headed to Berks County for a very public custody battle.
Perhaps Jon & Kate could learn a thing or two from Madonna – a private, comprehensive, collaborative resolution seems ideal for their situation.
The high profile of Jon and Kate provides the public with a unique opportunity to explore issues that arise in contested divorce cases. Through this ongoing series I will offer comments and analysis of the proceedings and provide insight on how developments in Jon and Kate’s case may occur in other divorces. I am a Pennsylvania divorce attorney who is not involved in the Jon and Kate matter and the comments I present in this blog series are not case specific but rather intended to provide the public with helpful information on Pennsylvania divorce law