Inside Bristol Palin’s Custody Battle Over Newborn Baby
Originally Posted by Beth Greefield on Yahoo! News, Jan 8, 2016
Looks like Bristol Palin has even more baby trouble coming her way — this time regarding her 2-week-old daughter, Sailor Grace. On Wednesday, her ex-fiancé Dakota Meyer claimed paternity and took steps to gain joint custody of the infant (seen above with Mom).
“Meyer and Palin had a relationship and were engaged to be married until May 2015,” reads the complaint, filed in Alaska Superior Court by Meyer’s attorney, Kimberlee Colbo, according to Marine Corps Times. “Meyer believes that he is the biological father of the minor child.”
“Dakota couldn’t be more excited to be a new father and the best dad that he can be,” Colbo said in a statement to Marine Corps Times. “To him, that means being a big part of his daughter’s life. Beyond that, [he] really appreciates and [thanks] his friends, supporters, and the news media for respecting the privacy of each family in this very personal matter.”
In response, Bristol’s mother, former vice presidential candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, is firing back. “For many months we have been trying to reach out to Dakota Meyer, and he has wanted nothing to do with either Bristol’s pregnancy or the baby,” she told ET online. “Paramount to the entire Palin family is the health and welfare of Sailor Grace,” she added, claiming that Meyer is attempting to “save face.”
The ET article claimed that Meyer is also seeking child support, something that doesn’t seem to have been confirmed. Still, Bristol’s lawyer, David Martin, told ET, “My values are such that a real American hero doesn’t ask for child support.” Meyer, a Marine Corps veteran and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, got engaged to Palin in March. But the wedding was called off one week before its set date in May, and in June Palin announced her pregnancy, never publicly revealing the identity of her baby’s father. Palin’s first son, Tripp, was born in 2008, and after a custody battle between herself and her first ex-fiancé, Levi Johnston, the mom now has primary custody of her son.
“The issue of paternity is as old as time,” says Kenneth Neumann, a New York-based divorce and family mediator who tells Yahoo Parenting that cases like the new one with Meyer are “very common” and that the court will now order a paternity test. “The mom cannot avoid it,” he says, noting that if Meyer is indeed the biological father, “He will absolutely be involved. There are hardly any criteria, other than his being physically abusive, that can limit his involvement.” Neumann adds, “The mother doesn’t have a right to say, ‘This is my baby, and I don’t want the father involved.’”
Regarding Meyer’s supposed request of child support, Neumann says, “It makes no sense, because the child doesn’t live with him.” While he could — if determined to be the father, and if Palin makes more money (depending on the state’s law) — conceivably be granted child support, “He’d have to be the parent who has the child more frequently,” Neumann says.
As for mama Palin trying to portray Meyer as someone who has been MIA, “It may be true, but even if it is, if he’s showing up now and wants to have access, a judge is going to allow him to have a relationship with his daughter,” Jacqueline Newman, a New York-based matrimonial law attorney, tells Yahoo Parenting. “Dads [often] show up years later. … What has he really missed?” Newman adds that she’d be surprised if Meyer hasn’t already had a test to confirm his paternity, based on how he’s been portraying his situation in the media (including an Instagram post of baby Sailor with the caption “Best Christmas present ever!”).
Still, regarding the custody claim, Newman says, “My guess is she will fight it,” and that a court battle will ensue to determine a workable schedule. “With a newborn it’s tricky, especially if the mom is breastfeeding.”
What might happen in that regard, Neumann posits, is that the court may determine that Meyer could see the baby for a few hours at a time several times a week, and that, after a reasonable period of time, that could be upped to include dinners and overnights.
“Getting a Medal of Honor suggests a pretty unusual person. He’s not unfit. So [Palin] is going to have to share parenting with him in a way she hasn’t anticipated,” says Neumann, adding this bit of advice for moms to be: “If your inclination is to want another kid but not another parent, maybe think about adopting or going to a sperm bank. Otherwise, you open yourself up to the possibility that another person will want to be involved.”