Bill O’Reilly has lost his legal fight to prevent his ex-wife from gaining full custody of their children. A large part of the reason seems to be that the kids prefer to live full time with their mother, Maureen McPhilmy.
The lengthy decision affirms the holding of a Nassau County Supreme Court justice last year that the children, now aged 13 and 17, should live full-time with their mother (the former couple had been splitting residential custody). As we reported at the time, O’Reilly appealed that ruling, thereby delaying its enforcement (and, of course, extending his multi-front battle against McPhilmy and her new family).
The Appellate Division issued its 1,400-word opinion on February 24, a little over a month after attorneys for O’Reilly and McPhilmy—known in court documents as Anonymous 2011-1 and Anonymous 2011-2—presented oral arguments at the division’s courthouse in Brooklyn Heights. According to the opinion, the court’s four justices unanimously ruled in McPhilmy’s favor based upon “the clearly stated preferences of the children”:
The preference of McPhilmy and O’Reilly’s 17-year-old daughter is not particularly difficult to guess: As we noted last year, she told a court-appointed forensic examiner that she witnessed O’Reilly drag her mother down a staircase by the neck. (According to court transcripts obtained by Gawker, she also viewed O’Reilly as a temperamental, absentee parent who was uninterested in developing a relationship with her.) At a January 22 hearing, the children’s court-appointed lawyer, Barbara Kopman, told the appellate court that both the daughter and son strongly preferred living with their mother over their father.
O’Reilly retains some parental rights. According to Gawker, he will continue to “share joint authority” with his wife over such questions as which schools his children attend and what medical care they receive. However, in his lawsuit, O’Reilly had demanded sole authority.
The appeals court also revealed just how meritless they deemed O’Reilly’s case. “Its third sentence—‘ORDERED that the [lower court’s] order is affirmed, with costs’—indicates that O’Reilly must pay his ex-wife’s attorney fees,” Gawker writes.
It’s hard not to snicker at this outcome given that O’Reilly seems to grab every opportunity he can to lecture African Americans about problems in their families. I do feel some compassion for the amount of hurt O’Reilly must be in to have carried this vendetta for so long. One can hope he’ll learn some compassion for others with dysfunction in their families.
But I’m not holding my breath.
Crossposted at Newshounds.us