When Charlie Sheen finally emerges from his very public meltdown, he may find that the war he has waged on CBS for firing him from Two and a Half Men will seem like a playground squabble compared to the fight for his parental rights.
Clearly, the media coverage Sheen has invited will only be a win for late night and tabloid TV, ratings as well as massive hit counts on the Web. But the real-time documentation of his behavior can—and probably will be—used against him in a court of law. Family Court is the daily arbiter in the timeless battle of “He Said/She Said” where the truth is always a gray area.
However, Sheen erased this gray area and his words and behaviors are in full view across every media outlet on the spectrum.
Mr. Sheen has four minor children. In addition to twin boys Max and Bob with estranged wife Brooke Mueller, he has daughters Sam and Lola with ex-wife Denise Richards. Custody and visitation of Sam and Lola had been settled, but due to Sheen’s hysterical rants and admissions of prodigious drug use, Ms. Richards has reportedly taken steps to cut off the children’s contact with their father and set aside the current custody and visitation agreement. It is a fight worth having. If Sheen and Richards were New York residents, here is how it would play out:
1. A Law Guardian would be appointed to represent the children and would advocate for what is in the children’s best interest;
2. A forensic psychiatrist would be appointed by the court to analyze the psychological issues and medical conditions not only of Mr. Sheen but of all parties. This analysis would include psychological testing, interviews of all relevant parties (including ex-wives, ex-girlfriends, and current girlfriends who have contact with the children). Considering his living arrangement with his “goddesses,” and his penchant for prostitutes, this cannot bode well for the falling star. The forensic psychiatrist would submit a report to the Court and make recommendations;
3. Further, given Sheen’s and Mueller’s history with narcotics, random drug testing we be ordered;
4. The court would also likely order that visitation, to the extent permitted, be supervised to ensure the children are safe. The supervisor could be a therapist or social worker (for younger children), who would report back to court on the interaction between the parents and children.
5. Any party could petition for an “Order of Protection”, on behalf of the children and for themselves, to ensure that the other party stays away from them.
6. Motions to the court would be filed addressing immediate temporary custody, visitation and support.
7. Sheen’s past is just as dubious as his present. He has been arrested for domestic abuse, and had to deliver testimony in the trial of infamous former madam Heidi Fleiss. He was an admitted patron of Fleiss and several checks he wrote for women’s services were used as evidence. Sheen also reportedly shot ex-fiancée Kelly Preston in the arm and admitted overdosing on an injection of cocaine. These incidents could be considered by a judge when determining his parental rights.
Not good. Not “winning”. And, in New York, not acceptable parenting.
David Mejias is a Partner at the law firm Mejias, Milgrim and Alvarado, P.C. and former Nassau County Legislator where he served three terms. There he led the effort to keep our children safe from sex offenders by sponsoring the toughest Megan’s Notification Law in New York State and sponsored legislation implementing residency restrictions for sex offenders.
As a legislator and in the practice of law, David has fought for the rights of victims of domestic violence. He has been recognized by the Coalition Against Domestic Violence for his efforts on their behalf.
He has also been named as one of Long Island Business News “40 Rising Stars Under 40″ to watch, and named to the Long Island Press “Power List Hall of Fame” as one of the “All Time – Most Powerful & Influential Long Islanders.” David has been honored by Parents For Megan’s Law as a “Champion For Children” as well as the New York State League of Conservation Voters as an “Environmental Champion.”
David Mejias is a graduate of The University at Albany School of Business and Fordham University School of Law.