Family Law

Judge allows abortion to be used as evidence in high-profile child-custody case

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A family court judge in Manhattan has stirred up a firestorm of public criticism by allowing questioning of the ex-wife of a man who heads a Texas bank about an abortion in a child-custody case.

High-powered divorce attorney Eleanor Alter, who represents the woman’s ex-husband, Manuel John Mehos, said she found out about the abortion by reviewing medical records for Lisa Mehos, the New York Daily News reports.

Alter argued the abortion was relevant to show that it wasn’t only Mehos’ ex-husband who caused her stress and said it was important to determine the circumstances under which she became pregnant.

“If this man was coming in the house, if she’s out of the house to see him, if it was date rape, that’s relevant,” Alter told the judge during a hearing last week.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lori Sattler agreed, noting that Mehos previously testified she never brought men to her New York apartment and saying the abortion was relevant because the couple’s children were in her care over Easter weekend last year, when she had the abortion, according to the newspaper.

Mehos testified Tuesday that the pregnancy resulted from an encounter with a longtime friend at his place, and she said she put the couple’s children in her mom’s care while she had the abortion.

In the audience, women’s rights activists wore T-shirts with the message “I had an abortion.”

A post at Above the Law critiques the case.

Related material:

New York Times (1996): “Divorce Lawyers Fear They Protested Too Much; Separation Anxiety Follows the Transfer of Judges in Manhattan”

New York Times (2010, opinion): “No Fault of Their Own”

Rocket Lawyer: “How to File for No-Fault Divorce in New York”

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