MTV is famous for taking lots of volatile individuals, putting them in ridiculous situations, and then taping the chaos that ensues. If you have ever suspected that the drama was just completely contrived by MTV’s producers and a creative use of individually picked scenes, current events would point to the fact that at least some of the individuals that make up the casts of these shows are perfectly capable of creating catastrophe all by themselves. I am of course referring to the news this week that former Jersey Shore cast-member Paul DelVecchio (more affectionately known by his DJ stage name ‘Pauly D.’) is involved in an ongoing custody battle. Here are the facts…
Capitalizing on his Jersey Shore fame, Pauly D. was able to secure many high-profile DJ gigs in Las Vegas. On one such stint, he met an Amanda Markert. The two hit it off, and as a result of what has been described as a “one night stand,” the two conceived a daughter, Amanda Sophia (Take note, as this is a very rare occurrence, a high-profile child with two normal names). I usually do not take interest in TMZ style shenanigans, but when areas of my work make the gossip columns, I make an exception. Making this an even more scandalously enthralling tale are the alleged communications made prior to the birth of the child. According to Mom, Mr. D. heavily encouraged her to get an abortion (she has even put the alleged text messages on the market to the highest bidder). TMZ also reports that he sent Markert a substantial sum of money for the procedure, one that she obviously did not follow through with.
The events leading up to the birth of Amanda Sophia are ones I admit I have never run into, the more recent events are all too familiar. Pauly D. is currently involved in an on-going custody battle with Markert. DelVeccio has yet to see his five month old daughter in the flesh, and Mom continues to refuse him any manner of visitation. What is unfortunately also all-too familiar is the situation with Mom’s former boyfriend, Don Barbitta, who Markert had told was the real father. Barbitta has sense left Markert over the incident. I know what you are wondering and I will not disappoint. So what would this look like in Ohio?
In Ohio, an unmarried mother is assumed to be the sole primary custodian of the child at the child’s birth (ORC §3109.042). If the children’s parents do not agree on a custody arrangement, the father must first establish paternity, usually thought a paternity affidavit and/or DNA test filed with the appropriate court. The Court will then usually issue a temporary custody order while the action is pending (ORC §3109.043). Unlike in a custody arrangement alteration arising out of a prior divorce or previous custody determination which require a showing of a substantial change in circumstances [ORC §3109.04(I)(2)], the court will make a custody ruling based on what is in the best interests of the child as determined by ORC §3109.04(F).
Personally, I have absolutely no idea what is in the best interests of this child. Both of her parents have some pretty obvious misgivings. Really, the girl is probably lucky the matter is being adjudicated while she is an infant. That being said, an adjudication is no guarantee the parents will follow the mandates of the adjudication. If that were the case, I would be out of a job.
I am not in the business of judging people’s actions, so I will let the reader make their own conclusions when it comes to the wisdom and/or morality of the players here, but there are a couple lessons we can learn from Ms. Markert and Mr. D. First, always always get an order from the appropriate court establishing paternity and a parenting plan. When you have a child with someone that is not your spouse, both parents do not automatically receive parenting privileges. Getting an order can be awkward sometimes when the parents are still together or the unofficial agreement is working well. Unfortunately, the courts are full of cases where such arrangements go bad. A court order reflecting the current arrangement can save lots of time, trouble, and money down the road. Second, talk to an attorney before communicating with the other side in a domestic relations dispute. I can guarantee had Pauly done this, those text messages would not have gone out. Lastly, be proactive if something changes or goes wrong. All too often what is agreed on in the order changes informally half a dozen times before there is a dispute, and by the time that dispute goes to court, the original order is almost meaningless. The order should always reflect your arrangement, and if both parents agree on the arrangement, it is relatively cheap to file an agreed entry reflecting changes and giving the parties a necessary amount of flexibility so they won’t be in court every year.
I hope this post was both educational and entertaining for you. I know I had fun writing it.