The unmarried parents of a 6-year-old girl had a brief and tumultuous relationship, and separated very acrimoniously. They were now before the court to determine decision-making, parenting time, and child support.
The father, aged 28, was currently working as a laser cutter technician, but in the past he had worked as a male escort while unemployed. He had never paid support for his daughter, and only met her for the first time when she was three years old.
The mother, aged 26, was busy with childcare (she also had another child from a previous relationship). However, she had applied to several colleges to become a nurse and was taking the necessary entrance courses. Periodically she worked as an exotic dancer and periodically as an escort in a nearby community.
The court described the tone of the parents’ post-split interactions with each other:
The relationship between the parties is toxic. It would not be a stretch to say that each hates the other. This is reflected in their communications which are disrespectful, accusatory, aggressive, and demeaning. Add in calls to police or regular complaints by [the father] and his mother to CAS over the past three years and it is small wonder that the parties have been unable to find a basis for a cease fire.
It also described the father as having engaged in “a relentless battle to paint [the mother] as a neglectful parent and a bad person.” To try to do this, he “seized on every misstep, every possible complaint to try to show [the mother] to be an unfit parent.”
Toward this end, the father raised concerns over the mother’s judgment and ability to parent their child appropriately – including the complaint that she had exposed their young daughter to her work as an exotic dancer and escort. As the court explained:
[The father] disapproves of [the mother’s] exotic dancing and escort work. He maintains that the children have been exposed to same. Photographs posted on social media by [the mother] show the children playing with a pole in the home of a friend of [the mother]. Their faces are obscured but the photographs are posted on [the mother’s] social media account on a public setting. [The mother] can be seen holding up one child who was on the pole. Another photograph showed [her other child] holding and playing with a wad of money. The captions by [the mother] referred to starting them young and that everything that she does is for them.
The court assessed the mother’s conduct against the best interests of the child, and wrote:
I agree with [the father] that the children should not be exposed to exotic dancing or prostitution including the financial rewards of those activities. [The mother] testified that she stopped dancing in February 2020. Her dancing and escort work were done outside of [their community]. None was done in her home. Her testimony is that she is pursuing a different career path.
The photographs and social media posts taken do not demonstrate that [the mother] was showing the children how to do exotic dancing nor was she glorifying such dancing or escorting as something the children should do when they grow up. They are unaware of the nature of the work she did. I do not agree that [the mother] has exposed the children to adult activities inappropriate to their ages. I do agree, however, that some boundaries are necessary especially if she resumes that work.
The court went on to assess all the evidence, including the history of poor communication and outright vindictiveness between the parents. The court added that their lack of respect, civility, and regard for the potential impact on their child was “staggering” and amounted to “the antithesis of good parenting”.
Still, the court went on to make a ruling that allocated decision-making authority and parenting time in accord with all the circumstances. As for the exotic dance/escort work, expressly ordered as follows:
Neither party will expose [the child] to exotic dancing, escorting, or prostitution or anyone engaged in those activities. For greater certainty, that includes discussing his, her, or the other parent’s past, current or future pursuit of such activities.