Criminal law book review kramer vs kramer iwantessay
1. Criminal Law Book Review: Kramer vs. Kramer
Academy award winning Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) tells the story of Mr. & Mrs. Kramer’s break-up and their
subsequent custody battle over their son. Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) is a workaholic; he is an advertising
executive who has just won the largest account of his entire career. Joanna Kramer (Meryl Streep) feels like a
neglected wife and leaves her husband and son, Billy, to “find” herself. Ted and Billy are left alone and develop
a closer relationship as Ted raises his son as a single parent. In Hoffman’s words, he had no choice but to “bring
home the bacon and cook it, too” and he did it with love. Joanna returns eighteen months later and alleges
that she always loved Billy and that, as his mother, he belongs with her. Two legal issues present concern the
areas of divorce and child custody.
Legal Issue: Child Custody
When a married couple, i.e. husband and wife, get an annulment, legal separation or divorce, the court
determines which parent will have custody of any minor children that the couple may have. It may be decided
by the court that custody be shared between both parents, i.e. joint custody, or that only one parent has
custody, i.e. sole custody.
Physical custody of a minor refers to a parent’s right to care for their child on a daily basis. If the child’s parents
live in close proximity to each other, physical custody may be shared on a weekday / weekend basis. However,
if the parents do not live nearby each other, either the couple or the court must provide another arrangement.
For example, one parent may have physical custody of the child only on holidays. Alternatively, physical
custody may become the sole right of one parent.
Another type of custody is legal custody which involves the right of a parent to make the major decisions
concerning the raising of a child, including decisions regarding medical treatment and schooling. If legal
custody is shared by both parents, then each parent must consult with the other in order to make these major
decisions. However, if one parent has sole legal custody, then that parent has the right to make all major life
decisions for the child.
Exceptions regarding child custody rights refer to parents that are unfit or abusive to their children. For
example, a court that may otherwise award joint custody may award sole custody to one parent instead if the
other parent is physically or mentally incapable of caring for the child.
The general rule of law regarding child custody is fair and just as it puts the child’s interest above all else. At the
end of Kramer vs. Kramer, Joanna is awarded full custody and admits to Ted that their son would be better off
with his father. However, generally, the courts alongside both parents will be able to come up with joint
custody arrangements that suit both parents instead of just one. In accordance with the law, mothers should
not be automatically awarded sole custody of their children. It is in a child’s best interest that the law does not
favour one gender over the other with regards to child custody.
Contrary to Kramer vs. Kramer, the courts do not award custody solely to mothers and instead tend to favour
joint custody. The law also protects children from parents who are incapable of taking care of them or who are
abusive. Child custody is an important legal and emotional issue that every parent should understand.