The Weirdest Child Custody Cases Ever

Custody battles are tough on everyone involved, especially the kids, but there's one affected party we don't think about as often: the judges. Every day, they have to preside over circuses of insanity that would have most of us crawling back to our old job at the pipe factory in no time flat. We have it on good authority that 100 percent of them deal with the stress by rage-screaming themselves to sleep after pounding a fifth of whiskey every single night. Perhaps that explains some of these decisions. Here are some of the weirdest child custody cases we know about.

Four parents, one kid

Awesomely named family attorney Susan Bender recently found herself in the middle of a slightly unusual case. In fact, she got herself into the newspapers by calling them up and saying "you guys aren't gonna believe this." She's representing a woman who is one of four parents with a claim to custody of a single child—a gay couple and a lesbian couple. One of the men donated sperm to one of the women, resulting in a unique co-parenting arrangement.

The two couples bought identical apartments and even decorated them the same. The plan was to pass the kid around every few months between the couples, and we're not sure if the totally identical residences were supposed to help in some way or were intended as some kind of nefarious psychological experiment. At any rate, the arrangement only lasted nine months before the couples were hauling each other into court, asking a judge to unravel what for all the world sounds like the plot of an '80s comedy. The case is ongoing, as is the judge's hair loss.

Woman not the biological mother to the kids she birthed

Cindy Close had one dream for all of her life: to have a wee baby. As she entered her forties, it looked like the dream might never come true, but a longtime friend stepped in to give her one last chance. Marvin McMurrey agreed to donate sperm, and Close would use an anonymous donor's egg. She bucked the odds, becoming pregnant, and McMurrey—whose family is well off—agreed to support her if she'd move to Oregon with McMurrey and his friend, Phong Nguyen.

Close gave birth to not one but two wee babies at the age of 47, and as she lay in the recovery room afterward, McMurrey sprung a plot worthy of a soap opera villain. Close was served with a restraining order on the spot, and McMurrey did an abrupt about-face, claiming that Close was not the twins' biological mother (technically correct) and that she had simply been acting as a surrogate. He won temporary custody, moving them into his house along with Nguyen—with whom he was in a relationship, a fact Close says she was unaware of. She counter-sued, and the case is now in the hands of a Texas judge who must decide if the twins can legally have no mother. If McMurrey loses, which he almost certainly will, he's expected to appeal on the grounds that Close doesn't exist.

Sherri Shepherd CLAIMS not to be the mother of the kid she birthed

Sherri Shepherd, a host on The View, made a unique claim as to why she shouldn't have to pay child support to ex-husband Lamar Sally: she said the child in question isn't hers.

Shepherd and Sally's child was conceived with a donor egg, and they split up in the middle of the pregnancy. The child has been under Sally's care since Shepherd gave birth in 2014, and she's been on the hook for a whopping $4,100 per month in child support since then. Unfortunately for Shepherd, the court didn't see it her way. They upheld the child support payments, despite what we assume was a thunderous closing argument from her lawyer concluding with "if the egg wasn't hers, you must concur."

Man sends in teens to investigate his baby mama

A recent case out of Tennessee had soap opera producers across the country firing their writers for not coming up with implausible enough plotlines. A man and a woman, who are both married, have an affair that produces a child. Improbably, their spouses both take them back. They can't agree on custody of the child—so the man hatches a plan.

The woman and her husband have two teenage sons, and the man has a friend with a son about their age. So, he sends in this third underage party and his girlfriend to make friends with the teenage sons of the mother of his love child, to dig up dirt and prove her to be an unfit parent. With us so far? Sort of? Well, plowing along:

It kind of works, as the teens are observed drinking and smoking weed, but the "evidence" doesn't go over so well in court, because it was obtained in an incredibly shady manner. The judge's decision doesn't spell out who won custody, but we're thinking it was the woman, as she was emboldened enough by the decision to file an invasion of privacy lawsuit against the man ... which, somehow, she lost.

Next week, Roman is revealed to be an impostor, and Gregory comes back from the dead for the sixth time!

Inseminated by baster

Joyce Bruce had always wanted a child, as well as a proper last name, and she found that her friend Robert Broadwine was willing to help with the first part. He donated sperm to help her conceive, but the whole thing started going sideways when they couldn't agree on a baby name. After the child's birth, Bruce told Broadwine to step off, and he sued for visitation rights. So far, not so weird—but faced with the prospect of having to concede visitation rights, Bruce played the only (ridiculous) card in her deck.

Broadwine, she told the court, wasn't the father because she had used a turkey baster to impregnate herself. The court, having never heard of a commercially produced turkey baster capable of manufacturing viable human semen, responded with a five-minute long blank stare before awarding Broadwine his visitation rights. The judge had little additional comment other than presumably to admonish Bruce for ruining his Thanksgivings forever.

The child named "Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii"

In 2008, a divorcing New Zealand couple were sparring over custody of their nine-year-old daughter when a piece of information came to light that made the court's decision a hell of a lot easier. The answer to the question "what's the child's name" doesn't usually decide the outcome of such cases, but most children aren't named "Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii."

The little girl had taken to telling classmates that her name was "K," because the alternative was to admit that her parents had saddled her with one of the silliest names anyone has ever had in all of human history. The judge, in one of the most reasonable decisions any judge has ever made, settled the custody issue by removing the girl from both parents' custody and allowing her to choose a legal name that won't cripple her socially forever. The judge's angry written decision trashed the trend of giving kids such "unique" monikers and pointed out several that had recently been allowed by the country's registration officials: Midnight Chardonnay, Number 16 Bus Shelter, Violence, and twin boys named Benson and Hedges. And you thought only celebrities hated their children.

Alex Jones' custody case reveals his madness

Alex Jones is an infamous right-wing conspiracy blowhard whose online rants range from "muddled idiocy" to "full-on pants-chewing lunacy." His ongoing custody dispute with his estranged wife Kelly is shaping up to be the must-see freak circus of 2017, because Alex Jones is probably completely insane, and he can't keep from publicly demonstrating it.

Jones kicked off the proceedings by claiming with a straight face that he couldn't recall simple information about his children because of the big bowl of chili he'd just eaten for lunch, which obviously may as well be a Men in Black–style neuralyzer. In regard to his bonkers beliefs, he told the judge out one side of his mouth that he was simply "playing a character" and making "performance art," while insisting out the other side that he firmly believes in every conspiracy theory he's ever put forth in a video that he literally posted while on his way to a hearing.

Attorneys for Mrs. Jones described how Alex stripped naked during family therapy sessions (he's also been known to do that during broadcasts) and got public-urinating drunk on the Washington Mall during Trump's inauguration. Kelly Jones' lawyers wrapped up by describing Jones as a "cult leader," as well as "emotionally, sexually, physically abusive," but they really could have saved themselves the trouble and just gestured exasperatedly toward Alex as their closing statement. The judge ruled in Mrs. Jones' favor, because he has eyes and ears and was present for the duration of the hearing.

The parental three-way

In 2017, a judge in New York was faced with a custody case that had no precedent. A married couple were in a consensual, three-way relationship with a neighbor woman for years. The neighbor woman became pregnant and had a son, and for a while, every threesome partner was involved in raising the child. Then, the two women decided to axe the man out of the relationship and become exclusive. Divorce proceedings were initiated, and everyone but the biological mother sued for custody.

After hearing testimony from the boy that he considered both women his mothers, the judge decided that all three parties were entitled to equal custody, probably one of the first decisions of its kind. The judge then presumably high-fived himself, said "precedent THAT!" and went out for a four-martini lunch.

Attempted murder not grounds for losing custody

A lot of divorces get nasty, drag on for years, and have unexpected developments. One recent New York case hit that trifecta about as hard as it could be hit. After filing for divorce from her husband Eric in 2009, Tiffany Stevens was granted sole custody of the couple's child in 2011. Eric was granted only supervised visits, but Tiffany wasn't going to hear that. In 2012, she was arrested for trying to hire a maintenance man to kill Eric for $5,000, which the court typically frowns upon.

In the custody hearing that followed, Tiffany's lawyers claimed that Eric was a psycho with all kinds of personality disorders, and had even violated a restraining order, so obviously Tiffany's only option was murder-for-hire. The court, of course ... agreed, and allowed her to keep custody of the couple's daughter. But there was still Tiffany's looming criminal case, and in 2015 she ... received probation? Yep, despite numerous appeals, the daughter was left in her care, and hopefully hasn't taken out any hits on classmates she finds disagreeable.

Actual murder not grounds for losing custody

In 1991, John Cushing was involved in a terrible tragedy when his wife Kristine, upset over their impending divorce, shot and killed the couple's two daughters as they slept and then attempted suicide. She was found not guilty by reason of insanity, or perhaps ultra-insanity, and took up residence in a mental hospital.

John remarried and had two sons with his new wife Trisha Conlon, but the marriage didn't last. The couple were granted split custody of their boys, one residing primarily with him, the other with her. And then, the weirdness: Kristine was released from the hospital and reconciled with John. None too happy about being forced to drop her boys off at the home of a child murderer, Conlon sued for full custody.

The judge didn't see it her way, ruling that as long as Kristine continues to follow her treatment plan—and there are no guns in the house—the custody arrangement could remain as it is, while acknowledging that he would never want his own children around her. In light of this, we formally request that Corky's Bar down the street from our office immediately lift our lifetime ban, because come on.