Clueless Bristol Palin: It's All About Her

Either Bristol Palin think she's a lawyer now(I guess she read some things on the Internets) or she has a lawyer giving her really bad advice in real life.

Bristol has moved to Arizona and loves it there, has a new house and a new boyfriend. So what's her next plan? She's asking Levi to terminate his parental rights to his child.

Bristol admitted she's asked her ex-boyfriend Levi Johnston to sign away his parental rights to their 2-year-old son. "Have I asked him to change Tripp's last name? Of course," she quipped. "I've asked him to do that many times. Just sign over your (parental) rights. He just doesn't want to sign them over because it looks bad on paper."

That's unlikely to be the reason. Levi has complained publicly for months that Bristol restricts his visiting to almost nothing. So when Bristol says he's only seen their son three times in the past several months, did Bristol stop to count how many other times he asked and she said no? Let's count up those times.

Bristol wants to move with the child to AZ, and Levi wants to stay in Alaska, So instead of doing what millions of other people do, retain counsel to work out an agreement where the non-parenting spouse gets a big block of time say, in the summer (when there's no school) and more vacation time, Bristol decides to go the selfish route and ask for a termination of Levi's parental rights. If he agrees, Levi will no longer have a child. [More...]

A year and a half ago they signed an agreement agreeing to joint custody and giving Bristol primary (not sole) physical custody, with Levi having visitation rights twice a week. You can read the actual document here.

Termination of parental rights is usually obtained when a couple wants to give their child up for adoption. Each parent has to sign away their parental rights, which means under the law they cease to be the child's parent. They get no visitation, no say in how the child is raised, there's no taking the kid to see his family, etc. It's permanent, it's final, and it means the daddy isn't the daddy anymore. Judges are very reluctant to grant a parental termination without the agreement of the other party, unless some serious physical or psychological abuse has taken place. We've heard none of that. We've only heard Levi tell of how much he loves his son and how difficult the Palins make it to see him.

Memo to Bristol: All divorces hit bumps and roads. You both have to compromise. There's no reason Levi can't still be a father to your child, even if you marry someone else and your child gets a step-father in addition to having Levi as his real father. Your plan is cold-hearted and unfair and in no-one's best interest but possibly your own..

What you should do instead of twisting Levi's arm to do something he doesn't want to do (and very few other men would agree to do) is go back and petition the court to modify the agreement by allowing you and your son to move to AZ, and making it up to Levi by increased blocks of visitation. You can plead your case, he can plead his, and the Judge will decide.

Courts are concerned with the best welfare of the child, not satisfying parental whims such as moving across the country. So you might lose. Maybe your lawyer has already told you that you will lose. Many states won't allow a divorced parent with a young child to move out of state without the permission of the other parent unless there's a compelling reason. It's not in the best interests of the child that a child be deprived of his other parent. There's no need to ask for such a drastic measure as termination of parental rights.

If parental rights are terminated, how are you going to tell your son he no longer has a father? Are you going to tell him, "It's all right, I found you a better one?" The child is going to feel abandoned by Levi. Are you going to lie and say Levi didn't want to be his father any more, or wasn't a good father? Your custody agreement prohibits both of you from speaking ill about the other.

Grow up, Bristol. You had a child with Levi and he's tried to have as much presence in the child's life as you will allow, which isn't much. You don't get to kick him to the curb. I'm sure there are broadcasting schools or junior colleges in Alaska. If that's your chosen career path, you may just have to sacrifice (a word that may not yet be in your vocabulary) and pursue your career in Alaska, so Levi can exercise his right to visit with his child. Or you can agree to let the child visit Levi in Alaska (or wherever else he is living)for 3 to 5 months a year. Suck it up. Life isn't always an ice cream cone.

Assuming the judges in Alaska aren't all in your mama's pocketbook, you may just find if you push this too hard, you will be the one who ends up with block visits in AZ while Levi ends up with primary custody in Alaska. It's happened before.

Selfish, selfish Bristol, in my view. Children are born with two parents and they deserve to grow up knowing both.

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    Correction (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by jbindc on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 10:05:55 AM EST
    Memo to Bristol: All divorces hit bumps and roads. You both have to compromise. There's no reason Levi can't still be a father to your child, even if you remarry and your child gets a step-father in addition to having Levi as his real father. Your plan is cold-hearted and unfair and in no-one's best interest but possibly your own..

    They were never married.

    doesn't matter (none / 0) (#47)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 12:38:21 PM EST
    Marriage makes no difference since Levi acknowledged paternity and there is a joint custody agreement in place. You can read the actual document here.

    I didn't say they were married, but I will change the "re-marry" to "marry."


    None of your business (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by richj25 on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 10:36:22 AM EST
    None of anyone's business. You don't have all the
    facts and are in no position to judge.

    Actually we do have a societal (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by observed on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 11:03:35 AM EST
    interest in judging the fitness of parents. That's why there are family courts.
    Bristol's comments speak for themselves.
    She is more than clueless and entirely selfish, from what I can see.

    Because (none / 0) (#11)
    by jbindc on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 11:07:35 AM EST
    No single mother has ever decided to move to another state?  Because the father has not necessarily shown himself to be of superior judgment and intellect either? Because she is obviously held to a much higher standard than the father because people don't like her mother?

    Saying Levi should just sign (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by observed on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 11:16:08 AM EST
    away his rights, as if that were nothing at all, speaks for itself, especially since we know that Levi does want to exercise his visitation rights.
    I didn't mention anything about intellect, btw.
    Of course, she's obviously a moron, based on her many public statements.

    Actually (none / 0) (#26)
    by jbindc on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 12:02:15 PM EST
    She's a lay person and not a lawyer.  And her side of the story is that Levi hasn't and really doesn't seem to care about seeing the baby (it's been 3 times in the few months or year) - but of course, that's her side of the story and not to be believed because she's a Palin, right?  

    Let's look at the context of the above quote:

    The single mom also told the radio show that she wanted to change her son's last name to Palin - even though she welcomed Johnston to visit whenever he wanted.

    "I've asked Levi to do it many different times, just to get it out of the way, just sign over his parental rights, but I don't know if he will or if he wants to right now," she told the radio hosts, according to People.

    She even said she would do without child support from Johnston if he would just sign over his rights.

    And this:

    In December, Palin said she was happy for her ex-flame's new love - especially because she claimed she wanted him to see his son more.

    "I have to be happy for Levi's new relationship because it sounds like his new girlfriend is influencing him to want to actually spend time with Tripp," she told E!.

    Doesn't really sound vindictive to me - just like what I bet most single moms who want to move away sound like.

    But I know that doesn't fit the narrative.


    By acknowledging that what you posted (5.00 / 2) (#40)
    by Anne on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 12:30:40 PM EST
    is Bristol's side of the story, you must also be acknowledging that Levi has a side, as well, right?  

    From what I read in Jeralyn's post, his side of the story is that Bristol's happy to tell the media how much she wants Levi to spend time with Tripp, but in reality, she's been denying him, or making it too difficult for him, to actually do so.  And then using that against him.  Which is not all that uncommon a tactic of the parent with primary custody who's looking to have sole custody.

    In any event, this is less about who's the better parent than it is about what it means to terminate someone's parental rights.  And I'm not entirely sure Bristol really understands what that means, if she thinks it's about changing Tripp's last name.

    As an aside, it might be helpful to how your opinions are received if you would refrain from ripping other people's opinions by ascribing motives to them that they may not have.  And to acknowledge that just because someone has a stated aversion to Sarah Palin it does not mean that an opinion about her daughter isn't valid on its own merits.


    consider the tables turned (none / 0) (#36)
    by CST on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 12:24:09 PM EST
    If Levi had said this:

    "I've asked Bristol to do it many different times, just to get it out of the way, just sign over her parental rights, but I don't know if she will or if he wants to right now,"

    "He even said he would do without child support from Palin if she would just sign over her rights."

    I bet you would have a very different reaction to that.


    Nope (none / 0) (#38)
    by jbindc on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 12:27:03 PM EST
    I would still say it was a comment made to a magazine and since he is not a lawyer, is not a legal argument, nor is it held to be anything more than tabloid fodder.

    I would think that if Bristol (none / 0) (#49)
    by Chuck0 on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 02:07:11 PM EST
    gets Levi so sign away parental rights, she has no choice but to not demand or receive child support from him.

    Absolutely true (none / 0) (#51)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 02:21:31 PM EST
    It would change the birth certificate to "father unknown" and allow her to marry someone else and easily have her husband adopt.

    How did the courts ever get involved in these two lives to start with?


    Whatever case can be made for the (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by Anne on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 11:37:45 AM EST
    merits of the judgments exercised by both of these young people - and I think both have made decisions that could be called into question - it doesn't necessarily follow that judgments deemed bad, or not-so-good, by those looking from the outside-in, and via a media that loves them some sensationalism, make either one of them bad parents, or have anything to do with either one's relationship with their child.

    I think people can make bad decisions and still be good, loving parents, and while I do not follow the Palin saga with as much attention as others do, I don't recall there ever being allegations that Levi is a bad father.

    It's clear they both have some growing up to do, that both have done things to spite each other and/or their families, but that still doesn't mean that Levi doesn't love his son and that Bristol gets to demand that he terminate his parental rights just because she apparently doesn't want to have to keep dealing with him.  

    Whether it is in the best interests of the child for such a termination to occur should be decided not in the media, but with the help of lawyers, mediators, social workers, psychologists and family court.


    Don't buy it (none / 0) (#14)
    by richj25 on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 11:26:17 AM EST
    There is nothing here to suggest she is an unfit mother. This is nothing more than people sticking their collective nose in where it doesn't belong.

    Nothing here to suggest (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by CST on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 11:29:45 AM EST
    he is an unfit father either.  That means she can't just take away his kid for no reason.

    I don't see anyone here, Jeralyn included, arguing that Bristol should not be able to have custody or take care of the child.  What is being said, is that she can't deny that right to the father either just because she feels like it.


    That's for the courts to decide (none / 0) (#17)
    by richj25 on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 11:35:31 AM EST
    if it should end up there. If this were to be decided in the courts I assume they would take more
    into account that a few lines in a magazine article. Again, you don't have all the facts and are in no position to judge.

    Scary you mention that... (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by kdog on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 11:38:58 AM EST
    "It's up to the courts"....shiver.

    Parental rights don't get the weight they deserve...absent serious abuse no one's parental rights should ever be revoked...that is serious business.


    The courts may not be perfect (none / 0) (#25)
    by richj25 on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 12:01:46 PM EST
    but they're what we have. Whether they go to court
    is up to them, not me, not you, not anyone else. Its
    none of our business.

    I hear ya... (none / 0) (#44)
    by kdog on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 12:34:13 PM EST
    but the parties seem hell bent on making it our business.  We could try harder to ignore them.

    It wasn't all that long ago (none / 0) (#50)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 02:12:13 PM EST
    that the father of a child born out of wedlock had no rights at all. I wonder if things would be different had his identity never been revealed. This seems to be their ticket to front page news, though.

    The topic could make interesting discussion if it were about the reality of rights for parents who choose to part company whether married or not.


    I'm pretty sure (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by CST on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 11:39:15 AM EST
    the entire point of this post is that it's up to the courts to decide.  And Bristol has to let them decide, and go to court, rather than just take the child away.

    Who is judging whom here?


    Actually, (none / 0) (#23)
    by richj25 on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 11:56:03 AM EST
    I thought the point of this post was to rag on a
    young girl because you can't stand her mother.

    you are aware (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by CST on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 11:43:25 AM EST
    this is a blog...

    Odd Post (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 11:19:27 AM EST
    Seems like most posts are along the 'innocent until found guilty' lines, with a heavy emphasis on innocent, yet this post is completely opposite.

    What gives, the post seems fairly juvenile in it's assumptions, scoldings, and advise.

    Just sayin'...

    I hate the Palin's and much as the next person, but this does seem like a private matter, and no offense, but neither is going to win parent of the year, so losing one doesn't mean the kid is going to be destined to unhappiness.  It's a situation that happens every day, young parents doing more damage than harm when children are involved, but the parents aren't.

    I don't believe they ever married, so the out-of-state claims don't seem to apply.

    termination of parental rights is (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 12:33:18 PM EST
    a very serious issue. I've had clients who, because of drug allegations, had to fight to keep their parental rights. This isn't about custody, it's about termination for all time, as if the person never parented the child.

    Marriage makes no difference since Levi acknowledged paternity and there is a joint custody agreement in place. You can read the actual document here.

    If it's a private matter, why is Bristol blabbing to a magazine? She's made it a fair topic for discussion and it's a civil liberties issue that is perfectly in keeping with this blog.


    Blabbing ? (none / 0) (#48)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 01:21:04 PM EST
    OK then...

    Seems as if the Palin = guilty, everyone else, including Loughner = innocent until proven guilty.

    This is a silly dispute between kids, asking for someone to do something isn't the same as asking the court to do the same thing.  

    It's actually quit funny to see there is human back there somewhere prone to raw emotion like the rest of us.


    Agreed (none / 0) (#28)
    by canuck eh on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 12:06:30 PM EST
    I know this is Jeralyn's blog and she can, of course, write whatever she wishes but this post sticks out on the site like a sore thumb. I just don't see how it fits with the political/legal discussions that I enjoy so much on this site. Comes across as a personal grudge instead.

    Honest suggestion- why not go the same route with the Palins (other than legitimate political activity by Sarah- haha) that is taken with the nasty blonde lady whose name we don't use here, less google hits for the Palin clan- it's a good thing!


    Levi gave up too many rights (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by vicndabx on Fri Jan 28, 2011 at 07:49:58 AM EST
    in that custody agreement.

    If the parties cannot, after reasonable consultation between them, jointly agree upon an issue for Tripp, Brisol Palin shall make the final decision.

    As the parent with primary physical custody, Bristol is entitled to take Tripp outside of Alaska or outside of the country.

    Did he have a lawyer? Sheesh.

    I am wondering if conservatives (none / 0) (#1)
    by Buckeye on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 08:51:43 AM EST
    are ever going to realize the Palins are not conservative.

    Speculation (none / 0) (#2)
    by davnee on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 09:10:59 AM EST
    How much of this post is fact and how much is speculation?  I know that Bristol isn't accused of any crime here, but her treatment in this post does not seem to comport with the ethos of this site.

    I Am with you (none / 0) (#3)
    by star on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 09:38:41 AM EST
    on this. Bristol is a teen mom dealing with a difficult situation made more difficult by having each and every action of hers being scrutinized due to her super mom's political actions.
    Levi has not been a total paragon in this issue and has not wasted any time to get as much publicity out of his involvement with "Sarah Palin's daughter".
    It is of no concern to any of us how they both settle their custodial issues. Like so many other separating/divorcing parents, there will be many wrinkles to iron out and if each and every thing has to be scrutinized by a bias media, then it will appear to be way more ugly than it is or has to be for the little child.

    Good Old Republican (none / 0) (#4)
    by Chuck0 on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 09:47:58 AM EST
    family values!

    Although (none / 0) (#5)
    by CoralGables on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 09:59:25 AM EST
    Jeralyn isn't a family lawyer, this post shows she is up to date on the possible results of family court.

    As stated, some states will permit the custodial parent to leave the state if they can show they will have a higher income due to the move. If however the court believes you are trying to circumvent their original ruling by moving, the block of time in the home state with the non-custodial parent can grow quite large.

    Also, if Levi takes his role as a parent seriously and gets into court quickly in Alaska, Bristol's will be flirting with a possible ruling that gives each parent sole custody rights whenever the child is in their respective state so Bristol can't interfere with the Father's role, and also shut down either parent from venue shopping in other states.

    short sighted (none / 0) (#7)
    by Lil on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 10:25:06 AM EST
    Someday that kid is going to want to know his father, and who will be the target of all that resentment?

    He can see Levi (none / 0) (#9)
    by jbindc on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 10:46:56 AM EST
    in his bad movies and fame-seeking outings with Kathy Griffin.

    wow (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by CST on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 11:27:45 AM EST
    so you will defend Bristol night and day for her various "fame-seeking" media appearances, and yet you will immediately attack Levi for his.  Double-standard?

    He's the dad.  He has every right to see his kid.  You don't get to just take away someone's kid for no reason.


    I don't see any defense of Bristol in my statement (none / 0) (#22)
    by jbindc on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 11:50:32 AM EST
    The comment I responded to was talking about how will the child know his father.  Was it snarky?  Yes, but since he is as big as a fame-hound as the Palin family, it frankly shouldn't be too hard for the kid to see his father.

    I don't particularly care - but the whole rush to defend Levi and constant pounding and venom spewed on Bristol - everything she does MUST be wrong - is strictly because of who her mother is.  If not, we would be hearing about all the "teen moms" on that dumb reality show on MTV that glorifies, well, being a teen mom - including their legal troubles and foils.


    it's politics (none / 0) (#24)
    by CST on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 12:00:32 PM EST
    Is Bristol covered more here than the Teen Moms of MTV?  Yea.  But there are all sorts of people who are in legal trouble, and Jeralyn has also been attacked for covering Michael Jacksona and other famous people too.  But bottom line is, you can't covor every story.  Maybe she doesn't watch Teen Mom.

    However, this post to me is not a gratuitous slam.  It's pretty clearly a legal issue.

    You are defending Bristol in this post against the "constant pounding and venom" and yet pounding on Levi.  That, IMO, is a double standard.  It shouldn't be too hard for the kid to see his mom on TV either.  Maybe Levi should just take the kid away, who needs a mom when you have a TV...  Would you defend that?  I don't think so, and neither would I, BTW.


    Well (none / 0) (#29)
    by jbindc on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 12:07:31 PM EST
    Since no one here actually knows what the situation is, I'd say that any defense of Levi is just as silly.

    It's not about politics.  Bristol is not a politician, unless of course, the same standard is going to be applied to Malia and Sasha Obama when they screw up sometime (and they will - they are human beings). This is all about Sarah Palin, pure and simple.  And yet, she is not a party to this case.

    Of course, the only politician currently in the family is the last person who ran for an office - and that would be Levi.  Seems like a little more coverage of that would be more apropos, no?

    I feel sorry for the baby.


    That's rediculous (none / 0) (#31)
    by CST on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 12:12:21 PM EST
    people are defending his legal rights, not him personally.

    Any defense of those rights is "silly"?


    Defending his legal rights (none / 0) (#32)
    by jbindc on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 12:14:35 PM EST
    Based on a comment made in a magazine interview?

    We've really expanded the scope here.


    yes... (none / 0) (#34)
    by CST on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 12:19:07 PM EST
    Whether the statement is true or not, she's the one who said it in a public interview.  Public comments are pretty fair game IMO.

    and yes (none / 0) (#33)
    by CST on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 12:14:57 PM EST
    if Malia and Sasha Obama as legal adults decide to go on reality TV and stump for various social causes and then attempt to restrict someone else's legal rights, I'd say that makes criticism of them personally fair game.

    So you never addressed my other point (none / 0) (#37)
    by jbindc on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 12:25:57 PM EST
    Levi is the politician.  Why aren't we hearing more about him?  Why does someone who dances on TV garner more scrutiny than an actual candidate for office?

    I dunno (none / 0) (#39)
    by CST on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 12:29:34 PM EST
    Maybe because he hasn't said anything worthy of comment?

    If you want to link something here, I'm sure there's an open thread around somewhere.


    what? (none / 0) (#45)
    by CST on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 12:35:41 PM EST
    you make a comment that no one is talking about Levi the politician.  Maybe Levi hasn't said anything worth talking about.

    You're just assuming Levi has done something of similar or equivalent nature without actually bothering to find out.


    Don't start again (none / 0) (#27)
    by sj on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 12:03:31 PM EST
    please.  You're better than that.

    everything she does MUST be wrong - is strictly because of who her mother is.  

    That's utter nonsense.  Bristol Palin has raised her own visibility.  She's not just some politician's daughter who wants to live peacefully out the public eye.  She's put herself out there.  

    And frankly, it is not Levi who is being defended here, but rather his parental rights.


    Based on (none / 0) (#30)
    by jbindc on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 12:08:23 PM EST
    a comment Bristol made to a magazine.

    That's a tabloid issue - not a legal issue.



    Many posts on TL (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by sj on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 12:21:24 PM EST
    start with "magazine" articles.  It's still a legal issue.

    When Bristol's attorney (none / 0) (#41)
    by jbindc on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 12:30:59 PM EST
    files papers in court stating she wants to terminate Levi's parental rights, THEN it's a legal issue. Until then, it's just talk / venting / posturing, etc.

    But Levi's attorney is certainly getting some good free publicity by making hay out of it.

    And my correction - she made the comments on KWHL's "The Bob & Mark Show", which was then picked up by tabloid magazines.


    jbinc please stop (5.00 / 2) (#46)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Jan 27, 2011 at 12:37:11 PM EST
    degrading the thread with your snark. If you have something to say on the topic of termination of legal rights, fine. Otherwise, move on.