NEW YORK (AP) — Saying no to a toddler's demands for a McDonald's meal got a father branded an inept parent, he says in a lawsuit claiming a psychologist urged a judge to curtail his parental visits over the dinner debacle.
David E. Schorr says psychologist Marilyn Schiller pronounced him incapable of caring for his nearly 5-year-old son after he offered a choice — dinner anywhere but McDonald's, or no dinner at all — and let the boy choose the latter. He then took his irate son home to the boy's mother's house early from their Oct 30 dinner date, according to a defamation suit Schorr filed Tuesday.
Schiller didn't immediately return a call Friday.
Schorr, an attorney and employee-benefits consultant, is in the midst of a contentious divorce with estranged wife Bari Yunis Schorr. Schiller was court-assigned to evaluate the couple and their child, according to the lawsuit.
Schiller's reports and many other filings in the divorce case aren't public, though court records reflect a flurry of litigation over two years. Bari Schorr's lawyer, Louis I. Newman, declined to comment.
While the case plays out, David Schorr has alternate weekends and dinner every Tuesday with his son, according to the defamation suit.
"Normally not a very strict father who rarely refuses his child McDonald's," Schorr put his foot down Oct. 30 "because his son had been eating too much junk food," the suit said. Schorr himself didn't immediately return a call Friday.
He quickly regretted his stance when his son threw a tantrum, but he felt that giving in would reward bad behavior, so he offered the elsewhere-or-nowhere "final offer," as his court papers put it.
"The child, stubborn as a mule, chose the 'no dinner' option," the suit says. And the father promptly carted the boy back to Bari Schorr's building, still trying to entice the child into changing his mind as they waited in the lobby for her to get home from work, according to the suit.
Schiller told a judge the fast food flap "raises concerns about the viability" of the father's weekend visits with his son and asked a judge to eliminate or limit them, his lawsuit says.
Psychologists have been sued over their evaluations in divorce and custody cases before in New York and other states, with varying details and results. In some cases, courts have held that the doctors have legal protections for such work.
Jennifer Peltz can be reached through Twitter at @jennpeltz.