How Saying No to McDonald's Might Lead to Dad Losing Custody

Could a Happy Meal lead to so much unhappiness? Photo: Getty ImagesDid somebody say McDonald's? Yep, a 4-year-old New York City boy, but his dad David Schorr said nope. Now Schorr, embroiled in a child custody case, is suing a court-appointed psychiatrist for defamation for deeming him "wholly incapable of taking care of his son" after he refused to let his kid eat dinner at McDonald’s.

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"You’d think it was sexual molestation," Schorr, an attorney-turned-consultant, tells the New York Post. "I am just floored by it."

The trouble began last week, the Post explained Thursday, when Schorr was scheduled to take his son to their usual neighborhood restaurant for their weekly Tuesday-night visit. But that night the child dug in his heels about wanting to go to McDonald's instead. Schorr, who felt the boy had been eating too much junk food lately, refused, saying he could eat anywhere else but the fast-food joint — or have no dinner at all.

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"The child, stubborn as a mule, chose the 'no dinner' option," Schorr says in the suit, according to the Post. "It was just a standoff. I’m kicking myself mightily. I wish I had taken him to McDonald's, but you get nervous about rewarding bad behavior. I was concerned. I think it was a 1950s equivalent of sending your child to bed without dinner. That's maybe the worst thing you can say about it."

When the boy went home hungry to mom Bari Yunis Schorr, a vice president at Rue La La, he reported the incident and went to McDonald’s with her. Then she contacted the psychiatrist, Marilyn Schiller, setting the forensic investigation in motion. Schiller, according to the Associated Press, told a judge the incident "raises concerns about the viability" of the father's weekend visits with his son and suggested they be limited or eliminated entirely.

Now David Schorr wants Schiller to return the required $2,750 he paid for her input on the case. Meanwhile, the custody trial will resume in December.

Bari Yunis Schorr and David Schorr at their wedding. Photo: Queens Courier/Schorrs The Schorrs were married in 2007 in a lavish New York ceremony, but Bari filed for divorce several years later. 

No one involved in the current case — the Schorrs, Schiller or Bari’s attorney Louis Newman — returned calls seeking comment from Yahoo Shine.

But in a video (see below) of David Schorr posted on Tout shortly after he filed his suit against Schiller Thursday, the frustrated father speaks of his regrets in the situation. He also asks, "How does someone exercise parental authority during a divorce?"

"Great question," Kenneth Neumann, a New York divorce mediator and psychologist with the Center for Mediation & Training tells Yahoo Shine. "The idea is that parental authority should continue during any process. But the notion that you’re under a microscope is true. So often you wind up being extra careful to a fault, particularly when you're afraid of being reported for abuse."

But Neumann, who is not involved in the Schorr case, adds, "It's well-known that allegations of abuse during a divorce have most often been found to be false — because the other parent uses it as leverage — so they're looked at very suspiciously. This, as well, should have been looked at suspiciously." Further, a court doesn't have to follow the recommendation of forensic investigators. But for Schiller to call the father "wholly incapable," the mediator notes, seems extreme based on this incident alone. "There must be more to the story," he says, adding, "Boy, this is a messy case."

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