On Jan. 26, a judge in California revoked the child custody rights of singer Robin Thicke. Since the beginning of the year, Thicke has been feuding with his ex-wife Paula Patton over custody of their 6-year-old son. When Thicke appeared in court to request temporary sole custody, he lost custody rights and was ordered to stay away from his son.

Patton recently filed a restraining order against Thicke, which was granted by the judge. Thicke is now barred from being near his son, Patton and Patton’s mother. According to Patton, Thicke has a drug and alcohol problem and uses excessive spanking as a form of discipline. During the child custody hearing, statements were issued to the court by a teacher and principal at the boy’s school who claimed that the boy was afraid of his father and did not want to be around him. Patton also testified that her son became very angry when he was asked about the spankings.

Thicke has denied allegations that he uses excessive corporal punishment, and his lawyer claims that the Department of Children and Family Services told Thicke that it was dropping its investigation into the matter. Thicke also alleges that the DCFS is investigating his ex-wife for emotional abuse.

Divorcing parents may be able to avoid becoming embroiled in child custody disputes by working out a shared parenting plan. A lawyer may be able to represent a divorcing parent during child custody negotiations and help ensure that a detailed parenting plan is created. If parents reach agreements about parenting issues early on in the separation, legal disputes may not be necessary later on.