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Kansas father, inspired by Game of Thrones, asks for ‘trial by combat’ in child custody case

FAIRWAY, Kan. — A Kansas father proposed settling a custody battle with a swordfight. Representing himself, he asked a judge to allow a “trial by combat.” David Ostrom said he’s not crazy, just frustrated.

We can all thank Game of Thrones for bringing attention to the phrase, trial by combat. That’s what Ostrom had in mind when he submitted court filings in Iowa over a protracted child custody and money battle.

“I’ve seen the television show and read the books,” said Ostrom. “I’m not interested in physically causing harm to anyone.”

He said he’s not violent or crazy, but frustrated by what he considers a system that, in some counties, specifically in his case, is stacked against men when it comes to issues of custody and financial support.

“They’ve tried to ignore me and not address equal custody, and I think this puts a spotlight on them,” said Ostrom.

The approach was eventually “outlawed” in the fictional TV show, but no such explicit prohibition exists in the United States, which was part of Ostrom’s argument. His ex’s lawyer responded in court that just because the U.S. and Iowa constitutions don’t specifically prohibit battling another person with a deadly katana sword — the weapon Ostrom suggested — it does prohibit a court sitting in equity from ordering same.

The lawyer then asked that Ostrom lose visitation rights and submit to a psychiatric evaluation.

Ostrom said he knows the whole thing is ridiculous and absurd — and that’s the point.

“I’ve kind of run out of options and no one pays attention to what I think is hardship on myself and my children,” said Ostrom.

He’s certainly gotten attention, more widespread than he wanted, but he said he’ll take it if it opens up the conversation about co-parenting in his case and others.

The judge ruled Monday, Jan. 13 that he wouldn’t take any action in the case because proper procedural steps had not been taken.

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