Madisyn “Maddy” Verst has become famous for staring in the TLC reality show “Toddlers & Tiaras.” According to a Fox News article, Maddy’s mother, Lindsay Jackson currently has custody of the child but Maddy’s father, Bill Verst, has sought full custody because he believes it is inappropriate to have Maddy competing in beauty pageants and appearing on the reality show. The case is being heard in Kentucky’s Campbell County Family Court.
The controversy surrounding Toddlers & Tiaras increased when Maddy, 5 years old at the time, participated in beauty pageant dressed, as one article describes, “in a Dolly Parton costume complete with added curves.” Additionally, Maddy participated in another event dressed as a “sexy police officer.”
A court-appointed psychologist has recommended that Verst be given residential custody of Maddy.
In her own defense, Lindsay Jackson said that she “shouldn’t be at risk of losing [her] child simply because she participates in a hobby that some people don’t like” and added that such pageants are not “not illegal.” She went on to claim that both the Judge and the court-appointed psychologist are biased against her because Verst’s family is wealthy and have political connections.
Unfortunately for Jackson, legality is not the standard by which her conduct will be judged. The court will rule based on the best interest of the child. Jackson apparently believes that Maddy’s participation is similar to a child enrolling in any youth competition such as Little League. Verst’s attorney will certainly frame the issue differently and will likely advocate that Jackson has sexualized Maddy by dressing her in such inappropriate costumes.
As of the date of this article, it appears that New York has never considered a child’s participation in such beauty pageants as a factor in determining the custody of the child but if the popularity of such pageants continues to grow, New York courts will certainly have to address this issue.