The long hours that Marcia Clark has worked on the O.J. Simpson murder trial have made her a famous prosecutor, but they have also sparked a custody fight.
In court papers filed last week in Los Angeles Superior Court, her estranged husband, Gordon Clark, argued that he should have primary custody of their two sons, because her grueling workload was harming the two boys, ages 3 and 5.
Clark’s filing said that while he commended her “brilliance, her legal ability and her tremendous competence as an attorney, I do not want our children to continue to suffer because she is never home, and never has any time to spend with them.”
“I have personal knowledge that on most nights she does not arrive home until 10 p.m. and even when she is home she is working,” it said.
With more two-career couples and more fathers fighting for custody the question of how a woman balances the tugs of professional and family has become a subject of court scrutiny in many divorces.
The Clarks married in 1980 and separated in January 1994. Marcia Clark filed for divorce on June 9 and was granted primary custody.
Gordon Clark, 36, a computer engineer, said in his filing that his children were so starved for affection that when he was with them they did not want to let him go.
When Marcia Clark sought an increase in child support last December, she told the court she was working “a six or seven day week for as many as 16 hours per day” during the trial, which could last months.
Marcia Clark said she worked similar hours whenever she was on a trial. “There is absolutely no reason why the children should not be with me instead of continually being with baby-sitters,” his court papers said.
Much of Gordon Clark’s filing concerns his objections to Marcia Clark’s December request for increased support payments, based on her need for more child care, and more expensive clothing and hair styling during the Simpson trial.
Marcia Clark earns $96,829 a year; Gordon Clark earned $54,586 last year, according to court papers.
The California Supreme Court, like courts elsewhere, has specifically rejected the idea that working mothers are inherently bad parents.
Still, divorce lawyers said that the work schedules of both mothers and fathers are often raised in custody fights and that many professional women contemplating divorce are afraid their careers will count against them.