FAIRWAY, KS (KCTV) -- A Paola man’s bizarre response to a custody battle is making headlines all over the world. He has asked a judge for “trial by combat.” It’s a phrase that was popularized in the hit HBO fantasy drama “Game of Thrones.”
“I’ve seen the television show and read the books,” said David Ostrom, who has been representing himself.
He submitted the court filings in Shelby County, Iowa, where his ex-wife and children live, in response to a protracted child custody and money battle.
In one of the filings, dated January 3, Ostrom wrote, “Petitioner demands the Court sanction trial by combat to resolve these disputes.”
He went on to write, “The Petitioner requests 12 weeks lead time before Trial By Combat date so he may have 1 Katana and 1 Wakizashi sources or forged for use.” He then clarified that his ex-wife “may choose a Champion (Her counsel Matthew Husdon) to stand in her stead.”
The exchange garnered headlines in news publications across the U.S. and even overseas with a report published in The Jerusalem Post.
“I’m not interested in physically causing harm to anyone,” Ostrom clarified, when he sat down with KCTV5 News.
He says 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,” Ostrom said.
The approach was eventually outlawed in the fictional TV show “Game of Thrones,” but no such explicit prohibition exists in the U.S., which was part of Ostrom’s argument. He says he got the idea from a New York attorney who unsuccessfully used the same language in an unrelated filing several years ago.
Ostrom’s ex-wife’s lawyer, Matthew Hudson, responded in a January 10 filing that, “just because the U.S. and Iowa Constitutions do not specifically prohibit battling another person with a deadly Katana Sword, it does prohibit a court sitting in Equity from ordering same.” Hudson then asked the judge to suspend visitation and order a psychiatric evaluation of Ostrom.
Ostrom says he knows the whole thing is ridiculous and absurd. He says that’s the point.
“I’ve kind of run out of options and no one pays attention to what I think is a hardship on myself and my children,” Ostrom said.
He’s got attention now. It’s more widespread than he wanted, but he says he will take it if it opens up the conversation about co-parenting in regards to his case and others.
The judge filed an order on Monday that read in part, “Until the proper procedural steps to initiate a court proceeding are followed, this Court will take no further action concerning any motion, objection or Petition filed by either party at this time.”
KCTV5 News left a message Tuesday afternoon at the Harlan, Iowa office of the attorney for Ostrom’s ex but hasn’t heard back.