Update (2018): This story began around 2003; the case remains in the court, disputing financial issues–the children are almost all aged out, but Judge Phillips’ divisive handling of court matters reverberates down the years. The only good news to report is that he is now retired.
My family and I are recent victims of Judge John L. Phillips of the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Court Family Division. I have three boys age 3, 4, and 11. This past February, during my divorce proceedings, our world was turned upside down. I sought relief from a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship. This was my first and only appearance before the Judge. I was honest and hopeful that the Court would render a decision in the best interest of my family. The hearing took the entire day, which was a complete waste of time since the divorce was uncontested and the facts undisputed.
The facts presented were of a mother who loves and cares for her children and works to support them, and of an irresponsible father who contributed to their support sporadically. The father and his relatives confirmed that I am a good and caring mother; their main complaint was that my house is not as tidy as it might be! I work full time as a teacher, and have always had complete responsibility for my children. The father has worked erratically, and is generally uninvolved in his children’s lives. I fully expected to have custody of my children, with only financial matters to be resolved.
To my surprise, Judge Phillips called me a liar. At the end of the day he looked at me and said “You think things are going to get better but they will be worse.” Then he took an entire month to decide just how bad he could make things for me and my children.
Judge Phillips’ decision was to force a mother from her home and give three crying children to a father who couldn’t care less, thereby wreaking emotional havoc on the innocent children. Since they have gone to live with him, they have not received medical attention when necessary. The two younger ones are confused and miss me and their home; the older one—wiser than our judiciary—is disgusted with Judge Phillips’ irrational decision and with his father’s behavior and child care methods.
The father was awarded unrealistic child support from me. I believe that Judge Phillips’ purpose for crippling me financially is to take away all hope of providing a home for my children, thereby justifying his decision. This is irrational, but so, apparently, is Judge Phillips.
I have visited this courtroom since then, for observation of other divorce hearings. I could not understand what I did wrong, how I could disappoint my children. I have prayed and searched. My observations have shown me that I did nothing wrong. I sought to protect my children, just like another mother whose hearing I observed. The Judge’s behavior in this other case shocked me. He delighted in the other mother’s distress over the safety of her child. In this case, as in my own, he took the child from her responsible mother and gave her to a negligent father, unjustifiably.
I believe in family. Judge Phillips does not. I am asking that this Judge be looked into. It is criminal to allow this person to continue to damage the lives of others, especially the most vulnerable among us, OUR CHILDREN!!!