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Parents should unite to change the custody laws by removing the “adversarial” process from Family Court, just as the law was changed to make no-fault divorce. In my Divorce, our family was shredded before my eyes. A lesson to be shared–don’t let a stranger (the Judge) make the final decision on the children. Settle these issues because in truth, politics and money rule. The Court system is overwhelmed and not equipped to decide on a fair, child-friendly custody placement. Moreover, thousands of dollars were wasted in a legal battle enriching only the lawyers and impoverishing us.
My children are brothers, “chosen children” adopted at the ages 5 and 7. I always wanted children and my husband went along with the adoption to please me. When the boys were 12 and 14 years old, my husband filed for divorce. While the divorce was still being processed, my then-husband and his girlfriend convinced the boys it was “them against me”. They were brainwashed to believe that my strict parenting made me a “bad” mother. I was so distraught by the lies and deceit at the first court hearing, that I advised him that all further conversations would be taped.
Less than a year later, I caught him instructing the children to deceive and disrespect me. Dr. J. M. B., a reknown expert on Parental Alienation from Orlando, said the tape “could teach a classroom on how to alienate a child from their mother.” Judge L. ignored the taped abuse, left the children in the custody of their caretakers, and filed a complaint with the Florida Bar for my alleged “illegal wire tapping.” I researched the law and disagreed with the Judge. As for the best interest of the children, according to Judge K. (who succeeded Judge L.) by Fall 2001 they were “completely alienated” from me and they refused to visit with me or my entire family. In 2003, my oldest son turned 18. Since he left home for College and is ho longer living with his dad, he and I have re-established our relationship. His father has now told him that he is no longer welcome home, though his brother still lives there. My youngest still refuses to see me.
I have been a child advocate since 1991, volunteering a Guardian Ad Litem and voice for numerous abandoned, abused and neglected children. My good works meant nothing when pitted against the lies of the father and the exaggerations of my confused and manipulated children. Also a practicing lawyer, I tried to shield the boys from the litigation but my repeated requests to seal the file to protect their privacy as adopted children were denied, though no one from the press objected to the sealing. In fact, my former husband’s lawyer personally called the Press to embarrass me and to be make sure that my divorce case was publicized, hurting my children! A complaint to the Florida Bar on this conduct was ignored.
After I joined with other parents who similarly suffer, I attended a picket at the WPB Courthouse and appeared on television as a Spokesperson. Thirty days later while in an unrelated trial representing indigent defendants, a contempt hearing was held in my absence and I was ordered arrested for failure to pay child support. The lawyer representing my husband again called the Press, and another slanderous story was printed calling me a “deadbeat” mom. Little did they know!
All appeals to the Fourth District Court of Appeal on due process and custody of the children, judges who have sworn to uphold the Constitution, were denied without a written opinion, deadlocking Supreme Court review! The Constitution protects my children’s right to have both parents but that was ignored. The First Amendment guarantees our right to free speech; that too is ignored.
Don’t expect to find justice in Florida courts. It is rare! Florida’s Family Court System is destroying children, impoverishing and jailing parents! Remember, set aside your differences for the sake of the children, for “the best parent is both parents” – this is paramount!