By: Dani Langevin – May 2013
“Derek” is a forty-eight year old divorced father of two who has not seen, heard from or spoken with his two children ages 13 and 10 since June 11, 2011 due to, what he claims, is a corrupt court system that is skewed in favor of mothers.
When I spoke with him about what effects not seeing his children have had on his life he stated that, “Emotionally, I am a wreck, crying most nights. Nightmares are a common nightly event. If I sleep more than four hours a night, it is a good night.”
He admitted that he’s had thoughts of running away from it all and even suicide. There is no telling what affects not seeing their father is having on his children, but there are enough scientific and psychological studies to give evidence to what they may be. This will be explored in my next column. For this one, I’ll focus on the corrupt court system in Massachusetts.
I investigated federal and state laws regarding child custody and support when parents divorce. I also looked into what happens in our courts regarding mother and father’s rights and what is really granted. I found some interesting facts on www.exiledfathers.com such as:
“According to the constitution and U.S. Supreme Court case law, family court judges have no legal authority to assign custody of a child or terminate any parental rights without ‘clear and convincing evidence’ that a parent is harmful to a child.” This makes sense and sounds comforting to divorcing parents discussing the logistics of child custody. However, what really happens in U.S. divorce courts is frighteningly quite the opposite. “Two million restraining orders are issued every year in the U.S.; most are based on allegations of domestic abuse.”
Through my research, mothers file most allegations against fathers. 82.6% of mothers receive custody of children as opposed to 17.4% of fathers. Furthermore, “In private, lawyers admit that between 50%-95% of restraining orders should NOT be issued. Massachusetts issued 40,000 restraining orders in one year. This is in contrast to the law abiding states that issue about 3% per capita.” What happened to the ‘clear and convincing evidence’?
In Derek’s case there was no clear and convincing evidence proving that he was abusive to his children or their mother. Mom simply cried ‘wolf’ and Derek was slapped with a restraining order. I asked Derek straight out if his ex had any reason to be afraid of him or fear that he may be harmful to his children. He said no and told me the event that brought this false claim about. Derek had showed up during one of his scheduled visitations without a child support check. As a result, his ex refused to give him the children. Derek naturally became upset and angry and started to scream at the end of the driveway, demanding the right to see his children. He admitted to using explicative language, which his wife grossly exaggerated, in court.
“I was angry and frustrated. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to see my children. I was within the court ordered time to do so, and she was refusing me my right to see my children. In my eyes this was a violation of court orders. In her eyes I was in violation because I did not have the child support check, but one has nothing to do with the other.”
His ex filed her first restraining order against Derek and it was granted. There was no history of abuse, calls to 911 because of domestic violence, no visits to the emergency room with questionable injuries and no evidence of any teachers, school administrators, guidance counselors or nurses ever having concerns about the children’s safety.
With one point of the finger, a father was told that he could have no contact at all with his own children. Not even his family could see them because that would be viewed as Derek using them to get to his children. Because of a knee jerk reaction and clear violation of state law, a father and his children were denied the right to be together. Derek felt his side of the case fell on deaf ears.
Through my research, lawyers and child advocates agree, “Crying fear of abuse is like the silver bullet for parents seeking sole guardianship of their children.” I also discovered that many lawyers and some politicians who support restraining orders receive money from feminist support groups. This can’t be legal.
You may be asking, “Well, why didn’t he bring a check with him that day? The answer is simple. He didn’t have the money. When a divorce involves children there are many money matters to be considered: alimony, child support, splitting of the assets and such. Derek was making about $20,000 less than his ex was when the marriage dissolved. He could have received alimony, but waived that right.
Since the mother, in this case and in most cases, was granted custodial guardianship of the children, it was Derek’s obligation to pay child support. There is a set formula that the courts use to determine just how much a parent should pay. Derek should have been paying approximately $200 a month. For whatever reason, the judge in this case ordered Derek to pay $900 a month, more than what he was making. He didn’t have a check because he didn’t have the money. Another interesting fact from exiledfathers.com is, “State and Judicial branches receive billions of dollars in kickbacks from the federal government for increasing child support each year and the State Department of Revenue gets a percentage of all child support.”
What happens when you can’t pay child support? A number of things can occur. Usually they garnish wages. Derek had his own massage business. The courts took his business license away because he wasn’t able to pay child support. How does this make sense? The courts should have adjusted the child support at this point, but did not, and Derek has not earned over $900 a month since. His drivers license was then revoked, therefore his transportation to find gainful employment. The courts took all possible means away in which Derek could earn an income. His ex-wife and the Massachusetts court system were raping Derek. I’m pretty sure that is illegal.
Naturally, he was very concerned about when, if ever, he was going to see his children again. The restraining order was for one year. For a full year, Derek, could not have any contact with his own children because of a bogus claim. For those of you who are parents, you know what this would feel like – utter devastation.
Derek did as the courts said while he tried to piece his life back together so he could prove he was a worthy father when his wife didn’t have to prove he was not. Six months into the restraining order, he wrote a term of endearment addressed to his children on a child support check. His wife immediately contacted her lawyer, claimed that this was a violation of the restraining order and wanted it extended. Legally, in order to renew or lengthen a restraining order, the plaintiff must make an entirely new case.
Once again, Derek’s basic rights were violated and no case was presented against him. His ex wasn’t even at the hearing. This should have resulted in the original restraining order’s termination. Instead, the restraining order was extended.
Over and over again the Massachusetts court system has violated this father’s rights. Derek feels that his first amendment rights were violated when he was not listened to by the judge at the first hearing for the divorce; his right to be innocent until proven guilty was violated, as well as his parental rights. Recently his children were interviewed by a court ordered psychologist to see if they wanted to see their father again. Because they have not seen or heard from him in almost two years, thanks to their mother and the court system, they said, “No”. In their eyes, their father has done nothing to contact them.
Derek’s case is sickening and disheartening. Sadly, he is one of thousands of fathers and their children who are victimized by vindictive mothers and a court system that gets monetary rewards for supporting unfounded restraining orders and ballooned child support. Although his professional and personal life has been shaken to the core, Derek’s resolve has not. He says he will not give up fighting to see his children. He vows to do something to make divorce courts more balanced for fathers and expects compensation from the state for the hundreds of thousands of dollars and more that they milked from him under the guise of, “what was best for the children.” He doesn’t know how, but he will make changes and a difference for fathers who may fall victim to the same injustices in the future that he has and continues to endure.
If there is anyone out there that can help Derek or has information about someone or some way that can please contact me at: DBLangevin@aol.com. In next month’s column I will be addressing Parental Alienation Syndrome.