Custody Court Crisis

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58,000 children are affected every year by the custody court crisis. Their mothers forced to decide between protecting their children and protecting themselves.

These are the children.  These are their mothers.  These are their stories.

These are the children the Safe Child Act will protect.

If you have a story, and can tell it in less than 400 words, send it to us at [email protected]

I still remember, years ago, the first time I was giving my son a bath and saw the bruises. Strange looking bruises on his back and legs and his butt. I took him to the doctor, and the doctor confirmed my worst fears-my son was being sexually abused. My son’s pediatrician called the Department of Child Services for a more thorough investigation, and they concluded that my son had been sexually abused by the person who had him before I bathed him that fateful day; his father. I was shocked and horrified. I didn’t really know what to do, but it never crossed my mind that I would need to worry about what the family court judge in my case would do. I provided all evidence and reports to the court, and the judge made the following ruling: “It is hard to believe that five months after [child] had contact with the [father] that he would still be so angry with his Dad. I doubt he would be mad even if the touching had really happened. [Father] appears to be very fond of his children and even if he was engaging in sexual inappropriate behavior with them, he would be doing it in a kind fashion.” The judge then gave my ex custody of my son, and told me that if I continued to make “false claims” of abuse I’d be limited to supervised visits only. It’s been years now. My son is still not safe, his father still has custody, and I’m still powerless to do what mothers want to do the most, protect their children.
I was pregnant when he tried to kill me. My OBGYN knew something was wrong when he showed up unannounced at the hospital, setting off the alerts from the monitors I was hooked up to. My OBGYN said if he showed up again, she would call the police. The rest of the pregnancy was fraught with psychological abuse. I was a high-risk pregnancy and my daughter wasn’t gaining much weight. My body was failing. I needed an emergency c-section. I died during the procedure and my daughter almost died. A few months after my baby was born, I sat on a commission to advise our state senators on a plan to help pregnant women in abusive situations. I sat there, nauseated, as I heard the list of medical problems associated with abuse during pregnancy. My daughter and I experienced every single adverse effect from his abuse; even the placental abruption and death. He tried to kill us. Now he wanted custody. He lied in court and didn’t learn to care for our daughter’s medical problems. Domestic violence agencies agreed we were being abused. But neither came to court. The child psychologists recommended fifteen minute, supervised visits, but that’s not what the judge ordered After every court ordered, unsupervised visit she came back traumatized, bruised and regressing. She started the visits at 15 months and immediately regressed. Her pediatrician recommended she see a child psychologist. He and the court appointed GAL sent a report recommending that Dad learn how to feed and take care of our daughter and that he should have supervised visits. The concerns of abuse were hidden by the GAL. My lawyer recommended that our daughter not have increased visitation until she could talk clearly. She said Dad was ineffectual and shouldn’t be around young children. Two domestic violence agencies agreed we were being abused. A former GAL that used to work for the court reviewed our case and testified there was something not right with Dad, too much help was needed, and recommended supervised therapeutic visits. A nurse from a national, federally regulated program testified to the troubling changes my daughter showed since visitation started and that the GAL never contacted them. But the court ignored it all and made me coparent with him. And for two and a half years up til today, she has been abused each visit psychologically, emotionally, physically and now sexually. He still has unsupervised overnight visits.
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