Every now and then I am presented a question via an e-mail contact on this website, or through a public forum that demands immediate attention as the subject of a blog article. This month’s installment is one such question.
I had just opened my e-mail this morning with the plan to post a blog (already written) when I saw a question presented that got my Irish up. The question involves an extremely common problem. In fact, it is an excellent follow-up to my blog posted in December: http://www.planoattorney.net/blog/christmas-custody-and-divorce-2015-12-523
In December, I was discussing child visitation in terms of the holidays and used the term “Angry Momma” to refer to those mothers that for their own intrinsic reasons set about to destroy the parent-child relationship between the children and the father. Today, was asked if the father in this situation is entitled to some compensation for the loss of that relationship. The father presented a very common scenario – since the divorce the mother has denied visitation, undermined the relationship between father and child, prohibited contact, and gotten away with it. She got away with it, like multitudes of other women, because Dad let it happen.
Yes Fathers, I said it. YOU LET IT HAPPEN! It is not fair but then who ever told you “life is fair” lied. When a parent, either parent, be it mom or dad, denies the other parent access to the children and the parent hurt does nothing but complain the law puts the blame squarely on the injured parent’s shoulders. The law presumes that if a parent does not stand up for himself and make the mother obey court orders related to visitation, then the father merely allowed her to stop or interfere with the parent-child relationship. As I told this gentleman in a direct response, there is a court order use it.
I have written extensively on enforcing court orders – though admittedly not all those articles are posted yet. A good source of basic information on the subject is available at http://www.planoattorney.net/practice-areas/enforcement-actions/enforcing-court-orders. The short version of the problem is simple enough and a second and completely unrelated e-mail to me yesterday sheds light on the common fact pattern. The gentleman yesterday made the statement that “it appears nobody cares or will do anything about it.” This begs the question, exactly whom are all these fathers waiting on to ride in and do something?
Perhaps the issue is somehow aligned with the Title IV-D courts which enforce child support. To explain that and put it into context, Title IV-D is a Federal Law that gives money to the states Attorneys General to staff offices and attorneys whose task is to enforce child support. The basis of the law is that if non-custodial parent pays child support the custodial parent will not need welfare or at the least will need less assistance. Please allow me to saddle my political high horse – it is politicians redirecting money from “family assistance programs” to the court system to force parents to pay child support so that the politicians can say “look at me, I cut welfare spending.” (I’ll get off my high horse now.)
The point here is that the parent whose rights are being affected. that is the parent whose relationship is being strangled has a duty. A father who is denied visitation cannot simply sit by and wait for some legal entity to take up and champion his cause. When a father does not pay child support, most mothers run to the courthouse screaming. Even those that don’t eventually land in court as a result of Title IV-D or big surprise to some of you, there is a provision in the law that if child support reaches a certain amount of arrearages, attorneys fees are mandatory. Any guesses what happens when attorneys are guaranteed payment? Some industrious firms pop up and carve out a niche and then the non-paying party gets drug to court.
But what happens if Mom destroys the relationship between father and child? What happens if Angry Momma wants revenge and is so bent on getting even she ignores the damage it does to the children? YES, ANGRY MOMMA, YOU ARE HURTING THE CHILDREN TO GET EVEN WITH YOUR EX! I say this at the risk of alienating mothers, but it is important to understand that Parental Alienation is a substantial factor for the courts to consider when determining best interest of the child. More importantly, Parental Alienation Syndrome is now recognized as a psychiatric condition ripe for diagnoses according to fifth and most recent edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.
If you are a mother who is bent on making sure your ex does not see your child(ren) you now have two very distinct choices. If the reason is solid – go to court and get a Judge to stamp your decision. If your reason is yours, you can still do as you please but beware, the DSM-V is a powerful tool and one a skilled attorney who likes and wants to represent father’s and enforce father’s rights will use to beat you into submission (legally speaking).
The e-mail that started this whole discussion asked quite simply, “Should I be compensated for the loss of not having my children anymore? “
The answer is YES! Absolutely a father should be compensated but not with money. The father who is denied possession, access, and visitation or who otherwise is faced with a situation in which the mother is acting in a manner to destroy or inhibit his relationship with the child(ren) should get that time back. The problem is giving back that time, it is nearly impossible to do. However, there are two ways the court can give a parent back time missed with the children. Either the court can award make-up time (order Mom to deliver the kids for visitation and give more than standard) or the Court can change custody and tell Mom that she better pray Dad does not do to her what she did to him. Either way, the judge does nothing until a father stands up for himself.
If you are a parent (father or mother) who has been systematically denied access to the childr(ren), or perhaps you are a parent who is married and considering divorcing a spouse that tells the kids “your father does not love you” or some other words or actions to brain-wash the children – you MUST stand up for yourself. You need to hire a skilled family law attorney who will protect and defend your rights and aggressively pursue your children’s best interest. If you stand idly by, what will you say to your children when they are older and ask where you were during their lives or why you did not love them?