Saturday, March 21, 2009

Destroying our children: Tennessee's corrupt divorce industry is leaving the primary caregivers out of these precious lives when needed the most

As a professional nurse, Polly has seen many things medically that would make most people retreat or faint.

But it took a statement inside a Legislative Plaza hearing room earlier this week to make her cry out in misery. That's because this good woman lives a life wrongly separated from her children, and her only hope is legislation this session that would somewhat even the playing field inside Tennessee's divorce courts.

Polly, in her nurse's uniform with a picture of her precious girls attached to her lapel, today told the camera of WSMV Channel 4 her story -- of how her ex-husband in a well-paying corporate job was able to take away the babies she had raised. And the Davidson County divorce judge approved it all in humiliating fashion.

A lot of the media don't want to get involved in anything that has to do with divorce, so Channel 4's presence today was most gratifying. At issue is not which side is right or wrong in a divorce, but the right of each parent to play a meaningful and major role in the lives of their children -- despite divorce.

But here in Tennessee -- the buckle of the Bible and home of family values -- we are seeing mothers who have raised their children being separated from them by divorcing spouses who can afford the best paid, gunslinger attorneys. And in turn, the judges overseeing the cases have significant connections to many of these big-time attorneys and their firms through the bar association.

As far as corruption, this wrong is a evil as it gets. These mothers are being put on supervised visitation, meaning they must pay $100 or more to a stranger for every hour they are with the children they raised. They don't have custody. And supervised visitation is being ordered by judges without citing any evidence that the welfare of the child is risk.

So the lives of children are being destroyed, in being taken from their original caregivers and delivered solely to the parent who did not spend the most time raising them. And many of the husbands, threatened by the close relationships the children share with the mothers, have successfully gotten the courts to cut off contact completely, or to limit these women to a few hours every couple of weeks.

Consider these national numbers from a survey of parents involved in custody disputes:

Father has custody; mother has supervised visitation - 29%
Mother has custody; father has supervised visitation - 3%

Father has custody; mother has no contact with the child/ren - 29%
Mother has custody; father has no contact with the child/ren - 0%

Somebody sure does feel threatened.

Ultimately, the mother gets her rights reduced each time the father returns to court with his high-paid attorney. Eventually, visitation is reduced to next to nothing. And the ex-husband can even delay rights the mother does have because she doesn't have the money to take him to court.

Essentially, the wrongful parent and the corrupt judge believe the children will simply forget the mother. They're wrong. The children remember, and it destroys their futures -- slowly but surely.

Consider this pearl of wisdom from a good divorce judge, taken from The Child Custody Book: How to Protect Your Children and Win Your Case, by Judge James W. Stewart:

The long-term emotional damage to children as a result of the improper conduct of their parents during a divorce inhibits their ability to lead happy and productive lives within the society. The alienated child will have a skewed view of adults and of the gender of the parent who is the victim of the alienation. The abandoned child will find it hard to fully trust as an adult, especially those who should be very close and deeply loved.

Indeed some abandoned children may spend their early adult years in the unhealthy search for a mate who will serve in the role of the parent who has abandoned the child. The child who witnesses abuse, physical or verbal, is far more likely to so abuse family members later in life.

Children who walk a tightrope, telling each parent what that parent wants to hear, over time lose touch with their own true feelings and needs. They have lost part of their grasp on reality. Such a loss can produce serious emotional disorders that may — without serious therapeutic interventions — last a lifetime. At the least, it is likely that these children will find it difficult to establish a lifelong love relationship.

That's a helluva price to pay for a divorce industry in Tennessee for sale to the highest bidder.

The issue here is the welfare of the children, something too many divorce judges in this state have forgotten.

Polly deserves to have her children back under her custody. But it will take more of us to step out to back her to see that justice is finally done and the divorce industry is forced to retreat.

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