Recently, Dads of Wisconsin heard from a distraught father. We believe that Bob’s story will answer that question.
“My youngest daughter was not planned, but when I found out that I was going to be a father again there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to be a part of her life.”
When Joy was six months old, paternity was established. Her parents were given equal custody, with Joy spending every other weekend with her father. They were referred to mediation to work out further details, but Joy’s mother walked out. After another attempt at mediation, Bob was given two more days per month with his daughter.
Joy’s mother engaged in gate-keeping behavior, calling several times a day when Joy was in Bob’s care. She also refused to include Bob in any decision-making related to Joy’s health and safety. Bob had serious concerns about some of the people Joy’s mother brought into her home.
“Joy’s mother was exposing her to a sex offender and other criminals. I was worried about Joy’s safety.”
When Joy was two and a half years old, Bob got a call from a social worker at Child Protective Services who stated that Joy was removed from her mother’s care for Failure to Protect. Since Joy had not been harmed in the incident, according to the social worker, Bob’s concerns about her safety were ignored, and she was returned to her mother’s care.
When Joy was five years old she started gaining a lot of weight. Bob was very concerned about this, and the fact that Joy’s mother was still exposing her to known criminals.
Bob hired an attorney, hoping that he would finally be able to protect his daughter. The court commissioner agreed with Bob’s concerns, and the judge ordered a family study.
“The social worker’s report was heavily biased toward Joy’s mother, including the lies that she told about me.”
Bob had his credit limit increased so he could continue to pay for legal representation. The attorneys on both sides negotiated for months, but Joy’s mother did not want to give in.
“Her mother said she would keep Joy away from certain people with criminal records, but only if I paid a lot more in child support.”
As much as it broke his heart, Bob simply did not have the income to agree. After two and a half years of negotiating and $20,000 in attorney fees, Bob was still not able to protect his little girl.
Situations like Bob’s are happening because parents are not seen as equals in family court.
You Can Help
Help children like Joy by donating to Dads of Wisconsin, so we can pass an equal placement bill during the next legislative session.