How do custody swaps get so contentious?

For the second time in less than 12 months a custody swap has ended with violence outside of a big chain outlet store, and I’m wondering what generally happens at these swaps and how they get so contentious.

From today’s AJC story: “Suwannee Police responded to a call around 4 p.m. Sunday about an argument between a man and woman in a Walmart parking lot. When police arrived on the scene they found the man and woman had been stabbed, apparently as a result of an argument, Cpt. Cass Mooney, a Suwanee police spokesman, told the AJC.”

“Two children were at the scene of a knife attack in Suwanee that left their mother dead, and their father awaiting charges.”

“The couple has been identified as Shelley Dyan Dunn, 27, of Buford and Phillip Chad Dunn, 28, of Lawrenceville.”

“ ‘The meeting was a custody exchange between the husband and wife,’ Mooney said. “At some point the husband pulled out a knife stabbing the wife and then himself.’ ”

Another custody swap ended in violence last April outside of a Target store but the husband wasn’t involved. Heather Strube, 25, had just picked up her 18-month-old son from her estranged husband, Steven Strube, outside of a Target store when she was shot by someone police say was wearing a wig and fake mustache. Police believe Strube’s mother-in-law Joanna Hayes was the one wearing the disguise.

From an October AJC story following the case: “Joanna Hayes has been charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, according to Roy Whitehead, Snellville police chief.  She is accused of shooting and killing her daughter-in-law, Heather Strube, on April 26  in the Scenic Highway store’s parking lot.”

“Steven Strube was ruled out as a suspect, police said in May, because he drove away before the shooting occurred. The child was not harmed.”

First of all, divorced couples please tell us why are all these custody swaps taking place outside of large chain stores? Why don’t they take place at the parent’s houses or friend’s houses?

Secondly, what in the heck happens during the swaps that violence breaks out in parking lots? What are you talking about that gets so heated? Is it big stuff about school or discipline or little nit-picky stuff about whether they ate well while at the other parent’s house?

Where do you meet to do your custody swaps? Where is a safer place to meet than outside large chain stores?  Should they be meeting inside police stations or police station parking lots? Is there a way to eliminate these types of situations?

Help us understand what generally happens at these types of custody swaps that can get so out of hand.

128 comments Add your comment

Dawgs2010

February 14th, 2010
10:53 pm

The large chain store is usually a well known, public place with large parking lots to exchange kids. This type of transactions happens every weekend without incident. These are isolated events.

I am almost positive the arguments have nothing to do with “little nit-picky stuffs” as you posted above. In fact I bet it nothing at all to do with the kids themselves, but problemsbetween man and woman.

Divorce is very difficult on both parties and emotions are still high months after the final decree. The men are most likely bitter about having to pay child-support while the woman has started dating again. There may be new boyfriends and her moving on while “ol’boy” is still licking his wounds.

It takes time for these thing to pass, But as far the murders…..it is what is it. You can’t stop that from happening. People snap in the heat of the moment.

Photius

February 14th, 2010
11:08 pm

It is because we should not allow 60% of the population to reproduce; they are the morons and their genes should not be continued. Second, the morons get married way too young, pop out a unit and then find out after the lust wears off they actually have to talk to each other. They are low lifes, losers, who breed multi father families and continue generation of generation of losers. Sterilize the majority of people and prevent these morons from coming into life. These people are idiots…. they create generation of generation of disfunctional idiots…. sterilize or give them a lobotomy for our security so they can repeat over and over “would you like frech fries with that?” The morons reproduce too much, the smart do not reproduce enough.

jbgotcha

February 15th, 2010
12:38 am

This is more shoddy journalism/blogging by the AJC. These events are not unique. I can assure you there is a history of domestic violence in these cases. Please reach out to your local domestic violence agency when you hear about stories like these and get some good information from the people who see it day in/day out. This blog borders on irresponsible. I work at a supervised exchange/visitation center. Our center is dedicated to providing a truly safe place for these types of exchanges. It is such a needed service. I pray for the family of this woman who was brutally murdered by her batterer. So, so sad.

A Mother

February 15th, 2010
12:51 am

Child exchanges often take place in a neutral place. Emotion run high during and after a divorce. (and Dawg, it is NOT because the man has to pay CS and the woman is dating — that is a sterotypical generalization!) Parents are often advised to exchange the kids at a public and neutral area to avoid arguments.

I think you will find that this type of violence is premeditated. Why else would a parent or grandparent have a concealed weapon when children are present?

Cw

February 15th, 2010
1:00 am

A possible reason for this type of aberrant behavior might stem from court patterns that tend to disproportionately favor the mother over the father in custody of the children.

It by no means excuses such behavior, but I think it might be, at the least, a plausible factor.

Jbgotcha

February 15th, 2010
1:09 am

@cw: it is a myth that courts favor men. Statistically, mist
men who
contest custody get it even when they have
committed violence against the mother. Get your facts straight. You are making excuses for this brutal murderer.

Jbgotcha

February 15th, 2010
1:10 am

Excuse me I meant it was a myth that the courts favor women.

J

February 15th, 2010
1:17 am

Where in my post was I “making excuses for this brutal murder”? I clearly stated that the behavior was not excusable, but you jumped the shark and drew your own conclusion.

Show the statistics that more men gain primary custody of children in a divorce situation. Hell will freeze over before you can produce a legitimate source for that one. So I will ask you to please- Get your facts straight.

Elle

February 15th, 2010
1:22 am

Photius, we as people are not God and we don’t and shouldn’t be deciding who should get to reproduce. That’s not our jobs. The only control we have over reproductive rights are our own.

Dawg, you are also correct. It is unfortunate that these things happen. Although I have been married for decades, I am also a child of divorce and it was contenious.

The most important things for parents to remember is that there are some things in life that are more important than your personal happiness. Your child’s well-being and happiness should be one of them.

Everyone gets so caught up in what they want and need during a divorce, that they forgeth the needs of their children. How parents handle themselves during a divorce will continue to reverberate through their child’s life for generations. I’ve never met a child of divorced parents that wasn’t wounded in some way.

Children almost never get to decide anything in a divorce. They have no control over anything.

As a kid, I always felt like a bounced check. No one wanted the check but someone had to take care of it and deal with it; so I went back and forth all the time. That’s very stressful for a child. Different houses, different boyfriends and girlfriends, different new wives, new husbands, step-siblings, half siblings and different pets. It drove me crazy.

I might be more sensitive than most people, but that was one of the the best things about becoming an adult; I no longer had to deal with any of them.

Yes, I may be a little damaged emotionally and psychologically by the divorce (LOL) but you know what I did, I went out and found “new people.” I found some new parents that weren’t divorced and I’ve been happy since 1975.

Jbgotcha

February 15th, 2010
1:27 am

Cw: I’m talking divorce where there us a history of domestic violence whether documented or undocumented. Please contact the Family Violence Prevention Fund for the statistics I mentioned. These homicides are not freak
occurences.

Elle

February 15th, 2010
1:32 am

I see increased stress and contention across all segments of society and I think it may have something to do with the economy. Many people’s emotions are frayed and unemployment and the lack of money have driven many to do things that they wouldn’t ordinarily do.

Cw

February 15th, 2010
1:37 am

Your original post mentioned nothing of domestic violence being a contributing factor in a divorce. My comment was very concise and direct. I stated that one plausible factor MIGHT be, that overall, men do not statistically gain primary custody of children in ALL divorce cases considered.

If you had specified that you were referring to cases where domestic violence was a factor your point might well be accurate, but you did not do that.

I never condoned or excused said behavior of this person, I just offered one POSSIBLE contributing factor.

John

February 15th, 2010
5:14 am

I am divorced and Get to have my son every other weekend, His mother and I get along and we decided when we divorced we would work together for the sake of our child. Sounds like me someone could not move on from the divorce, and it isn’t always easy. I think the problem is that most people aren’t grown up enough to think of anything but themselves, the children are the ones who suffer.

But I would say they had an arguement, that led to it.but who really knows except them

Dre

February 15th, 2010
6:28 am

Not making any excuses for murder but its a known fact that courts favor women in custody situations. The courts add insult to injury by not only taking away children but the fathers’ own financial independence by OUTRAGEOUS child support payments. Often times those court decisions leave alot of men emotionally and financially broken who feel they have little left to live for. People with nothing to live for have very little regard for the lives of others.

3 Squares and Iron bars

February 15th, 2010
6:46 am

When you come in second in the battle between the sexes, it’s tempting to use the set of steak knives you’ve won, and anyone can be driven to murder.

I remember how I lost control in high school, when my girlfriend wouldn’t “go steady”. I took it like a man for a while, (being suddenly a jealous observer instead of her escort). Then I snapped after dinner one night. She lived next door, so I grabbed what was left of my mom’s boston creme pie, and told my sister what I was about to do. She grabbed a camera.

I knocked on Nancy’s screen door, hiding the pie behind my back. She answered. I told her I had a suprise for her and asked her to close her eyes. She did, and lifted her amazing face. (God, I hate myself). I clobbered her but good with that pie. My sister took the photo; and we ran back to our house laughing. I heard the tin-foil pie plate hit the cement as it fell from her face, but I didn’t look back.

The next day on the bus, I sat next to her and apologized. She complained that her father had to clean up the mess on her patio. She asked me what was wrong with me. She said we couldn’t be friends anymore. It was a disaster. I cried for months, but left her alone, taking only long-range, across-the-lunchroom glances at her from time to time. I hated her taste in guys, even though they were the luckiest guys in the world.

I drifted around that summer, went to college, graduated, worked as an accountant for ten years before becoming a comedian. But it was no good. I’ll never get over Nancy B.

We never found that photo.

jan

February 15th, 2010
7:31 am

Nobody knows what happened in that parking lot except the man and woman. The children are now going to grow up with the knowledge that their dad killed their mother and have the image in their minds forever. My 3 daughters, all adults, still have the image of their mom walking thru the door badly beaten and know their dad did it. It is a sad but true fact, women feel safe in a large parking lot with plenty of activity around but the truth if her husband was an abuser she is safe no where unless he is locked up. Even in this day and age, try to get that to happen. It didn’t happen in the 1980’s during my abuse. People just really don’t want to talk about it and even today, all you hear is if she really wanted to get out she would. When your life is constantly threaten, reality almost always goes away and you live with the fact that you have to survive. I pray for those children.

Divorced in Fulton

February 15th, 2010
8:00 am

I’m a law-abiding, college-degreed professional who lives in a nice neighborhood and pays a high tax rate. The only time I have ever used the justice system was to get divorced. And yet I received such shoddy services (including a hostile attitude from a bored judge whose contempt for my ex-wife and me was palpable) that I have to conclude the worst part of our justice system is family law; the part of the system that (according to divorce statistics) fully 50% of us, mostly decent, non-criminals, are destined to use!

Family law is unbelievably important to the future of small children caught in divorce. Finding the right custodial balance (Georgia is still stuck in the Stone Age there; why not use California’s much more intelligent model?) is the most crucial decision that will likely ever be made in the life of a small child. The child-support formula was changed from barbaric to almost-good, but still leaves loopholes for ex-spouses who don’t want to work, but just want to keep that monthly check a-comin.’

The system still makes it too easy for ex-wives to demonize and extract money from ex-fathers as a vindictive measure. If you want to stop custodial hand-off violence, make family law a priority. Give divorcing parents (some of whom are being divorced against their wishes thanks to GA’s no-fault law) at least the level of respect and due process you give common thugs going into criminal court. That would be a nice start.

Jeff

February 15th, 2010
8:01 am

JBgotcha, your sales schtick for this DV is a little overplayed and obvious.. DV is a separate discussion b/c by itself could fill a blog for days on end.

In this case, we do not know the history of this couple (in EITHER direction). As a single father, I have been through a divorce with a child and it is NOT pleasant. Women tend to have a more encouraging and stronger support group around them than do men. Women also file for the majority of divorces, so many times, women are farther ahead of the game in the get-over-it process. Tie all that to the man having little control over his life (child interaction, finances, etc) and I can see, based on my experience, how divorce can be more difficult for men.

All that being said, this man should be punished to the fullest extent because his behavior is unacceptable and against the law. No, we don’t need extra laws, extra programs, extra funding for this or that project. He broke the law and there is a punishment already set aside for his behavior.

Emily

February 15th, 2010
8:03 am

Photius you are right on. Rats in a cage.

Joel Osteen

February 15th, 2010
8:04 am

Christ said that if a man divorce his wife, he necessarily forces her to commit adultery. And the both of them are going straight to lucifer in a hand bag. (john 12.1 verse 7)

bwa

Denise

February 15th, 2010
8:06 am

It has been my experience with my boyfriend and now husband that the “types” of exchanges that occur have everything to do with what has or has not transpired in the courts. Both my husband and I have been the victim of such violent behavior all at the hands of the “unsuspecting Mother.” Unfortunately, the laws in Georgia do favor Mother’s rights without really investigating whether that Mother is even deserving of those rights. It took my husband 8 years of fighting to prove that this Mother was the real issue with the exchange and he was ONLY seeking visitation. The Mother was empowered by the legal system and but for her being an absolutely unhappy and unbalanced person, we may never have gotten some resolution. The end result has left a child who has had to choose between “who” to love and “who” not to love. The only way these issues will resolve is if the parents who are involved are FORCED to get some real counseling to deal with their own underlying issues. The Court system needs to have more of a presence in these matters. We should not wait until someone has been victimized before we realized that domestic issues are a real problem for our society.

max

February 15th, 2010
8:18 am

Is it really that hard to figure out? The Man and Woman obviously have a problem with each other hence they got divorced. Divorced couples argue constantly whether via email or phone and this was a case of an earlier argument made the Man angry to the point where he killed her, its that simple.

jan

February 15th, 2010
8:26 am

Way to put it in simple and to the point words, Max. That is definately the bottom line

Becky

February 15th, 2010
8:32 am

I don’t have any experience with this and like Jan said, we don’t know what happened..I do agree with those that are saying the courts favor the Mom..Sorry that you went through that with your ex.

Jeff in Roswell

February 15th, 2010
8:46 am

Can we prevent such incidents? What pushes people, like this guy, to the edge? Obviously, killing was his answer to conflict. He could have done this to anyone that he had a long standing argument with.

Winkasdad29

February 15th, 2010
8:47 am

After 24 years of marriage, my wife and I divorced. We were a blended family of a stepson (he was in the package with his mom), my ex-wife’s baby second cousin (who we raised as our daughter), and a boy and girl we had together. The divorce was contentious partly because it took almost 2 years to finalize, and we were both very angry because of all of the pain and hurt we were going through. At separation time, the two oldest kids went with me, and the younger kids stayed with Mom.

I religiously paid child support, the mortgage, and rent for an apartment. When it came time for visitation, my ex-wife and I agreed that I could see the kids whenever I wanted, and to that end, had little trouble. The point I’m making is that even though my ex and I were both hurting and angry, we put our children first. We sought out counseling (individually) to help us deal with the pain and anger.

Our lives have been changed, but we continue to put the kids first. Things have calmed down, and we can talk. Getting past the anger and putting your kids first is the key. If you’re still angry during custody exchanges, then the exchanges need to be supervised by an uninvolved third party.

Pha

February 15th, 2010
9:08 am

When I got divorced, I never wanted to be one of THOSE parents and kids…you know you see them @ McDonalds, etc. We drop off @ school and pick up from school so we dont have to see each other and the kids dont have to see it. This story breaks my heart.

Michael

February 15th, 2010
9:09 am

I was in divorce court in Gwinnett last week and the parties were fighting hard over cars, car titles, mortgages, foreclosures, child support, unemployment — and then this guy walked in and said “Is this the room where you get married?” I said, no go down the hall. Then everyone in the courtroom started laughing.

Oh, and people kill each other because THEY CRAZY!

Bob Dole

February 15th, 2010
9:17 am

Custody swaps get so contentious because the women are crazy!

DigALittleDeeper

February 15th, 2010
9:20 am

I was having a conversation with my daughter regarding a young man that she likes, they are 15 and the young mans parents are divorced. He wants to live with his father and his fathers new wife. And of course his mother wants to have him with her and she is planning to move to Texas.

My daughter wants him to remain in GA for her own selfish reasons and I understand that. However, I tried to explain why his mother wanted to keep her son in her immediate family. She doesn’t want another woman raising her son; because their values are differrent and the past attitudes between the ex-husband has not been great. They will be going to court soon for a decision, but as you all know at 15 the child actually gets a say so.

There isn’t a good decision when it comes to divorce. I would even suggest that birth control be a permanent prescription and don’t allow marriage until 30 years old. Let’s face it, most people don’t grow up until they are close to the age or over 30.

the truth

February 15th, 2010
9:32 am

Dre, your comment at 6:28 hit the nail on the head. I know. I have lived it. The only people who don’t believe courts favor women over men are the women themselves. You are right, the emotions are high. The truth is, is that if men got the favorable treatment, primary custody and child support the rate of divorce filings by women would be nonexistent. I am refering to case where the man has not abused or cheated on his wife. These divorces where the “women is just not happy” are what push men over the edge. They get shafted and the women take advantage of it.
When I was going thru my divorce, my ex wifes attorney told me I was getting off easy with my support payment. I looked her in the eye, pointed my finger at her and said” if you think your client is losing money on this deal, give me custodial rights and have her pay me support. Is that what you want to do?”. What did she say? Nothing. Case closed.

JJ

February 15th, 2010
9:33 am

I’m glad my ex ran away and I never had to deal with this crap. I’ll take being a struggling single parent over this any day!!!!

ZachsMom

February 15th, 2010
9:40 am

Zachary’s father and I meet at Wal mart because it is 1/2 way between our home homes (60 miles for both of us) even thought it says in our agreement the he will pick him up and return him to my home. I am supposed to get modest child support that he is currently $37,245 behind in. That includes medical and insurance that he is required by law to pay….and hasn’t. Yet I have to make sure that Zachary doesn’t do with out. By law, visitation and child support are not linked together. I can not say “you can’t see your son, unless you pay”.g

We could have had a joint custody arrangement, but it required to much work on the ex’s part and just wanted to be the “fun weekend parent” for which our son has suffered. We have been in therpy for years but as far as Zachary is concerned, I will always be the EVIL mom ( with rules and punishments and having to say that we can’t afford that) while dad is the FUN parent.
@ Divorced in Fulton…..How does that work in my favor

s

February 15th, 2010
9:45 am

I guess that these people just get so desperate.

Many times I hear people talking about what they would do if someone were to try to take their children away from them. These are people who are experiencing that.

It must make a person feel completely vunerable to have a court tell them when they can see their own children. You need someone to blame.

TPEN39

February 15th, 2010
9:47 am

Sadly, violence in domestic situations happen daily. In the more recent knife attack, we aren’t privy to whether the argument was about custody or finances, or just issues of anger with the ex-spouse. However, whether the violence is perpetrated by the man or woman is actually irrelevant, it’s that in far too many cases the courts allow a violent person to have their children for visitation. And when the exchange takes place the violence esculates. (As another commentor alluded to, premeditated – otherwise, why have a weapon with them when the exchange took place.)

I have read of many many cases where women are attacked by the ex-husband. (Unfortunately, men don’t speak out about women being the aggressor as often as they should.) I agree with the person who said it starts before the divorce. I, too, am wondering if the cases listed here had DV instances prior to the attacks.

If you really want to understand more about DV and how these cases reach such limits as murder, then talk to a victims’ advocate.

Since the knife attacker stabbed himself then it could be one of the ‘I can’t live without you’ or ‘if I can’t have you then noone else can either’ situations. But in the end, it’s all me- me – me narcissism. If he wasn’t selfish he’d have not attacked the mother of his children.

RobbieC

February 15th, 2010
10:13 am

People behave after a divorce like they did before the divorce. If someone won’t compromise before a divorce then they won’t after a divorce.

Women ARE usually, but not always, favored by Georgia judges. The favorable terms that women receive gives them leverage and emboldens them in future transactions. They often insist on following the Decree even if circumstances have materially changed and even if it makes it hard for the dad to exercise his visitation rights.

All people, especially divorced parents, need to understand that it is not permissable to mistreat another person just because they don’t like them. Too often people act like manners are only for people who count and rudeness and meaness are ok for everyone else. Manners and graciousness are especially needed when dealing with someone you dislike. Disrespect and an unwillingness to reach a fair compromise are probably motivating factors in at least a few of these incidents.

Suggestions:

1) Remove divorce cases from Superior Court judges: their views can only be hardened when alternating murder and divorce cases. Create a family court system.

2) Change the format so that instead of just presenting evidence, both sides get to tell their story.

3) Make joint physical custody the defacto judgement unless their are large mitigating circumstances.

4) Make other requirements joint such as transportation requirements. One drops off the other delivers.

5) Make the well-being of everyone involved the over-riding criteria rather than just “the best interest of the children.” A narrow view can lead to excess child-support payements that can leave a parent in miserable circumstances which is not in the best interest of the child.

6) Select only judges that do not adhere to paternalistic religious principles but who see men and women as equals.

7) Teach family law from a “balance of power” perspective using game-theory. When power is unevenly distributed it gives leverage which breeds resentment about being victimized. Then, hunter-gatherer thoughts of justice ferment.

catlady

February 15th, 2010
10:16 am

We did not have a bitter divorce but met halfway on the exchanges till the kids either could drive or quit wanting to go, which meant I did not get any quiet time after about 5 years. Never had an argument in front of them, nor harsh words from me or him about each other. ONE THING we did right.

You’ve got a lot of non-adult adults out there, however, who are ticking time bombs, and not just about divorce matters.

We also have a lot of very angry kids in the schools–those who will one day harm someone with a knife or gun.

Jeff

February 15th, 2010
10:20 am

We all can site specific cases but they do not make the case for law in the courtroom. In the courtroom, everyone should be treated equally. Until that happens, this issue will never begin to be resolved. Even after all parties are treated equally, it will take years of enforcement to re-train the minds of those surrounding this issue. It has been the case with all types of discrimination; race, sex, age, etc. It will also be the circumstance here.

Is there anyone who actually believes that fathers and mothers should not be treated the same in court with equal opportunity to be a parent to their child?

Jeff

February 15th, 2010
10:21 am

welcome back catlady.

anon

February 15th, 2010
10:40 am

First of all, in a contentious situation to begin with courts tell families to meet on neutral ground, in a public place to try and ensure the safety of everyone involved. Surely, the situation won’t become violent in broad daylight out in public with lots of people around right? Families houses etc, contain the opposing family thus more of a perceived threat to either the mom or dad. There can be intimidation by the opposing family in a bad situation also, threats etc.

What is said that gets so heated? Let’s see, I had the typical evil ex. He would say things like say goodbye cause this is the last time you’re gonna see him, um put the child in the car and say – see we taught him not to wear his seatbelt and drive away with the child not belted in the car, tell me he was leaving the country with the child (he was serious, I had to have his passport restricted), call me terrible names in front of the kid and then have the kid call me the names (and no the police nor the courts EVER corrected this terrible situation. In 18 years he never got more than a slap on the hand for this behavior), I know I went through this for 18 long years trying to have it stopped. I took someone with me, always, for my protection.

Local police stations will not generally get involved with custody matters, unless the parent who is not in custody has not returned the child on time. Even then some small cities departments will refuse to get involved telling you it is a civil matter. The only thing I’ve ever seen that works is supervised visitation and even then it can get contentious, but at least then there are reprecussions in a courtroom for the offending parent and a witness. Some cities are developing “visitation centers” where parents can drop the child and the other parent can pick up so that no contact has to be made between the parents. I think this is rare though. You’d think having relatives swap the children could work, and for the most part it does, but that can get ugly too.

I dealt with this stuff for 18 years, I have much experience in the matter. Dad was not a nice guy period.

How about getting the family courts to actually intervene in the matter and issue extended supervised visitation when the mom or dad can’t get along well enough to exchange the children? They generally don’t order relatives to exchange that would be too much of a commitment for most, and hard to enforce in court when there are problems with the visitation occurring as ordered. Most situations don’t get this crazy but they’re out there everywhere. .. Dads who don’t have the main bulk of custody and are ticked off and can’t control their tempers. Custody is very emotional for all involved, you’re talking about your involvement with your children here. Many people find themselves unable to cope with the stress and just snap at some point or another, just some people are more prone to violence than others and even they may not realize it until it happens.

Get hold of yourselves you bad parents who can’t deal with your breakups and go seek some counseling to deal with the stress at hand before you ruin your lives and those of your children. No ex spouse is worth it, think of your children. All you ticked off dads out there, yes the court system tends to place children with their mother, at young ages children need their mothering to be stable later in life (not to forget the good dads, most studies validate this as a general and so the courts follow it I believe), suck it up, and live through it, everyone does. You chose the person you married and now you have to live with the consequences good and bad, I did, it’s just life. Divorce is never fair for anyone involved and you guys aren’t the only ones in the world going through a hard time.

XYZ.....

February 15th, 2010
10:44 am

I don’t think custody swaps provide anymore of a setting for violence than other areas of society. Why do people walk into their workplace and start shooting? Why do people walk into a classroom and start shooting? Why do people commit horrible acts altogether? My guess is that there are far more acts of domestic violence committed by those still in a relationship, than by those who have chosen to end theirs. It is tragic that these children had to witness the act of an incredibly selfish and self obsessed parent, and that they have now lost both parents…one isn’t coming back the other will be in a jail cell. The court system isn’t to blame for this, the person who pulled the knife is. Pray for the children and hope that they can recover from this.

Jeff

February 15th, 2010
10:47 am

As a dad in this situation, here is one of the places where we feel cheated: Many women state they want 50/50 in the house. We make an effort to make that happen. Then the woman files for divorce and somehow the woman no longer wants 50/50. So, yes, there are angry dads out there. There are just as many vidictive moms. And again, until we can spread the finger pointing evenly, nothing will change.

ZachsMom

February 15th, 2010
10:48 am

Jeff, your question assumes that each person wants to PARENT the child/children. What if one has to be the parent because the other one wants to be the FRIEND?? or would prefer to not be involved at all?

Have you ever tried to explain to a 7 year old little boy that his dad would rather go out a party with his “new friends” that be at his ball game? Or to hold them while they cry on Friday evening when dad didn’t show up to pick them up after promising all week?

I did. I also had to let him go when I know that his dad didn’t always make him sit in the back a wear a seat belt, ate crap for every meal and snack, went to HOOTERS (at 7) because the food was good, got to meet a different girlfriend about every other month, stayed up till after midnight and came home, with a sick stomach and exausted and crying every Sunday.

I also didn’t and still don’t get any child support. He never took any days off when there was a school holiday, vacation or sick child. His excuse was that he had to work. HELLO??? Me too.

Zachary will be 15 at the end of the month and told his dad that he was spending the weekend with his friends and his dad went off to pout like his best friend wasn’t comming over and then blamed it all on me. I am glad that Zachary is finally getting a life and seeing his father for the kind of person that he is. He will always be his dad but IMO he sucked as a PARENT.

WERA74

February 15th, 2010
10:48 am

A tragedy takes place, and the DV crowd are immediately on the case, trumpeting their cause. Too typical! Where are the child abuse and mens rights groups? Ask yourselves why we see so many “womens shelters” and “womens support groups” but no “support groups” for estranged men? Why is it that DV shelters would rather shut down than take in and counsel men, as their federal funding mandates? Why is there not more outrage over what the children were subjected to in these incidents? Yes, there is bias in family court but, as long as it does not affect the majority of citizens, nothing will happen to correct the imbalance.

When men are being arrested and thrown in jail for nonpayment of child support in disproportionate numbers to women, there is obviously a problem. When there is an obvious economic turndown with people losing their jobs and the family courts do not recognise this, instead to lock up so called “deadbeat dads” in an effort to pacify the women’s lobby, there is a problem. When women are encouraged to file unwarranted “restraining orders” that encourage estrangement of men from their children, there is a problem. (I have experienced this firsthand, where an officer of the court told a young mother to get a restraining order so she could “get his house”, something this young lady did not want to do.)

A presidential candidate, who was obviously courting women voters told me, “Children can’t vote, so I am orienting my concerns to viable voters.”

If you want a solution or remedy to this tragedy, advocate balance in family law. Give equal support to the members of an estranged family, and eliminate the bias. That would go a long way toward averting tragedies as has occurred here.

Jeff

February 15th, 2010
10:48 am

That is just an example and is not the end all/be all to the discussion. My point is, rarely is one party solely to blame and people don’t stand up for men, and especially, good men, nearly enough.

Claudine Dombrowski

February 15th, 2010
10:50 am

There does not need to be ’swaps’ of children when these men are that dangerous both the mother and child deserve safety and protection over ‘life threatening’ killers rights. Stop with the mandatory ’shared custody’ and you will see a decrease in deaths and the ‘best interest’ of the children will finally be noted.
Continued forcing of children with abusers will always end in OUTRAGE preventable deaths.

Jeff in Roswell

February 15th, 2010
10:59 am

Claudine I agree.

The problem is, not enough investigation is undertaken to determine the parents stability. A parent can be abusive and NOT have it on record. If nothing is recorded, it would be her word against his word. How do you try to solve that dilemna?

Jeff

February 15th, 2010
11:00 am

Claudine, who gets to decide if the man is dangerous? The ex? That’s hardly a voice to be taken as independent. Are we willing to “evaluate” the mother also?

Jeff

February 15th, 2010
11:05 am

Zachsmom, you are absolutely correct. He appears to be a horrible parent. But the parents (not just dads), who are making an effort shouldn’t be held hostage by the actions of parents like your ex.

I want my time with my child (7 year old girl) and I want my rights enforced just as much as the mom’s rights are enforced. My ex brings over boyfriends just like your ex did. My daughter has never met another woman in my life for so many reason that I won’t explain here. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to let my daughter grow up with things I disagree with and let her decide later in life if it was right or not and just be there for her at every turn. That’s all I can do.

Dar

February 15th, 2010
11:17 am

A friend of mine was told by counsel and the court to use Wal-Mart to exchange the children with her STBX. Apparently Wal-Mart has taken the place of McDs as the “safe place” to do custody swaps as there is “one on every corner.” As others have noted, the idea is that there is less of a chance of blow-ups in public places. When my X can manage to make the time to see our child, he comes to my house for the pick-up and drop off. The way I figure it, if he is going to lose it and kill me it is going to happen no matter where I am — he is a cop, and is almost always armed when exchanges take place. He chose the divorce, but his post-divorce life is not what he envisioned and as his depression seems to grow daily I do worry sometimes. Whether or not courts favor women in divorce is not, in my opinion, reason to kill. As someone said earlier, you have to “suck it up” sometimes for the benefit of your children. The guy in this story was so selfish that he has now left his children parentless — mom dead, dad in jail…nice.