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.

I am whatever you say I am

February 15th, 2010
11:18 am

My ex and I never married.
We have to meet at public locations because my ex and I do not get along.
I stopped having him come to me house because in the past he would go thru my things and get angry at me if I didn’t let him have something he found.
He would yell, cuss me out throw things, break things, etc…

Being in public if does anything crazy, I have witnesses.
I wish I didn’t have to deal with him

Jeff

February 15th, 2010
11:31 am

I have myself to blame for my situation because I chose to marry this person and have a child with her. When I acknowledge my role in my circumstances, it makes it easier to move on to resolving the issue.

I made a bad choice and I have to live with the consequences. That’s the way it works. And I’m better off for being able to see it in that context. I am a much happier person.

Photius

February 15th, 2010
11:32 am

Question: Let’s say it is entirely the man’s fault – the guy is nuts. Ponder this: why do women allow these men into their loins and reproduce not one rug rat, but a second and even a third! There is a sizeable percentage of women who are attracted to loser boys; you all have friends who get hooked up with these freaks of a man – they think they can fix him or help him, etc. They keep reproducing generation after generation of idiots who are never going to amount to anything and only cause harm and destruction on others within society – especially their own children. Continued allowing of idiots to reproduce, both men and women, only causes more harm in the world for all. Sterilize the man and woman (so she won’t make the mistake of reproducing with Loser #2 or #3)and medicate the man so he is a peaceful zombie, working, contributing to society.

Dar

February 15th, 2010
11:37 am

Ditto, Jeff. If more people could compartmentalize and deal with things maturely the world would be a better place. I think the problem here is with the individuals and not the system. The system may not be perfect, but many people seem to be able to deal with the inequities (perceived or real) without losing it and killing someone.

WERA74

February 15th, 2010
11:47 am

I can rattle off quite a few cases as above, where the roles are reversed. A larger percentage of unstable mothers kill the children, along with the estranged spouse. Does this warrant immediate action against estranged mothers as a whole? Of course not. So why is it necessary to categorise all men as potential abusers and all fathers as deadbeats or violent in our judicial systems?

Too often, as with the case of child abuse, the signs are there but no one has the interest or fortitude to intervene until it is too late. Then we have the resulting overcompensation, which punishes the innocent as well.

Becky

February 15th, 2010
11:54 am

@Jeff..I hate that you are having to go thru this, it sounds like you are a really nice guy..My ex never got visitation with his daughter and he paid child support like clockwork..A former coworker of the childs mother came to work at my office once and when she found out who I was, boy did I learn a lot about the mother..Needless to say, many years of the mother filling the childs mind with so many negatives about the Dad backfired on her..I hope that you and your daughter can make it past this and have a great relationship..Oh, also, were you able to take her to the dance that you wanted to?

the truth

February 15th, 2010
11:59 am

So, Zachsmom, you neve saw any of these traits in your ex husband before you got married. Usually a leopard does not change his strips. Sorry you have gone thru this. It is losers like your ex that cause the good guys to pay the price.
I am amazed at what good girls settle for in a spouse. I guess there is truth that they want the bad boy. Well you get him and you live with the consequences.

WERA74

February 15th, 2010
12:02 pm

Jeff, Dar, not everyone in society is as well adjusted and balanced as you appear. Is it fair to just throw the others in the bin with the rest of the rubbish or offer some form of guidance and/or support?

Bottom line, all these cases involve an enabler and an aggressor. Too often, we focus on the aggressor and ignore the enabler, who continues to seek out aggressive personalities. How does one break the cycle? How do we as a society encourage disruption of the cycle? By alienation or intervention? Currently, we encourage alienation. Thus, we should not be surprised as to what is happening here.

Single Dad

February 15th, 2010
12:02 pm

I am a single father who has sole custody of my child. My child’s mother has addiction and personality disorders. She came close to killing me and my child.
My child has supervised visitation with it’s mother based on my interpretation of her condition at the time and her parent’s ability to supervise. We exchange at a public location with a member of both families present. If there are any “warning signs” prior to visitation, there is no visit. All of this is based on what is best and safe for my child. I am trying to treat my child’s mother with respect and empathy because my child should have an opportunity to bond with it’s mother as long and she is well and healthy and sober. At ALL times the decisions are made based on what is best for the child, not the parent.

I agree with one of the Jeff’s that when you come to terms with your own choices in getting to where you are in a situation like this, then it is much easier to handle the other person’s contributions.

Claudine Dombrowski needs to get her head out of her —……………

just me

February 15th, 2010
12:14 pm

i personally know Chad and Shelley. i grew up with him and i know how he is. its better to do it in public because he is a very violent person and has always been, when i was younger i saw things i shouldnt have. he should recieve death!!!!

just me

February 15th, 2010
12:22 pm

Bob Dole….ur quite wrong. Chad is the crazy one. men who have a past of abuse on a woman are clearly the one with a problem. i grew up with him, knew his father, heard him telin my father how he would abuse Shelly and they would lacug about it. get a life and realize all women arent crazy… she was a good mother

Dar

February 15th, 2010
12:25 pm

WERA74 – Hard to give general advice, but I think requiring some sort of pre and post-divorce therapy for people would be a start. I was in therapy almost immediately after my X dropped the bomb and as soon as it became reality and he moved out I got our child into counseling as well. I begged my X pre and post to get help — he is a “tough guy” and refuses. I know it would help him deal with his issues. Therapy helped (and continues to help) me focus on the important things in life (my child, my self-esteem, etc) and not dwell on the negatives. With counseling, I have been able to choose to learn from my divorce and try to be a better person for everyone. It is hard when I have an X who continues to behave in a very selfish and self-destructive manner…a trait that either I did not see when we got together or that was there but didn’t really come out until the end…because it takes a lot of energy to fight the negative impact it has on me and my child. So my advice is counseling — for all involved.

WERA74

February 15th, 2010
12:30 pm

Just Me, you take the time and opportunity to speak of his violence after the fact? Where were you before? Minding your own business because you were not in it; it was not happening to you? People as yourself never cease to amaze me!

just me

February 15th, 2010
12:36 pm

at the time i was a minor, im only 19 at the moment. i had abusive father and when i told my parents they didnt listen,. i was 13 the last time i saw them and was taken into defacs shortly thereafter. so your generalizations of “people as yourself” should be directed to you.

Jeff in Roswell

February 15th, 2010
12:39 pm

@WERA74 We don’t know Just Me’s role and if they would or could have had any effect on what happened. It’s pure speculation on your part.

Dar

February 15th, 2010
12:40 pm

I am gonna guess that Chad’s violence was no secret — to his family or the justice system. Reality in this world is that if someone is intent upon killing you they will do so unless (a) you cannot be located or (b) they are locked up. Restraining orders are pieces of paper that do not work like bullet proof vests and will not stop a knife blade. Reality in this world is that we do not have enough police officers to keep an eye on ever contentious custody exchange. Sometimes people snap. Most times it is followed by “I knew he/she was gonna do that someday”, but the reality is that there is not much that the law can do to stop it before it does.

just me

February 15th, 2010
12:42 pm

thank you @Jeff in Roswell, as i have stated i was 13 the last time i saw Chad and Shelley. i have still not had communication with many people from my past and at 13 you really are not listened to.

just me

February 15th, 2010
12:47 pm

dar you are so rite. as a child and to this day my father who knows Chad wery well still has a protective order aginst my younger sister, my mother and myself. they are nothing to men like him. im greatful that my mother was able to escape my father before something like this happned. from what i remember (i blocked most of my younger years out) Chad was always drunk or doin drugs and Shelley was takin care if the girls. She was to me a great woman. we dont choose who we love and sometimes we know its bad for us but we have no idea that it will really happen to us as women.

Denise

February 15th, 2010
12:49 pm

When my parents were divorced the first time, my mother was concerned that my father would try to take us. I’m not sure why but she was. Anyway, because she never kept us from our father (NEVER) she would meet him at a gas station off of some exit for the pick up and drop off. They never had any issue. They didn’t even talk. My brother and I just got out of one car and into the other car. Daddy didn’t pick us up or drop us off late. Daddy just didn’t know where we lived. This was the 80s so no Google, reverse look-up, etc. :-) I say all this to say sometimes it is necessary to do the public place meetings even when violence is not the issue. Sometimes there is something else…even if it is just paranoia. :-)

Rebecca

February 15th, 2010
1:15 pm

@ just me – please stop, you really don’t sound credible. Even if your version of the story is true, this is not the place.

As a start, No Fault divorce needs to go away.

Dar

February 15th, 2010
1:27 pm

There are no no-fault divorces….just people who don’t want to go to court and discuss the infidelity of one or both of the parties.

just me

February 15th, 2010
1:33 pm

rebecca this is the place since years ago no one would listen to me. Shelley was a good preson from what i remember. Chad was not a good memory for me. i have my own opinion and i have the right to post as do you.

WERA74

February 15th, 2010
1:35 pm

Wow, Justme, that was the same excuse I heard from teachers and students alike when I went to my 20th HS Reunion. Like most of us, they saw the bruises and cuts all over me, not to mention the apparent malnourishment. Here it is 30+years later and we are engaging in the same denial of responsibility yet we are calling for this man’s head on a plate, figuratively speaking.

Face it, when something could have been done, it wasn’t. Now we have a mother who is dead, a father who is in jail, traumatised children who are now without their parents and a skewed sense of identity, and all we can do now is use the same old lame ass excuses we have been using since who knows when.

…and the beat goes on…

just me

February 15th, 2010
1:40 pm

WERA74
u dont know the way i was raised, u know nothing about me. i am not to blame. what about the adults that have been around????? as a child who was raised to abuse women i saw no wrong to me not tellin anyone besides my parents. this is bout justice for Shelleys family and not about pointing fingers at people who were too young to be heard.

Becky

February 15th, 2010
1:53 pm

@WERA74..Why pick on justme, because you stayed in an abusive relationship? If you went to your 20 year reunion like this, you were old enough to get out of it..I’m sorry that you were in this type of relationship but don’t point fingers at others and blame them..

I have one ex and a husband now..From the get go, they both knew that I would never tolorate being hit on..My ex and his ex before me, fought all of the time..Her to fight, him to protect his self..He threatened (sp) once to hit me and 2 months later, we were divorced..That was 16 yrs. ago and I’ve never looked back..

Kathy

February 15th, 2010
1:53 pm

@just me…..I don’t believe you either. You say that you are 19 now and have not seen Chad and Shelly since you were 13? I don’t think you can say that you know them “personally” if you have not seen them in 6 years.

WERA74

February 15th, 2010
1:53 pm

Justme, I came from a very abusive background. Unlike a lot of others, I refuse to keep my mouth shut about such things. You stated earlier that you were only 13 at the time and you had an abusive father. with your own experience, it would seem that you could empathise with Shelly as far as abuse is concerned. BTW, while no one could help me with my situation, at 13 years of age (3′9″, 45lbs. and covered in bruises yet no one noticed!), I helped myself. I got in touch with the authorities and I facilitated getting myself out of that situation, when no adult or anyone else could or was willing to intervene. You did have a voice at 13. For whatever reason, you did not use it in this case.

Was it not you that said, “…he (Chad) should receive death.” Not singling you out per se, just illustrating a point.

WERA74

February 15th, 2010
2:03 pm

Becky, I am not singling out Justme because I was in an abusive situation. Rather, I am illustrating a point. It would seem that we don’t want to do anything about any kind of abuse until something catastrophic comes of it. To come on this forum demanding justice when there could have been intervention earlier to avert a tragedy such as this one further illustrates where our priorities lay collectively.

The responsibility does not lie at the feet of “Justme”. The blood is on all of our hands.

Lawrencevillemom

February 15th, 2010
3:25 pm

While I’ve not had to deal with this situation (Thank God) I have had many friends who have divorced and had custody issues. The situations vary from the typical “Dad ran away with his younger secretary” to the “Air Force dad who came home to find his four kids (including a newborn less that a month old) with a babysitter and a note on the table saying she just didn’t want to be married and a mom any more”. The neutral drop point seems to work well for many – it removes the stress of the non-custodial parent seeing the old home where they no longer live.

Many times domestic violence (regardless of who is the aggressor) is well hidden. Too often it is the kids who suffer from the divorce and the animosity that follows – they should be left to their innocence and allowed to grow and form their own opinions of their parents as people.

Becky

February 15th, 2010
3:33 pm

@WERA74..Ok, I guess I read something in your post that wasn’t there..Again, I’m sorry.. I grew up watching my dad get drunk and want to hit on my Mother..He did hit her afew times, but once I was about 7-8, he never hit her again..I’m not saying that I was that much of a fighter, he just knew that I meant business when I told him that I would call the police..

I just don’t think that anyone should have to live like that and I never will..I am very lucky in that I have a large family and I would always have a place to go to..Not to mention that I have brothers and nephews that have been in jail and they aren’t afraid to go back..

Is this real?

February 15th, 2010
3:34 pm

“How do custody swaps get so contentious?”

Because rednecks are really stupid people.

Jeff in Roswell

February 15th, 2010
4:01 pm

Jeff in Roswell

February 15th, 2010
4:07 pm

@WERA74 While I commend you for being aware and getting help at a young age, not everyone, can do this. I too, was a victim of abuse as was my mother and two sisters. We grew up with it from infancy. We thought this kind of thing just went on in families. I wish every day that someone would have set us straight long before we had to endure it for years. No one really knows for sure if Just Me is credible, but his/her story is absolutely possible.

deidre_NC

February 15th, 2010
4:07 pm

i am in complete agreement with JJ…my first divorce was ok after a little time had passed…we are now great friends and alwys tried to make it ok for the kids…it did take a little time for the bitterness to abate…my 2nd divorce was from an abusive husband who i never would have left if i wasnt in fear of my life and my kids lives…he pretty much disapeared-would appear off and on and scare the crap out of us-then he was killed in a violent fight…my 3rd one never had anything to do with his child (my youngest) as far as visitation or child support went and that was fine..even tho i could have used to money..it was lots easier for him to just be gone…he has recently been calling my daughter (you may remember she is now in college) and he has actually started sending her money…yes i could have used to money in her growing up years, but him sending her money now is great for her…

i agree that women usually get out better in divorce-but yall have to remember that lots of women have dead beat exes and im sure that causes a lot of problems and fights…just as many as the man getting mad at paying child support to a woman who is able to make a life..he isnt because he hsa to spend so much money on child support…dead beat dads make a womans life hard and miserable too…it works both ways

Jeff in Roswell

February 15th, 2010
4:15 pm

You would have never known that we suffered abuse. Dad was a well liked, upstanding citizen in the community and our bruises were never shown. No one knew what went on in our home. The grandparents may have had an idea, but the maternal side were abusers as well and the paternal side let it go because they didn’t want to get involved. When you are brought up as a child in that atmosphere and no one ever tells you that abuse is wrong…

ZachsMom

February 15th, 2010
4:15 pm

to @ the truth….Did I see those traits in my ex-husband when we got married? NO…but I was young when we got married and at the time he seemed like a normal person. He had never been around children and Zachary cramped his style. He decided that it was more fun to be an overaged teenager than a responsible parent. I didn’t even ask for him to be a good husband…..just a good dad.

I know that I have done the best that I can do and one day, I hope that Zachary will see that.

DB

February 15th, 2010
4:20 pm

@WERA74: For every one like you, who were able to break out of an abusive situation, there are dozens and dozens who can’t, because they have been beaten down so much that actually forget that they DO have control over their lives. It takes courage and an ability to imagine a different, better life to be able to make that first step towards breaking free. I understand your anger — but the reality is that, at 13, Justme probably would probably not have been heard without help. Hell, she couldn’t even manage her own abuse — how is she supposed to go around rescuing adults who presumably know better?

I want to put in a quick plug for one of my Girl Scouts, an amazing 18 year old who was recently named one of the National Top 10 Women of Distinction by Girl Scouts USA — the first from Atlanta — on the strength of her Gold Award project here in Atlanta working with domestic violence and abuse victims. She formed a non-profit group, Stronghold Atlanta, to help victims of domestic abuse. The group is hosting a benefit concert Friday night at 24K in Norcross, and I know they’d appreciate the support. http://www.strongholdatlanta.org

deidre_NC

February 15th, 2010
4:21 pm

jeff it sounds like you lived my life…my grandparents did nothing to stop it because back in the day all those things were not talked about…and no one wanted the stigma…sad but true…when i had kids i wanted to be the very opposite of my parents..and i have been prettymuch..maybe i have been a little more lenient..who knows..you learn how to parent or not parent from your own parents…at least my kids..no matter what…always know i love them…i didnt know that…and a lot of kids dont today…that is sad

WERA74

February 15th, 2010
6:07 pm

I wrote and published a book about my experiences. Unlike other autobiograpies, I also go through the process of unlearning learned behaviour patterns, point out the inadequacies of the system and offer remedies. What happened here should not have happened. Here is the link to my video on Youtube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDZkURFTYyQ

Wounded Warrior

February 15th, 2010
7:00 pm

My ex flew down here to GA when I was big prego with baby #2 and wanted to meet me to take my infant back to NY. I had moved and didn’t tell him. If he had taken my oldest daughter, I would have never seen her again. He was very violent person. He didn’t find me and flew back to NY empty handed. I didn’t want my baby to become an orphan.

td

February 15th, 2010
9:07 pm

RobbieC, I agree with most of your points. We were real close two years ago of getting true shared custody in this state. We wanted shared custody as the standard, unless their was proven DV or the parents agreed to a different arrangement. There was a commission and they had a good bill until the bar association re wrote it. The problem is divorce is a billion dollar a year industry and the more people fight the richer the lawyers become.

Magenta

February 16th, 2010
9:54 am

I’ve surprised numerous friends with children who have talked about splitting when I’ve advised them to do whatever they possibly can to stay together until the kids are grown or nearly so. If I’d had any inkling what single or remarried parenthood was like, I’d have doubled my efforts to save the marriage, despite a deep-seated dislike for the ex. He wasn’t abusive in any blatant way, he was just basically a jerk. But then again, so was I, and the reason was simple: We got married too young. True, only by going our separate ways could we learn new ways of doing things and finally grow, but the price was terribly steep for both of us, and so much more so for our child. He is now a young adult and doing reasonably well, but so much of his life has been shaded by the conflicts between his parents following the divorce, and difficulties with the steps. I feel that his childhood was hijacked. My parents had a contentious, alcohol-soaked marriage, but they stayed together for 48 years. I cannot objectively answer the question of whether it is better for parents to stay together for the sake of the kid or to split up, having seen the negative consequences of both options.

Emma1

February 16th, 2010
4:39 pm

@ Photius: I love you!

TJ

February 17th, 2010
8:59 am

I am a divorced mother of 2 kids and my ex-husband and I meet at a public place to exchange the kids. Speaking from experience, my ex-husband is not the greatest person, and I do feel uncomfortable meeting him ANYWHERE. Period. If my ex wanted to kill me, it really would not matter where we meet to do the exchange of the kids. Any meeting puts my life and my childrens lives in danger. What people don’t know is that Temporary Protective Orders further complicates things. Currently I have a stalking TPO out against my ex yet the law requires that I put my childrens safety and my safety at risk to exchange the children to go with him. Go figure. My ex has abused and threatened to harm my children, which I reported to DFACS, but unless you can prove what was said, and unless there are any “marks” left on the children, the courts will do nothing. To make matters worse, legally, I can do nothing to protect them from him if he ever decided to go through with those threats until it is too late. A big thank you to Gwinnett County for their non-support and their lack of concern for families in danger.

liz

February 17th, 2010
2:51 pm

There’s nothing here to wonder about. The indicator that custody is being changed over at a so-called “neutral” location is your evidence that a judge already has ordered timeshare for an abusive man who is too dangerous to pick up and drop off the children at the mother’s house.

What you should be wondering about is why there are custody exchanges at all under such circumstances.

silverside

February 17th, 2010
3:02 pm

This is the kind of public ignorance we have to deal with.

The reporter observes that in the Atlanta area, there have been two incidences of “custody swaps” that “ended in violence” and wonders why they “get so contentious.”

She gets completely sidetracked by the locations of these swaps (public chain store parking lots) and wonders if parking lots have something do with it. Huh?

You know that cliche, guns don’t kill people, people kill people?

Likewise, parking lots don’t kill people. People kill people. Get a clue. I suppose the hope is that a public place might make violent offenders less likely to act out, because they wouldn’t like witnesses. There’s no guarantee, though. So your suggestion that the exchanges take place at “parent’s houses or friend’s houses” is even worse. That would just embolden violent parents (mostly fathers) even more.

As for doing the exchange at the police station, please ask yourself the obvious question. If one person in this family is such a high risk for violent behavior, then why the hell do they have any visitation with the children at all?

The subject of these couples’ “conversations” is also completely irrelevant. Murders are not the results of disagreements over school discipline and the like. They are the result of a long pattern of domestic violence, usually perpetrated by the father, that have been allowed to fester and continue post-separation.

You want to know how to stop “custody swaps” from getting contentious? Stop “custody swaps” when there’s a violent parent! Give the non-violent protective parent sole custody and let the family heal.

c

February 17th, 2010
3:09 pm

I think people just have issues and they think violence can solve anything, I know several couples who are much happier divorced than they were when they were married. Also, the court systems sometimes tend to lean towards the parent that would be best for the child or children. However, anybody can be convincing in a courtroom if they want to be. I know that I get along better with my ex now than when we were married,we are more like friends now. We still go to see our children at special events together,even though we have both moved on. He likes my new husband and I like his new wife. Of course we had our problems in the beginning of the divorce, but truth be told, if we didn’t get divorced,one of us would probably have been seriously hurt. The children have adjusted great and it has been 3 years and no problems.

Divorced Guy

February 17th, 2010
5:28 pm

Sometimes you just cannot push a person because you have no idea what frame of mind the person is in; doesn’t matter if it’s the man or woman. I do not condone violence, but screwing with someone sets theoccasion for anything to happen.

td

February 17th, 2010
5:46 pm

If there is proven DV, from wither the man or the woman, then I would support sole custody. The problem is in the proof. When I was getting divorced my attorney told me that she had many clients that lost their children because a soon to be ex would let the ex pick up the children for parenting time. They would then intentionally pinch themselves, run them self into a wall or do something else and then call the police and claim the other parent did it when he came to pick up the children. These people lost everything (House, children,ect). She told me to have someone else go with me as a witness for all exchanges.

All this to point out that horrible things happen in divorce when you have a adversarial system where the winner takes all. Children should not be treated as a prize at the end of a fight.

The current standard for a judge in the deciding custody is “the best interest of the child”. How can a Judge decide after listening to a couple hours of testimony and not meeting, observing or speaking with the children what is in His/her/their best interest? Judges are put in a no win situation. How can anyone claim that (in non DV or substance abuse cases) the child is better off parented by one parent over the other? Do not both adults have invaluable knowledge and skills to pass on to the next generation? Are we not really depriving our children of a parent by our current system?

The standard for our children should be Joint physical, legal custody with shared decision making and 50/50 parenting time, unless the parents voluntarily agree to a different arrangement or there is a proof (clear and convincing evidence) of DV or substance or alcohol abuse. If DV is proven then the person committing the DV should loose all rights and should only hav supervised visitation.

jt

February 17th, 2010
6:13 pm

At the risk of being crude,

family law attorneys are bottom feeders.

Anyone else who makes their living off of parental-conflict are no better.

In Georgia, whichever party has the most money or better connections wins. Best interest of the children my arse.

David

February 17th, 2010
6:39 pm

My ex and I live hundreds of miles apart and meet in public places out of necessity. We’ve always met at the most “civilized” exit closest to halfway as neither of us wants the other to wait at some desolate pulloff with no one around. Sadly, that seems to be safer than Walmart these days.

Liz - it's also because of abusive women/mothers

February 17th, 2010
6:51 pm

From personal experience with a neighbor, it’s not just abusive men/fathers — it’s also abusive women/mothers. I have witnessed first-hand the foul-mouthed rantings and threats of a neighbor’s ex-wife when she violated the public custody swap and came over to their house while I was there. It works both ways, let’s not forget…

liz
February 17th, 2010
2:51 pm
There’s nothing here to wonder about. The indicator that custody is being changed over at a so-called “neutral” location is your evidence that a judge already has ordered timeshare for an abusive man who is too dangerous to pick up and drop off the children at the mother’s house.

What you should be wondering about is why there are custody exchanges at all under such circumstances.

annabelle

February 17th, 2010
6:57 pm

This article was was written by monkeys with typewriters right? No-one could be that ignorant.

A woman is the victim in both instances and the writer wonders what prompted him to murder her? Try a violent and murderous nature. Who said that the victim contributed to her own death in any way?

Ask yourself why would the changeovers have had to occur in a car park in the first place.

susan v

February 17th, 2010
7:46 pm

There should never be any presumption of 50-50 custody. Children are not property..timeshares. Tell us, did you parent for 50% of the time during the marriage? And why should this be about YOU anyway. Courts should decide cases as individually and based on the merits. Whomever supports the child emotionally, is in contact with the teachers, packing the lunches, doing the hair, picking out the clothes–that person needs to continue what they are doing. Most kids have a bond that is closer to one parent, whether the parent chooses to acknowledge it or not. Kids need stability and a sense of continuity. Get over your NEED to have it your way. Go to Burger King instead.

Big-Grif

February 17th, 2010
9:24 pm

After reading through some of these post and reading the original article, it’s obvious that there are some serious issues at play here.

Myself, I have a 9 year old daughter from a previous relationship (never married), I can tell you that there are so many issues at play here that it would take a couple of books just to get into some of them. So, in the interest of time, I’m going to share a couple very brief thoughts on the matter.

Before I do, let me first say that I DO NOT CONDONE violence in any way, form, or shape. So, if you’re looking for a justification, you wont find it here. My stories are my own and your stories may be very different. I’m not out to quote stats etc,. I’m simply sharing part of MY experience.

Having said that, let’s talk…..

The Bias is Blinding: If you’ve filled out enough forms, gone to enough hearings, and filed enough papers, you know one thing for sure. The system is fundamentally slanted towards the mother. The forms themselves tell the story to a point that when I went to file a motion as a father, the people providing the forms had to figure out how to do it since they weren’t ‘designed’ for be filled in by the non-custodial parent.

Another example of this is called the courts to request information about what forms, etc. should be completed to file a motion. I was told that I should seek legal advice from an attorney since they could not assist me in that way. Five minutes later, my current wife calls back to the same number and ask the same question. You think she was told to seek legal advice? Nope! She wasn’t. In fact, she was asked for her address where they actually forwarded her the forms she needed to fill out, with sticky notes/highlights indicating which parts to complete. Oh, they even sent a self-addressed/stamped envelope for her to return the forms in.

Okay, I’m sure that was just all in my mind, so I’ll share one more…..

Before a court order ever existed for my daughter, I wrote her mother and asked a simple thing. “What do you feel you need in order to take care of the baby?” It was just that plain and simple. My thinking was that she should be able to indicate something and we have a starting point for an arrangement. Her response to this was that she “shouldn’t have to tell me what to do for my baby.” She was open to receiving money, but angrily refused to have anything in writing saying that “if we got to have something in writing, we would have to go to court.” Of course, I informed her that it was well within her rights to go to the courts. I only asked that she be clear about one thing. “When you make this a legal matter, that’s what it becomes.”

One of the major problems for me is this notion that the man should play by the written rules only when it applies to him. If something happens that she doesn’t have the child ready for pick up for my visit, or doesn’t allow her to come at all, I should “be understanding”. When my visit is canceled because something came up with her family, I should “be understanding.” Yet, when I loose my job and can’t pay support on time, where’s the understanding?

That’s enough about this since it only causes me to think of just how corrupt this system really is. After all, it is a system based on adversarial relationships, fighting, and winners and losers. This notion of ‘fairness’ is NOT, I repeat NOT a part of what this system is about.

This system has to have a VILLAIN. Sadly, the father usually gets to play this role and unlike a criminal case, there are no Miranda Rights read to him. All he has id the opinion of some misinformed person in a robe that just started looking at his file five minutes before his hearing. Never mind that the decision he/she will hand-down will resonate with him for many years.

So, when the question is asked how these things happen, I choose to spin it around and ask why we are surprised. It’s common knowledge that the most dangerous and unpredictable creatures are those that feel trapped, injured, and with nothing left to lose.

Dar

February 17th, 2010
9:35 pm

Honestly, if a person wants 50/50 with respect to physical and legal custody, joint decision making, etc., well, then that person should stay married and in the same household with the other parent. Even with former spouses who get along, the logistics of a true 50/50 split are onerous and perhaps even impossible. Not to mention hard on the child. I cannot imagine my child swapping homes mid-month. The morning ride to get him to school from my X’s home would be a real trial for all involved. My X elected to walk away to seek “happiness”, then he chose to live outside of the school district, take work at odd hours, etc…all of which are not conducive to having a child living with him anyway. My X walked because he was too selfish to put the needs of his family ahead of his own, so not only would truly shared custody not be what he wants it would also be unfair to our child. At this point, if he spends 24 hours a month with our child it is a “good” month. Please.

Big-Grif

February 17th, 2010
9:47 pm

Dar, I agree that 50/50 is one of those PC things that sounds good on paper, but it has little connection to real life. In my case, I never wanted 50/50. I simply want to be in a place where my value to the situation means more than just how much I can afford to pay at the risk of going to jail.

If a man doesn’t want to, or try to be part of the situation, I can only say that they have to answer for themselves; whatever that may mean.

Dar

February 17th, 2010
10:16 pm

Big-Grif – I wish you peace and happiness and hope that in the long run you and your child can have the relationship you both deserve. If only people could separate being a parent from being an ex-spouse the world would be a better place for all. Divorce is hard on all and for some it is something they can never “get over” so it spills into the business of co-parenting. 50/50 is not doable. I would never make huge decisions for my son (like changing schools, major medical, etc) without speaking to my X about it, but day to day stuff is my responsibility because my X is not here and life is just too fluid to stop and call him to discuss everything. As I said, he chose not to be part of this family so he can hardly fuss about not being included. And he pays a pittance toward our child’s upkeep so it certainly is not about the money (which I am putting in a bank account for when my child turns 18). Unfortunately, some Xs cannot move beyond and in some cases they are just violent people naturally….and in the end the children suffer even more.

WERA74

February 17th, 2010
10:25 pm

Kudos to Big-Grif. I could not have said it any clearer. I am sure someone with an agenda can try to put a spin on what was said to suit themselves but it’s hard to argue what is.

Any doubts among you? Call any county courthouse and pose yourself as a male, non-custodial parent. Then, consider how such bias can and is exploited to suit one’s own ends. Oh, and re-read the last paragraph of Big-Grif’s first comment here afterwards. Be prepared for a reality check.

pj

February 18th, 2010
9:02 am

pj

February 18th, 2010
9:13 am

http://www.newsweek.com/id/233492
Inside the Minds of Family Annihilators

Elizabeth

February 18th, 2010
2:25 pm

My estranged husband forced himself into my home twice, and locked me out of my own home once. He refused to leave the home and stayed overnight once. He swiped items from inside my home. Under the guise of bringing my son’s belongings inside or coming in to get him. He imposed himself in other ways, making demands for money for instance, because at my home no one but my kids and myself were there, so he “could” get away with it. Public places are used to swap kids over to discourage this sort of behavior. Because there are witnesses. Without a videocam of being beaten or trespassed upon, it’s his word against her word and sometimes evidence cannot even be introduced. It is very hard to prove that a spouse has not acted properly with evidence that can actually legally be submitted. If the person is sneaky about the abuse, it’s all the easier to get away with it. Believe me, I prefer meeting in public places, after some of the stunts my husband pulled.

WERA74

February 18th, 2010
4:23 pm

I am sure that there are people of questionable sanity and intentions on both sides of this argument. Bias and injustice in the administration of family law taxes the sanity of everyone involved, effectively pushing over those who are teetering on the edge. To offer overwhelming support and guidance to one side while discriminating against and ignoring the other exacerbates the issue. Levelling the playing field and offering guidance and support to both parties in a domestic conflict would certainly have a positive effect on the outcome but would this not be to the detriment to the administrators of family law? There lies the real question.

WERA74

February 18th, 2010
4:44 pm

In this particular case, there is history but no intervention. This leads to a tragic outcome. You can then read this blog and see the views of both sides of this tragedy, but little by way of understanding. The DV people see this as justification for their position, parties on each side voicing their opinions and experiences, which reads as little more than finger-pointing and shunning of responsibility. The majority of cases of family estrangement, especially those that lead to DV, require an aggressor AND an enabler. Neither sex is exempt from either title.Once we as a society can accept this fact and stop the finger pointing, we would be more willing to accept and effect a solution to the problem. Until then, we can entertain ourselves watching the evening news and thanking our lucky stars that it didn’t happen to us…yet.

Big-Grif

February 18th, 2010
5:22 pm

Nice feedback, WERA74. Thanks for sharing.

After writing what I inteneded to be a very short statement last night, it’s obviously stirred something within me concerning this matter as people really seem to NOT get it when it comes to how these situations evolve.

As I’ve said before, there are lots of elements at play and I don’t pretent to understand them all. I can only speak from my own experience. Fortunately for me, that experience is something I don’t find the need to defend, justify, make excuses for, or feel beat-up about. It’s simply my experience.

Having said that, I wanted to share something today that follows up on my earlier comments.

In the early years of my child-custody situation, I started reading case law to understand better how the system worked. What I found were some very disturbing trends which reflect my own experiences; some of which I’ve outlined previously. One of the things that stands out at this point is the phrase “The Best Interest of the Child.”

To me the phrase is the most abusive in the english language. It sounds good and in all likelyhood started off with noble intent. Sadly, it has become an umbrella that shades some of most pathetic decisions concerning that child possible. Mothers use it, judges use it…..heck, almost everybody gets to use it. What does it mean? How do you measure it? Is it in a Child’s Best Interest to go to private school? Is it in a Child’s best interest to ride in a Mercedes? What about designer clothes? Are those in a child’s best interest?

The truth is, the phrase “The Best Interest of the Child” is a license to do anything. So long as the word ‘Child’ can be put in the same paragraph with it, it must be okay.

By now, you may ask, “Where’s the example?” I’m glad you ask.

I requested custody of my daughter when she was around two or three years of age. After making my case, the judge ordered that we attend an evaluator to get a better understanding of the case. (NOTE: This hearing was about 10 minutes)

After several meetings with the evaluatuator, her findings were released back to the court. Since I represented myself, I drove the five hours to the court just to read the findings. Here’s what it basically said (10 pages total):

Mother – Appears to suffer from depression, anxiety, or a combination of the two. Does not seem to understand boundaries which causes conflict with the father since he tends to refuse arguing and instead chooses to take a position about the issue and leave it at that. (Recommendation) Court should order mother to have an evaluation based on these findings to further determine her fitness.

Father – Father interacts well with the child and appears to lean towards structured play. The father would seem to ensure that the child is well rounded and exposed to many different experiences.

(That’s it) Yes! In less than three sentences, I was determinded to be a decent person that would do well raising my daughter.

Court Findings – (Hold Your Breathe – You know this will SHOCK you.) It is the determination of this court that the FATHER is the main reason for the communications problems in this situation and he is hereby ordered to attend a Parenting Class within the next 30-days to better his communications skills.

All that was determined in less than 10-minutes, compared to five hours with an evaluator.

So, having said all that, which of you ladies would like to tell me what I might have been feeling as I left that courtroom? Was I happy, sad, angry, violent, frustrated, or all of the above? I mean, where was my justice? Where was The Best Interest of the Child?

Oh, before I let you go….. add to this the phone message I got after leaving court from the mother saying “See, I knew there was something wrong with you. Even the JUDGE said there was something wrong with you. I hope you enjoy that class!”

So, now, on top of the rulling itself, this father is taunted by the mother that now feels validated, justified, and emboldened by the courts.

TJ

February 19th, 2010
12:04 pm

@ Big-Grif: Man, that is a bunch of BS if I may say. What idiot judge did they give your case to? Did the judge even read the paperwork from the evaluator? Even though I am a mother that is going through it with my ex husband, I do believe and know that the family law system is beyond corrupt. And I am on the better end of it. If my ex were reasonable like you, I would not have any problems with him. But my ex is malicious and he continues to get away with whatever he wants to because the system allows him to. And to make matters worse, I don’t know if the courts purposely turn a blind eye to this fact or not, but if the judges really sat and listened to the reasons why I have taken my ex to court, they would quickly realize that it has nothing to do with our children, but every thing to do with my ex-husband trying to get to me. My ex has made it clear to me several times that he wants me back and that he wants to “start over” and he has even gone so far as to tell me that “I will come back to him”. Keep in mind that we have been divorced for almost 5 years. And for my ex to still be pursuing me this hard after 5 years is a little bit disturbing to say the least. I mean, to me, that is not normal or healthy especially after I have made it plain and clear to him that I would NEVER take him back. Period. There was never any confusion about that. But the judges, they already have a pre-judgement about what your case is, and to some extent, they have already made up in their mind how they are going to rule even before you say anything, if you even get to say much of anything (I know that from personal experience).

Big-Grif

February 19th, 2010
9:52 pm

TJ, I agree. that it’s BS, but it’s true. He obviously hadn’t looked at the paperwork, given it any thought, or deliberated to any degree on the issues at hand. So, with little ado, he decided the direction of a child’s life.

Guess we should just be happy people like this aren’t holding the keys to the nuclear arsenal.

susan v

February 21st, 2010
9:47 am

Custody evaluators are people, just like judges…they don’t have any form of supreme knowledge, they have the power that people and the court system GIVE to them. You are fools for believing anything that most of them say. What makes someone more qualified than the actual people involved, to make decisions about your child?

Also, going back to what the custody evaluator did say, I can see where the judge would be right–try to look at it this way: “and instead chooses to take a position about the issue and leave it at that.”

it could be taken to mean that you are NOT open to negotiation aka you are a narcissist and like to have things YOUR way.

Surely you felt disappointed afterward, hurt, sad…but violent? If you felt violent that is YOUR issue to deal with. You aren’t justified in feeling violent. And for those who do feel that way, they should just kill themselves.

Refocus you energies on your child. Your pain is irrelevant…that’s what we learn in CHILDBIRTH. You see how far behind some men are?

Big-Grif

February 21st, 2010
9:56 pm

Susan V. you obviously have some issues that cause your ability to comprehend what I’ve written to be clouded. In fact, if I didn’t know better, I’d say you were and “Angry Woman” that plays right into the hostile nature of the courts.

Did the judge determine there was a problem with me before, during, or after the whole five minutes I stood before him? From the tone of your response as well as other post, I would be the ‘VILIAN’ no matter what the situation is.

One other point, since I generally don’t respond to people that appear to lack a certain degree of intelligence, having a baby does NOT mean you are somehow a competent person. It does NOT mean you have mastered child-rearing, nor does it mean you represent the BEST interest of the child.

Wounded Warrior

February 23rd, 2010
6:45 pm

do you want to compromise and stay togther, or be right and be alone? don’t forget that Jerry Seinfield started dating his wife, while she was married to someone else. So, maybe he is doing this from experience?

WERA74

February 25th, 2010
3:05 pm

Susan V, what is more detrimental to a child’s health and well-being, a mother who suffers from depression and/or anxiety, or a father who would ensure that a child is well rounded and avoids arguing by taking a position on an issue and “leaving it at that”?

it does not take rocket science to figure out what is in play here. Sadly, this line of thinking pervades the Family Court system. It is my experience that such thinking is quite detrimental to “the best interests of (the child), but politics play a greater role in Family court than reason and logic.

Big-Grif

February 27th, 2010
4:00 pm

WERA74, thanks for making your point. You’re right in saying that the ‘best interest’ of the child are not always served. What’s worse is that the way the situation is handled usually leaves one part feeling violated, isolated, and angry.

Fortunately, in my case, I chose to channel my engergy into finishing my college degree, volunteering, and moving on with my life to the extent that I could without being totally cut off from my daughter.

OedipusTax

February 28th, 2010
7:40 am

My child support payments to my ex-wife go for:

1) gasoline for her houseboat
2) feed and care for her horses
3) gasoline and expenses for maintaining a RV

Strange to say, however, that when it has come to spend money for her children’s college education, she’s broke.

And if and when one makes a verbal agreement with this lady, she can change her mind, seize your money using the power of the State of Georgia just because she says so, and use the police state of the Office of Child Support Services to threaten you with jail.

So much for the courts favoring women.

Big-Grif

February 28th, 2010
8:45 pm

OedipusTax, as extreme as your post may seem, I am forced to believe it happens just as you describe. Makes you wonder why people are suprised when someone finally flips out and loses control.

The really crazy part about it is these women know they play the system. Some of them even flaunt it in your face as if it’s some sort of crazy game.

Realdeal

March 6th, 2010
8:21 am

When you dig deep, alot of the problems this country has are the liberals legislating rules that make it more attractive to women to single mothers than to stay in stable families. You can get heathcare and food stamps and welfare and that looks like a better deal than staying with bubba car mechanic if you can also cat around all night. A couple of posters here are right when they say these people shouldn’t reproduce. Well that can’t happen, but not using your tax dollars to support all this foolishness can. People who grow up and stab each other in WalMart parking lots are from a long line of uneducated rabble. So think about where your money goes and the breakdown of society and morals you are encouraging next time you vote. Democrats love to keep giving your money to trash. If they cut that off, the prevalence of these types of scenarios would decline. You send a message that’s its o.k to spend billions of our tax dollars on welfare and healthcare for people who are non productive and contribute nothing but more misery and low I.Q. to the gene pools when you vote for these clowns.

JM

March 9th, 2010
3:51 pm

Jbgotcha- It is not a myth that that courts favor women it is statiscal fact. I myself was told “the child needs to be with his mother, you may be better financially suited to support him however he belongs with his mother thus the high amount of child support.” by the judge. Now tell me who he favors? I get to pay increased child support but because I have a penis I can’t raise my son? Now he lives in a not so great part of town (I have no say in that either) and I get him every other weekend. But hey she drives a REALLY NICE car that she bought after she got her first check for child support!! Despite all this I would never try to hurt much less kill my ex.

Big-Grif

March 12th, 2010
5:01 pm

@JM, I know what you mean. Not long after my daughter’s mother started getting support, she was able to move from an apartment into a home AND buy a much newer car. I’m sure all that was for the interest of the child like everything else.

As I often say, a mother could bring the head of the child to court and walk out with it still under her arm. All the time saying she knows what’s best to do with it.

Autism Custody Battles

August 11th, 2010
5:14 pm

Family Courts Best Kept Secret: Say that the father abusing the kids and you will lose custody to the abuser: http://autismcustodybattles.wordpress.com