Children and Divorce
The following is an essay written 14 year old girl for her English class at school. The essay was 4 handwritten pages.
This letter clearly shows what the judges are doing to the children they are suppose to be protecting. As I read this, ask yourself, why the father is being deprived of visitation with his daughter? Why is his daughter being deprived of a father? Why doesn’t the father have custody of his daughter? In the essay, the child does not mention her mother. I wonder why? In the essay, the child mentions she ran away to her father’s house. According to the father, the judge threatened his daughter by telling her if she ran away again to his house, her father would go to jail. This is what happens to children that want to live and be with their fathers. This also shows how the court process affects the children it is “suppose” to be helping. Notice there is no mention of the mother. The child’s essay:
“Da-da”, now that’s the first word of many young children, at least it was mine. Not being able to see or talk to my dad is the worst thing that has and will ever happen to me, you imagine it! This all started about four or three years ago when my parents got a divorce. Everything use to be perfect and since the separation, everything went haywire. I now had a lawyer, saw counselors, went to court to talk to a judge, saw my dad and brothers rarely, and didn’t feel like a normal kid anymore.
My father really listens to me and none of my hundreds of lawyers or counselors do, even though they are suppose to help me get through my parents separation. My parents have been divorced since I was in fifth grade and it is still being worked out by the court. Since then, I haven’t really had a voice of what I’ve asked. There hasn’t been any drastic changes even though I ran away to my dads house twice to really make a point. Still, no one listened because I think that no one really cared. The divorce was between my father and mother, not between my dad and I. Children shouldn’t be pulled apart to be on either side of their parent. What a teenager says should be what everyone wants to hear since they really know what they want and need. From going to lawyer to lawyer and counselor to counselor, usually I just sit there and don’t say a word because from all of the other times when I spoke out and expressed myself, I would just get dumped on. I wish I could just tell my dad how I feel since I trust him. From going to different counselors and lawyers, I’ve learned not to trust them since they never help me. One of my counselors did yell at me before for who knows what and she really put me down by her words and I started crying. I used to always cry when I went to see counselors, judges, and lawyers because all they would do was yell at me for asking them if I could see my dad. I hate it when no one listens to me and don’t try to help me.
I want and need my dad and so does any other child. When I do see my dad, he helps me get through the impossible. He is a great encourager and listens. My dad is a great influence on my life and when I used to see him, he would encourage me every second of the day. One day, when I had a visit with my dad, I was really upset about something and he helped me get through it. By the end of the visit I was my normal self. My dad has taught me to speak out and way what’s on my mind. My father always tells me to think positive no matter what. He and my brothers are the only people who have helped me get through all of this. My dad is the only one who really makes me feel good inside and he tries to make my life the best it can be. For the future my dream is to become a surgeon and my dad is behind me 100% of the way. My dad always looks after me and is always there for me.
I haven’t seen my father in over two months and it is been the worst without him. Right after my parents got divorced, I saw my dad every other weekend at his house. Then I stopped seeing him and then we had supervised visits. These visits didn’t last too long and when they ended, I didn’t see my dad for a quite extended period of time. Then finally, we had visits again once a week at a park. Now the visits have ended and have been for over two months. When I did see my dad, I would also see my older brothers, Jim and Paul because they lived with my dad. I liked seeing my dad at his house because we could sleep over and it was normal. Then when we had supervised visits, people would be listening, watching, and writing down everything you said and did. When ever and where ever I saw my dad, it was fine, as long a I got to see him. Even if I just saw my dad for a few minutes, it would mean so much to me because not seeing him at all really stinks. My dad has been and will always be there for me especially now because I know he’s always trying to make a better tomorrow for us. When I ran away to my dad’s house he had boxes and boxes of divorce papers. My dad has put his life into this divorce and I know he’s really trying to make things better.
My dad is fun to be around all of the time and when I’m in a down mood, he makes me feel happy. When I used to have supervised visits with my father we always played different games and activities. Sometimes we would catch little baby fish in the stream and get all wet from splashing each other. Other times we would play frisbee and I would always go near my dad so I could intercept his passes and to see how high I could jump. We would also play tag, write with chalk, or play basketball. Besides playing games and having fun, my dad would always make or buy delicious dinner. My dad knows that I love fudge so he would bring my Aunt Marcia’s fudge once in a while for desert. My father would also make chile and sloppy Joe’s which are two of my favorite foods. Other times my dad would bring pizza, wings, salad and more.
Overall, I want and need by father in my life everyday. I pray to God all of the time to see my father. When I get older I want to own a very big house so my whole family can live with me and be together. This way, my family won’t be broken like it is right now. What I am trying to say is that I need to see my dad and he needs to be a part of my life. I love my dad!!
Psychologist responds to child’s letter
The school gave her father the essay. He then made copies and gave one to a Ph.D, Clinical Psychologist. His letter dated April 16, 2004:
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
Based upon numerous factors and apparent from the attached essay, I was obligated, as a mandated reporter, to report, via the NY State Hotline, abuse of (the child) on April 13, 2004. A clinical analysis of the essay indicates that the child may be facing imminent and irreparable harm in various forms.
Damage to her character and personality is the most probable and likely form of harm. The mistrust of counselors, legal representatives including the Judge in this case, her law guardians, and other, as well as her mother, suggests that this adolescent is vulnerable to forming a character disorder or related condition. The terrible pain (the child) is experiencing, as expressed by her written word, might exasperate her feelings of frustration and depression, from which she may never be able to recover. Additionally, (the child) may decide to find a way to escape the pain and other distress by harming herself.
I expressed the above concerns in more detail to Sandy Snowden, CPS supervisor assigned to this case, and to Diane Foley, (the child’s) law guardian. They both appeared concerned and well meaning and entered into a sincere and meaningful dialogue about the situation. Ms. Foley expressed the point that Spencer had not fulfilled certain Court mandates or stipulations and therefore the visitation requested by (the child) might not be possible. However, the basis of my report to CPS was that the child was suffering abuse and possible imminent and irreparable harm specifically because she was being prevented from seeing her father, who she loves and trusts.
The psychologist then printed the following in bold letters.
Why should the child, (child’s name) be punished because Spencer did not complete or fully comply with the Court orders? The Court is using (the child) to punish Spencer and further, it is using Spencer to punish the child. Spencer’s conduct has no bearing on (the child’s) needs at this time; she didn’t disobey any orders and should therefore not be denied her yearning to be with her father.
One further point: On July 15, 2003, I accompanied Spencer, the President of the Chapter of the Children’s Right’s Counsel, Elizabeth Schnee, and David Friedman to a meeting with Judge Jacqueline Silberman, the Chief Matrimonial Judge in NY State. The meeting reviewed Spencer’s case and was held on the record. I had examined Spencer prior to that point in time, and I informed Judge Silberman that I considered Spencer to be a fit custodian and a caring and loving father. I affirm those findings at this time. I am an experienced clinician, a forensic evaluator in Nassau County, and I have been qualified as an expert numerous times in all the Supreme Courts and Family Courts in the New York metropolitan area.
I believe that we are faced with an unbelievable set of circumstances. To wit: A young teenager is begging and pleading to see her father who she loves and trusts. She is heartbroken and depressed, and moist of all, she is suffering extreme distress because she is being prevented from having a significant interactions with her father. Her father is ready, willing and able to meet her requests and her needs, but the legal bureaucracy will not allow it. Therefore, it is my conclusion that something is very, every wrong with this system.
It is my recommendation and my hope that (the child’s) needs, so well expressed in her essay, will be met very shortly, if not, I must repeat that I fear for the consequences that she will experience.
Thank you for your time and considerations.
I received a copy of each on May 4, 2004. As of that date, nothing had been done. This is how the courts treat children that want and need to have a relationship with their father. Who is the law guardian representing, the child or the mother? According to the father and the child, the mother. Here her client is demanding to see her father and all the law guardian seems to worry about is whether the father has jumped through all the hoops the court wants him to, in order see his daughter. I should mention the father has custody of his two older sons that his daughter refers to in her essay. Why is the father on supervised visitation with his daughter? Certainly, she is not fearful of him and she wants to be with him. Is it because the court wants the child with the mother and the father paying child support? When you read father’s case, you will see that the court is holding the child hostage. The court does not care what happens to the child, all the court cares about is the mother having custody, and the father paying child support. The judge in this case needs to be removed.