Chris Mackney – A Casualty of Family Court

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“In hindsight, I recognize that my reactions to being bullied, abused and denied access to my children gave my ex- wife’s attorney the ammunition they were looking for to bring me into Court…

The love that my daughter and I shared was truly special… I am so sorry that I will not be there to see her grow into a beautiful woman.  My son Jack was just entering Kindergarten, when I lost access to him… It absolutely breaks my heart that I will not be able to help him grow into a man. I love you to, Jack. I miss you both so much.

Truth, facts, evidence or even the best interest of my children had no affect on the outcome. The family court system is broken, but from my experience, it is not the laws, it’s the lawyers. They feed off of the conflict. They are not hired to reduce conflict or protect the best interest of children.

I took my own life because I had come to the conclusion that there was nothing I could do or say to end the abuse. Every time I got up off my knees, I would get knocked back down. They were not going to let me be the father I wanted to be to my children. People may think I am a coward for giving up on my children, but I didn’t see how I was going to heal from this. I have no money for an attorney, therapy or medication. I have lost 4 jobs because of this process. I was going to be at their mercy for the rest of my life and they had shown me none.”

           - Excerpts from Chris Mackney’s suicide letter

On December 29, 2013, a man named Chris Mackney took his own life after spending years in Family Court fighting for his children.  While it has been months since his death, I only just learned of it this past weekend when I was notified by a reporter who plans to cover the case.  When I first read the email, I was stunned and speechless.  I am no stranger to stories that demonstrate the devastating impact that Family Court has on the lives of many.  Chris’ story, however, has hit close to home.  It has hit me because Chris was one of my readers, and he had reached out to me only a few short months before his death.

Upon googling Chris’ name to find out the details of his death, I noticed many websites that have attempted to exploit and twist his story in an attempt to make it appear as though it was something that it was not.  The very fact that Chris had asked to work with me shows that he was not a man trying to tie himself with an anti-women’s movement or speak out against mothers.  From what I knew of Chris through our conversations, he was a man who was trying to survive the horrible legal abuse he was enduring.  He was trying to find a way to get back into his children’s lives.  He was trying to navigate a broken system.

Initial Contact:

12/31/2012 – “My name is Chris Mackney.  I post on your site as madmacks…my case is so bad it’s incredible. I want to call for an investigation because there is so much corruption.  The pattern is so clear and they pretend it’s not there.  I wanted to see if we might work together to expose the courts failures in our cases.”

I was initially skeptical of Chris because I receive loads of letters from all sorts of people – some of them don’t appear to be psychologically sound.  I asked Chris to tell me a bit about his story.  Chris responded with a long email explaining his belief that his ex-wife and her father were both psychopaths.  He claimed that he had proof that his ex father in law was a murderer and heroin trafficker.  Chris went on to explain that his ex in-laws were very wealthy, and that his ex-father in law was extremely litigious (sadly, a strong characteristic of psychopathology).

While Chris wanted to stay out of court, and was willing to give custody to his ex-wife to just have access to the children, his ex’s family was determined to eliminate him.  Chris believed that he was being targeted by his ex wife’s family for uncovering the truth about their criminal behavior.  He also believed that if he went public about his case, he would get to see his children.

1/28/2013:  Psychopathy seems to be the problem.  No one wants to touch it.  Even the Father’s Rights groups…On one hand, it is absolutely the single source of conflict in my case, so I want to have it addressed by the court.  On the other hand, I almost do not want to bring it up, because I know they don’t know how to deal with it.  Dealing with psychopaths in court is hopeless.

This was one of the last times that I heard from Chris.

My reaction:

Many people likely read about my story and wonder if there is something wrong with me too for falling for such a sick and twisted person like Luc. Even though I have seen corruption at its worst drive the justice system into the ground, I still read Chris’ story with a skeptical eye.  I wondered if he had been the abuser.  I wondered about the other side of the story.

 Chris’ story haunts me because many things he said were absolutely true.  The claims he made, while seemingly outlandish, could have absolutely taken place given our broken system.  I was never able to help Chris.  I am not sure what I would have been able to do; however, I still feel sadness that I could not help him see that taking his life was not the answer.

The Ending:

In August 2013, a friend of Chris’ reached out to me to tell me that Chris had been arrested.  She claimed that his ex’s family had orchestrated this arrest, and that she feared Chris would kill himself in jail.  In December 2013 – he did kill himself.

I believe that Chris suffered from Post Traumatic Stress as a result of the legal abuse that he endured.  Psychopaths are bullies.  They enjoy litigation and have a strong need to win.  In Family Court, you will always find a lawyer who is willing to take your money.  Sadly, these cases that involve a disordered person can go on for years leaving people completely penniless and emotionally wrecked.

Some people have looked at what Chris did and thought, ‘he must not have loved his children if he was willing to just give up and kill himself.’  Anyone who has been a victim of this sort of vicious cycle of abuse, however, can understand exactly how Chris felt.  Many of the words he wrote in his suicide letter are not rational, and his final behavior doesn’t seem all that sane.  I would argue, though, that what Chris endured as a result of trying to be a father would drive any sane person crazy.

Currently, Chris’ ex wife is trying to erase Chris’ message from the Internet.  She claims that she owns the right to his final words through some sort of copyright.  I wish Chris had stayed and continued to fight here on earth for his children, and for those children who would come next.   I pray that beyond all the rhetoric not he Internet, that his children one day know that their father loved them.  I also hope and pray that after this tragic situation, we can come together and discuss the real issues apparent in Family Court and stop clouding the issue with gender politics.

Rest in peace Madmacks.

In Memory Of Eric K. Barrow – A Protective Father

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Eric K. Barrow – Rest In Peace

 

“Fighting fires, you can do something about what’s going on, and you’re trained to. There’s always the possibility of bringing something terrible to an end. But the fact that my child was hurt . . . it’s like being handcuffed and made to watch it. ”  -  Eric Barrow

I never got the opportunity to meet Eric Barrow.  He passed away before I had the chance.  A good friend (and fellow child advocate), Eileen King, had the chance to get to know him through her work with The Center For Judicial Excellence and Child Justice.  When I read about Eric’s story through Eileen, I automatically felt a connection to him.  I have no doubt that Prince is up in heaven hanging out with this good man.  I write from the perspective of a protective mother, but I want to share Eric’s story so that we all don’t lose sight that fighting for children should be gender blind.  Sadly, dangerous parents can come in either gender.  Eric is an example of a protective father.

Below is a summary of Eric’s case that was prepared by The Center For Judicial Excellence back in 2008:


Eric and his son’s mother never married, but he willingly gave her child support, bought clothes for his son and visited him often during his first year. When the boy was around one, she began refusing to let Eric visit him, so he was forced to file for custody, since the Maryland courts won’t allow parents to file just for visitation. The court granted him three and four day visits in alternating weeks.

After the boy’s mother married another man, Eric knew that something was wrong. His two-year-old son would cry, kick and scream, and try to run away when Eric returned him to his mother and stepfather’s house. It got so bad that Eric reportedly had to give him candy to get him to go back. A few months later, the boy told Eric, “he keeps beating me, Daddy . . . make him stop.” Eric called Child Protective Services (CPS), but without photos or evidence of bruises or cuts, he was told that he was required to turn the child back over to his mother.

When the boy was about three years old, he disclosed to Eric that his stepfather was molesting him. Eric was dressing his son after a bath, and the boy said, “[Stepfather] kisses my penis, Daddy. I don’t want you to kiss my penis.” This time, CPS agreed to investigate, but they informed the boy’s mother first, and about three days later, Eric was charged by the boy’s mother with child abuse. The investigation found that the molestation claims were substantiated, but they couldn’t determine who the perpetrator was. The boy’s mother made him call his stepfather “Daddy,” which complicated the investigation. CPS and the court ordered the mother to take the boy to therapy, and the boy was eventually sent to live with his grandmother on his mother’s side.

A Guardian Ad Litum was appointed by the court to evaluate the custody situation, but Eric says he “acted more like the mother’s attorney and had an attitude.” The court then placed Eric’s son back into custody with his mother and stepfather. A few months later, the boy disclosed more physical and sexual abuse. Eric let his son tell the police about it, but they called his mother and sent him back with her. Three days later, the police followed up to investigate, but by then, the boy had changed his story. Eric later learned that the boy’s mother had threatened to beat him if he ever told anyone about the abuse.

Eric was forced into court many times to urge the court to enforce its order that the mother find therapy for their son. She eventually complied, but the therapist she found apparently informed the boy’s mother each time he disclosed about his abuse. After each disclosure, he was allegedly beaten by his mother and/or stepfather, and his therapist never reported the disclosures to the authorities, as the law requires. Needless to say, Eric’s son soon stopped talking about the abuse altogether.

Eric was forced into court to get a new therapist appointed to work with his son. After a year and a half, the therapist determined that their seven-year-old son was suicidal, and that he was vulnerable to gang violence, drug abuse and alcoholism. The therapist then blamed Eric for going to court to try to get the boy into appropriate therapy, saying that those court appearances about therapy were a big part of the boy’s problem.

Eric faults the whole system, including the police, who repeatedly placed his son in harm’s way. Eric knows that he “can’t give him back his innocence. I can’t make him see the world the way he saw it before.” Now he sees his son every other weekend, and they have a good relationship, despite their seven-year ordeal in the family court system.


What the above story doesn’t capture is that Eric was an American hero.  On September 11, 2001, when a plane flew into the Pentagon, Eric was one of the firefighters whose unit put out the fire.  A year later, on September 11, 2002, Eric’s his unit was at the Pentagon being honored for their incredible work to putting out the fire at the pentagon.  Eric, however, couldn’t attend the event because he was stuck in family court, feeling helpless, unable to protect his son.In March 2013, Eric passed away from a heart attack.  He died in the arms of his son, now a young man – the same some he fought so hard to protect.

There are many reasons that this story struck me when I read it.  Beyond the obvious bond that I have with this man whom I have never met, his story is another example that no matter what sort of life you lead, Family Court remains senseless and humbling.  Here is a man who showed incredible courage in the face of a terrorist attack that shook our nation to its core, and he so elequently explained how nothing was as terrifying as not being able to protect the very person he loved the most – his son.

Many people involved in Family Court reform often get bogged down in gender wars.  They spend hours upon hours arguing which gender has the advantage when it comes to Family Court.  What I have realized, however, is that there are cases across this nation where you see terrible things happening to parents and families of all kind.  At the core of this movement, however, is what is most important – children.

My fellow warriors –  please stand with me to protect our future – our children.

 

Some Important Tips To Survive A Custody War

This past weekend, I took Stela for a walk after we went to church.  My church is located relatively close to the courthouse that I describe as ground zero of the Custody War that was fought against Lucifer.  Until recently, I wasn’t even able to drive through that area without breaking down into tears and shaking hysterically due to the painful memories of the things that took place in that courthouse.  This past Sunday, however, I decided it was time to come face to face with some of the memories that I had been avoiding.

As I walked past the courthouse, I noticed that it had almost doubled in size since the custody war.  My stomach twisted in knots as I looked at the millions of dollars of taxpaying dollars that had been pumped into this broken institution.  While I didn’t break into tears, I don’t think I will ever be able to walk past that place without thinking of the pain that I associate with that time.  I know I will never be able to look at Family Court as a place that cares about the protection of children as it should.

As I reflected on this broken system, and Stela sang her made up baby songs in sheer blissful unawareness, I thought about how my thoughts on Family Court have changed since I have had some time and distance from the legal abuse.  In the past year and a half since my son was murdered, I have spoken to many parents who are in the throws of chaos.  They are enduring their own personal hell in Family Court.  Here are some things I have learned, that you won’t hear from your attorney.  These tips won’t help me anymore, but I wish that I had heard them when I was in the trenches.

You are allowed to fire your attorney:  Legal counsel is expensive, and it’s important.  Bad attorneys don’t have angels on their shoulders telling them not to waste your money.  If you find yourself in one of the below situations with your attorney, run out the door as soon as possible and do not look back.

1)  A Jerk:  If your attorney speaks to you like you are a moron, and get’s mad at you when you get emotional – this will only get worse.  While your attorney shouldn’t be your therapist, a good family attorney will understand what is at stake and be experienced in dealing with emotional parents.  You should never feel like you have to apologize to your attorney for crying or being frustrated with the situation.

(Note:  While crying is completely fair during times of great distress, try and save these emotions for your therapist.  You want your attorney to be able to focus on the legal issues, and not your emotions.)

2) Distrustful:  Your attorney is your advocate.  I recently spoke to someone who made the grave mistake of employing the same attorney who represented Lucifer.  She noted that she was confused as to why her attorney was pushing for her to roll over, and allow her ex more unsupervised access when the man hadn’t established himself in the child’s life (by his own choice).  She wondered why iy seemed like her attorney was working for her ex husband. Sometimes when it appears as though your attorney has an agenda that doesn’t jive with your child’s best interest, it is because they do.  Bottom line – if you don’t trust the person, you shouldn’t give them a dime of your money.

3)  Inexperienced:  My first attorney was a disaster.  He was a business attorney who had a previous relationship with my parents.  When I initially realized that I needed an attorney, I didn’t know who to turn to.  Having never been in a situation like this before, I had no idea how specialized law really was.  While this unethical business attorney claimed he knew family law, he entered the courtroom like a five year old who just stepped through the doors of a University.  Sadly, before I realized that he had no clue what he was doing, he had already spent 30 thousand of my hard earned dollars.  Mistakes like this will cost you.  Before choosing an attorney, ask around for recommendations and go see them in action on another case.

Work to be the best version of yourself:  I will be the first to say that going through Family Court can make a sane person feel crazy.  It is an emotional experience that really cannot be compared to anything else.  Many of us feel as though we are being asked to send our children across a battlefield completely unarmed, while we watch him/her try and dodge the land mines in the field.  Just as you would go to the doctor to get a cast if you broke a foot, you must get counseling if you are going through a Custody War.  When you walk into the courtroom, you need to be the best version of yourself.  You need to be as calm and put together as possible, and you need to think clearly.  This is the fight of your life.  Your children need you to be sane for it.

In addition to going to a therapist, find a good friend you can talk to.  Go for walks, go to the gym, and do things that help to relieve stress.  So many people talk about being too busy to take care of themselves.  Realize that you are not helping your children if you are constantly stressed out.  If Mama ain’t happy – ain’t nobody happy.  (Note: this can apply to Dad’s too.)

Work on things you can control:  One of the hardest things for people to do in Family Court is accept that you have a very limited amount of control.  You cannot stop your ex from lying.  You cannot stop him/her from paying professionals to lie for him/her or from channeling their inner actor and crying on cue.  And ultimately, as painful as it is, you cannot control what the courts decide.  You can appeal your butt off and spend your entire life savings, but most people leave Family Court unhappy.  I would never advocate for giving up on your child.  NEVER give up fighting for your child’s best interest.  That said, for the time you have with your child, make it count.  Even if you only get every other weekend to see your children, make that time special and let them know how much you love them.  Enjoy those moments with your child because you really never know when they could be your last.  And even if your children have the long life my son never had the chance to have, you don’t want to look back at their childhood and realize you never enjoyed any moments with them due to the custody war.

I had 15.5 months with my son Prince.  While he spent 99.9 percent of his life with me, it wasn’t enough.  Now that I have to live with the fact that his father chose to end his life, it makes those times when I had to leave him for only three hours much harder to think about.  I can never get more time with my son now, but the memories that I have of him keep me strong.  I am thankful that, even though much of his life was spent in the horror of Family Court, I took the time to make his life wonderful.

Two days before Prince had his first birthday, we were in court.  I was a horrible day, and I left afraid of what would happen to my son.  For hours after the hearing, I felt like I was living in a complete fog that I couldn’t see through.  I was paralyzed with fear.  Even though I had planned a weekend at the beach, we almost didn’t go because I was so upset.

Luckily, my family was able to help me through that hard time.  They forced me to come to the beach to celebrate Prince’s birthday.  This was the last birthday Prince would ever have.  I am so thankful I was able to take him in the sand, and spoil him that weekend.  If I hadn’t gone that weekend, it would have haunted me to this day.

I will never know what it is like to be stuck in Family Court for 18 years.  I can only imagine what that kind of sustained terror can do to a person.  In my short experience, however, I have learned that the best thing you can do is be the rock that your children need.  Don’t let the terror ruin your ability to make your child’s life wonderful.

 

 

 

 

 

Divorce Corpse

 

“An unhinged man involved in a bitter child-custody battle tossed his toddler son to his death from the roof of a 52-floor building on the Upper West Side Sunday, then killed himself by jumping, law-enforcement sources said.”  - NYPOST.COM

“An Arizona woman is accused of fatally poisoning her two children a day before she was supposed to turn them over to their father as part of a custody agreement issued in a courtroom last week, an attorney for the woman’s ex-husband told NBC4 on Monday.” – NBCLOSANGELES.COM

“That day, Rob King bought each of his twin daughters a fish, signed them up for swim lessons and gave them a bath. Hours later, he pumped carbon monoxide into their bedroom and slit their throats…Rob and Kristi were in the midst of a bitter divorce and custody battle. Kristi had offered joint custody of the three-year-olds. Rob wanted the girls to himself.”  - WUSA9.COM

 

These are just a few examples amongst countless articles I have read since the murder of my son Prince.  It seems like nearly every week there is a new story about a parent, involved in a bitter custody battle, who kills their child.  The most disturbing part of reading these stories is knowing that each and every one of these killer parents was in court at some point and granted access to the child for whom he/she ended up killing.  Each one of these children could have been saved had our system not been so hell bent on parental rights and equal access.

This Friday, a documentary titled “Divorce Corps” hits the theaters.  From watching the previews, it would appear as though the focus of the movie is to expose the horrible Family Court system and how the fate of children has been turned into big business.  While I believe that the big business aspect is a part of the system that needs to be reformed (note:  I spent over 100k trying to save my son in this failed system), I have deep concerns about this movie.  There are parts of the movie that would lead the public to believe that because divorce and custody are such “big business” that people have more incentives to lie and make up false allegations.  The movie also seems to argue for presumptive joint custody.

Wendy Murphy, a former child abuse and sex crimes prosecutor and now adjunct professor and trial and appellate attorney specializing in crime victims, recently noted that a more appropriate title for a documentary on this issue would be “Divorce Corpse”.  Divorce Corpse would at least accurately label a system in which children are killed by parents who should never have had custody or access to them.

In case after reading about my story it isn’t already clear, let me point out why the troubling themes present in this movie are dangerous for children.

1.  All claims of abuse should be taken seriously:  This should be a no brainer, but unfortunately it isn’t.  The creators of this documentary seem to think that parents make sport out of launching false allegations of abuse.  It is my firm believe that while I am sure false allegations occur, this is not the norm.  Approaching all family court cases as if any abuse allegations are false is extremely dangerous.  Children who are abused will be sent to their abuser without investigation into the allegations.  I would rather see several innocent parents investigated than loose one child because the allegations were not taken seriously.

2.  The danger of presumptive joint custody:  Abusers love to talk about how the courts should automatically look toward equal access.  If the courts did this, parents would no longer have to worry about things in their lifestyle that are not conducive to a healthy environment for a child.  While there are plenty of situations where it is best for a child to have equal access to both parents (i.e. when both parents are good parents without psychological disorders or abusive tendencies), there are too many scary cases that come to court where presumptive joint custody would hurt the child.  The courts should not presume anything when there is a case before them.  There are no two cases alike when it comes to Family Court and each case should be evaluated based on the best interest of that particular child and not based on what is comfortable for the parents.  If the courts continue to try and split children down the middle, they will end up with more abused children in the system.

David Levy, who is currently one of the members of the Maryland Commission on Child Custody, wrote an Op Ed after the murder of Amy Castillo’s three children in Baltimore, MD.  In his editorial, he stated his belief that joint custody would have prevented the tragedy – as if Mark Castillo killed his three children just because he wasn’t awarded joint custody.  News flash Mr. Levy, Mark Castillo killed his children because he was a crazy monster and had he been denied access to those children, they would still be here today.

3.  Leave Parental Rights at the door please:  After reading the press on this documentary, I am hearing too much crap about parental rights.  We all know that both men and woman abuse children.  This shouldn’t be a fight about gender because parents should not be who the court is seeking to protect.  I didn’t spend over 100k in court because I felt like I needed more time with my son and just wanted to be a time hog.  I spent the money because I truly believed he was in danger, and it was the only legal way I knew how to try and save him.  I take no pleasure in knowing that I was right because it means that my son is dead.  I would have gladly laid my own rights as a parent on the table if it meant my son could have some.

Finally, I refer you back to the quotes that I started out with in this post.  While many cases don’t deal with life and death, a startling number of them do.  Making rash generalizations about the need for equal access in all cases, and assuming everyone who fears abuse is lying only harms children.  This movie discusses how many people profit off of the misfortune of those who end up in Family Court, and that is absolutely true.  More alarming, however, is the number of people who end up dead (or emotionally/physically abused) as a result of decisions made in those court rooms.

If you plan to see this movie, I encourage you to question the motives of those who created it.  While it is clear that there are many who profit from Family Court,I challenge you to think about exactly who benefits from a system that believes that the child’s best interest is served by equal access to both parents – regardless of the situation.  I would argue that only an abuser would want the courts to grant all parents equal access without regard to circumstance.

 

Family Court – Nuke And Pave

The Family Court system in America is a disaster area.  My personal experience has been on the Family Court battlefield in the State of Maryland, but I know Maryland is not alone in its level of chaos.  It is certainly not alone in the number of children who are abused and die as a result of decisions made in these courts.  While I understand that not every case ends as poorly as mine did (with the unnecessary and brutal murder of a child), the courts as they stand are breeding grounds for sociopathic people to terrorize both their children and their former partners.  Since the murder of my son, many desperate parents have sent me letters asking me for advice.  I have also gotten letters from fellow Children’s Rights advocates who seek my input on how to best change the system.  In my best attempt to remain as positive as possible, given the dire realities that we face, my best advice for the change that needs to happen on a systemic level is as follows:

NUKE AND PAVE

(Note:  I don’t mean literally “nuke”.  I am not a violent person, and would never suggest blowing something up.  By “nuke”, I mean “get rid of the failures and start with a new foundation”.)

This might appear pessimistic, however, it is my strong opinion that an institution that fails so many children to the degree of sanctioning murder – needs to be completely overhauled.  A friend of mine, and follow advocate for Children, recently sent me the following link:

MD Commission on Child Custody Decision Making

To spare those of you with only a mild interest (or not a ton of time to read legislative crap) the time it takes to go through this lengthy document, I will summarize:  The State of Maryland is creating a “Commission on Child Custody Decision Making.”  This sounds great right?  On the surface it sounds like progress; however, it could also serve as a temporary bandage on a system that needs open-heart surgery.

 

The Commission:

The commission has 14 areas it is going to be reviewing.  Five public forums will be held (The county where my son’s murder was sanctioned has been left off of this list) so that the commission can take under advisement public opinion on these issues.  Below are the issues the commission is set to address where I will focus my attention:

1)   To ensure custody orders are more uniform, fair, and equitable.

My comments:  This statement screams “parental rights”.  It shouldn’t be about what is equal for the parents.  It should be about what is the best environment for the child.  If one or both of the parents is unstable, and shows a history of abuse and poor decision making, why should that parent be entitled to equal access to the child?

2)   Study and consider the adverse effects of child custody litigation and ways the court system can minimize those effects.

My comments:  It should be common knowledge in the legal community that the cases that make it to court most certainly involve at least one parent who suffers from a personality disorder.  If the court wanted to minimize the effects that litigation has on the child, it should focus on how the parents got to court in the first place.  Just trying to get the parents out of court is not going to save the child from the negative impact of dealing with a sociopathic parent.

3)   Study how to promote and ensure that children have ongoing relationships with each parent.

My comments:  This is similar to point number one.  In a perfect world where sociopathic people didn’t have children, both point number one and this point would be a non-issue.  Instead of “ongoing relationships”, how about focusing on “healthy and safe relationships”?  Many children have ongoing relationships with abusive parents.  Many of these children either require extensive therapy to try and reverse the damage or become abusers themselves.

4)   Study how to maximize the involvement of both parents in each child’s life.

My comments:  It continues to baffle me how the government often believes that it’s in the child’s best interest to try and get a deadbeat parent involved in his/her child’s life.  I have seen so many odd cases where the court will try and “encourage” a parent to spend more time with their child, even if it should be clear that the person’s involvement is not in the child’s best interest.  It is better to have one good parent than one good one and one abusive one.  News flash:  Good parents don’t need to be encouraged to be involved with their child.

5)   Study whether or not there is any gender discrimination in custody decisions in Maryland and, if so, how to address such discrimination.

My comments:  While many times it appears as though currently there is a war on motherhood, in this back bending attempt to promote Father’s Rights, gender discrimination should be irrelevant if we are focusing on Children’s Rights.  Shouldn’t it?

6)   Make recommendations regarding the most effective manner in which to facilitate cooperative decision- making by parents involved in child custody proceedings as it relates to their children.

My comments:  Going back to an earlier point, most cases that end up in court include at least one sociopath.  The sooner the courts realize that it is impossible to negotiate or “facilitate cooperative decision-making” with a terrorist, the sooner they will realize this point is ludicrous.  During my custody case, both Luc and I were ordered to go to a two- day co-parenting class (6 hours total).  I attended this course at the expense of leaving my boob diva of a breast fed child (who was not yet used to taking the bottle and cried with Grandma for six hours straight); however, Luc chose not to attend at all. Those are six hours I will never get back with my son.

7)   Study how to ensure that child custody determinations involving parents with mental health issues are handled in a fair and even manner based on actual evidence and not presumed limitations.

My comment:  Now this one is an interesting point and scratches the surface of a major problem.  The issue with this point, however, is that it assumes that mental health assessments are done appropriately.  The judge in my case suspected that Luc had a serious mental health issue based on a preponderance of evidence; however, given that the judge was not a mental health professional, he ordered Luc to get a forensic psychological assessment.  Luc found a school psychologist, who specialized in child autism and was friends and co-workers with his older son’s therapist, and paid for what appeared to be a one-sided and negligent custody evaluation from a woman with no experience in adult forensic testing.  This test was the evidence the judge needed to protect my son.  Even after it became clear that Luc was disordered (when he drowned his own child for life insurance money), this therapist continued to practice and likely still appears in court potentially ruining the lives of other children and families.

 

What’s Missing?

After going through all 14 (yes, I excluded some of the ones that focused on cultural sensitivity issues and other periphery issues that I don’t believe are at the root of the problem), I didn’t see one point that talked about a review of the cases that went terribly wrong. Wouldn’t the commission benefit from local case studies that are right at their fingertips and a part of public record?  In addition to my own horrific case, they could review Amy Castillo’s case.  After begging a judge to pay attention to the deterioration of her husband’s mental health, Amy’s protection order was denied.  Her husband then went on to do exactly what he told Amy he would do – he drowned all three children to death in the bathtub of a Baltimore hotel room.

 

Children’s Rights:

 

Children have no rights in America.  Looking at the Family Court System, it often reminds me of slave times.  Laws were made that directly impacted the slaves, yet they had no voice in the process.  Slaves were treated like property, killed, and “owner’s rights” always came first.  Children are treated much in the same way.  Our laws are designed so that parents are given “the right” to do what they wish to their children.  It is only after the child is murdered when that parent faces any sort of loss in their rights, but by then it is too late for the child.

When I am asked what I think about this commission or the state of Family Law in general, I always think about Prince.  Prince never had a chance in this system because his father intended on killing him.  His father wanted access, would cry on cue on the stand when talking about how much he missed his son, and his father effectively gamed our broken system.  Prince should have had a right to live.  He should have had a right to be happy, healthy, and safe.  Prince didn’t have those rights, but the court succeeded in making sure that Luc’s rights were never in jeopardy.

 

Nuke and pave Maryland.  If you want to fix it, start over and make Children’s Rights your foundation.

 

Child Soldiers

On March 24, 2013,  a Washington Post Editorial shed light on the ugly realities of Child Abuse in our country.  According to the Washington Post, experts estimate that more than 2,000 children die from abuse and neglect each year, with nearly 82 percent of victims being under the age of 4.  The Post then goes on to disclose a possibly even more disturbing comparison when it mentions that between 2001 and 2010 15,510 children were reported to have died from child abuse and neglect.  This number is 2 1/2 times the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

When I read the Post editorial, I stared at my computer in shock – completely hung up on these statistics.  Ironically, while I was reading the editorial, the national news was playing in the background.  The newscaster was discussing how careful we must be when we send our troops to war, and the tragedies that occur on the home front when a soldier doesn’t return.  My son was sent to war too, but it was a different war.  It was a domestic war that children are fighting every day.  Healthy mothers and fathers are forced to send their children to the battle lines of a disordered/crazy/abusive “co-parent” –  armed with nothing more than the hope that they will return unharmed.

The War:

I have spoken with many parents about Family Court, my beliefs when it comes to the system, and tips I learned the hard way.  When I describe Child Custody as a Custody War, I am not trying to be dramatic.  That is exactly what it is.  If you are faced with going to court for custody of your child, with someone whom you believe to have a personality disorder, it will not just be a battle it will be a full on war.  These individuals need to feel as if they win no matter what happens and they will continue the battles until the war is won to their satisfaction.  The reality is – this war could very well last 18 years.  It will be ugly, your child will likely suffer as a result, and the court will inevitably not put the child’s needs first – ever.

Difficult Questions:

Not every custody situation needs to turn into a war.  While I understand first hand how emotions can run high when it comes to your child, it is in the best interest of your child to step back and try to look at the situation with the most objective eye possible.  Before entering into a war, I suggest asking yourself the most important question every parent should ask themselves in a situation like this:  “Will my child’s parent physically harm my child – intentionally or by neglecting the child’s immediate needs?”

 

Honest Answers:  

If the answer to the above question is “yes”, you need to find the most intelligent/aggressive attorney you can afford, dig your heels in, and prepare for an all out Custody War.  Your child deserves to be protected and deserves the healthiest life you can possibly provide them.  If the unthinkable happens to you, as it did to me, you will need to know that you did everything in your power to save your child or else you will blame yourself forever.

If, however, the honest answer is “no” then you need to think hard about what is making you uncomfortable about the other parent.  The hard reality is that the world is full of terribly immoral jerks.  Your child’s father or mother might just be one of them.  Your child will run into a lot of jerks in his/her life and you will not be able to shield them from these deplorable people forever.  Trust me when I tell you that if the other parent is a scumbag, your child will probably realize this before you need to even utter a word.

One of my readers told me about something her young daughter recently said after coming home from a visit with her father.  (Note: the child is about four years old)  The child wisely said, “Mama, I don’t think Daddy is a very good person.  He lies a lot.”  The woman was shocked (and a bit worried) as she had worked very hard to make sure her daughter never heard her speak negatively about the father.  While the father would without a doubt blame parental alienation for his daughter’s statements, the reality of the situation is that this child is just perceptive.  Children can spot bad sometimes sooner than adults can.  Prince hated evil.  He was always able to spot it and it didn’t take me having to tell him.  In fact, he wouldn’t have understood me even if I had tried.

Little Soldiers:

Possibly the most painful part of any Custody War is the days when you will have to send your child to someone you wouldn’t even hire to be your daycare provider.  Even worse, the constant reminder that you had a child with this person and will be battling this monster for 18 years.  No matter how awful it feels to constantly drag yourself into court day after day, turn most or all of your salary over to attorneys, and face legal abuse every single day – your child is the real soldier.  Your child will be on the front lines of this war and you will not always be there to protect him/her.

I wish there were something I could say – some advice that I could give on how you could prepare your child with some sort of weapon for protection.  The only weapons there are in this fight are the weapons of love and hope.  I will never forget the last time I saw my son.  As I placed him in the supervisor’s car, I kissed him on the face, hugged him tight, and told him how much I loved him.  I armed him with love that day.  It was all I had to give him.  There are days when I am angry at myself – wishing that I could have armed him with more.  In the end, however, I know that at least my son knew real love in his 15 months of life.  My son knew that day how much his Mommy loved him.  That is what I hold onto when I am so angry and full of rage at the outcome of my Custody War.

I had hoped and prayed that I would be able to give Prince more, but that is all I had – love and hope.  I now fight every day to make sure that your children are armed with more than mine was.  In order to make children safe, we need to stop making them soldiers and stop sending them to the front lines of battle.  We need to change the minds of those who feel the need to send them – the courts.

Prince was a brave soldier.  I am a proud Mama knowing that even after he is gone, he will fight to protect those who will stand on the front lines after him.  I will fight to make sure of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Frog Is Still A Frog – Even After The Kiss

Back in the early 1980′s when I was more of a Cappuccino Princess than a Cappuccino Queen, I remember watching fairy tales on VHS tapes (yes, I am that old).  My parents would bring home a new fairy tale on what seemed like a weekly basis.  I would watch stories about pretty Princess’ turning frogs into Prince’s with a kiss, Prince’s bringing back Princess’ from the death curse of an apple, and beastly creatures who were really good on the inside –  if only the right woman came around to turn them into a handsome Prince.

As a parent, you might not think your child really believes this stuff.  I was a believer, and if your child is anything like I was – she believes it too.  I remember being five years old, looking at a frog, and actually wondering if that frog was really a Prince waiting to be kissed.  As I grew older, of course I knew they were all just fairy tales; however, some of the lessons and the hope from those stories still remained.  I believed that there was good in everyone, and was determined to find the good in even the beastly, dirty frog.

 

When I grew up, I found a frog.  He presented himself as charming frog, he tried to clean up well, and even said many of the right things; however, he was still just a frog.  When I started to see poor behavior from the frog, I said to myself, ‘he is really good inside – he must be because everyone is good deep down.’  It took me a little over a year to realize that this frog wasn’t turning into a Prince – this frog would stay a dirty, nasty, and evil little slippery frog…even after I kissed him.

 

 

How Psychopaths Use Fairy Tales:

When I met Luc, he made a point to tell me I was the first person he felt so strongly about that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me.  When he proposed, he told me it was the first time he had proposed.  I later learned that I was at least the third girl who had been told that same story.  (One of the three of us didn’t survive the relationship)  Why did he tell me that?  He told me that because he wanted me to believe that I was the woman who would turn him from the beast into the “good guy”.

 

About eight months into the relationship, just after I found out I was pregnant with my son, Luc described a scenario where he had treated the woman before me horribly.  After listening to the story, I was scared.  I wondered how this man, whom I had wanted to believe was good deep down, could have treated someone that way.  He tried to explain that it was the woman who was abusive toward him, and that was why he didn’t respect her.  (Of course, always someone else’s fault)  His son was sitting in the back seat of the car during this conversation.  After listening to his father talk about treating this woman poorly, his son said, “would you do the same thing to Hera that you did to her?”  Luc began to yell at his son saying, “How could you say that!?  Of course not!”  His son said that to his father because he had seen it happen over and over again.  He knew it would eventually also happen to me.

 

 

You Had A Child With The Beast – Now What?

I had no delusions that keeping Prince safe would be easy, and I knew raising him to be that good man I knew he could be would be met with challenges (because his father was a beast).  Recently, a mother asked me my advice about how she should handle the fact that her son was being conned by his father.  This is a great question and one I gave a lot of thought to when I was planning for Prince to live a long and happy life.  On one hand, one of the best case scenarios would be for the psychopath to show your child the “good side” and attempt to make him believe he is good (as the alternative is evil abuser).  That being said, every protective mother knows that this facade cannot last.  It is a normal concern to worry about the day when the mask drops and your child is devistated, or worse – injured or killed.

I don’t have all the answers and, sadly, Prince didn’t live long enough for me to have to shield him from the lies of his con man father.  What I believed I would do, however, is never lie to my son.  I would always tell my son the truth even if that meant exposing his father’s lies.  For example, I imagined my son would come home telling me about how his father was going to be opening for a major musician in a concert.  Then, he would likely have asked me if I remembered a time when I saw his father in concert.  At this point, I would say to my son, “I have never seen your father in concert.  To my knowledge, he has never been the opening act for any major artists.  I am not sure why he would tell you that, but if you would like to go see him in concert – I will buy tickets and you can surprise him.”  I would never have made excuses for Luc’s poor behavior and I would never allow Prince to believe something that wasn’t true – especially if he asked for my verification of the truth.

 

 

Lessons for my children:

 

I am not suggesting taking the magic out of childhood.  By all means, I will tell my children about Santa Claus and encourage them to put their teeth under their pillow for the tooth fairy.  I will, however, make sure my children have the best chance in life, and grow up understanding that not all people are good people and that people don’t just change because you love them  or because you “kiss them”.  We will watch fairy tales together and we will talk about the real lessons in life.  I will tell my daughter to watch how the man (or frog) treats his mother, sisters, and previous girlfriends.  If he is slimy and terrible to those women, he will do the same thing to you.

Prince was only 15 months when he died.  While I did a lot of talking to him, I never got the chance to teach him life’s lessons.  If I had, I would have told him not to be a frog – but to be a true Prince.  I would have explained to him how important it is to just be a good guy – no scamming, conning, or cheating – just a good guy.  If he was a good guy, he would find his princess.

 

The other day I went to see the movie “Oz the Great and Powerful”.  There was a five year old little girl sitting behind me with her mother.  For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, the bottom line is that Oz is a con man through and through. At a point in the movie, the little girl yelled out, “I told you Mama!  I told you Oz was really a good guy!”  For the little girl, her faith in humanity was restored through another fairy tale.  For Cappuccino Queen, it was another example of a little girl who was being “set up” to believe that one day she would have the power to make a bad man into a good one.

 

Unrealistic Expectations

I couldn’t stop shaking.  I knew that every word coming out of my mouth would likely not make any sense.  This was the last time I would testify in an attempt to save my son’s life.  As I walked to the stand, I felt as if my legs would buckle beneath me.  Judge Algeo watched me closely and I knew this was going to have to be the show of my life.  Sadly, no matter how much I tried to “keep my emotions in check” as I had been coached many times by my attorneys – this was my son I was fighting for and I couldn’t shut off my maternal instincts.  I hadn’t eaten in a week, hadn’t slept in days, and probably should have been on some sort of anti-depressant medication (if, in fact, there are meds that can help a mother not feel as terrified as I felt in that moment).

My testimony went by in a blur.  Everything I had planned to say didn’t come out right.  I begged Judge Algeo to wait until Prince was old enough to speak before he would consider unsupervised  visits.  As I sat there terrified and shaking, Luc sat back and smirked.  He knew he had checked all of the boxes (or at least lied his way through the court’s tests) and he appeared to enjoy my very visible pain.  Prudence Upton, Luc’s very aggressive attorney, seemed to also enjoy my suffering.  She spent a considerable amount of time chastising me for not making plans for Luc to spend time with Prince at chuck -e- cheese on his first birthday.  I remember thinking to myself, ‘seriously woman?  You are worried about chuck-e-cheese and I am worried about my son living to see his second birthday.’

Unfortunately it appeared as though Chuck-e-cheese was a bigger deal than I thought it was.  Judge Algeo and Prudence seemed to expect that it was my job that week to make sure that Luc didn’t have to lift a finger in order to spend time with his son.  I was supposed to contact the supervisor and request more time, plan for a party that Luc would enjoy, and make sure everything was rolled out on a red carpet.  Luc never lifted a finger nor requested extra time outside of court.  That day, however, Luc was the calm and collected father who could shed a controlled tear on the stand and I was the mother who had been painted as a basket case – a scorned woman – and over dramatic.

 

A reflection of myself:

 

A couple of nights ago, I received a frantic phone call from a mother who is going through a terrifying custody case with an abusive (soon to be ex) husband.  She has a two year old son whom she is fighting for.  As I spoke to her on the phone, I thought to myself, ‘this woman sounds like a basket case.’  After our conversation was over,  however, I realized that I may as well have just been speaking to myself  about seven months ago.  This woman had a right to be frantic – act crazy – be terrified – or whatever emotion her body allowed her to have.  She was in the fight of her life struggling through a thankless and helpless system that fully intended on harming her son for the sake of “parental rights”.

 

To give you some background, the father in this case had assaulted this two year old boy and this abuse was documented by Child Protective Services.  In fact, the CPS worker came into court to testify in the hearing when this mother tried to get a protective order against the father for her son.  After hearing the testimony of the abuse, the judge denied the protective order calling the bruises found on the boy “merely negligence” vice abuse.  The judge admitted that he called it “negligence” because he did not want to end all visitation.  This judge chose to  protect the father over this two year old little boy.

 

Upon hearing that the protective order for her son was denied, and visits with the abusive father would begin, this mother broke down crying in the courtroom.  The judge reportedly called her out publicly and told her to “put on [her] game face.”  He continued to tell her that he was watching her every move and that this sort of “behavior” would be used against her in his future rulings.

 

Unrealistic expectations:

Ever since I have gone through my own Custody War, I have learned many tough lessons.  One of the toughest lessons that I have learned is that the courts have turned into a war zone.  In this war zone, women are expected to stop being mothers who worry about their children.  In fact, showing fear in the courtroom could be one of the very things that will label you as a “parental alienator”.  We are supposed to forget about having been abused, turn our children over to men we know have abused and will abuse again, and we are supposed to do all of this enthusiastically and with a smile on our faces.

 

To expect a woman who has lived through the chaos created by a psychopath to “remain calm” in family court as the abuse continues, and while she is trying to protect her innocent child, is asking her to leave her humanity at the door.  Any woman who could walk into family court when the stakes are that high and remain calm – I would question her mental state.  I have heard that the family court used to be slanted toward women.  I sure wish I had been going through the system at that time. When I went through, I experienced what seemed like a war on motherhood.  I was told I wasn’t allowed to be a mother to my son, but that I was required to make sure that Luc could be his father despite what he had done that proved he was not capable of being a real father.

 

As absurd as it sounds, I am still waiting for the day when I get a call from my family attorneys telling me that Judge Algeo has requested that I provide Luc with some time to visit Prince’s grave.  I can also imagine that in this same phone call I would be asked to provide Luc with a car, since he doesn’t have one, and a packed lunch for the long trip.  Some of you might be thinking that sounds absurd, but not as absurd as the moment when I stood over my son’s dying body listening to nurses discuss how they wanted to create a hospital “visitation schedule” for the man who had just murdered my son.

While nurses were discussing allowing this man to visit, I was told that if I said a word to Luc that I would be taken to a psychiatric ward and kept away from my son in his final hours.  That – ladies and gentlemen – is the state of our society.

Domestic Abuse – Stupidity does not unite us

A few days ago I wrote about something I like to call Non-Traditional Domestic Violence.  Since I wrote that post, I have received several emails from women who have lived through all kinds of horrifying abuse at the hands of likely sociopathic men.  I wanted to share some of the experiences of these strong women with my readers.  When I was living through the abuse, I felt very alone.  Even though I had friends and family living near me, I didn’t think anyone would understand what I was going through.  I was not even sure how I would begin to explain why I spent so much time crying.

One of the things people wonder about me is why I write.  Let me clear this up for the record.  I do not write out of vengeance.  While I know that Luc (and likely his old man housemate too) are reading every single word I write, this blog is not for them.  It is also not to try to change the minds of those who don’t believe psychopathy exists.  I write for the mothers (and fathers) who will one day be in family court trying to protect their children, for the man or woman who falls in love with someone who doesn’t exist (a con), for the judges who care about saving kids, for the lawyers who will represent a victim of domestic abuse, for the men and women living through abusive relationships, and most of all – for my son.  I want people to know what happened.  I promised him that I would see to it that his life will is not forgotten and that I will fight for justice.

It’s unfortunate that my son’s story began with his mother’s horribly abusive relationship.  Though its not pretty, it’s important to tell this part of the story.  For all the women who have had the strength to write down their story – me and my baby send you hugs.  Here are a few that I have heard:

1) ” …I found out I was having twins.  My pregnancy was lonely.  He wouldn’t touch me, he wouldn’t speak to me.  He treated me like a test tube only making sure that I had enough nutrition to keep the babies healthy.  I developed pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and was put on bed rest.  While in the bathroom, I collapsed from a pain in my back.  My mother and I tried calling “J” (the sociopath) all night and into the morning.  He did not answer.  I was in the hospital for five days and my boys were in the NICU for 3 weeks.  I was there with them every single day and most nights too.  “J” was not there.”

2) ” …he would tell me that he was going to China to buy a woman whom he would bring back home to raise his sons.  He said a stranger could do a better job that I could.  He called me a “negligent cunt” when he discovered a diaper rash on the baby and he threw dirty diapers at me.  He asked me to leave the house so he could have a prostitute come over.  He would lock the car seats in his car and sleep on the keys so I couldn’t escape with the babies.”

3)  “He stopped letting me sleep at nights.  He would stay up late playing video games and would come into the bedroom periodically doing something idiotic like yelling at me just to wake me up….or he would shove me out of bed and I would end up down on the couch.”

(Note:  At the risk of being a little controversial here, if your boyfriend/husband plays violent video games ALL day and ALL night….to the degree that it impairs his ability to get a job or socialize with others…this is a HUGE red flag.  Luc did this – I should have left when I realized this was a problem.)

4)  “After a year of abuse…I started planning.  I met with a lawyer and I started telling my friends about the abuse (I had previously kept it a secret).  One night, when I knew he would be away – I left.  I had 13 friends and family show up with a moving van.  An aunt took the children and the rest of us packed anything we could for as long as my nerves would hold me at that house.  Then – I left.”

5)  “After he pushed me into a wall, punched me in the stomach (post pregnancy while holding my 3 month old son), and tried to kick in my front door, I gave up and tried to get him to stay away from me and my son.  I finally realized that this was not the kind of man my son needed in his life.  He fought me for custody.  At first it was supervised, but now its unsupervised.  I refused – now we are going back to court because I violated the court order.”

6)  “My ex husband poured scalding water on my face because he was upset with his finances and because I wouldn’t allow him to leave the country with our son.”

7)  “For nine hours, he held me hostage in his apartment, violently assaulted me, suffocated me with a body pillow…he didn’t allow me to use the bathroom.  When I finally told him that I would pee on his floor, he allowed me to go to the bathroom.  While I was using the bathroom, he took pictures of me.  He then told me he would use these pictures to embarrass me.  He did – he sent them to my father’s work e-mail address.”

8)  “I’ve seen the scariest man I have ever met walk into a court room with his head bowed, hands clasped, voice low and one tear on his cheek.  This has only made him more frightening.  I know…how it feels to lose a child.  To lose a child due to another’s complete lack of empathy and, in fact, humanity.”

9)  “…now he has started to emotionally abuse our son.  Every time my five year old son has to go to a court ordered visit, he says ‘please Mommy I will listen, now can I stay at your house?  Please, I don’t want to go to any sleeps at Dad’s.”

10)  “When I finally got the courage to leave him, he held me at gun point.  He told me that I would leave one of two ways – by jumping out of the window or in a body bag after he shot me.”

 

These stories are horrifying, but sadly they are not as uncommon as we would all like to believe.  I have heard the statistic that only four percent of the male population is considered a psychopath.  I wonder, however, how many more have gone undiagnosed and how many people are “on the spectrum” and, while not killers, are still abusive and dangerous.

The women who have shared their stories with me are all pretty, smart, and educated.  They are someone’s daughter, sister, cousin, friend…

Abuse can happen to anyone.  Stupidity is not at all a unifying characteristic for women who have been in abusive relationships.

 

Hold Fast

In the past few weeks, I have received many more emails from women (no men yet) who are facing what seems like impossible situations with the father of their child/children.  Given what has happened to Prince, it has been hard for me to find the words to advise others who find themselves in similarly horrifying situations.  I fought through an impossible situation for 15 months, but even though I gave it my best shot – it didn’t end well for me and Prince.  My baby boy died during one of the first times he ever spent alone with his father.

While to many my story is uniquely horrifying, I have come to find that it isn’t as unique as it should be.  Sometimes after reading similar stories over and over, I start to think as if there is some playbook of psychopathy that all these crazy men are reading.  I say this because even though we are all different in some ways, some of the terrible things these men do are sickeningly similar.

Many people love to judge women for falling for psychopaths, but I am here to tell you that none of these men are going to walk up to you – punch you in the face – and then ask for a second date.  Most women who end up in abusive relationships (be it physical, emotional, or a combination of both) can’t even understand how they ended up in the situation when its all over.  The burning question on many of my reader’s minds is this: what do you do once you realize that you have been sleeping next to a monster and you now share a child?  The unfortunate reality is that you only have a few options and none of them are good.

1)  RUN:  If you realize the man is a monster early enough, the safest option is to back away slowly toward the door.  As soon as you get through the door safely, run as far and as fast as you can and make sure you hide in a place where he cannot find you.  If however, you have already entered into a Custody War with this person, this may not be a legal option.  (Note:  Even though it wouldn’t have been legal, I still wish I had chosen this option in order to protect my son.  Hindsight is always 20/20)

2)  FIGHT:  Once you find yourself in court with one of these monsters, you don’t have the option to stop.  By that, I don’t mean that you should get emotional and fight with your words or your fists.  If you truly believe this man is dangerous (gun carrying, serial killer, drug user, mentally disordered, gang banging, or whatever else evil you can imagine) type, you can try and fight if you choose not to run.  Most attorneys will not be prepared for the kind of crazy you are going to tell them, so start by contacting a local domestic violence group.  They can give you free legal advice and refer you to an attorney who knows how to deal with psychopathy.  If you choose this option, buckle down and get ready for a terrible experience.  Family court is never fun and games and this is especially the case when you enter into court with a pathological criminal psychopath.

3)  PRAY:  If the first two are not viable options, sometimes all you can do is be the best parent you can be to your child and pray for them when they are with the disordered parent.  The unfortunate reality is that in most situations, family court will not choose to protect your child if that means limiting the parental rights of the disordered parent.  (Yes, this is crazy – but true)  So if you have already considered the first two options, or have tried them and failed, your best bet might be to just be a good mom.  Your child will need you to be emotionally healthy so that you can help them weather the storm of the disordered parent.  (Note:  At the point where I ran out of money and my attorneys would not file an emergency order, I tried this – it clearly didn’t work)

Psychopaths do not play by normal rules.  You will find yourself playing a crazy and disordered game of chess with someone who might very well end up blowing up the chess board.  There are many things I am proud of in my life -my son is one of them.  I am not, however, proud of how many nights I spent stressed out over things I could not control.  I would give anything to go back and rewind time so that I could try all over again to save my son.  I would fight for him every single day and for the rest of my life.  I don’t have that option now, but many of you do.

Hold Fast

I come from a long line of strong people.  My Scottish roots can be traced back hundreds of years.  I am from the Clan McLeod.  My son is a McLeod.  When my son passed away, my father told me a story about how long ago when our family was still living in the highlands of Scotland there was a horrible tragedy.  The rival clan had gathered around the McLeod church and burned all of them alive inside.  Entire families were killed -women, men, children.  The only people who survived were the ones who happened to not be there that Sunday.

If my family members who had survived had not moved on with their lives, I would not be here.  They lived through a terrible situation and made sure to thrive in spite of it all.  Our family motto is “Hold Fast”.  This could mean many things, but to me it means sticking to who you are, protecting your family, and fighting for Justice.

So my advise to other parents who are living the nightmare that I have been living the past several years (since I met the devil himself), is to hold fast.  It is your job to protect your child in any way you can - even if that means just being the strong and healthy rock they can come home to after surviving the chaos.  For those of you, like me, who have lost a child (my unnatural or natural causes), you are still their parent and you must still hold fast in the fight to protect their memory and their legacy.