Story: Dear Congressman Boyd.
Thank you for taking the time to attend to this note. I am writing to you about an issue that affects me to the core of my being, which is also an issue that affects many parents and children in our country.
The issue is the lopsided manner in which custody and visitation rights are handled by the legal system throughout the country. At this writing, I have only seen my 2 young sons, aged 7 and 9, once in the last 3 weeks, and that is only because I went to their school and had lunch with them. I have visitation rights which state that I am to see them for up to two hours between the hours of 5:00pm and 8:00 any day during the work-week, that they spend the night with me Wednesdays, that they spend weekends with me every other weekend, and that they spend every other major holiday with me. Since our divorce in 2002, and even before our divorce going as far back as 1999, I have not spent a Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year's with them because she always manages to be out of town.
My ex-spouse continues to thwart my vistation rights by not showing up at appointed times, refusing to answer her home or cell phone, and accusing me of not giving our sons proper care as an excuse for not allowing me to see them. I was a good, loving and nurturing father to them while we were married and she has no reason to believe or even think that I would do anything to undermine the physical, spiritual, mental and emotional well-being of my sons. Whenever I comment on how difficult or impossible she makes it for me to see and visit my sons, she tells me to contact a lawyer (knowing I can't afford a lawyer, and am not eleigible for the free legal services available to her to use against me) if I'd like to modify or enforce the visitation order.
I don't want to put my sons in the middle of this struggle, and I never utter negative comments about their mother in their presence. But she repeatedly does or says things to them to try and alienate them from me. I am afraid that these periods in which she prolongs my lack of contact with them will eventually be used by her in an accusation that I have not attempted to see them or do not care to see them, or am not fighting hard enough to see them.
This is just a bit of what is going on with me. But I am not the only parent fighting in such a futile manner to see his/her children. There are no doubt many thousands of fathers in this state in this position, and even a small percentage of mothers fighting the same institutional bias backing up former spouses and partners. But the laws and the way they are administered seem very biased in favor of mothers with primary custody, and in fact rarely grant fathers primary custody in the first place. I would like to see more done to insure that non-custiodial parents have more involvement in their children's lives without the easy ability of the custodial parent to interfere.
And I want to see my children and not have to wait on their mother's good nature to kick in before my rights are acknowledged. She is depriving them of me as well as me of them. But she fails to see what harm she is doing to them.
If there is some help available to me which your office can provide, some guidance which will benefit me and my sons coming together more often as stated in the seemingly unenforceable visitation decree, please lead me in the way I should go.
Once again, thank you for your time and attention.