I am a special education teacher. The public school system of Virginia has entrusted me to teach and care for their children, yet the court system has essentially stripped me of the ability to raise my own daughter. While it has been determined that both of my daughter’s parents are loving and fit, I have been handed down a 15 -year sentence, which has essentially violated my 1st, 6th and 14th amendment rights and denied us our pursuit of happiness. I have been made a spectator in the life of my child and my only crime is the failure of my marriage.
Marriages fail everyday. In fact as we all know more than half of first & second marriages fail. The pain of such a loss is only compounded when child custody enters the judicial arena. The stakes are high and the gloves come off. Custody cases are not about the best interest of the children. They are about winning at all costs, stripping one parent of their involvement with their child. Forever providing the so-called winning parent with malevolent control over the losing party, via access to the children and ability to have the other party incarcerated. Too often divorced parties are disgruntled and the children become pawns by which to punish a former spouse.
The children should not suffer the loss of a parent because an adult relationship fails. Children have a right to loving relationships with both of their parents. The courts must refrain from vilifying one parent while placing blind faith in the other. The right to raise a child should be constitutionally protected. The courts should not so invasively determine that a child should be stripped of one of their parents. My child is devastated daily due to the constraints of our court order and if I want to keep my daughter in my life I am forced to abandon any hopes of establishing tenure in my career or pursuing an advanced degree, as I am forced to follow my ex-husband’s military career if I want to stay in my daughter’s life.
Currently, I see my daughter four days a month. That is 26 days she goes without her mother. 26 days with no kisses no hugs, no guidance, no nurturing, and no bedtime stories from her mother that lives 3 miles down the road. I am stripped of any decision making with regard to her schooling or medical care. I am constantly barred from even speaking to her. All for the crime of a failed marriage. I had to leave my marriage for the safety of my daughter and only when all measure to rectify had been exhausted. For this I am condemned. I have been stripped of the right held most precious to me. The right to raise my daughter. Unfortunately, I am not the only one who must bear this cruel sentence. My daughter has been denied her mother, not to mention the whole maternal side of her family. These sentences were handed out based on outrageous, manufactured claims, with no facts or evidence required. The ruling has been applied in a manner designed to fit the fancy of the judge rather than any standard of law. I am an outstanding mother dedicated to my daughter. Four days a month is not enough time to be an active involved parent. I need more time. My daughter needs more time. She deserves to be nurtured by her irreplaceable Mami.
The system is broken and in desperate need of reform. Good parents must have the right to raise their children. All custody orders must begin with the assumption of equal time for both parents. The courts must commit themselves to a process, which truly works to serve the best interest of the children and the families. At present the courts operate in a system of bias and greed, that goes unregulated and that violates the rights of American citizens daily. Parents battle it out until one or the other is financially and emotionally bankrupt and no matter how unjust the outcome, they are left with little to no recourse. The courts are propagating and then profiting from the emotional devastation of the family. The court’s prejudice is forcing my precious innocent little girl to grow up in a war zone, used as a pawn by her father and denied her mother. I have a right to a relationship with my daughter. She has a right to know her mother.
I am asking, pleading, and begging you, to do what it takes to make my daughter’s life better, take drastic measures to restructure the court system, which has failed the American family.
I am asking you leave this broken system behind. Devise a means of truly working for the best interest of the children and families. If not you, than whom will stand up for the children who have a right to both of their parents and for the parents to whom the children are the whole world?