Thursday, December 21, 2017

Good Mothers Do not Lose Custody of Their Children

   Old ideas about divorce and child custody shattered when I attended the annual Battered Mothers Custody Conference, where I spent a weekend with over 200 non-Custodial Protective Parents (mostly mothers) and Custodial Protective parents (again, mostly mothers) who through their efforts to protect their children, either lost custody of their children or live under the constant threat of losing custody of them to the abuser. 
   Many of the protective mothers I met are members of churches across the nation. I met non-custodial protective mothers who told me they how they long to fit in and just be a normal mom like the other mom's at church, but in addition to the horrific details of their lives, feel they cannot even attend their fellowship's MOPS group for mom's because of the stigma and shame attached to being a mother who lost custody of her children.
   The old stereotype persists
that good mothers do not lose custody of their children.
   But this is simply not true. And it is past time for Christians to educate themselves as to what is happening within the United States family court systems.
   As we strive to be light and salt to those within our spheres of influence, as we strive to be obedient to the command to "Bear one another's burdens" let's be aware of the protective mothers in our midst, who may or may not (as yet) have lost custody of their children. And let us begin to lovingly support these parents as they struggle with a horrendous reality that is incomprehensible to most of us. Sometimes that can be costly in terms of emotional investment, time, and even money. To their credit, one church in Central Florida, went so far as to pay the legal fees for one battered mother to regain custody of her children from their abusive father. 
   This church was not complementarian, so had no issues with supporting a mother wife who refused to be "submissive" and divorced an abusive husband. Refusal of male-headship churches to respond when possible victims of domestic abuse are identified is both a contributing and exacerbating factor in abuse and subsequent child custody issues  among church members.
   In cases of divorce, most loving fathers agree that children (especially babies and small children) need their mothers. A child's first primary relationship is usually with its mother. Although a protective parent can be either a mother or a father, it is usually the mother. If a mother is abusive, this writer agrees that a loving father should be granted custody, but the sad fact is, that many (probably the majority) of the fathers who sue for custody, are abusers of both their wives and children. In attempting to protect their child[ren] from abuse or sexual molestation, protective mothers risk being called liars and experiencing retaliation [or the threat of retaliation] by the family court system, in being accused of parental alienation (PAS) and of having their child/children ripped from them [often despite overwhelming evidence substantiating the abuse] and placed in the home of the abuser. 
   Family courts operate outside the criminal justice system. The two systems operate under completely different and unequal standards of investigating reports of abuse. This often results in evidence of criminal acts not ever being report to or being investigated by the police (only investigated by "case-workers" and "guardian ad litem's"). It is common, the family court system, for criminal acts never being brought to prosecution. 
   Additionally, protective mothers who report crimes against their children [by the abusive parent] often find they are ones penalized by having to endure the additional heartache and stigma of being granted only supervised visits with their children, in some cases not even being allowed to touch them during the visits.
   Can you imagine, no hugs allowed
   Some mothers lose relationships with their children altogether because of unjust custody rulings and the stiff protocol that comes with many supervised visit rulings. Children are robbed of close loving relationship with a loving parent--often their only loving parent. This is beyond crime. It is pure evil.
   And this is happening
   Good mothers do lose custody of their children. And they attend our churches. Visit the links in this post for more information about the family court holocaust that has been devastating American families for decades.

Protective mothers who read this, we ask that you comment to this post with suggestions as to how we can give you the support you need. What is it that you need most from your friends and family in Christ?

2 comments:

Adele said...

The ex kidnapped all my four children. Daughter came back to me 7 years later. I sometimes wonder why. Although I finished raising her, she has turned against me. They were all raised with anger and fear and many lies. Churches still alienate me.

Jocelyn Andersen said...

Your story is tragic and all too common. This must change, and I am praying it will change.