American parents — some separated from their kids for years — are dumbfounded that their plight has been ignored while the media has focused on illegal immigrants separated from their children.
Interviews by The Daily Caller with parents from all over the U.S. found a silent epidemic of law-abiding parents with no history of neglect and abuse being removed from their children’s lives haphazardly.
Neil Shelton from Mount Airy, North Carolina, was once a wealthy entrepreneur who owned a nightclub, a limousine service, and bought and sold classic cars.
His divorce, which started in 2012, left him homeless and penniless at times, with his ex-wife getting everything, and he’s not seen either of his two children since Father’s Day 2012.
Shelton said he was subjected to a dubious restraining order that was granted despite no criminal or violent history.
The restraining order was used for an ex-parte hearing with a judge, who barred Shelton from seeing his kids; in 2016, a judge from another county threw out the restraining order, stating it should never have been approved, but the order barring Shelton from his kids remained.
Shelton said his divorce nightmare was caused by his ex-wife’s divorce attorney, Sarah Stevens, a powerful Republican state senator.
Shelton’s 2018 lawsuit against Stevens was quickly dismissed by Superior Court Judge Beecher Gray; in 2017, Stevens spearheaded a budget which made Gray one of four judges who received a raise.
A message left with Gray and the media relations department for North Carolina courts were left unreturned.
Stevens, in an email, disputed this narrative: “He (Shelton) has had visitation rights since the first court hearing. He knows that he can request further hearing upon meeting one condition and he has not.”
Shelton said he’s required to get a psychological evaluation for $7,000 with a psychologist of Stevens’ choosing; this condition was entered at a time when he was penniless.
The court even rejected, Shelton said, three psychological evaluations which were performed for free.
“That’s extortion,” Shelton said of being forced to get an evaluation to see his kids. “If President Trump truly wants to Drain the Swamp he should start with The NC Swamp Queen Sarah.”
Natalia Dalton of Alexandria, Virginia had a son with an ex-boyfriend in 2008 and for the first six years of his life she had physical custody.
When she started to notice her son acting aggressively returning from visits with his father in 2014, she went to court for help.
Rather than investigate the change in her son’s behavior, Dalton said, the court put her under the microscope.
In April 2014, at a status conference, her ex-boyfriend’s attorney, Donnie Colton, filed an emergency motion to switch custody because he claimed that Dalton had come to her son’s school barefoot.
Dalton denies this ever happened and she didn’t even attend the conference, but the motion was granted.
Dalton currently is only allowed two three-hour sessions per month, and she must pay $300 per session to see her son.
After her ex-boyfriend complained that Dalton was rude to a doctor, a court order forbade Dalton from communicating with doctors about her son.
Dalton then sent four emails after she became concerned about a change in medication.
Even though the doctor said medication was changed as a result of the emails, the judge, Alexandria Circuit Judge Lisa Kemler, sentenced her to five days in jail for violating a court order.
Kemler did not respond to an email for comment; Kemler was appointed in 2004 by then Governor Mark Warner and his press secretary, Rachel Cohen, did not respond to an email for comment.
Colton did not respond to an email for comment.
“I have this constant ache in my heart,” Dailton said. “I find myself crying more than usual because of how unfair (that) I can’t see my son.”
Distraught Parents and Grandparents
Rosa Dratsch has been helping her daughter fight for custody for the last four years.
Dratsch said her daughter once went six months with no contact and even now is only allowed to see her child four days per month.
In a recent Facebook post, Dratsch begged President Trump for help: “How about our children, Mr. President, who have been separated, for decades, from American fit loving tax paying parents, who have committed no crimes???” Dratsch said.
Julie Goffstein was featured in a March Daily Caller article; she has not seen four of her six children after a judge ruled that her practice of Orthodox Judaism was alienating her children’s father even though the entire family was observant during the marriage.
She found it ironic that psychologists say that separating migrant children from their parents traumatizing: “I’m fairly certain that children who do not have a mainstream education (and have a religious or homeschool education instead) are not traumatized for life. Contrary to the obvious short and long-term consequences of taking a mother away from young children!”
Tom Fidler currently has shared custody of his twins but said for three years courts refused to allow him to have any contact with them.
Because his ordeal, he started The Father’s Rights Movement and said he’s spoken with thousands of fathers who have similarly been erased from their children’s lives.
“I think immigrants should be allowed in more freely,” Fidler said. “I think what is happening to them is horrendous. It’s horrible.”
“It’s no less horrible then the mothers and fathers I have watched be destroyed by the unjust removal of their children from their lives.”
Stephen Thompson began his divorce in March 2017, and court orders were supposed to allow him regular contact with each of his four children.
Despite those court orders, from May 21 to Aug. 17, 2017, his ex-wife refused to allow him to see any of his four children, and he hasn’t seen his daughter at all since June 2017.
In November 2017, Thompson’s attorney filed a motion to enforce the court order, but the judge, Tulsa, Oklahoma Special District Judge J. Anthony Miller, has repeatedly postponed hearing it; it’s currently scheduled to be heard in August 2018.
Thompson said he is an avid soccer fan, but this year’s World Cup is bitter sweet: “Every four years, I religiously watch every game, and it’s been that way since I can remember, but this year has been different though. I had a partner who shared the same love for the sport and cheered for the same teams, it just made watching a lot more enjoyable, my daughter. I haven’t seen or spoken to her in over a year.”
A voicemail left with Miller’s clerk, Shana Grandstaff, was left unreturned. Thompson’s ex-wife is represented by Kameron Ritzhaupt, who did not respond to a message at her office.
Sunny Kelley and Susan Skipp have two of the most notorious custody cases in the history of Connecticut.
Even though both say they were the victims of domestic violence, each has not seen their children since 2012.
Skipp received physical custody of her two children but after going to court to enforce a child support order, a guardian-ad-litem named Mary Brigham entered an appearance and proceeded to file nearly forty motions, until Skipp was told to submit and pay for regular psychological sessions with a court ordered psychologist who would determine when she’d be fit to see her children.
“No one has ever accused her (Skipp) of abuse or neglect.”
In Kelley’s case, she said her son told her he was being molested at the beginning of her divorce, but the police refused to investigate, leaving it to the family court.
The judge, Linda Munro, appointed twelve court professionals — all from the same group the Association of Family and Conciliation Court (AFCC) — who determined Kelley was the problem parent even though Dr. Eli Newberger a leader in child molestation testified the allegations had merit.
One court professional noted “that mother’s conviction that (her son) had been abused by father had reached delusional proportions.”
Kelley was ordered, like Dalton, to pay for supervised visits; when she ran out of money — after spending more than $1 million — she could no longer see her son starting in March 2012.
Munro is now an attorney and did not respond to a voicemail at her office.
Brigham was involved in another notorious custody case, that of Angela Hickman.
Hickman’s ex-husband was convicted of domestic violence against her, but it was Hickman who lost custody and was erased from her sons’ lives in 2015 after she refused to do reunification therapy which would have put her in the same room with her abuser, her ex-husband.
Brigham represented her ex-husband; Brigham and Hickman did not respond to emails for comment.
Kelley said good parents are erased from their children’s lives due to greed: “Children living in safe homes with fit, loving parents do not generate billable hours or need services.” Kelley said. “Children placed in danger with unfit, violent parents are in perpetual distress, need constant services, and generate near-endless billable hours for unethical professional.”
Casualties of War
Yahya McClain is a former two-time cruiserweight world champion who was once married to Muhammad Ali’s daughter but said his toughest fight has been in court, trying see his son from another relationship.
McClain said the last time he saw his son was in January; this is one of several periods when he’s gone months at a time without seeing his son.
His battle with the courts inspired him to make the document, Casualties of War.
One interview was with Zahir Raheem, himself a former Olympian who became a title contender finishing his career at 35-3.
Like McClain, Raheem said his toughest fight was with the courts.
A short relationship produced a daughter, though his ex-girlfriend initially told him the daughter was someone else’s.
When a blood test revealed he was the father, his daughter lived with him.
Raheem said three days before a fight on ESPN, he found out his mother was arrested by the FBI and he was wanted for kidnapping his own daughter.
Raheem fought and won, before turning himself in.
“Even though I had the right lawyer and all the facts on my side, I still didn’t see my daughter for over a year,” Raheem said.
Ironically, he now has physical custody of the same daughter the FBI once accused him of kidnapping.
All the parents interviewed hope that the global media will finally take interest in their stories in the same way the media has sympathized with illegal aliens separated from their kids.