In my family law practice I have noticed a disturbing trend. I have noticed that many mothers who get primary physical custody of their minor children through divorce will then set out to completely alienate those children from their father. It is done in sneaky ways. I’ll give a few examples.

Let’s say the mother has got primary physical child custody and the father has every-other-weekend visitation with the children. The mother might enroll the children in activities that take place on the father’s visitation weekend. So, does the father accomodate the plans made by the mother or does the father make plans contrary to those the mother has made? The children are caught in the middle and the father is in a difficult spot. The bottom line is that the mother is still exerting control of the children, even during the father’s weekend visitation, whichever choice the father makes. And, if the father does not allow the children to participate in the activities planned by the mother, then the mother will make him out to be the bad guy.

Or, the mother has primary physical child custody and she is obliged to notify the father of events that take place involving the children during her custody periods, the idea being the father can attend. School activities are a good example. The mother will fail to notify the father of these events. The mother then allows the children to believe the father just doesn’t care about their activities.

Or, the mother has primary physical child custody and the father has every other weekend visitation and a longer period of visitation during the children’s summer break from school. The father plans some super vacation for himself and the children during the summer visitation and the children are very enthusiastic.

Then, one week before they are all to leave on vacation, the children, in the custody of the mother, suddenly change their attitude and don’t want to go. The father ends up on the phone with the mother who is telling him the children don’t want to go on vacation with him. Does the father insist on the children going, or does he change his plans and scrap everything? Either way, the mother has control and, the father is either the bad guy or he loses out completely. (Most of the time when this happens, it turns out that the mother influenced the childrens’ attitude and changed their mind about going.)

Or, take this scenario. The father plans a trip to Disney World in Orlando, Fla. He has a condominium for his children and himself during their summer vacation. The children go with him to Orlando. The children and the father are at the supper table in the condominium and beef stew is served. The children refuse to eat it and ask for something else. The father is old-school and insists that the children eat what they’ve been served. (The mother fixes whatever the children want while they are at her house and will not make them eat, or even try, food they don’t want.)

So the children throw a fit at the supper table and the father send them to their room. Spoiled daughter grabs her spoiled-daughter-cell-phone and calls her mother. Does the mother tell her to suck-it-up, obey her father, and eat the beef stew. Oh no, of course not. The mother clucks her tongue in sympathy and gets the father on the phone and chews him out for being so cruel. Then the mother DEMANDS that the father return the children to her, immediately.

Does the father tell her to leave him and the children alone? If so, rest assured that the mother will be on the spoiled-daughter-cell-phone with the spoiled daughter during the rest of the trip, undermining the father’s attempts at discipline and ruining any chance the father had of making the vacation work out.

Does the father take the spoiled-daughter-cell-phone away from the spoiled daugther. Oh, Hell No! If he does, there will be a knock on the condominium door and the Orlando Police Department will be doing a “wellness” check on the children at the behest of the mother. Then, when the father gets back to Georgia with the children, the mother will drag him into superior court alleging that he mistreated the spoiled daughter during the vacation.

So, the father responds to any of the above scenarios by taking the mother to superior court with a contempt action because she’s interfering with his visitation. Believe me when I say that a superior court judge is likely to see such a case as a nuisance, hardly anything more. It is difficult to get a superior court judge to understand that the mother really is evil enough to intentionally interfere with and, in fact, is seeking to destroy the father’s relationship with his children. Sometimes the father gets significant relief in court through a contempt action, but the mother will just keep on doing such stuff as time wears on and, in some instances, her manipulation of the children over time will ultimately destroy the father’s realtionship with them.

I have met these men. I have worked with these men in contempt actions after divorce, fighting to preserve their relationship with their children. It is heartbreaking to witness the cruelty and the evil of the mothers who want to prevent these men from participating as father to their own children.

My best advices is as follows. If you are a man married to a mean-spirited, vindictive woman; or if you believe that the woman will use your children as a weapon to hurt you in the future; or if you simply believe that you are the better parent for the children, fight like hell during the divorce to get primary physical custody of your children. Don’t just lightly decide to give the mother primary physical custody of your children. You might live to regret that decision more than any decision you’ve ever made in your life.

So, men, don’t assume that the mother should have custody of the children after divorce. It just isn’t always so. It might cost you some money, and it won’t be fun, but if you fight hard enough and if you have a good attorney at your side, you just might end up with primary physical custody of your children after divorce. It is worth the effort.

Many citizens know that a man, through a paternity suit, can be obliged to pay child support for an illegitimate child he has fathered .  But, not so many people understand that even if a man is obliged to pay child support for an illegitimate child, he has no custodial rights to the child until and unless the child is legitimated.  The mother, on the other hand, has all the custody rights because she has the biological ability to give birth to the child.  Remember, the father must legitimate an illegitimate child before he has any custodial rights in the child.  That makes legitimation of an illegitimate child very important.

Why do I consider child custody cases to be some of the most important cases to be tried?  It is because the best adult of the two parents needs to raise the child in the event of divorce and only a good adult should participate in parenting a child under any circumstance. That’s why child custody cases are important.

A child’s future development can be enhanced or destroyed based on which adult raises the child or participates in the child’s parenting.  If a drug-addicted, promiscuous woman raises a child, then that child’s chances of having a healthy childhood will be substantially diminished.  The same, of course, is true for a child raised by a drug-addicted, irresponsible man.

A child will be an achiever or a loser, depending on what sort of adult raises the child.  The sex of that adult is pretty much irrelevant.

I have seen a lot of men who are involved in child custody cases choose to defer to the mother of the child when it comes to which of them gets to raise the child, say, after a divorce.  There are two reasons for that, in my experience.  One is that men generally have become so wussified by this society that they are not willing to scrap for the right to raise their child.  The other is some sort of misguided deference to the mother’s presumed better ability to raise the child.  Neither of these two reasons withstands scrutiny.

If you, as a man, feel you would be the better parent for the child, fight for the right to raise that child.  It will matter.  I’ve seen too many men whose children are raised by misfit women and the children end up being ignorant, ill-behaved, self-centered little brats and then worthless young adults.

Women tend to fight harder than men do for custody of their children and, because of that, they generally obtain custody of the children after divorce (although that is not necessarily true if I represent the man).  But, having said all that, I’ve seen many women who obtain or who already have custody of their child then allow a misfit man (the father)  to continue to play a major role in the child’s life, even when the man is so sorry he should be under the prison, not just in it.  I ask these women why and the answer is always something like, “Well, I think the child needs their father.”  And, I want to shout…”Not if the man is going to teach them nothing but how to be a complete loser!”

So, when it comes to child custody, each case must be judged on its own merits.  The fitness of a particular adult to parent a child or to participate in parenting a child must be appraised based on the character of the particular person.  There should be no presumptions or assumptions about whether or not an adult is suited to parent a child.

I have practiced a good bit in juvenile court in the state of Georgia, mostly in child deprivation cases.  Those are cases where the Deparment of Family and Children Services is petitioning the juvenile court judge to allow that department to keep a child in its custody, most often removing the child from the home and the child’s parents.  It is my conclusion that the juvenile courts in Georgia are the forum where the constituional rights of Georgia citizens are most at risk of being completely lost.

My experience has been that juvenile court judges, in deprivation cases instituted by the Deparment of Family and Children Services, grant the relief sought by the Department of Family and Children Services, approving the actions of the department, based on little or no evidence of deprivation.  In my opinion, there are two reasons for this.  The juvenile court judges would rather err on the side of protecting the child and the juvenile court judge will not be reversed on appeal as the Georgia Court of Appeals defers to the fact-finding of the juvenile court judge and will not reweigh the evidence presented in juvenile court or judge the credibility of witnesses who testified in juvenile court.

These two considerations result in children routinely being removed from their home in the state of Georgia on really flimsy grounds, to the detriment of the parental rights of the child’s parents, not to mention the parents’ constitutional right to due process and equal protection of the laws. The fact that the rulings of Georgia juvenile court judges are generally to be upheld on appeal results in the appellate court giving deference to the fact-finding of the juvenile court judge to a ridiculous degree.  For example, if a parent is on the witness stand in juvenile court testifying and trying to regain custody of their child, that parent need not get angry or upset while testifying.  The demeanor of the parent while testifying can actually serve as evidence which will support the juvenile court’s finding of deprivation if it is challenged on appeal.  So, what that means is if a parent becomes righteously indignant because the Department of Family and Children Services has taken custody of his or her child without good cause, and if that indignation shows through while that parent is testifying, the juvenile court judge can decide that this indignant behavior is evidence of psycholigical instability on the part of the testifying parent and can use that behavior itself to help reach a determination that the child is a deprived child.  This decision based on such, in my view, inappropriate evidence, will be upheld by the Georgia Court of Appeals if the juvenile court judge’s finding of deprivation is challenged on appeal.

So, the bottom line is….when you have to appear in juvenile court in the state of Georgia in a child deprivation action instituted by the Department of Family and Children Services, be aware that the cards are stacked against you from the beginning and be prepared to fight.  If you walk into that courtroom expecting fair and consitutional treatment, you’ll be badly, badly disappointed.