According to conventional wisdom, a Michigan father "did everything right" in his custody battle with an unstable ex-wife. Yet, he was the one who ended up getting supervised visitation until he finally -- out of desperation -- agreed to shared custody.
His daughter ended up the victim in a murder-suicide by his ex-wife. Now, all he hopes is that the attention on the tragic case will shed some light on the troubles divorced fathers can encounter when they are the victim of an abusive spouse who poses a danger to their children.
The Michigan father reported his ex-wife's acts of domestic violence against him. He warned Child Protective Services (CPS) workers that his ex-wife was mentally ill and abusing their daughter. He testified in court about the fact that his ex had two children from a different relationship removed from her care in the past because of her mental illness. He claimed that his ex needed treatment she was unable to get because of a lack of health coverage and was abusing prescription drugs from whatever source she could get them.
He said the reaction he got from police, CPS workers and the judge in his case was tepid, at best. They seemed to regard his allegations as something akin to "business as usual" in a custody case. In fact, the judge who heard his case is now suspended from the bench due to allegations of misconduct, tampering with evidence and lying in other, unrelated, cases -- but there are those who believe that the judge may have let her biases color her perception of the custody dispute. (She was going through a divorce of her own at the time.)
The experts say that one out of every seven men become domestic violence victims -- but their stories, if they tell them, are often treated with disdain in court.
If you're a father fighting for custody, don't lose hope. Take your situation to an experienced custody attorney as soon as you can and talk over your strategy.