Kidnapping and Sex Discrimination: Steps 1 and 2 to single motherhood
by, 22nd-March-2012 at 02:46 PM (1040 Views)
"...any person, including a natural or foster parent, who, knowing that he or she has no privilege to do so or heedless in that regard, takes or entices any child under the age of eighteen years from the custody or care of the child's parents, guardian, or other lawful custodian or person with parental responsibilities with respect to the child commits a class 5 felony."
(Colorado Revised Statutes 18-3-304)
"Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the
state of Colorado or any of its political subdivisions because of sex."
(Colorado Constitution, Article II, §29 (1973))
With these laws on the books, my son was taken out of Colorado to a remote location in Montana by his mother and her relatives in 1998, and I did not see him again for almost two years. No law enforcement, prosecutorial or judicial action was taken in either state to my continuing complaints that this was an abduction in progress.
In subsequent custody proceedings, which it took those two years to convene, the question of his mother seizing custody by criminal means and unilateral parental decision-making with no court order empowering her to do so was never allowed as an argument. The entire proceeding was premised on the notion that of course the mother would receive sole custody (which she already had seized and held illegally for two years) and no civil attorney would even agree to take my case were I to challenge this. Fifteen years of marriage, and over a year of fathering since his planned conception, bore no weight with anyone in terms of custody determination, and I was made to apply for the job of part-time father.
Much has happened since then. I have had some good time, hard-won in the courts, with my son, who was four months old when he was taken from his home and from his father. He has had a child's-eye view of a very ugly divorce since the beginning of his life, and it is very difficult to have a sound and trusting relationship between us with the wall of hatred and accusation hanging between his parents. Now, in his early teens, we barely talk. I don't blame him, though I wish he could see things from my point of view, but I also pray he will never have to.
But a decade and a half of both our lives, and his place in my large and widespread family, have been lived in a condition created by one parent seizing a child criminally, with the law failing to act in any capacity in response, then going on to endorse and underwrite that seizure with every subsequent decision. Instead of the years of fathering this boy that I can never give back to him, years of adventures and deer hunts and road trips and talking about girls and helping him in school, we are awkward acquaintances, and I have lived as a combination of part-time long-distance dad, sometime vagrant, debtor, litigant and defendant, under-employed and aging away from a once-thriving career, but also dad and stepdad to three girls in the meantime.
Now, I'm older, wiser (I hope), better-informed and -experienced in the law, and just now I have some time on my hands and the globe at my fingertips, and I mean to do something about it, not just for me and my son but for all the fathers and sons and daughters and grandparents and relatives who languish under this intolerable and enormous injustice. Despite laws in every US state prohibiting both parental abduction and gender discrimination, the tactic of taking children from their homes and denying them their fathers without legal authority is a standard starting point for court-ordered childhoods in single-mother homes, with all the attendant personal, social and economic consequences to generations of one-parent children.
It's time we made this right. Who wants to help?
My current focus is to draft national legislation for a standardized procedure by law enforcement and courts immediately following a complaint of parental abduction or wrongful removal, and I invite all comments, suggestions, stories and resources you may wish to share in this good fight.
(to be continued...)