“Maria” – My Story
Ottawa County, Michigan
When I was 34 years-old I became pregnant with the first of our two children. When we first met and were friends, my partner did not smoke, drink, or do drugs. Soon after our son was born, my partner became aggressive and began to drink more and more heavily. As time went on, the severity of his drinking and anger escalated until he became physically abusive and mentally unstable.
About six months after our son’s birth, while I was pregnant with our second child, their father locked me in a bedroom and kidnapped our son. He fled with our infant son to some woods where he hid until the police were able to find and arrest him.
Over the next fifteen years, their father chose to see our children only five times. He never consistently paid child support, and was incarcerated five times for failure to pay child support. All along their father had stable finances, but simply didn’t pay despite the court establishing low payments. By the time our children were teenagers, he continued to refuse to make regular payments resulting in over $65,000 in back child support payments.
When the attorney general’s office subpoenaed a large check from their father for the arrears, he petitioned the court for visitation with children he hadn’t seen, or expressed interest in, for over fifteen years. The children’s psychologist recommended supervised visitation for the father because the father was in essence “a stranger to them.” Judge VanAllsburg disregarded the doctor’s recommendation, and gave their father unsupervised visitation every other weekend.
After a year and a half of sporadic visitation, and another year and a half of not showing up at all, their father petitioned the court for temporary physical custody of my 17 year-old daughter. The petition was granted, in private, between Judge Van Allsburg and their father’s attorney.
Over the next year, her father provided my daughter with alcohol and pot. Once she moved in, her father became violent and abusive toward her. After my daughter graduated and left for her first semester of college, he lied and told her he was dying of cancer. He even manipulated my daughter to drop out of school and move in with him.
Before my children’s father was in their lives, my children were happy, stable, and well-adjusted. Because of the severe abandonment, rejection, drugs, alcohol, and abuse their father brought into their lives, my children have suffered both emotionally and physically. Much of this could have been stopped if the court had ordered what reasonable, and in the best interests of my children.