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Dying father says he was kept from daughter for a year

A father who is dying claims that his daughter's mother has intentionally kept him from seeing his daughter for over a year. The child is now 5 years old and the father and mother are divorced. The intense family law issue came into sharp public scrutiny recently when the mother was placed under arrest in Hettinger, North Dakota, and charged with unlawful parenting interference.

The mother has been released on $10,000 bond and agreed as conditions of her release to not contact her daughter, her ex-husband or his current wife. The father was told by doctors that he had Lou Gehrig's disease and was terminal, with only between two to five years to live. He informed his ex-wife of this in March of 2012, according to court records, and she told him she was taking their daughter out of town for two weeks.

In actuality, he asserts, she took the child and permanently moved away, keeping him from seeing the child. The mother, according to the currently pending charges, then directly told him that he would never again see his daughter and that she would not even remember him. The child was born after the couple got a divorce, and at first, the couple was reportedly cordial and they had joint custody.

It will be up to a court to determine whether the charges are true. It is unfortunate when parents choose to express animosity towards each other in a manner that uses children as fodder for their continuing disagreements. In the absence of abuse or other factors rendering a parent unfit, children need to know that both parents are still there for them, both love them and that they are not to blame for a divorce and continuing disagreements. Both parents typically have the right to be involved in their child's life and to have reasonable visitation if the child is not living with them. When a parent interferes with such visitation or with custody rights of another parent, an experienced family law attorney can take steps in court to enforce the other parent's rights.

The Bismarck Tribune, "Woman accused of keeping girl from dying father" No author given, Oct. 16, 2013

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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