Fathers’ Rights Court victory: After hard-fought trial, judge gives custody of children to dad
In a case that involved the heartbreak of a mother’s illness and death, we fought and won in court to bring grief-stricken children back to their father. I’ll talk about this case on my weekly Chicago radio show, the Dads’ Rights Legal Hour, 9-10 a.m. CDT Saturday, Sept. 2 on Power 92.3 FM.
Dad has two children, a boy and a girl, ages 12 and 9. He and their mother were never married, but they had an informal agreement where Dad would have his children on alternate weekends, and he paid child support.
Tragically, the mother became gravely ill with a heart condition. She became unable to care for herself. Dad gave up seeing his children on alternate weekends, so they could spend as much time as possible with their mother during her remaining days – though he continued to maintain daily contact with them.
When the mother died, her relatives refused to turn over the children to their father! They filed for guardianship, and claimed the father was not involved in their children’s lives.
That’s when Dad called us for help and we fiercely litigated the case.
As the facts emerged, we learned that the children were reportedly being alienated from their father by their late mother’s relatives – that is, they were being told that their father is no good, he doesn’t care about them, he doesn’t love them. Of course, none of this was true.
The case went to trial, and over several days, the court heard testimony from many witnesses. When it was over, the judge ruled in Dad’s favor. We won! The mother’s relatives’ guardianship was denied. The court found the evidence “overwhelming” that the father was ready, willing and able to care for his children – and now they will be together, in Dad’s loving home.
This is a victory, modified for broadcast, in a battle I wish we didn’t have to fight. When a mother dies, the father, as the surviving parent, should get all parental rights, unless something disqualifies him. But fighting for fathers’ rights is what we do, and I think we did a great job for this dedicated dad.
This case reminds me of the Elian Gonzalez case years ago, in which I helped reunite Elian with his father in Cuba when his mother tragically drowned.
Also on the radio Saturday, I’ll talk about an important civil rights case. Cordale Handy, a Waukegan native, was shot and killed by two police officers in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2017. He was 29 at the time of his death.
Recently, a jury in Federal Court in Minnesota awarded $11.5 million to Handy’s family, including his mother, who has been grieving for six years.
The civil lawsuit against the City of St. Paul was tried by a close friend and colleague, and I congratulate him for bringing this recovery to the victim’s family.
According to police, Handy was shot while he was pointing a gun at a police officer. After the trial, one of the jurors told the newspaper in St. Paul that he was concerned that the autopsy didn’t match what the policemen had said.
It was an interesting case because this is one of the first times in the country that an officer has been held liable when it was not caught on tape – because it was the officers’ word against the witnesses’. This is a significant victory.
I don’t wish to criticize the police broadly. I’ve represented many police officers, and they work hard doing a difficult job. But there are times when we must fight for accountability. Hopefully this historic verdict will bring about the kind of reform that will save lives in the future.
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