Don’t let the obstructionists chase you away!
There’s a lesson that can be learned from the case of B.D.C., a child in Georgia. In the 1980s, B.D.C.’s mother got custody of the child. Together, with her parents, they obstructed the father’s access to the child. When the father left messages on the answering machine, the child never got the messages. The grandparents used a number of devices to block the father’s access to the child. Or so claimed the father.
On August 3, 1985, B.D.C.’s mother died. Immediately, there was a fight between the father and the grandparents for custody of the child. The grandparents were quick to point out that the father had lapsed in paying child support and that he rarely visited the child. The father countered by saying that the grandparents were obstructionists, and he couldn’t afford to hire a lawyer to wage a legal battle against them.
When the case finally reached the Supreme Court of Georgia, the judges held that a “rational factfinder” could conclude that the father had abandoned the child and was thus not entitled to custody. The case of In re B.D.C., 350 S.E. 2d 444 (Ga. 1986) is not an isolated case. There are many cases in which parents are excluded from the child’s life by obstructionist parents or other family members. When they later attempt to obtain custody or visitation rights, they are accused of abandonment.
If you are a noncustodial parent confronted with obstructionist tactics, do not let the custodial parent or other family members chase you away and lock you out of the child’s life. Even if the situation is stressful and expensive to deal with, consult an attorney and think about challenging the obstructive tactics in court. It is better to stay in touch, consistently, with the child….certainly, if you are ever confronted with a situation like the father of B.D.C.