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Children jailed over refusing visitation with estranged father

An unusual and highly controversial custody case has made headlines in Texas and across the nation. Many parents are outraged after a judge made the decision to incarcerate three minor children after they refused to go through with a scheduled visitation with their estranged father. None of the children, ages 15, 10 and 9, have broken any law, yet they are being housed with juvenile offenders while their parents continue to battle in court.

The children live with their mother, who is a pediatric opthamologist. They have visitation time with their father, who lives abroad most of the time. The former couple have been engaged in extensive child custody litigation since their 2009 divorce. In 2010, the mother asked for a protective order for herself and the children, claiming that her former husband had threatened them. Because those claims could not be substantiated, that request was denied.

Regardless, the eldest child claims that he has witnessed his father striking his mother, and asserts that this is the reason that he wants no contact with his father. All three children refuse to visit with or look at their father, and will even go so far as to refuse to eat food that he has touched. According to court documents and statements made by the judge in the case, the court believes that the mother has alienated the children from their father.

After the kids recently refused to engage in visitation with their father, the same judge ordered that they be held in a juvenile detention facility, ruling that they were in contempt of court. Children, however, are not parties to a child custody case, and it is unclear how they could be found to be in contempt of an order issued to their parents. Many in Texas and elsewhere who are aware of the case feel that the judge has overstepped her authority in the matter, and will continue to follow the case to see how the matter is resolved.

Source: thedetroitnews.com, "Siblings thrown in juvie hall for refusing to see dad", Mike Martindale and Jennifer Chambers, July 9, 2015

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