Father being treated unfairly

by Jarod Werner
(Branson, MO, United States )

My name is Jarod Allen Werner, and I am writing this letter because I have a topic that doesn't get the attention that it should, and I feel it’s something that people need to know. I am writing this because I am a father who is fighting for custody of my 5 year old son and I feel I am being treated unfairly by the legal system in this fight. I want to share my story for all the fathers going through the same thing, and I want to let them know they aren't alone and that the way we are treated just isn't right.

In October 2014, my ex girlfriend (Nicole) and I moved to Branson, Mo, because I had a job offer that I thought would give my family a better life, and I was hoping it would have a positive effect on our declining relationship. Things didn't work out quite as planned though,and we split up and she moved back to Houston, Tx, taking my 5 year old son with her. She filed for child support, and documents were drawn up allowing me to visit my son on agreed upon days. These documents specifically stated she could not move my son out of Harris county. Things were going good for a month or so, then in December 2015, I got a call from a friend of Nicole's letting me know about some unsettling things that were going on in the house where my son was living --- things like regular drug use and random people coming and going. When this happened I was naturally worried, and I contacted my attorney to see what I could do to get him out of that environment. I had hoped to get custody of my son, but this is where the nightmare began.

In January 2016, Nicole informed me she was moving my son to New York because her father (Bob Atkinson) was, in her words, "going crazy,” and she said her father was threatening to take our kids from her. I told her I would not agree to this and I did not want my son moving out of state. She moved them anyway, and 2 weeks later she called and asked me to come get my son because, again in her words, she "needed help". I again called my attorney, and she told me to go get him as soon as I could. I went to New York and picked him up, and my attorney filed a restraining order allowing me to keep him until we went to court. He was with me about 2 months while his mother was supposedly trying to get on her feet.

Our hearing was in Judge Chelsie Ramon's 264th district court, and on that day Nicole got on the stand and repeatedly lied to the judge. She continually perjured herself and was several times proved to be lying. When the Judge asked Nicole if she had ever done a drugs she said no, then she proceeded to fail both a hair follicle and a urine test. The Judge next asked me if I had ever done drugs and I was completely honest --- I said yes, but I have been clean for a solid year now. Since Nicole had both lied under oath and violated the terms of the court orders, and had no job or place of her own, I felt pretty good about getting my son back. I have a good paying job that will support my children, my fiance has a good job, and I feel that we can together provide a stable environment for our children. The judge told Nicole she had to move back to Harris county, and we were to rotate visits each week. Since I live in Branson, Mo, we agreed to meet halfway in Texarkana each time. After a month or so, my mother tried to help us out and drove from Houston to Branson to picked up my son and drove him back to Texarkana as scheduled, but Nicole refused to meet her. At that point my pregnant fiancé and I were forced to drive back to Texarkana to pick up my son at my attorney's advice.

My nightmare further worsened, when on May 2nd, 2016, my son and fiancé were on their way to her mother's house when they were hit by a motorcyclist, causing a serious accident, but my son and my fiancé were unharmed. Because of this accident, an accident that I wasn't even involved in, and that wasn't even my fiancé's fault, Nicole and her "her crazy father" had my visitation rights taken away, and her dad came to the hospital that very night and picked up my son. They said that Evan wasn't properly restrained in a child seat, and that I would have to go to court to prove that he was. I gathered all the evidence, police reports, hospital reports, and even a letter from the state trooper that was at the scene to provide the proof they asked for, but the Judge wouldn't even look at them because Nicole's dad (Bob Atkinson) was attempting to seek temporary custody, and his money seemed to have the court’s attention. At that point if Nicole or myself wanted to visit my son it had to be approved by Bob and the Amicus Attorney Hollie Hale. They allowed me to see my son only once each week on Thursday evenings, and I made the 12 hour trip from Branson to Houston every week that I could to visit him for 2 whole hours --- from 6pm to 8pm each Thursday evening. Then at straight up 8:00, I would be asked to leave. So the bottom line is that when I was able to visit my son, it was in a setting where I felt uncomfortable, and in an environment that felt hostile.

Then a few months ago I was contacted by Bob's housekeeper asking me to call her. When I did she informed me that Bob has been regularly drinking and driving with my son in the car and that she felt that it was not a safe situation for him to be in. She also stated that Nicole is at her Dad’s seeing Evan regularly without the Amicus Attorney’s approval, and I have an affidavit from the housekeeper to that effect. I thought this would all work in my favor but it did not. That was about 2 months ago and nothing has happened.

I call my son every single day but Bob will only let me talk to him twice a week. At this point I don't know what else to do. How do I, as a father, stop this unfair treatment? How do I prevent Bob Atkinson from keeping me out of my son's life? It appears that his money means more to the legal system than a father’s love. I’ve sent the Amicus attorney numerous emails about Bob's lack of co-operation and to try to see my son at Christmas and have never gotten a reply. All I want is to be in my son’s life and Bob and the legal system are trying to make that impossible. I've tried to do every thing the right way --- I’ve followed the rules and done everything the courts have asked and still find myself in this situation, while Nicole breaks all the rules and does nothing the courts ask and seems to get rewarded.

How can a grandparent have more rights than a parent? This case has gotten so turned around that it seems as if everyone has forgotten that I am the one who filed for custody. This is breaking my heart, and my son cries for me every time I see him or talk to him. There has to be someone that can help me find the answers I need.

Oh, and by the way, Nicole's attorney, the Amicus attorney, and the judge are all friends with each other on Facebook. Is that right?

So in conclusion, I am writing this letter not just for me, but for all fathers who have to deal with our unfair judicial system. Please help me bring this ongoing problem to light. It tears me up to think of all the children who should be with their fathers but can't simply because we "aren't the mother.” All parents, whether they be the father or mother, should be looked at as 50/50 parents.

I don't care about child support, I just want my child. It's not about money, it’s about the well-being of my son.

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