By Jami Laubich, Communications Intern
On Feb. 8 Alissa Blanton was murdered by Roger Troy, who stalked her for two years. A week before her death, Blanton was denied an order of protection by Brevard County Circuit Court Judge Dean Moxley. Apparently Troy’s harassing emails, phone calls, drives past Blanton’s house and visits to her job were not enough evidence to demonstrate that her life was in jeopardy. Judge Moxley, I respectfully disagree. Instead of granting Blanton an order of protection against her stalker, Moxley ordered another hearing on Feb. 16 because he wasn’t sure what was happening to Blanton constituted stalking. This is one of many cases where the court system failed to take a stand to end violence against women.
Children are at risk, too. On March 31 Stephen Garcia killed his 9-month-old son, Wyatt, during a custody visit. This tragedy was avoidable. Police reports, death threats received through Facebook, and text messages were not enough for Wyatt’s mother to receive a restraining order against her husband to protect her child. In fact, three judges refused multiple requests made by Wyatt’s mother for orders of protection. In the United States, more than 58,000 children per year are ordered by family courts into unsupervised contact with physically or sexually abusive parents following divorce, according to The Leadership Council.
There is a national crisis for women and their children in the family law courts of this country. Comprehensive family court reform is needed NOW! This is not one isolated case, but a pattern. The existence of this crisis is verified by women in every state who report injustice in their family law cases, including battered mothers trying to protect their children from abusive fathers who aggressively litigate against them, using family court to stalk, harass, punish, and impoverish their former partners and children. NOW recognizes this crisis for women and their children and seeks to address discrimination against women in family courts. Visit the family law section of our website where you will also find links to extensive resources for women put together by NOW’s Family Law Committee.