Editor’s note: To protect Jonathan’s anonymity, we are not including his surname or other details. However, he has offered to be contactable by other dads who are going through similar situations and would appreciate his encouragement. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to ask for his email address.
It was 11 January 2013, I arrived home from work, and I was not prepared for the “fiery trial” which would be awaiting myself for the next three years.
There was a note and SIM card left on the table from my wife stating that she had left the house with my two young sons (two years old and eight months old). As I searched the bedrooms, I realised that there were plenty of clothes missing as well.
I had never been away from my sons for longer than a couple of days in the past. I was actively involved in their lives from birth, and I was a father which the good book describes as ‘delighting in his sons’.
On 13 January 2013, when I was reading my Bible, I read the following verse: ‘Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west’. (Isaiah 43:5) This promise would be my source of strength and hope in the months ahead.
I had emailed my wife to find out what was going on, and in her response, she stated that if I ‘truly loved her, I would sign passports for my sons (she is originally from the USA – I always had a concern that if I had signed passports in the past, there would be a threat that she would abscond with my sons to the USA).
I was forced into a position to start legal proceedings. Thankfully, after a few days, my sons were placed on the airport watchlist, but I still had no idea about their whereabouts.
As court appearances approached, I received affidavits stating that my wife wanted to permanently relocate to the USA with my sons. If this wasn’t hard enough to accept, I was bombarded with serious allegations of abuse against my wife and sons.
Court hearings were adjourned due to the insufficient time available to the courts to examine the allegations, resulting in further absence from my sons. It was obvious to me that my wife was advised to keep my sons from me for as long as she could, so it would strengthen her case in relocating to the USA because the courts would see that there would be no relationship with my sons and me because of their young age.
Eight months passed until the courts ordered that I could have supervised time with my sons at a contact centre once a week for three hours for a month. At this time, my oldest son was three years old and my younger son was just under 18 months old. Despite not seeing my sons for eight months, they still recognised me, and through the tears, I knew that our bond was not broken.
Time gradually increased with my sons over the months and years, and on 22 January 2016, the courts in their final hearing ordered four nights/fortnight and half of the school holidays where my sons would live with me. They also ordered that my sons were not allowed to get passports and the judge also stated in her reasons for judgment that:
‘It is a central feature of the mother’s case that the father has been perpetrator of family violence to which the children have been exposed… For the reasons given, I am not satisfied about her account and do not find that he perpetrated family violence as alleged.’
As the years went by, my sons and I continued to grow in our relationship, and despite the circumstances, we continued to make many loving and lasting memories.
In October 2022, my son’s mother discussed the issue of passports with me, and I was still not comfortable with signing passports. As a result of my decision, she started withholding my sons from me and contravening court orders.
I was then placed in a position to take the matter back to court, and it has been there ever since. My sons have not spent time with me or communicated with me for over a year now. I have received further affidavits of alleged abuse and am also fighting an ADVO.
Due to the inaction of the Family Court in enforcing court orders and punishing contravention of court orders, they have aided the parental alienation and psychological abuse which my sons are experiencing from their mother.
We live in a “present evil world’” which is destroying families. The Family Court is a broken system – however, those involved in this system are happy to keep it that way. I intend to continue to reprove the “works of darkness“.
I am sure that the days, months and even years ahead will continue to be trying. But my faith and trust in God are what will keep me fighting for my sons until the very end.
Photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova.