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If you're not following this national story, you should be. It perfectly illustrates the brokenness of our Family Court system. I first ran across Ty's TikTok post on my For You Page--right before it started getting national attention. Ty is a 16-year-old young man who went on to explain in this video that he had barricaded himself in his bedroom because a court had ordered he and his sister be forcibly removed from their mother's home, placed in their father's custody, and sent to a reunification camp to "repair" the relationship with their father, who is also their abuser. This is a link to another account that gives a nice overview of where things started for Ty and his sister, Brynlee. Newsdive (@newsdiveradio) | TikTok

Since that first video, Ty and Brynlee's story has gotten some traction and has had some national coverage. Advocates like Tina Swithin of One Mom's Battle and the National Safe Parents Coalition have done a fantastic job of shining a light on this case and calling on our Family Court system to protect these kids. They've organized protests outside of the courthouse and encouraged the public to speak up and demand justice for these kids.

This article gives a little more detail about what has happened since this all started with that first video: Utah Judge Pauses Order to Return Siblings to Father — ProPublica

If you're not up for an entire article, the gist is that the judge has temporarily paused the order, meaning that Ty and Brynlee don't have to fear being taken to one of these camps or handed over to their father--for now.

And here's where my outrage grows. The article states that part of the reason for the pause is that “New information has come forward today regarding serious allegations of abuse,” Judge Derek Pullan said in a Monday hearing, citing the criminal probe first reported by ProPublica." The thing is, those allegations aren't "new". From what I've read, those allegations were investigated and substantiated by the appropriate authorities long before the original judgement--where Ty and Brynlee were ordered to be returned to his custody. In the original order, they were to be housed in a "third party" family home, while the investigation continued and before they would be sent to the reunification camp. A sitting Family Court judge had substantiated evidence of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, and he still bought into the idea that the reason these kids don't want to see their father is that their mother has "alienated them" from him. There will be further posts dedicated to the junk science behind parental alienation syndrome, (PAS), but for now, we'll leave it at "junk science".

You may be reading about this case for the first time and think "How in the world is this even possible?" The sad truth is that this is the reality for most protective parents in our current Family Court system. Judges often put more weight into being "fair" or ensuring that the parents' "rights" are upheld, treating the children more like property than complete human beings who have voices and are capable of sharing their experiences and preferences in court.

How is it so hard for a court to see or believe that a child (especially a 16 year old!) should have a voice? How is it so hard for them to believe that the reason a child might say they don't want to see one of their parents is because that parent has caused them harm in some way? Even if the "worst" (I'm using quotes because abuse is all the worst--just because abuse isn't physical or sexual doesn't mean it's not just as harmful) abuse has not been directed at the children, they have been subjected to it. The fear that they feel when witnessing or living in an abusive household is real and has a huge impact on them. When a safe parent chooses to end the marriage and separate from their abuser, the kids become a weapon for the abuser. Is it so unreasonable to think that those children might soon begin express unhappiness? Or that they don't want to go to their court ordered time with the abusive parent? It shouldn't be. And the first instinct of the court should not be to assume that the other parent is "alienating" the children.

Yes, kids need both parents, but they also need healthy parents. When anyone in an abusive relationship ends that relationship, many times it is exactly because of the children, and their desire to protect them from the abuse. I have yet to work with a client that wouldn't rather have a healthy marriage, where they could parent the children together in a loving, healthy environment. When it becomes clear that isn't possible, and divorce happens, a healthy parent still wishes for a healthy relationship for their children with the other parent. Most of the clients that I work with would be happy to settle on a 50/50 custody arrangement, if the other parent was healthy. But if that were the case, they likely wouldn't be seeking a divorce in the first place.

My heart breaks for Ty, Brynlee, and all of the children being failed by our broken Family Court System. If your heart hurts reading about this, please consider signing up to advocate through the National Safe Parents Coalition. Here's a link to information about Kayden's Law, complete with a link for you sign up for calls to advocate for reform. KAYDEN'S LAW - National Safe Parents Organization

We can't keep looking away. Ty and Brynlee deserve to have a voice and they deserve to be protected from their abuser--not legally abducted and forced into a camp founded on junk-science and greed.

If you'd like to keep up with what's happening in Ty and Brynlee's case, you can follow Ty directly on TikTok: Stupid Flipper (@stupid_flipper) | TikTok

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