LIMA — Several people gathered in front of the Allen County Courthouse Friday, rallying to bring attention to the family court system.
Event organizer Keith Owen said the focus is both locally, statewide and nationally. He said the Ohio Family Rights Movement wants to support broken families due to improper actions of court systems concerning custody. Owen said the problem is epidemic.
“We are seeing an alarming trend on single parent children because of court systems that break them up,” Owen said.
The group of about 30 people held up signs aimed at bringing awareness to the problem and drew honks from passersby in front of the court building. One parent, Shane Roby, 29, of Lima, said he was railroaded by the court system due to an injury.
“I became injured and as a result had problems getting steady work,” Roby said. “They kept trying to throw me in court because of child support, and they weren’t concerned with my situation.”
Roby said he has three children, ages 12, 9 and 7, with the oldest living with him. He has now worked out differences with the mother and sees his children, but said it took a while to get to that point.
“Social services told her to keep me away from the kids because I wasn’t paying my child support,” Roby said. “She followed what she was told and didn’t let me see them. I see them now, but I still think there needs to be more focus on the problem.”
Tristan Parnell, 34, now lives in Dayton. However, she was living in Minster when her son was removed from her custody. Her son is now 11 years old. Her case is in the Auglaize County court system.
“My child was taken away by a corrupt court system,” Parnell said. “My ex-husband came and took him right out of school. He is now in an abusive situation with the woman his father lives with.”
Parnell said she left her husband several years ago because of drinking and abuse, but now is suffering because of an inept court system and bad legal representation. She said a lawyer she had hired is now in the process of being disbarred but the court has not taken her dilemma into account.
Owen said the problem perpetuates because he believes money can be made. He said social services are subsidized when a child is removed from a parent’s custody and is considered disadvantaged.
“It is subsidized kidnapping,” Owen said. “When parents get a divorce, they divorce the parent, not the children. Both parents need to be involved in their children’s lives.”
Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or at Twitter@LanceMihm