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November 21, 2014 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Trial is under way for Tiffany Stevens in Connecticut. Read about it here (6ABC, 11/18/14). That’s to be expected given that police have a recording of her trying to hire a hit man to murder her former husband, Eric Stevens back in 2012. According to the warrant for her arrest, she forked over $5,000 in cash to maintenance man John McDaid who, he says, never had any intention of harming Eric. Instead McDaid took the cash, spent it on himself and told Eric what his ex was up to. From there the police apparently obtained a tape recording of a later meeting between Tiffany and McDaid in which she demands that he “take out” Eric.

It should come as no surprise that the whole affair took place as Eric was attempting to get custody of their daughter who was then seven. At the time, Tiffany had primary custody of the girl, but hadn’t allowed Eric to see her in four years. He moved for custody based, I suspect, at least in part on Tiffany’s refusal to allow him access to his daughter. Tiffany responded to that by attempting to have Eric killed.

By itself, such a story would be at once shocking and a bit run of the mill. By now we’ve grown all too accustomed to the outrages parents perpetrate in the name of child custody. But it turns out there’s more to this story. It seems Tiffany had an extra incentive to keep the child as disclosed here (Hartford Courant, 8/14/12).

The 36-year-old Bloomfield woman has been involved in a contentious, three-year custody battle with her husband, Eric Stevens of Simsbury. The Stevens have a 7-year-old daughter, and a $50 million trust fund is set aside for the parent who has custody of the child.

Hmm, that is unusual. Why would such a huge trust fund be set aside for “the parent who has custody of the child?” It’s obviously not child support, since it’s explicitly for the parent. If it’s alimony or a division of marital assets, possession of the fund wouldn’t change with changing custody. Whatever the case, that’s 50 million reasons — beyond the child herself — why Tiffany Stevens would have wanted to maintain custody. It would also be why Eric would want the same thing except that he seems to be fabulously wealthy even without the $50 million.

But here’s where the story gets truly strange.

Since word of the alleged plot emerged, Eric Stevens says he's been unable to see his daughter.

Tiffany Stevens is out on $1 million bond and has sole custody of the couple's daughter.

Yes, in the weird world of family law, being charged with soliciting the murder of your child’s father isn’t enough to dent your custody order. And neither is refusing him access to her. That of course went on for four years before Tiffany’s arrest, but that was over two years ago and Eric still hasn’t seen her. That’s six years of no access to his daughter out of her total of nine years on this earth.

So Tiffany has apparently violated Eric’s parental rights for six years and tried to have him killed, but none of that is enough for him to get a modification of custody. Can he be that bad a dad?

The Stevenses had "numerous police contacts since 2009 during the end of their marital relationship," a police officer wrote in the warrant. Eric Stevens was incarcerated as a result of one of those incidents in 2009, which, along with financial complications, prompted the creation of the $50 million fund, the officer wrote.

That looks like the pair engaged in a bit of domestic violence or possibly just allegations thereof. But it appears that they both got their hands dirty in the process. In any case, his incarceration was five years ago — not something that should deprive him of all contact with his daughter today.

And of course there’s the little matter of Tiffany’s having (a) kept the girl from her father for six years and (b) tried to have him killed. Wouldn’t you think that would be enough to wrest custody from her? But no, apparently it’s “in the best interests of the child” to be cared for exclusively by such a mother.

You figure it out, because I can’t. Neither, apparently, can Eric Stevens.

"I'm just wondering from what I've seen in divorce court if they're going to let her keep custody if she's incarcerated," Stevens told ABC affiliate WTNH-TV in New Haven, Connecticut.

I think we’re all wondering the same thing. But, with the trial of Tiffany Stevens just around the corner, we should be getting our answer soon.

In the meantime, there’s obviously more to this case than has been reported so far. If anyone can add information on either the murder-for-hire case or the custody case, I’m all ears.

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National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved?  Here’s how:

Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.

#childcustody, #childsupport, #alimony, #murderforhire

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