November 26, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
On Friday, November 17, a judge in Los Angeles ordered joint custody and equal parenting time for actor Tyrese Gibson and his ex-wife Norma Mitchell Gibson of their daughter Shayla (People, 11/18/17). Gibson immediately issued a statement that began with these words:
Today is not a win for me, it is a win for our daughter, Shayla.
Right. And wrong. If the only thing determining whether it’s a “win” or not is the final order, then yes, it’s a win for the child. She needs and deserves both her parents and now she has them. That’s good for all concerned and I’m glad the judge had the good sense to order equal parenting.
But, in another way, Gibson is wrong to say it’s a win for anyone. It’s not. I say that because,
For 10 years I have been the best father I could be, all while quietly being on the receiving end of constant toxic false accusations by the mother of my child… Today I am proud that the courts have put an end to Norma’s toxic nonsense, declaring that NONE of her accusations for the last 10 years against me are credible. I did not break any laws; I did not harass anyone; and most important I never engaged in violent or abusive behavior. The physical and emotional violence that Norma publicly accused of were all false and ruled to have no merit, no evidence, and was unsubstantiated in a court of law.
Ten years. That’s right, for a solid decade, a family court allowed Norma Gibson to assert false claims of abuse against Tyrese and effectively keep him from his daughter and she from him. How much he actually got to see her during those ten years goes unreported, but, suffice it to say that there was a steady stream of restraining orders issued against the actor and, since the claims were about child abuse, it’s clear he was prohibited from seeing her for much of that decade. Indeed, at one point, he was so desperate to communicate with her that he hired a pilot to drag a banner across the sky above Shayla’s school saying “No matter what, Daddy loves you Shayla.” Amazingly, doing so may have violated one of the many restraining orders against him.
Now, it’s worth mentioning that the couple were married in 2007 and divorced in 2009. This being 2017, it appears that Norma has been trying to separate Tyrese from his daughter from the very beginning.
To be clear, what Norma has been doing looks a lot like child abuse. Children need both parents; any effort to deny one parent to a child when that parent is fit and loving is an attempt to deny to the child one of her most vital necessities. To do that constantly over the first 10 years of a child’s life is a form of virulent abuse. It is not a “win” for a court to take a decade to figure out what surely was obvious from some early point onward. It is allowing child abuse to go on and on and on. The court failed. It is not a “win” to cause perhaps irremediable harm for ten years and then to cease causing that harm. Doing so is making common cause with an abuser.
And of course, the only reason Tyrese managed to finally prevail is that he had the money to do so. A ten-year family court fight doesn’t come cheaply. Almost no one has the money it took Tyrese to fight his case to the end. That means that almost no one but Tyrese’s daughter would have gotten the “win” Shayla got.
What would a “win” have looked like? The judge should have ordered equal parenting in the first place. When Norma showed up with her first false claim, it should have been investigated. If no evidence was found to support her claim, she should have been warned that the next such incident would result in her having only supervised visitation with the child and being required to receive psychological help to cure her of her desire to remove the child’s father from her life. Future false claims would meet with harsher consequences. If, after that first incident, Tyrese had lost parenting time, the judge should have ordered makeup time.
I admire Tyrese’s statement. He’s clearly in the middle of a terrible situation. He now has equal time with his daughter, for which I’m sure he’s grateful. He of course is not about to get on the judge’s bad side. The man obviously has his daughter’s best interests at heart. Good for him.
But let’s be clear: the equal-time order makes sense, but this is a story about family court incompetence and dysfunction that damaged a little girl.
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