Bradley County Family Brings National Attention To Child Custody Cases
During this holiday season people are thankful for many different things.
For Jeremy Hopkins, this Thanksgiving is the first big holiday he's gotten to spend with his daughter Kate in 2 years.
The same amount of time Hopkins has wrangled through the Bradley County court system to get equal custody of his little girl Kate.
"All I want for my daughter is for her to have mom and a dad," Jeremy Hopkins said in tears.
But his story - not unusual.
"The system allows this to happen, "Michael McCormick with the Institute for American Families said.
McCormick traveled from D.C. and stood on the Bradley County Courthouse steps Wednesday to shed light on the Hopkin's case and many more like them.
In fact he says a million plus children pass through the family courts each year.
And around 4-thousand of them will lose a relationship with one of their parents.
"The courts are going to pick a winner and a loser and when they do that..the child ultimately loses," McCormick told News 12.
McCormick points out that Tennessee does requires parents to develop a parenting plan.
But when a plan can't or hasn't been agreed on, like in the Hopkins case, he says the courts fail to maximize a child's relationship with both parents and typically one parent sees the child for less than 20 percent of the time.
"Rather than trying to strengthen those relationships..the court systems are destroying those," Jeremy's brother David said.
"If we look at what's happening to our society we can trace the social pathologies just as increased rates of incarceration, early sexual activity for girls, truency issues relate to the family breaking down and the social fabric of our society is breaking down in terms of the family breaking down, we are being weaken as a nation and we need to change that," McCormick added.
McCormick says while about 17 million fathers nationwide do not have fair access to their children, about three million mothers experience the same problem.
A video of the press conference is here along with some comments: http://wdef.com/news/bradley_county_family_brings_national_attention_to_child_custody_cases/11/2008#comment-156635