Francesca says her husband of two years, Hawk, recently filed for divorce and is building a case of lies against her, in an effort to gain full custody of their 10-month-old son, Wayden. She claims he constantly calls police and falsely accuses her of domestic violence every time they have a disagreement — which is usually about who gets to spend time with their child. Hawk says Francesca is violent, unstable, and won’t let him spend any time with their son, which is why he says he’ll go to extreme lengths to get custody. Francesca’s mother, Debra, says her son-in-law is a “sociopath” who cannot be trusted, and she fears for the safety of her daughter and grandson. Dr. Phil doesn’t mince words about the risks this couple is taking with their behavior. Can they stop the mudslinging and learn to peacefully co-parent for the sake of their child?
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Accusations of Kidnapping, Abuse and Parental Alienation
"I’m divorcing Francesca because Francesca has kept my son from me. I never got that special father-son bonding time, because she’s always used breastfeeding as a tool to keep me from getting time with him," says Hawk. "She’s a bully. I have been physically abused. She goes into extreme rages — they’re scary."
Hawk also claims that his wife is jealous and insecure. "If I took [our son] for a walk around the ranch, I knew she was up there looking out the window at me," he says. "The most alone time I got with Wayden was one hour, and that was taking him in his jogger around the neighborhood just for a walk, and even that was interrupted the whole time by calls, and texts and threats." Hawk reads a text message he says he received from Francesca, "'They’ll be consequences to your actions. If Wayden is not back in five minutes, the cops will be out looking for our son who is missing.'"
Hawk admits that he, too, has called the police many times. "Some reasons are very serious, some not as serious, but I had to do it to diffuse the situation and make sure I’m safe," he says. "I think, honestly, that Francesca needs Wayden more than Wayden needs her."
Francesca says Hawk is very controlling. "Hawk would tell me how to act around his friends and family. I didn’t dress the way that he would have liked me to, so he went out and bought me old school, high-waisted Wranglers and button-down shirts, and just made me into a little rancher girl," she says. "I just wanted to be the perfect wife and mom, so I just did what he said."
Francesca says that Hawk also controls the finances — leaving her with no access to money. "Hawk decided to take me off his bank account," she says. "I was married, and I had to file for assistance. I felt I was sort of being stripped of my womanhood. It was extremely hurtful." According to Francesca, Hawk's fight for full custody of their son is another attempt to control her, and she says he will do whatever it takes to steal their son away from her, including lie. "Hawk has accused me of abusing our son. Hawk’s motive is to get 100 percent custody of him. Hawk calls the cops to make it look like I’m abusing him. The calls are absolutely ridiculous," she says. "If we’re arguing in public and Hawk sees a police officer, he’ll wave them down. Hawk will say that I’m crazy and that I’m abusive. He wants a witness."
Francesca says she's scared she's going to lose her son. "It’s become more obvious that he’s been trying to build a case so that he can take Wayden," she says. "That was the last thing that I wanted for him, was to be from a broken family."
Dr. Phil questions the reasons Hawk has called the police. “What are we, 12?” he asks.
“Did you call the police one night because she put her cold feet on you in bed?” Dr. Phil asks Hawk.
“Of course not,” he says.
“That’s exactly why he called the police,” Francesca interjects.
“Does this feel like the threshold is perhaps a bit low on calling the police?” Dr. Phil asks Hawk.
“It’s embarrassing to call cops on this kind of stuff, absolutely,” he replies. “But whenever it gets to a point where I cannot leave, I cannot do something to get myself out, what do I do? I call the cops, and she stops.”
Dr. Phil asks Hawk, “When in this process did you go to a domestic violence shelter for men?”
"The last time I saw her was an incident of me going, and finally, for the first time in nine months of Wayden’s life, I got to take my son by myself in my truck,” Hawk says. "I had to forcefully do it. Cops had to be involved for them to allow me to do it."
“Why do you need her permission to go take your son somewhere?” Dr. Phil asks Hawk.
“Because she won’t allow me to,” he says.
Francesca says that she’s a stay-at-home mom, and Wayden has been with her nonstop since he was born. “He’s a fully breast-fed baby, so he nurses quite often, and I’m just afraid that when he’s gone from me, he’s going to be upset that he’s not with Mom,” she says.
“You can’t tell his father he can’t take him somewhere if he wants to take him somewhere,” Dr. Phil points out. “He doesn’t need your permission.” He asks Francesca if she threatens Hawk if he leaves with Wayden.
“I have, once,” she says. “I’m incredibly attached to my son and, just, him being upstairs, right now, with the nanny, I’m freaking out,” she says.
Dr. Phil reads text messages Francesca sent to Hawk, and he takes her to task for her behavior. “The biological father of this child takes him for a walk, and you say, ‘I’m calling the cops. You stole my son’?”
After a year of counseling and their marriage still on the verge of divorce, Hawk wrote a marriage contract for Francesca to sign. Dr. Phil reviews some of Hawk's points.
“I knew exactly why he was making me sign this contract — to use it against me in court.”
“Francesca puts Wayden in dangerous positions. Anything that we’re going through as adults, an argument, she will bring Wayden, on her hip, into that argument,” Hawk claims.
Dr. Phil asks Hawk, “Did you file for an emergency request for use of the home to put her and the baby out and you in the home?”
“There was an out order,” Francesca says. “As soon as we were in court — like two days later.”
“To get custody of my son,” Hawk says.
“Are you being oppositional with her?” Dr. Phil asks. “We had to provide her wardrobe for her because you wouldn’t let her in the house to get her clothes.”
“I gave her all her clothes before,” Hawk says.
“He won’t let me back in the house,” Francesca says.
Hawk says he will only let Francesca in the house if there is a third party with them. “I made it really clear to her: If she needs to go get anything from that house, there will be a third party there with me. Because of her actions, I’m not going to be alone with her, no way,” he says.
“You’re alone with me all the time, Hawk,” Francesca says. “We were alone together yesterday.”
Hawk makes a serious allegation against Francesca.
"A Ticking Time Bomb"
Francesca's mother, Debra, is adamant that her daughter's marriage should not be repaired. "There is no doubt in my mind that Hawk is a sociopath. I strongly believe that Hawk deliberately got Francesca pregnant to keep her down and to have control over her," she says. "Everything Hawk does is a setup. He has been portraying Francesca as a husband abuser and child abuser. He has called the cops on her a dozen times. He is trying to set her up to take the baby away from her."
Debra says Hawk will do whatever it takes to win. "Hawk has no shame. Hawk has no conscience," she says. "Hawk is definitely a ticking time bomb. That’s why I’m so afraid for my daughter. I feel there’s a strong possibility that Francesca could show up dead or missing. Francesca doesn’t deserve this."
Dr. Phil asks Debra, “Do you think that your daughter has any ownership in this situation?”
“Yes,” she replies.
Hawk interrupts the conversation. “What makes you think that I’m unstable?” he asks Debra in a raised voice. “Give some examples, please.”
“He had left the house and parked down the road, then snuck back and spied on Francesca,” she says.
Hawk denies spying on his wife. “This is a lie,” he says. “I want to hear more, because this is an extreme allegation on me.”
“You definitely divorce a different person than you marry.”
“I think that both of you are distinguishing yourself in the negative.”
“When you turn the future of your family over to some family judge that you don’t know a damn thing about, they can make some decision that eviscerates your family,” Dr. Phil tells Hawk and Francesca. “Don’t turn your family over to some stranger.” He implores them to stay out of the court system. And, he offers to provide them with a counselor.
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