Candace claims that her ex-husband, Miguel, is an absentee father, who abandoned her and their special-needs daughter, Ellie, to be with his new wife, Cynthia. Miguel insists he wants to see his daughter, but claims he is being kept away by Candace and her mother, Lea. Can Dr. Phil help this family stop fighting — for the sake of the child caught
in the middle?
Exes at Odds
Candace claims that her ex-husband, Miguel, is an absentee father, who abandoned her and their 18-month-old special-needs daughter, Ellie, to be with his new wife, Cynthia. She says Miguel will say he's coming to visit Ellie, but then come up with an excuse and cancel. "Miguel uses the bad relationship with my mom as a crutch to not have anything to do with Ellie," Candace claims. She adds, "My daughter has a trach tube and a feeding tube. Miguel knows absolutely nothing about how to take care of Ellie and all of her medical needs."
Miguel insists he's desperate to see Ellie but claims that Candace and her mother, Lea, are doing their utmost to make sure that doesn't happen. He accuses them of canceling visits at the last minute and says Lea has sent him nasty texts, warning him to keep his distance. Miguel also claims that just months ago, when Ellie was in the hospital, Candace refused to give him the security code to access information about her condition. He says he contacted the hospital directly, but grew frustrated after being passed around among departments. "I said, 'This is ridiculous, I'm going to sue the whole hospital,'" Miguel recalls.
More than 16 million kids in the United States are at risk for hunger each day. Fortunately, you can help. Visit Feeding America to find your local food bank. And, help Dr. Phil raise enough money for 10 million meals. Donate today!
Candace claims, "Because the secretary would not allow him to have access to [Ellie's] information, Miguel threatened to kill me and shoot up every nurse in the hospital. The nurses were on alert. Police officers were guarding the hospital." She says, "Those threats prove how irrational, scary and terrorizing Miguel can be."
Miguel recalls, "Candace texted me, 'Are you stupid? They told me you are going to come in here and shoot me in the head.' The only thing I could think of is that she took, 'I'm going to sue the hospital,' as, 'I'm going to shoot the hospital,'" he says. Miguel continues, "This is just another example of my ex-wife being a complete liar and completely vindictive against me and trying to keep me from seeing my little girl."
Onstage, Dr. Phil says to Miguel, "This is your daughter, and you have the right to see her according to the court. So, why would you give your power away to someone sending you a text message?
Somebody says, 'You’re a slime ball. Don’t come around here.' Well, you have a court order that says you can."
"I was doing my best to keep peace," Miguel replies. "That's something I regret."
“You want to talk about peace?" Candace interjects. "Your idea of peace is sending text messages to me where you’re screaming and cussing and calling me every name in the book. That is not peace."
Dr. Phil presses Candace about the hospital incident. "Why not just give him the number?"
Dr. Phil looks at some text messages from Candace to Miguel — is she being cooperative? And, he has stern words for both parents.
Miguel says he hasn't seen his ex-mother-in-law, Lea, in six months. He claims that she is manipulative and vindictive — and says that Candace actually cut ties with her while they were married. "Lea sent a lot of texts to Candace on the day of our wedding, basically telling her she was making a huge mistake," Miguel says. "She said a lot of things like, 'You're becoming an n-word lover.'"
Lea responds, "That is a lie, and Miguel knows it. He brought it up to me, and I told him, 'I've called you plenty of things — a stupid punk, a momma's boy, a liar, a cheater — but I've never called you the n-word.'"
Dr. Phil reads a text message that Lea admits she sent Miguel, saying, "You even come close to this house, and I will have you arrested. Do you understand, you stupid, disgusting punk?"
"We've tried to go past that," Lea insists.
"All that was right after the divorce."
Does Lea take any ownership in the situation?
Candace and Lea both say that they think Miguel's new wife, Cynthia, is a "selfish, trashy witch," who needs to back off — even though they've never actually met her. "After Miguel dumped Candace and Ellie, we saw Facebook pictures of Miguel and Cynthia within a matter of weeks," Lea claims. "I wanted to slap his head off, and I wanted to slap her head off too. Cynthia stole my daughter's husband, and I think Cynthia would love to steal Ellie."
"Candace says she suspects Miguel may have been cheating with Cynthia while they were still together — something Miguel and Cynthia both deny. She adds that she doesn't like Cynthia trying to be a stepparent to Ellie. "I believe she has inserted herself into Ellie's life," Candace says. "I just don't want a stranger like that around my daughter."
Cynthia insists she has been nothing but nice and can't believe the harassment she says she's received from people she doesn't even know. "Candace and her mother act like they're teenagers, sending mean text messages and threats. They are needlessly malicious," she claims. Cynthia continues, "Even though Candace tries to keep Miguel away from Ellie, we're going to do everything we can to constantly pursue his right to see his child."
Emotions run high when Candace and Lea meet Cynthia for the first time. "It's not all our fault," Lea says.
Dr. Phil asks Lea, "How would you feel if he had Ellie and was with his family and locked you out and threatened you if you came around?"
"It would break my heart," she replies. "I would want to die if that happened. I don’t want that for them. I have felt sorry for his mother — I know you might not believe it. I feel sorry that she doesn't get to be part of Ellie's life."
"There are so many things that need to be said in order for us to move on," Candace says. "We can never have a peaceful environment. I have a lot of questions that I feel need to be answered, such as, how long has Miguel actually been with Cynthia?"
"None of your business," Dr. Phil replies. "You're divorced. What does that have to do with your child?"
"This is not history class. This is Dr. Phil." Is Candace holding on to feelings for Miguel?
"If you love your daughter, and I know you do, then you need to decide that you want to work on getting past all of this anger and bitterness and co-parent actively," Dr. Phil tells Candace. "I think you do have a lot of unresolved conflict here, and I want to get you some help with that," he continues.
"I would love that," Candace says.
Dr. Phil turns to Miguel and says, "There is no excuse — not drive time, not feelings of tension or stress — that should be a high enough mountain or thick enough wall to keep you from being actively involved in your daughter’s life." Miguel nods in agreement.
Miguel grows emotional when he sees video of one of Ellie's recent milestones. Is the family ready
to end their fighting?
Web Extra: Ryan Update
first appeared on the show 11 years ago, he was only 8 years old and bravely battling Leukemia. He quickly stole Dr. Phil's heart — and nearly stole his car!
How is Ryan doing now? And, Dr. Phil has a big surprise for him!