Crisis in Family Court: Stephanie, Amy

From a Child's Perspective

Dr. Phil meets with "Stephanie," a teen in disguise. She bravely speaks about her experiences.

Stephanie tearfully explains what happened when she was a child and why she's now worried about her little sister.


"Tell me about the court and the judge. How did that come about?" Dr. Phil asks the teen.

Hear Stephanie's account of how she tried to protect her sister.

Dr. Phil leans in and tells Stephanie, "I'm sorry. I get it. I get it, OK? There's no other way to put it than to say the system has failed you, and it is failing you, and I get that. We're using this platform, we're using your thoughts, your sentiments, your experiences, to try to raise awareness about this, to try to change this system. I am so proud of you for speaking out about this … You need to believe me when I say none of this is your fault, and we're working on this."

Dr. Phil addresses his audience, which is filled with families who have struggled in family court. Many of them have heartbreaking stories similar to Katie. Dr. Phil calls on Amy, who stands and shares her story:

"My children, Duncan and Jack, March 29 will be the year anniversary date from when they were found," she says, struggling to hold back her tears. "I fought relentlessly for their father to continue to have supervised visits. After his sixth unsupervised visit on March 8, he failed to return them to me. He told me he was going to do this to them, but nobody listened. He failed to return them. He proceeded to," she pauses, taking a breath, "drug them. He stabbed my youngest, and then he took the ultimate cowardly way out, and he hung himself. My babies are no longer here. They no longer have a voice. But I have to make sure that this does not happen to any other children."

Katie wipes her tears as she listens to Amy's story.

Amy continues. "No other parent can feel this pain, because there are no words for this pain. It is unbelievable. There's not a second, there's not a minute that goes by that I don't think about them," she says.

Amy shows a photo of Duncan and Jack, ages 7 and 9.

"Nobody listened," Dr. Phil says.

Amy shakes her head no.

[AD]Katheen speaks up. "Dr. Phil, what we haven't touched on yet is there is a cottage industry of appointees that the court forces parents to go to that are profiting off this family violence," she says. "It is not in their financial interests to resolve the conflict between two parents, because their fees will go away. We know moms who've been in the system for 18 years, and these professionals are not regulated, their fees are not regulated, and they are bankrupting these families, and they are making a profit by placing these children in harm's way."