Custody Battles: Bridget Marks

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Dr. Phil has advice for how to keep children out of the middle of custody battles.

Bridget Marks became pregnant with twin daughters as a result of an affair with a married man. When he found out she was pregnant, she says he wanted her to get an abortion, and once the

children were born, he refused to sign an acknowledgement of paternity, therefore relinquishing any legal responsibility. She continued her relationship with the man after the birth of the girls, knowing he was married.
Bridget says she tried many times to end their relationship, but he always threatened her with taking away the girls. "Over a period of time I discovered that he was reckless and inappropriate with the children and every time I sought to break the relationship off, he would threaten me with taking the children away," she tells Dr. Phil. She finally broke up with him, and he was allowed visitation with the girls.

After sexual abuse allegations by Bridget, the father filed for custody of the girls, and the drawn-out custody battle ensued. The court determined that Bridget lied about the molestation, and therefore they gave custody of the children to the father. On June 1, 2004, Bridget was devastated to hand over her 4-year-old daughters to their father.

Bridget defends her molestation accusations. "I did not lie. I was a fit mother. I am a fit mother whose children came home with stories," Bridget tells Dr. Phil. "I took them to professionals to investigate whether or not what they said

was true. I was given an affidavit by an M.D., a child psychiatrist from Columbia University saying that my daughters had been inappropriately touched, or that she thought that there was about a 60-70 percent chance that they had been touched. She gave me an affidavit to go to the court and to tell the court that the father should only have the strictest access to the children under court supervision."

Dr. Phil notes that a court appointed psychiatrist did an evaluation and determined that she had coached the children.

"He did not examine the children after the second allegation, so he basically, without even examining the children or asking them any questions, determined that it was false," Bridget explains to Dr. Phil.

Dr. Phil explains that when Bridget visits with her girls now, it costs at least $700 a day, because the court says that they have to be fully supervised visits. There have to be monitors in the room so she doesn't coach her children to say something. Dr. Phil makes clear that the show tried to contact the father of the girls, and there has been no response from him.

Bridget says that she will never stop fighting for her daughters. "I will fight until my last breath," she tells Dr. Phil.

Dr. Phil introduces Dean Tong and Kathie Mathis, two individuals who are helping Bridget fight her custody battle. Dean is an author and a consultant on contested custody abuse cases, and has been working for 20 years on these types of cases. He says that he has seen a lot of errors in this case. "We believe that this is a case of bad science producing bad law."

Dr. Kathie Mathis is a psychologist who works with mothers who are in a similar position to Bridget and their children. She has helped Bridget write an affidavit stating the impact of what's taken place.

Dr. Phil mentions that Bridget has written a romantic thriller exploring love, loss, deception and redemption called September. "I wrote it as an outlet for all of my pain and stress and frustration," she explains. "I will fight anywhere I have to go to get my girls back."