Custody Battles: Jamie and Robin

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

Jamie, Dillon's mother, and Robin, his paternal grandmother, have been in a custody battle over him for 10 years. Robin was granted custody of Dillon when he was 9 months old, and has been raising him since.

"I don't believe that grandparents should be raising their own grandkids," says Jamie, who was unable to take

custody of Dillon as a baby because of financial reasons. Now that she's been married for 10 years, has two more children, a job and calls herself "a fit parent," she thinks Dillon belongs with her.

Robin says, "I've been raising Dillon. I taught him how to eat, potty trained him, been there in sickness and health. Even though he's not my biological son, I feel like I'm his mother." She complains that

Jamie has only been to two of Dillon's ice hockey games and three baseball games in the last seven years.

Jamie defends herself, "I can't spend all my time with Dillon. He needs to know how to live with siblings."

"My ex-wife is very jealous of my mother because she has done such a great job," says Ted, Jamie's ex-husband and Robin's son, who wants Dillon to continue living with Robin. "Where's Dillon's justice?" he asks.

Dillon's father, Ted, interrupts Dr. Phil at the onset, saying, "She abandoned him when he was 9 months old!"

Dr. Phil turns to him and asks, "Where have you been? How come you don't have custody and how come you're not raising your son?"

"I live five miles away," Ted responds.

Dr. Phil pushes the issue, asking him again why he is not raising his son. "If she abandoned him at 9 months old and you're his biological father, why weren't you there to scoop him up in your arms and be the man that he needed his father to be?" he asks.

"I am in his life every day. I live five miles away. I see him three to four times a week," Ted tells Dr. Phil.

Jamie interjects her opinion. "That is the reason he wants him staying with his mother, because he lives five miles away and he can see him whenever he wants. I can't see him whenever I want," she explains.

"That is your choice," both Robin and Ted say, and they argue with Jamie."Do you feel any gratitude toward Robin for being there for your son during these years that you weren't?" Dr. Phil asks Jamie.
Jamie defends herself that she has always been there for her son, and bitter words ensue between her and Robin.

Dr. Phil points out that it is likely that Jamie will regain custody of Dillon, and asks her, "Are you prepared for that?"

"It will be very hard for him, that is why I have a support system set up all ready to go," she tells Dr. Phil. The support consists of a child psychologist and a visitation plan.

Robin explains that Dillon went to visit Jamie and her family for three weeks last year, but she had to pick him up after two weeks because he didn't want to be there. "If he doesn't want to stay three weeks, why would he want to live with you?" an angered Robin asks Jamie and they continue to raise their voices and bicker.
Dr. Phil interrupts, "If everybody is filled with bitterness and angst and resentment, then he's just going to get pulled back and forth like a rope in a tug-of-war. That is just not right and fair to him." If they work together for the sake of Dillon, "It can be a win-win situation, in that he can have two women who love and care about him and want what's best for him," Dr. Phil says.Dr. Phil understands both women's side of the issue, but that does not make it OK for them to continue fighting each other in front of Dillon. "He
is the one that will pay the price for the fact that you two are so angry that you can't get along," Dr. Phil says.

He suggests that all three of them come together and make a plan with Dillon's best interest in mind. "Find a way that he looks around and everywhere he turns he sees love, support, and appreciation," Dr. Phil says.

They continue to argue back and forth and Dr. Phil interrupts the fighting saying, "I am asking you, I am begging you, I am pleading with you to put your own agenda aside and put this young man's best interest at heart," and the audience applauds. "I don't want Dillon to pay for your anger and bitterness."

He offers to find them help to bring them together and create a parenting plan they can all agree on. Both women agree to participate and work with a counselor. Ted, however, says he will only agree to it, "as long as I don't have to be with [Jamie]."
Knowing that this is not an option, Dr. Phil agrees to arrange help for Jamie and Robin.