Custody Chaos: Melissa and John

All-Out War

"My ex-husband is dangerous. He thrives on fear," says Melissa. "I do not believe that John is mentally stable."

 

"Melissa has slandered my name in court, placed allegations on me between me and my children. She is Hitler. She has the power, and I've crumbled to my knees," says John.

 

In 1997, Melissa and John married much to the dismay of her mother, Janet. "No mother ever would want a man like John to marry her daughter. He's a nightmare. The biggest regret of my life is that I didn't step in and break them apart," she says.

 

Melissa and John have two children, John II and Madison, and Melissa says even during pregnancy, John's behavior irked her. "I stopped going to birthing classes because I was too embarrassed. The whole time we were there, he would make jokes," she says. "When the baby was being delivered, John said that he witnessed births of animals, and those weren't as disgusting as the birth of his daughter."

 

"I don't ever want to see something like that again. It looked like a Wookiee coming out," John recalls.

 

They ended their marriage in 2005. "Just after Christmas a couple of years ago, John came home from work with divorce papers. He totally blindsided me," Melissa says. "It took a long time for me to finally decide to sign those papers, and when I did, I was already so detached that I kind of decided it was my easy way out."

 

But according to John, "The divorce was a great way to refinance our house, because our credit was pretty screwed up. We were going to get remarried right off the bat, and it didn't seem to go that way." 

The couple continued to live together, and John continued to exhibit behaviors which Melissa says she found offensive and potentially harmful to the children. "John leaves porn magazines around for my children to see. My daughter was walking around in her underwear, and John pulled her underwear down really low and told me that I needed to buy sexier underwear for her, instead of granny panties," she shares. "I don't know what man would be concerned with what his 6-year-old daughter's underwear looked like."

 

In 2007, Melissa finally had enough, and left John for good. "When I finally decided to leave John, he was threatening suicide, and he would do it in front of the children," she says. "His personality traits were mirroring those of a sociopath, and it scared me. I had to get the children and get out of there."

 

"I was so upset. I was in tears. I pleaded and I begged, ‘Stay here. Let's work on this family,'" John recalls. 

 

The ex-spouses disapprove of the way the other disciplines the kids. "John does things like locking my children outside in the dark because my son's afraid of the dark. John would chase my son with dead bugs, dead mice, because he knew John John was afraid of them," Melissa reveals.

 

John explains, "I was in the United States Marine Corps for six years. If they deserve it, a child should be punished. The Marine Corps prepares you for parenthood. You're in charge of a squad. You're in charge of a platoon." He also has gripes with his ex-wife's behavior. "Melissa still allows the kids to sleep with her at the age of 8 and 6. Melissa still wipes my son's butt. If it was up to Melissa, she would still be breast-feeding," he says.

 

The exes are also in a custody war. "My wife has kidnapped my child," John says. "The court order actually states that these children are to reside in the state of Ohio. Melissa gave a fictitious address. My kids are living 62 miles away from here ... How could a woman just do that to a father who is used to being with his children every day? I would be the better person with these children. I deserve full custody. "

 

Melissa disagrees. "I hate John. I want the courts to understand how controlling and abusive John is," she says. "In a perfect world, I would have John sign over his rights as a parent."

"Are you in fact a danger to the children?" Dr. Phil asks John.

"I don't see myself as being a danger to my children," he replies.

"Do you have dangerous weapons around your children where they could pick them up and accidentally shoot themselves or each other?" Dr. Phil probes.

"A child who has grown up around weapons is less likely to play with a gun when they're taught gun safety," he says.

 

"Do you have those guns behind lock and key where children cannot get them?" Dr. Phil probes.

 

"They are locked up now in my closet," he says.

 

"The kids can run right into a bathroom and pick up a gun," Melissa disagrees.

 

 

Addressing Melissa, Dr. Phil asks, "He's concerned about the fact that you have given a phony address to the school system and to the court, and you're in fact living out of state with his children, which is in violation of the court order. Is that true or false?"

"My attorney told me to get an address, and he said that a friend's house was fine, as long as I had an address in Ohio, and the attorneys do know that I'm traveling back and forth, because I'm afraid to stay alone in a place because I don't know what he might do," she explains.

"So, you have a phony address?" Dr. Phil clarifies. "You don't really live where you told people you live?"

"I'm actually paying rent on a place just so that I do have an address," she answers.

Turning to John, Dr. Phil asks, "You think that constitutes a fraud?"

"Oh, yes," he replies.

"Wasn't the divorce that you proposed to her a fraud on your creditors?" Dr. Phil asks John, explaining that he wanted to get divorced from Melissa so they could refinance the house, but he didn't really intend to end his relationship with her.

"In a way, possibly, yes," he says.