After everyone is seated, Dr. Phil says, “I’d just like to start by telling you what my priority is in this, and what my agenda is, and that is for this little girl to have the best possible chance that she can to grow up healthy, and happy, and safe, and vibrant and alive. I think everybody agrees that that’s what we’re looking for.”
Dr. Phil acknowledges that both sides want full custody of Kate. He turns to men’s advocate Mel Feit. “You say that you’re really disgusted by this whole thing, why there is even a case, true?”
“On the day after Peter buried his wife, on the very next day, without even discussing it with him, they served him with a restraining order, keeping him away from his daughter. It was a tragedy on top of a tragedy,” Mel replies. “The way I see it is this: If a 6-year-old little girl who lost her mother to cancer, now she is in the process of losing her father to a court order and a custody battle, and honestly, I’m not sure which is worse â€¦ This was completely preventable, and this is turning a sweet little girl into an orphan unnecessarily, and this is shameful.”[AD]
“This is not true,” Deborah says.
“We went into court because [Kate’s father] showed up at the school and was going to take Kate without any advance notice to anybody, without any planning whatsoever,” says Bob, Deborah’s attorney. “The law deals with how this child should be brought up and who should be bringing her up. I believe we have a very strong case, along those lines.”
Dr. Phil addresses Peter and Deborah. “First, let me say to both of you, I’m sorry for your loss. I know that’s been hard,” he says. “What we have now is this 6-year-old child, and we say, â€˜What happens to her?’ I think most people would say, â€˜Well, of course, she goes with her father. That’s what happens. He’s the biological father. He’s the legal parent.'”
He points out that Deborah currently has temporary full custody of Kate.
“Dr. Phil, the best person to raise a child is a natural parent. Wise or foolish, educated or uneducated, rich or poor, provided that the child’s well-being is not endangered, that her moral well-being is not endangered, that her physical well-being is not being endangered,” says Peter’s attorney, Michael.
Dr. Phil turns to Deborah. “Why do you think the child should be with you? You are not a biological parent,” he says.
“I am her psychological parent. She’s been with me, coming this December 2009, it will be three years that she’s living in my home, under my care,” Deborah replies.
[AD]”‘Psychological parent’ is a legal term, and you’re not a lawyer, so I don’t know why you’re citing the law to me,” Dr. Phil says. “I think what you mean by psychological parent is she resides with you, you’re taking over the obligations, that you are providing for her the way a parent would, and it is, in fact, with the blessing of both of her parents, at the time that this began.”
“Kate and I are bonded. The past two-and-a-half years that my sister came from New Mexico to New Jersey, it really wasn’t just for medical care; it was because she felt unsafe with Peter. She did not feel that he could care for her when she was diagnosed with cancer,” Deborah replies. “She called me, hysterical, crying ” you know she had tongue cancer ” and she was very worried that he could not provide and take care of her.”