In our ongoing coverage of Family Court, FR examines the custody case of Theodora Antar and Matthew Lodice in Connecticut Family Court. The dispute is over their four year old daughter who keeps them connected to each other, when otherwise they each would go their separate ways.
The parents were never married, never lived together, and never intended to have a child together. In an ideal world, they would try to coparent harmoniously for the welfare of their child.
The legal case has gone in favor of the father, who has all parental rights, while Theodora has none. She made the matter public by filing a sprawling federal civil RICO lawsuit naming more than 300 individuals she claims are connected to her case or the family court system of Connecticut. The defendants in her civil suit include the father and their family court judge Jane Grossman.
Recently, police arrested Antar after she appeared at her child’s pediatrician’s office, allegedly in violation of a restraining order in favor of the father, Matthew Lodice.
The stories have attracted considerable interest and provoked mostly thoughtful comments, some supporting the father, some the mother, and many criticizing the jury-less family court system, where judges have almost despotical control..
One of our longtime commenters, Nice Guy, has periodically offered advice in comments on the stories, which prompted comments in reply, including a thoughtful one from attorney Stephanie A. Jones, Esq., LL.M., MPH. Jones is a thirty-year civil rights lawyer, Yale University-degreed medical sociologist, and Columbia University-degreed public health scientist. Her work focuses on global health.
To the comment, “Who supports Theodora? Name three or even one,” Jones makes a reply.
By Stephanie A. Jones, LLM MPH
I support Theodora. This does not mean I endorse everything she has attempted, either in her filings, or her interpretation that court-ordered supervision could be satisfied by a person of her election (e.g. the pediatrician).
My not supporting her legal or extra-judicial efforts in whole cloth is separate and apart from whether I support the woman.
I understand her well, I think, and have had a “close-up view” of what I would consider increasingly desperate efforts to see her child, and her escalating pain.
Simply reviewing the text messages (an exhibit in her mass filing) reveal a woman absolutely shut out of having the ability to meaningfully parent her child. The entire locus of control belongs to the father, who, in writing above, and in the text messages (in an app required to be used by the court), come across as more measured than Theo.
Let’s not be so quick to credit him for his comparative equanimity; it is markedly easier to maintain composure when one holds all the cards, and is not sleepless in worry over the child A.L. (rightfully or wrongly).
As a second-year student of law, Theo has the dubious benefit of some legal training, without yet having had years to learn the appropriate (meaning: likely to yield results favorable to her) manner in which to accurately, narrowly, and succinctly set out her claims.
That said, she is playing in a familiar playground well known to many of us: the systematically dysfunctional Connecticut Family Court system, which terrorizes the Riordan children. Theodora’s experience is eminently comparable to Karen Riordan’s, despite Theodora’s more aggressive cries for help. Unless a person is trapped in a self-feeding vortex of a powerful legal system, it is difficult, if not impossible, to fathom the degree of helplessness one feels, which amps up every mammalian motherly instinct.
The story here, at core, is not about the ways in which Theo has “acted out” in court papers or an ill-considered (given the court-ordered prohibitions in place) pediatrician visit. Her behavior cannot be construed as injurious to A.L. but weakens her own position in the eyes of this system, bearing down on her, as it does on Karen Riordan and the three children oo her and Christopher Ambrose.
Let’s keep our eyes on the ball here, and desist with wholesale personal attacks. If you have not walked a mile in the shoes of a parent legally cut off from their children, as both these women are, and understand the extent of theirs and their children’s suffering, you may not comprehend that you are not helping but adding to the suffering – of which the Connecticut Family Court system has already heaped upon parents and children alike.