Legal father gets custody

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GloriaInTX's picture
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Legal father gets custody

Did the judge make the right decision in this case?

MACCLENNY, Fla. -- Miranda Wilkerson will turn 4 in a couple of days, but right now her mother's family doesn't know if it will be there to wish her a happy birthday in person.

This month, a judge awarded custody to Miranda's father.

Miranda's mother, Trista Crews Coleman, was killed in a car wreck one month after Miranda was born. "She's been with me since she drew breath," said Rita Manning, Crews Coleman's mom and Miranda's grandmother.

Manning said the legal mess began in 1997 when Crews Coleman was 14 and met Donald Coleman, 38. "Next thing I know, I've got a grandchild on the way."

When Coleman and the teen married in May 1997, Manning signed off on it because of the baby on the way. "I signed for them to get married for that reason only."

But Coleman was arrested, and court records show he pleaded guilty to a sex crime involving a child under 16. He got probation and had to register as a sex offender. The Colemans had three children together, but in 2005 Manning said her daughter left him.

"She couldn't afford a divorce (because) she was supporting three kids on their own," she said.

Two months before Crews Coleman died, her husband filed for divorce; the petition noted that she was pregnant with another man's child.

According to her family, after Crews Coleman died, Coleman pushed for custody of Miranda when Manning tried to adopt her.

"Even though they were divorcing, even though he knows she was pregnant by another man, he still had to be notified," she said.

After months in court, Manning said a Baker County judge decided July 1 to give Coleman custody. "Does Miranda know what's going on?" said Manning. "Yes, I've told her; she gets hysterical."

Coleman, now a registered sex offender with a history of domestic violence and aggravated assault, is able to get custody of Miranda because he was still married to Crews Coleman at the time of Miranda's birth and is considered the legal father.

"Her whole world is here (so) how could a judge do that?" said Manning.

At Coleman's Georgia home, a woman answered the door and said Coleman wasn't there.

"I have a feeling why you are here," she said. "I'm not gonna say the word and get custody of a 4-year-old."

When asked why Coleman wanted Miranda, she did not respond. Coleman's attorney declined to comment, saying adoption cases are private.

Manning is not giving up. She tells Miranda, "Nana is doing everything she can so you don't got to leave me..and I won't let go."

Miranda's biological father told us he has hired an attorney to try and get Miranda out of the sex offender's home.

http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/story.aspx?storyid=210825

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Are you able to find out if the bio dad ever did blood tests to prove he is her father?

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The judge had two choices; a registered sex offender for a 14 year old girl or the *mother* of said 14 year old girl who allowed her to get married to the sex offender. I feel bad for him because I don't know how I'd handle it, but I think that since he's raising her siblings, that she should live with them. I think the biological father should have stepped up four years ago if he wanted custody though.

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so sad

I thought once you are a registered sex offender you are always considered one?

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The article was a little confusing. Is he a registered sex offender because his wife was 14 when they started dating? Also it said there were 3 children, where are the other 2? (Or are there 4 because the mom said when her daughter left him in 2005, she went back because she had 3 children to raise?)

I don't see how the judge could rule any other way. They were married - sex offender or not, this woman felt comfortable raising her children with this man for at least 8 years. If she left him in 2005 but stayed for financial reasons, why have another child in 2007?

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"Beertje" wrote:

Are you able to find out if the bio dad ever did blood tests to prove he is her father?

It doesn't matter. The husband is considered the father of any children born while married. He took responsibility for the child.

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There are four kids. The first one that initiated the marriage, the charges against the dad, and the charges against the grandmother. Two more with the same Dad and then the fourth was someone else's which initiated the divorce.
eta- Dad has custody of the other three children.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/grandmother...ry?id=14089779
http://www.news4jax.com/news/28586762/detail.html

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At first glance, I couldn't believe the ruling. But after reading further, it was obviously OK by the family that she get married so I don't see why they are having issues now with the Father raising his children.

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"ethanwinfield" wrote:

The article was a little confusing. Is he a registered sex offender because his wife was 14 when they started dating? Also it said there were 3 children, where are the other 2? (Or are there 4 because the mom said when her daughter left him in 2005, she went back because she had 3 children to raise?)

I don't see how the judge could rule any other way. They were married - sex offender or not, this woman felt comfortable raising her children with this man for at least 8 years. If she left him in 2005 but stayed for financial reasons, why have another child in 2007?

It says she left him in 2005 but didn't file for divorce for financial reasons. So she left him and supported the 3 children herself for 2 years before she got pregnant again by another man and had the baby in 2007. He didn't try to get custody of the little girl until the grandmother filed to adopt her and they were required to notify him, and the little girl has never lived with him and doesn't even know him. It really sounds to me like he filed for custody out of spite because she isn't even his child.

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"RebeccaA'07" wrote:

At first glance, I couldn't believe the ruling. But after reading further, it was obviously OK by the family that she get married so I don't see why they are having issues now with the Father raising his children.

But she's not his child. The mother left him 2 years before she had the baby, and he is not the biological father the divorce was just not final when the child was born.

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"GloriaInTX" wrote:

It says she left him in 2005 but didn't file for divorce for financial reasons. So she left him and supported the 3 children herself for 2 years before she got pregnant again by another man and had the baby in 2007. He didn't try to get custody of the little girl until the grandmother filed to adopt her and they were required to notify him, and the little girl has never lived with him and doesn't even know him. It really sounds to me like he filed for custody out of spite because she isn't even his child.

But it doesn't really matter what it looks like or how we perceive it, that's the way the law reads. When you are a parent, you think about things like what happens to my kids in the event of my death and you take steps to get it lined out the way you want it to happen. Sucks for g-ma, but we have laws like that for a reason.

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A comment from that article

The grandmother has been fighting to get custody of all 4 of the children since her daughter's death. If you knew the whole story you would be supportive to the mother's family. This so called father only wants the children for the check. He himself gets a disability check or should I say a (crazy check). You seen the segment last night there is nothing wrong with him physically yet the news stated he receives a disability check. I know both families & he has mental issues which is why he received the disability check therefore does not need any of these children that is why the children's mother left him to begin with. He is a sex offender, documented domestic violence background & has assault charges which should not be allowed around children. Miranda is not his child no matter what the law say DNA states otherwise & she needs to be placed back where she was at with her grandmother who loves her. That is the last piece of her daughter she had left since she isn't allowed to see the other 3 girls. He has brainwashed those children because all of them wanted to live with their Nana when their mom passed away. He doesn't take proper care of them & his house is unfit for all of them with no doors for privacy but that must be why he likes it.

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But how do we know the comment wasn't from the grandmother? I would adopt those girls. Poor angels.

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Okay, even though he may not be the biological father, someone is. Was he notified of this?

Honestly it makes no sense that she stayed for financial reasons - she would have gotten SSI for the kids and EIC.

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"ethanwinfield" wrote:

Okay, even though he may not be the biological father, someone is. Was he notified of this?

Honestly it makes no sense that she stayed for financial reasons - she would have gotten SSI for the kids and EIC.

It says in the article that the biological father is now filing for custody. She didn't STAY, she left him but she just didn't file for divorce. Any divorce costs something. He filed for divorce after he found out she was pregnant again by another man.

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"ethanwinfield" wrote:

It doesn't matter. The husband is considered the father of any children born while married. He took responsibility for the child.

It could matter as if they prove in our state that someone else is the biological father, they remove legal obligations of the husband, and turn the rights over to the bio father. But the parties have to provide the proof on their own. I have no clue what the laws are there, though.

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No way, no how, would I ever in a thousand years sign off for my 14 year old daughter to marry a 38 year old man. Sick. This man should be a registered sex offender and I'd be bringing charges against him for impregnating my child.

If that had happened, then this entire situation could have been avoided.

Now, it is such a messed up situation.

Given the law, it seems that Miranda should be with this man. But I would hope that CPS is intimately involved in their lives to make certain that he is a fit parent.

If the biological father wanted this little girl, he should have been more vocal 3 years ago (getting the divorce finalized and confirming paternity.)

This grandmother should have fought this hard for her own daughter back in 97.

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This is why you don't leave unfinished business as far as your children are concerned. If you wouldn't want their father raising them, you do something about it. Divorcing him before getting pregnant again would have been the smartest thing, but then again this mom doesn't seem like she was the brightest bulb to begin with. Lack of money is never a good reason to not divorce a bad man, there is always legal help available, and if the grandmother was that concerned then maybe she should have loaned her daughter some money for a divorce and guardianship papers. This man is the legal father because he was married to the mother, and he therefore has more rights to the child than the grandmother or the biological father since the bio-dad apparently never claimed paternity. This guy doesn't sound like a good father, and I'm surprised he can even have minor children in the house since he's a sex offender, but then again, the mother chose to have two kids with him knowing he was a sex offender and she chose not to divorce him. It's sad for the kids, though, maybe CPS will get involved & find a legal way to remove them from him.

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"boilermaker" wrote:

If the biological father wanted this little girl, he should have been more vocal 3 years ago (getting the divorce finalized and confirming paternity.)

You don't see a difference in allowing your daughter to live with her grandmother and letting her go to her mother's ex husband who probably won't even allow visitation? The thought that the almost ex husband would file for custody probably never even crossed his mind 3 years ago.

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"GloriaInTX" wrote:

It says in the article that the biological father is now filing for custody. She didn't STAY, she left him but she just didn't file for divorce. Any divorce costs something. He filed for divorce after he found out she was pregnant again by another man.

Well then why would Grandma think she would get custody over both the biological father and the legal father?

My divorce cost $320. She would have gotten EIC, SSI, and/or child support. The cost of a divorce in 2005 would have been less than this mess because he wouldn't be considered the legal father.

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"Spacers" wrote:

This is why you don't leave unfinished business as far as your children are concerned. If you wouldn't want their father raising them, you do something about it. Divorcing him before getting pregnant again would have been the smartest thing, but then again this mom doesn't seem like she was the brightest bulb to begin with. Lack of money is never a good reason to not divorce a bad man, there is always legal help available, and if the grandmother was that concerned then maybe she should have loaned her daughter some money for a divorce and guardianship papers. This man is the legal father because he was married to the mother, and he therefore has more rights to the child than the grandmother or the biological father since the bio-dad apparently never claimed paternity. This guy doesn't sound like a good father, and I'm surprised he can even have minor children in the house since he's a sex offender, but then again, the mother chose to have two kids with him knowing he was a sex offender and she chose not to divorce him. It's sad for the kids, though, maybe CPS will get involved & find a legal way to remove them from him.

Isn't his sex offender status due to his relationship with her? Or was there another conviction?

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"boilermaker" wrote:

This grandmother should have fought this hard for her own daughter back in 97.

Amen to this!

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"boilermaker" wrote:

No way, no how, would I ever in a thousand years sign off for my 14 year old daughter to marry a 38 year old man. Sick. This man should be a registered sex offender and I'd be bringing charges against him for impregnating my child.

If that had happened, then this entire situation could have been avoided.

Now, it is such a messed up situation.

Given the law, it seems that Miranda should be with this man. But I would hope that CPS is intimately involved in their lives to make certain that he is a fit parent.

If the biological father wanted this little girl, he should have been more vocal 3 years ago (getting the divorce finalized and confirming paternity.)

This grandmother should have fought this hard for her own daughter back in 97.

No kidding! I can't fathom agreeing to let my teenage daughter marry a 38 year old man.

Legally, the guy has custody rights and, if I'm reading it right, he currently has custody of the other 3 kids. If grandma were concerned about the well-being of the one girl, you'd think she would be concerned about all of them.

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"ethanwinfield" wrote:

Isn't his sex offender status due to his relationship with her? Or was there another conviction?

I think it is due to the relationship (and later marriage) to the 14 year old girl.

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"ethanwinfield" wrote:

Isn't his sex offender status due to his relationship with her? Or was there another conviction?

Does it really matter? The fact is that he's a pedophile, he had sex with a child. I'm not personally fond of the whole statutory rape thing, especially when it's being applied to similar-age older teenagers in love who are fooling around. But this is what statutory rape was designed to prevent, grown adults having sex with children, children who don't understand the difference between love & lust or that just because someone says he loves you doesn't mean he does. She took him back after his arrest despite knowing he's a pervert and a pedophile.

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"Spacers" wrote:

Does it really matter? The fact is that he's a pedophile, he had sex with a child. I'm not personally fond of the whole statutory rape thing, especially when it's being applied to similar-age older teenagers in love who are fooling around. But this is what statutory rape was designed to prevent, grown adults having sex with children, children who don't understand the difference between love & lust or that just because someone says he loves you doesn't mean he does. She took him back after his arrest despite knowing he's a pervert and a pedophile.

It does matter. It's similar to the Mary Kay Letourneau. The law can saw one thing, but the parties involved have agreed to something else.

His arrest was for his relationship with her. She married him, went on to have other children with him, and remained for 8 years. Perhaps she didn't know the difference between love and lust at 14, but her mother did.

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"ethanwinfield" wrote:

It does matter. It's similar to the Mary Kay Letourneau. The law can saw one thing, but the parties involved have agreed to something else.

His arrest was for his relationship with her. She married him, went on to have other children with him, and remained for 8 years. Perhaps she didn't know the difference between love and lust at 14, but her mother did.

I'm not disputing that the grandmother should have known better, but that's actually part of my point. A key difference between Mary Kay Letourneau & this case is that she & Vili Fualaua married *after* he came of age. A 21yo adult making the decision to continue a relationship with a convicted pedophile is different than a 14yo child making that decision. Mr. Fualaua had plenty of time to reach maturity and make a hopefully-rational decision about whether to take Ms. Letourneau back when she was finally released from prison. Ms. Crews Coleman was married off to a pedophile at the age of 14. It should be illegal to allow your minor child to marry a convicted sex offender, even if the couple is pregnant or has a child together. Get them counseling in the meantime, and if they make the adult decision for themselves to marry that person anyway, then more power to them!

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Has no-one wondered why it has took this guy 4 years (didn't the g'ma say she's had the girl since she was born?) to try and get custody of the child?

If the girl has lived with her G'ma her whole life, then I think she should have been allowed to carry on staying there.

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He was able to visit with her until recently from what the articles say. She decided that he couldn't see her anymore so he took her to court and got full custody.

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"Minx_Kristi" wrote:

Has no-one wondered why it has took this guy 4 years (didn't the g'ma say she's had the girl since she was born?) to try and get custody of the child?

Why would he want custody? She's not his kid and she was being raised by someone who loved her, and he took the siblings to visit regularly. Sounds like a win-win for everyone. Then the grandma began withholding visitation for some reason and tried to adopt the child, the state notified him of his right to protest the adoption since he's the legal father, and he took advantage of that. Did he do it out of spite? Did he do it to protect his own children's right to have contact with their sister? We don't know because he hasn't talked about it, as far as I can tell. I hope it's the latter. But I also hope that CPS keeps a very close eye on this family because he's still IMHO a pedophile & pervert.

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I think the legal father is just doing it out of spite or for financial benefits he can receive for the child. It is obvious that the biological father has claimed paternity from the beginning, since she even has his last name.

MACCLENNY, Fla. -- James Wilkerson said the bond he has with his little girl is a special one.

"When I saw her right from the get go, I knew she was mine. It was the eyes, smile, I guess, the ears," said Wilkerson.

Wilkerson, the biological father, has been in Miranda Wilkerson's life since she was a baby. "I started seeing her, letting her know who her dad was."

Wilkerson said after Miranda's mom was killed in a car wreck, he agreed to let Rita Manning, Miranda's grandmother, take care of her as long as he could still be in her life.

He saw her often, he said.

They liked to go to the river and swim. But he said now all he has are pictures of those outings. He hasn't seen his daughter since the court placed her with registered sex offender, Donald Coleman, last week.

Coleman is by law considered Miranda's legal father since he was married to her mom at the time of her birth. "I want her back here with me or back with her grandmomma. That's what I want," said Wilkerson.

Wilkerson is now fighting back trying to get his daughter out of the sex offender's home. He is working with an attorney and hopes to file a motion in the next couple of days that may help bring his daughter home.

"I'm stepping up and I'm gonna get my baby back," the father exclusively told First Coast News.

While Wilkerson has been arrested in the past for DUI and battery on an officer, he said. "I'm not a murderer, thief, child molester. Everybody's got a background."

Wilkerson said the best place for Miranda is with him. "I love her and Daddy's gonna be there for her."

He says he wants her back by Sunday, which is a big day for him and his little girl. That is when she turns 4-years-old.

http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/article/211509/3/Miranda-Wilkerson-Biological-Father-Misses-Daughter-Worries-about-Sex-Offenders-Custody

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That poor little girl. Either someone with a DUI and battery on an officer, a pedophile, or a mother who couldn't be bothered to mother while her child was growing up. Damn, she'll be able to talk about the hard knocks of life. If both the fathers were visiting her and everything was going fine, why in the heck did the grandmother start messing things up by keeping the legal father from visiting with her sisters? Idiot.