Petition Closed

Black Father Fights Ex-Wife, X Factor Show, and Texas Family Court Over Parental Rights

To Be Delivered to the State Bar of Texas, Chief Disciplinary Counsel

The State Bar of TX Should Issue Appropriate Sanctions Against Unethical Attorneys and Judges for Manipulating the Legal System at the Expense of a Father's Parental Rights

Issues of Importance:

This petition addresses issues of parental rights, especially the rights of fathers. It also addresses the exploitation of children by the music and television industry. Lastly, this petition addresses major flaws in the American legal system, particularly the disturbing practice of unethical attorneys and judges who manipulate laws and the legal process to their own advantage.


My daughter, Ma'at Shango, was a contestant on the first season (2011) of the U.S. version of "THE X FACTOR SHOW," a reality show produced by Blue Orbits Production, Inc., which features contestants competing in a globally-televised singing competition. She was 12 years old. My underage daughter was included as a contestant on the show without the required legal consent of both parents. "THE X FACTOR" never received consent from both parents, although this was required according to "X FACTOR" contracts.  I never signed any contracts with "THE X FACTOR," and I never gave anyone permission to make contractual decisions on my behalf.  In fact, I made this very clear to one of the Producers of the show, Shelby Wagner, who informed me that she was unaware of the controversy.  She also informed me, via email, that she would forward my concern to the appropriate parties. 

The Legal Department of "THE X FACTOR" had essentially failed to excercise due dillence during their contestant selection process. If they would have examined divorce papers, they would have discovered that my ex-wife and I have joint custody of our daughter, including legal custody. We shared legal rights. "THE X FACTOR" needed consent from both parents to include Ma'at Shango as a contestant on their show. Their failure to exercise due dilligence resulted in my 12 year old daughter appearing as a contestant on their television series illegally, that is, without the required legal consent of both parents.

My ex-wife, who is an attorney, and "THE X FACTOR" were in a bind because I never signed the contract.  Unlike my ex-wife, I never voluntarily gave the Producers of "THE X FACTOR" exclusive rights to my 12 year old daughter's name, face, image, life story, singing, dancing, acting, song writing, modeling, or any other aspect of her "professional career."  Legally, they could not include my daughter as a contestant on their television series without my signature.  The contract was invalid without my signature.  However, my daughter continued to appear on the series.  In the meantime, my ex-wife, the Legal Department of "THE X FACTOR," and a Texas family court worked together to "fix" this legal mess. Ultimately, some of my parental rights were suspended, stripped away, in order for my daughter to continue to participate as a contestant on "THE X FACTOR" without my consent. Even worse, a Texas Family Court issued orders that my pre-teen daughter's "career-related" schedule--dress rehearsals, interviews, auditions, photo shoots, promotional events, etc.---trumps my visitation time with her. I was also ORDERED to sign "THE X FACTOR" contract and parental release form.  I never voluntarily agreed to the terms and conditions of "THE X FACTOR" contract.  The Court was essentially attempting to force my hand, attempting to force me to sign the contract involuntarily.   I never signed any "X FACTOR" contracts, even after the Court ORDERED me to sign the contracts.  Unfortunately, if I do not comply with the Court Order, I may be denied access to my daughter.

Please join me in my fight to bring public attention to this issue and to restore my parental rights. Our society has a tendency to promote stories about absentee fathers, suggesting, in many ways, that we live in a fatherless society. Black fathers, in particular, have been stereotyped as irresponsible, uninvolved, or "deadbeats" when it comes to raising our children. Many of us are visibly active in our children's lives. We are very involved. Unfortunately, many of us have to fight to maximize our involvement with our children.

I have been engaged in a legal battle over this issue for nearly a year. I will continue to seek justice in the Courts. Perhaps this case will reach the U.S. Supreme Court, and we can seriously address the disturbing trend of treating fathers like second-class parents in this nation. However, I am also calling on the Chief Disciplinary Counsel of the State Bar of Texas to sanction all of the Texas attorneys and judges for their unethical conduct.

My ex-wife, who is an attorney in Texas, misrepresented parental information on the 26-page contract with "THE X FACTOR." She signed the contract under penalty of perjury. She also put herself in a position where she could be sued by "THE X FACTOR" for breach of contract. She did not have the exclusive right to make legal decisions for our daughter. Nonetheless, she made a unilateral decision to enter our daughter into a contractual agreement with "THE X FACTOR". In order to rectify this situation, she filed a motion in the 247th District Court of Houston, TX, seeking the Court to grant her the exclusive right to make legal and contractual decisions for our 12 year old daughter, which would require stripping away my rights to make legal and contractual decisions for our daughter. She had already signed "THE X FACTOR" contract. She was trying to resolve her dilemma. 

Several Texas attorneys assisted her throughout this lengthy case, including Melanie Flowers, Robin Barry, LaTosha Lewis Payne, Susan Oehl, and Joan Foote Jenkins. They knew, or should have known, that their client committed perjury. They also knew, or should have known, that nearly every aspect of our Original Decree of Divorce, which my ex-wife drafted and signed, was not followed, including our agreement to mediate and arbitrate any controversies regarding parental rights, custody, and visitation. A Texas Arbitrator, Steve Bavousett, who is also an attorney, failed to serve as an impartial judge in this matter. Two Family Court Judges, Meca Walker and Bonnie Crane Hellums, also failed to serve as impartial, neutral judges. They all worked together to strip away some of my parental rights for two reasons: (1) To allow my 12 year old daughter to participate in a reality show without my consent, even though consent from both parents was required, and (2) To protect their colleague, my ex-wife, from breaching a contract with "THE X FACTOR." All of this information is a matter of public record.

It has been exceedingly difficult for me to fight this issue in Court, particularly with so many unethical legal professionals involved in this case. I am looking for public support. I am also seeking the State Bar of Texas to issue sanctions against the above mentioned Texas attorneys and judges for their unethical conduct.

Please add your name to this petition as a sign of support for my on going fight to have all of my parental rights restored. Please add your name to this petition as a sign of support for parental rights. Please add your name to this petition as a sign of support for father's rights. Please add your name to this petition as a sign of support for calls to address major flaws in the American legal system.

Thank you!

-J. Shango
Washington, DC

For a fuller description of this story, please read and share my "Open Letter to Simon Cowell and "THE X FACTOR, USA," dated October 31, 2011. You can find the letter at the following site:

This petition was delivered to:
  • Chief Disciplinary Counsel, State Bar of Texas

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