Bring Chloe Home
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I have a 31 year old daughter, Elizabeth Ferguson, who is the mother of 2 daughters ages 9 and 5. She lives in Millersville, TN and shares joint custody of her 9 year old with her father. Her 5 year old, Chloe, lives in Beattyville, Ky and has lived with her paternal grandparents, Bill and Sheila Dunlap, since September 26th, 2015, when her father passed away unexpectedly. The Dunlaps didn't inform Elizabeth about their son passing away and a week later, when Elizabeth had not been able to get in touch with Chloe's father so that she could speak to Chloe, she contacted a lawyer and that lawyer found out that he had passed away a week prior. The lawyer also found out that the Dunlaps had filed a motion in Lee County, Ky (Beattyville), on October 2nd, 2015, for emergency custody of Chloe, claiming that they had no idea where my daughter was nor did they know how to get in touch with her. The motion was set to be heard on October 7th, 2015.
After finding out the events that had transpired, my daughter contacted a lawyer in Irvine, Ky who agreed to represent her in getting custody of Chloe. She drove to Kentucky on Monday, October 5th to meet with her lawyer, Richard Kinniston, who then filed a petition for custody of Chloe and it was to be heard by Judge Michael Dean on October 7th, 2015.
October 7th came and Judge Dean explained to everyone in the courtroom that all "domestic" cases would be heard by a Domestic Relations Commissioner. Apparently in Kentucky counties that are without a children's court of some sort, they have a Domestic Relations Commissioner preside over domestic cases. This DRC then has 90 days to make a "recommendation." Once he gives his recommendation, the individuals involved must still go to court in front of the Judge who states that he will take the recommendation under submission and then make a judgment, which he has 60 days to hand down.
My daughter, myself, and the Dunlaps testified in front of the DRC on October 9th, 2015. Ten days later, the DRC's recommendation was that Tennessee was the home state for Chlor, since her only living parent resided there, and that Chloe should be returned to my daughter. We appeared in front of Judge Michael Dean on November 4th, 2015, who then took the case under submission and stated he would give his ruling within his 60 day allotted time period. The beginning of January, 2016, there had still been no word in regards to the Judge's decision so Elizabeth's lawyer filed a motion for "judgment." Judge Dean called her lawyer and said that he had made a ruling around November 14th, 2015. Apparently, the Judge's secretary had filed the papers with the wrong docket number and the Circuit Court would not accept them. Instead of correcting her mistake, my daughter had to wait the full 60 days for a ruling from the Judge Adams due to an uncorrected mistake by Judge Deans' secretary.
The next court date was on February 19th, 2016 and the Commissioner had to make a recommendation regarding whether or not the grandparents met the requirements to be named "De Facto Custodians." If it was decided that they did meet those requirements, they would then be allowed to fight my daughter for custody for custody of Chloe. The commissioner gave his recommendation at the end of May, 2016, which was that the grandparents did NOT meet those requirements and that Chloe should be returned to Elizabeth. We then appeared in front of Judge Michael Dean in July, 2016 for his ruling. He again took the commissioner's recommendation under submission.
In April, 2016, the Kentucky Probate Court subpoenaed Elizabeth to appear regarding Chloe's father's estate. The Probate Court stated that they see Elizabeth as Chloe's custodian so Elizabeth should be present at all Probate hearings.
On July 23rd, 2016, Judge Michael Dean went against the Commissioner's recommendation and gave the grandparents this "De Facto Custodian" status." This means that now the Dunlaps are able to fight Elizabeth for custody of Chloe.
In early August, the Dunlaps filed a motion for limited Power of Attorney so they would be able to start her in school in Kentucky. Instead of following the procedure that had been the case during the previous year and having the motion first be heard by the DRC, Judge Michael Adams ruled on the motion that very day and granted the Dunlaps limited POA. Elizabeth's lawyer immediately filed an appeal with the appeals court on the "De Facto Custodian" decision. As most of us know, an appeal can take anywhere from 1 year to 18 months so again, Elizabeth is not going to be allowed to see Chloe, and will have limited phone conversations with Chloe, all at the discretion of the Dunlaps who don't even have custody of Chloe.
Since October, 2015, Elizabeth and Chloe have only seen each other 2 times. Both times, the DRC has basically threatened Elizabeth with the possibility of "contempt of court" if she didn't bring her back when she said she would. Elizabeth calls Chloe every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday but the Dunlaps instructed Elizabeth to only call at a certain time or they will not answer the phone. They very seldom answer the phone at all and is being denied her God given right to nurture a bond with her daughter. Not only has Chloe lost her Daddy, she has been denied a relationship with her mother and this has been done at the discretion of the Dunlaps who do NOT have custody of Chloe.
Since the beginning of this whole unfortunate ordeal, the Dunlaps have lied in order retain possession of Chloe. They did not inform Elizabeth that Chloe's father had passed away, they intentionally didn't answer the phone when Elizabeth was calling to speak with Chloe the week following her father's death. In addition, we believe that the Dunlaps had blocked Elizabeth's ability to access his Facebook account following his death which was one of the ways Elizabeth and Chloe's father communicated. Please help reunite Chloe with her mother by signing this petition or sharing this on your facebook page to bring awareness regarding this injustice.
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