The Show

Crisis in Family Court

Dr. Phil shines a light on the American family court system, and how often it fails its citizens. From restraining orders to custody battles, hear heartbreaking stories that many say prove the system needs a major overhaul.

Failed by the System




"A week after our court hearing, I had to bring Wyatt back to Stephen. It was court ordered," Katie explains. "Saturday afternoon, I checked my e-mail, and there was a suicide letter in there from Stephen, saying that he was sorry for everything, he was running with Wyatt, and I was never going to see him again. He told me not to call the police, that if I did, he would shoot Wyatt."

Softly, Katie says, "I wanted Wyatt back, and I wanted Wyatt back safe. I called 911. The police rushed over to his house, and he was already gone with Wyatt by then. He was in the area. He was watching his house. He called me, saying, ‘Why did you call the police? I told you not to. You ruined everything.' For hours, I was trying to plead with him, tell him it didn't have to be like this, everything would be fine, we'll figure something out. The last phone call I got from Stephen was him screaming at me, just telling me, ‘Tell the police to get off me. Tell the police to get off me, or else I'm going to do it right here, right now.' Wyatt's in the background, and I can hear him screaming and crying." With a trembling voice, she says, "I can hear Stephen start clicking his gun back, and that's when the phone call cut out.

"Later, the detectives called me and said, ‘We're going to come out to your house and talk to you about Wyatt.' I was hoping that they were going to be bringing Wyatt to me that morning," Katie says, struggling to speak. "And they came … They didn't have Wyatt. The detectives told me that the police were chasing [Stephen], and Stephen pulled over and shot Wyatt and shot himself.

"It kills me. It kills me that I don't have Wyatt anymore," Katie says, wiping away her tears. "It has not gotten any easier at all. I'm angry with the judge. He could've done something to stop it. He chose not to do his job that day. They would both still be here if that judge would've just listened to me."

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