In the hours before Game Four of the NBA Finals, the Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade had his lawyer ask a Chicago judge to stop his ex-wife’s visits with their two sons of whom Dwyane has custody.
Over the Father’s Day weekend there was an incident at Siovaughn Funches-Wade’s home in which Dwyane’s sister—who was supposed to pick up the boys on Saturday at noon in order to make an afternoon flight to Miami so that the boys could spend the entire day on Father’s Day with their dad—got no response when she arrived at the house. After several hours the sheriff was called and sent an officer to the scene.
Allegedly Siovaughn was in the home and then attempted to leave without the children when a deputy tried to take her into custody. She was charged with two counts of attempted child abduction, two counts of unlawful visitation interference and one count of resisting arrest.
A second woman, Nadgee Alarcon, was also allegedly in the home with he children and was charged with one count of resisting arrest.
Dwayne ended up hiring a private jet to take the boys home to Florida early Sunday morning. They got in at about 6AM. “That's what mattered most to me,” he told the Associated Press, “getting them here to be with me on Father's Day.”
Dwyane and Siovaughn, high school sweethearts, separated in 2007, were divorced in 2010, and in March of 2011, Dwyane was awarded custody of the boys after Siovaughn had repeatedly used the children as pawns in her battle against her ex-husband. There were numerous instances in which she did not allow visits with their father. She was also routinely not allowing court-ordered phone contact.
Siovaughn publicly accused Dwyane of “engaging in sexual foreplay” with his girlfriend, actor Gabrielle Union, in front of the children and sued her ex-husband and Union because of the emotional distress it caused her and the children. She also claimed that his parental relationship was so severed that the boys cry uncontrollably when he’s around and that they don’t recognize him as their father—and that he contracted an STD through an extra-marital affair.
None of this turned out to be true, which led to Dwyane suing her and two of her lawyers for defamation of character.
Siovaughn has allegedly gone through ten different lawyers throughout the course of their proceedings. Presumably, that fact along with all of her other behavior is what caused the judge in their case to award custody of the boys to their father.
Unfortunately, her actions over the last few years are not all that uncommon amongst women involved in a divorce or even a contentious relationship with a man they were never married to, but happen to have children with.
We are constantly beaten over the head with images of deadbeat dads and men who are not participating in their children’s lives, but absentee fathers are not always at fault for being absentee. Many mothers' attempts to alienate their children's father are not talked about in the media enough. Nor are examples of men who simply cannot afford to live after being hit with a large child support amount.
Wade's ex-wife's behavior is an more-common-than-we-think example of a woman-turned vindictive once the relationship with her husband broke down and now, even after the boys have been moved to Dywane's custody, she still has not gotten herself together.
Throughout the course of their divorce, Siovaughn has acted like many women do in a divorce or even in situations where people have children and were never married. Not all women act like this – not even the majority of women do this, but enough do that it warrants discussion. The problem that many men face is that this is not talked about by the media with the same fervor that deadbeat dads are talked about, so it’s hard for them to get support. While there are countless non-profit organizations and city-run campaigns with the goal of encouraging men to be a part of their children’s lives, there aren’t many—in fact, I can’t find any—groups whose goal is to discourage women from alienating children from their fathers by denying parenting time allotted to dad or disparaging him in front of the children or even just disappearing with them.
The frustrating thing for men faced with this sort of situation is that it appears that no one really thinks that this goes on, because it doesn’t get nearly the attention that absentee fathers and deadbeat dads get. In reality, 40% of mothers reported that they had interfered with the non-custodial father's visitation on at least one occasion, to punish the ex-spouse according to The American Journal of Orthopsychiatry.
Wade is the opposite of an absentee father. He is the opposite of a deadbeat dad. But the reality is that Dwyane Wade is not alone. Many men would like to get custody of their children rather than see them every other weekend like courts often order. For these men, four days out of a month is not enough.
The problem is that it is costly. Most people can’t afford Dwyane Wade’s high-powered attorney, and without a high-priced attorney, most men are unable to navigate their way through the court system to get their situation straightened out.
The media perpetuates an image of Black men who don’t want anything to do with their children and that run away at all costs, but that isn't the reality for all Black fathers who are separated from their children. A number of men want to be with their children, but if they’re not making an NBA player’s salary, then chances are the child support order has rendered them unable to take care of themselves, let alone a child even if it is just four days out of the month.
Dwyane Wade is a superhero. Not on the basketball court, but in the family court. With his celebrity and money, he is actually able to get justice despite having to work against the court of public opinion and skewed media perceptions. Thousands of men would love to be able to do that.