Sat | Dec 2, 2023

Tearful reunion

Mother reunited with daughter after dad barred visits for more than a year

Published:Friday | March 17, 2023 | 12:48 AMCorey Robinson/Senior Staff Reporter

Sherica Listock* felt a rush of joy and sadness after seeing her six-year-old daughter for the first time in more than a year, last Friday.

On one hand, her happiness was stifling, she relayed, but seeing what she described as the little girl’s meagre frame broke her heart. More grief came when the child had difficulty recognising her mom from her aunt.

Listock had separated from the child’s father in 2019 and since then, she said, he has been fighting for sole custody.

Things worsened for her, however, when her then four-year-old son, who is of a different father, was caught peeking into his little sister’s panties.

The girl was two years old at the time, and the court ordered that she be placed in her father’s custody, with supervised visitation for the mom on weekends and holidays. Those orders, however, were not being followed.

Listock’s story was featured in The Sunday Gleaner last month.

Last week, there were tears of joy when her daughter was turned over to her at the Kingston waterfront.

“I had mixed feelings because I was glad to see her, but mi pickney ‘mawga’ so till. I was still wondering if everything was all right with her,” said the mother, outlining the heartbreak during their first interaction.

“Her father took her across the road and when she reached us, she just stood up and looked at me and my sister like she was confused,” she continued, “Is when she said, ‘Mommy?’ I asked her if she not coming to me, and that was when she ran into my arms.

“That really broke my heart, but I had to just hold it because my kids and everybody were there. I didn’t want to break down in front of them,” she said, outlining a weekend of fast food treats, fun, games, movie nights, and a hefty Sunday dinner before the girl was returned to her father.

She is to see her child again in two weeks as she makes an effort to change the court’s orders from supervised visitation to custody; she still believes she is the more capable parent.

“From 2019, it was like the judges were just blind to my complaints that he wasn’t allowing me to see my child. But this time, they really listened to me, and the only thing the judge wanted to know is why I wasn’t able to see my child,” she told The Gleaner as a laugh of triumph followed.

In the meantime, Listock’s attorney, Shanique Crooks-Alcott, said the restoration of visitation rights is just the start of the renewed custody battle. The aim in the initial stages was just to give the mother access to her child.

“The order stipulates that she must have a third party there to supervise, and so we have varied the order to just include her sister now, and the judge indicated that it should be complied with going forward,” she explained, adding that cases where a parent breaches the court’s orders are quite common.

“We go back to court on May 2, and on this date, we intend to make arguments for the supervised aspect of the visits to be lifted. We have to take it in segments because it has been a year that her daughter has been in the custody of the father, so we can’t really move in any abrupt manner,” the attorney said, noting that the court has ordered an access report to assess living conditions at Listock’s home.

Gradually, she said, the aim is to get back to a point where the child’s care and control, ultimately, rests with the mother.