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In 2011, Jones retained the law firm of Feller & Wendt, telling them he wanted to return to court. His attorneys advised him against it, stating that it would cost a minimum of $2,500, with the result being that the courts would order a special master to get involved.
Instead, the lawyers arranged a visitation for Aug. 18, 2011, after Jones had been denied visitation for eight weeks. Jones says he waited 30 minutes after no one answered the door. Sharon’s attorney called Jones’ attorney, Jones says, and told him that the kids weren’t coming for their visitation. The attorney said the kids had phoned their mother to say they would lock themselves in the house and not answer the door, or go to the house of a friend where Jones could not find them.
Jones’ attorney then suggested retaining the special master and trying to resolve the situation with the efforts of a counselor, without going to court. He reasoned that if they later went to court, Jones would be able to show that he had already taken those steps, and the judge would be more likely to hold Sharon in contempt.
Jones agreed to forgo litigation as long as his kids were enrolled with a counselor who would work with both him and the kids to resolve whatever their issues were. But Jones says that Sharon continued “not scheduling the kids for regular sessions, stating that she would continue to be an advocate for the kids, sitting in on the counseling sessions with [Jeremy].” He adds that the children refused to have meetings with Jones in the counselor’s office.
According to e-mails between Brian Florence, the special master who worked with the Jones family, and Jones, the counselor said that he had exhausted his efforts to make any progress on the alienation/estrangement.
Florence wrote that the counselor “is not convinced that [Sharon] has not, in some unintentional way, caused the children to want nothing to do with their dad. ... I use the term estrangement, because everything that the counselor hears from the children falls into that category, i.e., David has caused them not to want to have anything to do with him.”
In counseling, the children said they didn’t want to see their father because he made them do their homework; stored a suitcase in the room where the boy slept, making him feel like he was sleeping in a storage closet; and canceled a skiing outing, causing them to say that because he canceled that time, he never did what he said he would do.
Jones followed the counselor’s suggestion to write his children a letter. They wrote back, but the counselor felt the letters were “too hurtful” and chose not to give them to Jones. In a joint e-mail to Jones and Sharon, Florence wrote that the letters were indeed hurtful, adding, “I would be less than candid if I didn’t tell you that I got the impression that they had adult help in saying what they did. The words used and contexts of their complaint felt to me to have come from someone older.”
For her part, Sharon declined to be interviewed by City Weekly for this story.