Father continues fight for parental rights - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Father continues fight for parental rights

By Connie Leonard - bio | email
Posted By Mike Dever - email

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - A Florida father who's been reaching out to the public to get the right to see his Kentucky son was in Frankfort Thursday, making his pitch to lawmakers. 

James Rhoades, who claims he got a married woman from Louisville pregnant while having an affair with her, wants Kentucky lawmakers to recognize parental rights for fathers in his situation. 

"We're going to work hard to get this passed as quickly as possible," Rhoades said.

Time is of the essence for Rhoades: 21 months have passed since he last saw his young son.  Rhoades has already taken his case to the public, with an Internet blog that's receiving national attention and a billboard campaign that's attempting to get support for House Bill 28. 

Rhoades claims after he had an affair with a married Louisville woman, she allowed him to see his son and even allowed a DNA test that proved his paternity. But he says he was shut out of his son's life after she told her husband about it. 

"It just seems so bizarre that anyone could keep a father and a child apart when they know who the father truly is," Rhoades said. 

In August, the Kentucky Supreme Court denied Rhoades the right to see his son based on current Kentucky law, and that decision is now affecting fathers in similar situations across the Commonwealth. 

Shane Benton says he had parental rights until Rhoades' Supreme Court case. 

"When Rhoades' case came down, the judge realized I shouldn't have been seeing my child for two-and-a-half years," Benton said. "I've been paying child support, doing everything I was supposed to do and at that moment he was with me that weekend, we were getting ready to go on vacation and the judge comes back and says you have to give him back!" 

On Thursday, Rhoades and other fathers met with lawmakers to try and get the bill heard. "It's hard for people to respect the law when you have a case that is so nonsensical," said District 43 Representative Darryl Owens, one of the bill's sponsors. 

Owens says it's time to right a wrong. "To me, it just doesn't make sense in this day and time when you have an individual who's the biological father of the child and to tell him he can have no interaction with his child; in my view it defies logic." 

Rhoades says he has no intention of admitting defeat. "I will not give up. I'm fighting for my child and I'm fighting for his right to be in my life, his right to know his paternal grandparents, because children do deserve it and do have rights." 

Rep. Owens told us he has talked with the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee about calling the bill - it needs to get out of committee by Feb. 11. 

Meanwhile, attorneys for the mother in the Rhoades case say they can't talk about it because of the Kentucky Supreme Court ruling.

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