In the Case of Siovaughn Wade v. Gabrielle Union, the Losers are the Kids
Let me start by saying what this is not: This is not an endorsement of NBA all-star Dwayne Wade’s alleged behavior during his marriage or during his on-going divorce proceedings. This is not commentary on allegations of adultery and STD transmission, among others, made by his estranged wife, Siovaughn Wade (pictured above), whom he began dating when they were both 15. Nor is it commentary on his allegations of infidelity and mental illness, among others, against her. This is also not commentary on the nature of his very public relationship with actress Gabrielle Union.
Broadly speaking, this isn’t really about the $50,000 lawsuit Ms. Wade filed last week against Ms. Union. What this is about, specifically, are the co-plaintiffs named in the lawsuit: the Wades’ sons, ages 8 and 2.
The suit contends that Ms. Union’s relationship with Mr. Wade has caused the boys “emotional distress.” In particular, Ms. Wade accuses Ms. Union of participating in “sexual foreplay” with Mr. Wade in front of the children; ignoring the oldest child’s “screams and cries”, along with Mr. Wade, as the child played unsupervised in and around a pool; and driving with the oldest child in the front seat of a car. Further, the complaint alleges that at Christmas 2009, the children received “medium size gifts” from their father while Ms. Union got “the biggest gift of all.” The suit goes on to state: “Defendant has played sexually explicit roles, including roles as a seductress…[She] has apparently decided to take her role beyond the films and into the home of a married man, Dwayne Wade, in the presence of his two minor children.”
The older child is receiving medical treatment for stress and anxiety, “has developed nervous habits, experiences headaches, and is generally anxious to the point of “significant” hair loss causing bald spots,” according to the suit. Under court-order, he is receiving mental evaluations at the University of Chicago. The suits also notes that the child asked a court-appointed representative to “put his father in jail…” so that he wouldn’t have to return to “the house where the woman kissing daddy lives.”
About a week after this new suit was filed, the Chicago judge presiding over the Wades’ divorce case ordered sheriff’s deputies to take Ms. Wade into custody for failing to show up for a hearing at which Mr. Wade’s attorney planned to ask that his client be granted physical custody of the children. Judge Marya Nega cited a “pattern of behavior” by Ms. Wade throughout the divorce proceedings. According to the Huffington Post: “‘When things don’t go according to Mrs. Wade’s way all of a sudden the phone’s turned off,’ said Nega, clearly exasperated when Siohvaughn Wade’s attorney explained she had not been able to reach her client.” Previously, Ms. Wade had not followed court orders with regard to Mr. Wade’s parenting time and daily phone calls with the children.
(Ms. Wade eventually spent an hour in jail before being released on $100,000 bond. A custody hearing is set for June.)
Again…my intention is not to give Mr. Wade (or Ms. Union) a pass for negligent behavior, as alleged. But I do have questions. Ms. Wade made these emotional distress allegations in court about a month prior to filing the suit, but at that time, Ms. Union was not named as a defendant, and the claims were dismissed as frivolous. Is this what Judge Nega meant when she mentioned things not going Ms. Wade’s way? What could possibly be the reason for a separate suit against Ms. Union, besides an attempt to annoy and embarrass her? Strokes for folks if that’s how we’re handing out scarlet A’s these days…but not with kids in the mix. I have no doubt that the boys are emotionally distressed, and so is Ms. Wade, understandably so. But exactly whom does this lawsuit serve?
If Ms. Wade wins the $50K, it’s not as if she needs it for the boys’ counseling bills. No doubt Daddy’s got that covered. So exactly how would this money benefit the children? Will she explain to the boys that “the woman kissing daddy” has been punished and forced to pay for their summer-long trip Disney World? And like kissing a boo-boo, Mama’s made it all better now? Indeed…but for whom? Ms. Wade needs to ask adults whose parents divorced when they were kids if 50 grand would have negated the emotional trauma they experienced.
Whether the children are suffering because of their mother’s antics or a too-soon or otherwise inappropriate introduction to Ms. Union as their father’s girlfriend, or–more than likely–both…the fact is, they are suffering. That Ms. Wade would use the legitimate suffering of her young children in pursuit of emotional justice for herself is deplorable.
This sad case has helped me to better understand how family courts, flaws and all, work. In Wade v. Wade, as in too many drawn-out divorce cases, allegations of infidelity, abuse, abandonment, and mental illness are made, withdrawn, substantiated, and unsubstantiated. Reconciliations are attempted, seriously or half-heartedly; they fail. The court’s job is to wade through all the muck, to some extent, but ultimately, in the case of custody decisions, the effects on the children speak loud and clear. Problem is, sometimes judges fail to hear, best-interest attorneys aren’t equipped, lies are told, judicial biases go unchecked, one parent can’t afford proper representation, and on and on. There are far too many things that can go wrong, and children-not their father’s mistresses–pay the biggest price.
But maybe-just maybe-the judge in this case will be able to silence the background noise, and hear the littlest voices. So far, Judge Nega has stated that her primary concern is the boys and how they are being affected by the divorce proceedings. “Maybe it’s time for the kids to go live with Dad for a month or two,” she said.
Outside of chambers, the court of public opinion may have already declared Ms. Wade unstable and Ms. Union a homewrecker. File under “Gender Bias”: I’ve heard far fewer voices condemning Mr. Wade’s behavior beyond, “He must have really done her dirty to set her off like this.” That may well be, and yet…all the adults in this drama need to take responsibility for their contributions, whatever they may, to the emotional distress the Wade boys are experiencing. That Siovaughn Wade thinks $50,000 should cover it and that Gabrielle Union alone should “pay” would laughable if it weren’t tragic.
Attorney not named “Gloria Allred” to rep you during a lengthy divorce battle: $500+/hour
Two parents who put their selfishness, pride, and differences aside to help their children heal in the wake of a divorce: priceless.
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