Shawnette Andreason hasn't seen her daughter Madison since 2011.
Garry Schumacher, the seven-year-old girl's father, is willing to go to jail to keep it that way.
Inside Hennepin County Family Court in downtown Minneapolis this afternoon, Schumacher, who raises the girl as well as a younger daughter along with his wife Jenny, will find out if Judge Patrick Robben will make good on his March threat to incarcerate the defiant dad if he didn't allow for supervised visits between Madison and her biological mom, Shawnette Andreason.
Two months ago in the most recent chapter of what's been a six-year-long legal battle, the judge found the 36-year-old Schumacher to be in contempt of court.
It was a move made out of legal necessity.
According to Robben, Schumacher had continued a pattern of failing "to comply with the current parenting order directing that he" cooperate and "make Madison available for supervised visitation" at Perspectives, a nonprofit facility in St. Louis Park that sometimes serves as neutral ground for families in transitionary periods.
Robben also noted in his ruling, "The threat of incarceration is likely to induce compliance by Father."
Schumacher argues he has no choice but to continue to defy the court. This includes going to jail.
"I'm doing this to protect my daughter," he says. "It's a risk to Madison's safety for her to spend time with [Andreason]. It's also not in her best interest because I don't want my child to be re-introduced to this person only to have her go away again. I mean, at this point, she doesn't even know who she is, and Madison believes my wife is her mom."
The father's misgivings are understandable. Public records show Andreason has been arrested for drugs. She was picked up for theft just three years ago.
This in addition to Andreason checking herself into a 90-day rehab program for cocaine dependence in January 2011, according to Schumacher.
"I don't care if she's passed drug tests or not," he says. "I don't believe she's ever stopped using, whether it's cocaine or prescription pills."
John Huberty, the lawyer who's represented Andreason since fall 2012, dismisses Schumacher's claims of victimhood.
"He never thought my client would be serious about being involved in their daughter's life," he says. "He, I believe, thought she would quit [her legal parental claims] or relapse. When he saw she was serious, he took on a successful scorched earth policy.... It's Mr. Schumacher who's dicking the dog here."
The current Andreason-Schumacher family tragedy began as a love story in 2006.
For almost three years, they were a smitten couple planning to spend a life together. Madison was born in February 2007.
As a gesture of his commitment, Schumacher says he took out a Bank of America loan to pay off $42,000 Andreason had accrued in junk debt. Court records show a settlement in 2011, in which Andreason was ordered to pay Schumacher back $16,000.
The narrative started a downward trajectory a year and change later, according to Schumacher, when Andreason was prescribed percocet for pain related to a winter car crash. By springtime, he says, he discovered a purse full of the scripts.
By 2010, the couple had split. Later that year, things got worse. They were sharing custody when Madison was dropped off at daycare by Andreason with what Schumacher alleges was a broken arm.
Three months later, Andreason relinquished Madison to her father and was checking herself into a drug treatment program. By summer, the parents were before Hennepin County Judge Ivy Bernhardson, who told Andreason this would be her "last chance" to be involved in Madison's life.
Schumacher, who eventually got married in May 2012, brought Madison once a week to Ridgedale Center for "maybe 14 weeks" for hour-long reacquainting visits between child and mother.
The time would be used as a bridge to further grow their bond.
In March 2013, the parents met with a mediator, agreeing to continue the course of re-unification therapy. Included in the terms was Andreason taking drug tests upon Schumacher's asking.
"Mr. Schumacher agreed to this," says Huberty. "If they came back clean, he would pay for the test. If they came back dirty, well, it would torpedo the whole thing."
Huberty says his client has always sought to have a normal, non-custodial relationship with Madison where she has the child maybe every other weekend and the odd weeknight. He cites her relationship with a son from another relationship.
"She has a normal, healthy relationship with him," he says. "It's been helped with a father who's been willing to be reasonable -- unlike Mr. Schumacher."
Huberty accuses Schumacher of a drastic course change that's resulted in the current dark stalemate.
The wrench came last summer. Schumacher, who says he had reached a point of burnout after Andreason's "fourth or fifth attempt to re-enter Madison's life," filed to terminate her parental rights.
"I was finally able to find a lawyer who would finally take my money and do what I've wanted to do all along," he says. "What I asked [Andreason] to sign was simple: Her parental rights would be terminated if she relapsed, meaning she flunked a drug test."
Andreason said no.
There's no merit in Schumacher's legal strategy, Huberty contends: "He just wants her to terminate her parental rights so his wife can adopt Madison.... He wants to get her out of the way -- she's inconvenient -- so things can fit in his family's nice little box."
Today's hearing comes in the wake of Robben's contempt ruling in March in addition to a November proceeding when Schumacher was again ordered to facilitate mother and daughter supervised visits.
Based on the ruling filed a month later, the judge was unimpressed by Schumacher's self-styled parental crusade of principle.
"His refusal to comply with his commitments and Court orders is, at this point, reflecting more poorly on himself than Mother," Robbens wrote. "It also reflects that Father has his own emotional issues from the events that have transpired over the last few years for which he could significantly benefit from personal therapy."
Schumacher doesn't much care for what the judge thinks. This isn't about nixing an inconvenient reality from his world, he says. He wants to protect his daughter from Andreason, who he mistrusts as a parent and a person.
"I can't do something I believe will harm my child and my family," Schumacher says. "I'd rather go to jail than potentially put her in harm's way."
If Robbens orders Schumacher to the workhouse at Parker's Lake in Plymouth, Madison will most likely remain with his wife as both sides plan their next moves in court.
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