A woman accused of taking her four children from their custodial father in violation of a court order is in jail.
Melisa Ivey, of Carrollton, Texas, appeared before DeKalb County Magistrate Judge Tracy Dorfman Aug. 16 for a warrant application hearing. Ivey’s charge was interstate interference of custody, a felony.
The judge ordered Ivey’s arrest and set a $4,000 signature bond, which would have allowed her to avoid jail, but she was booked on an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in court.
According to Micah Parker of Stone Mountain, his four children, 13-year-old daughter Jordan, and his three sons, Micah Jr., 12, Isaiah, 11, and Caleb, 9, were taken by Ivey June 10. He said he has not seen or heard from them since.
Parker said he and his sons were away from home where they were practicing football that day. He received a call from Kennedy, his ex-wife’s 15-year-old daughter, asking if she could come over to visit Jordan.
Parker and his sons later returned home. When Kennedy, who was living with Ivey, said she was leaving to walk to a friend’s house in the neighborhood, Parker said her told the rest of the children to walk with her, according to a police incident report.
Approximately 10 minutes later when the children did not return, Parker unsuccessfully looked for them. He called the police when he could not find them.
Parker said he received a text message from Ivey.
“I have the kids. They [are] with me per court order for the summer,” stated the message Parker still has on his phone.
Ivey was allowed a two-week visitation with the children, but was required to give Parker a one-week notice, he said. And she was not allowed to take the children out of state.
Daniel Meachum, Ivey’s attorney, presented letters allegedly written by the children stating that they were abused under Parker’s care, wanted to escape with their mother and were enjoying their time in Texas, and particularly a sports camp by former NFL football player Deion Sanders, who is paying Meachum to represent Ivey.
“If you look at the evidence,…these kids are saying that they left with their mother voluntarily,” Meachum said.
“The court has to take into consideration what a child is saying as it relates to the abuse,” Meachum told the judge.
Dorfman told Meachum that “minors can’t consent” and that testimony and evidence of any alleged abuse was irrelevant to the case she was considering.
“You don’t just ignore a court order, right,” Dorfman said. “You’re trying to justify [Ivey] breaking the law.”
Meachum said he was trying to justify Ivey “keeping her kids based on their telling her the abuse they were receiving.”
Dorfman said that if Ivey “felt that her children were in danger, she needs to come [to court].”
“She just doesn’t make up her own law,” Dorfman said. “That’s not how it works. You don’t just get to violate the law saying, ‘I think I was justified in doing so.’”
Ivey should have filed a motion to modify the custody order, Dorfman said.
“Unfortunately, [Ivey] has not chosen to do that,” Dorfman said. “One parent can’t just take [the children] away.”
Ivey testified that she contacted Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to report alleged abuses by Parker.
Ivey also told the judge that Parker would not allow her to visit the children.
“The decree allows my client to have her kids for two weeks in June,” Meachum said. “She was in rights pursuant to the divorce decree to have her kids” when the DeKalb County Police were looking for the children in June.
Dorfman said, “The lawful visitation period was for two weeks in June. It is now Aug. 16. No matter, what [Ivey] is beyond …the lawful visitation period.”
When Parker was asked what he felt about the hearing’s outcome, he said, “I don’t have my children.”
Kimberly Beard, Parker’s attorney, said she will have to request a court order to get the children back.
An investigator in Texas has not been able to locate the children, not even at the address where Ivey told the court she lived, she said.
“This is going to be long and drawn out,” Beard said.
In a phone call to The Champion, Jermaine Ivey, Melisa’s husband, said that the children chose to leave their father because of alleged abuse they experienced in the home.
“Those kids have been abused,” Jermaine Ivey said. “They went through a lot of stuff.”
When their mother was in Stone Mountain in June, the children “found an opportunity to escape the situation,” he said.
More will come out when the children talk, Jermaine Ivey said.
“The kids have something to say,” he said.
Jermaine Ivey said his wife has reported the allegations to police and the Department of Family and Children Services to no avail.
“He’s got people he knows in the child support system,” Jermaine Ivey said.
Parker “put Melisa on child support before they were divorced” and “used the child support system to keep her locked up,” Jermaine Ivey said, adding that Melisa Ivey has been paying child support.
Parker said the children’s mother is approximately $17,000 behind in the payments.