The debate around father’s rights in the United States is set in an ongoing battleground. Just this May, Brad Pitt‘s custody battle brought the conversation to the forefront again. Now, Pirates of the Caribbean and Titanic star Greg Ellis is sharing his story as a cautionary tale to fathers who are now or are just about to embark on the family court battle. Ellis is using his celebrity and his own heartbreak to fight for fathers’ rights, and has penned a book – The Respondent: Exposing the Cartel of Family Law – to tell the tale.
Greg Ellis’s Sad Story
Ellis’s story is like that of so many fathers in America. After the actor’s marriage began crumbling like so many do, his wife weaponized her position as primary caregiver of the children to rip his right to his children away from him. On WireNews, Ellis summarizes his story, “One phone call in March 2015, and ten false words to the police officer on the other end of the line. That’s all it took for my wife to unleash a cataclysm on me. I was thrown from my home, physically restrained, locked away, and ripped away from my children not for a few days or weeks, but for what is turning out to be their entire childhoods.
Powerless and penniless, I was frozen out of my own life.”
The way Ellis’s story starts is sadly not uncommon. Because women are seen as the caretakers of children by default – an image which is as reductive to women as it is insulting to men – often times, all it takes is a few well-placed words from a vindictive ex-wife to challenge a man’s rights to his own children.
Ellis’s pain and all he has endured trying to win his rights to his children back have inspired him to go on the offensive. No longer content to sit back and hope that things go his way, Ellis wants to forge a path for all fathers going through the heartache and uncertainty of the family court system. Ellis via WireNews continues, “I survived that moment of almost unimaginable terror, but I bear the scars of the marital and psychological battle I endured in the process. By sharing my story and coming to terms with the overwhelming gamut of emotions visited upon me, my hope is that I may assist other families experiencing similar vertiginous trauma to realize that they are not alone, despite the fact that these are profoundly isolating experiences that can easily make one feel exactly that – alone.”
The Respondent, the Effort
Inspired by his experiences and bolstered by his position of relative notoriety, Ellis has been the driving force behind CPU – Children and Parents United. The group’s website explains their mission; “CPU’s mission is to promote and improve child well-being by providing information and resources; to policy makers, legislators, practitioners and the public, resulting in enhanced relationships and reduced conflict for those children and parents navigating our current family law systems.”
Ellis is also using his platform to go to bat for people like Pitt, who just recently won 50/50 custody of his children with ex-wife Angelina Jolie after nearly 6 years of battling and almost no access to their children. Another person Ellis has stepped up to defend is Pirates co-star Johnny Depp, whose Disney actor future is in jeopardy after accusations of abuse from ex-wife Amber Heard.
Ellis is hoping that when he shares his story in Respondent and a multi-media campaign, people will see themselves in it and know they’re not alone. Beyond that, working with CPU allows him to congregate resources for fathers who have no idea where to start. While Ellis considers himself left on the political spectrum, he believes that a lot of men are a victim of cancel culture that began during the MeToo movement. While he seems to support the general premise, he says he has to speak up even if he gets canceled for doing so. Ellis says he has been affected by so-called “cancel culture” and that a lot of people are afraid to speak out because of the impacts – but to him, it’s worth it. He describes the breakdown of the family as “the greatest threat to civilization.”
Hollywood In Toto shares, “‘Eventually we’ll all get canceled. I’d rather plant my flag and speak my mind,’ says Ellis, author of a new book guaranteed to trigger folks ready to be offended.
‘The Respondent: Exposing the Cartel of Family Law,’ finds Ellis sharing his deeply personal struggles over child custody and what he sees as a systemic bias against fathers. The book examines how current legal models punish fathers as well as a man’s value in society.
‘I can’t not speak about it,’ Ellis says. ‘I saw so many people being canceled, the noble efforts of MeToo, the MeToo dialogue, where men weren’t taking part in the conversation.’”
Fathers’ Rights in the United States
While Ellis’s efforts are valiant and may be helping fathers across the country, the British-born actor who became a US citizen 25 years ago may be fighting an uphill battle for a long time. The country does not seem ready or willing to have the conversation yet. Because the push for women’s rights has rightfully taken on such steam in the past decade, the thought of diminishing their rights in family court – even to the point of making it equitable – is an uncomfortable concept for many.
Nonetheless, any time the pendulum swings wildly to one side or the other and decisions are being made before a case is even examined in full, it’s harming the most vulnerable. Children are often bereft of the fathers in their lives who are loving and present, just because their parents have had a falling-out. Many adults whose fathers were kept from them by family court order lament the years they lost and the relationship they may never have been able to re-establish years later.
While there is absolutely a time and place to restrict a biological parents’ right to their children, and decisions can’t be made in a vacuum – until the court can be certain they’re deciding custody on the facts and not the emotions, Ellis and his peers will need to keep the pressure on. In the book, the 24 holds nothing back, exposing the realities behind the $55-billion a year divorce machine.
Ellis’s book summary on WireNews concludes, “My story is unresolved. But I have reached resolution concerning the forces unleashed by that single phone call, a resolve that empowers me to face the uncertainty my life begs. I was certain of everything on March 5th, 2015, and yet I knew nothing. This book is a discovery of my own ignorance, and the resulting enlightenment I discovered after my life was ruptured and that ignorance was exposed. Divorce is war, a lesson I learned through hard and bitter experience. But like all wars, it must eventually end. In this case, in a truce with myself.
We have all been the respondent––the person summoned to respond to the allegations of a petitioner.
This book is my legacy petition. I am the respondent. And this is my story.”