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Kept away from his son's birthday celebrations

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Little man: Peter Furbert smiles with his son Tyler-James during a recent visit to the Island. He has fought the legal system to get joint custody but still has little contact with the youngster, who lives with his mother in Richmond, Virginia.

Peter Furbert has not been able to spend a single birthday with four-year-old son Tyler-James.The father, who was awarded joint legal custody after a bitter custody battle with his ex-wife, said he has missed out on many big moments in his child's life.He also said he was concerned about his little boy who is growing up without a father's support and guidance.Mr Furbert said: “I want to raise my son, teach him things. I want to be part of his education. I have plans on how I want him to be educated, but since I am here (in Bermuda, while he is in the US) I have to make adjustments.“I want to see him into school and make contact with teachers and stay in constant contact about his progress. I want him to be an intelligent boy and independently thinking and the best opportunity for that is for him to be around his father more.”For two years Mr Furbert had to fight the legal system to get more time with his son, who lives with his mother in Richmond, Virginia.Mr Furbert, who at one point was only given ten days a year to see his son, eventually attained joint legal custody.This does not mean he and his ex-wife both have equal time with their young son, it just gives both the right to access medical or school records without consent.“I have never spent a birthday with him. When I was living there she kept me from spending time on his birthday,” he claimed.He said his ex-wife has also made him feel like he had no rights and in October 2009 obtained Tyler-James' passport without his consent.He claimed his former spouse at one point told the US courts he wasn't interested in their son and said he witnessed “the automatic demonising of the father” in court.In 2008 he said he started keeping e-mails where his ex-wife verbally bashed him and in one instance allegedly called him a “no good trifling sperm donor” and a “piece of sh*t”.Still when Mr Furbert decided to move back to Bermuda for “financial reasons” he said the judge looked at it as abandoning his child.Since returning to the Island he admitted to feeling torn.He said he paid for both his son and ex-wife to come to Bermuda this summer and said he visits the US four or five times a year, but is not sure if it is enough.“I do not want to be 20 or 30 years down the road looking at my child and thinking ‘who is that' because you may not see any of those things you wanted to teach the child because you are not around.“I want him to be caring, happy, socially conscious and not selfish, but kind to people. And of course I want him to be strong because kindness can be taken for a weakness but you can be both.”Mr Furbert said: “I think about him all the time and try to make every bit of time with him special. I talk to him and take him places, I tell him ‘It's just me and you talking'.“The things I remember most are times like, when he grabs my hand and wants to walk with me. I miss not having that.”

Living in America: Youngster Tyler-James, whose Bermudian father Peter Furbert has fought the legal system to get joint custody but still has little contact with the youngster, who lives with his mother in Richmond, Virginia. See full story on Page 5.