Divorce documents: Jennifer Dulos feared her estranged husband
NEW CANAAN — A mother of five children who went missing last week said she feared her estranged husband would harm her in retaliation for her attempting to gain full custody of their children in a divorce case that began two years ago, according to court documents.
Jennifer Dulos was reported missing Friday night by her mother and a friend, according to her mother’s attorney, Richard Weinstein. New Canaan and state police have been searching parts of that town, including the Welles Lane neighborhood where Dulos has rented a home since filing for divorce in 2017. The search for Jennifer Dulos shifted Wednesday to Waveny Park, with a large number of New Canaan and state police scouring the 300-acre park near the Merritt Parkway starting in the morning.
Much of the often fierce divorce battle with her husband, Fotis Dulos, has centered on custody of their five children, who are between the ages of 8 and 13, including two pairs of twins. While the divorce is still in litigation, Jennifer Dulos has been awarded sole physical custody of the children after a judge last year found Fotis Dulos to be an unhealthy influence on the children. The couple has been married for 14 years.
Fotis Dulos requested on Wednesday for a judge to allow him to see his children.
A motion filed by his attorney, Michael J. Rose, said the children have been staying at the New York City apartment of Jennifer Dulos’ mother under the watch of an armed guard the family hired.
“My client has joint custody, but is limited by your orders,” Rose wrote in his motion to the judge. “However, at this point the court needs to take action to provide my client with custody.”
Documents from the divorce proceedings reveal that Jennifer Dulos claimed her husband was verbally abusive and she worried he would attempt to take their children from her.
“I am afraid of my husband,” reads an affidavit tied to an order of custody filed in June 2017. “I know that filing for divorce and filing this motion will enrage him. I know he will retaliate by trying to harm me in some way.”
In the affidavit, Jennifer Dulos claimed Fotis Dulos had exhibited “irrational, unsafe, bullying, threatening and controlling behavior.”
The document says, “I am afraid for my safety and the physical safety and emotional well-being of our minor children.”
Fotis Dulos refuted those claims, and argued that Jennifer Dulos was unfit to be the sole parent of the children in his objection to her custody order. He claimed that on more than one occasion, she lost one of the children, including once on a trip to London.
The affidavit from Jennifer Dulos also stated that Fotis Dulos had threatened to kidnap the children and take them to his native Greece or somewhere else. He told Jennifer Dulos, “You will never find us,” according to the document.
Fotis Dulos also denied those allegations, saying he never threatened to take the children out of the country.
Jennifer Dulos said she grew increasingly afraid of her husband after he purchased a handgun about two years ago.
“I am terrified for my family’s safety, especially since discovering the gun, since my husband has a history of controlling, volatile and delusional behavior,” the affidavit says.
In his objection, Fotis Dulos said he turned the gun in to Farmington Police in 2017, and said he had previously discussed possibly purchasing a gun with his wife.
In her initial divorce filing, Jennifer Dulos described her husband’s affinity for water skiing, which she characterized as an “obsession.” She said he insisted on their children training to be world-class water skiers, and had them on a strict training regimen that she believed was dangerous and excessive, and sometimes would go on from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The mother said her children wanted to stop and begged her to help.
When one child refused to train, Fotis Dulos allegedly threw a ski against a rock and broke it.
“We are all terrified to disobey my husband,” the affidavit says.
In another instance, on June 3, 2017, Fotis Dulos allegedly became enraged and blamed Jennifer Dulos for scheduling activities for the children on a Saturday morning, when he felt they should only be water skiing, the affidavit states.
“He got within inches of my face and berated me,” Jennifer Dulos said, according to the affidavit.
Again, Fotis Dulos denied the allegations, saying he never forced the children to participate in water skiing, and claimed they wished to pursue the sport, “asking him to compete.”
Jennifer Dulos’ original request for emergency relief to have full custody of the children was not granted.
An order from the court in July 2017 says, “The plaintiff has not established by a preponderance of the evidence that there is an immediate and present risk of physical danger or psychological harm to the parties’ children. As a result, the request for emergency relief is denied.”
Less than a year later, she was granted full physical custody of the children, after Fotis Dulos was found to have lied to the court and put his children in danger, according to a decision by Judge Donna Heller in March of last year.
The judge concluded that Fotis Dulos was pressuring his children to lie in order to advance his argument, and that in at least one instance, his actions constituted “emotional abuse.”
In the communication, Heller wrote, “the court does not find the defendant to be credible.”
Further, she wrote, “the defendant does not seem to appreciate in any respect the consequences of lying under oath and willfully violating a court order. His facility in testifying falsely to the court suggests that he is equally comfortable in encouraging the children to lie to achieve his desired outcome.”
The court found that the children would be in “physical danger” if Fotis Dulos were allowed to have unrestricted and unsupervised contact with them, and that such interaction would be an “immediate and present risk of psychological harm” to the children.
He was ordered to only interact with them in supervised settings and could only speak to them on the phone through speakerphone, so the conversation could be monitored.
While Jennifer Dulos was awarded sole physical custody of the children, the two share legal custody.
Jennifer and Fotis Dulos had resided in a large home in Farmington until she left with the children abruptly and rented a residence in New Canaan in June 2017, according to an order from the court filed that month.
They had previously agreed to separate, with Jennifer Dulos and the children relocating to Pound Ridge, N.Y. The plan was for Fotis Dulos to continue living in the Farmington home, which he uses to operate his construction business, The Fore Group.
In early August 2017, Jennifer Dulos filed one of many motions for contempt against Fotis Dulos.
In it, she claimed Fotis Dulos almost struck her with his Suburban in her driveway when he was supposed to pick up the children. The filing states that Fotis accelerated and swerved at the last minute to avoid hitting her. The children witnessed the incident.
The motion states that immediately after, Fotis Dulos said to his wife, “You should be locked away,” and “Why don’t you pop another pill?” The document states that Fotis Dulos also said, “You’re insane,” “You should be put in an insane asylum,” “You are an unfit mother,” and “I can do whatever I want. You don’t have a restraining order.”
Rose, attorney for Fotis Dulos, declined to comment for this story.
Throughout the divorce proceedings, Fotis Dulos filed a number of motions for contempt against his wife.
In one, he claimed his wife tried to alienate the children from him by scheduling non-essential activities during his parenting time.
He also claimed that she made a number of disparaging comments about him to the children, such as “Your father did not work enough to make more money,” “Your dad is a psychopath,” “You are your father’s slave,” and “Your dad does not care about you.”
Jennifer Dulos’ family and friends released a statement. “Since learning of the disappearance of Jennifer Farber Dulos, our beloved daughter, mother, sister, cousin, aunt, and friend, we have been heartbroken; at the same time, we are moved and inspired by the support, assistance, concern, and love extended by so many,” said in the statement, which was obtained by Fox 61.
“Those who know Jennifer know her to be a devoted mother; an extremely thoughtful, reliable, an organized woman; and attest that she would never, ever, disappear when she is responsible for the lives of five loving and energetic children. Jennifer is gentle, kind, intelligent, and funny, and above all, she prioritizes the health and happiness of her children. She and the children have been embraced by the New Canaan Country School community, where they have made good friends and are active in athletics and arts.”