As an advocate for non-custodial mothers, Nataly Antar works daily to uproot one of society’s most deeply-held stigmas.
“When I tell people that I have two children and that my husband has legal custody, people look at me like ‘what’s wrong with you?’” said Brooklyn-based Antar.
Her objective: to break this “last taboo.” In 2018, Antar founded Amazing Mothers Without Custody (AMWOC), a nonprofit supporting and educating mothers who have lost custody of their children or are at risk of losing custody. AMWOC was awarded 501(c)3 status earlier this month.
“My name gets passed around — I’m the person with answers when no one else is left,” said Antar, who started laying the groundwork for her organization while she was going through her own custody battle. Though she is not a lawyer, she coaches women on how to present themselves during hearings; how to respond to court motions; and how to communicate effectively with an ex-partner.
Though she currently holds a business degree from Brooklyn College, she is hoping to go to law school so she can counsel parents in an official capacity.
The mother of two is also a vocal advocate for non-custodial mothers, appearing in documentaries and news segments on the topic. Recently, she participated in the Parents March on Washington to raise awareness about what goes on in family court. (“It’s like the wild, wild west,” she said.) She also spoke at a candle-lit vigil at the most recent Battered Mothers Custody Conference in Albany.
“We can dwell on our pain, on our trauma, or we can choose to live our lives to the best of our ability,” she said. “I did not lose my kids. I am not a background player in their lives. Even though I’m not with them every day, I, and other non-custodial mothers, can remain forefront players.”
Antar has relied heavily on her relationship to Judaism to pull her through tough times. “I’ve already experienced losing everything, and I’m still OK,” she said. “I’ve learned to lean on Hashem. I have nothing left to be afraid of.”
Miss Israel: In the upcoming Miss Immigrant USA pageant, Antar — who was born in Israel — will be representing the Jewish state. “I applied on a whim and got it!” she said.