Parental Alienation and the Unregulated Experts Shattering Children’s Lives

Amanda wept as she recalled her children being removed from her home several years ago – her youngest clinging to her as they were dragged away screaming. They were frightened. After all, they had made their feelings clear: “We want to stay with Mummy. We love Daddy but he scares us.” Yet their wishes were attributed to their mother’s “brainwashing”.

She said he became violent and she found the courage to leave. There was a shared arrangement over the children. But after they complained about their father’s angry outbursts, she said, a “parental alienation” expert found her to have psychological issues. She had turned the children against their father, it was claimed.

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Inquiry Urged Into ‘Parental Alienation’ Court Experts

Lawyers and MPs in England and Wales express concern over ‘unregulated’ psychologists who play key role in disputes over domestic abuse.

MPs, lawyers and charity leaders are among those calling for an urgent inquiry into the use of unregulated psychological experts in the family courts, after an investigation by the Observer.

In a letter sent to the justice secretary, the victims’ commissioner for London, Claire Waxman, and a group of MPs write: “We believe there is ample evidence that children and survivors of domestic abuse are being put at risk by the evidence provided by unregulated experts who do not belong to any professional body and therefore cannot be held to account.”

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Someone is Mentally Ill, an Addict, or an Abuser: The Vastly Different Response in Family Court and in Life: Essay by Barry Goldstein

Family Courts’ Worst Trade for Kids: Safe Primary Attachment Figures vs. Abusers with “Rights”

Essay by Barry Goldstein

How would a typical family court analyze a case in which they believe a safe mother who is the primary attachment figure has failed to promote the relationship with a father the mother believes is dangerous and abusive? In many ways, this is the typical custody case the courts would call “high conflict,” and experts familiar with current scientific research would call a DV custody case.

Throughout their legal careers, judges have heard children do best with both parents in their lives. This is certainly true when both parents are safe and loving, but this is rarely true in DV custody cases. The problem is worse when courts conflate the benefits to children of relationships with both parents as if it means children need both parents equally. The research is clear, children need their primary attachment figure more than the other parent and the safe parent more than the abusive one.

The courts place such a high priority to keep fathers in children’s lives that they often sacrifice the child’s relationship with a mother the child needs so much more. This is the worst possible trade for a child. Courts create a catastrophic arrangement by severely restricting the mother and creating a harmful outcome case. We also see this outcome when courts give the father the power and control that he uses to destroy the relationship between the child and mother.

Domestic violence experts know context is critically important in recognizing domestic violence. Abusers and their attorneys routinely seek to decontextualize an incident in order to shift blame. Courts often undermine their ability to understand the context to save time. Practices in which courts arbitrarily create strict time limits benefit abusers for this reason. Victims need time to explain the context including the fact that many standard court practices favor abusers. Victims need time to explain the research and how the failure to differentiate abusers’ public and private behavior or the mistake of treating DV cases as high conflict. Abusers need only deny their partners’ reports and allow the court to use the flawed practices that tilt decisions against protecting children.

In most DV custody cases, the father wanted or demanded the mother provide most of the childcare. In any other court, this would be properly understood as an admission by the father that the mother is a good parent. Otherwise, he would have sought other arrangements. When the mother leaves and reports his abuse, abusive fathers often respond by seeking custody and claiming the mother is unfit. The charge is usually that she is crazy and/or alienating. What are the chances a mother suddenly became unfit because the relationship ended, and she reported his abuse? In the real world the answer is close to zero, but family courts that fail to use good scientific research and rely on the wrong experts often reach this unlikely conclusion. Courts rarely discuss or consider this obvious context that strongly supports mothers.

Primary attachment is non-controversial and used in many areas of childcare and welfare. The parent who provided most of the childcare during the first two years of a child’s life is and always will be their primary attachment figure. This is important to consider in family courts because the child needs their primary parent more than the other parent. Denying children a normal relationship with their primary parent increases the risk of depression, low self-esteem, and suicide. In most of these cases, the child is used to looking to the primary parent for most of their needs. This parent usually knows the child’s needs and providers better than the other parent. Accordingly, there are many non-controversial factors that should favor the primary parent.

There are two major paths that courts take when they trade the children’s safe, primary parent for an alleged abuser who has far less parental skill and knowledge. They are explained in the Saunders Study and the Meier Study that both come from the National Institute of Justice. The harmful outcomes are another illustration of the problem with family courts attempting to resolve DV custody cases without the benefit of current scientific research.

The Saunders Study includes a section on “harmful outcome” cases. These are extreme decisions in which the alleged abuser is given custody and a safe, protective mother, who is the primary attachment figure, is limited to supervised or no visitation. This is exactly the extreme remedy from the original “Parental Alienation Syndrome” that has been discredited even by many members of the cottage industry. Saunders found harmful outcome cases are ALWAYS wrong and based on flawed practices. The reason they are always wrong is that the harm of denying children a normal relationship with their primary parent is greater than any benefit the court thought it was providing. Saunders found these tragic mistakes are caused by using flawed practices. In many, if not most cases, the opposite outcome would have worked best for the children. Common flaws include reliance on unscientific alienation theories; pathologizing the victim; failure to use the right experts for a DV case; gender bias; and disbelieving true reports of abuse. I have never seen a harmful outcome case in which the court weighed the certain harm of denying children a normal relationship with their primary attachment figure with whatever speculative benefit the court thought it was providing.

One of the findings from the Meier Study was that alienation is being applied in a gender biased manner in addition to the problems caused by unscientific alienation theories. When courts believe the father was alienated, it provides a big advantage to fathers and helps them win custody. When the court believes the mother was alienated, the finding has no effect on the outcome. Part of the problem is that domestic violence is about control, including financial control. This means abusive fathers often control most of the family’s financial resources. This helped create the cottage industry of lawyers and mental health professionals that have a financial incentive to promote approaches that favor abusive fathers. Their voices have been far louder than those of victims. The superior financial resources help explain why courts so often make alienation findings in favor of abusive fathers.

The unscientific alienation theories were deliberately designed to help fathers. Accordingly, it often assumes alienation; pathologizes attempts to protect children and fails to consider more likely causes of a bad relationship such as DV, child abuse, or other poor parenting. The theories deliberately ignore alienating tactics by fathers such as avoiding child support; using fun activities as bribes; material advantages; and talking about how much the father misses the children. In our still sexist society, mothers usually do most of the childcare and so have a closer relationship with the children. One common example of gender bias is for court professionals to ignore or minimize fathers’ alienating practices. These tactics are better understood as DV by proxy because it is a continuation of the father’s DV by using the children.

The Batterer as Parent by Lundy Bancroft and Dr. Jay Silverman is one of the most authoritative books about DV and custody. The authors found all batterers, including “low level” (non-physical) abusers engage in harmful parenting practices that include undermining the relationship with the mother, teaching bad values (sexism) and serving as a bad example. Courts often make the mistake of assuming alleged abusers seek custody out of love for the children. Their motives often include regaining what they believe is their right to control their victim, make the decisions, and punish the mother for leaving. Shared parenting is often the first step towards total control and abusers usually use any power courts provide to destroy the relationship with the mother. This is a problem courts rarely consider because few court professionals understand DV dynamics.

What Does the Worst Trade Look Like?

The mother was such a good parent that she won the Mother-of-the-Year Award in Dutchess County, NY because other parents learned to improve their parenting from watching her. She created innovative ideas to involve her children in cultural, athletic, and entertainment activities. The children loved their mother and were deeply attached to her. The abusive father was rarely involved in caring for the children and viewed it as “women’s work.” He said he couldn’t change his daughter’s diapers because he might get aroused.

The case was assigned to a sexist judge who was a strong supporter of shared parenting and unscientific alienation theories. The judge forced a “settlement” for shared parenting. When the father assaulted the mother, another judge gave the mother custody and limited the father’s visitation. The sexist judge was angry at the change. He resumed shared parenting without allowing the mother to speak at the hearing, and soon created what Saunders would later call a harmful outcome case. Even the judge admitted the mother was an outstanding parent, but instead focused on alienation. The alienation included the fact the boy’s therapist called child protective services (over the mother’s objection because she was afraid of the reaction), and the mother said the children should eat healthy meals, dress appropriately for the weather and avoid adult-oriented TV programs. These statements were considered alienation because the father engaged in all of these bad parenting behaviors.

The effect on the children was demonstrated by the description of the daughter by the school nurse. When she lived with her mother, the girl would skip around school, holding another girl’s hand, smiling, and giggling. After she had to live with her father, the girl walked alone, head down and very sad. She kept going to the nurse with various ailments until the father “solved” the problem by forbidding her to see the nurse.

The father was allowed to move to Texas with the children which served to isolate them even more. The evil judge kept the case as long as possible to prevent anyone else from correcting his mistakes. Eventually, Texas took jurisdiction and quickly recognized the mother should have custody. They arranged for therapeutic visitation to restore the mother’s relationship. By this time, the father had so destroyed the mother’s relationship that it could not be salvaged.

One would think that the release of the Saunders Study and other important research would prevent extreme decisions that ruin children’s lives. Last week, I was scheduled to testify in another harmful outcome case. A convicted abuser was given custody years ago and a safe, protective mothers who is the primary attachment figure is limited to supervised visitation. Without listening to what I could say, the judge decided anything I could say would be irrelevant. The fact the court had imposed an extreme decision that a National Institute of Justice Study found to be ALWAYS wrong is not something the court needs to hear. In reality, the judge didn’t want evidence on the record that demonstrated the catastrophic mistake the court made. The father is already far along in his efforts to successfully impose DV by Proxy. The judge created an unprincipled decision that creates the appearance of bias, conflict of interest, or worse.

Conclusion

In these and many other cases, the court’s attempt to keep both parents in the children’s lives led to substituting the less involved and often dangerous parent for the better parent who the children need most. Imagine, in the Dutchess case, if the facts were as the judge wanted to believe. Imagine, the father did not have a history of abuse and was at least an adequate parent. And imagine that for no good reason, the mother was deliberately trying to alienate the children. The court’s decisions guaranteed that the children would have only one parent. Even with the most favorable assumptions for the father, there could be no question that the children needed their mother more and it was in their best interests for the mother to be granted custody.

Saunders found that shared parenting does not work in DV custody cases, but the judge might in good faith believe the children would benefit with shared parenting. Once the judge became convinced that only one parent could have custody, he decided to punish the mother for her supposed lack of cooperation. The judge failed to realize that in seeking to punish the mother, he was really punishing the children. The judge’s biased and ignorant approach meant the children would never get the help they needed to overcome the ACEs they were exposed to. The children are likely to live shorter lives and face a lifetime of health and social problems. They certainly had a more painful and unpleasant childhood. The judge destroyed their potential.

I wrote earlier that domestic violence experts understand the context is critical to understanding DV custody cases. The judges in the two cases discussed above and in many others are so used to following insular court practices and assumptions that ACE and Saunders prove wrong, that they miss the context, even after the courts’ goals become impossible.

Children only do better with both parents in their lives when both parents prioritize the well-being of their children instead of their sense of entitlement and control. Shared parenting is an ideological goal that is often harmful in contested custody cases. It might help courts settle cases; it certainly helps court professionals increase their incomes, but non-evidence-based decisions often remove the last chance for children to have full and successful lives.

As mentioned earlier, children need their primary parent more than anyone else on the planet. Courts that fail to use current scientific research routinely focus on unscientific alienation theories and don’t know how to recognize true reports of abuse. When courts focus on ideological goals, they take their eyes off the best interests of the children. Widespread gender bias helps fathers and hurts children. Gender-biased alienation approaches miss alienating behaviors by abusers but assumes alienation that is really an effort to protect children. Gender bias that minimizes primary attachment, obscures a critical factor in the well-being of children.

The family courts started their response to DV custody cases with reasonable mistakes because the research wasn’t available. Over the years, the mistakes became so ingrained that courts are often hostile to the important research that could better protect children. This is what happened in the two cases described in this article and many others. Ending the worst trades for children is long-past due.

Barry Goldstein is a domestic violence author, speaker, advocate and expert witness. He is the author of six books concerning domestic violence and child custody. Barry is the author of the Safe Child Act which is a comprehensive plan based on current scientific research that can fix the broken court system and make family courts safe for children.

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Someone is Mentally Ill, an Addict, or an Abuser: The Vastly Different Response in Family Court and in Life: Essay by Barry Goldstein

Double Standard in DV Custody Cases Hurts Children – Three Custody Practices Incompatible with Fair Outcomes

Essay by Barry Goldstein

The American Justice System is based on the belief that when each side is given the opportunity to make their best case, the court will reach a fair decision. The obvious problem is when parties have widely disparate financial resources, particularly when only one party can afford an attorney. Courts have sought to respond by providing attorneys for defendants facing serious criminal charges. This doesn’t apply to civil cases where wealthy individuals and corporations often enjoy an unfair advantage. Tobacco companies were able to avoid accountability for the deaths they caused for decades by using their superior financial advantages, including extensive and excessive discovery to bankrupt victims’ families.

Unequal financial resources is especially difficult for child custody cases because most contested custody involve domestic violence (DV) abusers. DV is about control, including financial control, so in most contested cases, the abusive father controls most of the family’s financial resources. Judge Mike Brigner wrote a chapter in my first book with Dr. Mo Therese Hannah in which he said courts have the authority to level the playing field by ordering the wealthier parent to provide legal fees for their victim, but courts are reluctant to use this authority. The Batterer as Parent is one of the leading books about DV and child custody. One of their recommendations is that courts should require abusers to pay any costs made necessary by their abuse.

Three Standard Practices Preventing Fair Consideration of DV Custody Cases

I have identified three standard court practices that demonstrate a double standard in the treatment of mothers and fathers. Each practice clearly occurs in almost all DV custody cases; is unquestionably wrong; has continued for decades; undermines the ability of courts to provide a fair trial; and harms children:

  1. Attorneys for alleged abusers are allowed to engage in aggressive tactics, often designed to bankrupt or frighten the mother; include personal and gratuitous attacks on the mother; seek to use the court to continue controlling and punishing the victim and requesting relief that would be harmful to children. At the same time, attorneys for protective mothers are often afraid to present evidence of abuse, especially sexual abuse; pressure mothers to accept dangerous settlements and are influenced by the danger of courts disliking, punishing, and retaliating against mothers trying to protect their children.
  2. A sexist theory that is not based on research; has twice been rejected by the American Psychiatric Association for inclusion in the DSM which is the compendium of all valid mental health diagnoses; and was created based on the heinous belief that sex between adults and children is acceptable, has far more influence on the courts than peer-reviewed scientific and medical research from highly credible organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Justice in the US Justice Department.
  3. Forty states appointed court-sponsored gender bias committees that have found widespread gender bias against women litigants that includes holding women to a higher standard of proof, giving women less credibility, and blaming mothers for the actions of their abusers. The recent Meier Study confirmed that courts have made little progress in preventing gender bias.

Abusive fathers have always enjoyed superior financial resources to promote their case and their cause. Many hired criminal attorneys to defend against criminal charges and used the same aggressive attorneys in their custody case. They demanded a higher standard of proof for DV and often convinced courts the lack of a conviction meant the reports were false. This contributed to the gender bias of higher standards of proof against protective mothers.

Vindictive abusers who believe mothers have no right to leave were willing to use their superior financial resources and hurt their children, if necessary, to regain control and punish their victims. Unscrupulous lawyers and mental health professionals, like Richard Gardner were attracted to create a cottage industry to help wealthy abusers. This was the origin of unscientific alienation theories and other bogus practices created to help abusive fathers gain custody.

Many standard court practices and false assumptions were developed from the cottage industry and have become deeply ingrained. The practices have been proven wrong by important research like ACE (adverse childhood experiences) and Saunders, but courts continue to be more influenced by bogus theories. The faulty practices include: high conflict approaches for DV cases; keeping fathers in children’s lives as the highest priority; false claims that shared parenting benefits children in DV cases; minimizing primary attachment; belief in the myth that mothers frequently make false reports of abuse; failing to treat DV and child sexual abuse as specialized areas of knowledge; assuming the end of the relationship ends the risk of DV; minimizing or denying the harm to children from exposure to DV; assuming older abuse doesn’t matter; assuming very young children are unaffected by DV; asking mothers and children to just get over it; and reliance on unscientific alienation theories.

Gender bias was hidden in plain sight making it difficult to address the problem. The courts routinely emphasized the value of fathers and minimized the need for mothers and the importance of primary attachment. This encouraged a focus on father’s rights and ideological approaches rather than the well-being of children. The Saunders Study discussed harmful outcome cases that were always wrong, but all too common. These were cases in which many abusive fathers gained custody from safe, protective mothers based on flawed practices. Even worse, the courts punished mothers for seeking to protect their children. No one seemed to notice that punishing mothers also punished the children.

In almost all the DV custody cases, there is a pattern in which during the relationship, the father wanted or demanded the mother provide most of the childcare. In any other type of litigation, this would be correctly understood as an admission by the father that the mother is a good parent. When the mother sought to leave her abuser and reported his abuse, the standard abuser tactic is to claim she is unfit, usually claiming she is crazy or alienating. In the real world, the chance the mother suddenly became unfit is close to zero, but in family court it has become a common finding.
“Fathers’ Rights” groups have worked together with the cottage industry to develop strategies to help abusive fathers win custody and help the cottage industry earn large incomes. They particularly sought the appointment of cottage industry professionals to “neutral” positions like GAL or evaluator. This means biased professionals who don’t understand abuse are making powerful recommendations to courts and mothers have no chance to protect their children.

These male supremacist groups claim that the dispute in family court is between mothers and fathers, but the real dispute is between the vast majority of men and women who want children to be protected against the most extreme male supremacists whose real agenda is undermining DV laws, ending child support, and in some cases allowing child sexual abuse.

Courts have a legitimate interest in promoting settlements and new attorneys are encouraged to find ways to reach agreements. Unfortunately, this works in a very harmful way in family courts. The goal for mediators is not to find the best or fairest arrangement, but rather the outcome both parties can be convinced to agree to. Abusive fathers have nothing to lose by being unreasonable and their purpose is to hurt the mother. It is safe for abusers to make dangerous demands, but mothers are often pressured and punished for trying to protect their children. Most of the pressure is put on mothers and in many courts her refusal to agree to risking her children is treated as her being uncooperative. Settlement discussions are supposed to be off the record, but many court practices result in punishing the protective mother.

Conclusion

Judges never came together to create an approach to hurt mothers or develop an unfair system. No judge wants to hurt children. The superior financial resources discussed earlier encouraged the use of the wrong professionals, ones without the specialized knowledge about DV and child abuse. The cottage industry also helped promote many practices that became standard, which help abusive fathers and increase the risk to children. This means the harm is not limited to the cases in which cottage industry professionals participate.

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges is a respected judicial organization. They seek to teach other judges about ACE and Saunders because this knowledge would make it easier for courts to recognize and respond to DV custody cases. Unfortunately, most courts continue to try to respond to the most consequential and specialized cases without the needed research or specialized expertise.

The three mistaken, but common court practices, described above demonstrate there are serious problems with the court response to DV custody cases. A Study by the Center for Judicial Excellence found that in the last 13 years parents, mostly fathers, involved in contested custody cases murdered over 800 children. Every year courts send 58,000 children for custody or unprotected visitation with dangerous abusers. Judges and court administrators interviewed about the child murders in their communities have repeatedly dismissed the local tragedy as an “exception.”

I can understand why court professionals would be defensive. I can understand the difficulty with a crowded court docket. Continuing the three clearly mistaken practices and so many others cannot continue to be an option. Judges cannot articulate a justification for maintaining the three practices discussed above. The horrific outcomes and failure to use proper practices including current scientific research create the appearance of corruption. This makes the continuation of present practices unethical. The harm to our children makes these practices intolerable.

 

Barry Goldstein is a domestic violence author, speaker, advocate and expert witness. He is the author of six books concerning domestic violence and child custody. Barry is the author of the Safe Child Act which is a comprehensive plan based on current scientific research that can fix the broken court system and make family courts safe for children.

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The Failure of French Justice in the Face of Child Victims of Sexual Violence

(Translated from French) Child victims of sexual assault suffer from a denial of protection due to the increasingly frequent use, particularly in the French judicial system, of anti-victim speeches using the concept of the “parental alienation syndrome”. Many personalities are asking that “Parliament take up this need for protection”.

 

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The UN Commission on the Status of Women United Against Parental Alienation

(Translated from Italian) This unscientific theory has also spread in Italy, causing damage to the system of family courts and family homes; the children are losing out now.

The UN organized a conference focused on combating parental alienation and its serious effects on the protection of children and respect for gender equality. Meanwhile, President Biden signed the Kayden Act Wednesday, aimed at defending minors from flawed parental custody.

The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) held a conference on Thursday morning aimed at openly denouncing the use of the pseudo and regressive theory of “parental alienation” (PA) in judicial proceedings. Several legal and academic experts have exposed before an international audience what is in effect a systemic problem that afflicts courts around the world and that seriously damages the protection of children and their rights in custody cases.

Read more here.

 

 

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Someone is Mentally Ill, an Addict, or an Abuser: The Vastly Different Response in Family Court and in Life: Essay by Barry Goldstein

Family Courts Need Domestic Violence Experts: 20 Common Mistakes in Evaluations Judges Miss

Essay by Barry Goldstein & Veronica York

The original sin family courts made in responding to domestic violence cases was turning to mental health professionals as if they were the experts.  It is not that psychologists have nothing to contribute, but they do not have the specialized knowledge of domestic violence, child sexual abuse and other critical issues.  The original mistake was based on the popular assumption at the time that DV was caused by mental illness or substance abuse.  We now know the original assumptions were wrong, but courts continue to rely on these outdated practices.

In one case, Barry was asked at least 15 questions about the fact he doesn’t have a mental health degree.  The academic work to obtain a mental health degree does not provide any knowledge about domestic violence or child abuse.  Psychologists may try to use general psychological principles, but much about DV is counterintuitive.

The Saunders Study found court professionals need training in very specific subjects that include screening for DV, risk assessment, post-separation violence and the impact of DV on children.  Most evaluators do not have this needed expertise.  They often attempt to screen for DV with psychological tests that tell us nothing about DV.  As a result, evaluators often use non-probative information to discredit true reports of abuse.  We have never seen an evaluation that says the mother reports strangulation and if this is true there is an increased risk of lethality.  Post-separation abuse analysis almost never mentions alleged abusers’ litigation and economic abuse as a continuation of domestic violence or the likelihood an abuser will assault future partners which means custody or unsupervised visitation will result in more exposure of children to domestic violence.  Few evaluators are familiar with ACE or focus on the harm caused by fear and stress.  This means evaluators are not using the specific knowledge Saunders says is needed to respond effectively to domestic violence.  In other words, the courts are relying on professionals who routinely minimize and deny true reports of abuse.  Many domestic violence cases do not include an evaluation, but the judges and other court professionals are influenced by the misinformation evaluators provided in other cases.

Few evaluators relied on by custody courts have the critical knowledge needed to recognize and respond effectively to possible domestic violence or child abuse cases.  They are unfamiliar with critical scientific research like ACE (adverse childhood experiences), Saunders, Meier, Bala, gender bias or child murders in custody cases.  The evaluators do not understand domestic violence dynamics or batterer narratives that help explain abuser motives.  Evaluators and other court professionals are oblivious to the widespread failure of custody courts to protect children.  All the mistakes caused by failing to use current scientific research minimize the harm from abuse and make it harder for courts to recognize true reports.  The courts are influenced by the superior financial resources of abusers who usually control family finances, and the cottage industry of lawyers and evaluators that make large incomes by promoting practices that favor abusive fathers.  The result is DV custody cases are severely tilted in favor of abusive fathers and towards risking children. 

Court professionals are satisfied with the present practices, and defensive about the painful tragedies they cause.  The Bartlow Study found judges and court administrators failed to create reforms in the face of preventable child murders.  They thought these tragedies were exceptions.  In the last 13 years, the Center for Judicial Excellence found over 800 tragic “exceptions.”

Domestic violence experts can recognize mistakes by evaluators in abuse cases.  This is why Saunders found courts should be using a multi-disciplinary approach.  Some judges cannot imagine how a DV expert can help a court recognize errors by evaluators regarding DV and child abuse.  Saunders found DV advocates have more of the specific knowledge courts need about DV than judges, lawyers or evaluators.  We quickly came up with a list of over 80 common mistakes about DV that evaluators routinely make because they don’t have the specialized DV knowledge needed.  In this article, we are sharing 20 of these common mistakes.  The full list of common evaluator DV errors will be available at www.Barrygoldstein.net

  1. Evaluator failed to make distinction between public and private behavior

    Most abusers are able to control their behavior and do so in public.  Attorneys for abusers often present evidence from friends, family, and colleagues about his good behavior and how he could not be an abuser.  Evaluators often rely on this non-probative behavior, but mothers and children see a very different side of the abusive father in the privacy of their home.

  2. Evaluator only considered physical abuse

    The purpose of domestic violence is not to cause great pain but to coerce and control the victim.  In DV custody cases there is often one or a few physical incidents and thousands of other DV tactics.  The abuser does not need to keep assaulting her because once he does, she knows what he is capable of.  The physical abuse can be “minor” as pushing or blocking a door and are combined with emotional, psychological and other tactics.  The other types of abuse serve as a reminder of what can happen if she doesn’t obey.  ACE tells us it is the fear and stress abusers cause, that does most of the harm to children.  Evaluators often pay lip service to other types of abuse but mainly or exclusively focus on physical abuse.  This is based on outdated beliefs from the 1970s.  This mistake reduces the available evidence and minimizes the harm abusers cause.

  3. Evaluator fails to understand most of the harm from DV is caused by fear and stress rather than immediate physical injuries

    The ACE Research is exciting because it could be used to dramatically reduce a wide range of serious illnesses and social problems.  This would greatly increase life expectancy and achievement.  Prevention is the key to providing these benefits and improving children’s lives.  Contested custody cases are often the last chance to save children from the consequences of exposure to ACEs.  In most cases the courts are not even considering this opportunity.

  4. Evaluator assumed unfounded child protective case meant the reports of abuse are false

    Caseworkers often face heavy caseloads that lead to reports of abuse being unfounded for non-probative reasons.  Examples include: child refused to speak to caseworker; not enough time to investigate; failure to take cases during litigation seriously; the child is living with the safe parent; caseworker manipulated or intimidated by abuser; reliance on the myth that mothers often make deliberate false reports; and the lack of expertise regarding DV and child sexual abuse.  Unfounded cases often prove to be true reports much later.  Evaluators save time and resources by treating unfounded cases as if they prove the reports were wrong.  Unfortunately, these practices don’t save children.

  5. Evaluator failed to consider ACE and Saunders

    Perhaps the biggest reason custody courts are failing children in abuse cases is the failure to use scientific research like ACE and Saunders.  They go to the essence of the well-being of children.  ACE tells us the fear and stress abusers cause will shorten children’s lives and cause a lifetime of health problems.  Saunders tells us courts are relying on the wrong experts for abuse cases and this results in courts frequently disbelieving true reports of abuse.  There are judges and evaluators that use ACE and Saunders and this results in better decisions for children.  Most courts however rely on outdated practices that do not include this research.  This mistake is not neutral.  It favors abusive fathers and risks children.

  6. Evaluator blamed mother for father’s abuse

    In a safe family, if a child came home complaining about something the father did, the mother would ask the father about it.  If a father heard the child was complaining about sexual abuse, he would want an investigation to find out who did it or if there was a misunderstanding such as an unintentional boundary violation.  When the father is an abuser, the mother is afraid to discuss the complaint with him and the father immediately claims alienation and tries to silence the child.  In these and other situations, untrained evaluators blame the mother for not cooperating and communicating.  If the evaluator is part of the cottage industry, she will be called an alienator.  And in each instance, it is the fear caused by the father’s abuse that created the problem, but mothers are often blamed.  This is an example of gender bias that most court professionals do not have the training or humility to recognize.

  7. Evaluator failed to recognize shared parenting is inappropriate in cases involving possible DV or child abuse

    Courts promote shared parenting because laws favor it, and co-parenting is viewed as the best way to promote settlements.  Shared parenting was never meant for domestic violence cases.  The unequal power in DV cases makes it dangerous.  Good research like Saunders says shared parenting should never be used in DV cases.  Abusers use decision-making to block anything the mother wants and particularly to prevent or undermine therapy where the child might reveal his abuse.  Shared parenting in inappropriate cases is great for court professionals’ bank accounts because more services will be needed but works poorly for children. Even in the rare cases where abuse reports are false, the bad relationship makes co-parenting a mistake. 

  8. Evaluator focused on how to pressure victims to accommodate the abuser instead of how abuser can reduce fear and stress

    Most contested custody is really DV cases involving the worst abusers.  They believe she has no right to leave so are using custody to regain control.  Accordingly, they will not agree to anything reasonable.  Evaluators who fail to understand DV dynamics, pressure victims and children to accommodate the abuser as the best way to promote a settlement.  ACE tells us that the fear and stress abusers cause will have lifelong negative effects on the children.  Accordingly, best practices require pressuring abusers to reduce the fear and stress they are causing if they want a relationship.  Evaluators unfamiliar with ACE don’t even know these best practices.

  9. Evaluator used psychological tests to screen for DV

    Psychological tests were developed for people who may need to be hospitalized.  They tell us nothing about domestic violence.  It was originally used when many believed the false assumption that DV was caused by mental illness or substance abuse.  There can be valid uses of psychological tests in some cases, but when evaluators use them to screen for DV, it says more about the ignorance of the evaluator than the circumstances of the case.

  10. Evaluator does not understand primary attachment so recommended a harmful outcome case

    Harmful outcome cases give custody to the alleged abuser and limit a safe, protective mother who is the primary attachment figure to supervised or no visitation.  The Saunders Study found harmful outcome cases are ALWAYS wrong and based on flawed practices.  The reason they are always wrong is that denying children a normal relationship with their primary attachment figure, a harm that includes increased risk of depression, low self-esteem and suicide is greater than whatever benefit the court thought it was providing.  The frequency of these always wrong cases, a decade after Saunders was published, exposes the failure of custody courts to adopt current scientific research.

  11. Evaluator used non-probative factors to discredit reports of abuse

    The Saunders Study says court professionals need to learn how to screen for DV. They need to know what information to look for but also how to avoid non-probative information.  Common examples include: she returns to her abuser; she seeks a protective order but doesn’t follow up; she doesn’t have a police report or medical records.  All of these are normal responses by women abused by their partners for safety and other good reasons.  Another example is a professional observes the alleged abuser playing with the children and the kids show no fear.  Unqualified professionals assume this means he cannot be abusive, but the children know he wouldn’t hurt them in the presence of witnesses, so it is safe to play with a father they still love.  Inadequately trained professionals often use these non-probative issues to discredit true reports of abuse.

  12. Evaluator assumes just because he hurts the mother doesn’t mean he will hurt the children

    This one is scary.  Evaluators, lawyers, and judges continue to say this out loud even after children have been murdered by abusive fathers because of this mistake.  Fathers who abuse mothers are 40-60% more likely to also abuse the children.  The worst abusers have learned the best way to hurt the mother is to hurt her children.  Many evaluators never consider this.

  13. Evaluator failed to make the health and safety of children the first priority

    The health and safety of children was always the most important consideration for custody courts and the ACE Studies make this so much clearer.  ACE did not make domestic violence and child abuse more harmful to children, but rather made us aware of the full harm caused by our long tolerance of behavior we now define as domestic violence and child abuse.  The courts cannot allow defensiveness, inertia, ignorance of scientific research, “father’s rights,” or the incomes of court professionals to be placed above the well-being of precious children.  Evaluators who fail to make children the first priority, other than with lip service, must be corrected.

  14. Evaluator failed to understand that a father who causes PTSD to the mother or child is an unfit parent

    PTSD cannot be caused from something benign.  It requires the most traumatic event or a series of traumatic events such as occur with domestic violence.  Abusers and too often court professionals minimize a father’s abuse to keep him in a child’s life.  This is based on the belief that a child benefits from having both parents in their lives.  This is usually true, but not when a parent is an abuser and certainly not if the parent was so abusive as to cause PTSD.

  15. Evaluator failed to recognize behavior associated with higher risk of lethality

    Saunders found court professionals need training in risk assessment.  There are specific behaviors associated with higher risk of lethality.  This would include strangulation; hitting a woman while pregnant; forced or pressured sex; hurting animals; violating court orders; threats of murder, kidnapping or suicide; violating court orders; access to guns; and the belief she has no right to leave.  Cases involving these behaviors should be taken extremely seriously and evaluators have a duty to make judges aware of these risks.

  16. Evaluator failed to consider the danger associated with offensive or threatening language based on research on batterer narratives

    Most evaluators do not have the DV knowledge needed for DV cases and research about batterer narratives is therefore rarely considered.  Most abusers would say it is wrong to assault a woman and then say EXCEPT.  The major exceptions are she did something he defines as improper, or she is a (insert the slur).  These offensive sexist terms tell women and should tell court professionals the mother is in danger.  It also sends horrific messages to children.  This information would help courts understand DV cases better, but not when this is never discussed.

  17. Evaluator treats dismissal of child sexual abuse complaints as proof of coaching

    The Bala Study reviewed child protective cases involving reports of child sexual abuse.  This is the definitive study about false reports, and found mothers make deliberate false reports less than 2% of the time.  Nevertheless, when fathers claim alienation, abuse reports are believed by the courts less than 2% of the time.  The alleged abuser gains custody 85% of the time.  The failure of our society and custody courts to protect children from sexual abuse is the next big scandal waiting to be exposed.  When mothers raise concerns about child sexual abuse there are several possible explanations.  The most likely is the report is true.  Other common circumstances include: no abuse but the child was uncomfortable because of boundary violations; exposure to pornography or sexual behavior; the evidence is equivocal or a good faith but mistaken report.  The least likely is coaching, but courts routinely only consider the report is true, which requires overwhelming evidence or they jump to coaching, based on assumptions rather than actual evidence.  As a result, courts are often never told about sexual abuse, so that they have no chance to protect children.

  18. Evaluator focused on unscientific alienation theories

    Most custody cases, like any litigation are settled more or less amicably.  The problem is the 3.8% of cases that require trial and often much more.  Between 75-90% of these cases involve domestic violence, which is obscured by high conflict approaches.  DV is about control, including financial control which means the alleged abusive father usually controls most of the family resources.  Richard Gardner understood this when he concocted Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS).  He needed an approach that could be used to help abusive fathers take custody from mothers who are the primary attachment figures.  PAS was not based on any research but only Gardner’s experience, beliefs, and biases.  This included many public statements that sex between adults and children can be acceptable.  This was the start of the cottage industry for lawyers and mental health professionals who made large incomes by using bogus practices that hurt children.  The superior financial resources and manipulation skills helped promote PAS.  When it developed a deserved bad reputation, the cottage industry published new articles based on the old lack of research and changed the name to alienation, parental alienation, gatekeeping or whatever was convenient.  Twice PAS, was rejected by the American Psychiatric Association for inclusion in the DSM because there is still no research to support it.  The DSM is the compendium of all valid mental health diagnoses, so it is unethical when cottage industry professionals tell courts the mothers or children suffer from alienation.  Despite this repudiation by the leading professional organizations and the enormous harm to children, courts continue to listen to this biased and sexist theory.  The recent Meier Study from the National Institute of Justice found alienation is used in a biased way so that only fathers benefit from a finding of alienation.  In most cases alienating behavior by fathers against mothers is not even discussed.  This means this sexist theory with no supporting research is implemented to deny mothers due process and equal protection.  In most cases, the supposed alienation is assumed rather than proven with actual evidence.  The use of alienation raises ethical issues because it often creates the appearance of corruption even if the judge acts in good faith.  The extreme decisions and catastrophic harm unscientific alienation theories cause children makes it hard to believe corruption isn’t involved.

  19. Evaluator failed to recommend play therapy in disputed child sexual abuse cases

    Child sexual abuse is hard to prove for some good reasons.  Young children often have difficulty speaking to people they don’t know.  Caseworkers and evaluators often expect children to speak about the most embarrassing and painful episode in their lives without taking the time to develop a trusting relationship.  This is one cause of false claims of coaching.  Best practices for young children is play therapy.  The child will reveal whatever they need to through their play and artwork.  This takes coaching off the table because a parent can’t coach a young child how to draw a picture or play with Legos.  This is particularly helpful as inept and unscrupulous people seek to discredit reports and retaliate by claiming coaching and alienation.

  20. Evaluator focuses on approaches asking victims to just “get over it”

    Just get over it is often used to pressure children to interact with abusive parents they fear. ACE tells us this is a harmful approach.  Courts have the power to force children to spend time with an abusive parent but have no ability to remove the fear and stress the abuser causes.  This means the fear and stress will be pushed deeper inside the child where it will inevitably come out later in much more harmful forms.  Evaluators and judges need training to avoid these dangerous mistakes.

Conclusion

Evaluators have legitimate expertise in psychology and mental illness.  If they make mistakes, there are professional standards and other professionals who can flag their errors.  These are subjects the court hears often and can make judgments about.

The problem discussed in this article concerns issued related to domestic violence and child abuse.  The present evaluation system was created at a time when no research was available, and the courts have failed to update practices even after multiple research studies proved many common assumptions are wrong.  Today, there is rarely an expert available in a case to recognize and correct standard mistakes evaluators make regarding abuse issues.  Even if a protective mother calls a DV expert, judges may not understand that experts in child sexual abuse or domestic violence have a better understanding of their specialized areas than mental health professionals.

We are discussing clear errors that court professionals feel comfortable stating openly, but novice DV advocates would recognize immediately.  There can be no dispute that abusers usually act differently in public than in private, but courts routinely base decisions on non-probative public behavior.  Saunders says court professionals need training in risk assessment.  Law enforcement and DV advocates have been using this knowledge for decades, but custody courts still make decisions without risk assessment.

DV advocates have told us for many decades that physical abuse is not the worst part of domestic violence.  No one listened because the advocates usually do not have advanced degrees, there was no scientific research to support their knowledge, they were viewed as biased because they are always against DV, and they are mostly women.  The ACE Studies confirmed the advocates were absolutely right and still the courts routinely make the outdated mistakes of focusing mainly or completely on physical abuse.

The authors of this article are not qualified to analyze a psychological test or diagnose a parent.  We do know and can share with the court that psychological tests were not created for the populations seen in family court and tell us nothing about domestic violence.  We quickly found over 80 common mistakes evaluators make because they do not have the needed expertise in domestic violence and especially child sexual abuse.

This is why the Saunders Study recommends a multi-disciplinary approach to DV custody cases.  Custody courts have no other way to obtain needed expertise about DV and child abuse than from specialized experts.  Judges, lawyers, and psychologists usually want to get any training from other judges, lawyers and psychologists.  Although Saunders found DV advocates have more of the specific DV knowledge courts need, court professionals often don’t want to listen to people they view as less knowledgeable. 

Psychologists usually have far more formal education than experts in DV and child abuse.  Nevertheless, more than four decades since DV became a public issue, evaluators continue to make blatant DV 101 mistakes and none of the other court professionals recognize and discredit these clear errors.  Children pay an awful price for the insistence by court professionals on continuing to use the same outdated practices.

Contested custody cases are usually the last chance to save children from the life-altering harm caused by exposure to ACEs.  ACEs, evaluators rarely even discuss in their reports.

 

Barry Goldstein is a domestic violence author, speaker, advocate and expert witness. He is the author of six books concerning domestic violence and child custody. Barry is the author of the Safe Child Act which is a comprehensive plan based on current scientific research that can fix the broken court system and make family courts safe for children.

 

v york profile photoVeronica York is a family court survivor and advocate to change the family court laws and works to educate court professionals on current scientific research such as the ACE and Saunders studies. 

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Releasing a Documentary on Family Court Corruption!

Releasing a Documentary on Family Court Corruption!

Clark County Nevada

February 6, 2022

 

Veterans In Politics video internet talk show interviewed Vem Miller documentary filmmaker.

Miller has done many documentaries exposing family court corruption on an international level.

Miller started directing music videos for several years, he then leaped into television programs.

Miller now is entrenched in making documentaries entitled “America Happens”.

Miller has several series on “America Happens” he said that he started to learn the laws, particularly on the family court to enhance his documentaries.

The host echoed that the Nevada Supreme Court came down with their ruling in the Jennifer Abrams Vs. Veterans In Politics International, Inc. that the courtroom is of public concern.

Miller said the family court doesn’t have a jury which is a constitutional violation and the judges and attorneys seal the case to avoid their gross criminal behavior to traffic children.

The host said that after watching one of Miller’s documentaries it was revealed that Case Workers received financial incentives to take children from loving parents. Each child is worth 35 thousand dollars in a 60 billion dollar industry.

The host said that many judges take the bench but don’t resemble the litigants before them, because some don’t have children of their own nor have never been married.

The host said that a jury trial should start with the Relocation of Children and Termination of Parental Rights. Either with a tribunal (3 Panel Judge) or a jury trial.

The host stated that leaving it up to one judge breeds corruption and bias.

Miller said that there is no due process in family court the judge’s discretion is not law. Doing this destroys the fabric of the law.

The host said that if judges in family court are ruling by discretion then they should change the qualifications of judicial candidates. By eliminating the practice of law and a State Bar license to practice law.

The host continues to say that anyone with common sense should be allowed to assume the family court bench. This would be the same qualifications Nevada has for municipal court justices with a population of fewer than 100,000 people.

Footnote: Nevada has no legal education or licensing requirements for municipal court justices, and only requires Justice Court justices to be a licensed attorney if they represent a county with a population above 100,000 people.

The host said that we shouldn’t continue to waste tax dollars for legislators to adopt laws if family court judges are going to continue to rule off of discretion.

Miller said that our state government knows exactly what type of problems exist in family court, but refuses to clean it up because they are making a lot of money in this industry.

The host said that when the family court Judge deems a litigant as vexatious they are violating that litigant’s 1st and 14th Amendment rights of our US Constitution.

Silencing a litigant by having them keep their mouths shut and refusing to accept any court filings violates their rights to a fair judiciary.

The host continued to say if they are making litigants vexatious because they are fighting for the love of their child. Then why can’t we do the same to attorneys that file crap just to see what sticks in the name of making a paycheck?

The host said that attorneys in family court know that they are committing perjury to it anyway and nothing ever happens to them. So they continue to lie!

The host continues to say if family court judges want to continue to do the jobs of criminal court judges, then they need to be a criminal court. This would able litigants to obtain a jury and if they can’t afford an attorney a public defender should be appointed to them. This is for any sentencing that requires incarceration.

“A jail cell doesn’t know the difference between criminal and civil contempt”.

The host brought up the fact that a civil court judge which is a family court judge doesn’t have the jurisdiction to order a litigant to take a drug test. The Nevada Revised Statutes states that only a criminal court judge has that jurisdiction.

The host continues to say that if the litigant appeal it would be overturned in the Nevada Supreme Court. But family court judges intimidate litigants and say that if they refuse to take the drug test the court would deem their drug test dirty and take their child.

In the Nevada Revised Statute, a judge can not use the child as a sword to develop power over a litigant. Isn’t this Parental Alienation by the court?

Many litigants don’t have the knowledge, time, or funding to appeal a case.

Miller said that many family court judges act on discretion and no evidence. The Rule of Evidence is out the window.

Miller said when a litigant speaks out against family court they lose their children and gets tossed in jail.

Miller also said that many judges give conflicting orders to litigants. This causes major confusion and discredits the litigant.

Miller said that nothing won’t change unless we do something about it. Many people don’t get involved until it personally affects them.

In a criminal enterprise, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Miller said he has 10 more Episoids coming out.

The host said that litigants need to find a way to make the law work for them.

The host continues to say that he has personally talked down litigants from doing stupid things to judges, opposing counsel,  and the opposing litigants on their cases. So many judges and community leaders should thank Veterans In Politics for being involved.

The host said the US Constitution is what separates us from other countries. Many countries want to be like us because of the Constitution and we continue to crap on it.

The host said if you are deciding to go to family court don’t do it. Get a mediator and a paralegal, compromise then submit it to the court for signature. Because if you go to family court thinking you have a winning case, you will be surprised!

See the latest video of Vem Miller:

America Happens – Episode 7 – “Family Law is a Genocide Machine”

www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAlFGXiIoTI

Please click on the Vem Miller discusses the new documentary America Happens Episode 7 Family Law is a Genocide Machine VIP interview below:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uhi1urOC_SA&t=3s

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Someone is Mentally Ill, an Addict, or an Abuser: The Vastly Different Response in Family Court and in Life: Essay by Barry Goldstein

Someone is Mentally Ill, an Addict, or an Abuser: The Vastly Different Response in Family Court and in Life: Essay by Barry Goldstein

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Studies are medical research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ACE tells us that exposure to trauma is far more harmful to children than previously understood and has lifelong consequences unless preventive responses are taken soon enough. There are ten ACEs. Having parents who are mentally ill or engage in substance abuse are two of the ACEs. Exposure to domestic violence, emotional abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse are four of the other ACEs. All six of these ACEs are frequently relevant to child custody cases, but most courts fail to consider the ACE Research. As a result, they take mental illness and substance abuse far more seriously than domestic violence and child abuse.

Behavior that we would now consider domestic violence and child abuse has been tolerated for thousands of years. The present levels of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental illness, substance abuse, suicide and many other health and social problems are based on this history of DV and child abuse. The ACE Research is so exciting because if we reduce family violence, society would enjoy a substantial decrease in the illnesses and social problems described above and this would increase our life expectancy. Dr. Vincent Felitti, lead author of the original ACE Study now believes prevention is the best use for his research especially in our family courts. DV custody cases are often the last chance to save the children involved in these cases and family courts that fail to consider ACE and other important scientific research routinely throw away the children’s last chance.

A court might call a parent mentally ill and tolerate the other parent using the term crazy or worse. This would be allowed even without a valid diagnosis. Someone with a substance abuse problem would be labeled as an addict, alcoholic or substance abuser. Each term is intended to describe who the person is rather than an individual act or one part of that person. Fathers who commit domestic violence have usually committed hundreds or thousands of DV tactics and child abusers have often committed many abusive acts, but family courts usually limit the discussion to a few incidents rather than reaching the broader characterization.

Someone who commits acts of domestic violence or child abuse is quite properly referred to as an abuser. This is an important part of understanding ACE because interacting with your abuser is likely to cause the fear and stress that cause so much harm to children and adult victims. One of the charges against me that led to the suspension of my law license was that I referred to the abusive father as an abuser.

By the time I entered the case, the father had committed thousands of acts of abuse. He had been arrested and the mother had received a protective order. Nevertheless, the biased judge repeatedly said he didn’t realize it was an abuse case. I decided to help him by referring to the father as an abuser so the judge would understand our position. The judge ordered me not to use the term until he was proven to be an abuser. So, I stopped until we presented the evidence that confirmed he was an abuser and then I resumed. Again, the judge ordered me to stop using this term until the court made a determination which would never happen. I started referring to the father as an alleged abuser. The judge never objected to this normal and common designation until more than a year later when he filed the retaliatory bar complaint against me. The judge had no objection when the attorney for the father referred to my client as a liar, alienator and an ugly woman.

How Family Courts Treat Some ACEs Differently
Mental illness can have far different levels of seriousness. Many diagnoses would not undermine the ability to parent safely; while other diagnoses should be disqualifying. Victims who suffer PTSD as a result of their partner’s abuse can still be good parents, but a partner who causes PTSD is dangerous and unqualified. We know this because only very severe abuse could cause PTSD.
Evaluators in DV custody cases frequently recommend therapy for one or both parents. This is reasonable as most people can benefit from therapy and it certainly helps when someone has been traumatized by an abuser. The problem comes when victims are pathologized because evaluators fail to recognize the father’s abuse or consider the context. Unqualified evaluators may recommend therapy for the abuser in response to his domestic violence. This is a common mistake for evaluators unfamiliar with the research who don’t know DV is not caused by mental illness.
Similarly, evaluators are willing to recommend treatment for parents suffering from substance abuse. While some evaluators may minimize addiction, many will recommend therapy and a program like Alcoholics Anonymous. In cases involving serious mental illness or addiction, evaluators will limit visitation, usually to supervised visits, until the treatment can change the harmful behavior. This is appropriate because these parents are likely to do serious harm to their children.

Central to the courts’ response is the professionals they rely on. Mental illness is at the heart of the expertise of mental health professionals. They are used to diagnosing mental illness and proscribing treatment. They are also familiar with substance abuse and comfortable recommending appropriate responses. The problem for family courts is that they are not similarly expert concerning domestic violence or child sexual abuse. These are very specialized issues which is why The Saunders Study from the National Institute of Justice recommends a multi-disciplinary approach. If courts routinely turned to DV advocates and professionals who treat child sexual abuse full time, the court response to domestic violence and child abuse would be very different and much more effective.
Saunders confirmed that most evaluators do not have the specific domestic violence knowledge courts need. Taking a few workshops or seminars does not provide the needed knowledge and expertise to respond to domestic violence. Many evaluations acknowledge they cannot determine the DV issue and so focus on other, less important issues that the evaluator is more comfortable with. Other evaluators disbelieve true reports of domestic violence because they don’t know what to look for or they are focused on unscientific alienation theories. Even when the evidence of abuse is so clear that the evaluator agrees the father committed domestic violence, it is either minimized so as not to interfere with the desired shared parenting arrangement or they recommend therapy or anger management that do nothing to change the abusive behavior.

The Research says that only accountability and monitoring are effective in changing abusers’ behavior. Domestic violence is different than most crimes because until recently it was not treated as a crime. Accordingly, it is critical that courts send a message that domestic violence will now result in serious consequences to the abuser. There are already serious consequences to the victims.
Best practices in DV custody cases would be to initially limit the abuser to supervised visits. They should be required to complete an accountability program which can be a batterer program that focuses on accountability. If they complete the program, the abuser can seek unsupervised visits based on parallel parenting. Saunders found shared parenting is never appropriate in DV custody cases. The abuser should have the burden to prove he is safe and will cause more benefit than harm to the children. The court should consider: does the father take full responsibility for his abuse; does he understand the enormous harm he caused the children; is he committed to never abusing anyone again and does he understand any further abuse could end his relationship.

A Fairer Family Court Response to ACEs
A child’s ACE score is based on one point for each ACE they experienced and not each incident. Each ACE is not necessarily equal in the harm and there is good reason to believe DV and child abuse are the most harmful because they lead directly to the fear and stress ACEs cause. The almost exclusive reliance on mental health professionals creates a bias to find mental illness and substance abuse because these are subjects, they are more used to responding to. When the professionals are unfamiliar with ACE and Saunders and refuse to consult DV advocates, the resulting mistakes make it harder for courts to recognize DV and child abuse.

There is substantial unintended bias built into the present family court response to DV custody cases. Court-sponsored gender bias committees have found widespread gender bias against women litigants. The recent Meier study confirmed courts have made little progress to overcome this problem. Confirmation bias pushes courts to make findings of what they want or expect to see. This means high conflict approaches encourage a false equivalency between victims and abusers and its hard for courts to believe wealthy or successful fathers would commit abuse. The failure to consider important scientific research like ACE and Saunders tilts decisions in favor of abusive fathers and against protecting children. The overreliance on mental health professionals emphasizes issues of mental health and substance abuse while making it harder to recognize domestic violence and child abuse. Mental health professionals fail to recognize the distinction between mental health and domestic violence issues and so focus on therapeutic solutions when accountability is needed.

The problem is exacerbated by frequent economic inequality. Domestic violence concerns control, including financial control so that abusers usually control most of the family’s financial resources. The history of domestic violence and fundamental fairness would support court orders to level the playing field, but custody courts rarely take effective action to make sure both sides have the opportunity to present their full case. It is a standard abuser tactic to seek to bankrupt their victims. This often results in protective mothers forced to go to trial pro se. The result is courts do not receive information they need to understand the case and the risks the children face.

The unintended bias from these standard practices is compounded by the intentional bias of the cottage industry. As mentioned above, abusive fathers usually control most of the resources because of their control. This means if you are a lawyer or mental health professional who wants to make a lot of money and doesn’t care about hurting children, using approaches that favor wealthy abusive fathers can be very lucrative. This has led courts to hear a lot of aggressive and often false arguments in favor of abusers. The whole alienation scam that has had such a pernicious effect on the courts and ruined thousands of children’s lives has been promoted by the cottage industry. It is absurd that a theory that was created not based on any research, but only the belief that sex between adults and children can be acceptable; and has been twice rejected by the American Psychiatric Association for inclusion in the DSM which is a compendium of all valid mental health diagnoses is more influential in the courts than peer-reviewed scientific research like ACE and Saunders that comes from the most credible sources.

All of the flawed and outdated practices family courts regularly rely on have supported biases that favor abusive fathers and push courts to err on the side of risking children. This is the exact opposite of the best interests of children they are supposed to be following. There is inertia because the outdated practices have been used so long. There is defensiveness because court professionals, like any humans are reluctant to recognize they have been making mistakes and hurting children for a long time. The Bartlow Study asked judges in communities where court decisions led to child murders what they have done to reform their practices in response to the local tragedy. The shocking answer was none because they all assumed the murder was an exception. In the last 13 years there have been over 800 such exceptions. The same mistakes that lead to murders, more often result in a childhood exposed to the fear and stress abusers cause and an adulthood filled with pain and sickness ACE could help courts prevent. It is long past time to discuss this problem openly and create the needed reforms. Children continue to pay the price for court officials who are unwilling to face the harms they are causing.

 

Barry Goldstein is a domestic violence author, speaker, advocate and expert witness. He is the author of six books concerning domestic violence and child custody. Barry is the author of the Safe Child Act which is a comprehensive plan based on current scientific research that can fix the broken court system and make family courts safe for children.

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Father with no criminal record gets a “Lifetime Restraining Order” against his 3-year-old son!

Father with no criminal record gets a “Lifetime Restraining Order” against his 3-year-old son!

Does a Judge’s Discretion give them the right to violate the law?

Clark County Nevada

December 8, 2021

Veterans In Politics video internet talk show interviewed Jason D’Souza and Kash Jackson on how the courts steal children from their parents.

D’ Souza:

D’Souza went through the family court system in Orange County California and was given a lifetime restraining order to be within 100 yards from his son.

D’Souza is going on over 900 days of being alienated from his son. This is a “Civil Death” Sentence. D’Souza still has to pay child support.

D’Souza has no criminal record, no CPS record, no drug or alcohol abuse, no child molestation charges, no weapons charges, no neglect charges. D’Souza has a clean record with positive monitoring reviews.

D’Souza said he was given this death sentence because he spoke out against the family court corruption on social media and the judge said that his words are a weapon, this is a violation of D’Souza’s freedom of speech.

The Host asked D’Souza why didn’t he do a federal lawsuit against the State Of California Family Court System and the judge who rendered that order for violating his constitutional rights?

The Host asked D’Souza why didn’t he file a judicial disciplinary complaint against the judge?

The Host asked D’Souza why didn’t he file an appeal to the California Supreme Court against the judge’s order?

Jackson:

Jackson founder of Veteran Liberty Network a retired Navy veteran and former gubernatorial candidate for the Libertarian Pary in Illinois.

Jackson responded that a pro-se-litigant has no chance of winning against a seasoned attorney in family court, litigants are not educated in defending themselves.

Jackson explains how the appeal process works by saying litigants are financially devastated and emotionally and mentally crippled. You are struggling to keep your head above water, you’re losing your home, your credit is being decimated, you are buried in attorneys fees, and often you’re being cycled in and out of the local jails on false orders of protection any of several charges to put you on your heels on an upward fight. The courts violate your due-process rights on the onset and make it far more complex. Then the appeals court send it right back to the crocked judge to fix their violation of the law. Now the family court judge seeks revenge on you.

The Host suggests using a paralegal that the litigant would pay a fraction of the cost rather than hiring an attorney and using all of your legal resources to have a paper trail.

Jackson stated that judges have ex-parte communication and take the litigant’s attorney into their chambers leaving the opposing party who is a pro-se-litigant representing themselves in the hallway, this is another violation of the litigant’s constitutional rights.

Article 14 of the Constitution:

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Jackson said that he hasn’t spoken to his children in over 3 years and he has never done anything to his children to warrant this alienation. This would make any normal red-blooded American upset with the system!

The Host:

The Host said that the court is in violation by using children as a sword to intimidate parents.

The family court system will beat you down so badly that it makes you powerless, lost, and enrage.

You should never give up trying to be in your minor children’s life, there is always a way!

Someone please contact Jason D’Souza and help him be in his son’s life…..

Stand up for your constitutional rights!

Please click on the link below to view this powerful and inspirational video:

Jason D’Souza & Kash Jackson zoom discussing how the courts steal children on VIP talk-show

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Blg4VumeIkU&t=7s

Veterans In Politics International

where change happens!

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