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.

Read More –>

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. 

Read More –>

The 25 Most Positive & Hopeful Family Court Reform Moments of 2021

“A global awakening is underway; as perpetrators’ courtroom strategies and poor parenting choices come under the spotlight, a seismic shift from victim-blaming to accountability will hopefully follow.”

– Rachel Watson

Take a look at some of the most positive Family Court reform news stories from 2021 that give us hope for the future.

Read more here.

Read More –>

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.

Read More –>

Grifters of the Family Courts: The Worst Nightmare Reality Substituted for Best Interest Standards of Child Custody 

The Father’s Rights movement, born as a reaction to the “tender years doctrine” that automatically awarded custody of young children to mothers, countered this principle with reasonable arguments of Shared Parenting. Equally reasonable was the presentation of the battle faced by many women–newly liberated with earned income–who saw that they no longer had to live with […]

The post Grifters of the Family Courts: The Worst Nightmare Reality Substituted for Best Interest Standards of Child Custody  first appeared on Foundation for Child Victims of the Family Courts.

Read More –>

RISE of the ‘FAUX BONO’ LAWYER!

RISE of the ‘FAUX BONO’ LAWYER!

DATELINE: LAS VEGAS, NEV., (Sept. 18, 2021).  Once upon a time, divorce laws required parties to prove “fault.”  Couples had to prove their spouses committed infidelities so horrific—that the court should dissolve the marriage.

NO-FAULT DIVORCE

In 1931, hoping to attract residents, Nevada enacted new divorce laws.  Nevada changed its residency requirements to six weeks and adopted a “no-fault” divorce.  Couples wishing to divorce could get un-hitched in just six weeks!—and they didn’t have to prove who cheated on whom!

DIVORCE MILLS

With the advent of new divorce laws, divorce mills sprung up throughout Nevada.  Reno became the Divorce Capital of America.  Nevada ranchers cashed in on the divorce gold rush—they offered accommodations at “divorce ranches” where folks would stay for six weeks to establish residency.  In 1951, Rita Hayworth took up residency in Tahoe before filing for divorce.

THE FAMILY LAW ACT

“No-fault” divorce demonstrated the popular belief that unhappy spouses should be able to quickly end a soured marriage—and move on with their lives.  In 1969, California followed Nevada.  Then-Governor Reagan signed the Family Law Act, which created “no-fault” divorce for California couples with “irreconcilable differences.”

NEVADA GOES RETRO

Sadly, Nevada has reverted back to a “fault” based system.  Nowadays, attorneys fight to show the ex is “at fault,” and if successful, their clients are eligible to be the “prevailing party,” which triggers an attorney’s fees award.

NOBODY WINS

But there are no winners or losers in family court; after all, when parties go to family court, they seek no redress for wrongdoings.  Rather, they seek only to divide marital assets and/or possession time of children.  And, because nobody wins in family court, the notion of “prevailing party” makes no sense.

THE PREVAILING PARTY FICTION

Where cunning attorneys can show the ex is “at-fault,” the attorneys’ clients are adjudged the “prevailing party”—which results in attorney’s fees.  This is the precise point where the corruption pathogen takes hold and begins to fester.  Next thing you know, attorneys from the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, (“LACSN”), pretend to be “pro bono”—with an underlying expectation they’re gonna get paid—but only if they show the other party is “at-fault!”

RISE of the ‘FAUX BONO’ LAWYER

Enter the notorious “faux Bono” lawyers—pretending to be do-gooders, supposedly donating time to charity cases—when in fact—they are money-grubbing, contingency fee lawyers—willing to wager they can show the ex is “at-fault”—and totally confident that crooked-ass judges will ensure the ex is “at-fault.”  (Get it?)

CROOKED-ASS JUDGES

Take, for example, Vince Ochoa.  Once a LACSN team member, Ochoa is now a LACSN lackey.  Nowadays, Ochoa’s job is to ensure that LACSN attorneys get paid!—by hook or by crook!  Ochoa knows the scam.  Ochoa understands that attorneys cannot donate campaign funds to the bench unless they have disposable income; and so, Ochoa ensures the LACSN attorneys get paid!

KRAMER vs. KRAMER

Do LACSN lawyers ever represent BOTH spouses in family court?  No, of course, not!  Why?—because one LACSN lawyer would have to lose!—and go home empty-handed!  And no gold-digging LACSN lawyer will take a “pro bono” gig if there’s a possibility they might have to work for free!

THE LACSN HUSTLE

If your ex is represented by LACSN, your crooked-ass judge will find YOU “at fault,” and your ex will be the “prevailing party”—because the LACSN lawyer must get paid.  Let’s say your ex LIES in open court and falsely accuses YOU of behaving badly.  Bamm!  The crooked-ass judge will believe your ex—guaranteed!  Family courts reward perjury.  Judges embrace the lies—because lies provide the necessary pretext to declare YOU “at fault.”  This means your ex is the “prevailing party,” and their LACSN attorney gets a handsome attorney’s fees award.

BETTER CALL SAUL

“Pro bono” is a Latin term meaning “for good” or “for charity.”  In contrast, “pro pecunia” is the Latin term meaning “for money.”  The “faux Bono” lawyer is NOT in the game for charitable reasons.  Getting paid is the sole objective.  The “faux Bono” lawyer is basically a contingency fee lawyer—a bus bench lawyer—like Saul Goodman—but with lower ethical standards.

UN CHINGO de DINERO

Greedy attorneys and crooked-ass judges have effectively re-transformed Nevada law—from “no-fault”—back to “fault-based” divorce.  Just think—only sixteen (16) civil judges for the entire civil docket, but twenty-six (26) for family court.  Why?—because they need TEN extra judges to manage the bustling child kidnapping industry—which generates gazillions of dollars—and causes widespread misery more dismal, more costly, and more destructive than any blight, pestilence, or plague imaginable.  Sit down, Covid—the family court is the real scourge!

BIG BUSINESS

Back in the day, enlightened Nevada lawmakers had a vision—to un-hitch couples after only six weeks’ residency.  But those days are gone forever.  Today, divorce is big business.  Nobody gets out in six weeks.  If your kid is five, and your spouse files for divorce, the custody battle will last 13 years—until the kid turns 18—guaranteed.

FAMILY COURT QUICKSAND

Regular civil courts have fast-track procedures—to quickly dispo cases, but not so family court.  It’s a criminal cabal—where lawless and psychopathic judges choke the life out of couples, stranding them in family court quicksand—opening their veins and bleeding them dry—draining the family’s assets and stealing the children’s futures.

LACSN DISCRIMINATES

If you can’t afford a lawyer, and if your ex has a really good job, LACSN will represent YOU in family court—for FREE!  On the other hand, if you can’t afford a lawyer—and your ex is on disability or welfare, then forget it—LACSN won’t touch your case with a 39-and-a-half-foot-pole.  LACSN discriminates against the poor, (i.e., “intra-class” discrimination).  LACSN treats poor people differently from one another—based only on whether the ex has a paycheck that LACSN can garnish.

DECEPTIVE TRADE PRACTICES

Where lawyers have the expectation of a payday—and they call themselves “pro bono,”—it’s inherently deceitful—a deceptive trade practice, [see NRS 598].  The venerable term “pro bono” must be reserved for attorneys with no expectation of pecuniary gain.  The moniker ”pro bono” must be unavailable to money-grubbing shysters.

50-50 CUSTODY NOW!

We call for mandatory 50-50 custody legislation in Nevada!—and not just a rebuttable presumption of joint custody—but full, equal, and undivided joint custody—as Equal Protection demands.

FINAL THOUGHT

It’s been said that equal parenting is integral for a child’s well-being.  If this is true, then the current system detriments children.  The system generates the most revenue by making parenting “unequal.”  Nevada is at a crossroads; we must decide—what’s more important?—the future of our children?—or Jennifer Abrams’ ability to buy another Porsche?

 

VETERAN in POLITICS INT’L (“Where Change Happens”)

 

Read More –>

Senator Min’s Child Safety Bill Clears the CA Legislature

Senate Bill (SB) 654, backed by Angelina Jolie and Dylan Farrow, would require a judge to consider a parent’s history of domestic violence and substance abuse before allowing unsupervised visits with children.

SACRAMENTO, CA — Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine) announced today his bill to create and
extend protections for children in family court advanced from the State Legislature and will head
to Governor Newsom’s desk for his signature. SB 654 passed the Senate Floor with unanimous
support.

SB 654 would require judges to make findings on the record when entering an order for
unsupervised visitation with a parent who has a history of domestic violence or substance abuse.
This bill would also ensure children who wish to testify in contested custody battles do not have
to do so in the presence of the parties seeking custody, unless it is deemed necessary by a judge.

“I am grateful to my colleagues for their overwhelming support of SB 654, which will save lives,” Min said. “Child safety must be our number one priority in the courts, and we must ensure that we don’t put children in situations of ongoing danger of domestic violence or substance abuse. I am proud that this measure brings us one step closer to guaranteeing our laws better protect children and prioritize their health, safety, and welfare.”

This bill has enjoyed prominent and widespread bipartisan support. It is sponsored by the
Legislative Coalition to Prevent Child Abuse. According to Melissa Knight-Fine, Director of this
organization, “SB 654 promotes risk assessment and consideration of information from law
enforcement and other child protection agencies, proven tools to help prevent abuse. The bill will protect children in high-risk cases where parents who have been on supervised visitation due to violence now are asking for unsupervised visits.”

SB 654 has also received notable support from actor and internationally renowned children’s rights advocate Angelina Jolie. In her letter of support, Jolie wrote, “Having courts make findings on the record will ensure that histories of domestic violence or substance abuse are addressed and treated, and such findings will protect children from unsupervised visitation when unsupervised parenting is unsafe. The modest measures in SB 654 are also expected to prevent the need for additional hearings due to unsafe visitation.”  Dylan Farrow, a prominent advocate for survivors of sexual abuse also encouraged public support for “this crucial legislation.”



Read More –>

Remembering to Breathe

Read the full article at Remembering to Breathe

This piece was submitted to our 100K STORIES PROJECT by an anonymous protective mom.

I have been a single parent twenty two years now. Single parenthood is filled with tears , loneliness, and holding my breath to survive on a shoe string budget. Buster our dog was colored blue, extreme teenage rebellion which included the police and more hospital stays then I can count are just a few off my lists of parenting. My life changed when I was in a horrific car crash at thirty two weeks pregnant. I called the ex from the back of the ambulance and he never came. I survived twenty five surgeries and my son seven since 2006. The ex left California in 2009 for Colorado and never looked back. The lawyer stole my settlement and I ended up on welfare. The dad contributed two packs of diapers, bottles, drop ins, and socks and called it a day before he left. I was broken emotionally and financially and physically so I moved back home to my fathers. I just went back to working last year and juggling multiple jobs since my ex has managed to skate by the OCDA and now Colorado DA. My son receives SSI now from the injuries he sustained in the crash. I was told by the OCDA I was lucky at least I received something.  Why does the legal system fail our kids? My ex uses his Jr’s social and changed his middle name and still driving around freely while his kids go without. Why does the government pay for deadbeat dads and their responsibilities? Why do we as mothers go without since we sure don’t let our children do? I have been called bitter and money hungry by his new woman. I have been told by the OCDA its Colorado’s job sorry we just have to wait. In the end this battle is for our children and I am his voice. I will not be silenced by this corrupt child support system.

The post Remembering to Breathe appeared first on Moms Fight Back.

Read More –>

jen-theodore-WxCjNdz_B4I-unsplash

Protect Children and Parents from Court Appointees including Mediators

Read the full article at Protect Children and Parents from Court Appointees including Mediators

jen-theodore-WxCjNdz_B4I-unsplash 19momsfightback.jpg

Although I was in a 7 year post divorce case initiated by the father, MRS. Family Court Helper referred to me throughout her report to the court as MRS. Was she a once a MRS. always a MRS. kind of person or was she just careless in her cut and paste of a report she had used many times before?

MRS. Family Court Helper follows the money and moves from role to role. The trend in the family court industry is to find another court appointee role without standards or standardized training (especially domestic violence training) and use this for divorcing families who end up in court. The latest trend is mediation. MRS. Family Court Helper is now a mediator.

But she still prefers to do a PRE (custody evaluation) even though the research is saying this approach is harmful to children. MRS. Family Court Helper has conducted over 100 PRE (custody evaluations). When asked how much follow-up she had done to see how the children fared, she was incensed. When she finally responded, the answer was she hadn’t done any. What kind of professional does that?

MRS. Family Court Helper now says on her web site that the mother filed a complaint with the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) because she was upset with the parenting time decision she recommended when serving as a parent coordinator. It was much more than that. BEWARE of any licensed mental health professional that uses this line. MRS. Family Court Helper suddenly became an SA/CFI (Special Advocate/Child and Family Investigator), the role the court appointed her to serve, again in her response to DORA. Interesting isn’t it?

• MRS. Family Court Helper double billed me. These were corrected when I pointed out the errors, but not before.

• When I asked for a recap of the billing it took MRS. Family Court Helper 4 months to get me a recap of the billing. It was submitted in her reply to my DORA complaint. Even though she says she was a parent coordinator on her web site and in previous billings to me, the billing and the response she submitted to DORA listed all her work as being that of an SA/CFI as the court document ordered. She’s sneaky.

• MRS. Family Court Helper failed to discuss or implement changes that would take my child out of the middle of the conflict. Suggestions were made by a school counselor with over 20 years’ experience as a counselor and parent. The counselor looked over the child’s records and shared what she had seen work and then made some recommendations based on the changes MRS. Family Court Helper was proposing. When the recommendations were shared with MRS. Family Court Helper, her response was maybe it should be her who goes to the school and talks to the school personnel. She didn’t implement any of the recommendations.

• MRS. Family Court Helper took a piece of research which spanned 25 years and included recommendations to a group of Colorado goons promoting the parent coordinator role and decided not to follow the research but the recommendations of the goons who had no back up research.

• MRS. Family Court Helper did not set session agendas and the sessions were totally out of control. According to other mental health professionals I shared my concerns with regarding the nature of the sessions; MRS. Family Court Helper allowed transference to occur but did not remove herself from the case per the standard recommendation when transference occurs.

• MRS. Family Court Helper’s bizarre suggestion—“I can hardly wait to tell you this, what about, what if, the parenting communication is just between you and the father’s girl friend?” The girl friend is long gone from the picture.

• MRS. Family Court Helper’s response to the child running away from the father’s house a second time was to say the child “said she/he could handle it”. If the child could handle it, why did the child run away? And why wasn’t this a red flag to MRS. Family Court Helper?

Not long after a complaint was filed with DORA and a motion was filed by me to have MRS. Family Court Helper removed as the appointed SA/CFI, a contempt charge was filed against me. MRS. Family Court Helper said she read every document but failed to note as did Jefferson County Magistrate Cecelia Curtis that the contempt motion was meaningless. Magistrate Curtis had failed to read the file and didn’t realize the document surrounding the contempt charge had not yet been signed by her and sent out to all parties.

MRS. Family Court Helper is sneaky. BEWARE. She was assigned to be a SA/CFI and decided she would rather be a parent coordinator—a Colorado role with no standards, no standardized training and no follow up on its effectiveness. Not knowing at the time that this was a specific ambiguous role a group of Colorado goons were promoting, I signed an agreement with her saying she was a parent coordinator. Please learn from my mistake. Do not trust a court appointee, regardless of credentials.

Lessons learned. Don’t sign any document with a licensed mental health professional working in a court-appointed role without having it first looked over by an attorney working specifically for your family. If the court appointee is in business with an attorney as MRS. Family Court Helper is, even more reason to consult with another attorney. Or better yet, avoid this type of arrangement all together. It is not good for you or your children in my opinion.

Better yet, don’t use a mediator who has worked extensively in family courts in other roles. It’s not about the children for them, it’s about the money. Avoid Colorado family courts if at all possible.

The post Protect Children and Parents from Court Appointees including Mediators appeared first on Moms Fight Back.

Read More –>

Family Injustice: A Capitol Conflict

Want to see the joke of the day? The Texas Constitution requires state lawmakers who have a personal or private interest in a proposed law to disclose it to the House… and not vote. Now you will understand why fathers rights groups are furious and are demanding a vote on a bill for equal parenting after divorce. We agree.