Thank you to the author, Jennifer Verraneault (May 03, 2014) from http://www.ctlawtribune.com/id=1202652965182/Guardian%20Ad%20Litem%20Reform%20Approved%20By%20Legislature?mcode=0&curindex=0&curpage=ALL&slreturn=20140503203106
excerpt: Parents who are good parents are not seeing their children as a result of many things wrong with the way we do business in family court. Court orders are not followed and nothing happens to the offender. Time goes by and children miss their right to have a relationship with their parent. Parental alienation is very real and unfortunately, in my opinion very common in our family court system. I view our family court system as an enabler; attorneys, GALs, AMCs, judges, mental health professionals who call themselves consultants are all getting it wrong. We can spend tax payers dollars on giving, yes giving retired judges a very comfortable pension even if they only serve for three years, but we can‘t provide these same judges with the resources they need to help when they‘re on the bench. It doesn‘t make sense. I know there‘s a lot of good in family law but unfortunately, there‘s a lot of bad apples who have used our system to ruin it for children, parents and the good guys (full comment/article below):
Thank you for your unbiased, educational and nice commentary. Just as we accuse GALs, AMCs, judges, mental health professionals and alike for being not so good; we have to admit that there‘s also some not so good parents who have been vocal and also silent throughout our cause to promote constructive and overdue changes in family court. Parents who have joined other parents to share their experiences, from my view, have legitimate complaints and concerns. Are there parents in which they may have some form of a personality flaws or disorders? Are some parents more vulnerable to personality adjustment disorders when they go through one, if not the most stressful and detrimental life experience ever? I am sure, however, for the vast majority of these parents I have met, none of what has been reported, researched, analyzed, scrutinized and so on rise to the level of abuse, neglect or a determination of being an unfit parent. We are not talking about DCF cases. Our most vulnerable children need a voice and this is not what our cause is about.
I will say, a lot of parents don‘t have the luxury, although it should not be viewed as a luxury but a right, to ask their children about their day or to spend precious time with their child because their rights have been ignored. Not only the parents right to care for their child, absent abuse and neglect, but their child‘s rights to have a relationship with their non-custodial parent have denied. All communication has been stopped, therefore have a telephone conversation is not even an option with most of these parents and children. This is very sad and it will end up being societies problem when these deprived children grow up to be adults. I understand your recommendation for parents to let the system evolve as we know it will, and to spend their energy and efforts on their children, but it‘s truly not that easy. Parents who are good parents are not seeing their children as a result of many things wrong with the way we do business in family court. Court orders are not followed and nothing happens to the offender. Time goes by and children miss their right to have a relationship with their parent. Parental alienation is very real and unfortunately, in my opinion very common in our family court system. I view our family court system as an enabler; attorneys, GALs, AMCs, judges, mental health professionals who call themselves consultants are all getting it wrong. We can spend tax payers dollars on giving, yes giving retired judges a very comfortable pension even if they only serve for three years, but we can‘t provide these same judges with the resources they need to help when they‘re on the bench. It doesn‘t make sense. I know there‘s a lot of good in family law but unfortunately, there‘s a lot of bad apples who have used our system to ruin it for children, parents and the good guys. Sorry for any typos.
Now (May 2014)
I closed my family court case out in January 2014 (by mutual agreement w/ex after HE lost custody last Fall by the very court professionals he hired who took them nearly three years ago from me, their mother, protective parent, and the loving, happy, happy, safe, criminal-free home I provided them). I had no choice but to negotiate a mutual agreement with the ex because by that time, his “paid” professionals could no longer cover for him and his neglectful, negligent, abusive parenting, and I could not be considered as a fit alternative for custody once again because I owed guardian ad litem fees and face the very real possibility of jail for those unpaid fees. All this after nearly 10 yrs of my ex-husband’s abuse-by-proxy using the court system to beat and wear me down.
Although I have now freed my family of the appointed psychologist, who did nothing for my children and was on the county payroll for her “accounting services”, and, the guardian ad litem who performed NO sort of legal investigation or checking into the safety, welfare, and best interest of my children in the 2 years of her appointments AND the same guardian ad litem who kept me on restricted visits w/children 200 miles away from home, keeping me in a constant stranglehold with threats of incarceration for the matter of her unpaid gal fees the entire time.
In addition to the emotional and physical shock and horror, I was devastated financially, forced to live as an invisible, non-person due to the courts and these appointed “professionals”. I now find myself in the heartbreaking position of finally being visible as a mother to my youngest, able now, legally, to get my last child, my youngest, back in my care & custody (I’ve lost 2 other children to PAS with no assistance or intervention on the part of the courts or the appointed professionals), but am now facing the daunting challenge of re-building a semi-normal life, struggling mightily to regain footing financially, recupe home and rebuild my freelance title/legal research business before I can actually reclaim my daughter.
I truly wonder how many other similar, sick, sad stories are out there?
Bobbie (Still Here, and Still A Mississippi Mother)
FAMILY COURT NIGHTMARE – I grew up and into what I realize now was the calling and purpose of my life. I am a life-long southerner. I am sober-minded and law abiding and extremely loyal and proud of my Mississippi heritage and hometown. I have been a native “Coastonian” since 2005 (B.K. i.e. Before Katrina). I am a well-read,intelligent woman yet it took me over a year to fully absorb, accept, and define exactly what family court nightmares are. I am as expert on the matter as anyone south of the Mason-Dixon and that thought horrifies me. I wish to share this horror with others not to degrade our State or tear down …. I wish only to build up what is broken. First I must draw a line and paint a picture because it doesn’t appear broken at first glance or second look.
I wish to share this in order to see my children be noticed and freed from the invisible glass barrier that has separated them from the world. I will continue to pester, persist, write, call, mail, file, cry, and scream any words I can until I get them noticed and recognized. I have to. I am their mother, I am proud of them, I cannot help them myself as I too am invisible. I have been rendered useless so far. But, I am still breathing. And I can pester, persist, write, call, mail, file, cry, and scream. That’s what Mississippi Mama’s do.
Please let me know if you would like to know more about my children and more about Mississippi’s children in need of justice.
(Excerpt, Writing For My Life, June 2013)
2013 – How We Got From There to Here (And Where We Go From Here?):
April 2013 –
This month was a turning point in our cause as it was the beginning of what I called being “noticed”, where I was successful in communicating, “volleying” I called it, by email w/guardian ad litem, for the first time in the year and a half since this gal’s appointment and her recommendation to the court to remove my children from my custody and place them in the full-time care and custody of my ex-husband in November 2011. My ex-husband had never been the primary caregiver for our children and had a criminal record, continued to abuse drugs, and had irrefutable, questionable moral and ethical issues that continued to be detrimental to all of our children.
My youngest child, my daughter, who was 12 years old by this time in April 2013, was continuing to show signs of great distress, mentally, emotionally, and physically, her schoolwork and behavior continued to be a cause for alarm and was documented by teachers, and I notified the court appointed psychologist of this, as well as my ex-husband’s behavior toward my daughter which was increasingly threatening and abusive. He imposed extreme isolation upon her, monitoring all of her activities and phone use and/or had her older brother assist in monitoring and withholding her outside contact, as well as utilizing other relatives as well. The turning point for me came when my daughter related to her psychologist the details of her father threatening to kill the family pet, my daughter’s only comfort in the home, which was a cat she’d been caring for since she went to live with her father in November 2011. I persisted in my attempts to communicate regarding these events to the guardian ad litem as well as the court appointed psychologist. Up until this time I was not included in meetings/sessions regarding the children, having been banned by my ex-husband at the time he obtained custody of our children. I finally received a response from the court appointed guardian ad litem and began to relay more details, and accurate information she appeared to be lacking in, and documented how my ex-husband had recently frightened my daughter in his re-telling of killing a previous family pet, my dog, by shooting it in the head after our separation and divorce. These details were traumatizing to my daughter and her father laughed about these events.
This month was crucial in that with these details and my newfound attempts to communicate with teachers, the court appointed psychologist, and, the guardian ad litem, I at least began to engage the guardian ad litem in communications with me. I also brought to everyone’s attention the facts regarding my ex-husband’s continued drug use. The children had photos, and sent them to friends, of a bong that was sitting in plain sight on the patio at my ex-husband’s home, and photos and videos of other disturbing sights and sounds occurring in their father’s home.
Many incidents had occurred up until this point re: the disturbing events occurring at my ex-husband’s home, his behaviors that were not in the best interest of the children, the lack of parental supervision at my ex-husband’s home, underage drinking, suspected drug use, teen parties that were allowed in the home unsupervised, and other matters that were no longer going completely unnoticed by professionals, neighbors, other parents, etc. who were around my children while they were in their father’s care.
At this time I still continued to remain under limited, restricted visitation with my youngest child only, my son who was not yet 15 years old at the time having ceased visiting and/or communicating with me totally nearly a year prior, in May 2012, with no assistance or intervention on the part of the court professionals.
Once again, by April 2013, I had attempted, and did, relocate to this area and jurisdiction in order to be closer to my children, regardless of whether I was “allowed” to see them or not, and, in order to be closer to the jurisdiction overseeing our family court matters. I researched and monitored my own case and was active in all proceedings and felt this move was prudent in order to relieve the 200 mile trip (one-way) burden that had been imposed upon me since my children were taken from our home and hometown and placed in their father’s care and custody some year and a half prior. This continued to be extremely difficult for me as I had no support system or network in the area. At times, my day-hours visitation with my young daughter, every other weekend, were held in local parks, McDonalds, anywhere we could manage to visit … inclement weather made this very hard but we always managed and my daughter and I looked forward so much to those few hours every other week. By April 2013 I lived from one friend’s home to another, rotating in order to not become a burden upon any one family, while helping my elderly parents with their health and housing issues that had been, and continued to be, extreme and critical. By April 2013 I was thankful to have secured part-time employment at the Law Firm of a local attorney who remembered me from years prior. It was a start up and back into the field and area of my experience and expertise, title abstracting, and though it was not enough income to be independent and self-sustaining, it was a major turning point for me in that it redeemed me in my own eyes, and, in essence, redeemed the community around that had there-to-fore appeared to ignore my and my children’s plight. This somehow, perhaps inexplicably, came to me as some form of redemption of mankind itself that I sorely needed and was a great boost to my self-esteem and self-confidence, calming me so that I could re-group, prepare, and try to plan once again for the future. The trauma, grief, loss, and horror were still very real but by this time I felt as if I had been given a much needed breath of fresh air which fortified me, strengthening me to once again try to seek the truth, find others who had endured similarly, and, to begin to find and use my own voice again, for my children, for me.
Court Proceedings: April 2013 – My attorney was given an hour “oral” argument in which to plead his case once more re: the removal of the guardian ad litem, which was promptly denied by the Court, again. Sanctions were also imposed against my attorney, and, contempt fees against me. I faced the very real and imminent threat and danger of being incarcerated for the matter of the guardian ad litem’s unpaid fees. A hearing for this matter to address my incarceration was to be scheduled and noticed in the next few weeks.
SOUND-OFF TO FRIENDS, FAMILY, NEIGHBORS, AND COLLEAGUES
Last month’s FOIA Public Request submitted to Rankin County was fruitful in that our court-appointed guardian ad litem, the one that has ignored my crying children, for 22 months, the one took them from me in a matter of minutes, nearly 2 years ago and promptly made me invisible, the same one that has ignored my ex-husband’s failed, court-ordered drug tests and has also failed to report said tests to the judge, even if we all are not sure his knowledge of said failed drug tests would even matter, and, finally, yes, the same gal who has finally gotten a date set in which to finally have me jailed in Rankin County for the matter of her fees, (and, yes, let me reiterate that this is the same guardian ad litem learned a few weeks ago that I was researching every single case of hers in Rankin County in which she was appointed guardian ad litem … ya’ll, she has an inordinately high percentage of appointments in just that one county alone. I have read over alot of her cases … this woman has actually jailed ALOT of parents, for fees?!! And, as in our case, the kids and their interests are put off, indefinitely, until the matter of fees is resolved, OR, until the parent that is being threatened just… DISAPPEARS? One mother spent NEARLY A YEAR IN RANKIN COUNTY JAIL FOR FEES … I’m regrouping, re-organizing, and starting a bullet list of each case so more on that later. We all know that this guardian ad litem took away the kids, devastating them, and me! We all have asked ourselves how I, the soccer mom, who had custody of those kids their entire lives, who does not have a criminal record, no addictions, no mental problems, no promiscuity, and I, who have been forced back in court every year since my ex filed in July 2005, spending well over $40,000, at last count, could possibly lose custody of those sweet children? And then be erased and forced into invisibility as well? WE ALSO ALL KNOW THAT MY EX-HUSBAND HAD AND CONTINUES TO HAVE PROBLEMS IN ALL OF THE AREAS LISTED ABOVE…. how do these things happen? This guardian ad litem has never helped either of my children, never did any investigation into the false sexual abuse charges my ex-husband filed against the youth minister at a local church back in the summer of 2010. I never dreamed that things like this were purposely done to wreak the havoc that they do, and DID? I mean, how many of us have ever heard of such a thing? Then, having a guardian ad litem appointed seemed ok, and normal, right? I certainly was fine with having a “lawyer to represent the children”… that’s what they are supposed to do. I certainly didn’t agree to pay her fees but I’m sure facing jail for them. This woman never came home to Ocean Springs to meet with me and the kids, NOR DID SHE TALK OR MEET WITH ANY OF YOU GUYS?!!!, as so many of you have questioned me about.
At any rate, this gal HAS been paid OUT OF COUNTY FUNDS? on a case, and for indigent case purposes, for which Rankin County has denied even giving me an opportunity to protest her fees, for WHICH I NEVER AGREED TO IN 2010… I am experienced in family court, we all know. We have had a wonderful guardian ad litem in the past, 2007, who did a thorough and proper investigation?!
I wanted everyone to know since this search turned up important, and relevant information that should expose our living hell of a nightmare, get some much-needed help for the kids, and, perhaps just keep me, THE PTA/SOCCER mom you all know and love OUT OF JAIL?! (YES, I am getting more and more used to saying and typing that line … it does not hold so much fear over me anymore), because of my amateur investigating has thus far been so productive, I have submitted yet another request of 14 business names, corporations/nonprofits that I have uncovered that are directly linked to the opposing attorney, guardian ad litem, court-appointed psychologist who has been invisible since being court-appointed in February 2012, AND, maybe even an incorporation directly tied to other professionals involved in our case.
Many thanks to everyone who has walked with me through this valley. Thank you for letting me sound off, and thank you for listening to me cry. The kids were taken from every one of you as well, and some of you have children they, we, were so close to. My kids have not been allowed to leave the Hinds/Rankin/Madison county areas since November 2011… 😦 I am only allowed, on paper, to see them a total of 24 “day only” hours a month and have to drive 200 miles to and from to do so. I’m so sorry that I cannot do or explain more to your sweet children. I know they have so many questions and none of us have any good answers to give them.
Rankin chancery court, for some inexplicable reason, gave me a couple of extra weeks until my incarceration hearing … it’s been continued to 09-13-13, incarceration for guardian ad litem fees. Help me pass this along, forward, and forward to anyone, everyone you know. I am seeking pro bono representation, now, so please keep in mind if you hear of any leads regarding that, in order to avoid actual jail (for an indefinite period of time?!), AND, most important, to put the emphasis back on the best interest of my children who are deteriorating more every day, I am doing the only thing left to do at this point …. trying to follow all leads into what I believe is at the heart of my particular case and that is corruption … I hate that term, I hated it from the first time I heard it applied in our case, but after all that has been uncovered, discovered, presented, and, ignored, there is no other possible explanation. I don’t know why the fact that mere money changing hands feels more sickening to me. I’ve learned so much. There are so many variables and factors in every single case that I see now it is now wonder parents have not been able to unite. Sometimes it is simply prejudice, sometimes incompetence, sometimes “God-like” complexes on the part of experts, …. on and on and ON …. and sometimes, it is, quite simply, ALL ABOUT THE MONEY. My ex-husband’s attorney, has represented Governor’s of Mississippi in their divorces (or, SPOUSES of Governor’s), and, I’ve recently learned, he is also very close and has previously worked with another Jackson Attorney who was paid $10,000 by my ex-husband and his family, in 1990, after my ex was arrested and charged with possession with intent (of several different illegal drugs) during a sting operation by the DEA launched in 1989. All of my ex’s friends, and others that he knew of were arrested served time and have records … $10,000 paid to the family attorney kept “my ex” from serving any time and also kept his record hidden away until I was finally able to have this fact put on the record during one of our many family court hearings in 2011 (which, remember, the guardian ad litem, quickly ignored and forgot completely). If $10,000 to the right hands in 1990 would do that I am willing to consider what, say, $50,000 OR MORE, in 2010, would do to me and my children. Something horrible went wrong … there has been no other explicable explanation other than “money”.
Our state has a large volume of “innocent” parents that must use State time and resources due to court-imposed restricted/supervised visitations which has been catching quite alot of attention lately as well. We all thought I dodged a bullet avoiding the “supervised” visitation, but, the restricted visitation has lingered on. Now, since learning of the attention, and the supervision that is provided (or usually provided) to the parent’s who have received this terrible sentence, I see I would have been much better off having my child be “visible”, and our family’s suffering would have been witnessed and documented by State authorities supervising. At least you have more than a 50/50 shot of getting a State employee with a heart, and, with the courage and moral fiber to actually investigate and report children, family member’s, etc. If appointed a private, rogue guardian ad litem, as my children were, who by all intents and purposes holds the power of “God” in which to trump dhs, juvenile court, etc. you run the risk of being invisible before you even know it … we certainly did.
Anyway, I wanted you to have this information. It may prove useful to you or someone you know. By all means use it if you can. Let me know if it helps. I’m happy to talk to anyone who wants to know more 🙂
Writing For My Life (June 2013)
Ours is quite a horrible, almost unbelievable story but it is becoming alarmingly clear that we are not so rare. Coming across other stories, mother’s, father’s, children, is like manna from Heaven. I’m not relieved other’s are hurting. In fact, I’m sickened and it is incredibly painful to read their similar, heartbreaking stories, but for so long I could find nothing, no one else living this nightmare.
I have kept a daily journal of my own family’s tragedies for as far back as I can remember, detailing every tragic moment, highlighting each triumph, marking every injustice, and giving thanks for each miracle, big and small, along the way. I thought it a quirky habit, born of necessity, for self-help and healing. Maybe this was not as self-centered as I once thought. Recalling is like reliving and is incredibly painful. But, failure to recall allows for no reporting which only encourages ignorance and ensures continuation of abuse. The most powerful weapon that I can think of that would defeat this level of suffering and injustice is collective outrage and outcry from fellow mothers, fathers, grandparents, brothers, sisters, children. This has finally hit too close to home. No one can read our story, all of these family’s stories, and possibly feel safe or immune anymore.
To be rendered useless, unable to help while children suffer is surely the most painful agony on earth but abandoning them has never occurred to me. I liken it to watching a child battle a life threatening illness. I could never leave their side no matter how painful it is to watch them suffer. Anyone who turns away out of indifference, or self preservation, has a heart of stone and will one day be accountable for their actions, or in-actions. I could never mistreat or abuse any child and certainly would never do anything to compound or prolong a child’s suffering. I’m at a loss to explain to my own children why so many people can and do.
I continue to pray, every minute of every day, that my children will soon receive the attention, protection, and relief they deserve. I hope others are able to use our information to help them as we would have been grateful to have and receive help, to know we were not alone living the nightmare.
These last few months have finally been productive and I am now able to put to use all the years of research, and resources to good use. I was very recently blessed to catch the attention of a local firm who, in addition to giving part-time work, gave me something of even greater value … the credibility and validation in that was apparently lacking in Rankin County and it’s has now become clear why this was necessary in this small town with it’s “network”. These good people in this small, local firm thankfully did not have the common hang-up so many people stumble over, wondering how and why things like this can happen to people like me, and to children like mine.
I have detailed the information surrounding the circumstances of my recent April 2013 meeting with my children’s court-appointed guardian ad litem. This meeting was just 2 months ago and was only the 2nd ever meeting I have had with this guardian ad litem since her initial appointment August 30, 2011. The first and only other meeting I had with this guardian ad litem was in her office barely a month before the ill-fated “custody switch” hearing of November 28, 2011 in which this guardian ad litem recommended to the court that my children be placed in their father’s care and custody. This gal never met with me and my children together and never visited our home, hometown, nor did she bother to drive the 200 mile distance to interview my character witnesses, colleagues, neighbors, friends, family.
My April 2013 meeting with this gal was very informational, however, and I was finally afforded an opportunity to correct a great deal of misinformation and speculation, supporting all of the facts (though most were already made available and were previously submitted to her in September through November, of 2011). I am satisfied that I provided sufficient, accurate information in order to expedite the current investigation that this guardian ad litem was assigned to do in her most recent re-appointment by the court on November 29, 2012 and by which she agreed to the duty of investigating charges of abuse of my two children by their father. That appointment was 6 months ago and, to my knowledge, she has not yet met with either of the children, alone, or together.
I hope that I have at least become a nuisance in that, at least, my existence has finally been acknowledged. Whether I am a mosquito nuisance, or a yellow-jacket nuisance, I don’t yet know and really don’t care. I continue to care only that my children are noticed and heard. They deserve to feel safe and secure. They are still so young and impressionable and the sooner the intervention, the greater the possibilities of healing, for my family. I have no idea what or how this will be done … “when” is more important to me. The whats/hows, whys/hows will most assuredly come in due time.
I have had some assistance by some professionals who have been instrumental in helping me with my inquiries and information gathering. It is my understanding that our 2 separate hearings, FINALLY scheduled, have been set for different dates, in June and July 2013, but I’ve now received notice that all 3 motions are to be heard on the one date, July 15, 2013, originally set aside for the Modification of Custody, as noticed this past November 2012. This is disturbing and poses many problems and concerns. These matters cannot possibly be heard all at one time. The matter of the unpaid fees, and sanctions, appear to be taking precedence over the Motion to Extend Visitation, and, a separate Motion for Custody, which is kind of ridiculous to hear on the same date anyway. I am worried that these matters will be not be given proper hearing time, or, worse, set aside once again.
It must be stopped.
For over two years, since the beginning of our most recent of family court battles, I have sought to get help for my family, my four children, especially my two youngest children, now ages 15 and 13. We have been forced to live our lives according to the whims of an angry man who, for nearly a decade now, has manipulated the legal system and used our two equally dysfunctional extended families to further isolate and victimize me as well as each of our four children. Manipulating chaos and discord and stirring conflict has only perpetuated the cycle of violence we continue to live with, ten years after a finalized divorce that my ex-husband initiated.
My children and I have had no choice but to make the best of a no-win situation and have tread new ground in unfamiliar territories, alone, afraid, but bound by simple, basic, human love. We have far exceeded all expectations and are no longer only a story of simple survival but of success. We successfully maintained bonds, loving bonds, albeit fragile and still smarting, but we are the epitome of “love knows no bounds”.
This is a very long time to live adjusting to what is easily seen and clear to read as an obvious pattern of abuse that is marked by repeat, return-trips of endless back to back court appearances and custody hearings that began in July 2005. We had no choice but to appear and answer to at least one, sometimes two and three per year since. That summer in 2005 my ex-husband filed this first emergency legal action, an emergency separation and for emergency custody of our three minor children who had been in my care and custody since birth. The three children at that time were ages 14, 7, and 4. He filed this suit in a jurisdiction that was 200 miles away from the jurisdiction in which we resided and he filed his petition immediately after he abandoned us, leaving me and the children penniless. Shutting down our mutual checking and savings account was actually the first action he took. In that very first legal action of July 2005 my ex-husband claimed that I kidnapped our the three (3) minor children against their will and moved with them to another county in an attempt to hide them and keep them from him (their father). It would be careless to omit the date of that very first hearing, August 29, 2005, and the impact it too would have on our future. The day that Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Mississippi Gulf Coast (landfall actually within 10 miles of our home). At that moment I was standing on courthouse steps 200 miles away waiting for a hearing that would be reset due to bad weather. This was a pivotal and defining moment in me and my children’s lives in more ways than one. So, although the blatant and outrageous lies and accusations were never given credence and I was able to maintain the custody and care of our three children, these lies sat at the top of our “family file” and opened my own family’s new story, foretelling the tragedy to come and that lead us to where we are today. I didn’t know it then but the very fact that these very serious claims, lies and allegations were never addressed or curtailed by “authorities” of the people in charge, or, the inaction” by the court that day gave some sense of freedom from all accountability which is in essence nothing short of a green-light to an abuser. That day a new pattern of torment emerged and a whole new pattern of torment began in the form “legal abuse” by my ex-husband. Money and the ill-equipped court system were used by my ex-husband as new weapons to punish me since he was, in fact, no longer legally allowed to do so as my spouse.
I can state that although I knew what was happening to us and that I was fully cognizant, horribly aware, that what we were going through was abusive, I did not fully understand how much damage this abuse could and would inflict upon me and my children nor did I have any idea that this would ever be allowed to continue as it has for so many years. I have to live with that ignorance and what it cost me and and my children. We lost basic freedoms and minimum rights yet managed not only to survive but somehow thrive despite impossible circumstances. I am proud of them and proud of the example I have set for them.
Not only do all of my children have years of emotional damage in which to cope with and heal from, they have only very recently been allowed the chance in which to try begin the painful process. They also carry the added pain and scars from so much suffering they had to endure for so long in plain sight. The entire community around them failed to them because it has not yet even recognized, identified, or acknowledged what exactly “It” is. This has only intensified their pain and sense of worthlessness, further isolating and violating them. They have had to cope with the constant rejection and abandonment by the similarly dysfunctional extended families of origin of both of their parents … how could they possibly avoid feeling worthless and unimportant? No one will ever really know how much damage all of this perceived apathy and rejection has done to them. It is certainly understandable that most communityleaders, neighbors, and friends assume extended families, if there are any, will step up and in to help if there are valid emergencies. Sadly, that is not always the case, and these days it is a very dangerous assumption to make. There are no villages anymore.
My children have been completely “invisible” in plain sight and as their mother I can’t rest until they are noticed. Because I myself failed to comprehend, accept, and define what was happening to us there was no possible way to explain it to others, let alone ask for help. I carry the full weight of this, knowing I have been the biggest failure of all to my children and I carry it with me like the weight of the world on my shoulders every day. There are so many caring people who have looked on helplessly, uncertain how to help. My children have completely lost their childhoods and I have completely lost the years in which to mother and nurture them. I wish very much to make this the time for change, the beginning of the end of this destruction. Maybe, in the process, we can shed some light and knowledge on this most terrible of human atrocities. It is occurring every day in every community in our civilized society. If left unchecked it will undoubtedly catch up to each and every family in one way or another. Maybe we can avoid further unnecessary and senseless suffering. Maybe we can help other “invisible” children and parents. This is a senseless shame that has invaded our homes, steals childhoods and robs memories and leaves everlasting scars. This is tearing families apart and is dividing communities.
Would you please help me with this, for my family and for yours?
Mother’s Day has not been anything real for me since the beginning of PAS of my 21 year old daughter, in 2007. All these years later, my 16 year old son has fallen into the alienation, WITH the help, or lack of help from the so-called court-appointed professionals, and, I now face my 1st Mother’s Day that my youngest, 13 year old daughter is showing solid signs of PAS and distancing herself. I do not know if I will visit with her at all this Mother’s Day. One child was like a surreal blow that I went into shock over, second child was agony and long-held scream of protest that kicked me into reality, frantically educating myself with how to battle PAS while battling courts, ex, etc., … the third and youngest child?… feels worse than death. idk … it’s worse than a nightmare and very hard to avoid feeling as if you have failed them all miserably. Divided we fall … the irony. I hope and pray for awareness and education in order to unite, RE-UINTE so many of us, the broken, severed families wandering around in so much pain. Prayers to all who are experiencing this same pain. It’s indescribable. And, many thanks, deepest gratitude to those who have been paving the way, forging ahead through all of this confusing nonsense ahead of us these many years, writing, studying, educating. Without them, without their putting a name, definition, to these atrocities, I believe I would have fallen through the cracks many years ago. God Bless You!
1. Accept that there is absolutely no such thing as a guarantee of speedy trial, representation, protection under the Law in Family Court.
2. The practice of debtors prisons is very real and is being carried out every day in Family Court Systems across America. You can be jailed for professional fees (i.e. appointed guardian ad litems, psychologists, special advocates, mediators, evaluators, etc.) even if you are a safe, fit, and loving parent, regardless of whether or not these professionals even perform their duties … more on this topic later.
3. Be prepared to learn more about Family Law (Federal AND State) than you ever dreamed possible. By the time you are through you will likely know more than your own attorney but it will have been worth it, especially if you do so BEFORE any final hearing.
4. Understand at the outset that a large proportion of family courts and court professionals across this nation who have been appointed, elected, and entrusted with protecting your and your CHILDREN’S rights, ARE corrupt and that this has been the norm rather than the exception for a very long time. The sooner you accept this sad fact the more ahead of the game you can become. Not ALL are corrupt, but many more than the average citizen is aware of. You have only to google topics such as bias corrupt family courts, abuse child custody, report complain lawsuits against attorneys, judges, guardian ad litems, court appointed psychologists, family court reform, etc. and you will find a WEALTH of information regarding these matters. It is rampant in every State in our Nation. This has now become a worldwide, human rights issue. Research headlines, personal stories, articles, lawsuits … knowledge is power.
5. Do not allow the opposing attorney, or, even your own attorney to strong-arm, influence, rush or shame you into accepting an appointment of a guardian ad litem, psychologist, or ANY COURT APPOINTED PROFESSIONAL WITHOUT first gathering referrals, credentials, running your own background checks, and, even checking into OTHER cases of said guardian ad litem, and/or psychologist … thoroughly review the list of the names offered you (it will very likely be a SHORT list!) – your life depends on this. You have the RIGHT to to take TIME to do these things, it’s a very important decision that you should be a part of. YOU EVEN HAVE THE RIGHT TO ALTERNATE NAMES OF PROFESSIONALS. Do these things before the gavel hits … please do not underestimate the importance of this.
6. BY INVESTIGATE … start by running a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) Request on ALL professionals involved in your case in the county of your jurisdiction. The purpose of this is to find out if, and what they have been paid as private vendors from county funds … you will very likely be surprised at how fruitful, and shocking, these requests are. This is an important way of following the money, finding serious conflicts of interest, improprieties. This is an easy request to perform, is not complicated for a lay person to do – more on this later. It’s also easy enough to run all professional’s names through your State’s Secretary of State database for corporations they own, are officers or holders in … again, it’s following the money. Please take these steps very seriously – it can change the tide of your entire case very QUICKLY and easily BEFORE any FINAL HEARING.
7. It is very important to go to your county court records and pull your own court file and go through it with a fine tooth comb … look for missing documents, evidence, incorrect or missing official stamps and/or dates on documents, hidden documents, stapled, etc. You’d be surprised how few attorneys take the time to go through your court file, and, you know your own file and case history better than anyone. Make notes, or better yet, ask for a complete copy of your file, and update it every few weeks, days even, if you can. Documents turn up missing, added upon, misplaced, out of order, “hidden”, etc. ALL THE TIME. This is less likely to happen if you keep up with your own case file and are constantly aware of any new or unusual additions, surprises. Also, keep an eye on motions, orders, etc., that are “quick-tabbed” and labeled by clerk’s, judges, attorneys, court appointed professionals … these are usually tabs put in place for quick review and give clues to the documents hurried “professionals” flip to automatically without taking the time to read your entire case. After all, that would require a lot a time and effort on their part … it’s just your life, and the lives of your children depending on them to do so … are you willing to take the chance that they are THAT invested in you and your child’s (children’s) rights, lives, treatment, case?
8. Find out how, when, yes, even IF, the court appointed professionals are communicating with YOUR attorney (again, you’d be surprised how often they communicate with only ONE side). Insist on copies of all communications between your attorney and the court appointed professional … you can dissect this information on your own time and will surely have more invested in it than even your own attorney. Very often, even “good” attorneys are naive to the manipulative, underhanded tactics “biased” professionals use in order to leave a party out of communications, correspondences, etc. and often end up blindsided, surprised, in court … leaving you, and your children, no recourse (aside from time-wasting threats of appeals, reversals, re-considerations … you’ll likely all be too old and tired to make it that far …. very few do, believe it).
9. Addendum to #8: It is also not unusual for court appointed professionals to make costly “mistakes”, hide communications and/or documents, or, send documents ”by error”, as in … “OOPS … I DON’T KNOW HOW THAT HAPPENED?… I THOUGHT I WAS USING YOUR/YOUR ATTORNEYS PROPER EMAIL ADDRESS?” … or, “I DON’T KNOW HOW THAT HAPPENED, LET ME CHECK WITH MY ASSISTANT”, or, “I DON’T KNOW HOW/WHY WE MISSED THAT?!” or “I DON’T KNOW HOW/WHY YOUR EX RECEIVED COPIES OF REPORTS AND YOU DIDN’T?!”. Also, it’s not surprising for the opposing counsel, or, your ex, to be on the receiving end of copies of your personal, protected, confidential emails, medical records, etc. which is extremely unethical, illegal, and gives reason for review, reversals, reporting, oversight, investigations and lawsuits. These are the only ways to change, for everyone. As you can tell by now, the list of excuses, errors, corruption, can be infinite … I just listed a few I have experienced personally. This section simply means, do not be surprised by ANYTHING, ask questions, find out who’s talking, who received what, what is going on, and, what they (court appointed professionals are doing, teaching, counseling, advising your children) … do NOT allow yourself to be shamed into thinking you are being overly pesky or paranoid. Easier said than done, I KNOW, but, I assure you, the alternative is much worse, much more final, much harder to bear, years and tears later. Ask the questions, even if they make you feel STUPID for doing so … remember what we teach our children? … There ARE NO STUPID QUESTIONS!
10. KNOW the HIPPA laws and do not fail to use them in your conversations with the court appointed professionals (this should be a given but turns out it is often a slam-dunk in getting their attention). It’s hard, but you’ll have to learn early own to stop letting these so-called “professionals” intimidate you into silence … you will not win them over with good behavior – remember, your good reputation and good behavior did not help you in the first place. And, it’s also possible the whole matter has been, or is being, decided well before you even enter the courtroom. This, too, happens ALOT. Again, do all of these things BEFORE any final hearing or it will likely take YEARS to get back on any solid ground with your children and, lawsuits, reporting, ethics, commissions, review boards, only come AFTER you’ve lost your children’s childhoods. You’d much rather have their childhoods.
11. Tape record any and all conversations with court appointed professionals. It will come in handy one day, and, this is the dawn of a new age … change is a-coming, faster now than ever, thanks in part to the use of newest technology and faster information sharing sources. Protect yourself at all times. Put everything in writing. Journal, diary, take notes as often as you can. Document, document, document.
12. Day of the week actually matters — Cry as you might, even if your child is in the hospital critically injured or seriously ill you will be a lucky one if you get even a notification from much less a callback from attorneys, etal. So it is highly unlikely to expect that you will ever even see the inside of a courtroom, even if there is a bona fide emergency situation that affects your children and their health, safety, wellbeing. I was given this very important piece of advice early on in my own court-nightmare and it has served me well in the years since, helping me conserve my precious energy and focus on other matters at hand. Learn, comprehend and accept, early on, that you will not be effective in getting anyone’s help or attention on a Friday and let yourself off the hook until Monday. If there are Motions or other matters pending before the court, you can pester your attorney all you want but they too, in most cases, are at the mercy of waiting on responses and callbacks, notifications, etc. none of which will likely not happen for them either on a Friday. I did not readily accept this bit of advice initially, but I kept it in mind, and after weeks of observation I learned that it was indeed applicable in my case and jurisdiction. I urge everyone to experiment with this, see if it is true nationally. Years ago I dubbed Fridays “golf-day” in order to regain some sense of control, inject some humor, in order to cope with the agony of the condition of waiting. Only others who have experienced the agony of waiting helplessly while your child is hurt, hurting, injured, abused, sick, crying for you, etc. can truly understand that it is hell on earth to endure. Accepting, for the meantime, the imposed limitations of the court and personnel will help you focus on what you CAN DO!
13. Have you asked how many appointments each family court industry professionals involved in your case (i.e. guardian ad litem, psychologist, expert, visitation supervisors, evaluators, etc.) handle in your jurisdiction. Not many of us are aware, at the outset, that this information is not reported but it is available and vital information for you to have.
14. Ask if court appointed mental health professionals, (i.e. psychologist/psychiatrist) are appointed in accordance with your (your children’s insurance provider). All too often this is not the case, forcing parent(s) to pay out of pocket, leaving many literally bankrupt, and/or eliminating one parent altogether from participating in counseling sessions, as happened in my own case, when the court appointed psychologist was paid, in cash, by my ex-husband. I was not privy to counseling sessions my young daughter received as I was not in any position to pay for this private psychologist’s steep hourly fees for “counseling” my daughter. This psychologist was chosen and appointed by the presiding judge. Another very important and damaging fact was that my ex-husband was paying the bill – and he was in a position to, and did, bar me from participating in our child’s counseling session. The psychologist concurred, which was definitely not in the best interest of my daughter.
15. Request, and be prepared to make numerous requests, regarding billing by court appointed professionals … they are often difficult, or next to impossible to receive, and are almost always inaccurate. Follow the billing, hourly rate, diagnosis code, etc. The importance of “billing” and how to use itemization of in checking for errors, provable facts for trial and/or complaints cannot be underestimated.
16. Ongoing Work