Tag Archives: injustice

A MOTHER’S HEART SONGS UNSILENCED

A MOTHER’S HEART SONGS UNSILENCED.

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That’s What Mama’s Do …. (Excerpt, Writing For My Life, June 2013)

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)

 

One day you WILL get to make it “PERSONAL”

A very learned and goodhearted parent once gave me some advice, a long time ago, at the start of my family-court nightmare, … “don’t take it personally”.  I, of course, found that impossible to do at the time, being a newbie and all.  This Veteran Mother, Parent of “the system” understandably, instinctively, knew how hard and long it takes to actually follow this advice, and kindly followed up with, WHEN the time came that I WAS able to do this, accept that the horrible treatment given to me, and to my children, by the court, and the court appointed professionals, and, just as painful and unbelievable, by the “apathetic bystanders”, whether they be the attorneys stymied by the outcome or those just plain out corrupted into “buying the outcome”, and that it was, in fact, NOT personal to them, just business, then I would be able to move on to the next level and try to begin fighting BACK.

I state with all sincerity and not just a little shame, that this piece of advice was the hardest thing for me to accept.  How can it NOT be personal … when it IS personal?  When it’s your life being destroyed, your children being ripped away with no voices, as if they are worthless orphans .. the outrage, horror and grief of this is at times unbearable.  The sad fact is it remains unbearable to many who capitulate, in total despair.  Why and how some of us survive these horrors and traumas is inexplicable to me, even now, years later.  I mourn those who did not make it, envy those who made it out and ran for their lives, and even resent (sometimes) those who made it out seemingly without a trace, having signed gag orders, etc. leaving no trail for those of us left behind to follow, like cracker crumbs to help guide us into finding OUR way out of the dark forest of this unspeakable hell.  I then console myself and forgive, knowing that there were MANY times during our nightmare had I been offered any reprieve to rewind, get out with my life and my children’s lives and childhoods intact I would certainly have jumped at the chance.

Parents – try, try, and try again, to NOT take it so personally simply in order to be able to see the great forest despite the trees in order to see the bigger picture.  And there is a bigger picture.  Try to console yourself that although it is very much personal to you, and to your precious children, if you can only find a way to survive You WILL, one day, get to speak up and out and make it personal.  In the between time, while you feel invisible, do everything you can just to survive it in order to live to fight another day.

My day has arrived. I don’t have my children back, and am dealing with the aftermath, and the secondary horrific crime of alienation, but, we are officially out of the system, by agreed order, not by any help from the courts and finally all court appointed unprofessional “professionals” officially discharged from our case, my ex  finally haven gotten a mere hint of a taste of their wrath, it was, after all, ALL ABOUT THE MONEY, and last fall he began to run out of money, actually losing custody himself just a few short months ago of the very children that these same “unprofessional” professionals granted him some three years prior.  It’s important to note he lost custody for the very reasons, grounds, that I had for many years tried but been denied from exposing to the courts, and their court appointed professionals.

I, the mother, ran out of funds after 6 years and $45,000 into the system while my ex had enough funds to continue on an extra three years.  It cannot be a coincidence that was this the three year period of time in which he was not only given custody but was assisted in his campaign to block access and visitation between me and my children.  These were the barriers my children and I faced these long years.

This January 2014, I was able to begin the long and scary road of coping with and accepting the pointless, unnecessary tragedies that wrongfully separated my children from me for over three years due to an abusive ex who simply used a corrupt system as a means to continue to abuse and denigrate me.  Our children are the real victims.

I begin my journey back to them … God only knows if or how we will reconcile with one another, and, if or how we will ever be able to accept and triumph over all that has happened to us while everyone around watched and did nothing to help us. It takes a great deal to overcome feeling that powerless and unimportant.  One thing is certain … we are not unscathed.

I pray every day that we will find a way to use our tragedy in some positive way to help others who are suffering similarly.

It has to begin somewhere.  This is my beginning, and I am now, finally, able to make it personal.  I am speaking up, and out, for my children and for all children and their protective parents.

 

 

How Parental Kidnapping Works (for the Abuser) — Writing For My Life, Nov. 2012

Date: Feb 5, 2013 9:27 PM
Subject: WRITING FOR MY LIFE:  Our Story (parts).Diary.Nov2012

Please see most attached Motion which is the most recent filing re: our Chancery Case in Central Mississippi, to remove the Guardian Ad Litem for my son and daughter.  The gal was appointed in August 2011  to investigate a sexual abuse charge my ex-husband filed against a youth minister in our hometown … a charge that turned out to be no-billed for lack of evidence some 15 months later, and, that never had any bearing on me as a mother, or as a fit parent to my children.  In addition, the gal was to investigate why my 9 year old daughter was hospitalized for insomnia, anxiety, and stress-related conditions in July of 2010, shortly after I retrieved her, with the knowledge and assistance from local authorities from her father’s home and hometown some 200 miles away from my and my children’s hometown on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  I picked up my youngest child who was hiding on the side of the road by her father’s home at 3 a.m.  after my young daughter and her 12 year old brother were not returned from a 4 day vacation with their father. The gal did no investigation into any of these matters.

After the children had been taken by their father, against custody, the summer of 2010, they were denied unmonitored access to communicate with me but my 9 year old was able to sneak a call to me after 6 weeks of forced, illegal separation.  Being frightened and confused, this child was alarmed and afraid and asked me to come pick her up right away.  Her father told her she would never see or live with me, her mother, again.

This parental kidnapping on the part of her father had been a pattern of their father’s every year since our divorce was finalized in March 2006.  I battled it as best I could, with no punishment or sanctions against their father, in spite of the fact that I had custody of the children.  I did drive the 200 miles to pick up my daughter from her father’s home after notifying the local PD who offered as much assistance as they could.  My son was not waiting outside.  I was advised to either wait and take my son  when he did come outside, as was my right, or, get assistance through the courts.  The police were unable to bodily remove the children from the residence even though my ex-husband was in direct contempt because I did not have a writ of assistance set out in our custody agreement which would allow them to do.  This parental kidnapping, and legal abuse of consistent, frivolous custody, contempt actions had been a pattern of my ex-husband’s approximately twice every year since our divorce was finalized in March 2006.

 

Guardian ad Litem, Law Guardian, Legal Guardian … Who exactly are you? by Arielle Schacter

Arielle Schacter: Guardian ad Litem, Law GuardianLegalhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/arielle-schacter/guardian-ad-litem-law-gua_b_821719.html

Guardian ad Litem, Law Guardian, Legal Guardian … Who exactly are you?

Arielle Schacter, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of bf4life-hearing

Posted: February 23, 2011 11:30 AM

Guardian ad Litem is a fancy legal term that is quite difficult to define. People may be confused and believe that it is a parent who is given custody; others may believe that it is a cross between a Guardian and a lawyer. The true definition of a Guardian ad Litem is murky at best. Through my research, I have come across countless names, definitions, and ideas on the role of a Guardian ad Litem with each contradicting the other.

From my own experience, I understand the frustrations that relate to the usage of theGuardian ad Litem. When my parents began their divorce in 2007, I was in the eighth grade. Within the first several weeks, I met my Guardian ad Litem and was so confused about what I would need a lawyer for. I wasn’t the one getting divorced; my parents were! It would take writing this article to understand the role of a Guardian ad Litem.

In brief words, a Guardian ad litem is a fancy legal word that is synonymous with a LawGuardian–a lawyer appointed by a court to act in a lawsuit or a divorce case on behalf of another party, in this case a minor. When I first met my Law Guardian, I explained to her my situation, my desires and my dreams of how I wanted my life to be. My lawyer explained to me that it was her role to convey these desires to the Judge.

I never realized how complicated my life was going to become over the next two-and-a-half tumultuous years of my parents’ divorce. I found myself lost in an ocean of confusion with no one to guide me. My situation at home had become complicated. I often communicated to my lawyer that I wanted less time with my father and she, my Guardianad litem who is paid by my father, passed on to the Judge not my interests, but rather contradicted them with my father’s and her wishes. Furthermore, I was faced with my lawyer no longer acting as a lawyer, but rather a parent, a psychiatrist, a travel agent and an enemy trying to hurt me every step of the way.

As a parent, my lawyer tried to decide where I shopped. As a psychiatrist, she diagnosed me as suicidal and told that I should be placed in an institution. As an enemy, my lawyer told me that “I would be responsible for my family going up in flames … My mother lost $10,000 because of me … I am using a giant ax to swat a fly … [I was] not a sane person … My father could institutionalize me.” I am not suicidal, nor am I having suicidal thoughts; however, it is hard to prove such a thing when my lawyer tells the court that I need to be placed in an institution.

After one too many impossible conversations with my lawyer, I realized, after a year of filing complaints with the Bar Association and trying to learn what a Law Guardian is supposed to do, I still had no idea what the role of a Law Guardian is and nor did my lawyer. Clearly, they do not teach lawyers how to be psychiatrists in Law School. There is no legal training oversight; no one is watching to make sure the law guardian acts ethically. Also, if the problem at the end of the day is Person X, who also pays the bill for the lawyer, the lawyer may feel inclined to represent Person X rather than her client.

In order to deblur the fuzzy lines of the role of a Guardian ad litem, I decided to interview Janet Fink, The Deputy Counsel of the New York State Unified Court System to answer the questions that puzzled me:

What is the specific role/ job of a law guardian?
The specific role/ job of the law guardian is to represent the child’s wishes and convey them to the court. The exception is if the child is unable to understand anything. Then the lawyer’s judgment will be substituted for the child’s. Another exception is when the child has “special needs.” This is decided case by case. In 99% of cases the lawyer represents the child similar to a lawyer representing a client.

What age does a child no longer need longer need a law guardian?
There is a growing national trend, where a young person is beginning to be able to represent himself/herself in court. This is taken for granted in juvenile court. The age that a child should be considered unable to understand anything is approximately 3 or 4 to 7 or 8.

Can a law guardian make decisions?
No. The only exception is when the child is unable to understand anything and then the lawyer’s judgment will be substituted for the child.

What oversight is there over the law guardian process – including recommendations and payment? 
There are two forms of oversight on the law guardian processes in NY State. First, New York is divided into four departments; each department has an Appellate Court. Every Appellate Court has a law guardian program advisory committee, which screens the law guardians. Every year, the law guardian must be recertified. The divorce court will then appoint a law guardian for the child. Second, a law guardian may have a contract with Legal Aid Society or the Law Guardian Society, which hires, trains and disciplines lawyers on how to be a law guardian.

How can you ensure the law guardian is actually communicating/ representing the child’s interest, if the child is not present in the court?
The law guardians are given training. If there is a problem, a parent may raise an issue; however, the other parent or the attorney may tell the court that the real problem is parent is trying to gain control of the child. This causes a problem since it is hard to separate a positioning-for-power argument from an actual problem.

How can a legal a guardian deem a child impaired – is there a test?
No, there is no test. It is decided case by case.

Can a law guardian advocate for what they believe a child should have, if the child does not want it?
No, it is the Judge’s job, not the lawyer’s job, to decide what a child should have, even if the child does not want it. The only exception is if the child is incompetent to make his/her own decisions. The lawyer’s job is to assert the interest, not deem the child’s interest.

If there is domestic violence, does they law guardian have a responsibility of communication the issues to the court?
A lawyer’s personal ethics may not have any influence. First, if the child does not want the lawyer to tell the Judge, the lawyer cannot tell the Judge. A lawyer is not like a doctor who is required to report all incidences by law. Second, if a child is only three years old and there is child abuse, the lawyer should put the medical records before the court in the interest of the child’s safety.

Should the law guardian be allowed give input to ACS during an investigation (because if you feel she representing X, she could downplay the issue)?
The caseworker will talk to the child personally to investigate. The only time they may talk to the lawyer is when they want information on the case from the lawyer.

How could a child terminate a law guardian if the child feels she doesn’t represents him/ her and if the law guardian refuses to submit her resignation to the court?
A child may terminate their law guardian three ways. First, a child may write a letter to the Judge asking for approval on the resignation law guardian. The new lawyer, chosen by the Judge, will be paid by the State of New York. Second, the child can contact the Law Guardian director in his/her county and file a complaint and for a new law guardian. Third, the child can contact Legal Aid society and file a complaint. If hired by Legal Aid, it would say on their business card, “Legal Aid Society.”

In the future, there should be clearer guidelines on the role of the Guardian ad Litem. Curently, there is a movement in the Legislative Assembly to change the name from Law Guardian to Lawyer of the Child in hopes of ending the misunderstanding of the role of the Guardian ad Litem.

There should be clear rules on how to define a child who is “impaired,” rather than being case by case. Does “impaired” mean that the child is too little, unable to walk, unable to hear, has a mental illness, has autism? By having a blury definition of what it means for a child to be impaired, the lawyer may try to overule the child’s wishes with his/ her own judgement and then hide behind the child’s “impairment.”

The rules should be deblurred, so everyone involved can understand the rules better. How can I ensure that law guardians, such as my lawyer, will understand their role, so that they do not overstep their bounderies, like my lawyer does?

 

A MOTHER’S LAMENT, by B. R. Hardin, Attorney, Father, and Grandfather

(The following is a letter written by a mother who lost custody of her two children, reminiscing of the times they spent together, their life in Ocean Springs.  Because her ex-husband could afford the children a larger home, and her inability to recover from her loss when Katrina swept the gulf coast, she lost custody of her children, and was limited to visits on an every other weekend basis, but only to the tri-county area of Rankin, Madison and Hinds, and no over night visitation, I suppose for fear she would remove the children from the jurisdiction of the court.  She spent her life’s savings, over $45,000 dollars in attorney fees and the fees of Guardian Ad :Litems appointed by the court to investigate and report their findings to the court for the purpose of assisting the court in determining the best interest of the children and which parent would be more suitable for their care.  The first Guardian Ad Litem gave her a favorable report and recommended to the Court that the children be placed in her custody, but the second Guardian Ad Litem, for some reason, chose her ex-husband over her, and the Court favored this last report and her ex-husband one out, mainly because, in her opinions, he had a large, lovely home in Madison County and had the funds to raise the children, whereas, due to her circumstances, she did not.  That was seven years ago and she has been fighting to recover their custody since that time.  This is a lament of her efforts and the pain that she has suffered in that pursuit. It is addressed to a dear friend and to her older daughter by a previous marriage.   It begins with the ending of one of her visits with her young, twelve year old daughter.)

“Tonight, as I drove Miranda back to Madison, stroking her hair as her head lay over the armrest, stretching toward me as close as her seatbelt would allow like she always does on those drives ‘after the visit is over’, I vowed to begin writing, again.  It is one of a few passions of mine for which I have slowly turned away from.  My other favorites were put away much more abruptly.  My present demeanor may be disheveled, at times, but my memory is as sharp as a tack, like it has always been.  I recount my life events by dates, sometimes even down to the hour and minute, of ‘before’ and ‘after’ events.  Fishing, which always included some form of beach walking and nature exploration (which meant cardio exercise and fresh air as a bonus), ended the last time I went with my youngest daughter Miranda.  I haven’t allowed myself to recreate that particular memory down to the time and date, but I know it was with her, and I know that it ended as abruptly as the day we were separated by a court order that wrenched us apart in November 28th, 2011.  Listening to music, especially bayou-zydeco and country-western, old gospel hymns, and really old country ho-down music that I was tickled to hear my kids sing to as well.  I had amassed quite of collection of downloads, cd’s, and 2 great stereo’s that I wired together … my talent for setting up surround-sound and wiring “outdoor” speakers in nooks and crannies along the outside of our home was acknowledged and admired by even the most manly men of neighbors and teenaged boys with jack-up trucks and booming sound systems (my kids were quite proud of their mom’s sound-wiring skills), and every night, summer, spring, winter or fall, we enjoyed sitting outside by a fire …. for just a few minutes to a few hours, listening to, and singing along to “our” songs.  We always seemed to have extra’s, company, whether invited or not … the kids friends, their friends of friends, their parents, our neighbors…. somehow, our music and outside supper’s became an international “welcome” sign in our yard and drew wanderer’s in like magnets.  The kids loved it and I never minded.  It was a peaceful, simple time and I take some comfort knowing with all certainty that I made mental notes all of the time to “stop, and ENJOY them”.  I am grateful for that.  My love of music listening, as well as my infamous “singalongs” was severely restricted after my 12 year old son, Philip, went missing, or, for a better term, was “parentally abducted and never returned”, June 4, 2010.  I continued to enjoy some music with my young daughter, Miranda, after that date, but it was limited to music that would NOT remind me of Philip.  It was difficult, but I made it work for the next 17 months, and Miranda and I found our “own” music that we belted out every day.  The music ended completely, November 28, 2011, the date my daughter was taken from me as well.  I have not been able to bring myself to listen, or sing, since then.  The world became very dark, and very quiet, and remains that way.  Music brought me great joy.  Yard work, and gardening, of which I spent a great deal of time enjoying in all seasons and was quite talented in and for which I took great pride in, ended when I boxed up my belongings with the help of my oldest daughter Jessica, this past April 2012 when the decision was made to end the burdensome, tiring 5 months of travel that had been unavoidable since the day Miranda and I were separated and she was ordered to live with her father in Madison Mississippi.  I struggled valiantly to keep up our home in Ocean Springs, waiting day to day, week to week, turning into month to month, chasing the “15-day reversal of opinion” I’d been assured was certain to happen due to the many errors and fraudulent claims made in court that led to the removal of both of my minor children, Philip and Miranda, from my lifelong care and into the care of their father.  As the days and weeks turned into months, and the certain “presentation of the real facts” and the “testimony of real witnesses that would at the very least show his contempt of court and have the judge make good on his promise to reverse his opinion and return the children to me failed to come forward, and with these failures, my dreams for keeping our home, our very lives as we knew it, began to dissipate.  In addition to the near-weekly frantic drives I made those first few months to Jackson to be near my youngest child due to her very real, very serious medical, emotional, and/or legal emergencies surrounding our case, it slowly became clear to me that I could not continue to “stay home” and keep house while driving to and fro.175 miles each way.  Looking back, that is one of several things that astound me… that I even managed to hang on to the dream for as long as I did. Yes, the gardening was a great loss to my spirit and my body… but, the real joy in it ended the same time the music ended, November 2011.  I continued to manicure my lawn, and fret over it’s condition after my daughters disappearance from our home in November 2011, but my heart was no longer in it and I gave it up completely when I boxed up our life and closed the door for good in early April 2012.  Crocheting, which I recently picked back up due to the odd timing of a double urging and suggestion of two important people in my life who have never even met one another, yet who each brought up the topic within the same 24 hour period leading up to this past Christmas Eve.  The urging was by a friend who coaxed me into attending a small Christmas gathering at her home the night before Christmas Eve, and the suggestion was made by my oldest daughter, Jessica, who mused about my ability to “create” the newest craze of baby beanie hats that is so popular and in demand among all her co-workers and friends.  I have been a longtime believer of there-is-no-such-thing-as-coincidence so I paid heed to the sign before me and picked up my crochet needle, junk yarn from the back of my truck, and, with some help from Google, proceeded to crochet intently throughout this very difficult time of year… Christmas without my children.  Christmas without my closest friends.  Christmas away from home.  Homesick, Heartsick, and … Christmas without my children.  Thank you, Arlette, and Thank You, Jessica.  Your blessing and gift to me put an idea and a desire in my mind that thankfully I did not turn away from.  It helped me survive the most hearbreaking Christmas of my life.  Little Blessings…. count them one by one:)”

Me (A Mother, Still, In Mississippi)

 

 

 

Where’s this Money? … “”Funding for Legal representation provided for Rankin, Adams, Harrison, Forrest Counties”….

“Mississippi is one of only two states that do not provide free representation to …. ???  {article & url below}.  I personally would like to know where all this “funding” went, or is going?!, ie. where’s the money?, as referenced in the headline …. “Funding for Legal representation provided for Rankin, Adams, Harrison, Forrest Counties” …. I certainly don’t know, and I personally have not found in any of my research anyone who has received assistance for this program, and for the purposes outlined.  My children and I were denied, twice, for assistance to receive any representation by Mission First, several times by Mississippi Legal Services, and, the Mississippi Bar Association has kept re-routing me back to steps A and B .. the black hole of despair and the never-ending cycle meant to make you dizzy or chase your tail until you cry “uncle” and quit or die trying!

Over the past two years I’ve inquired, applied with Southern Poverty, ACLU, …. no funding available for me or my children, whether for reasons of race, gender, nationality, jurisdiction, location, etc. I was not allowed not know, ALL AGENCIES I’ve spoken with, even Children’s Rights, regrettably informed me that my children and I fall into category of  “high conflict divorce” which eliminates many families.  This is quite frustrating, unfair, and unjust as, in many cases, certainly in mine, my divorce was finalized years ago (mine, March 2006) …. how can that be labeled “high conflict?.  These agencies shy away from any cases in which domestic violence or child abuse is inferred, alluded, and, as in our case, very easily documented.  I suppose they have good reasons for this … but I would certainly like to know what they are.  I exhausted my savings, over $45,000, by last count, in the first six years, defending myself and my children, and I was successful …. until my savings was depleted.  Coincedentally, I was unable to protect my children when my money was gone, spent, fed into the system.

 

 

Article re: funding for Mississippi, legal representation below:

February 25, 2013:  Youth Courts in Adams, Forrest, Harrison and Rankin counties are participating in a pilot program which provides free legal representation for low-income parents in Youth Court hearings in which allegations of abuse or neglect could result in court-ordered removal of children from parents’ custody. 

Rankin County Youth Court Judge Thomas Broome said …., Harrison County Youth Court Judge Margaret Alfonso said, “The hope is that parent representation will result in better outcomes for children and families. It will provide parents with a better understanding of the procedures and what is necessary to be reunited with their children.”   

Providing a legal advocate for the parent will curb unnecessary removal of children from parents, Judge Alfonso said. “Ultimately the goal is to prevent removal if possible. If appropriate services can be provided to prevent removal, we are obligated to attempt to provide services that prevent or eliminate the need to separate the child and the family.” 

Mississippi is one of only two states that do not provide free representation to low income parents in Youth Court proceedings which may result in loss of custody of children.

Adams County Youth Court Judge John Hudson said, “The fact that government can come in and take a person’s children away and that person has to walk into a courtroom where everyone else is represented by attorneys and that person does not have an attorney — I can’t think of anything worse than that.  “But if they had committed a misdemeanor (that could result in jail time), they could get a (court appointed) lawyer,” Judge Hudson said.  Providing attorney representation for low income people provides fairness, Judge Hudson said. Judges dealing with unrepresented litigants are put in the untenable position of trying to assure fairness without crossing the line into advocacy, he said. While judges can explain the proceedings, they can’t advise and help the unrepresented party.

Forrest County Youth Court Judge Michael McPhail said that before the pilot program began, the Department of Human Services, the prosecutor and the court administrator might explain proceedings before a hearing, then he would explain the person’s rights and the process from the bench. “These people were hearing everything about their case and their rights from somebody who does not represent them,” Judge McPhail said. “They may lose because they didn’t know what to do.”

Having an attorney representing parents also creates another level of accountability, Judge Hudson said. When the court sets conditions for reunification, parents may procrastinate to meet those conditions. An attorney will push the client to comply with the court’s orders.  Having an attorney available to represent the parents will speed up the process so that proceedings don’t drag on. “It’s going to speed the process tremendously,” said Judge Hudson.  Quicker resolution of cases will save public dollars, Judge Hudson said. “It will save money by getting them out of the foster care system quicker.”

Part of the funding for the pilot program comes from a $100,000 grant from Seattle based Casey Family Programs, the nation’s largest private foundation focused on foster care and improving the child welfare system. The foundation works to reduce the need for foster care by helping the child welfare system to prevent family crises that lead to separation and foster care.

H. Lien Bragg, Casey Family Programs Senior Director of Strategic Consulting, said, “Casey Family Programs is pleased to support Mississippi’s efforts to establish parent representation for families involved in the child welfare system. We believe timely, adequate and competent legal representation is a critical driver in expediting permanency and well-being outcomes for children involved in dependency court proceedings.”

 Harrison County, which has the largest number of cases, received $50,000 in Casey Family Programs grant funding for a full-time attorney. Adams and Forrest counties each received $25,000 in grants to pay for attorney representation. The Administrative Office of Courts provided $45,000 through a Court Improvement Program grant to fund the Rankin County program.

The arrangements differ among the four pilot counties. A full-time attorney on the staff of the Mississippi Center for Legal Services will begin representing low income Harrison County parents on March 1. Parents in Rankin County since October 2012 have had access to an attorney who works for Mission First Legal Aid Office. Mission First Legal Aid is a partnership between Mississippi College School of Law and Mission First, a neighborhood outreach ministry. Forrest County uses two part-time contract attorneys who started representing clients in October 2012. Adams County in December began appointing a local attorney who takes cases in a part-time contractual arrangement.

Judge Broome said that he does not order parents to contact Mission First Legal Aid Office, but makes them aware of the availability of legal representation there.  Mission First Legal Aid has opened 16 cases for parent representation since last October, said Director Patti Gandy. Mission First attorney Carlyn Hicks, who handles

Rankin County parental representation, is there “to be that voice for that parent who may be so distraught that they may not be able to coherently tell the court their side of the story and what’s really going on,” Gandy said.

“What we are trying to do is shorten the period of time, if that child has to be taken from that home, and to determine if it is really necessary for that child to be taken from the home. Sometimes it’s not necessary for the child to be removed from the home,” Gandy said. “Studies have shown if you can get an attorney involved for parents at the beginning of the proceeding, it shortens the time the child is away from home or separated from parents.  It’s all about making sure the child does not stay in the system any longer than is necessary,” 

 

Found on link:  https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/1/?ui=2&ik=4bb2674b6d&view=att&th=140c588a5768064f&attid=0.1&disp=inline&realattid=1444626868951857644-1&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P8HWWUfo58erssemNaUU0Rp&sadet=1377707912573&sads=lSl4GznVy71-BY_MjrQtv9um-2E

 

Mothers are forced into excessive and abusive court proceedings … see full article

http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-503985?ref=feeds%2Flatest

Mothers are forced into excessive and abusive court proceedings where they are drained financially and emotionally. They are bullied into submitting to ongoing evaluations, mediation and therapy, so that they will be deemed difficult and uncooperative and therefore unfit to parent their children.

Originally devised as the means to cover up evidence of child sexual abuse when the father is the perpetrator, the PAS legal strategy calls for the involvement of custody evaluators, attorneys for children, “special masters” (mediators with quasi-judicial authority), supervision monitors and other court-appointees operating in the guise of family “conciliation court”. Who collaborate to shift blame to mothers trying to maintain custody a protect their children. PAS calls for institutionalizing children to convince them that they were not really abused by their father, but that their mothers are crazy.

Through illegally crafted orders, phony custody reports and improper “ex-parte” (emergency unnoticed) proceedings, court appointees rig the outcomes of cases in favor of abusive men. By labeling mothers “alienators”, blaming them for denying fathers “access” to the children and prosecuting mothers for custodial interference” or similar “crimes”, the family court works with the District Attorney to criminalize mothers’ attempts to escape abuse and protect their children. If mother flees with the children, the FBI gets involved, treating the matter as a “parental abduction” ( a federal crime). Which is used as further proof that she doesn’t deserve to have custody.
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Family Court for Dummies (A Work in Progress – Steps for Newbies in Family Court)

    1. Do not allow your attorney or opposing attorney to strong-arm, influence, or rush you into accepting an appointment of a guardian ad litem OR psychologist OR ANY OTHER COURT APPOINTED PROFESSIONAL (cap) under ANY circumstances WITHOUT running your own background check, gathering referrals, credentials, even checking into OTHER cases of said guardian ad litem, and/or psychologist … take the list of the names they offer you (it WILL BE A SHORT LIST!), and look into who they are offering – your life depends on this.  You HAVE the RIGHT to take time to run background checks, you have the right to take TIME to do this, YOU EVEN HAVE THE RIGHT TO ALTERNATE NAMES OF PROFESSIONALS, if you do these things before the gavel hits … please do not underestimate this.
    2. BY INVESTIGATE … please first run 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/what they are being paid as private vendors from your county of jurisdiction funds … again, you WILL BE SURPRISED.  This is how you follow the money.  Not complicated – more on this later.  It’s also easy enough to run all professionals 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 this step very seriously – it can change the tide of the whole case, and QUICKLY, BEFORE you have a FINAL HEARING.
    3. Go to your county of jurisdiction, pull your own court file, go through it with a fine tooth comb … look for missing documents, stamps, dates, evidence, missing documents, hidden, stapled, etc.  You would be surprised how few attorneys take the time to go through your court file, and, you know your own file better than anyone else.  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, misplaced, placed out of order, “hidden”, etc. ALL THE TIME.  This is less likely to happen if you keep up with your own case file and what has been submitted for the court’s record.  Keep an eye on items that are “tabbed” for quick review … it gives clues to documents hurried “professionals” flip to automatically without taking the time to read your entire case history.  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 your fair trial, treatment, case?
    4. 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 (cap) … you can dissect this information on your own time and will surely have more invested in it than even your own attorney.  Good attorneys are often 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, reconsiderations … you’ll all be too tired and old to make it that far, very few do, trust this).
    5. Addendum to 4, but deserves section of it’s own:  It is not unusual for court appointed professionals (caps) to hide, send by “error” OOPS … I DON’T KNOW HOW THAT HAPPENED, I THOUGHT I WAS USING YOUR/YOUR ATTORNEYS PROPER EMAIL ADDRESS … or, LET ME CHECK WITH MY ASSISTANT … I DON’T KNOW HOW THAT HAPPENED … WHY WE MISSED THAT … HOW YOUR EX RECEIVED COPIES OF REPORTS YOU DIDN’T … COPIES OF YOUR PERSONAL EMAILS … anyway, the list is infinite, I’m just adding some I have heard personally.  This section simply means, do not be surprised by ANYTHING, ask questions, who’s talking, who received what, what is going on, what they are doing/teaching/counseling/advising … 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 it, or you, is/are STUPID  … remember what we teach our children? … There ARE NO STUPID QUESTIONS!
    6. KNOW the HIPPA laws and do not fail to use them in your conversations with cap’s (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 them 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.  It’s likely the matter was decided well before you step into a courtroom.  Again, do all of these things BEFORE any final hearing or it’ll take YEARS to get back on any solid ground and lawsuits, reporting, ethics, commissions, review boards, are all AFTER you’ve lost your children’s childhoods.  You’d much rather have their childhoods.