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)
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.
Wouldn’t Know Your Own Child If You Saw Them On The Street? (In Memory of My Son)
“If writing of this helps another loving mother from marking a day in her own diary of life as the day in which she could not, and likely will continue not to be able to recognize her own child in a photo, then, somehow, it may all be worth some of the pain that went into sharing this, our loss”
03-08-14: Yesterday someone dear to me text me a photo of what I thought to be a picture of this person’s son and his prom date. I took a moment to admire the photo, and sent reply text, remarking on what a sweet, handsome couple these two young people were. After a brief pause, I received what I am sure was a difficult reply … that the handsome young man in the photo was my own son, Philip. Philip will be 16 years old next month. He was taken from me, from home, June 4, 2010, when he was 12 years old, against custody, and never returned. Philip and I have had no significant contact since, no assistance by family court professionals, despite the fact that we had a guardian ad litem and psychologist appointed by the courts to see to my children’s “best interest”.
I have only recently begun to speak up, publicly, to get any attention to our cause, and our case. I have, in fact, spent most of my time, energy, and resources battling to avoid going to jail for unpaid fees for the “unprofessional” professionals in charge of seeing to the best interest of my children, instead of fighting for my children, which has been extremely dispiriting but necessary and very critical.
I am sad, and ashamed, that I couldn’t do more for my children when they needed me the most and it has been, IS, extremely dispiriting but necessary and critical … you have to remain alive, and out of prison, of course, before you can fight to help your children.
All the most critical matters, addressing rights of parents, rights of children, reform, and oversight, laws, ethics, etc. all took backseat to issues of fees, and, sadly, as in other cases, children “age out” before any wrongs are ever identified, addressed, much less righted. And, so many community leaders, and others “in charge” are simply uncomfortable getting involved. From all I have learned, these are the primary reasons for which these issues, this silent epidemic, has been allowed to continue for so very long.
Yesterday, the realization of accepting that I was not even able to recognize my own child in a photo washed over me in a slow and steady crush.
Writing has been my lifelong habit, mostly a joy, and has surely been some positive exercise for me during times when I could not speak of the unspeakable, explain the inexplicable. During these past months I have written, and, slowly, I try to hone this habit. I confess that I recognize my writings can be too much, too overwhelming, to the reader, the listener. I try always to remain mindful of this fact and I recognize that I often fail. The things of which I write and speak eek of a pain and suffering on such levels that wears on the spirit of the reader, the listener, and my words, our story, has not yet had victories, redemption, which we all need to have in order to be inspired.
I share these things with the hope that all we have experienced, all the time and effort I have put into research, all that we have sacrificed and lost may not be in vain. I am learning to try to accept that going back is impossible (very hard, for a mother, for any loving parent) – that I will not wake up to be back in our happy home in Ocean Springs, with my busy, active, sweet, spiritual, loving 12 year old son and 9 year old daughter, with ever-revolving doors of friends, laughter, music, clutter, activities, dinner-time, and chatter … all the joyful noise, and chaos that makes up a busy, loving home. All I know to do at this point is recognize that we did indeed have this, it was no dream, and, nightmares have to end, one way or another.
I ask you to pray for my children, and for me. If writing of this helps another loving mother from marking a day in her own diary of life as being the day in which she could not, and likely will continue not to be unable to recognize her own child in a photo, then, somehow, it may all be worth some of the pain that went into sharing this, our loss.
Still A Mother In Mississippi
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.
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!
… It is vital that, from the very early stages of the case, protective parents do the following:
Rely only on attorneys, physicians, and mental health professionals with documented training and experience in domestic violence and child abuse cases. General family court experience for lawyers, and general child custody and family therapy training for other professionals, is woefully insufficient for these cases. Attorneys who represent the abusers should be avoided, as their experience with abuse cases is generally counterproductive. Look for attorneys who truly understand the constitution, the rules of evidence, and the mental health field, and who are willing to challenge the system when it is failing. Stay away from lawyers who believe that the wise psychologist and the experienced guardian ad litem will always make the right decisions and we just have to trust them.
Object to any process where written reports are submitted by guardians ad litem, custody evaluators, or mental health professionals. Insist that all rules of evidence be followed, and fight to keep bogus theories such as parental alienation syndrome and the like out of evidence.
Always depose any professional who is going to have an impact on the case.
Insist that any attorneys who purport to represent the interest of the children, such as guardians ad litem, minor’s counsel, or law guardians strictly comply with the American Bar Associations 2003 Standards of Practice for Lawyers Representing Children in Custody Cases and any state rules with similar provisions.
Never waive objections to unlawful procedures, and always argue that the court must decide the case based only on evidence properly admitted where your due process rights of notice and the opportunity for a fair hearing before an impartial judge are preserved.
Never waive your right to appeal an adverse decision.
Where children are old enough to testify about facts and events crucial to proving the abuse happened, their testimony should be presented, but in a way that minimizes the stress. However, continued abuse is much worse than the trauma of testifying.
Always use the testimony of fact witness who have direct knowledge of the abusive events, the aftermath of the abuse, and parenting quality. Do not expect the experts to be sufficient.
Never ask the court to require the accused abuser to submit to a polygraph, a psychosexual evaluation, or any other such evaluation. These devices are incapable of determining if abuse occurred and this strategy will backfire.
The first step in protecting children is controlling the process by which their fate will be determined. Where the integrity of the process is maintained, the opportunity for the court to know and understand the facts is maximized. Thus, an unbiased judge who considers only what is permissible, should then apply the law correctly with good results ensuing. While there are certainly no guarantees here, to ignore these guidelines will almost certainly invite disaster.
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.