Welcome. If you have visited our site because you are finding yourself in the middle of contested child custody litigation or have lost your children, you have our most heartfelt sympathies. Roughly 80% of divorces in our country involve uncontested custody determinations in which both parties agree it is best for the children to reside primarily with their mother in her continued primary care-taking role. It is the other 20% of contested custody cases that the family court gets involved in and usually the results are horrific.
Because of the pervasiveness of family violence in our country and the astounding nationwide system failure of our family courts to protect women and child victims, much of this sites’ focus is on assisting and educating protective mothers, and mother who have lost their children because of the family court system.
“Studies show batterers are able to convince authorities that the victim is unfit or undeserving of sole custody in approximately 70% of challenged cases. ” (American Judges Association)
“Fathers who batter mothers are 2 times more likely to seek sole physical custody of their children than are non-violent fathers.” (APA1996, p. 40.)
For the abuser, the courtroom is the last tool in his toolbox to control and abuse his victims. It is our goal to reverse this trend for the benefit of our children and our nation’s future as a peaceful, non-violent society. Additionally, as we work to change the systematic removal of mothers from children’s lives, we can support each other through this struggle, and support each others efforts to try and be good mothers to our children, even in our limited capacity.
From the Time’s Up Blog, another very informative article by Barry Goldstein:
EXTREME CUSTODY DECISIONS THAT RISK LIVES
Dear Custody Court Judge:
The research is now clear that certain extreme decisions in domestic violence custody cases that have become all too common are contributing to an increase in the frequency of domestic violence homicide and other harmful consequences. This is established in the leading resources about domestic violence and custody including THE BATTERER AS PARENT by Lundy Bancroft and Jay Silverman, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, ABUSE and CHILD CUSTODY edited by Mo Therese Hannah and Barry Goldstein and the major new Department of Justice study led by Dr. Daniel Saunders of the University of Michigan. Judges should be aware of the research that demonstrates the danger of creating these dangerous decisions avoid these decisions in the future and modify existing arrangements that create substantial risks to the children.
The decisions that must be avoided and corrected are ones in which an alleged abuser is given custody and a safe, protective mother is limited to supervised or no visitation. I will more fully describe these dangerous cases below and I am not saying it can never be right to give someone custody who was accused of domestic violence or child abuse or that a mother who makes abuse allegations should never be denied normal visitation.
I will discuss the harm and danger of these extreme decisions below, but judges should be aware that these decisions are probably the largest factor in the recent increase in domestic violence homicide. Furthermore these extreme decisions are never in the best interests of children even when the court is right that the abuse allegations are false and the mother seeks to take the father out of the child’s life for bad faith reasons. More commonly, the research demonstrates that court professionals who used flawed practices to justify the extreme decision also got the underlying facts wrong. Judges should look to the specialized body of research now available that can help courts make the best decisions in domestic violence custody cases.
Description of Extreme Cases
The extreme cases I am speaking about include evidence or at least allegations of domestic violence or child abuse. It is not limited to cases in which the allegations are confirmed or believed. The research establishes that courts fail to recognize valid complaints about domestic violence and child abuse with frightening frequency because of the outdated and discredited practices that continue to be used in domestic violence custody cases despite the scientific research now available. Furthermore, even when courts reject abuse allegations because of inadequate proof or in rare cases in which mothers make deliberately false allegations, courts have a tendency to punish mothers in ways that are harmful to the children.
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From the Huffington Post:
How Custody Evaluators Think about Domestic Violence
Posted: 06/30/11 04:34 AM ET
by Robert Hughes, Jr.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Professor of Human Development
One of the most challenging aspects of custody decisions is the issue of domestic violence. About 20% of divorces require judges to appoint a custody evaluator to assist in the determination of custody arrangements. There are a wide range of estimates (50% – 90%) of the extent to which these divorce cases involve aggression and violence. One of the central questions that the custody evaluator must decide is whether the domestic violence is likely to continue and how to handle custody arrangements in a way that does not put family members at-risk of further violence. At present there are no universal standards for conducting custody evaluations and most custody evaluators have little training in domestic violence.
In a recent study Megan Haselschwerdt, Jennifer Hardesty and Jason Hans (Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2011) examined how custody evaluators think about domestic violence in their decisions regarding custody. They conducted in-depth interviews with a small sample (N=23) of custody evaluators that had on average about 14 years of experience conducting evaluations.
Even among behavioral scientists there has been much debate about the nature of domestic violence. Professor Michael Johnson at the University of Michigan has clarified the dispute by explaining that there are two major types of domestic violence. On the one hand, some violence is the result of stressful situations in which husbands or wives lash out in physical or verbal aggression. He called this “situational violence.” On the other hand, some domestic violence involves the use of extreme forms of control that forces a partner to do something she does not want to do. Johnson labeled this form of violence as “intimate terrorism.” He also notes that in addition to physical violence, intimate terrorists use psychological abuse, isolation and intimidation to control their partners.
Custody evaluators are likely to encounter couples who are engaged in both types of violent situations. How custody evaluators assess violence can influence their recommendations about custody outcomes. These researchers found that custody evaluators tended to hold a view that either viewed violence as situational violence or intimate terrorism.
The custody evaluators whose views tended towards viewing aggression as situational violence reported less training in domestic violence. This group generally viewed domestic violence as stress induced, normative and mutual. As a result, these evaluators minimized spouse abuse as relevant to child custody decisions. They also thought that false allegations of violence were common. In terms of custody and parenting plans, they prioritized coparenting and father-child relationships.
On the other hand, custody evaluators who characterized domestic violence as intimate terrorism took a different view of custody. They were more likely to report extensive training in domestic violence. These evaluators viewed spouse abuse as a significant factor in determining child custody. They thought that false allegations of abuse were rare. This group of evaluators distinguished between types of violence and expressed strong views that custody and parenting plans should be different for each of these types of violence. In the case of intimate terrorism, they prioritized victim safety over ongoing contact with fathers.
Although based on a small sample of custody evaluators, these findings raise important questions about the degree to which domestic violence is being thoughtfully considered in custody decisions. It is important for the legal system to develop training and policies such that custody evaluators can appropriately consider custody arrangements in domestic violence situations.
Join the rally tomorrow, June 30th, downtown at the City Market!
Thursday, June 30 · 11:00am – 1:00pm
Indianapolis city market
222 E Market St
The Domestic Violence Network is sponsoring an Enough is Enough Rally to heighten awareness about domestic abuse in Central Indiana. The Enough is Enough Rally will be held on June 30, 2011 outside the Indianapolis City Market, 222 E Market St, from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
During the Rally, attendees will be able to experience exhibits from organizations dedicated to preventing and responding to domestic violence and teen dating violence. Attendees will be provided with information about healthy relationships, family violence and volunteering opportunities from exhibitors. Please join the Domestic Violence Network as we bring the community together to address the issue of domestic abuse in Central Indiana.
There will be opportunities for the public to share their voice about the importance of addressing domestic abuse. If you are interested in speaking at the Enough is Enough Rally, please contact Brandy Wright at 317-872-1086 or at email@example.com.
Thank to our sponsors:
From the Huffington Post:
Vice President of Community Affairs at Safe Harbour, Inc.
June 27, 2011
Far more women in the United States are victims of domestic violence than are injured in car accidents each year. Using information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and the insurance industry the numbers aren’t even close — battering outstrips crashes roughly two to one. It begs the question why states require car insurance but not intimate partner abuse insurance. Perhaps no law maker’s thought of how useful the benefit would be to a victim assaulted by their so-called loved one.
Those folks driven into homelessness as they flee their abuser could argue that the money would be pretty darned handy as they try to provide safety for themselves and — in many cases — their children. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless 2007 fact sheet, 22% of parents seeking shelter were fleeing domestic violence.
If there were a payout for these folks the insurance companies might solve problems the government seems incapable of fixing. First of all the abuser’s premiums would go up which would punish him or her for beating up their intimate partner or kid. Considering how few penalties there are for abusers this might add a layer of deterrent for someone who otherwise sees no downside to their violent actions. At the National Institute of Justice website you can learn some chilling facts about domestic violence, arrest rates, and conviction rates. For example an alleged abuser is 70% less likely to be convicted if he or she is white. And only about 25% of abusers are arrested if they flee the scene when the cops are called. So if you’re white and “hit and run” you only have about a 1 in 12 chance of any real consequence.
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If most lawyers and other Whores of the Court were puppets made of wood, they’d all have six foot long noses. The general public who don’t have many dealings with family court officials don’t realize this, hence the main reason for many family court victims losing their main support system…their family. They think “these are court officials, they don’t lie” and they are sorely mistaken. The following is from a Washington State publication, but it could be from any part of the country. If you click the link on the title “GAL Power”, it will take you to the complete article at the Vancouver Voice.
June 22, 2011
Divorced parents with minor children often fight over custody and visitation rights, producing courtroom decisions that are complex and often heartbreaking for at least one parent. This story takes a rare public look into that system for two reasons:
First, it involves the kind of complicated, personal and family situations that make these cases so difficult to adjudicate. Secondly, there is the additional drama of conflict combined with allegations of questionable performances among the justice system officials themselves.
Clark County Court Commissioner Carin Schienberg recently removed two children from their mother’s home, even though no petition for such action was before the court. Schienberg based her temporary decision on an allegedly flawed report prepared by a court-appointed guardian ad litem (GAL).
When the mother’s attorney criticized the GAL report and refused to apologize for her comments, the commissioner held the attorney in contempt and fined her $500.
The commissioner’s ruling is under appeal, with a hearing pending. Meanwhile, the two minor children have been moved to the custody of their father. He has issued multiple threats of legal action against the writer and any publication who would publish a story about this case.
In Washington State, court commissioners are appointed by superior court judges. They are not elected by the public, but they have many of the same responsibilities and authorities as a superior court judge.
A family law guardian ad litem is appointed by the court to represent the best interests of a child, often during divorce or custody proceedings. In addition to family law matters, a GAL can be appointed to assist anyone a court deems legally incapacitated. Clark County commissioners and judges appointed GALs 396 times in 2010, according to Superior Court Administrator Jeffrey Amram.
GAL reports are confidential. However, the author obtained a copy of the GAL report from an undisclosed source after concerns were raised about contents of the report and the commissioner’s ruling.
Case didn’t seek custody
In August 2008, the mother received “primary residential placement” of the two minor children as part of a court-approved parenting plan. After more than two years of continuing conflict between the parents, the father filed an October 2010 contempt motion against the mother for violation of visitation rights.
The commissioner, in early December, held the mother in contempt for certain violations. At the same time, she approved a motion to require that transfer of the children for visitation times take place at the Vancouver police station due to conflict between the parties.
In November, the mother filed a petition to modify the parenting plan, asking for restricted visitation time with the father until he received counseling for anger management. The father, responding in December, said there was insufficient proof for a major modification of that plan.
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Tomorrow will be a historic day…remembering what Linda Marie Sacks would tell anyone we interacted with when we were in Washington D.C. the weekend she submitted her writ to the U.S. Supreme Court on Mothers Day weekend this spring. She absolutely sparkled with enthusiasm, and those we talked with, particularly immigrant taxi drivers, couldn’t believe that what Linda Marie and other mothers in this situation are in, and it could actually be happening in this country. There are a lot of mothers keeping their fingers crossed on this very important case which the justices will review tomorrow and decide whether they will hear or not. The well being and very lives of children who are with abusive parents are on the line.
Here is more information about the case. To read the writ that Linda Marie submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court, please click here. To see the public service commercials that were made featuring Linda Marie, please click here.
Historic US Supreme Court Case on Behalf of America’s Mothers and Children
DISTRIBUTED FOR CONFERENCE JUNE 23, 2011
Case 10-1381 Petition for Certiorari Attached
The Sacks v. Sacks case has been distributed for conference on June 23, 2011. Just imagine….the US Supreme Court in Washington DC will discuss the Sacks v. Sacks Petition for Certiorari Case 10-1381 on June 23, 2011 and will decide if they will hear the case.
Linda Marie’s daughter in April 2007, said “Mommy fight for us, and do something every day to get us back, and don’t ever stop”. This Florida Mother has kept her promise to her daughter’s and now is speaking on behalf of America’s children and their “protective parents”.
Sacks is speaking for all of America’s children and addresses the failure of the courts and child protective services to protect our children. This cert being reviewed shows the documented evidence of an epidemic which shows how courts give custody of children to the batterers and pedophiles, while the safe, loving non-offending parent is sanctioned by the court to having their contact terminated or being placed on supervised visitation without any case plan or reunification plan.
Sacks, a pro se litigant, and after reading Justice Scalia’s book “Making Your Case” The Art of Persuading Judges, used this valuable information in her Briefs to the Fifth District Court of Appeals in 2009, and this book was instrumental in helping her formulate her cert petition for the US Supreme Court.
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This is from another friend and fellow advocate Dara Carlin from Hawaii. Sorry for the short notice, but this is happening today. It will be televised at 5:35 pm Eastern Daylight Time today, and you can watch it on the internet at the link below. Many Indiana state legislators fail to realize the full impact of domestic violence in this state, including courts giving child custody to abusers. We need to have an event like this also in Indiana.
Media Advisory – Hawaii House of Representatives
June 20, 2011 – For Immediate Release
LAWMAKERS TO HOLD BRIEFING ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND HEAR CONCERNS FROM DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SURVIVORS AND DISCUSS THE NEED FOR POLICY CHANGE
Several domestic violence survivors will share their story of how they lost custody of their child(ren) to the abuser, even after a finding of domestic violence by the abuser
WHAT: The House Human Services Chairman, Rep. John Mizuno, will hold a legislative briefing to address domestic violence in Hawaii. Rep. Mizuno will identify certain concerns involving specific failures of the current “system” in adequately addressing domestic violence. Rep. Mizuno will also be hearing from domestic violence victims, survivor advocates, and agencies working directly with domestic violence victims, issuing protective orders and temporary restraining orders.
The briefing will:
• Identify and address concerns regarding domestic violence in Hawaii
• Explain the reason for the various bills which seek to provide greater protection for domestic violence victims
• Explain the difficulties in passing measures which seek to improve the state’s system in handling domestic violence cases
WHEN: Tuesday, June 21, 2011 – 11:35 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time (Televised in Hawaii on Ch. 53, for Neighbor Island residents and nationwide go to the internet www.olelo.org – click NATV Ch. 53 for online live stream coverage)
WHERE: Hawaii State Capitol, Room 329
WHY: Rep. Mizuno was contacted by several survivors of domestic violence who will be sharing their stories with lawmakers during the briefing. According to Rep. Mizuno, “It is extremely concerning to hear that time after time the abusers who beat our victims, many times end up gaining custody of the children. Based on our victims’ testimonies and information provided by organizations and advocates for domestic violence victims, I believe our current system has many major flaws in properly addressing domestic violence issues. Therefore, I am looking for solid solutions to better address domestic violence statewide at the conclusion of this briefing.”