Mothers Of Lost Children – Indiana

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Archive for August 2009

The Shared Parenting Disaster: Don’t Let This Happen To Indiana

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When you throw violent, abusive parents into the mix, shared parenting just does not work, no  matter how much a certain local “shared parenting” person spouts off about it.  I am sure Angie Warnock worried about it, but this “shared parenting” advocate, who blamed her for her own death when her violent husband stabbed her to death in front of their children on Father’s Day, said this father deserved to share parenting with her.  This “advocate” has this pimped “shared parenting” bill going to the legislature again:

Next year Hoosier lawmakers will have an opportunity to initiate policies that will benefit our children. Currently Indiana family law court judges order fathers out of their children’s lives in about 80 percent of divorces without providing a reason unless specifically requested to do so. State Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, plans to reintroduce a shared-parenting bill that would require judges to presume that both parents are fit to continue raising their children together after a dissolution and to enter specific findings as to why shared parenting is not in the child’s best interest if it is not ordered.  (from the Indianapolis Star).

This is from Australia, where “shared parenting” was made law three years ago:

Shared parenting ‘hurting children’

By Ticky Fullerton for Lateline


The Federal Government is under growing pressure to change its shared parenting legislation, with a former judge criticising the laws for not working in the interests of the child.

Three years ago the Howard government re-wrote Australia’s family laws. The reforms championed shared care for children in separated families, based on the idea that most were better off spending as much time with each parent as possible.

But new research commissioned by the federal Attorney-General’s office has found that children in high-conflict families do not like shared care.

The children also had higher rates of hyperactivity than children who had a stable home base with one of their parents.

Researcher, Doctor Jennifer McIntosh from Family Transitions, looked at children’s development in 130 high-conflict families, some of whom went to court.

Dr McIntosh says children in shared care are more troubled, distressed and anxious than children who have more flexible arrangements.

“The children in rigid arrangements – that tended to be court ordered – weren’t doing very well four years ago. However, what we’ve been able to demonstrate is that the care arrangement hasn’t helped,” Dr McIntosh said.

“In fact these children have become more distressed over time.”

The most controversial finding of the research questions a cornerstone of the shared parenting laws – more time for fathers with their kids.

“We found that there isn’t, in this group, a linear relationship between how much time children were spending with their fathers and the quality of that relationship according to the children,” Dr McIntosh said.

“In fact, the thing that predicted good relationship with father four years down the track wasn’t time, it was a good relationship four years ago.”

The study did not look at the thousands of straightforward separations, where mediation ensures flexible shared care that may work for children.

Critics

Professor Alastair Nicholson, who spent 16 years as chief justice of the family court, is one of the critics of the current laws.

“The problem with it is it treats children as objects, rather than as people. What it’s really saying is not much about the desires, the needs, the interests of the child,” Professor Nicholson said.

“What it’s talking about are the desires and the needs and the interests of the parents.”

Last year 15 per cent of litigated cases and almost 20 per cent of settled cases awarded 50/50 equal time. Many more agreed to shared care at some level.

“I think it raised the expectation of fathers considerably and I think it also created an expectation amongst mothers that they should agree to equal sharing,” Professor Nicholson said.

Tim Carmody QC spent two years as a Family Court judge under the new laws and found his discretion cut back by the presumption of shared care.

“What the 2006 reforms did was make a grey area, which was hard enough, into black and white. It was trying to make motherhood sentiments into legally enforceable rules and codify the behaviour of parents,” he said.

“The best interests of the children became something different under the legislation because it started from the assumed fact, in most cases, that the more time children spend with both parents the better. That should have been a conclusion, not a beginning.”

Mr Carmody resigned as a judge in 2008 and is now back at the bar.

“I can’t deny that I found it difficult as a judge to apply the law, which is a judge’s job, when to me it had so many deficits and the government or the Parliament wasn’t really looking at its deficiencies,” he said.

The current Chief Justice of the Family Court, The Honourable Diana Bryant, says everyone involved is criticised but it is a difficult job done under pressure.

“When something occasionally terrible happens to a child I can assure you that everybody feels it very much,” she said.

“Children have very different needs at different ages and stages and I think that’s pretty important. Fortunately, I think the people who are doing mediation and the family relationship centres have a reasonable understanding of that sort of research.

“I think that it’s quality of the relationship that’s important, not the quantity. And one of the unfortunate effects, I think, of the 2006 legislation has been that it’s focused people very much on time. You know, they want equal time and it’s taken the focus away, I think, from what’s best for the child.”

Dads the big winners

The 2006 shared parenting laws require judges to apply a presumption of shared parental responsibility, except where violence or abuse is an issue.

What is more, the court is obliged to consider parents also share equal time with their children if at all possible.

Intense lobbying from fathers’ groups helped deliver the parenting laws.

But pressure for change has been building from women’s groups and in the print media with tales of what appear to be harsh rulings against mothers. Some of the worst involve relocation of children.

In one case a mother was left little choice but to stay in a remote mining town in a caravan, or lose care of her daughter, despite her family support base being Sydney.

Media reports like that one have angered some academics and fathers’ groups.

Shared Parenting Council president Michael Green QC says often people are not made aware of the full story.

“My concern with the stories is that most often it gives us only a disappointed or a very concerned mother’s view, not the father’s view, and more seriously, not the objective judgment of the magistrate or the judge who heard all the evidence and then made a decision, the decision which is now being criticised,” he said.

“One of the most scurrilous things levelled against our judicial figures is that they are deliberately placing children in situations of violence or situations that are dangerous.”

But former chief justice Professor Alastair Nicholson disagrees. He not only believes the media reports reflect a disturbing trend, but that the laws now put children at risk.

“I think there’s a risk that violence may be overlooked in the quest for shared-parenting responsibility. I think that’s one of the problems about the legislation, yes,” he said.

“The case is really decided on the papers and I think there’s a tendency there, not to ignore violence, but to be a little sceptical about it, particularly if there’s no history or background that suggests the substance to it, such as Magistrates Court orders and so on.”

Fathers’ groups and womens’ groups both claim the high ground on research to back their cause, but if Dr McIntosh’s research is replicated in bigger numbers, it will be potent ammunition for those seeking change.

Expect resistance, though, from people like Michael Green, who worked so hard for the shared parenting laws.

“We’d lose, again, a whole generation of separated children, in terms of their really healthy relationships with not only their fathers but their mothers too,” he said.

“And I know that separated groups, fathers’ groups in particular, shared parenting groups, can conjure up over a million votes. And that’s something that I think the Government will take into account.”

Mr Green says the previous laws were harmful to the relationship between the children and their father because it was based on too little time.

“It follows as night follows day that time is required for a good relationship. You can’t do it in a weekend every fortnight,” he said.

The Federal Government has commissioned another two reviews into shared parenting, which are due by the end of the year.

For Kid’s Sake, SOME Dads Need to be Discouraged

From Dastardly Dads:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

For kids’ sake, SOME dads need to be discouraged from involvment (Indianapolis, Indiana)

Stuart Showalter, a well-known white supremacist/fathers rights advocate in Indiana, has published a piece at indystar.com called “For kids’ sake, don’t discourage dad’s involvement.”

It’s a rather stupid argument. Nobody discourages the involvement of a dad who has been loving and committed from the beginning. Most of these dads are still in happy marriages with the mothers of their children. A few had more-or-less amicable separations or divorces, but continue to play an active role because everybody desires it and sees it as a good thing.

That doesn’t mean that “shared parenting” should be forced down the throat of every mother and child, or that every dad’s involvement is always a good thing. There’s no reason to get dogmatic and rigid, and ignore the individual dad’s track record.

That’s saying all dads are equally the same and equally as good. Think about that. The unemployed druggie who beat his wife and kids is just as good as they guy who was a steady worker, stayed married to the same mom for 30 years, read to the kids every night, and coached Little League? Give me a break.

Want ten quick examples–just from Indiana–of dads where the kids might have been better off if Dad hadn’t been “involved”?

1) Katron Walker of Vigo County: Abducted his two kids, killed 4-year-old son in June 2006.

2) Joshua Todd Hildebrand of Williamsburg: Smashed windshield of car with gun, hit 3-month-old daughter in head. Baby has serious brain injuries.

3) Donald Medsker of Fort Wayne: Fathered 7 kids with his own sister. He had custody of the sister from age 11.

4) Ronald Bonahannon of Midland: Shot and killed his 16-month-old son; tried to blame a “stranger.”

5) John A. Jeffers of Bloomfield: Accused of homicide in death of 5-month-old son.

6) Terry Bethel of Gary: Accused in murder of 13-month-old son.

7) Michael Stayer of Whitestown: Beat wife to death with 5-year-old son as witness.

8) William Foster of Beech Grove: Killed 4-month-old son.

9) Joseph Warnock of Brownsburg: Killed wife in front of 2 daughters.

10) Matthew D. Schutz of Lafayette: Accused of killing 15-week-old daughter.

Yes, very good argument.  We present facts and all Showalter does is whine that we attack him.  Why does he chose to protect abusers?  Why does he fail children?  Why is he calling us radicals? 

 

Thanks for your post dear.

Failure to Report vs. False Allegations

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This is a great and very relevant post, written by Miss J from Media Misses:

Failure to report vs. false allegations

In this corner, we have “failure to report,” a situation where a person fails to report child abuse.  The person can be fined or jailed.

And in this corner, we have “false allegations,” a charge that a person (women are often to blame) makes a malicously false allegation (to see how popular this is, google “false allegations” and see all the fathers’ rights sites pop up).  A person can be fined, jailed or lose custody over a supposedly “false” allegation.

Ding

Round one begins:

CPS: Child beating victim in very serious condition

JASPER COUNTY – Investigators say the father of a 5-year-old boy chased him around the yard with a chainsaw after beating him so severely the youngster is now in very critical condition at a hospital.

The child’s father, John Cornelius, 24, is charged with Injury to a Child and jailed on a $500,000 bond.  Cornelius’ girlfriend, Jessie Waddell, and her mother, Wanda Macks, 54, are charged with Injury to a Child and Failure to Report an injury.  Their bonds are a total of $140,000 each.

Waddell isn’t the boy’s biological mother.

Shari Pulliam with Child Protective Services says Waddell and Macks told investigators Cornelius chased his 5-year-old son around the yard with a chainsaw last weekend because he was mad the child complained that his leg hurt after he was beaten.

The boy had surgery Wednesday night and underwent a third operation Thursday afternoon at a Houston hospital. Pulliam says he’s in critical condition and adjusting to a ventilator.

Pulliam says the boy has a MRSA staph infection which began in his leg and spread throughout his body.

Judge dismisses abuse allegations

In the last two years, Nicole Vanosdel has made at least three reports of alleged sex abuse involving her ex-husband. The reports included allegations of touching, kissing and fondling alleged by their daughter, the mother said.

Each time, Iowa’s Department of Human Services has not found enough evidence to confirm, or found, the girl’s accounts, Nicole Vanosdel said.

On Friday, the girl called 911 again, alleging she had suffered abuse – but not that night. She was questioned, examined at a hospital and placed in Children’s Square shelter with about 10 other children.

She remained at the shelter until Wednesday, when her mother, the primary custodial parent, was allowed to pick her up. Vanosdel said she has a 15-year-old daughter from another relationship, and she has no problems allowing the teen to visit her father.

Child abuse experts said Wednesday that most allegations of sex abuse wind up not being prosecuted for lack of evidence. said Donita Faust, a licensed social worker and forensic interviewer for the regional children’s protection center at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines.

“Often, all you have is the child’s word,”

However, Faust and other experts said young children rarely lie about such things. And it’s extremely rare for young children to lie consistently about sex abuse.

Can’t we sue judges for “failure to prosecute”?!

Why don’t we believe the children?!  The father countered her claim of sexual abuse with the pseudo-scientific claim of parental alienation syndrome (PAS). PAS has been discredited by the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Prosecutors Research Institute and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. YET THIS JUDGE BELIEVES THE FATHER’S CLAIM OF PAS AND NOT THE CHILD’S CLAIM OF SEXUAL ABUSE.

Failure to report vs. false allegations have put women between a rock and hard place, especially in family court. Don’t report abuse and you can be fined or jailed. Report abuse and get branded a liar – moreover, you can be fined, jailed or lose custody for making a “false” allegation of abuse. That means your child will live with the person who is allegedly abusing him or her. Laws that punish people for “false allegations” are on the rise due to many fathers’ rights groups lobbying efforts. Punishment deters reporting. One has to wonder why fathers would want to punish people for making abuse allegations – doesn’t sound very fatherly to me, does it to you?

More rounds to come…

Attention Indiana Lawmakers: Child Protective Services STILL Mishandling Cases

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Well, CPS is totally ate up.  Take children from parents who have experienced a horrible accident and lost their loved one.  And leave children with abusers because “it is in the middle of a custody battle.”   When are the lawmakers in this state going to realize CPS personnel STILL are not doing their jobs right!

From TheIndyChannel.com:

Toddler’s Canoe Death Prompts CPS Investigation

DNR: Girl’s Father Had Been Drinking

POSTED: 6:40 am EDT August 13, 2009 

INDIANAPOLIS — Child Protective Services has stepped into the investigation of the death of a 2-year-old girl during a canoeing accident on the Driftwood River over the weekend.  Megan McNair died when the canoe she and her family was riding in capsized in northern Bartholomew County on Saturday. 

McNair’s father, Patrick McNair, mother and 5-year-old sister were also in the canoe, but all were able to get to shore. A spokeswoman for the Department of Natural Resources said Patrick had been drinking.  The Department of Natural Resources said McNair was swept under a log jam, where she became trapped.

CPS Director James Payne said the department wants to ensure that the 5-year-old girl is safe in her home environment.   “We are assessing the issue of safety,” Payne said. “We’ll look at the family structure, the family dynamics, the allegations, prior history if any, what is going on in the family.”  6News’ Sarah Cornell went to the McNair’s home in Indianapolis Wednesday, but the family did not want to comment. 

No charges have been filed in the case, and Indianapolis police said the couple has no record of abuse or neglect in Marion County.  “Our effort is to try to get parents to understand their role and responsibility of keeping children safe and taking care of children,” Payne said.   The state’s assessment will also attempt to determine whether the child was wearing a life jacket and if her parents were properly supervising her. The investigation could take weeks or months, Cornell reported.  

It was unclear if the 5-year-old girl was still living with the family. A neighbor told 6News that she saw police come to the home on Monday and hasn’t seen the girl since. Under state law, CPS officials are not allowed to release that information.  Megan McNair’s body was recovered on Tuesday. She would have turned age 3 on Monday.  

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Our condolences go to the McNair family.  Rest in peace, dear little Megan.

Westfield Woman, Boy Injured Trying To Escape Abusive Man

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Where was this injured boy’s mom?  Was she wiped out of his life by the Family Courts of Indiana, given to an abusive man?  That’s Standard Operating Procedure here.  May this stepmom and son recover soon and never return to this abuser…

From TheIndyChannel.com:

Woman Grabbed Boy, Jumped Out Of  Window, Police Say

Charles Stephenson

Charles Stephenson

WESTFIELD, Ind. — A woman and her stepson were hospitalized Friday night after they jumped out a window of a second-floor apartment to escape her violent husband, police said.  

Westfield police were called to the 1900 block of Ashley Crossing at about 10 p.m. Friday. 

Public Information Officer Mike Wheeler said that the woman’s husband, Charles Stephenson, had been drinking and had hit the boy, prompting the woman to escape by grabbing him and jumping out the window.    

Stephenson was arrested on charges of battery on a juvenile and intimidation. Police said they had not been on any prior runs to the home 

The woman was taken by medical helicopter to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, and the boy was taken to Riley Hospital for Children. The extent of their injuries was not released.  The names of the woman and boy weren’t immediately released.  

 The names of the woman and boy weren’t immediately released.  

Stephenson was arrested on charges of battery on a juvenile and intimidation. Police said they had not been on any prior runs to the home.

Written by mothersoflostchildren

August 9, 2009 at 8:30 pm

A Little More Help for Moms

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I received this yesterday:

Free Food From Schwans:

If you have never had food delivered from Schwan’s (in the last 14 weeks) you can go to the website (http://www.schwans.com/promos/freefood/freeFoodBegin.aspx) and order up to 10.00 dollars food for free. 

It looks like it is only good for the first 500,000 customers, so hurry!

Written by mothersoflostchildren

August 8, 2009 at 3:23 pm

Insanity? Nope, Family Court in Indiana

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yaaaImagine that your home was broken into, vandalized and burglarized one night. You were roughed up and tied up while he ransacked your home. Fortunately, he left you shaken and hurt, but not seriously injured such as to require hospitalization. You were successfully able to identify him and his vehicle as he sped away.

Upon your call to the police, the offender is apprehended with the goods in his possession and brought to court to stand trial for his crimes against you.

You arrive in court and the first thing the judge asks you is if you are willing to go to mediation with the burglar. When you refuse, the judge labels you ‘uncooperative’ and ‘hostile’ to the burglar’s continued relationship with you. Even though the burglar was caught red-handed with your goods, and you were an eye witness to the crime, the judge now decides that he can’t possibly decide the case without first appointing a social worker termed a “burglary evaluator” to assess yours and the burglar’s relationship.

When the social worker/evaluator can not determine what is best for your relationship or your stolen goods, they ask the judge to have both you and the burglar psychologically evaluated, because you seem “anxious”, “angry” and “uncooperative” with the burglar. The court-appointed psychologist, who has no experience in being the victim of violent crime and has not studied the effects of such trauma, also determines that you are uncooperative, hostile, anxious, and you have a negative opinion of the burglar that can’t be healthy. After all, the burglar had nothing but good things to say about you, your home and your belongings during his evaluation.

The psychologist recommends that you be restricted from access to your belongings until you can accept the burglar’s rightful relationship to continued access to your home and personal effects. He further recommends you attend weekly conjoint therapy with the burglar to work on being more cooperative with him in the future.

All at your expense of course.

The judge decides to wait a year or so to see how you work through your relationship with the burglar before he can decide upon the burglary conviction. He chastises you that you had better really work at the relationship or he may just grant the burglar’s request to maintain sole ownership of your property. None of these “experts” can be sued civilly for their negligence and incompetence because they have judicial or quasi-judicial immunity.

Insanity? Nope. Family court in Indiana.

Domestic violence victims walk into family court to ask a judge to protect their children from a known abuser. Instead, they face the above-described nightmare that can span years and put them into financial ruin, mental and emotional exhaustion, not to mention directly back into the path of the abuser. Judges pressure them to mediate, assign a custody evaluator who pressures them to accept 50/50 joint physical and legal custody with theirs and their children’s abuser.

They and their children are put through psychological evaluations by persons with little to no training in domestic violence, and some judges force co-parenting therapy and reunification therapy upon mother and child with their perpetrators. If they can not fit into the mold of cooperative “co-parenting” and the children continue to be reluctant to visit with the man that abused them, they face losing custody to him.

We have spent millions of dollars printing brochures and making public service announcements to victims of domestic violence encouraging them to leave violent relationships and telling them of the harmful effects on their children.

But when they do get the courage to leave, the same system tells them they are wrong to try to protect their children once they have divorced their abuser, and that they should now fully and freely support unsupervised visitation with the same dangerous person. Contrary to popular belief, children of batterers can be at just as much risk psychologically, sexually, and even physically after the couple splits up as they were when the family was still together. In fact, many children experience the most damaging victimization from the abuser at this point.

Most people assume that a fit mother never loses custody. If only that were true. The American Judges Association reports that “Studies show that batterers have been able to convince authorities that the victim is unfit or undeserving of sole custody in approximately 70% of challenged cases.” Unfortunately, the State of Indiana’s current laws also says that none of these people can be held accountable, either.

And so we go on, handing down family violence from one generation to the next…

[a special thanks to Indiana Mothers for Custodial Justice, Alaska Mothers For Custodial Justice and Kansas Mothers for Custodial Justice]