CPFM Archived Announcements
HB 360 amends the section of the Marriage and Dissolution of
Marriage Act dealing with child-custody proceedings. (Effective date:
1/1/06) Specifically, it eliminates the role of a child representative.
The amendment is the result of a November ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court
dealing with Norma Perez' child-custody case. Justices ruled her rights were
violated because her attorney was not allowed to cross-examine the child
representative assigned to her case. A DuPage County judge granted Perez's
ex-husband, R. Edward Bates, sole custody of their daughter based, in part, on
the representative's report. While the ruling did not directly affect her
custody situation, it helped change the law. She lost custody in 2002
after a dispute in which Bates and court-appointed psychologists accused her of
parental alienation syndrome. The syndrome is not recognized by the American
Psychiatric Association or other medical associations.The use of PAS against
mothers in child-custody cases continues to be worrisome to Perez, and she hopes
to make changes regarding the use of PAS in court. But, she said she feels the
bill is a major step toward making reforms in family law.
Excerpted from the full story at
Bill text: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/publicacts/fulltext.asp?Name=094-0640&print=true
Alaska: HB 385 passed
with a unanimous vote in both the Alaska House and Senate on 5/11/04. To
summarize, this bill:
elevates the weighting of domestic
violence in the best interest of the child factors
makes consideration of domestic
violence a factor in temporary custody decisions, and not based
just solely on equal and frequent contact
disallows the "friendly parent"
provision where there is domestic violence/child abuse (its difficult
for a victim or protective parent to really be "friendly"
with someone that abuses you or your children)
institutes a rebuttable presumption that
batterers will not get custody of children.
Assembly Bill HB2348 passed the Arizona Senate on 5/26/04. This bill
allows disposition of community property, calculation of spousal maintenance and
determination of child support to occur with consideration of criminal
conviction for acts against the spouse or child. It also included the
1) No custody or unsupervised visitation
to sex offenders or murderers.
2) Courts shall consider financial ability
when ordering services, evaluations, etc.
3) Evaluator will swear and
affirm on EACH evaluation that he/she is up to date with the training.
hours initial training on child abuse.
5) 6 hours initial training on
6) 4 hours every other year on child abuse and domestic
7) Minimum standards for training created by Domestic Relations
8) 2 more senators and 2 more House members on Domestic
Hawaii: HB 1980-SD1, filed at the
State House of Representatives of Hawaii on 4/07/04 eliminates closed hearings
in Family Court Child Protective Services (CPS) matters, allows parents involved
in CPS matters to bring a non-lawyer advocate to hearings, requires the Supreme
Court to review Family Court judges and requires Family Court judges to enforce
Tennessee: HB 2848 and SB 2966,
filed at the State Congress of Tennessee on 1/26/04 amends Tennessee Code,
relative to the Protective Parent Reform Act, which addresses custody of abused
Bill 279, filed at the State senate and assembly of Wisconsin on 4/18/03 creates
a rebuttable presumption against awarding a parent joint or sole legal
custody if the court finds that the parent has engaged in a pattern or
serious incident of abuse, requiring a guardian ad litem and a mediator to have
training related to domestic violence, and requiring a guardian ad litem to
investigate and a mediator to inquire whether a party in an action affecting the
family engaged in domestic violence.
MOTHERS IN NEED OF ACTION
- BREAKING NEWS
Violence victims to lose lawyers
Feds cut funding to Alaska Legal Services Corp.
Anchorage Daily News
Published: September 22, 2005
of Alaska victims of domestic violence will go without lawyers as they battle
for protective orders, divorce, child custody and public benefits, according to
a poverty law organization.
The Alaska Legal Services Corp. has lost a
federal grant that paid for three attorneys, and partial salaries for others, to
represent low income, rural victims of domestic violence and child abuse. In a
few communities that put in local dollars, including Anchorage and Fairbanks,
the help for domestic violence victims will continue, said Andy Harrington,
Alaska Legal Services executive director. ...
here: http://www.adn.com/news/alaska/story/6998368p-6899727c.html )
Link to Alaska Legal
Services Corporation: http://www.alsc-law.org/
This is a vital issue to abused women and
children in the state of Alaska. Alaska ranks among the top 5 states in the
nation for per capita rates of domestic violence. The rate of Alaskan women
being killed by a partner is 1.5 times the national average. Please
contact U.S. Senator Stevens and Murkowski's offices and urge them to find a way
to restore the federal funding to this program.
U.S. Senator Ted
United States Senate
522 Hart Senate Office
Washington, D.C. 20510
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski
709 Hart Senate Building
"If you were able to
read the previous e-mail I sent re: my dear friend Suzanne and her
efforts to protect her son from further abuse, you are aware that
she is in the Comal County Jail (New Braunfels, Texas) and her 7
year old son (soon to be 8) is now in the custody of a man he has
accused of sexually abusing him. (For part of story see http://sanantoniolightning.com/dewalt.html
I am writing this
e-mail to ask for your help. The New
Braunfels authorities need to be contacted and
told that people know about this case and are concerned about the
situation. Also the New Braunfels newspaper needs to be
contacted. Specifically, it needs to be stated that you are
concerned that it appears that a child has been placed in the hands
of a child molester and that you are concerned about the treatment
and rights of this mother who has tried to protect her child from
further sexual abuse. You also may want to question what kind
of a custody trial was this that a child’s disclosures of sexual
abuse were disregarded by the courts. You can call, e-mail,
fax, and/or write letters (or all four if at all possible).
The more people who contact these people the better. If they
are aware that people from all over the country are concerned and
are questioning them it will have an impact.
PLEASE HELP! Any questions
about the case or how to help in this way please contact
The people to
*** Comal County
District Attorney’s Office - Attention: Dib Waldrip (DA)
Braunfels, Texas 78130
web page http://www.co.comal.tx.us/DA.htm
Braunfels Police Department - Attention: Lt. Mike
e-mail email@example.com (attention Lt.
web page http://www.nbpdtexas.com/
Herald-Zeitung (the local newspaper) -
Attention: Ron Maloney
web page http://www.herald-zeitung.com/
November 2004 - January
From Garland Waller, who will be presenting Small Justice
second Battered Mothers Custody Conference (see January
I am the producer of Small Justice: Little Justice
in America's Family
Courts and I am now looking for BOSTON area women whose
been taken from them by the family courts. Cases need to
domestic violence and/or sexual abuse.
I will be working with
an award-winning investigative journalist who
now teaches at my university.
He will work with his student
investigative journalists and I will work with
my documentary students.
Our goal is to find cases which the investigative
can study and report.The student documentary crew will be
student journalists and turning their investigation into a 20
documentary (which will be made under my supervision.)
this is a story within a story and I believe it will be possible
local and national press to screen the project or to do a story on
it came to be. The idea is to get family court injustice into the
with a secondary story line. I think there is a better chance
national coverage if we approach this topic in this manner.
mother/family will be chosen in January and the documentary will be
in May of 2005. It will be low budget, but with the guidance
of two award
winning professors, I think this could be a very
We need to find one or two women who have had
with the family courts in or around BOSTON. We can ONLY
look at stories
from the Boston area. The woman/women must be willing
to speak on
camera and sign a release giving us permission to use them in the
Wish we could do others. Here is what we need.
Name and ages of children:
A brief summary of the experience in
the family courts in or near
Dates of sexual abuse allegations.
Dates of domestic violence (Brief paragraph)
contact info of mother's lawyer.
Name and contact info of father's
Name of judge.
Address of the court.
Name and contact info of
social worker/GAL/ CASA worker(s)
Name/title of those who
Name/title of those who made things more difficult
understand that I would like to give detailed responses to those
who write. I
simply cannot do that although I will confirm that I got
the material. I will
discuss each case with my fellow professor so that
we pick the story that
will work the best for this particular project.
There are many variables, but
my goal is to get the story of family
court injustice into mainstream
newspapers and tv shows.
Please send stories/info to firstname.lastname@example.org. NO
PHONE CALLS PLEASE.
College of Communication
640 Commonwealth Ave.
On Thursday, September
15th, 2005, the CA NOW web radio show dealing with family law issues
with have Amy Neustein, author of From Madness to Mutiny, as a
guest. Helen Grieco, CA NOW Executive Director, is the host of the
program, which can be listened to live at 1pm(pdt)/4pm (edt) on Thursday at
www.voice.voiceamerica.com, or on-demand at www.canow.org or www.voice.voiceamerica.com.
The show is called "Her Side: Our Take on the
News," with host Helen Grieco. The episode title is "Dads, Diapers, and
Divorce: Crisis in the Family Law Courts."
CA NOW will have a page on their website
devoted to resources on the show topics as well.
10th International Conference on Family
Violence Fall Conference - September 16-21,
2005 - Family Violence Pre-Conference
& Conference Workshops - San Diego, CA. For more information: http://www.fvsai.org/
IMMEDIATE RELEASE: SEPTEMBER 12th, 2005
A powerful new PBS
documentary, Breaking the Silence:
Children’s Stories, premiers on October 20, 2005 (contact your
local channel for exact dates and times, which may vary in your area).
This compelling new documentary chronicles the impact of domestic violence on
children and the systemic failure of family courts across the country to protect
them from their abusers.
the upcoming film premier, activists from all over the country have joined
forces to publicize the documentary and to raise public awareness of the issues
it addresses with a kick-off campaign beginning on September 28, 2005 and
continuing through October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Activists will distribute flyers about "Breaking the Silence: Children's
Stories: and related information in front of family courts in every state and US
territory to encourage the public to watch the documentary when it airs in
Growing numbers of
protective, non-offending, loving, and fit mothers are losing custody of their
children to their own or their children’s abusers. Women who leave abusive
men are often met with retaliatory suits for child custody. Many women
find that the family court system becomes a place where the abuser is enabled
and even facilitated in further victimizing her and her
The American Judges
Association reports that one of the most common reasons for resuming
a relationship with an abusive partner is the fear that the
abuser will act on threats of taking the children. In fact, 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
Little known among the
general public is the fact that, for almost two decades now, a controversial
theory called " Parental Alienation Syndrome" (PAS) has been used as a
courtroom tactic to silence abused children and their mothers. This
so-called syndrome is not based on systematic research, is not recognized by
mental healthy professionals, is not viewed as a psychiatric diagnosis, and has
been rejected by valid scientists and ethical practitioners. Nevertheless, PAS
continues to be routinely used in courts across the country, resulting in the
removal of children from loving, safe, and fit mothers to fathers who batter the
mother, abuse the child, and/or have a substance abuse or criminal
history. Often, the mother is given only supervised visitation; in
many cases, she loses all contact with her child.
Although this travesty
has been occurring with greater and greater frequency, the average person
believes that when such cases do occur, there must have been something wrong
with the mother to cause such a tragic result. A standard tactic used by
abusers is to demonize the victim; all too often, the courts have helped such
abusers by punishing the mother--labeling her as "hysterical" or an
"alienator"-- for seeking legal protection for her children.
Silence: Children's Stories reflects thousands
of cases in which this has occurred and amply demonstrates the pattern of
mistakes the court system has made to create these tragedies.
For more information,
Mo Therese Hannah, Ph.D.,
Conference Chair –
Battered Women, Abused
Children, and Child Custody: A National Crisis, III: Unity--and Action!
Associate Professor of
Psychology - Siena College
518-783-0699 / 518-210-2487
October is Domestic Violence Awareness
Month. Check your local community calendar for events and activities to
celebrate the strength of battered women and children. Wear a purple
ribbon in acknowledgement of domestic violence survivors, and a white ribbon for
victims of domestic violence that are no longer with us.
Breaking the Silence: Children's
Premiering October 20, 2005
(Contact your local PBS channel for exact
dates and times, which may vary in your area)
This powerful documentary chronicles the impact
of domestic violence on children and the systemic failure of family courts
across the country to protect them from their abusers. From adult children of
abuse to families re-victimized by the court systems to children experiencing
the trauma today, the special offers moving and unforgettable profiles of those
struggling to put their lives back together. The program also documents the
disturbing frequency with which abusers are winning custody of their children in
family court cases, and explores why this miscarriage of justice continues to
occur. The documentary features interviews with New York Yankees manager Joe
Torre, who dealt with domestic violence as a child and in 2003 started the
Safe-at-Home Foundation to help educate people about the issue; and Walter
Anderson, chairman and CEO of Parade magazine, who recounts the emotional and
physical abuse he suffered at the hands of his alcoholic father.
Related information and articles:
Visit the 2004 Koufax Award Finalist - Best Single Issue Blog
for Family Law - http://trishwilson.typepad.com/blog
- for continued breaking news on the Father's Rights attempts to bully and
harrass PBS for airing this documentary.
Blog excerpts: "Fathers' rights
activists are livid that their e-mail bombing and phone calling of PBS has not
resulted in "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories" being pulled off the air.
They claim that this documentary is biased and bashes fathers. It does nothing
of the kind. Fathers' rights activists also claim that only one side of the
issue is being aired, and they are demanding what they think is their "fair"
airing time for their views. Nonsense. Their views are all over the place. They
permeate the Internet, and they get more than their fair share of one-sided
articles printed in newspapers. They don't like that the side of the abused
mothers and children is getting massive public airing.
I'm glad that PBS is not backing down to the massive
pressure from fathers' rights groups. As anyone with a blog who has gone up
against fathers' rights activists knows, they can be unbearably
"Fathers' rights groups and activists outnumber the
protective moms who need for this documentary to air. These men have the time to
write angry protest letters and make angry phone calls that the moms don't have
to time or energy to handle. These moms are too busy trying to raise their
families and fend off the control tactics of these abusive dads who fight for
"Breaking The Silence" outs fathers' rights
custody tactics for the abusive behavior that it is, in particular the use of
bogus syndromes like Parental
Alienation Syndrome. PAS is used to by abusers and the courts to take abused
children from the mothers who are protecting them, and giving them to their
abusive fathers. Professionals who make their living from these kinds of cases
don't want this documentary to air, because airing the truth about these ugly
contested custody cases will put a big hole in their pockets."
Take Action in Support of PBS and "Breaking
the Silence: Children's Stories" - Please visit Stop Family Violence
It is particularly important to hear stories
from survivors, so that PBS can fully see the scope of this problem.
Let us continue to work together in peaceful
determination so that the voices of abused children are not drowned out by the
angry rhetoric of father's rights groups.
Custody Prep for Moms in coordination with
Stop Family Violence urges survivors, professionals and other concerned citizens
to use Stop Family Violence's webform to submit comments of support and
appreciation to PBS.
Father's Rights Groups Unsuccessful in Smear
Campaign Against Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories
PBS has completed its post-broadcast review
of the program "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories." In a public
statement, they found that the documentary was well-researched and fair.
This comes as no surprise to true domestic violence and child abuse
professionals who have viewed the film and know the research. Our thanks
to PBS for standing behind this very necessary documentary and the issues it
raises that have been swept under the rug for too long.
Father's Rights groups attacked the film, the
film's producers, PBS, CPTV for it supposedly being one-sided and lacking
balance. As if there really is another valid side or even a neutral side
to child abuse and wife-beating. We still wonder-- if Father's Rights
groups are for good, non-abusive fathers, they too should have been outraged
that an abusive father could obtain custody from a non-offending mother.
Instead, they were outraged that a film exposing deficiencies in our court
system favoring abusive men existed and did everything possible to harass
everyone involved in the making of the film, tried to squash its airing in some
locales and demanded review after review.
Perhaps there really needs to be a documentary
done about the background of the leadership of these groups and their real
agendas. Could it be that the ones raising such a ruckus about talking
about domestic violence and child abuse are the ones causing it?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Statement from PBS Programming
"Breaking The Silence: Children's
Stories" chronicles the impact of domestic violence on children and the
recurring failings of family
courts across the country to protect them from
their abusers. In stark and often poignant interviews, children and battered
their stories of abuse at home and continued trauma within the
courts. The producers approached the topic with the open mindedness
commitment to fairness that we require of our journalists. Their research
was extensive and supports the conclusions drawn in the program.
the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation met PBS's underwriting guidelines; the
Foundation had no editorial influence on program content.
program would have benefited from more in-depth treatment of the complex issues
surrounding child custody and the role of family courts and most specifically
the provocative topic of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). Additionally, the
story telling approach" did not allow the depth
of the producers' research to be as evident to the viewer as it could have been.
PBS has received a substantial body of analysis and documentation from both
supporters of the documentary and its critics.
It is clear to us that this
complex and important issue would benefit from further examination. To that end,
PBS will commission an hour-long
documentary for that purpose. Plans call for
the documentary to be produced and broadcast in Spring 2006. We expect that the
treatment of the subject will allow ample opportunity for doctors,
psychologists, judges, parent advocates and victims of abuse to have
perspectives shared, challenged and debated.
Announcing The Third National Battered Mother's Custody
"Battered Women, Abused
Children, and Child Custody:
A National Crisis III: Unity--and Action!"
Continued Examination of A
Compelling Problem, A Crucial Search For
To Be Held January
Siena College, 515 Loudon
Road, Loudonville, NY 12211
conference brochure with information on registration, schedule, topics, fees,
scholarships, hotel discount, and other details.
Following in the footsteps of it's groundbreaking
predecessor (the First National Battered Mother's Custody Conference, held Jan.
9-10, 2004), BMCC III draws together a further unprecedented collaboration of
leading national experts with state-of-the-art knowledge of the legal, social,
and psychological issues facing battered women as they struggle to protect their
children in and out of America's family and criminal courts.
purpose of the First National Battered Mother's Custody Conference was to
examine these issues in order to bring them to the light of day, for they have
long been hidden behind the closed doors of family courts, judicial chambers,
and social services offices. Now,
building upon that continued effort, BMCC III seeks to develop immediate and
long-term solutions that all attendees - advocates, victims, attorneys, judges,
law enforcement, and social workers - will be able to share and implement
their home jurisdictions.
The Third National Battered Mother's Custody Conference
is sponsored by Siena College,
Loudonville, New York
and the following Siena
Dept. of Social Work
Franciscan Center for
Service and Advocacy
Women’s and Multicultural Studies Comm.
Campus Action, Siena Greens, Peace Studies,
State NOW and Albany NOW
(Watch the website for updates on
conference presenters and details)
Past BMCC Presenters Have Include
Mo Therese Hannah, Conference Chair
Liliane Heller Miller, Conference Vice Chair
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