Custody Preparation for Moms

A support site provided by those that have been through the process.
   

 

 

 

CPFM Archived Announcements



New Legislation!

Illinois:   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  http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/couriernews/city/e01normalaw.htm

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.

http://www.legis.state.ak.us/PDF/23/Bills/HB0385Z.PDF

http://www.akrepublicans.org/mcguire/23/spst/mcgu_hb385.php

Arizona:   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 following:  

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.
4) 6 hours initial training on child abuse.
5) 6 hours initial training on domestic violence.
6) 4 hours every other year on child abuse and domestic violence.
7) Minimum standards for training created by Domestic Relations Committee.
8) 2 more senators and 2 more House members on Domestic Relations Committee.

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 perjury statutes.

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 children.

Wisconsin:  Assembly 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
STRANDED: Feds cut funding to Alaska Legal Services Corp.

By LISA DEMER
Anchorage Daily News
Published: September 22, 2005

Hundreds 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. ...
(Full article 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 Stevens
United States Senate
522 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
(202) 224-3004
(202) 224-2354 FAX

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski
709 Hart Senate Building
Washington D.C., 20510
202-224-6665


 

"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 me…704.841.7151 rieppe@carolina.rr.com

The people to contact are:

*** Comal County District Attorney’s Office - Attention: Dib Waldrip (DA)

150 N. Seguin Ave.

Suite 307

New Braunfels, Texas 78130

Phone 830.620.5533

Fax 830.608.2008

e-mail datdww@co.comal.tx.us

web page http://www.co.comal.tx.us/DA.htm

 *** New Braunfels Police Department - Attention:  Lt. Mike Rust

1488 S. Seguin Ave.

New Braunfels, Texas 78130-3853

Phone 830.608.2185

Fax 830.608.2188

e-mail nbpd@nbtexas.org (attention Lt. Mike Rust)

web page http://www.nbpdtexas.com/

 

 *** The Herald-Zeitung (the local newspaper) - Attention: Ron Maloney

P.O. Box 311328

New Braunfels, Texas78131

Phone 830.625.9144

Fax 830.625.1224

e-mail rmaloney@herald-zeitung.com

web page http://www.herald-zeitung.com/

 ~ Rieppe Hendrick"

 (9/2005)


 

Upcoming Events

November 2004 - January 2005

From Garland Waller, who will be presenting Small Justice at the
second Battered Mothers Custody Conference (see January 2005 announcements):
 
I am  the producer of Small Justice: Little Justice in America's Family
Courts and I am now looking for BOSTON area women whose children have
been taken from them by the family courts. Cases need to involve
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 journalism students
can study and report.The student documentary crew will be following the
student journalists and turning their investigation into a 20 minute
documentary (which will be made under my supervision.) Essentially,
this is a story within a story and I believe it will be possible to get
local and national press to screen the project or to do a story on how
it came to be. The idea is to get family court injustice into the press
with a secondary story line. I think there is a better chance of
national coverage if we approach this topic in this manner.

The mother/family will be chosen in January and the documentary will be
completed 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 powerful
production.

We need to find one or two women who have had difficult experiences
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 TV
show.

Wish we could do others. Here is what we need.

Name of mother:
Name and ages of children:
A brief summary of the experience in the family courts in or near
Boston.
Dates of sexual abuse allegations. (Brief paragraph)
Dates of domestic violence (Brief paragraph)
Name and contact info of mother's lawyer.
Name and contact info of father's lawyer
Name of judge.
Address of the court.
Name and contact info of social worker/GAL/ CASA worker(s)
Name/title of those who helped.
Name/title of those who made things more difficult

Please 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 garwal@bu.edu. NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE.

Garland Waller
College of Communication
Boston University
640 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA 02215
www.liaonline.com
http://www.smalljustice.com/

 

September 2005

 

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.   
 
One can call into the show live at 888-335-5204, or email herside@canow.org.
 

 

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/

FOR 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.

 Galvanized by 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 October.

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 children.

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 cases.

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. 

Breaking the 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, contact:

 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

 http://www.batteredmotherscustodyconference.org/

October 2005

 

 

 

 

 

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 Stories

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:

http://www.cptv.org/pdf/BTS_pressrelease.pdf

http://www.cptv.org/pdf/BTS-CSad.pdf

http://www.tatgelasseur.com/

http://www.motherjones.com/news/featurex/2005/07/child_custody.html

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 nasty."

"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 custody. "

"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 at:

http://www.stopfamilyviolence.org/194

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.
 


December 2005

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 mothers tell
their stories of abuse at home and continued trauma within the courts. The producers approached the topic with the open mindedness and
commitment to fairness that we require of our journalists. Their research was extensive and supports the conclusions drawn in the program.
Funding from the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation met PBS's underwriting guidelines; the Foundation had no editorial influence on program content.

However, the 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 documentary's "first-person
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 hour-long
treatment of the subject will allow ample opportunity for doctors, psychologists, judges, parent advocates and victims of abuse to have
their perspectives shared, challenged and debated.
 

 

 

January 2006

Announcing The Third National Battered Mother's Custody Conference

 
 

"Battered Women, Abused Children, and Child Custody: A National Crisis III:  Unity--and Action!" 

A Continued Examination of A Compelling Problem, A Crucial Search For Answers

To Be Held January 6th-8th, 2006

 Siena College, 515 Loudon Road, Loudonville, NY 12211    

Visit www.batteredmotherscustodyconference.org

  for downloadable 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.    

               The 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 and in their home jurisdictions.

 

The Third National Battered Mother's Custody Conference is sponsored by Siena College,

Loudonville, New York

and the following Siena organizations:

Dept. of Social Work

Franciscan Center for Service and Advocacy

Women’s and Multicultural Studies Comm.

Campus Action, Siena Greens, Peace Studies,

New York State NOW and Albany NOW

 

(Watch the website for updates on conference presenters and details)

Past BMCC Presenters Have Included:

 

Mo Therese Hannah, Conference Chair

mhannah413@aol.com; 518-210-2487

 

Liliane Heller Miller, Conference Vice Chair

lrhmiller@bellsouth.net; 704-393-8224

 

 

 

 


 

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