Family Court Judge Lyris Younge Transferred After Violating Parent’s Rights

Read Full Article Here: Controversial judge transferred from Family Court after numerous parents claim due-process violations (Philly Voice)

Judge Lyris Younge, source BallotPedia

Date: July 2, 2018

Author: Brian Hickey, Philly Voice staff

Lyris Younge, a judge for the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas in Pennsylvania is transferred from the family court after several parents and lawyers issued complaints against her involving due process violations and “creating judicial parental alienation“. Critics say Judge Younge ruled by intimidation, not the law. Parents claimed their children were wrongly taken, and rights violated, when Judge Younge refused to allow them to address the court or present evidence.

A case from 2016 that made headlines when Judge Younge “did everything in her power” to remove a 5 month old infant from the custody of her parents, and place the child in foster care, even though a grandparent was able to provide care, in order to compel the parents to plead guilty to alleged abuse. Judge Younge’s ruling was later reversed. In a ruling on the case, Superior Court Judge Anne E. Lazarus said, “The fact that a trial judge tells parents that unless one of them ‘cops to an admission of what happened to the child’ they are going to lose their child flies in the face of not only the [child protection laws] but of the entire body of case law with regard to best interests of the child and family reunification.” Read more on this case: Court Slams Family Judge for Holding Baby in Foster Care to Force Confession (ALM Media)

A petition was also created by concerned parents to remove Judge Younge from the bench PETITION TO REMOVE JUDGE LYRIS F. YOUNGE FROM OFFICE  

The petition reads, in part, “Within her short time on the bench, Younge has amassed more appeals then any other judge in the Philadelphia Family Court Of Common Pleas, which has resulted in 9 ruling overturns by the Superior Court.

Hundreds of families have been affected due to younge’s unsupported decisions. Younge is suppose to preserve the family unit, and ONLY place children who are not safe and in danger. Lyris Younge has made it her goal to separate families, terminate parental rights, and adopt their children out. How can we have faith in our judiciary system when the superior court acknowledges, Lyris Younge’s goal is to deteriorate the bond between parents and children…”

The decision to transfer Judge Younge out of family court resulted after she was investigated by the Judicial Conduct Board.

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True Story Surviving Abuse & Homelessness

Public Domain Image: http://www.goodfreephotos.com

I was recently invited to give a speech for a supportive program that helps homeless families with housing and resources. This is my true story of surviving domestic violence, what it is like to be homeless and enter the shelter system.. and how supportive programs make a positive difference to stabilize, and ensure better outcomes for families.

Despite the progress I made, and my efforts to keep the children safe, despite numerous letters and recommendations from the program staff and other professionals working with me (and the kids), the unjust family court in Hennepin County awarded sole custody of my two children to the identified abuser. At the time of the court order the alleged abuser had over a dozen documented reports of child abuse against him,with documented physical injuries and documented PTSD and anxiety in both children to attest to emotional injuries. The abuse continued after the Hennepin County family court took my precious children from my safe, loving home and gave sole custody to an alleged abuser. My oldest child admitted that he has almost no memories of his childhood – dissociation is a sign of severe trauma.

But this story is far from over… I will always love my children and will fight to keep them safe, and bring them home.

“Emily Court”, October 2018.

______________________

I would like to tell you a little about what my experience with homelessness and domestic violence, and how a supportive program made a positive impact on my life, and that of my children.

My children and I became homeless in 2006 due to domestic violence. In a matter of seconds we lost everything – our home, our car, our pets, our belongings-gone. I had never been on my own before and suddenly, and without any warning, I was thrown onto the streets with two traumatized children. I did not know where to go. Or to who to call for help. I had no idea what we were going to do to get through one day to the next. Despite that, being on the street was much safer than being at home.

I started out staying with family members but that was not safe because my abusive ex was stalking and harassing me. I stayed with friends for a time. And slept in the car. I would drive around all night until the kids fell asleep then pull into a parking lot. My thought was that if the kids fell asleep first, maybe they would not realize we were actually living in the car. During the day, I kept the kids busy going to free museums or parks. I also got books from a charity and then began to teach my kids the Bible and basic school subjects. It was a tough time but also an adventurous time, and in many ways, my children and I grew closer.

I remember how strange it was to enter the shelter system because I always told my kids, don’t go with strangers, and that was exactly what we were doing. We loaded up into a van with a bunch of strangers, and spent the night sleeping on a pile of blankets on the floor of a school gymnasium as part of Project Home. We were pretty lucky to be in a school building because we had access to showers. There was a cardboard divider around our sleeping area and I drew cartoons on it with marker to make it cozy for the kids.

We befriended the other families in the shelter. I remember that before bedtime, the Project Home volunteers would come in to play games or read stories to the kids. It gave the adults a little time to relax. We would share a can of powdered cappuccino, mixed with hot water, and talk. The lights were always turned out around 8 pm but we had ways of sending messages. One night the volunteers turned the lights out then caught someone talking. We all held our breath, wondering if there would be trouble. Instead, the volunteer decided to turn the lights back on for an extra 15 minutes… I remember how everyone in the room cheered. I can honestly say, the small acts of kindness meant a great deal, because we had all lost so much.

A big problem I faced was that those running the shelter were not educated about domestic violence, and how trauma affects children. Things like safety planning, legal services, therapy and advocacy services were not available. One staff member made fun of my child for sucking on a pacifier, when the truth was that my child was regressing due to abuse, and this was a sign that he desperately needed help. Another time my child was have a flashback and fell on the floor, screaming and crying, and the staff told me to just spank my child until he behaved. I knew I had to get out of the shelter but did not know where to turn.

Letter from therapist documenting abuse against my child

There were always lines at the shelter to use the phone. Every chance I got I was calling, trying to get a better place to stay. And every time it was the same answer: too expensive, get on the waiting list or the waiting list is closed. And then I got to the last page of the phone book, and found this program. It was literally my last hope. I was excited to be put on the waiting list…and I waited.

In the meanwhile, we moved to the Ramsey County family shelter, this was not an improvement by any means. The Ramsey County family shelter is run like a jail. In the shelter, everyone is treated like a problem that needs to be fixed – our needs and humanity don’t matter. My kids needed so much help. My child’s condition worsened and he had to be hospitalized due to severe trauma and PTSD. The abuser sought sole custody of both children so I was in and out of family court. I really needed someone to talk to, but there was no one. My family was in crisis, and I felt totally alone. The breaking point came when I had to go to family court, and had to pay $50 for daycare while I attended a hearing. The $50 came out of the shelter told me to escrow. But I also needed to be in court, and I had no other way to pay for daycare. I tried to explain my situation to staff, and show receipts and court papers, but it did not matter. I violated the rules, and now we were being kicked out of the Ramsey County family shelter. I packed up my kids in temperatures nearing 100 and dreaded the thought of sleeping in our car. When I shut the back door, it did not close all the way. The car door was broken, and now unsafe for my kids to be in, it could swing open at any time. Could things get any worse?

I was lucky to find a domestic violence shelter with space to take my family. Then one day I got an unexpected call…a program had an opening. I was so excited! My brother let me borrow his car and we drove into yet another unknown. I remember how my kids and I sang to the radio really loud, on the way. We rolled down all the windows, and let our joy be heard.

This is what it felt like to be accepted into the program: the excitement of Christmas. The shelter system wasn’t perfect but we had a roof over our heads, food to eat and were safe. That being said, we also missed out on a lot of what most people take for granted. Such as having a real bathtub, to fill up with bubbles and let my kids splash inside. The program offered housing with a kitchen – our own stove, fridge and cabinets. We had been living out of bags for so long, I almost forgot what it was to have a real kitchen! Our first meal was traditional, from recipes that were passed down in my family for generations: BBQ ribs, cornbread, green beans and rice casserole. My kids stood on boxes at the counter, and helped me cook…and we made new memories over the scars of the old.

It made me think of my great-grandmother, Big Momma, who worked as a sharecropper since she was a small child, working the plantations our ancestors tended for generations. All her life, Big Momma went from place to place, never having a real home. Despite the challenges, Big Momma managed to buy a real house in the city, keeping her children out of the fields and getting them into school. I went from place to place too. Now I had a real home, and was giving my children a better life. And now my children were sharing a meal that had come from her table, it was amazing.

The program also provided what we needed most – support and understanding. We were assigned a family advocate who helped make a plan to rebuild our life. There were also regular family activities and holiday parties. It meant so much to be part of those activities because it made me feel human again, not just like I was struggling to survive. It was amazing to see my kids laugh again, to see them grow, and watch the healing begin.

After 18 months in the program my family finally secured permanent housing. I had grown much stronger and was now inspired to volunteer in my community. I wanted to give back because so much had been given to my family. I also began taking photography and writing poetry to give voice to victims of domestic violence, and those who had been homeless. To this day, my family visits the program, and helps to volunteer at events.

What has the program meant for my family? SO many things – but the most important thing I have learned is that every one of us has an incredible potential to make a positive difference in the life of someone else. And that gift of love that you offer can and will change a life.

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Minnesota: Proposed Bill Requires Guardian ad Litem to Protect Address of Abuse Survivors

Minnesota: Proposed bill would protect the physical address of participants enrolled in the Safe at Home program from being released or disclosed by Guardian ad Litems in family court or CPS proceedings.

The bill, introduced in the Senate as SF3198 and in the House as HF3551, would change the laws regarding “Safe at Home” program to require that Guardian ad Litems (GAL) must accept the program address as the address of the participant, and  must not disclose their home address, work address or school address unless given consent to do so.

Follow the bill online at: HF 3551 Status in the House for the 90th Legislature (2017 – 2018)

Note: GALs are required to visit with parents and children as part of their job, which often includes an in home visit. In some cases, family visits could be occur in a public location or other place. Should a home visit occur, a GAL would need the home address of the participant, the bill allows for this under Section 5B.05 (a) – see below. However, GALs are still required to keep the physical address of the participant confidential.

Why I Support This Bill: Abuse Survivor Loses Custody of Children Because GAL Says Participation in Safe at Home Program Means She Cannot Co-Parent with Identified Abuser

Hennepin County Family Justice Center

I support this bill SF 3198 and HF 3551, as a mother and survivor of domestic abuse, who has been involved in family court and was punished by the GAL for being enrolled in the Safe at Home program. The GAL felt having a confidential address was quote “keeping secrets” from my identified abuser, Martin, meaning I couldn’t co-parent. As a result, I lost custody of my two children, who continued to be subjected to mental, emotional and physical harm.

I will never forget Martin telling me that he needs to know where I live so “when something happens to you, I can come get the children”. When I reported this to Hennepin County Guardian ad Litem, Jamie L. Manning, she sympathized with Martin and told me I am wrong for being concerned about my own safety. This coming from a person who physically attacked me, causing my two children and I to become homeless. My 6 year old son got a black eye after Martin forced entry to our home, slamming the brass door knob into his face. My son suffered from severe anxiety and PTSD as a result of the attack, saying he hated himself because he was unable to protect me from his violent father. In the months following the incident, Martin stalked and harassed me until I entered the shelter system and he could not locate me. The Safe at Home program has provided a confidential address that has helped to not only maintain my safety but has been an important part of rebuilding my life.

I support this bill SF3198 and HF3551 because I have heard other stories of abuse survivors enrolled in the Safe at Home program being forced to disclose their address in family court, under the threat that failure to do so would result in the loss of custody of children.  There is a real need to 1) educate program managers and staff as well as GALs about the Safe at Home program and 2) protect participants from being forced to disclose their home address in court proceedings and/or coercing participants to disclose their home address against their will. This law is an important step in ensuring GALs abide by the laws and rules governing the Safe at Home program, and working toward continued reforms in family court.

What is the Safe At Home Program?

“Safe at Home” is a program that helps people who fear for their safety maintain a confidential address. Safe at Home gives participants a substitute address (usually a post office box) to use in place of their physical address; this address can legally be used whenever an address is required by public agencies, and can also be used on a driver’s license. The participant can be reached through the substitute address, mail received at that address is forwarded to the participant’s actual address.

Program participants include anyone who fears for their safety including survivors of domestic abuse, stalking, sexual assault or human trafficking; other participants may include professions such as law enforcement. Minor children of participants can also be enrolled in the program.

Safety planning and additional measures are often required to ensure the participant’s safety and to keep their address confidential.

“Safe at Home” has been implemented in 39 states (for a list please visit Address Confidentiality Programs)

Safe at Home was established in Minnesota in 2007, governed under Statute 5B – Data Protection for Victims of Violence and operated through the Office of the Secretary of State.

Learn More:

Minnesota: How Safe at Home Works

Domestic Violence: “Safe at Home” Program – Important Facts Every Judge Should Know (14-23)

Safe at Home: Best Practices for Law Enforcement

Proposed Bill Requires that Guardian ad Litems Protect the Address of Participants in the Safe at Home Program

SF 3198 – “A bill for an act relating to the Safe at Home program; modifying program requirements; making clarifying and technical changes; amending Minnesota Statutes 2016, sections 5B.02; 5B.03; 5B.05; 5B.07, subdivision 1.

“(a) When a program participant presents the address designated by the secretary of state to any person, that address must be accepted as the address of the program participant.

The person may not require the program participant to submit any address that could be used to physically locate the participant either as a substitute or in addition to the designated address, or as a condition of receiving a service or benefit, unless the service or benefit would be impossible to provide without knowledge of the program participant’s physical location.

Notwithstanding a person’s or entity’s knowledge of a program participant’s physical location, the person or entity must use the program participant’s designated address for all mail correspondence with the program participant.

(d) If a program participant has notified a person in writing, on a form prescribed by the program, that the individual is a program participant and of the requirements of this section, the person must not knowingly disclose the program participant’s name, home address, work
address, or school address, unless the person to whom the address is disclosed also lives, works, or goes to school at the address disclosed, or the participant has provided written consent
to disclosure of the participant’s name, home address, work address, or school address for the purpose for which the disclosure will be made.

This paragraph applies to the actions and reports of guardians ad litem, except that guardians ad litem may disclose the program participant’s name…”

 

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Rae Carruth Hired Hitman to Kill Pregnant Girlfriend Now Wants Custody of the Son that Survived

Pregnant Cherica Adams. Source Find A Grave: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/7535541/cherica-louvenia-adams. Added by Chariot Franco.

(Clinton, North Carolina: 2/20/2018) Rae Carruth, former Carolina Panthers wide receiver, has spent the past 17 years in a North Carolina prison for conspiracy to murder his pregnant girlfriend, Cherica Adams. Now Carruth is facing release he says he will seek custody of the son, who miraculously survived as his mother was shot five times  – a son he also tried to kill. 

In 1999, Carruth hired a hitman to kill Cherica and the baby because he didn’t want to pay child support. Only Van Brett Watkins, the gunman who shot Cherica five times, couldn’t bring himself to kill the baby. Cherica died a month after the shooting, her son Chancellor Lee Adams, who was born prematurely, survived. Chancellor was born with cerebral palsy as a result of being deprived of oxygen when his mother was shot. Chancellor, now age 18, is thriving, and doing well under the care of his grandmother.

Carruth will be released from prison in October 2018 and is claims that he wants custody of Chancellor. Grandmother, Saundra Adams, says that won’t ever happen…

READ FULL STORY HERE: 

Ex-Carolina Panther Rae Carruth won’t ever get custody of son he wanted dead, grandma says

Rae Carruth apologizes for death of pregnant girlfriend, seeks custody of 18-year-old son

Cherica Adams Would Have Been 40 Years Old Today

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Police Tackle, Take Boy Into State Custody By Force Because He Being Is Home Schooled

“We love our son dearly. He’s always come first. He’s our only child… We’re a close family. We’re all about family…” ~ Terese Kristiansen, mother 

(As, Norway: February 14, 2018) A shocking video has gone viral around the world showing a Norweigan police officer chasing a 12-year old boy who is then tackled into the snow, and screaming desperately, as he is dragged off into state care by Barnevernet agents (Norway’s CPS) and police. The boy was taken from his loving parents, Leif and Terese Kristiansen. simply because they chose to home school him in order to protect him from bullying at school.

Leif and Terese Kristiansen felt they had no choice but to remove their son from school after he had received death threats, and the school was unable to protect him. The parents were looking for another school at the time he was taken from their care by Barnevernet.

Leif and Terese have been allowed only one weekly supervised two-hour visit with their son. They are being supported by the Home School Legal Defense Association in their efforts to regain custody, and bring their son home.

Home School Legal Defense Association has launched a petition drive to call upon Norwegian authorities to return Kai to his family. Click here to sign it. 

**UPDATE CHILD RETURNED TO KRISTIANSEN FAMILY***

February 22, 2018 – Leif and Terese Kristiansen announced on Wednesday that their son, Kai, is has returned to their home in Ås.

“We are very pleased to announce that Kai is back in his home with his family. We’re very happy to see him again,” Leif Kristiansen wrote in a Facebook post. “We couldn’t have done this without international support from others who have contributed to us getting him back home. We are forever grateful.”

READ FULL STORY:

HSLDA – Free Kai (Kristiansen Family Story)

Homeschooled Boy Tackled by Police

Norwegian Boy Chased, Taken Into Custody by Authorities for Being Homeschooled

‘A big state versus a poor family’: Canadian’s son forcibly removed in Norway

Norway Returns 12-Y-O Son to Homeschool Parents After They Agree to Surrender Passports

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Kendra Stocks, Mother, Jailed by Family Court Judge for Baptizing Daughter

Family Court judge takes authority over child’s custody not only on Earth but in eternity as well… 

Public Domain Image: http://weclipart.com

(Charlotte, North Carolina: February 15, 2018): Judge Sean Smith sentenced mother, Kendra Stocks, to serve 7 days in jail for violating a family court order by baptizing her daughter.  The baptism occurred just one day after Judge Smith granted father, Paul Schaaf, full custody, ‘specifically including decisions concerning religion.’

Stocks was the primary caregiver of the child since birth. Judge Smith changed custody to the father because he determined Stocks was unable to co-parent.

Stock said about sentence to The Charlotte Observer, “I don’t regret having her baptized. That was in her best interest… I don’t see how this is in the best interest of the family. Her father is sending her mother to jail…”

Read Full Story: 

Charlotte mom who ignored judge and had daughter baptized begins week behind bars

Charlotte woman reports to jail for baptizing daughter By: Glenn Counts

 

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“Family Court Orientation” with Don Rufty Exposes the Family Court Racket

“I will be presiding over the destruction of your family, which is why we call it ‘family court’..”

“Family Court Orientation” by Don Rufty is a powerful video to raise awareness of the injustices of the family court system.

The video is narrated by “Judge Roy Bing” who symbolizes the corrupt judges of family court. “Judge Bing” reveals common ways family court proceedings violate the law, and Constitutional rights of parents; and the “big business” of removing children from the custody of parents.

 

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“She is my heart…” Bryce Cook, Father, Fighting to Gain Custody of Premie Daughter

Bryce Cook and his premie daughter, Bryelle. Go Fund Me: https://www.gofundme.com/help-bring-bryelle-home

(Idaho Falls, Idaho: January 2018)  Bryce Cook is fighting to gain custody of his premie daughter, Bryelle, who was placed in foster care after he reported the child’s mother for alleged drug use. Cook says he reported the drug use because, “I want my daughter to be safe and home at least a fair chance in life…” 

Bryelle is a miracle baby, born at 25 weeks weighing a little more than one pound. Cook decorated a nursery for Bryelle; the place where a baby is supposed to sleep has become a place to reflect on his pain,”I sleep in the nursery so I can look out, instead of being out looking into an empty nursery, it kills me inside. I cry, I cry just thinking about when she’s 18 and has to leave the house again.” 

Cook wrote a desperate plea for help on GoFundMe:

First if all I hate doing this I’m not a begger but I need help.

My daughter Bryelle was born 1 lb 12 oz cps was called because I was worried about her safety do to situation. Despite facts they have lied made false accusations and appointed me a criminal defense lawyer honestly I don’t know how I got involved. It wasn’t my case felt i did right thing. I was the only person to see Bryelle everyday sometimes two three times working a full time job and two part time one a payback I have two kids that mean the world to me. I have not failed any uranalysis I got on chantix for respitory issues due to the early birth.

Im finding resources to take care of her special needs likeeating even though they should’ve offered I got a nicer place and a nursery set up she is my heart and they have used everything against me even when I planned it out discredited there concerns and didn’t have a fair chance to receive the basic training I worked hard for my family and I hated doing this but thought it was worth a try.

I want my daughter to be safe and home at least a fair chance in life I appreciate anyone’s concern and I’m sorry I’m asking I just have don’t have money due to baby needs cps is breaking laws and I have tried everything I can do

God bless and if you wanna check out my story check out timeline God bless this girl is special and I feel hopeless. Thank you and share if you want I just want my daughter to be ok. I also have a son who misses his sister. I’m a good man and have a good heart. Anything helps Bryce Cook if u wanna check it out and share.”

Cook shared his story in support groups for parents of premature children on Facebook and has recently been featured in a local news report: Local father fighting for custody of premature daughter (Local News 8)

Also visit Cook’s GoFund me atHelp bring Bryelle home

 

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Response: “The Business of Divorce is Broken. It No Longer Works for Anyone…”

The evidence that the family court system is failing is overwhelming… an attorney shares her thoughts on common concerns, and encourages family law professionals to be part of the solution. As a parent involved in family court, I offer my thoughts as well. 

As a child, Michelle Crosby vividly recalled the pain of her parents’ divorce, which later became the catalyst for her to enter law school. Crosby has since dedicated her life to helping families involved in divorce or custody proceedings reach resolution without getting stuck in the legal system. She is the founder and CEO of Wevorce a company that offers an innovative approach to deal with divorce more amicably that is customized to the individual needs of each family, and is settlement focused.

In the article Family Law Is Broken. Let’s Fix It. Crosby, says that family law or “the business of divorce” is broken and does not work for anyone – not couples, not children, and not even the judges, attorneys and professionals driving the  system. 

Crosby shares some common problems facing the family court system:

** The family court system is designed to work for society as a whole and not designed to individually address each family’s problems.  Crosby says that in order to meet the demands of a large group of people,  family courts seek a traditional or “cookie cutter” approach to cases and expect all families to comply no matter how complex or unique their needs are.

** The family courts are underfunded and ill-equipped to handle complex cases that require more time and resources to reach a resolution.

**Couples entering family court have no idea of what they are getting into when litigation begins but the courts do, attorneys do. Many litigants do not understand the court process. When seeking help, the complexity of what is involved as well as the variety of services makes it hard to be an “informed consumer” when getting the right professional help for your situation. (In my opinion, this creates an imbalance of power which makes litigants/parents more vulnerable. — Especially when that litigant/parent cannot afford legal help and is forced to represent themselves pro se.)

** Finally, Crosby says divorce is looked at as a legal issue alone and that emotional issues must also be considered when seeking resolution for families. She warns, “Until we change this mindset that divorce equals law (and therefore lawyers, big legal bills, fighting, courtrooms, and so on), we don’t have a chance to change how divorce is done…

Crosby is optimistic that the family court process can be improved, and that families will fare better if law professionals work together to seek solutions. She encourages professional involvement (mediators, therapist, community orgs, etc) so that families become more empowered, and are given more choices to resolve their own divorce in a more personalized way that does not overly rely on the court. Crosby also advises that litigants/parents “ take ownership of their divorce and what their family’s unique situation requires…

** RESPONSE **

Family court is, itself, is trapped in it’s own messy divorce with the families who come under it’s jurisdiction. 

The family court system is broken and failing miserably and that is clear.

Some would say family court is corrupt. Or that family court operates like a business, a “court-oration” that profits off keeping families in the system. Others place the fault at pro se litigants, claiming those who do not have attorneys clog up the system by filing frivolous motions or creating conflict. Or simply excuse complaints about the court system as coming from “disgruntled” litigants.

Whatever you believe the evidence of the failings of family court are overwhelming – most families leave court in a worse position than when litigation began.

Common complaints about family court include: 

Domestic abuse survivors are pressured or threatened to stop reporting abuse by judges, GALs and other court professionals; and punished when trying to protect children from harm. 

Children are court ordered into the custody and care of abusive, unfit parents at alarming rates. Many of these children are re-abused, some are even murdered. 

When abusive, dysfunctional parents gain custody (and it is usually sole custody) they continue to abuse their ex partner, and children and are more likely to sabotage the child’s relationship with the other parent.

Laws are routinely broken in family court, and the Constitutional rights of parents/litigants violated.

Family Courts easily remove children from the custody of parents and do so by stripping parents of their legal rights, and denying due process. 

Litigant/parents have little or no recourse while judges, GALs and other court professionals receive immunity.

And justice is denied.

CC0 Public Domain Image: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net

So now you have families dealing with the challenges of divorce and/or child custody, grappling with various issues that are both material and emotional, entering a court system that is itself abusive, dysfunctional and chaotic. Litigants enter the system seeking resolution for their family’s own problems and ultimately find themselves in a tug-of-war for their children, their finances, their assets, their reputations and even their freedoms against the court itself.

The children involved in these cases spend their whole childhood involved in litigation; subjected to invasive interventions from the court’s cottage industry of professionals that disrupt their lives. Parents who once made decisions for their children are now being overruled by complete strangers working in the system who know what is “best” and often make assertions without having the proper credentials to do so. Even the relationship between the parent and child is subject to revision through use of aggressive demands, as well as psychological treatment placed on parent and child by court order.  In a large number of cases fit, loving parents lose custody of children and/or visitation is severely limited while abusive, dysfunctional parents are given sole custody (and preferential treatment). Some parents become permanently estranged from children, and lose all contact. All of this, supposedly, in the “best interest” of children.

The result, predictably, is more pain, stress and strife for families – many who find themselves trapped in the legal system for years and years, and leave family court traumatized, their lives totally devastated at every level.  

I appreciate the insights Michelle Crosby has shared. And applaud her willingness to seek solutions by reaching out to all involved in proceedings – family law professionals, community providers and parents. I agree with Crosby that solutions to “fix” family law should involve not only addressing the systemic problems but also assisting families to seek solutions privately, keeping the role of the court minimal.

But at the same time, the injustices happening in family court cannot and should not be ignored. There needs to be more transparency in the court system, and more accountability overall. Litigants/parents should be given effective means to file complaints and have them heard. Judges, GALs and court professionals should face real discipline when they act outside their mandated duties, or when they break the law.

The court system also needs to develop better practices when allegations of domestic abuse or child abuse are raised. Victims should be protected – not punished.

Fix family law.. alot of work needs to be done! What are your ideas? Please post below – together let’s be part of the solution. 

~ “Emily Court”

Read More: 

Wevorce CEO Michelle Crosby is shaking up the adversarial divorce process

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Child’s Drawing: “Daddy in Jail, He Hit Me..” (Family Court Awards Custody to Abuser)

Family Court Injustice Hennepin County, Minnesota

(Hennepin County, Minnesota: 2006-2018) Mother discovers child’s drawings in a lost notebook, a voice silenced by family court speaks out about abuse…

“Daddy red touch – jail with lock. He hit me.” DJ then slaps himself in the head, hard, to show what happened. 

This picture of “Daddy” is drawn in red crayon to represent “red touches”. The words above I wrote based on what my child, “DJ”, then age 7, reported to me.

DJ has suffered severe PTSD and behavioral problems, which therapists noted are consistent with witnessing or being a victim of domestic abuse. As a result of recalling this troubling memory, DJ would become upset and later have a meltdown. “Meltdown” meaning he would fall to the floor crying and screaming. At times, during a meltdown, he would repeat swear words he heard from “Daddy” or become aggressive. Therapists noted in records that DJ told them “I learned my tantrum from Dad” and “I want to be the boss like Dad“. 

“DJ”read the “Red Flag, Green Flag People” book in a domestic abuse support group for children and learned about personal safety.  “Red Flag, Green Flag” follows the good touch/bad touch teaching pattern, with green flag touches being safe and appropriate touches and red flag touches being inappropriate, uncomfortable, or hurtful touches.

Background: 

In April 2006, I was physically assaulted by my abusive ex, Martin and forced to flee the home to seek safety for myself and my children. My son “DJ” was injured during the incident when Martin forced entry into the home, slamming him in the face with the door, causing a black eye. Being homeless, and living on the streets or couch surfing, was actually safer than staying in an abusive relationship with Martin. But nothing could compare to the nightmare that awaited us in the Hennepin County Family Injustice Center.

Martin sought sole custody of the children telling me that he “wanted me to know how it felt to be hurt“. Martin also told me that if he could not gain custody of the children that he would “call a social worker and have the children put into foster care” just so they would not be in my care.

When litigation began, in June 2006, I naively believed that the family court would listen when I reported the abuse, and investigate the various evidence I submitted showing that abuse did happen, and would work to protect the children.

I thought the Guardian ad Litem, first Christine Davis and then Jamie L. Manning, would listen to the children when they reported abuse, and showed fear of their father, and do something to protect them. Just the opposite happened – my children were pressured and coerced by the court and GAL Manning to recant abuse, and forced into a relationship with their father despite tears and cries for help. When my children reported abuse to the Guardian ad Litem, and court appointed therapist they were told “it happened in the past” and if there wasn’t bruises on their body, they could not prove abuse happened. And when bruises and other marks as a result of abuse or neglect did happen, the court and GAL continued to make excuses for the abuser and deny that my children were endangered. 

I was unjustly removed from my children’s lives by court order and told that reporting abuse meant I was unable to co-parent. And also told that I am “keeping secrets” because I entered an address confidentiality program for victims of domestic abuse (and that meant I am an unfit parent). All of these obscene reasons were used to illegally strip me of parental rights and forcibly remove my children from the safe, loving home I provided. I now am allowed just one visit a month with my children, and the court order states I must ask Martin – the abuser – for permission before being given any additional parenting time.

As a result of proceedings, my children have been forced to live in an abusive and dysfunctional environment. The children have been physically and mentally re-abused and emotionally neglected after Martin gained custody. By court order, the children have been  forcibly estranged from their mother, and any connection to their maternal family including their sibling, other family members and friends and their cultural and religious heritage.

I am still involved in family court proceedings, fighting to regain rights and visitation to my children, and working to keep them safe.

~ “Emily Court” © 2018

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