Guardian ad Litem Tells Abuse Victim: “..Do Not Exhibit Fear”

Another horror story from the bowels of family court…

Guardian ad Litem, Jamie Manning, has intentionally ignored the history of domestic abuse in my family, and ongoing concerns for my children’s safety and well being, when making her recommendations to the Court about custody and parenting time.

Jamie Manning, Guardian ad Litem

When appointed to my case as GAL, Ms. Manning has told me to stop raising concerns about my children and actively worked to give the allegedly abusive father sole custody. In essence, Ms. Manning was NOT representing the best interests, or even the safety, of the children.

Further, it is not the job of a Guardian ad Litem to directly make parenting time decisions, but rather to conduct and independent investigation and give recommendations to the Court. In my case, Ms. Manning became the “gatekeeper” to my children, and her word was the single authority deciding when, if and how I would see my children. Ms. Manning’s abuses of power in her role as GAL has caused real harm to my children, and put me back in a position of being controlled by my former abuser, by proxy, through the custody/parenting time arrangement.

This e-mail Ms. Manning sent me in 2009 shows her power in determining my parenting time, and also includes comments that she did not believe me when I informed her of the family history of abuse (which is supported by documentation), and instead directs me to co-parent with my abuser “in a positive and non-conflictual manner” (see e-mail in full at the bottom of this post):

Ms. Manning:My only concern is that you do not exhibit fear of Martin– in front of the children.  This behavior is confusing to the children. 

 Martin has not exhibited threatening behavior towards you that I am aware of since my involvement with your family in July of 2007.  

 I am pleased that the two of you appear to be improving your ability to discuss the children and work together for their best interests. 

 It is important for the children to observe the two of you communicating in a positive and non-conflictual manner.”


My child wrote this in school: “I wish dad was nice to mom”

As my parenting time was being stripped away, and my children continued to struggle in their father’s care, I wrote this e-mail to Ms. Manning, outlining my concerns.  I also wrote that “I am not afraid of my abuser” because I felt I needed to appease Ms. Manning in order to continue a relationship with my children. The e-mail also includes several recent events that led me to feel unsafe due to the actions of my abuser, all of these incidents involved my children or happened in front of my children. (I am including excerpts only to protect the privacy of my minor children).

Does this make sense? I have to prove that I am not afraid of my abusive ex partner and am willing to co-parent even while the abuser is continuing to harass me, and inflict harm where he can. I struggle comprehend this twisted version of reality that Ms. Manning has imposed on me, but will never accept it.

Part of my e-mail to Ms. Manning says the following:


I have been compliant with the court order, and it is my intention to remain so.

Since September 2008, on at least 3 separate occasions Martin has voluntarily, by his own intitiative, allowed me brief, unsupervised contact and conversations with the children. If Martin had any concerns, his behavior does not indicate it. On all occasions, the children were happy to see me, and my behavior was appropriate.

It should be noted that both children had prior knowledge that they were going to live with Martin, and — wrote me a letter weeks before the court order that said “Good Buy Mommy“. — specifically told me “I am going to live with my dad. That’s sad ‘cuz you won’t have any children anymore.” And “I am going to live with my dad for 9 days.” You had knowledge that — made this comment about “9 days” , Jamie, because I heard you mention it when we went to court.

I do not “exhibit fear” in front of the children. In fact, while in my care the children have maintained their relationship with their father.

If I have concerns about Martin, I do not bring them to you Jamie because you told me that I am “painting a bad picture of Martin” and that you do not believe my allegations of abuse. Thankfully, I have a supportive network of friends, family and church/social groups that I can freely talk to, and who will be there for me. I do not want to have conflict with you. I would rather find a peaceful way of taking care of my children, and ensuring their best interest. “

Truth — You cannot co-parent with someone who is abusive, controlling and treats you like an object, not a human being.   Further, when an abuse victim escapes the relationship, the abuse often continues; abuse is not always physical but can take a variety of forms. One form of ongoing abuse is called “Domestic Violence by Proxy” which means the abuser uses the children as a weapon to threaten, harm or gain control of the victim he no longer has access to.

After winning sole custody (with Ms. Manning’s help), Martin has admitted in open court that he “will not co-parent” and is now working to alienate my children from me. His justification? He points to the court record, and Ms. Manning’s recommendation of him.

I am sharing my horrific experiences of dealing with Ms. Jamie Manning because I have since learned that I am not the only parent who has been harmed and wrongfully deprived of my children due Ms. Manning’s unprofessional conduct, and reckless disregard to the GAL Rules of Procedure. Parents, concerned family members and interested parties need to work together to raise awareness, and work towards reforming the deeply flawed GAL program.

The State GAL Board needs to take the complaints of victimized parents and children seriously, and formally investigate Ms. Manning. If Ms. Manning has been found to have violated her duties (and I believe there is overwhelming evidence to prove this has happened), she should be immediately discharged from her position. Families are being destroyed, and children’s lives are at stake. The State GAL Board should act to protect the children involved.


— Emily Court

From:  Manning, Jamie (
Sent: Sun –/-/09 6:21 PM
To: –@–.com

The Court’s Order states that your parenting time “may be expanded by the Guardian ad Litem.”  I will check to see if the children’s schedule would allow for a Wednesday visit.  I’m glad that the telephone contact has been going well.  I think it is just fine that you attend DJ’s event.  My only concern is that you do not exhibit fear of Martin in front of the children.  This behavior is confusing to the children.  Martin has not exhibited threatening behavior towards you that I am aware of since my involvement with your family in July of 2007.  I am pleased that the two of you appear to be improving your ability to discuss the children and work together for their best interests.  It is important for the children to observe the two of you communicating in a positive and non-conflictual manner. 

I will try to contact Martin this week to further discuss an expanded schedule.  Hopefully we can talk this week as I will be away from my desk beginning this Thursday until the following Wednesday.

J. Manning ”

Rules of GAL Procedure (MN) Effective Jan 1, 2007


About Emily Court

It takes "Just Us" To Fight Injustice in Family Court. I blog to raise awareness about problems existing in the family court system, and use my own story as a personal example of how the systemic failures in family court, and the Guardian ad Litem Program, affect families, in an effort to encourage needed reform. Written by a survivor of domestic violence and homelessness working to create a better life for her children, in a stable home free of violence. In her efforts to rebuild her life, she has not only encountered harassment and intimidation from her alleged abuser but faced systematic failures in family court that have empowered her alleged abuser and put her children at risk. She has spent over a decade trapped in family court until her children finally aged out of the system. Through writing and blogging, FCI is working to raise awareness about domestic violence, and the urgent need for family court reform. She is currently working on a memoir titled "'Til Prayers Are Answered".
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8 Responses to Guardian ad Litem Tells Abuse Victim: “..Do Not Exhibit Fear”

  1. Pingback: Guardian ad Litem Tells Abuse Victim: “..Do Not Exhibit Fear” | FOUNDATION FOR THE CHILD VICTIMS OF THE FAMILY COURTS

  2. A. Hanley says:

    Don’t the GALs get training on domestic violence? She must have flunked that class. This Jamie Manning sounds like a nut job!

  3. familycourtfemmesfightingcorruption says:

    You guys, but not gals, are so fortunate to have one another up there. Not a single soul/sole individual will speak out here, other than moi, apparently. The best job that I enjoyed the most and where I was most successful was headquartered up there, but little did I know at the time that it was “right next to it,” that company, near the pedo capitol, or rather one of a several super hot spots in the US. It is no wonder that when a man came to take over my female Western team of outside sales professionals, he looked immediately, along with H/R, to the false charge of assault “bodily injury” manufactured while I sat falsely imprisoned during 2007 “paternity establishment” proceedings initiated by a man with quite the criminal history, though no one would ever know by looking at him or his bank account. Interestingly, they held a flight back here to this HEL _ Hole (spell Texas backward) out of Charlotte where I had connected from Pittsburgh this summer so I had to travel back with the corporate crew of the 26,000 employees I used to work for and see at summer meetings once a year, that is, each time my son’s father would strategically, with paternal grandma whose relationship with him is too close for comfort, kidnap and secrete my son (no police reports allowed to be filed in justice of the peace jurisdiction where his kind apparently hide out in affluent areas also). Minnesota might as well be Texas, and this Jamie Manning and the Mindy Mitnick chick, GAL abusers, really must take a vacation to Australia or the South Pacific, or perhaps, island of Reunion together. Does your ex GAL also bear a striking resemblance to an oompa loompa, too?

    • Emily Court says:

      The parents fighting for family court and CPS reform in Minnesota started out like you FCF, feeling alone, victimized and not knowing where to turn. There are tremendous pressures and intimidation to stay silent. Those who raise awareness face severe retaliation, which often includes loss of custody and/or visitation with children. Not only that but often friends, family and others in the community fail to understand the issues, and may not be supportive or may be fearful themselves.

      But every action, every effort to right the system and protect children and families from abuse and systemic injustice, lays a seed in the ground for change. One person, one step, one voice raising awareness creates momentum. Others will join, in time. When people truly see how the system is hurting families, and endangering children, they gain courage to act.

      Another thing that happens is that when victims have a way to talk, and connect to each other, they see similarities in their cases, and feel connected by their shared experiences. Coming together as a group is empowering. Every person has a skill, talent or ability that can help make a positive difference.

      I will say this.. the heart of family court and CPS reform is about the children. These children are being abused, harmed and continued to be put at risk due to systemic failures and corruption. Families are being destroyed. We, as individuals, and as a society, cannot look away any longer. These children are our future, and our future is being lost. Please listen to the stories of victims, and of the children. Keep an open mind, and an open heart. And please consider ways that you can help, and support, reform efforts in your area.

      ~ Emily

  4. familycourtfemmesfightingcorruption says:
  5. Pingback: Guardian ad Litem Tells Abuse Victim: “..Do Not Exhibit Fear” | justiceforkevinandjenveybaylis

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