Family court chaos: abuse, audits and “alienation”

Here are several pieces on the horrors of family court, here and abroad.

First research study on how local authorities work with domestically abusive fathers  from the Charity Family Rights Group in the UK. The report is available from this site, but there is a charge. Here’s a link to the Baby P case they reference – Warning – there’s a graphic description of the abuse this infant experienced. This article mentions there’s been 30 other similar cases recently (sigh) : Baby P: Born into a nightmare of abuse, violence and despair, he never stood a chance

Excerpt from “First research study…”:

The audit of the 70 case files in three authorities found that: 

The majority but not all perpetrators of domestic abuse were birth fathers

  • In 57 cases the perpetrator of the domestic abuse was the birth father and in 12 cases the mother’s partner. 

 The severity of the abuse was stark

  • In 41% of the cases the adult victim had been pregnant at the time of being abused.
  • In at least 37% of the cases there had been more than six separate reported incidents of domestic violence.

 A great many of the children were in contact with their fathers ·   Only 12% of perpetrators were noted on the files as having definitely lost contact as a result of the domestic violence.   

But

Ø     In only 31 cases (44%) was the phone number of the birth father on the files;

Ø    There was a lack of assessment and information about the parenting capacity of 61% of these fathers;

Ø    In the sample, 48 core assessments were undertaken (i.e. to assess the level of the child’s need/or to assess risk when there were child protection concerns)  yet the father was not seen or contacted by phone in 32% (15) of these cases ; 

Ø    The offer of attending a domestic violence perpetrator programme was made to only 14 of the 53 perpetrators. 

Speaking of audits, here are some press pieces from the audit of Marin County family court:

Marin Voice:  Audit unveils court problems

Marin court right to implement audit advice

And, lastly, I want to mention that the Huffington Post has been running posts on parental alienation. Cathy Meyer wrote an article that bashed the National Organization of Women (NOW). I suppose the rookie didn’t want to take on all the other organizations that discredit parental alienation:

The American Bar Association, American Prosecutors Research Institute, National District Attorneys Association, and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges…

The National District Attorneys Association says on their Web site, “PAS is an unproven theory that can threaten the integrity of the criminal justice system and the safety of abused children.”

Meyer admits in the comment section that she doesn’t know much about domestic violence but suspects it’s not very common. You’d think she’d visit at least one domestic violence site before writing about PAS.  

I give up on contacting the Huffpo – we sent them a sign on letter with over 2o signatories of individuals(lawyers, writers, advocates) and organizations involved in domestic violence and child abuse. They didn’t respond. I then sent them “Case #1” (Katie Tagle, who the judge claimed denied access to the father – the father who ended up killing their 9-month-old son). So they let me submit an article on PAS (posted on my blog below) – a small consolation, esp considering they then ran the Meyer piece afterwards. It was so poorly researched – She read a book on PAS (according to a comment she wrote on the Internet) and now *poof* she’s an expert. Meanwhile, abusers are getting off the hook with PAS, the abuse excuse.

Huffington Post really needs to get some better writers  – ones able to do a little research – they owe that much to their readers.

Warshak’s ruse: Act like he supports domestic violence survivors

Warshak posted this comment on his Huffpo article:

My earlier replies to comments, and my professional articles, make it clear that I agree with you that abusers can be the alienating parent. Here are quotes from my earlier replies to comments: “Some alienated mothers have left coercive, controlling husbands and these women should expect support from those who advocate on behalf of DV victims.” “A child who was intimidated by a coercive father into rejecting the mother may reach out to the mother once the child has established some independence from the father.”

“Should expect support”? What a bunch of hog wash. Any woman, man, or child can expect support from a domestic violence agency, he needn’t patronize the DV community or act like we’re not supporting abused individuals.

What he calls “alienating” behavior or the obnoxious “divorce poison” can be domestic violence if it involves coercion, threats, or intimidation. We’ve been trying to say this – he refuses to post our comments. He’d much rather censor us and make his mulah off of folks with his DVDs, books, and bogus treatment centers. He’d see an end to the cash cow if he simply called abusive behavior domestic violence.

And, speaking of which, what the hell are his credentials for discussing domestic violence? How many classes did he take? Has he volunteered at an agency? Does he donate?

He’s also referencing help to mothers a lot – bull crap. PA/PAS/PAD is overwhelmingly used by men.
He has yet to acknowledge the fact that PAS has been used by abusers in family court to counter allegations of abuse. When he has, he distorted the information and made it look like we said “all men” use PA as an abuse excuse. I wrote a comment suggesting he either had a reading comprehension problem or was an idealogue that was blinded to other views.
The guy’s position is completely divergent from the domestic violence community – make no mistake – yet he’s posturing as if he understands abuse and HE supports individuals (rather than the DV community) — He supports anybody who’s a potential customer, that’s who he supports.
 
Alienation? Yes, he’s alienated the domestic violence community.
Here’s a few resources on PAS
‘When children reject their abusive fathers, it is common for the batterer and others to blame the mother for alienating the children. They often do not understand the legitimate fears of the child. Although there are no data to support the phenomenon called parental alienation syndrome, in which mothers are blamed for interfering with their children’s attachment to their fathers, the term is still used by some evaluators and courts to discount children’s fears in hostile and psychologically abusive situations.” (page 40) “THE TRUTH ABOUT PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME AND THE AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION”. Statement by Professor Joan S. Meier, Esq. (November 9, 2005).
“When mental health experts or attorneys claim that P.A.S. is a ‘syndrome’– knowing full well that it lacks scientific validity, is the concoction of a disgraced psychologist, and has been soundly rejected by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges — that is disingenuous at best and unethical at worst.  Moreover, when it is used as a vehicle to keep children in the custody of men who abuse them, it is also immoral. ” , Randy Burton, Founder, Chairman and President – Justice for Children. http://www.jfcadvocacy.org/pas.asp

“The vast majority of these mothers (97%) reported that court personnel ignored or minimized reports of abuse. They reported feeling that they were punished for trying to protect their children and 65% said they were threatened with sanctions if the “talked publicly” about the case. In all, 45% of the mothers say they were labeled as having Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). The protective parents reported that the average cost of the court proceedings was over $80,000. Over a quarter of the protective parents say they were forced to file bankruptcy as a result of filing for custody of their children. Eighty-five percent of the protective parents surveyed believe that their children are still being abused; however, 63% say they stopped reporting the abuse for fear that contact with their children will be terminated. Eleven percent of the children were reported to have attempted suicide.” “Myths That Place Children At Risk During Custody Litigation”. Dallam. S. J., & Silberg, J. L. (Jan/Feb 2006). Leadership Council. Sexual Assault Report, 9(3), 33-47. http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/res/cust_myths.html   

For more quotes, go to: Parenting abused children