“When she finally left him and tried to take her girls with her, she encountered a new monster — family court..”

Title: Custody Crisis: Why Moms Are Punished in Court

Date: Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Written for Mom Logic, posted on United Angels Against Domestic Violence, UAADV, News Blog at: http://uaadvnewsblog.blogspot.com/2010/01/national-child-custody-crisis-why-are.html

My Thoughts: I highly recommend this article. It is  very informative and gives voice to so many mothers who are victimized then forced into silence. For those just learning about Family Court Abuse, this article is very insightful and offers both sides of the argument while remaining focused on advocating for vulnerable children.

Summary :

“..fathers are more likely than mothers to intentionally lie (21 percent, compared to 1.3 percent). In fact, abusive parents are more likely to seek sole custody than nonviolent ones, and are successful about 70 percent of the time.”

This article includes several true-life horror stories from Family Court and includes insights into why Family Court so often fails to protect victims of domestic violence and their children. It also touches on the highly controversial “Parental Alienation Syndrome” or PAS.

Some of the Stories:

When Gina Kaysen Fernandes gains the strength to leave her abusive husband, and seek help for her two daughters, both victims of sexual abuse, she encounters a new form of abuse in family court. Gina bravely fights to keep her children safe only to loose custody.

Linda Marie Sacks, another mother, shares a similar story. She says the judge “legally kidnapped my daughters”. After 11 years of marriage, Linda Marie files for divorce with concerns that her husband had been molesting her two daughters–who were sexually acting out and one, reportedly drew a picture in therapy “that depicted her father as an erect penis on legs”. Not only did Linda Marie loose her legal rights to her children but she was forced into supervised visitation after being falsely accused of Parental Alienation Syndrome, “Linda Marie has only seen her children during supervised visits for a total of 54 hours over the past two and a half years.” Linda Marie Sacks will never stop fighting for her children.

Another mother, Lorraine Tipton of Oconto Falls, WI, was jailed for 30 days after she refused to force her daughter to visit every other week with her allegedly abusive ex-husband. The Court found no concerns with the father despite his arrest record “Her ex, Craig Hensberger, was arrested three times for domestic violence and once for child abuse. His criminal record also includes two DUI arrests, one of which happened while driving with his daughter.” Hensberger admitted in Court that he is still drinking, and the daughter has also reported that she has seen her father drunk on numerous occasions.

Joyce Murphy, of San Diego, took off with her daughter after the Court granted custody to her allegedly abusive ex husband. The father, Henry Parson, was accused of child molestation. He countered the allegations by accusing Joyce of Parental Alienation, and won custody. Six years later, Parson was caught in the act of child rape, “pleaded guilty to six counts of child abuse, which included oral sex with a child, molestation, possessing child porn, and using a child to make porn.” It is sickening to think Parson only got 6 years in prison while the children involved will suffer for a lifetime! Joyce Murphy was able to win full, permanent custody of her daughter after the conviction. It is unclear if any member of Family Court was investigated or penalized for their role in returning a child to an abusive home.

These stories are unbelievable but true–and are just the tip of the iceburg. Family Court does not conduct criminal investigations when allegations of abuse arise–even when children are involved, instead they rely on their own court-appointed experts (guardian ad litem, psychologist, evaluators, mediators, etc) for counsel and direction. These court-appointed experts usually do not have the training to deal with abuse allegations, and without a jury or other form of representation, most mothers are at the mercy of these experts–who hold the esteem of judges and have nearly invincible power. Most women cannot afford an attorney and will end up bankrupt after lengthy legal proceedings, or will attempt to represent herself.

At the same time, most women don’t want to go to criminal court or don’t have a strong enough case for criminal charges. And Child Protective Services will usually shy away from investigating custody cases or refer to the findings of the court experts already appointed.

Another weapon used against mothers is Parental Alienation Syndrome or PAS, “There’s no doubt fathers play a critical role in a child’s life, and in most cases, are equally loving and capable parents who deserve custody. However, studies find when a wife accuses her husband of abuse, more than half the time, she faces a counter-accusation of “parental alienation syndrome,” or PAS. ” PAS is not a certified medical condition–it seemingly only afflicts women at the onset of divorce (not at any other time in life) and has no recognized cure or course of treatment. PAS has on main symptom–a mother becomes so angry at her ex that she will make up stories of abuse in order to denigrate him, and turn the children against him, which is “alienation”. PAS means the very act of divorce creates cause for suspicion of “alienation“. This article does balance the debate and includes opinions by Dean Tong, author and forensic consultant, who supports PAS.

When you are finished reading, go check out the UAADV link to your state!