“How are you, what terrors are you going through? Hiding it from the Abuser, the One you ran from, and are now imprisoned in his home..”

A YouTube video with absolutely no sound leaves an impression even more powerful than the mighty roar of a lion… “Silent Child” by Family Court Abuse is a narrative/poem about the pain, grief and fear a parent experiences after their child has been placed in the custody of an abuser by an unjust order of the family court.  As a result of the ruling, the parent has been forced out of the life of their child, and can only speak through the stark black and white images of this silent video. 

The video description reads: “This is about Family Court decisions to seperate children and mothers who are victims of domestic abuse/violence, giving custody to an abusive father, how they are broken and silenced by courtroom tactics, and the painful silent space left in the home of the child and heart of the mother (and child). The lack of training in domestic abuse for Judges and Cafcass is a strong influence on decisions to force children into damaging and traumatic situations with an abuser.

What is portrayed in “Silent Child” is REAL and happening to parents in the United States, U.K. and all over the world…. family courts are awarding custody to abusive or unfit parents at alarming rates, and punishing the parent who is trying to protect the child from harm.

Studies have been conducted on the intersection of family court and domestic violence and revealed a consistent pattern in the court’s failure to protect children from harm by granting custody and/or unsupervised visitation with abusive parents:

** The Committee for Justice for Women studied custody awards in Orange County, North Carolina over a five year period between 1983 and 1987. They reported that: “…in all contested custody cases, 84% of the fathers in the study were granted sole or mandated joint custody. In all cases where sole custody was awarded, fathers were awarded custody in 79% of the cases. In 26% of the cases fathers were either proven or alleged to have physically and sexually abused their children.” Are “Good Enough” Parents Losing Custody to Abusive Ex-Partners? (Leadership Council)

** “Only 10% of children alleging incest are adequately protected from their identified perpetrators by family courts through long-term supervised visitation orders or no-contact orders. The remaining 90% of children disclosing abuse receive no protection, with 70% continuing in shared custody and visitation arrangements without any supervision, and 20% being placed in the custody of the parent they accused of the sexual abuse, and losing unsupervised or all contact with the parent who sought to protect them.” FACT SHEET CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE IN CUSTODY DISPUTES (Child Abuse Solutions, Inc.)

** “… A history of violence does not stop batterers from obtaining custody. In fact, a history of abuse seems to increase the likelihood that the batterer will seek custody…In one recent study in Massachusetts, fifteen of the forty fathers (approximately 38 percent) who sought custody received sole or joint custody of the children, despite the fact that each and every one of these men were reportLosed to have abused both the mother and the child/children prior to separation and continued to do so after separation..” “One More Battleground: Domestic Violence, Child Custody, and the Batterers’ Relentless Pursuit of their Victims Through the Courts” by Mary Przekop

** “My own survey of the case law in 2001 identified 38 appellate state court decisions concerning custody and domestic violence. The survey found that 36 of the 38 trial courts had awarded joint or sole custody to alleged and adjudicated batterers. Two-thirds of these decisions were reversed on appeal. –  Joan S. Meier, Esq., Domestic Violence, Child Custody, and Child Protection: RATES AT WHICH ACCUSED AND ADJUDICATED BATTERERS RECEIVE SOLE OR JOINT CUSTODY (Compiled by Joan S. Meier, Esq).

The tragic result of family court failures is that children are being abused and have absolutely no avenue for help or legal protection because the abuser is being protected by the legal system (not the child), and the child has become silenced. As parents and professionals we have a responsibility to protect our children.. and when systems fail, it is our responsibility to fight for justice so these silenced children can finally have a voice. 

 

 

 

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The article Fragmented Child: Disorganized Attachment and Dissociation by Robert T. Muller Ph.D describes how abuse can destroy a child’s sense of self, and cause them to seek refuge from a painful reality by dissociating.

The “Fragmented Child” article was very helpful to me to identify many of the symptoms I have seen in my own children; I am sharing a link to this article along with some of my own experiences to raise awareness about the effects of abuse on children. I also feel a purpose in sharing my story to illustrate the devastating impact of family court rulings that place children in the care and custody of an abusive or unfit parent – much of the harm inflicted on my children could have been prevented if the family court had protected them from abuse.

What is Dissociation?

In “Fragmented Child”, Muller describes dissociation and its cause. The “fragmented child” is one who uses dissociation as a defense mechanism to deal with a stressful, traumatic or abusive situation.

Muller says about dissociation,“As a way of coping, dissociation occurs when the brain compartmentalizes traumatic experiences to keep people from feeling too much pain, be it physical, emotional, or both. When dissociation occurs, you experience a detachment from reality, like ‘spacing out.’ Part of you just isn’t ‘there in the moment.’” Children who grow up in an abusive homes often dissociate because they can not handle the trauma, pain and/or dysfunctional environment.

Dissociation happens when there is a trauma or assault, our first instinct is to go into “fight or flight” mode. When there is no escape, the flight is taken into the mind – away from a present danger. Dissociation is a defense mechanism where a person separates from their memory something they do not want to deal with. There is a range of mild dissociation to full blown dissociative identity disorder (separating a part of yourself from memory). Amnesia may occur with dissociation because the mind is shutting out or erasing a painful reality.

Through dissociation, memory of the trauma is held within fragmented parts of the mind. The trauma causes the mind to break or split off into smaller pieces that make it easier to process what has occurred. Over time those fragments may form their own distinct parts or identities. Triggers or memories of trauma release the memories which emerge (this occurs in a variety of ways).

People who experience dissociation commonly report feeling numb, spaced out, may have amnesia, and feel disconnected. A dissociative disorder changes the way a person sees reality and impairs memory, consciousness and a person’s sense of identity.

For more info on Dissociative Disorders please visit: Dissociative disorders (by Mind for Better Mental Health(

Understanding the Dissociative Disorders by Marlene Steinberg, M.D.

Public Domain: http://absfreepic.com

The Devastating Impact – When Courts Order Children into the Custody of Abusers: What I Have Seen in my own Children

My children are victims of abuse who have been further traumatized when the family court gave sole custody to the identified abuser. My children suffer from debilitating psychological, behavioral and social problems as a result of the abuse. My children have had their childhood stolen from them.

It is distressing to realize that your children are coping with a dysfunctional home environment by dissociating, and that your efforts to protect your children are being challenged, and prevented, by the family court system. Filing protective orders or asking for a change of custody based on abuse or endangerment has resulted in reprieve, and punishment from the courts (financial sanctions, loss of visitation and/or custody, ordered into supervised visitation, gag orders, jail are all common forms courts punish protective parents). Seeking therapy and professional help for my family has resulted in me being accused of harming my children, being told I need to “co-parent” better and otherwise being told my concerns of abuse, and the supporting documentation I offer, is not credible. My legal rights have also been violated in the court process. I am told to stay silent, stop raising concerns, be a more “cooperative” parent. No parent should be asked to enable the abuse of their own children.

I have seen the following indicators of dissociation present in my own children:

1) Talking to my children, they are sometimes triggered or can not deal with a difficult emotion, their response is a blank face (emotionless) and silence. The tone of voice may sound monotone. Or their mood may not match the current situation or the prevalent emotions of the day (for example, it’s a birthday party, everyone is happy but the children are silent and withdrawn).

2) The child withdraws into their own world – retreating into distractions, video games or computer time, imagination or an intense interest that draws their attention away from the present and into an inner world. The interest dominates the child’s focus, and they have trouble staying emotionally regulated without it.

3) After a long separation from my child, I am finally able to reconnect or have some contact with the children. I am overjoyed, and emotional. The child appears detached, appears emotionless, eyes are blank, voice is flat and mood is somber or withdrawn. At times a glimmer of my child once was will appear. Maybe I will get an unexpected hug. Or my child will create a card or picture for me, showing love or affection. It is confusing to see the dramatic changes – the conflicting closeness followed by the coldness, some children reject the targeted parent entirely.

4) The child is reminded or triggered by a memory of past trauma or abuse, and they freeze or lock up. They are unable to talk or move – sometimes they blank out. Other times they are aware of what is happening around them but unable to move or interact with their environment. Amnesia often follows these events. Or the child is unable to identify how they are feeling or what they are thinking.

5) When the child is overwhelmed by memories of trauma or abuse, they have violent or intense tantrums. Often there is very little or no memory of the tantrums. They may fall asleep after the tantrum due to exhaustion. There may be physical or emotional signs of dissociation that is associated with the onset of the tantrums – regressive behavior, mood swings, a drastic change in facial expression or appearance (this is an emotional change), banging their head on the wall, etc

Other signs of dissociation in children may include: Memory loss, inability to concentrate or focus, hyperactivity, mood swings, nightmares, a flat or monotone voice, appearing weak or lethargic, anxiety, and changes in personality.

When Family Court Professionals Fail to Recognize the Impact of Abuse on Children

The judges, Guardian ad Litem, evaluator, attorney for my abusive ex and other family court professionals working with my children, etc who do not understand the effects of abuse and trauma on children, commonly assign blame to one parent for causing reported behavioral and emotional problems in a child. Other times the court will deny any problem exists with the children (this happens even when there is ample evidence and documentation) and falsely accuse the targeted parent of having some kind of mental illness that causes a parent to report abuse and seek help for this child. In this way, victims of abuse are not being protected by the family court, and are being re-victimized.

Where there is no safety for children, some have chosen to escape the abuse, pain and ugly world they live in through dissociation.

— EJ, May 2016

“In the 1970’s when the Khmer Rouge came through Cambodia, they wiped out the entire educated class.

They wanted to destroy the family structure. Mother and women were slaughtered. That’s a whole generation that was taken out.

And now you have women raising children who’ve never had grandmothers teaching them, mothers to teach them how to raise children, how to be a mom. And these women have felt the effect for years.” — Sissy Samaritan’s Purse

I was really struck by this quote because it reminds me of how –injustice in family court destroys the family structure, and destroys the bond between parents and children. A whole generation is being taken out due to the failures in family court.

Fit, loving parents are being forcibly separated from their children. This causes real trauma, and often leaves life long scars. I wonder what the effect will be on the future generation of children… who have been forced to live in an abusive, dysfunctional home and deprived of a healthy, nurturing relationship with a parent.

How will these child survivors parent their own children? How will they function in the real world? What will the effect be?

– EJ, 2015

“Crossing the River: Motherhood in Cambodia” is a short film created by Samaritan’s Purse who is doing missionary work in Cambodia, providing maternal and child health programs and offering support.

The video explores the challenges and experiences of mothers in Cambodia, a country with one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world. Samaritan’s Purse is working to reverse that trend by building health clinics, teaching mother’s needed skills, and offering support to build their confidence in raising their children.

New changes in Connecticut’s Guardian ad Litem program, improving family court for families…

The Guardian ad Litem system in Connecticut has faced public reprise for its lack of accountability, abuses of power, and the high fees incurred by Guardians. Many parents reported being financially destitute and even bankrupted by excessive fees because in the former system in CT, Guardians are billed by the hour with no cap on fees. The parents are billed directly for the fees, and the Judges serve as the collection agency and can throw a parent in jail if unable to pay.

“We have been harmed and taken advantage of by attorneys for minor children and guardian ad litems who enjoy immunity, are deemed infallible, and who have played God, judge and jury with our families and our children, while trampling our basic rights to due process, our civil rights, and our rights to be parents for our children,” the Connecticut Coalition for Family Court Reform said in public hearing testimony in March 2014. (The CT Mirror)

Counter arguments state that conflicts between parents during custody/divorce disputes create major hurdles to overcome, and that parents need increased opportunities for education and resources to settle disputes outside of court. Some of the Connecticut state task force report and recommendations includes recommendations for parents involved in divorce/custody disputes. Other arguments state the family court system does need some change but Guardians are being unfairly targeted as the cause of the problems.

“We’ve got to start talking about collaboration. Nobody’s in disagreement here — the system needs some change.”says Elizabeth Thayer, who was a member on the task force.

Concerned parents have gathered to sign petitions urging reform, to raise public complaints and urge the legislators to act. The Legislators have heard the complaints and worked diligently to change aspects of the current Guardian ad Litem system in CT.

Here is a brief overview of the new laws to reform the Connecticut GAL system:

January 31, 2014: A Connecticut state task forces issues a report and recommendations on the care and custody of children involved in legal disputes. The task forced studied the roles and responsibility of Guardian ad Litems involved in custody disputes, studied issues related to the ability of parents to co-parent after divorce/separation and what to do about noncompliance (CG46b-56) and whether the state should adopt a presumption of shared custody as being in the best interest of children. The task force held 13 meetings, including a 15 hour public meeting during the 4 month course of developing this report.
Read the report here: http://www.cga.ct.gov/jud/ldcc/Docs/TF%20to%20Study%20Legal%20Disputes%20Involving%20the%20Care%20&%20Custody%20of%20Minor%20Children%20Report%20&%20Recommendations.pdf

April 2014: Connecticut passes law to reform Guardian ad Litem system, legislation passed unanimously in the House and Senate, “The bill seeks to address the broken divorce court system,” said Rep. Minnie Gonzalez (D-Hartford).

The new law requires the courts to give families a choice of 15 lawyers to serve as Guardians; this gives parents more say in the selection of a Guardian. The law also instructs judges to consider issues like financial circumstances, language barriers, transportation and how close a Guardian’s office is to the residence of each parent in the selection. There are an estimated 1,000 Guardians registered in Connecticut, they are not required to be an attorney but many are.

May 8, 2014 – this law goes into effect October 1, 2014: Bill 494 now Public Act No. 14-3 concerning Guardians Ad Litem (“GAL”) and Attorneys for Minor Children (“AMC”): http://www.cga.ct.gov/2014/TOB/S/2014SB-00494-R00-SB.htm

This bill includes:
(Sec. 1) When a Guardian is to be appointed, the Court will provide the parents with a list of 5 prospective Guardians to choose from. If the parents cannot agree on a Guardian, the Court will decide. If the parents mutually agree on a Guardian that is not on the list, they can submit a written agreement to the Court to appoint that person.
(Sec. 1c) After the appointment of a Guardian, the Court will enter an order that includes the following information: the specific duties of the Guardian, the date which the appointment of the Guardian is to expire (can be extended with good cause), the deadline for reports or work to be turned in, the fee schedule for services, the retainer, the hourly rate to be charged, the appointment of fees to be paid by each party, and a schedule for court review of the work done by the Guardian and the fees charged. Periodic review to occur not less than 6 months from the date of appointment unless there is a written agreement from both parties, and filed with the court.
(Sec 2) The Court may appoint counsel for the child at any time if it is in the best interest of the child. Counsel shall be related to issues if care, custody, support, visitation and education of a minor child.
(Sec 3) Allows for a third party to intervene by motion, and counsel to be appointed for the child if appropriate. The court will be guided by the best interest factors, and the wishes of the child (if appropriate) in determining this motion.
(Sec 4) The Judicial Branch will outline procedures for those seeking removal of a Guardian or counsel for a child. Prior to hearing the motion, the Court may refer parties to mediation. If the allegations cannot be resolved, a hearing will be held. The presiding judge will appoint the judge who is assigned to hear the motion.
(Sec 5) A court can order parents to pay fees related to court services appointed for a child, however those fees cannot be court ordered to be paid from a child’s college savings fund. If a child is receiving public assistance, their fees may be paid through the public defender program.
(Sec 5) If warranted, a parent may given a sliding-scale fee to pay for the services of a Guardian. The Judicial Branch will develop and implement the sliding scale system.
(Sec 6) The Judicial Branch will create and publicize a document to give information to the public about the roles, responsibilities and general statutes regulating Guardians

June 2014: Gov. Dannel Malloy signed Public Act 14-3. an Act Concerning Guardian ad Litems and Public Attorneys for Minor Children in Family Relations Matters into law. http://www.cga.ct.gov/2014/act/pa/pdf/2014PA-00003-R00SB-00494-PA.pdf

Note: Public Act 14-3 expands on SB 484 by outlining the 16 Best Interest factors used when determining a child custody/visitation motion. It also establishes a professional code of conduct for a Guardian or counsel for a minor. You will find these changes listed in the Public Act, not in the Bill.

The above list from SB 494 and Public Act 14-3 is not meant to be all-inclusive and only reflects some of general areas of reform, please read the law in its entirety for complete information:

SB 494: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2014/TOB/S/2014SB-00494-R00-SB.htm

Public Act 14-3: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2014/act/pa/pdf/2014PA-00003-R00SB-00494-PA.pdf

Critics believe the new laws do not go far enough to reform the GAL system because it does not offer a system to investigate and take disciplinary action against a Guardian who is breaking the law or violating the codes of conduct.

This is a serious issue, as demonstrated in a comment Peter Szymonik made in a petition to the Judiciary, Connecticut Guardian ad Litem Reform, “Rather than working to resolve problems, the Court has instead became a source of further harm and abuse due to the complete lack of oversight of any kind over the GAL system.”

Further, parents are often punished or retaliated against for voicing complaints against Guardians, judges and other judicial officers. Parents deserve protection and a fair system to file complaints; with disbarment for attorneys and other disciplinary measures for those who violate the laws or the codes of conduct. These are valid arguments, and I hope they will be resolved with continued efforts to improve the system.

Connecticut, assisted by the tears and courageous work of concerned parents, family members and advocacy groups, has taken strides towards reforming the Guardian ad Litem system. This is an important step in protecting the rights and welfare of parents and children…and an encouragement for other states to consider, and implement reform. I hope that Connecticut, and other states, will continue to work to make the system more fair, transparent and responsive to all parents, and families, involved in family court and in the Guardian ad Litem program.

 

 

Other ideas for GAL reform:

ACCOUNTABILITY
*Create an independent commission to evaluate and approve the appointment of a GAL. GALs are then subject to appointment and if necessary, removal—a similar process as used by judicial selection. Norman Pattis: http://www.pattisblog.com/index.php?article=Time_for_GAL_Reform_in_Connecticut_6556

*Improved training, for Guardians to include improved education and skill building.

*Continued enhancement of systems and coordination within the Judicial branch.

*Improved accountability with enforced, regulation and monitored disciplinary action for those Guardians who step outside of the statutes regulating them.

*Parties should be allowed to obtain discovery from a Guardian like any other witness, including the ability to receive a copy of their own file and information created and gathered by the Guardian (redacting information as needed for privacy or for the protection of a victim of domestic violence).

FEES/BILLING

*Standardized billing procedures for Guardians

*Specify rates and fees for a Guardian, with a cap on fees. Any additional fees incurred above the cap must be approved by a judge. If both parents are indigent, the state shall bear the costs. (The CT Task force capped fees at $10,000).

Sources:

Connecticut Family Court Reform: http://www.ctfamilycourt.com/

Connecticut Guardian ad Litem Reform (Founded by Peter Szymonik): http://szymonik.wix.com/ct-galreform#!about_us/csgz

“General Assembly unanimously passes family-court reform” by Mark Pazniokas, The CT Mirror, 4/25/2014: http://ctmirror.org/general-assembly-passes-family-court-reforms/

Petitioning the State of Connecticut Judiciary Committee, “Reform the State’s Corrupt and Broken Guardian ad Litem System” by Peter Szymonik: https://www.change.org/p/state-of-connecticut-judiciary-committee-reform-the-state-s-corrupt-and-broken-guardian-ad-litem-system

Petition to Reform Connecticut’s Broken Family Court and Guardian ad Litem System, presented to the State of Connecticut, Judiciary Committee, March 2014 (includes 700 electronic signatures and comments from signers): http://www.cga.ct.gov/2014/JUDdata/Tmy/2014SB-00494-R000331-The%20Connecticut%20Coalition%20for%20Family%20Court%20Reform-TMY.PDF

Task Force Public Hearing (Connecticut Family Court Reform): http://www.ctfamilycourt.com/connecticut-public-hearing-custody-dispute-task-force-2014-01-09.php

Testimony of Michael Nowacki to the Connecticut Task Force: http://youtu.be/q5ZAzJddBsM

Talking to a “Protective Mother” Who Lost Custody of Children
Due to an Unjust Court Ruling: 10 Comments to Avoid & Why

PART TWO COMMENTS #5-1

These tips are for family, friends, community supports, professionals and others who are in a position to help or support a “Protective Mother”. It is devastating for a Mother to lose custody of her children—especially in a family court proceeding where she may feel victimized, violated and abused (and there no recourse for justice). Those closest to the Mother often struggle with what to say or how to help. Sometimes comments made to help actually hurt the Mother. Other times, those making comments struggle with their own emotions and/or grief and their actions and behavior causes hurt or harm because they are also struggling or don’t know what to say. Some just don’t believe that a court of law would make a mistake, and believe the Mother must have done something wrong to lose custody. These 10 Comments are commonly reported among Protective Mothers to be hurtful, and traumatic. I am sharing these comments to raise awareness, and offer tips on how to better offer emotional support to Protective Mothers.

grief

5. Don’t tell a Mother how you want to hurt or get revenge on the ex. And don’t vent or dump anger, hatred or plotting revenge onto the Mother. This happens when a Mother tells her story and there is a strong reaction that involves harming the ex or fantasies of getting back at him.
The Reality: Holding in hurt, anger, hopelessness and other feelings intensifies those feels, and will ultimately cause more hurt and pain in your life—or that of someone else if you lash out. Words and actions to hurt or get revenge on an ex will negatively impact the custody case of the Protective Mother, and may cause her to be punished by the Court—even if she did not commit any crime or wrongdoing.
I heard a lot of anger towards my ex after I lost custody of my children; it made me afraid of talking about my situation because I felt I had to take care of and protect my friends and family members from the bad news. As a result I felt alone. Or hearing intense anger about the abuser intensified my own feelings or triggered memories of abuse.
If you are a friend or family member of a Protective Mother, and witnessed her being abused or losing custody, it is normal to feel empathy—to feel hurt, anger or frustration but don’t dump or project those feelings onto the Mother of the ex. Recognize that in your role as a support, at times, you will need support or rest—the loss of the child and trauma of family court will affect you as well.
Another tip: Take time for hobbies, recreation, social activities and other activities that are important to you, don’t withdraw or isolate. It is important to have an outlet, and to keep a connection to the things that bare a positive for you. When you can use your energy in activities or ways that make you feel good about yourself, or offer a way to vent frustrations in a safe, healthy way—that will help you work through the pain and hurt, and lead to healing. It may also be something you can enjoy together with the Protective Mom, and be another way of offering support.

4. Don’t completely Ignore the Situation and Act Like Everything is Fine.
The Reality: Acting like everything is fine, and ignoring the most traumatic loss a Mother can experience—her children—IS NOT HELPFUL! This will make a Mother feel alone, isolated and that she has no one to turn to for comfort or support. It is better to be honest and up front about your own feelings and limitations, so the Mother knows what to expect.
Then again, if the family or friends are acting like the loss of your children is no big deal, and seem unable to empathize with you, this may indicate an unhealthy relationship. You may have to reconsider this relationship and what your role in it.

3. Should’s… Don’t tell a Mother what they “should” have done differently in Court or in their marriage/divorce. Or criticize the mom’s lifestyle, appearance, employment, religion, etc. to excuse/blame/justify what happened.
The Reality: See #6. Similarly, don’t give a Mom “shoulds” if her appearance, demeanor, habits etc change after losing her children. Be understanding the loss of a child is incredibly painful and traumatic
—it feels like a death even though your children are alive, especially when you cannot have contact with those children. So be sensitive and understanding to the needs of the Mother, and allow her time to grieve and process. If you see the Mother is struggling, gently ask to help or offer support but also respect her answer, don’t force yourself onto her. I remember that after I lost my kids, my church sent me a postcard that said “We prayed for you” and the prayer team signed their names to it—that meant so much to me. Simple gestures go a long way, and one of the most profound gestures is loving acceptance. Give the Mother your love and acceptance—not your “should’s”,

2. Comments that you must have done something to make the Court take your kids/Good moms don’t lose custody of their children. Comments that Insist a Mother must “prove” her case. Examples: I don’t believe you//Judges would never award custody an abuser/Courts are always fair etc …

The Reality: Fit, loving Mothers who are primary caregivers lose custody at alarming rates—this is happen across the US, and all over the world. Your initial reaction may be disbelief, and for good reason, but don’t project that disbelief onto the Mother—take some time to process your own feelings before approaching the Mother or take time to educate yourself on the issues. The Mother will be hurting, and will need your support. The questions you have are probably are ones running through the Mother’s mind over and over. And are questions family court reformers are struggling with now. Even if you don’t have the answers for what happened in court or in her custody situation, focus on what you do have control of and ways you can offer support or help—make a cup of hot chocolate, suggest a support group or day at the spa, lead a prayer, bring her a meal, offer to help with housework.. etc When the Mother is ready, she may open up and talk more about her situation, for her to do that she must have trust in you, and feel safe. That process begins with offering support, and being present with her in her pain—not questioning, just being available.

1. Don’t say or do things that jeopardize the current custody case, custody situation or the Mother’s relationship to her child(ren).
This may include: Social media posts that threaten, criticize or harass the ex. Contacting the ex or making deals in order to see the children (or for other reasons). Publicly criticizing the Mother or showing a lack or support. Not respecting the Mother’s wishes or requests regarding her children or need for privacy. Breaking court orders. Talking negatively about either parent in front of the children. Putting the child in the middle of the custody dispute. Attending court hearings and showing emotional displays or outbursts in court, threatening either party, being disruptive or dressing provocatively in court. Publicly criticizing, harassing or naming the judge, attorneys, or other involved parties. Publicly naming the children, and revealing sensitive information about abuse allegations or information that should be private (legal name, address, date of birth, where they live, etc). Getting revenge on either party.

The Reality: DO NOT take the law into your own hands! Even though the Court situation can seem hopeless or that there is no justice, do not make it worse with aggressive, hostile or crazy behavior and actions that may cause the Court to further punish the Mother or restrict her parenting time—this is NOT helpful.

Consider seeking support and finding a safe outlet instead. Support may come from friends, family, community. Church, Professional help (lawyers, support group, counseling, religious support, classes, grief group etc).

Lisa Copen Quote