Why are abused children of divorce not protected? Two main reasons are:
Divorce is the outcome of about 50% of marriages in California. In middle and upper-income divorces, child custody has become a huge money-making enterprise.
- Attorneys and mental health professionals make a handsome living from custody litigation. The longer it goes on, the more money they make.
- High-paid judges receive job security, and retired judges "moonlight" by hearing overflow cases.
- In a 1999 Washington Times Insight Magazine article Is Justice for Sale in LA? reporter Kelly O'Meara described other income in the form of payoffs to judges through a slush fund in Los Angeles.
- We need to inform you of a basic fact of court life: Nobody except the very, very wealthy with an ongoing hefty income can afford an attorney throughout a long-term contested custody case. Nobody. It costs way more than you can imagine.
- There are foxes in the hen house, which means that some of the professionals may actively support the abusers for reasons of their own.
LACK OF OVERSIGHT-
No one holds the judges and court appointed professionals accountable for decisions that endanger children.
- Appeals are prohibitively expensive.
- Appeals judges rarely reverse lower court rulings.
- Judges and people they appoint have immunity, which means you can't sue them.
- The oversight agency Commission for Judicial Performance spends over $3 million dollars per year. In a 3 years period, zero judges were removed from the bench.
"The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality." Dante
Countless true cases demonstrate the failure of family law courts to protect innocent victims. Read some brief examples of what happens in court, then return back to learn what you can do.
DON'T PANIC, STAY CALM AND KEEP READING.
Keep CAREFUL RECORDS and a TIME-LINE-
You and your child have just been ambushed. You need several things as you enter into this battle. First, you need to know the tactics of the other side, and be prepared.
For the most part, this is a paper war. You need to keep your documents in order, like keeping your sword sharp for warfare. It's hard to do, but is very important.
- Get a big three ring binder and plenty of plastic "sleeves" to hold your papers. This way you don't have to punch holes in the papers, and they don't get torn.
- Get and keep every single piece of paper that's generated in your case, including police reports, child protective services reports, evaluations, court transcripts and billing statements from everyone involved.
- Put each document in a separate plastic page holder in order of the dates.
- Make a table of contents by writing a list of everything you put in the binder. That way you can find the documents easily.
- Put a three-hole punch spiral notebook with lined pages in front of your binder. The notebook ensures that you are keeping accurate notes (law enforcement can see that your handwritten dated notes are not compromised). Add more notebooks as you need.
- Put your family law case number, county and judge at the top of the first page.
- Write your ex-spouse's and your full names, addresses, phones, birth dates, educational levels, occupations, marriage date, separation date, divorce date, and reason for the divorce at the top of the first page.
- Record any changes in addresses or occupations, including the dates.
- Write each of your children's full names and birth dates.
- Write down the name, phone and address of their therapists, and why the child is seeing a therapist.
- If anyone writes anything incorrect about you or your child, write an immediate polite clarification and send it to the person who wrote the report, to the judge and to all attorneys. Keep a copy.
- Write down every symptom your child has, including dates.
- Always put the full date and quote what your child said as closely as possible.
- If anyone else observed a symptom or a comment from your child, write that down. For example, "Ricky tried to touch his babysitter's breast on June 10, 1998 and said 'daddy do that'. The babysitter is Janet X, address, phone."
- Ask the babysitter, and anyone else who observes abuse, to write a declaration under penalty of perjury. Add them to your binder.
- If someone will write a declaration in support of you, get them to write it immediately. Put it into the binder.
- Every day write details of new developments, such as new disclosures from your child, in the spiral notebook. Always put the full date and quote what your child said as closely as possible.
- If your spouse physically attacks you or harasses you by stalking, file a police report and get a temporary restraining order so that he is not allowed to come near you.
- Get a copy of the police report and add it to your binder.
- Check your court file at the courthouse every few months. Sometimes you will find important papers missing. Write a dated note about the missing document and put it in your binder. Sometimes other people put papers in that you do not know about. Make copies and add a note explaining the date you found the document in your file, and the reason the document is significant.
Example of a Table of Contents:
Police report of Charles beating Jillian dated 8/2/99
Declaration by Ann Jones, D.V. Shelter counselor dated 8/3/99
CPS report by Sandra's therapist Judy Smith, MFT dated 8/30/99
Example of a Timeline:
Family Law Case #99-645, San Mateo County, Judge James Smith
|Jillian Jones||200 E Ave, San Mateo, CA 9XXXX, ssn# 123-456-7890, born 6/2/75, BA degree, sales rep.|
|Charles Jones||12 West St, San Mateo, CA 9XXXX, ssn# 123-098-7654, born 9/2/73, BS degree, engineer|
|6/6/94||Married in San Francisco.|
|1995||Moved to San Mateo.|
|12/1/96||Daughter Sandra born.|
|6/99||Jillian took Sandra to therapist Judy Smith MFT, because of Sandra was having nightmares.|
|8/2/99||Charles got drunk, kicked Jillian in stomach. Jillian went to battered women's shelter. (Get police report and declarations from shelter staff and put them in your binder.)|
|8/30/99||Sandra told Judy, the therapist, "daddy touched my pee pee". Judy made a CPS report. (Get a copy of the CPS report and put it in your binder.)|
|9/1/99||Charles followed Jillian in his car for miles and nearly caused an accident. Made a police report and got a temporary restraining order.|