Protective Parents for Children's Rights

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Protective Parents for Children's Rights

Forum for protective parents and advocates who are concerned for children's safety and rights to be heard in custody decisions. This forum is dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence and child abuse from being revictimized in the legal system.

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 12/29/09 “Children Taken By the Family Courts” Handprints Albany, New York For the 1st year, the Seventh Annual Battered Mothers Custody Conference 2010, Battered Women, Abused Children, and Child Custody, A National Crisis VII: “Now That We Know, What Are We Doing About It?” is hosting the construction of children’s handprints who have been taken by the family courts. January 8th, 9th, and 10th 2010 in Albany, New York. This is a national crisis in the family courts all over the US and Mothers are losing custody….unfairly by a court system that is not protecting our children. Just imagine, a long clothesline, with mini wooden clothespins, and handprints of all sizes, representing protective mothers and their children who have been “legally kidnapped” by the family courts. We are asking Mothers who have lost physical custody of their child(ren) to create handprints to commemorate their lost child(ren). Throughout weekend of the conference, we will be providing materials and ask Mothers to add paper cut-out handprints to the clothesline. However, Mothers do NOT need to be in attendance at the conference in order to add their handprints. Please mail the handprints before Jan. 2, 2010 to: Linda Marie Sacks P.O. Box 730966 Ormond Beach, FL 32173 Questions… Linda Marie 386-453-3017 after Jan 2, 2010 please mail to: Dr. Mo Hannah, Chair, BMCC 2010 26 Purtell Avenue Latham NY 12110 518-210-2487 Instructions: Place your child’s hands on a piece of paper, cardstock works best, trace your child’s handprints (left and right) on colored paper, cut out and write a message if you’d like and mail before the conference to Linda Marie, as she will constructing the clothesline and will have it at the conference. After the Jan. 2th date…please send to Dr. Mo Hannah. Sadly, if you cannot see your child(ren) to trace their handprints, please, trace YOUR handprints for every child you have lost to the crisis in the courts. Once the handprints are constructed, we will lend it out to individuals and organizations for promoting and publicizing the problems faced by battered mothers and children within the family court system. One day justice will prevail…..thanks to all the wonderful people who are part of the solutions to the family court crisis. Contact: Dr. Mo Hannah, Chair BMCC 2010 518-210-2487 or Linda Marie Sacks 386-453-3017


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    Posts : 10
    Join date : 2009-12-29


    Post by Free2Dream Mon Jan 25, 2010 9:27 am


    70% of abductions are by mothers

    By Caroline Marcus


    March 4, 2007

    MOTHERS are responsible for seven out of 10 international parental child abductions, an Australian study has found. And the most common reason for the abduction is flight from an abusive relationship.

    The findings of the International Social Service Australia (ISS) report present a sharp contrast to the 1970s, when fathers were overwhelmingly the perpetrators of parental abductions.

    The key findings of the paper, titled Learning From The Links Between Domestic Violence And International Parental Child Abduction, were released to The Sun-Herald ahead of the report's publication later this month.

    The results revealed a huge cultural shift over the past three decades, ISS executive director Maria Brett said.

    "In the 1970s, it was a different time and a different environment, and we saw a lot of unhappy men wanting more contact with their children resorting to abduction," she said.

    "These days, there are more women in domestic violence cases abducting their children and taking them overseas."

    In the 1970s, fathers were responsible for 80 out of 99 cases analysed in a previous study drawn on by the report. The mother was the abductor in 18 of those cases.

    Yet in 1999 women made up 70 per cent of abductors in an analysis of 1080 applications under the 1980 Hague Convention, an international treaty set up to deal with child abductions.

    Men comprised 29 per cent of abductors and the remaining 1 per cent included abductors of both sexes - grandparents or another relative.

    In 78 per cent of cases, abducted children were younger than nine years old.

    This article can be found at:



    A Sampling of 25 Years of Supporting Literature


    “Each time that I appeared in court, the system reinforced his dominance over me by preserving his parental ‘rights’ without regard to my safety. I felt totally undermined by the court.” -P.W. in Justice Denied

    [ Chesler, 1991, 1986 ] MOTHERS ON TRIAL: THE BATTLE FOR CHILDREN AND CUSTODY. The book. Mothers were not rescued from individually violent men by policemen, social workers, lawyers, or other family members. Judges did not rescue mothers from violent men either. On the contrary, the (large number of) domestically violent fathers, including those who kidnapped their children, were not imprisoned, fined, or custodially punished. Of the 12 percent of the mothers who kidnapped their children (Table Two), 80 percent were imprisoned, fined, or custodially punished ... Sixty-two percent of the fathers used violence to win custody. They physically battered, psychologically terrorized, and physically ejected mothers from their homes; they kidnapped, and, with the help of mother competitors, brainwashed children ...

    [ Ducote, 1992 ] POST-SEPARATION FAMILY VIOLENCE RELIEF ACT. The legislation. The legislature further finds that the problems of family violence do not necessarily cease when the victimized family is legally separated or divorced. In fact, the violence often escalates, and child custody and visitation become the new forum for the continuation of the abuse. Because current laws relative to child custody and visitation are based on an assumption that even divorcing parents are in relatively equal positions of power, and that such parents act in the children’s best interest, these laws often work against the protection of the children and the abused spouse in families with a history of family violence. Consequently, laws designed to act in the children’s best interest may actually effect a contrary result due to the unique dynamics of family violence ...

    [ American Judges Association, 1996 ] DOMESTIC VIOLENCE & THE COURTROOM. The article. Studies show that batterers have been able to convince authorities that the victim is unfit or undeserving of sole custody in approximately 70% of challenged cases ...

    [ United States Congress, 1997 ] SAFE HAVENS FOR CHILDREN ACT OF 1997 - FINDINGS. The bill.

    (1) Family violence does not necessarily cease when family victims are legally separated by divorce or otherwise not sharing a household.

    (2) According to a 1996 report by the American Psychological Association, custody and visitation disputes are more frequent when there is a history of domestic violence.

    (3) Family violence often escalates following separation and divorce, and child custody and visitation arrangements become the new forum for the continuation of abuse.

    (4) According to a 1996 report by the American Psychological Association, fathers who batter mothers are twice as likely [as non-violent men] to seek sole custody of their children. In these circumstances, if the abusive father loses custody he is more likely to continue the threats to the mother through other legal actions.

    (5) Some perpetrators of violence use the children as pawns to control the abused party and to commit more violence during separation or divorce. In one study, 34 percent of women in shelters and callers to hotlines reported threats of kidnapping, 11 percent reported that the batterer had kidnapped the child for some period, and 21 percent reported that threats of kidnapping forced the victim to return to the batterer.

    (6) Approximately 90 percent of children in homes in which their mothers are abused witness the abuse. Children who witness domestic violence may themselves become victims and exhibit more aggressive, antisocial, fearful, and inhibited behaviors. Such children display more anxiety, aggression and temperamental problems.

    (7) Women and children are at an elevated risk of violence during the process of separation or divorce.

    (8 ) Fifty to 70 percent of men who abuse their spouses or partners also abuse their children.

    (9) Up to 75 percent of all domestic assaults reported to law enforcement agencies were inflicted after the separation of the couple.

    (10) In one study of spousal homicide, over 1/2 of the male defendants were separated from their victims.

    (11) Seventy-three percent of battered women seeking emergency medical services do so after separation ...

    [ Supreme Court of Virginia, 2000 ] GENDER BIAS IN THE COURTS OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA. The study. [There is also a]n apparent lack of recognition by judges in both Juvenile & Domestic Relations court and in Circuit Court of ... (ii) the abuser’s use of legal processes to continue to manipulate and control the family. In fact, many abusers appear to be manipulating the court. In such cases, it is not sufficient to look only at the context painted by the abuser; it is necessary to view the proceeding currently before the court in the light of the other proceedings involving the parties (e.g., where the abuser constantly sues the victim, harasses her attorney and others who help her, threatens witnesses, or uses child visitation, custody and support issues as an excuse to bring the family back into court many times a year.) ...

    [ Silverman, 2001 ] AMERICAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION - THE IMPACT OF FAMILY COURTS ON BATTERED WOMEN AND THEIR CHILDREN IN CASES OF DISPUTED CHILD CUSTODY AND VISITATION: PRELIMINARY FINDINGS OF THE BATTERED MOTHERS’ TESTIMONY PROJECT. The paper.Family courts are frequently reported to promote the endangerment of battered mothers and their children through awarding child custody or unsupervised child visitation to batterers, even in cases involving batterers’ continuing abuse of the mother, and/or outstanding allegations of child abuse involving these men. Previous analyses of court records have documented biases against battered women by the Massachusetts Family and Probate Court in such cases. This systemic mistreatment of battered women and their children has received little attention relative to other DV issues, despite an expanding literature describing the risks to children from battering men. This presentation will review the goals and methodology of the Battered Mothers’ Testimony Project, a collaboration of public health researchers, battered women’s advocates and human rights workers to examine the impact of family court systems on the health, safety and well-being of battered women and their children in cases of disputed custody/visitation. Preliminary findings from semi-structured interviews with 50 battered mothers regarding (1) experiences of abuse against themselves and their children, both during the relationship and since separation; (2) whether and how the batterer has continued to intimidate/abuse her through family court litigation; (3) experiences with state actors of the family court system (e.g., judges, custody evaluators); and (4) other concerns regarding their treatment within the family court system (e.g., discrimination based on race, sexual orientation, and/or socioeconomic status) will be presented. Plans for dissemination of information, organizing and activism to reform state policies and practices based on these findings will also be discussed ...

    [ Supreme Court of Virginia, 2001 ] INFLUENCES ON JUDGES’ DECISIONS IN CHILD CUSTODY DISPUTES IN THE COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA. The study. “Pages 4, 6, 7, 20, 21, 23, 24, 29, 30, 38, 39, 40, 41, 53, 55, and 57 of thisSupreme Court of Virginia 2001 study are especially relevant to the current trend of awarding custody of children to fathers who are abusive, violent, and dangerously controlling men, narcissists, and sociopaths …” –VW

    [ Bancroft, 2002 ] THE BATTERER AS PARENT: ADDRESSING THE IMPACT OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ON FAMILY DYNAMICS (CHAPTER FIVE). Impeding Recovery: The Batterer in Custody and Visitation. The book. Batterers win custody of their children with greater frequency [than] is generally realized. Although it is widely believed that family courts have a bias in favor of mothers, custody studies have demonstrated that since the 1970's, fathers have been at a marked advantage in custody disputes. There is a general reluctance among family courts in the U.S. and abroad to consider a man's battering as a reflection on his parenting or a factor in determining custody ...

    [ BMTP, 2004 ] BATTERED MOTHERS’ TESTIMONY PROJECT - Researchers Say Massachusetts Family Courts Fail to Protect Battered Women and Their Children; Study Applies Human Rights Analysis to Child Custody Cases Involving Domestic Violence. The analysis. “Battered mothers face a perilous irony,” said Silverman. “Authorities push these women to leave abusive men in order to protect their children. But women who can make this break then face family courts, another authority that often ignores this history of abuse as a threat to children’s safety and, perversely, concludes that women’s attempts to protect their children from these men actually demonstrate their own lack of fitness as mothers” ...

    [ Jaffe, 2005 ] JUDICIAL COUNCIL OF CALIFORNIA CENTER FOR FAMILIES, CHILDREN & THE COURTS - PARENTING ARRANGEMENTS AFTER DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: SAFETY AS A PRIORITY IN JUDGING CHILDREN’S BEST INTEREST. The article. Perpetrators [of domestic violence] may use perpetual litigation as a form of ongoing control and harassment. The family court can inadvertently become a tool for batterers to continue their abusive behavior. Litigation exacts a high emotional and financial price for abused women already overwhelmed with the aftermath of a violent relationship ... Indicators that this misuse is occurring include an investment in custody and/or access that is out of keeping with a parent's previous involvement in child rearing ...

    [ Kiewra, 2005 ] HARVARD SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH - HARVARD PUBLIC HEALTH REVIEW: MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE. The article. The 40 women came from towns across Massachusetts and from all walks of life, yet their stories were the same -- shocking tales of battering and harassment at the hands of abusive ex-partners. Long after separation or divorce, the women said, their torment continued, aided and abetted by judges who gave unsupervised visitation and custody of their children to violent and controlling men …

    [ Legal Momentum, 2005 ] LEGAL MOMENTUM ADVANCING WOMEN’S RIGHTS - DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND CHILD CUSTODY. The kit. In no other area of family law are battered women and their children inadvertently subjected to greater physical and emotional harm than in the child custody and visitation context. Battered women are often forced to participate in custody arrangements that require mediation, unsupervised custody and visitation, and other types of exchanges that leave them and their children vulnerable to continued abuse and control at the hands of their batterers. Women who try to protect themselves and their children by seeking sole custody or modifications in custody arrangements such as cessation of visitation, supervised visits, or who flee with their children are penalized by having custody taken away and given to their batterers. Despite the perception that mothers always win custody, when fathers contest custody, they win sole or joint custody in 40% to 70% of the cases. Indeed, even in cases where abuse is reported, a batterer is twice as likely to win custody over a non-abusive parent than in cases where no abuse is reported …

    [ Neustein & Lesher, 2005 ] FROM MADNESS TO MUTINY: WHY MOTHERS ARE RUNNING FROM THE FAMILY COURTS--AND WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT. The book. "A groundbreaking new book that is perhaps the most highly readable scholarly work I’ve encountered in my 14 years in academia ... The very first to provide the historical and contextual chronology of this system’s steady decline into chaos and corruption over the past two decades. It is eminently accurate and rigorously documented -- a book that will hit scholars, professionals, and lay persons right between their eyes. This is the book that mothers have been waiting for ..." -Dr. "Mo" Hannah

    [ PBS, 2005 ] PUBLIC BROADCASTING SERVICE - BREAKING THE SILENCE: CHILDREN'S STORIES. The documentary. One of the most effective ways an abusive father can inflict pain and declare his domination is to take custody of his children away from their mother. As Joan Meier, an attorney and professor of clinical law, explains, “To win custody of the kids over and against the mother’s will is the ultimate victory ... short of killing the kids.” While there may be a perception in society that the family court system has a maternal preference, statistics show that, in the past twenty years, fathers are more often being awarded custody. Furthermore, in family court cases where mothers allege battery, fathers are given custody two-thirds of the time ...

    [ Griffin, 2006 ] PROTECTIVE PARENT REFORM ACT (Conceived and Drafted by Richard Ducote, Esq.). The legislation. In the state of Maryland, courts have committed grave errors in cases in which molested children have sought protection from an abusive parent. By failing to follow basic rules of procedure and evidence – in essence, by failing to follow due process of law – these courts have often ignored compelling evidence of abuse and – conversely – have allowed hearsay and other inadmissible evidence presented by children’s attorneys, custody evaluators, mental health professionals, mediators, screeners, and other such persons traditionally participating in child custody and visitation cases to guide the court in their custody and visitation rulings. In so doing, courts have too often inadvertently and tragically placed children in the hands of their molesters. Thus, reform is required in the state of Maryland, by way of the Protective Parent Reform Act (“PPRA”). This act is meant to ensure that a parent who reasonably believes that his or her child is threatened by child abuse perpetrated or allowed by the other parent is not punished by a Maryland court, or penalized by loss of custody, or limitation of contact or visitation ...

    [ Hannah, 2007 ] FOURTH BATTERED MOTHERS CUSTODY CONFERENCE - TRUTH COMMISSION FINDINGS AND SOLUTIONS. The report. [T]here is a widespread problem of abusive parents being granted custody of children and protective parents, [primarily mothers], having their custody limited or denied, and/or being otherwise punished ... [O]nce abusers gain custody, they then isolate and estrange the children from the protective parents. Courts seldom punish the abusers or switch custody back to the protective parents ... The court system has failed to respond appropriately to domestic violence and child abuse cases involving custody. The Commission found many common errors made by the courts and the professionals they rely upon which contribute to these tragedies ... Sanctions against abusers and the courts must be used to prevent abusers from using legal tactics to continue their abuse through the courts ...

    [ Saunders & Oehme, 2007 ] VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN - CHILD CUSTODY AND VISITATION DECISIONS IN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES: LEGAL TRENDS, RISK FACTORS, AND SAFETY CONCERNS. The article. It may be hard to believe that an abusive partner can ever make good on his threat to gain custody of the children from his victim. After all, he has a history of violent behavior and she almost never does. Unfortunately, a surprising number of battered women lose custody of their children (e.g., Saccuzzo & Johnson, 2004). This document describes how this can happen through uninformed and biased courts, court staff, evaluators, and attorneys and how the very act of protecting ones' children can lead to their loss ...

    [ Bowen, 2008 / also Ruiz, 2008 ] VOICES OF WOMEN ORGANIZING PROJECT - REPORT: ABUSED WOMEN SEE DANGER IN FAMILY COURT. The articles.Susan Lob says it's simple: Good mothers should keep their children. But Lob, director of the New York-based Voices of Women Organizing Project, says that doesn't always happen in the New York family court system when it's women who have been abused by their children's fathers. Instead, in a report released today, Voices of Women says family courts retraumatize battered women by forcing them to confront men they fear and granting custody to abusers 37 percent of the time despite the women's roles as primary caregivers. "What struck us was the impossibility of women losing custody to the men who abused them," said Lob. "That just seemed unbelievable." The group laid out four recommendations … Authors issued specific suggestions for each of the four recommendations, including increasing accountability for judges by halving 10-year judicial appointments to five-year terms and seeing children in courtrooms at least once a year to ensure custody decisions are benefiting them …

    [ Meier, 2008 ] THE WASHINGTON POST - WHY THIS MOTHER WAS NOT HEARD. The editorial. Contrary to stereotypes, most divorcing mothers do not seek to deprive the children of their father. Most settle out of court. Only about 20 percent of cases become "contested custody litigation." It's not surprising that a large proportion of these "bitter custody disputes" involve violent or abusive fathers. It is time courts faced the truth: Custody litigants frequently have a history of abuse. Men who abuse their partners often pose a threat to their children. Most women seeking to restrict fathers' access to their children are doing so out of legitimate fear for their well-being. And too many children are delivered to dangerous fathers by family courts that prioritize fathers' "rights" over children's safety …

    [ NCJFCJ, 2008 ] NATIONAL COUNCIL OF JUVENILE AND FAMILY COURT JUDGES - A JUDICIAL GUIDE TO CHILD SAFETY IN CUSTODY CASES. The bench cards. This tool is designed to maximize a child’s safety as you determine issues of custody and visitation and can help you … This tool will also assist you in conducting a thoughtful exploration of the child’s safety risks when abusive behavior has been part of the family fabric. Sometimes, the parties may not articulate clearly either the abuse or the child’s safety risks during litigation. Indicators may be present that require you to explore the possibility that one parent is putting the other parent or the child at risk of abuse. Because the abused parent might not directly raise issues of physical abuse or other forms of control, you will want to be aware of indicators of abusive behaviors that may alter the dynamics of the litigation process. This tool will explore the various behaviors that you might encounter, both from the controlling and abusive parent, and from the controlled and abused parent. Organization of the Bench Tool: This supplemental guide and the attached bench cards follow your decision-making from the initial filing through drafting and enforcing the order. While much of the material is presented in procedural order, there are also bench cards and chapters devoted to topics and issues that can arise throughout litigation. The authors suggest that you first read the cards as an introduction to the topics addressed. This supplement, to which the cards are keyed, offers additional information and suggests further resources at the end of the guide, and in footnotes ...

    [ NOW, 2008 ] NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN - CRISIS FOR WOMEN IN FAMILY COURT: WHAT TO EXPECT AND HOW TO FIGHT BACK. The brochure. There is a crisis for women and their children in many of the family law courts of this country. Affirmed by experts and skilled court watchers, the existence of this crisis is verified by women in every state who report injustice in their divorce and custody cases. This is true especially for battered mothers trying to protect their children from abusive fathers who aggressively litigate against them, using family courts to stalk, harass, punish, and impoverish their former partners and children. Some fathers are aided by friendly judges and court-appointed personnel …

    [ BWJP, 2009 ] BATTERED WOMEN’S JUSTICE PROJECT - DEVELOPMENT OF A FRAMEWORK FOR IDENTIFYING AND EXPLICATING THE CONTEXT OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN CUSTODY CASES AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR CUSTODY DETERMINATIONS. The project. BWJP has been invited to apply for a grant from the USDOJ Office on Violence Against Women for a demonstration project to develop a framework to guide custody and visitation decisions in cases involving domestic violence. Research on custody and visitation determinations provide troubling evidence that procedures currently in use in family courts often fail to identify, contextualize and account for the occurrence of domestic violence in these cases, and if identified, its presence seems not to consistently affect the court’s recommendations regarding custody or visitation arrangements … The desired outcome of this project is to provide family courts with a process by which the violence occurring in these families is made visible, its context and the related safety issues are more clearly understood, and as a result, its implications for custody and parenting plan arrangements can be taken into account more effectively to protect the emotional and physical well-being of the litigants and their children. The project will be funded for two years and is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2009 …

    [ Bancroft, 2009 ] CHILD CUSTODY JUSTICE (A TEN-PART TUTORIAL). The website. An abused woman can be vulnerable in family court if she comes in with unfounded expectations. Perhaps the most widespread myth is the belief that mothers are favored by courts in custody disputes, which stopped being true decades ago. It is true that for roughly the first half of the 1900's the "Tender Years Doctrine" was influential, and mothers had some advantage in gaining custody of young children. (Prior to about 1900, mothers had no rights regarding custody at all.) But in the 1970's the tide was turning back, for various reasons, and by the 1980's fathers were winning at least joint custody in a majority of the custody battles they undertook, and winning sole custody more often than mothers, a situation that remains today. And the fathers who are taking advantage of this imbalance are largely abusive ones; researchers have found that abusers are twice as likely as non-abusive men to seek custody …

    [ Eddy, 2009 ] HIGH CONFLICT INSTITUTE - HANDLING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN NEW WAYS FOR FAMILIES. The institute. Domestic violence is an area of growing concern in family courts, as highlighted by the 2007 Wingspread Conference and Report sponsored by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) and National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ). Differentiating among at least four different types of domestic violence is recognized as very important, yet in reality the adversarial court process often clouds these issues more than clarifies them … Historically, family law professionals have not recognized the significance of domestic violence risks in some cases and have exaggerated concerns in others. In the process, some partners and children have been seriously injured or killed, while other children have lost a meaningful relationship with one of their parents because of unnecessarily-restrictive parenting orders …

    [ Cuccinelli, 2010 ] OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF VIRGINIA - CUT OUT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: WHY DO VICTIMS STAY? The fact sheet. People often believe that victims of domestic violence will be safe if they just leave the batterer. But a battered person is not free to separate from an abuser at any time and there are many barriers to leaving. The biggest reason that a victim of domestic violence stays in an abusive relationship is fear. Victims believe, and the evidence has shown, that leaving is potentially the most deadly time … Barriers also may include: Fear that the children will be taken away – Batterers threaten that they will take the children (either legally or illegally) if the victim dares to leave the relationship …


    ... My mother is a formerly battered woman who is the first American to receive asylum in Europe. My brother and I were abused children who were failed by ... -Jennifer CollinsTHE JUDGE AS BATTERER-MOMMY GO BYE BYE

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