Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Evolution of Custody in Summary - An Essay By: Andrew Schepard

In his "Best Interests of the Child" essay, Mr. Schepard does a brilliant summary of how custody decisions began to the many changes bringing the US to this standard today.

This is an easy read article that is neither biased, nor up for debate; it is fact based.

Do read!

"Best Interests of the Child"

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Automatic 50/50 Visitation Doctrine

(OPINION PIECE ONLY) Now that there is a "new sheriff in town," will family custody change in our laws? In thinking about the "conservative" politicians now at the helm, could there actually be a chance to change custodial rights and take the power away from the states?  This would be outstanding, if so! 
Historically, the Tender Years Doctrine (TYD) appointed custody to be with the mother.  Because so many mothers began working and fathers wanted equal or primary custody, in 1989, the TYD was replaced with the Best Interest of the Child Doctrine.  To many, this replacement was an amazing gift; family law attorneys now had a very lucrative practice while they litigated contentious cases, judges who sought power, and fathers who received a favorable ruling, were elated!  But, too many cases now exist that are taking fighting custody battles to bankruptcy court!  So much litigation, false abuse reports and most importantly, mental trauma for the child--definitely not what is best.  This so-called, Best Interest Doctrine, needs another modification.  The answer is simple- Automatic 50/50 Visitation Doctrine.  Why is one parent more qualified to spend time with the child that wouldn't exist but for them?  This is my proposed solution that eliminates not only the hope a judge will find both parents participating 50% of the time with their beloved offspring and the ridiculously inflated expenses of ugly, tedious, and litigious courtroom battles that are often drawn out as long as possible by greedy attorneys, but again, and most importantly, the best interest of the child!  If we can make this change happen, the families in the United States that dissolve will have far fewer innocent child victims of parental alienation and emotional abuse as they often are used as pawns or manipulated against the other parent,  Then, both parents can enjoy tucking their child in at night, taking them to school, celebrating a great test score after school and having meals together equally as often as the other parent!  It is time to plan how to have such a simple solution implemented....

Need motivation?  Have a look at this incredible documentary, DIVORCE CORP. 
Here's the trailer until you have the time to watch it in its entirety. Trailer and Rental/Buy Option to DIVORCE CORP Warning: there is no escaping the tense frustration in your heart or mind while watching-it is truly riveting.

Monday, February 6, 2017

20/20 Investigates Parental Alienation

The Rucki Sisters

See how alienation truly plays out from each of the parents.  This investigative journey is an excellent depiction of manipulation of children's thoughts in order to have revenge on a former spouse.  Spread the word- this is child abuse and we all become more aware to save the innocent children (and alienated parents).
New Edition of Protecting Emilie now available on Amazon & Kindle.  Photos included in this latest addition!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

We Can't Abolish Parental Alienation by Doing Nothing

     If you are reading this, you are likely the victim of parental alienation or the psychological abuse of children from one parent against the other parent.  If you are reading this and are a victim, you already know that a parent withholding legal custody from or one who makes false allegations against the targeted parent is setting the stage for permanent damage to their child.  Parental alienation is a form of emotional child abuse and meets the criteria of a crime punishable by law, yet it isn't.
     There is no way to rid the world of this preventable abuse until these criminals and their actions are exposed.  There is no way of exposing them and alerting the judicial system that change must be made unless we continue to speak up.
     If you are a victim, ask yourself what you are doing to help this cause?  Are you teaching others about this debilitating offense to children?  Have you posted publicly what it is and how you've suffered?  Have you written a song, poem, or book about how it has affected you and your child/ren? Have you written letter to any congress members?  However you choose to advocate for these children, just do something, anything.  People haven't a clue that it exists yet everyone, everywhere knows that physical child abuse does.  This is no different, in fact the scars are deeper in many cases of psychological child abuse.
     I have written this blog entry to implore you to stand up against this cause and fight for these children.  If 50/50 custody was the law and parent who withhold visitation or make false allegations were given sanctions, parental alienation could become a crime of the past and so many children could be saved from a life of pain.  Clearly, this is not just a problem from which fathers suffer, mothers can be alienated, also.
     Today, aired our interview about my book, Protecting Emilie. This is an Australian radio program is distributed to 170 community radio stations in Australia.  Dads on the Air genuinely cares about the rights for fathers.  They are doing something.  They are also self-funded.  It take an act of love to labor this way.  If you want to change antiquated laws or even ways of thinking, it starts with an act of dedication.  Please think of how you can help these children and then DO it!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

By Definition, It's Child Abuse

You don't have to be a doctor or counselor to recognize the signs of physical child abuse. When the abuse is emotionally inflicted, however you do have to know the symptoms to look for in a child with deep-rooted scar tissue below the epidermis. Whether the wounds are external or internal, they will BOTH affect a child's self-esteem, demeanor, and their interpersonal relationships for the rest of their lives.  To glean more information on documented cases of physical child abuse, you can read countless numbers of books or simply check your local newspaper or television broadcast.

For information on documented emotional child abuse cases, you would be hard-pressed to find any. Yet it is all around us! If you to speak to even a few divorced couples who share children, you can bet one of those couples is experiencing a custody battle.  When the dissolution of the union gets contentious, one of the parents will undoubtedly begin alienating their child from the other parent. Some common tactics used by these vengeful parents are:

  • Not allowing phone calls or monitoring phone calls via speakerphone between the child and the targeted parent
  • Telling the child that the other parent doesn't love them anymore
  • Sharing litigation details of their custody case with the child
  • Withholding legal visitation from the targeted parent
  • Saying disparaging remarks about the targeted parent in front of the child
  • Interrogating the child upon return from visitation with the targeted parent
  • Rewarding the child when they loyally obey to ignore or show disdain for the targeted parent
  • Suddenly filing false child abuse allegations in order to obtain a restraining order and keep the child from the targeted parent
There are more ways and words that are used.  The frequency with which they are, will determine the mental stability of the innocent victim, the child.  Who is looking out for these children?  Who is talking to them about what they are going through?  Which judges determining the fate of a child's best interest in time-sharing are hearing the truth from the child, themselves?  If the alienation is not exposed and corrected early on, children will believe what is being told to them by the alienating parent.and  feel compelled to hate their targeted parent.  These children grow up hating half of themselves since they were created by both of their parents equally.  They listen to, learn, and emulate, the hatred and manipulations.  They haven't a chance to live the life of the child they should be.  

I'm not suggesting that children should be put on a witness stand and made to feel uncomfortable, I only wish that these children were allowed to use their voices to tell the truth to someone who is deciding their well-being.  Most divorces and custodial arguments are he said-she said and somewhere in the middle is the truth.  Somewhere in the middle is the child!  Why not let these children be heard privately in chambers by the judge in every high-conflict custody case?  

There are simple changes to the laws and statutes in our country that would certainly reduce the number of children being emotionally abused through parental alienation.  The obvious answer is equal time-sharing for both parents at the onset of their separation.  There are two reasons this would help. First, a child having equal time with each parent is also equally influenced and equally parented by both parents.  Second, it is a standard rule for child support to be based on the percentage of time spent with each parent. A parent with eighty-percent custody will receive child support commensurate with that time.  If their custodial time is reduced, their (tax-free income of) support is also reduced, if not altogether removed.  This is a common reason one parent wants to "keep" the child a majority of the time.  They feel these innocent children are their possessions, and treat them as pawns.  There is no other valid reason for a parent not nurturing a relationship between their child and their other healthy and loving parent.  That's when false child abuse allegations suddenly occur. Even though the marriage of the parents had no documented child abuse, suddenly, when a parent wants to alienate their child,  the targeted parent is now "physically or sexually abusive" to the child. When false allegations are made, it isn't just the targeted parent who suffers.  The child will be interrogated and physically examined, yet the alienating parent has no regard or remorse.  How much can these children take?  This is why we must make changes to reduce the traumatic familial epidemic of parental alienation in the United States and worldwide.  We must enact and enforce 50/50 visitation for every biological parent.

Recognizing the signs of a child who has been caught in the middle and alienated by one of their parents takes practice.  We must listen carefully and document mentally, the comments heard from one parent and note if they were made in front of their child/ren.  Then, we must take other behavioral symptoms from which we are familiar in physically abusive cases and apply them to potentially emotional abusive scenarios.  These can be:

  • A child suddenly becoming more isolated in school or social settings
  • A child ignoring one parent when both are present yet when alone seems very close to the targeted parent
  • A child using derogatory terms when describing one of their parents (if terms such as "stress", "child support" or "in court" are used by a child, they are likely being mentally tainted by an alienating parent)
  • A child looking around to see if the alienating parent is around when they hug or show kindness to their alienated parent (coast is clear so I can be nice)
  • A child unwilling to "talk about" their other parent in the presence of the alienating parent or their friends and family (because they will "get in trouble" later)
  • A child suddenly swearing or seeking more dark, dismal, and aloof friends
  • A child self-harming
  • A child thinking or talking about suicide
Once these symptoms appear in a child, then what?  Report it.  It is the law.  In Florida, our  Child Abuse definition in Statute 827.03 reads:  1. Intentional infliction of physical or mental injury upon a child; 2. An intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child; or 3. Active encouragement of any person to commit an act that results or could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child.

Our courts are currently doing nothing about emotional child abusers.  No sanctions. Nothing.  This is a crime; this isn't for civil family courts.  Parents are withholding visitation (for weeks, days, even years) but no one cares how this directly affects these innocent children.  Why are their legal custodial agreements if judges or the law won't enforce them?  These abusers must be punished and stopped.  We, the public can write books, articles, share our stories and knowledge, but a child's fate is ultimately is in the hands of subjective judges.  They are the sole decision makers and they are the parties responsible for their own rulings. In Florida, our legislature has enacted a new statute with "shared parenting" being the new standard.  "Shared Parenting" is not at all "shared custody".  That's the legal loophole that must be closed.  We can't save these children until the laws change but we can, (and it is our legal duty to do so) report child abuse, if suspected.  So, just in case you don't see the physical scars, when there are symptoms present, there absolutely could be emotional child abuse. Please share this article and REPORT ALL SUSPECTED CHILD ABUSE.  You may even do this anonymously, and help save a child's future.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

What does Equal Custody have to do with Alimony Reform?

State Sen. Tom Lee won’t give up on trying to amend Florida law on alimony and child custody. On Thursday, Lee filed a bill (SB 250) to change the way divorces are handled in state courts. This marks at least the third time since 2013 that Lee, a Brandon Republican, has supported such an overhaul bill. It will be considered in the 2016 regular session. The latest legislation – 41 pages long – would enact a raft of provisions, including: ♦ Requiring a judge to “make specific written findings of fact regarding the relevant factors that justify an award of alimony.” ♦ Changing the calculations for alimony amounts to make it less easy to get. That includes considering what an ex-spouse could be making if he or she is otherwise “voluntarily unemployed or underemployed.” ♦ Excluding undistributed “earnings or gains on retirement accounts” when determining income for alimony purposes. ♦ Creating a legal presumption that “approximately equal time-sharing with a minor child by both parents is … in the (child’s) best interest.” ♦ Requiring a judge to consider “the frequency that a parent would likely leave the child in the care of a nonrelative … when the other parent would be available and willing to provide care” when deliberating custody time. Gov. Rick Scott in 2013 vetoed a contentious measure, also supported by Lee, that would have ended so-called “permanent alimony.” It was backed by two other Republicans: state Rep. Ritch Workman of Melbourne and state Sen. Kelli Stargel of Lakeland. Scott said he appreciated that lawmakers wanted to “level the playing field in divorce proceedings.” But he said he couldn’t sign the bill because it could have “retroactively” reduced alimony payments, causing “unfair, unanticipated results.” This year, another measure died that also would have mandated alimony awards based on how long a marriage lasted and how much each partner earned. Lee has gone through his own ugly divorce, clashing with his ex-wife for more time with his kids, among other things. But at the time, he insisted he wasn’t pushing any legislation for himself, but to help others in the future in similar legal binds.