Posts in "Atlanta News" tag

Advocating for the Truth

The last few years have been like playing hide and seek in getting to know the truth about what happens to parents and children when they have to go through our court system.

Too late, many parents caught in a Family Court matter realize the truth just doesn’t matter, and by then they are turned upside down wondering what happened, and how.

WHY was my evidence not used to protect me or my kids?  WHY did they tell me we would be “just fine” because the truth was on our side?

The numbers of children who are NOT fine is staggering, whether they are remaining with abusive or addicted parents, cut off from healthy parents, or if they are watching parents lose their homes because the “divorce got really ugly.”   The reality of the “ugly” is that legal fees are ratcheted up so high that parents too often cannot afford to keep homes, or cannot pay for college or medical/psychological treatment.

This is what it feels like to these children and parents: it is like being on the inside of a pinball machine, but you can’t get out and you have no control over what will happen next. This breeds uncertainty and makes decision-making nearly impossible. You react…really are just knocked around, until you can’t tell which way is up…or out. To those certain professionals managing these confused parents, they are looked at as pawns, and to some it seems this is entertainment, not just a way of earning an income.  When parents are treated this way – intentionally – it is certainly not advocacy.

Most people can’t relate to what this family is experiencing, and the professionals tell their clients not to talk about what is happening, and then they seal reports so that the truth never comes out.

For so many mothers and fathers, and for children who are being hurt in the process in some way or another, it boils down to the fact that our judges and custody “experts” do NOT have to consider the evidence we present to help us get through conflict safely.

It’s unfortunate but true that for certain Family Law professionals it is just too profitable for them when they keep evidence hidden — evidence that if used in Court might have otherwise put your case to rest and allowed you to get through it safely, and without losing your children and everything else you cherish.

The worst is when they cooperate – attorneys, custody experts and the judge – to suppress evidence of child abuse rather than using it to protect and uplift a child. The same thing applies when they put an innocent parent in jail, or cause them to lose their job in addition to their children and property.

In the process of suppressing evidence – to manipulate the outcomes of cases for their financial gain – they are severing relationships with nurturing parents who want to protect the child and end the fighting.  The damages to children are staggering, and many of these children never recover.  Parents who are blocked from caring for and protecting their own children…are also having a hard time managing and recovering.  Some do not.

The opposite of what should happen – based on the available evidence – is what is occurring on far too many cases all over Georgia.

Please write your legislators and simply say that we want our Georgia statute to say that Judges and court appointed professionals “shall” consider evidence, rather than “may” consider evidence. This is just one point for reform, and it may take time but it’s important.

It is time to end this suffering and to address the cycles of abuse, addiction and dysfunction where it is possible for our Courts to use evidence to intervene properly.   Where evidence and testimony are available to help put protections in place for children, and to support good parents, these should be secured on the record and used to protect.

Family Court practices that lead to ignoring evidence are worsening the situation.   The professionals who work this way are worsening mental health, stability and productivity; they are increasing the cycles of abuse and addiction.

Where you are seeing certain professionals cooperate with each other to block, suppress or ignore evidence – evidence of real abuse, or evidence that would exonerate an innocent parent who is falsely accused – please visit MyAdvocateCenter.com to report this data.

This post is being updated in October of 2015 as we acknowledge Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Please see this note shared on the MAC Facebook page that was written by a former family law attorney, and also read what I shared myself directly onto the page:

After many years of researching & working to understand why abused mothers, fathers & children are not receiving the…

Posted by Deb Beacham on Sunday, October 4, 2015

In all situations where evidence is ignored and the truth does not count, this leads to more loss, stress and trauma for the children and parents involved.   Please let us know how you can help address this, and how you can help involve our healthcare community so that these families can recover while we work on reforming bad practices.

If you see me around the Capitol, you know why I’m there.  Get involved.

The Truth has yet to be revealed, but it’s time. Help us save the lives of children and the parents they need with them.
The Truth has yet to be revealed, but it’s time. Help us save the lives of children and the parents they need with them.

Focus on Reform to Protect Children

Are you paying attention to the news stories revealing how difficult it is for children to receive protection?

CBS Atlanta excerpt:

“Ruby Moore is the executive director of the Georgia Advocacy Group, a nonprofit organization that works with and for people with mental and/or physical disabilities. Moore said she is outraged that a Fulton County judge ruled Melanie Pickens cannot be prosecuted on child abuse charges.”

I spend a lot of time with professionals, especially in the healthcare community, looking at why so many children are struggling especially when the family has the resources and desire to avoid it.

Please read this post on My Advocate Center.  Children deserve protection, at home AND at school!

Many kids can't speak for themselves, which means available evidence really needs to count!  Protect Children Georgia.
Many kids can’t speak for themselves, which means available evidence really needs to count! Protect Children Georgia.

You know how much I talk about the “needs of children” right?  Well, I was almost beside myself when I saw that special needs children, who can’t speak for themselves to report abuse, were being disregarded as victims because the judge was more concerned with using an immunity rule for teachers.

So, yes, the professionals I work with are delving into that issue.  If you have anything to contribute to this story and the application of the immunity rule, please let me know?  You can connect with me on LinkedIn or email via My Advocate Center’s contact page.

 

Thank you!

Deb Beacham

 

Response to AJC: Great continued Coverage on Kristofak Case

It has been a while since I first posted about the tragic murder of a woman who was a great mother, beloved church member, neighbor, daughter and friend to many.

My hope is that ultimately we will know that she didn’t die in vain, but for that to happen we are going to need to see our court system do a much better job of acknowledging danger – imminent danger and violent threats – and following through to prevent such losses as in this case.

What happened to this mother could have been avoided, and this man could have and should have been kept in jail for the sentence handed down to him, based on the facts, the evidence and the record which showed the judge knew he had been hospitalized because he was mentally unstable.

The lack of care and concern here is typical, unfortunately, in many cases where there is clear intent and opportunity to cause harm to vulnerable citizens, and especially to children. It’s just not something that is taken seriously by many judges and other court professionals. But hopefully that will change and improve in our lifetime.

Thank you to these contributors, to Men Stopping Violence and the AJC for highlighting what really needs to be changed in how we look at and respond to conflict:

http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-forward/2013/01/10/when-protective-orders-fail/

This is one of the best pieces written yet on this story, so thank you to all the contributors and to the AJC for ongoing coverage.

As Director of My Advocate Center, Atlanta, GA, I am especially appreciative of Judge Hobie Jones’ comment above. It’s time to call it like we see it. …Based on the facts and patterns around this and other cases, and not as a “Monday morning quarterback” (which I agree with you on).

And it is true that this is not just a women’s issue – violence and false allegations of domestic violence affect everyone. Our focus is on the damages to children that stem from all of it. If you hurt or threaten a good parent, you are harming her (or his) children.

False allegations, as well as NOT heeding and responding to REAL violence…and NOT using the evidence or following protocols that we have in place…all put us in a downward spiral.

Family court pretends violence & abuse do not exist, except to profit from them in a way that leads to more abuse.
Family court pretends violence & abuse do not exist, except to profit from them in a way that leads to more abuse.

I knew Donna and John, but not recently, and because I didn’t cross paths again with her in time…I am both distraught and determined that we not let this discussion end without seeing the needed changes in how we respond to these situations.

There ARE pending local cases that mirror this tragedy in too many ways, so we would appreciate continued coverage and investigation. Please email for case and location details for hearings and transcripts.