Posts in "Family Court" 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.

Kids and Improving Health

Why do I do much of what I do as an advocate and mother?

Because decisions and actions in our community are having a negative impact on the health of children.

How do I know?  Because I lived through watching my own children suffer unnecessarily while having the right help withheld from them – intentionally and with dishonesty – by certain members of our family court system.

The best gift we can give children this holiday season would be to step up and help resolve the confusion and uncertainty for them as their parents transition through conflict. There are several reasonable ways to do this, which we’ll be addressing in the coming months on our radio show.

As a parent can you imagine much worse than seeing that your children need help, and not being able to give it to them?  

Having your hands tied…while being lied to and made to believe that you have no choice but to let your own child suffer…when you could be providing needed care, nurturing, and psychological or medical treatment — things are ARE within your reach.  You don’t have to be a parent to imagine how terrifying or traumatic this might be… You just have to be human and breathing… And, YES, this is happening a lot, right in your own backyard.

Please ask WHY anyone would intentionally prevent a loving parent from protecting or providing treatment for their child.  Does this make any sense?

Since resolving my own conflict and gaining perspective on the family court arena, I’ve seen countless numbers of children having their health needs – including physical and emotional health – ignored and have even seen treatment withheld and denied when the diagnosis and financial resources were available.

This is child abuse and neglect, goes against the law, and in too many cases it is happening simply because of greed… and to reward foul play in a legal setting.   I’m asking you to look at this and decide where and when you can help.  It’s time.

This issue is like a cancer in our society, only we don’t know until it happens to us, and usually by the time we realize what has happened and what or why it is being done, it is too late to stop it from happening.

If you are offended by this notion, that this is going on, then I’ve done my job with this post.  But the bigger need is for you not to turn away from it but rather decide where you can lend your voice or resources or connections to help #MakeaDifference.

I’d appreciate your support – and these kids really need you.  Let’s see what we can do to ensure that your kids, your grandchildren, or your friends’ and neighbors’ kids don’t feel the impact of this problem. It “takes a village,” remember?  

There is more to what I do than challenging certain professionals around their poor judgment and lack of loyalty and honesty; this is about challenging more parents to recover faster from conflict, to take a look around and to really see how you can use what you’ve learned – and what you’ve earned.  Get out of your own situation, and find someone else to help.

If you’ve followed me in social media you know that I sometimes serve as a voice for families dealing with pediatric cancer.  My own children are involved because we are all so thankful that we are healthy and have the lives and privileges that we do, so we give back by uplifting other families and raising awareness for this issue.  We need greater funding for #PediatricCancer.  We need more heroes!  #YoungHeroes4KidsCancer (Stay tuned as we head toward March 2015 and the next St. Baldrick’s event in Atlanta/SandySprings.)

More success stories are needed to show what happens when we rally behind kids and give them what they need to overcome challenges. Check out Briana Hudson on Facebook to see what I mean!  #YoungHeroesLeague This girl and her family are making big things happen. She is one of my heroes!

Follow My Advocate Center to support us as we work to help families transition through and out of conflict, and as we advocate for policy changes that will make the legal process safer for families.  If we can #ImproveFamilyLaw then we have a better chance of letting kids receive the best that BOTH parents have to offer.  There is just no valid reason to do anything different and our laws support this mission.

Follow People Against Childhood Cancer if you want to learn more about how to help children that way.  Cancer in every form is AWFUL and deserves your attention, commitment, resources and your voice.  Please do what you can while praying this doesn’t touch your own family, neighborhood, church, business or school.

Above all, be grateful and be inspired to do more with what you have.

 

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.

RIP Donna Kristofak, Beautiful Mother

It is beautiful but cold outside here. Hopefully warm & beautiful in your home and in your heart.

My heart is sad today as it is Donna Kristofak’s funeral…

My only thought today is to share what a teacher put in my son’s school folder:

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Believe in God or in the Bible as the Word of God or not, but regardless, please heed these words and ACT on them.

(Proverbs 31:38-9)

Leaders in law enforcement, policy, community, business, healthcare:

I ask you to join along with family court professionals and press in asking the right questions around this tragedy. This did not have to turn out this way, but the foreshadowing of this is what led to the creation of My Advocate Center. There are currently other cases heading down this same path, and we need your help in intervening…for the sake of the children involved.
Thank you in advance. If you are not sure what YOU can do, please email and ask.

This IS personal for me, as I knew Donna and John – as neighbors and parents and members of the same church. I saw in Donna’s face and eyes how she felt, and now it is too late for her, but not for others. Today is a HARD day. But tomorrow is a new day and the work begins. This “story” is far from over.

If you know someone like John, or think someone you know is like Donna, and are reacting to a gut level alarm going off, now is the time to reach out for help on what to do. Just do something. Either way, you can help THIS family – their sons – by donating to the fund set up by friends of the family.

This is my Tough Love message for now to those of you around me in East Cobb, Marietta, Atlanta, Georgia… More to follow.