Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Parental Responsibility - Assault on Judicial Integrity by Child Custody Evaluators - Part X

In Part IX of this series I assessed the responsibilities of judicial officers as it relates to the decision making process in child custody cases and the use of evaluators. I take to task there what I see as the failure of Judge Heather Welch to proactively manage these proceedings. While I feel that her parenting time decisions in the interim were sound and, likely, better than if the proceedings had been more timely settled, I do strongly believe that this is an anomaly. I have seen few cases where the protracted litigation and use of additional advisors from various disciplines produced better results than the preexisting arrangement. The current parenting time decision was made without significant contribution by any of the third-party participants.

Throughout this series I have continued to unload my harshest rebuke towards Cynthia Dean and Del Anderson of Child Advocates. Anderson and Dean have prolonged this litigation through their deliberate substantive misrepresentations to the father and the court. This litigation is well into its third year and will likely enter its fourth before a judgment in rendered. Also to take some of the blame is Jonathan Deenik of Cross, Pennamped, Woolsey, and Glazier , who has absolutely lied to the court as a review of the audio recordings of the September 2011 hearing demonstrates when compared to his later filings and statements to the court. Rampant perjury aside there is more blame to assess.

One cannot hold the ancillary cast of characters involved in this show accountable without enjoining the producers in the blame game. It is the parents who are embattled with each other and whether directly or through the interdiction of the court are responsible for the admission of the custody evaluators to the forum. That while the peripheral players may antagonize the parties, frustrate the court and prolong the process it is incumbent upon the parents to take full ownership of the responsibility for creating the situation.

This may seem a daunting prospect in a society that attempts to absolve all members of accountability for their actions but in child custody proceedings and decisions the children are not assuaged – they blame the parents.

Child custody battles harm children!!!

Judges know this, child advocates know this, MHPs know this and parents damn well better know this. Yet, fight they do and at times voraciously without consideration for the wishes, benefits and needs of the children. Logic is often supplanted by rationalization in which a parent justifies his or her harm to the children by convincing his or her self that the “temporary” harm is for the greater, long-term benefit of the children or by overlooking any harm as part of the “normal” process.

There exists certain patterns that predictably manifest themselves following divorce. Most often has been the mother as custodian and residential parent and father as the financial provider who is granted some visitation time. Custodial parents often see the non-custodial parents' demands for additional parenting time as a threat to their new found autonomy and fragile financial security. Rebuking this demand erupts initially from lingering emotional wounds and vindictiveness. This is especially true in second generation divorces – the divorces of children whose parents divorced.

From the child's perspective he has lost the parent he lives with. This parent is absent in the home. During the marriage he could count on at least one parent attending to his needs, helping with homework, providing nurturing and guiding conversation and comforting him through nighttime rituals before he went to sleep. Post divorce he is tended to by a stranger until retrieved by a parent after work who has become more of a drill sergeant dispensing orders while tossing a frozen meal into the microwave before retreating to his or her bedroom. Most queries to the child are not out of genuine interest for the child's well-being but are to provide opportunity for early interdiction into the next crisis or to spy on the other parent. This once patient and nurturing parent now too tired and impatient will scream about the slightest offense before heading off to his or her bedroom and shutting the door. The alternating weekend parenting time schedule provides an opportunity to recharge and pursue new romantic interests.

Those weekends are also stressful for the child who is removed from the often unstructured environment of the custodial home where he or she is free to talk on the phone or watch television uninhibited. Suddenly the child is thrust into another household where time is nearly fully scheduled and doesn't include opportunity for the child to freely associate with friends or chat on the phone, play games or tend to internet activities. The non-custodial parent may be just as irritable when scheduling is not adhered to and the child's longing for interaction with friends is ignored for want of spending 100% of this limited time engaged with the child. The child is left without either pre-divorce parent but instead interracts with two competing “strangers”.

Healthy parents who remain in close proximity after separation may agree upon a flexible Shared Parenting plan that accommodates the scheduling needs of each while considering the desires of the children. But even this arrangement can become strained and collapse by a unilateral action of a parent who may be dissatisfied for any of numerous reasons. Sadly this includes the parents failure to adapt and the resentfulness or hurt at seeing the other parent move on and prosper. Lingering emotional issues that may evolve into a diagnostic condition can also be a contributing factor. Too often the chosen method to ameliorate that resentfulness or hurt or the way in which the emotional issues manifest themselves is to inflict pain upon the other parent by taking the children away.

The immediate case which fostered this series of articles provides the anecdotal evidence. After Kristy filed for divorce she and Brian litigated the matter heavily until reaching a compromise in December 2009 that provided for the children to spend alternating weeks with each parent who both shared legal custody.

In this Shared Parenting agreement was a stipulation common to many; Brian would pay an elevated support amount in exchange for equal parenting time and ending the litigation. As a sole proprietor carpenter Brian faced another common hurdle – deterioration in business income. As is often the case, to finance the legal battle he drew down his business investment. Additionally, his business suffered from lack of attention while the litigation was being waged. If those two factors weren't enough the country was mired in a housing recession and new home construction and remodeling demands for carpenters had long waned. Not surprisingly, Brian didn't make consistent and full child support payments.

Seven months later, in July of 2010, Kristy alleged that there had been a substantial change in the circumstances of the parties since the agreement was signed which warranted a change to Brian having IPTG minimum parenting time and being stripped of legal custody. Although I felt that the petition was facially deficient and should have been dismissed that wasn't my call to make and thus it went to trial.

In the next segment I will reveal the possible motivations for Kristy's actions, the elements of her personality type that drive this and the effect it is having on the children.

If you need assistance in refuting an Indiana child custody evaluator then please visit my website and contact my scheduler to make an appointment to meet with me.

If you would like to follow my activities more closely then send a friend request to my Political FaceBook page.

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More information about child custody rights and procedures may be found on the Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates website.

©2008, 2013 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

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