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Monday, April 21, 2014

Child Protection Continues to Fail

"If I were in charge of the entire state, I can tell you right now I would abolish CPS," he said at a news conference at the Capitol, "because CPS has become the greatest threat to the very kids it was designed to protect."
news conference to promote legislation that would require social workers to conduct video or audio recordings of their interactions with children and parents when investigating child abuse. He said recordings would protect both families and social workers in disputes.
So why are they against it?  California Welfare Directors Association,  "it is imperative that our CPS social workers be able to conduct interviews with children and their parents with unfettered access," according to a letter included in a legislative analysis.  Unfettered Access with real evidence provided in video & audio recordings should be something they want then.  
remarks came on the same day the state auditor released a report criticizing the child protection dept;...meddles too often in cases where intervention isn't warranted, while devoting too little time to serious matters.
This Bill Should be passed in all states; Law would require recording CPS interviews with parents!
Part of the article is recapped below:

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A new bill aims to change the way Child Protective Services operates in California.
The bill is called Sammy’s Law, named after a Sacramento baby taken from his home by CPS when his mom asked for a second medical opinion.
“I have a copy of a police report, and a copy of the social services report, and the police report by trained investigators is a 180-degree difference from what’s written by a social worker,” she said.
The error is not uncommon.
A new report by the state auditor reveals assessments by CPS workers in three counties were routinely “flawed” as well as “incomplete and inconsistent.”
“CPS has become the greatest threat to the very kids it was designed to protect,” said Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks).

“I’m not going to stop this fight,” he said. “It’s why I believe this agency needs to be eliminated.”

“In many cases, the only evidence presented in court for removal of a child is the word of a social worker,” he said.

Sacramento County Child Protective Services declined to comment on the bill, which still needs to be reviewed by a committee.. Of course they do they are sicker than the people they are suppose to help. 

Family Courts Fail Families

If the decision below had actually been issued at the onset; this family would not be in the turmoil it is now.  Family Courts unenforced orders create havoic; sign to change now.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Contempt of Court Jail Sentence when Child Refuses Parenting Time Upheld - Indiana Court of Appeals

Oh those contentious parents who make child rearing a battle ground. In one of the most vociferous battles that I have encountered as of late is that of Paula Rorer Hubbard and William Shane Rorer. Mother was found to be in contempt of Father's parenting time and appealed. The appellate panel rendered its decision on Monday 14 April 2014 in an unpublished opinion. The appeal arose under Mother's argument that she was found to be in contempt of court and sentenced to a term of confinement, suspended, based upon inadmissible evidence and an improperly imposed jail sentence. The case originated in the Warrick Circuit Court where the Honorable David O. Kelley, Judge, presided.

Mother was found in contempt for her failure to facilitate parenting time between the parties' adolescent daughter and Father which had been recently reinstated following a three year lapse. Mother and Father had one daughter during their marriage which was dissolved in April 2003. After years of disputes between Mother and Father regarding custody and parenting time, the trial court suspended parenting time between Father and Daughter in September 2010. However, on 01 August 2013, the trial court ordered that Father was entitled to parenting time with Daughter who was then fourteen years of age.

Neither parent enters this latest fray with clean hands. The trial court observed that Parents have an “inability and refusal to co-parent effectively.” The disputes are deeply rooted and the duration of the battle appears to mystify Judge Kelley as noted:
The anger they share for each other and the desire to “get the best of the other” is much more important to each parent than meeting their responsibility to rear a child together in a responsible manner. There is plenty of blame to go around for each parent and a recitation of the offenses of each parent would serve no good purpose. Collectively, however, it is clear to the Court that the child and her overall welfare are secondary to the parents’ “personal war.” Given the number of years it has gone on one would think the parents would grow weary of combat but it appears to have worsened rather than improving. 

The court has recognized daughter's manipulation of the parents' conflict:
[Daughter] has recognized this conflict and seized the opportunity to “drive the bus.” What teenager would pass on the opportunity to be in complete control of her life? It is clear to the Court that her rejection of her father is pleasing to her mother and continued rejection will guarantee a continued flow of favorable treatment from the mother. 

Judge Kelley exemplifies the hopelessness in the predicament that judges face with these high conflict parents. As so many have similarly expressed to me, Judge Kelley articulated his feelings in this manner:
Numerous mental health professionals have not been able to address the parents’ issues and the Court has absolutely no expectation that it can make things work smoothly. The Court has considered drafting specific measures that would direct each parent how to be an effective parent but the Court doubts that either party would follow those directives and also it is not [the] Court’s responsibility to rear the child. 

The order that went into effect on 01 August 2013 was initially breached at Mother's first opportunity. On 07 August 2013, Daughter initially refused to participate in parenting time with Father. Ultimately, however, she cooperated after the police arrived. On 09 August 2013, she again refused to participate in parenting time. On 12 August 2013, Father wasted no time in filing a petition for contempt against Mother. Father alleged that Mother “has done everything in her power to attempt to discourage [Daughter] from seeing” Father.

At hearing Father produced a police officer who had responded to the 07, 09, and 14 August parenting time exchanges. Mother objected to testimony and documentary evidence of the 14 August incident arguing that it fell outside of the allegations plead two days earlier. On its face to any experienced appellate litigator this is merely cumulative evidence that demonstrates a pattern. Thus it will not be held as a basis for reversal. Mother was clearly already on notice about these allegations. The Court so found stating that the Officer’s “testimony and Exhibit A were merely cumulative of the other evidence, and any error in the admission of the testimony and Exhibit A was harmless.” Thus the Court found that “[w]e disregard errors in the admission of evidence as harmless error unless they affect the substantial rights of a party.”[fn1]

In finding Mother in contempt the Court found “from the evidence that the Mother has failed to take a positive or active role in encouraging the child to engage in visitation and is allowing the child to decide if she wants to visit.” It has already been observed that children are not to be put in the position of or allowed to make decisions regarding participation in parenting time.

The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines provide:
If a child is reluctant to participate in parenting time, each parent shall be responsible to ensure the child complies with the scheduled parenting time. In no event shall a child be allowed to make the decision on whether scheduled parenting time takes place.
In most cases, when a child hesitates to spend time with a parent, it is the result of naturally occurring changes in the life of a child. The child can be helped to overcome hesitation if the parents listen to the child, speak to each other and practically address the child’s needs.
Parents should inquire why a child is reluctant to spend time with a parent. If a parent believes that a child’s safety is compromised in the care of the other parent, that parent should take steps to protect the child, but must recognize the rights of the other parent. This situation must be promptly resolved by both parents. Family counseling may be appropriate. If the parents cannot resolve the situation, either parent may seek the assistance of the court.[fn2]

Mother failed in her duty to promote a positive parent-child relationship between Father and Daughter as well as failing to facilitate Father's parenting time. Evidence elicited at the hearing indicated that at the 07 August parenting time exchange, Mother engaged in the alienating tactic of crying and hugging Daughter when Daughter was ready to leave with Father. At the 09 August parenting time exchange, Mother would not get out of the vehicle and only cracked her window to talk to Father. A family friend testified that she never heard Mother say anything that encouraged Daughter to participate in the parenting time. Father presented evidence that Mother failed to ensure that Daughter complied with the scheduled parenting

Mother and Father have harmed their daughter to the point that when after three years of absence from the life of her Father she refused to see him. Social science research shows significant benefits to children when non-custodial fathers remain involved in their lives.[fn3] Yet, both parents allowed their ongoing disdain for each other to poison the well from which their daughter drinks. Rather than provide competent nurturing and guidance to their daughter they have instilled in her that she has no intrinsic value but, rather, is only a prize to be fought over and won. Both of these parents are abusive to their daughter.

As for the contempt citation, the primary objective of a civil contempt proceeding is not to punish the contemnor but to coerce action for the benefit of the aggrieved party.[fn4] A contempt order that neither coerces compliance with a court order nor compensates the aggrieved party for loss and does not offer an opportunity for the recalcitrant party to purge himself may not be imposed in a civil contempt proceeding. Thus, Mother holds the keys to her freedom by ensuring that she complies with the court order and facilitates Father's parenting time.

In nearly six years of working nearly exclusively on high conflict parenting child custody cases I have been able to observe a patter in these relationships. The hostile aggressive parent needs a partner in the conflict and ensuing battle. That partner is the other parent. This is not to say that both parents share equally in the blame or initiate the offending actions. It must be acknowledged though, as I have seen, that both parents play a role in perpetuating the conflict. This conflict is mitigated by creating a new concept of the parent-parent and parent-child relationships which ultimately benefit the child.

1] Sibbing v. Cave, 922 N.E.2d 594, 598 (Ind. 2010)
2] Ind. Parenting Time Guideline § I(E)(3) (emphasis added).
3] E.g., Marcia J. Carlson & Katherine A. Magnuson, Low-Income Fathers’ Influence on Children, In re Matter of E.M. And El.M. (Ind. 2014) citing 635 Annals of Am. Acad. Pol. & Soc. Sci. 95, 107 (2011)
4] In re Paternity of M.F., 956 N.E.2d 1157, 1163 (Ind. Ct. App. 2011). 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Petition for Fines over Fees in Family Courts

Indigent, Low Income and Middle Class families are purposefully being denied access to the New Hampshire Court System; by being denied relief from excessively high fees when seeking court intervention to uphold the orders they already made; leaving the ability to seek court enforcement of orders already to the rich.
The denial of court intervention is literally splitting Families apart; because they can no longer afford or could potentially never afford to get access to a court to be heard.  The NH Court system is depriving families based on their ability to pay. Without a consistent sliding fee schedule, nor are the fees consistent between courts. And it's wrong; due to the fact that orders in family law cases are NOT Enforceable outside the Court Room. When someone is in Contempt as in this Case and you do not have the ability to pay there is simply no recourse. 
The Court will moan that they are full and that the fees are to avert frivolous Motions; and/or that the Legislative Branch cut their budget and they have to pass it on to the public without putting thought into making their orders unbreakable.
Instead of fees to get into Court to be heard; how about fines for those breaking the orders and/or to a party who filed a frivolous motion?
In New Hampshire their Constitution states in Part 1 of their Bill of Rights:
[Art.] 14. [Legal Remedies to be Free, Complete, and Prompt.] Every subject of this state is entitled to a certain remedy, by having recourse to the laws, for all injuries he may receive in his person, property, or character; to obtain right and justice freely, without being obliged to purchase it; completely, and without any denial; promptly, and without delay; conformably to the laws.
Yet, the excessive fees exist and are also in opposition to NH RSA 461:A:4-a where the “Law” specially states that Contempt is suppose to be heard within 30 days; there is no legislative intent to deny that right - if a party can't pay.  In fact legislators have only invoked a surcharge of $25.00 on appeals to the Supreme Ct. It would seem that the right decision and reasonable solution would be for the Courts to take measures in Family Law Cases to deter contempt. As a single parent, I and too many other families cannot afford to pay $252.00 to file contempt, when it happens numerous times during the year or even once.
If the Family Court had a consistent system in place that penalized parties who filed frivolous motions and/or failed to follow Court Orders; families would not be denied their rights.
Imagine a parent who is suppose to be receiving child support and is not; under the fee schedule they would pay $252.00 to bring the matter forward; hardly possible when they are lacking funds in the first place. Now if the parties are in agreement about a ‘change’ in child support - the fee goes down to $127.00. How many times does that happen? And if it does happen why drag them into court sign it? Approved it, approve all agreements and move on.
Some reasonable creative sanctions or measures in every Family Court to deter repeat visits and repeat litigation would be;

     1. Consistency between the courts, no more than one or two Judges max on a case; to understand the cases in front them; because New Judges have no time to review the file in front of them to see whose doing what and/or to see if a party is escalating.

Unenforced Court orders in this State have had disastrous results in this case; 2 died there was a least 5 Judges on the case, it’s in Concord and open to the public; as you read through it is shocking, horrible, sad and could have possibly been avoidable.  In this case 2 people also died; because the visitation center did not have a police officer on to check for weapons as they note in their own procedures they “may do”; obviously they should.

      2. Follow the LAW; if a parent denies another parent the right to see their child/children or fails to follow the court ordered parenting plan then give them a fine, right there. They do it - to collect in Child Support Cases every Friday, in Nashua, NH; if they repeat, increase the fine; 3rd time? Give them weekend jail time with a fine.  Deter the bad behavior.

3. Moreover, contempt or a motion to compel should only be heard by a Judge, not pushed into mediation. (additional expenses) Evidence heard, order made, follow it. Nor should it be review by a Marital Master who cannot under the law make such orders and who have actually been relieved of their duties by the Legislative Branch; effective 1/13/12.
 4.  Accountability by the Court itself; will model the behavior of the people they rule over.
People might actually get the message that not following the law or court orders actually does have repercussions. Chaos happens when nothing is done; when a party is vindicated it releases hostility and the party penalized for bad acts; starts to behave. And All can move on to “happily ever after” by spending less time in court, clearing the docket and/or actually funding the Chief Justice's plan to provide electronic access to the courts. 

I am just a Mom, who pursued a legal education to understand the courts; I have been an activist for family & child rights. Active in my community volunteering; and I am a home owner whose taxes actually go toward the Courts. I do community and legal research and often blog about it. I hear the same story of excessive fees, court orders not enforced over and over and I know that frustration.

Children and parents need consistency.  It’s really simple, like the other parents in these “Family Courts” I want the other parent to follow the court orders, not interrupt parenting time and in my case not expose him to doctors the Court Recognized as “Not Capable”.
So after filing a Reconsideration on the denial to a Motion for a waiver of Court Fees and Motion for alternative service, they are denying not just me; but hundreds of others the opportunity to be heard.  Filing an appeal in the NH Supreme Court, will only be a discretionary appeal which means they do not even have to hear it and if they do not the Chaos continues.   
A two-tier system that is leaving families and children at risk; your Signature on this Petition will help send a strong message to the New Hampshire Supreme Court that the wide discretion they allowing, is failing families; excessive fees deny justice and failing to uphold their own orders is a waste of the tax-payers money and dangerous to the community.
“Fine the party responsible for the action and make some order out of the chaos you created.”  
Instead of fees to get into Court to be heard; fines for those breaking the orders and/or to a party who filed a frivolous motion.
Together we can make a difference. Please Sign, your name, concerned citizen or anonymous but please Support this Petition; so we can help our neighbors compromise whenever possible and the courts can deescalate the worst times a family can go through; divorce. These are nice people struggling to move on to an alternate happily ever after.
Your support and signature can make that happen. Please forward to others and sign here: 
                “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
                                                                             Mark Twain

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Fools List 4.1.14 Gov. CPS & Courts = Fraud

NH Attorneys describe romance between trial attorney and then-prosecutor Ayotte

Mrs. Ayotte & the NH Attorney Generals Office; ....Attorneys for a man convicted 15 years ago of raping and killing a young Hopkinton girl have provided new details about the romantic relationship between his trial lawyer and then-prosecutor Kelly Ayotte. ....The attorney general’s office has yet to respond to the new petition, which makes several other previously argued claims about Dale’s defense. It asserts that Brodich and his co-counsel, James Moir, failed to call key witnesses, adequately cross-examine a jailhouse snitch, object to questionable DNA evidence or present a defense theory other than “Dale didn’t do it.”

Another unfair trial. What if he's innocent? Full story above.

FL Child Protection shows the mentality of their workers in this case:

Former Child Protection Worker Nicole Kemp tries to keep custody of a child; documents show she paid a woman for the child who has a drug problem.  DCF Florida said they didn't know about forced her to resign. And of course the real family is trying to get her back.  

Another example of the extreme measures these so called child protect workers go through.

NH Court System Charging Excessive Fees

$252.00 to file a Motion just so you can go back court to have the courts enforce the orders they already made? 

Instead of fees to get into Court to be heard; how about fines for those breaking the orders and/or a party who filed a frivolous motion. Perhaps aiding in deterring contempt rather than punishing the victim; once again. 

After All NH Constitution  Art.] 14. [Legal Remedies to be Free, Complete, and Prompt.] Every subject of this state is entitled to a certain remedy, by having recourse to the laws, for all injuries he may receive in his person, property, or character; to obtain right and justice freely, without being obliged to purchase it; completely, and without any denial; promptly, and without delay; conformably to the laws.

This one we can do something about simply add your signature to this Petition