Custody Cases: Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse


Published by Arlaine Rockey, Attorney At Law
Custody Cases: Protecting Children From Child Abuse
by Arlaine Rockey, Attorney At Law

Why Aren’t the Children Protected?

When allegations of child sexual abuse arise during a custody case, unfortunately, the professionals who are involved often look first to question the motives and veracity of the protective parent rather than to what they can do to protect the child. Most people think that making allegations of sexual abuse is a sure way for the protective parent to win the custody case. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There is a backlash in full force in our legal system against protective parents. “Protective parents” are those acting to protect their children from abuse, be it physical or sexual. Protective parents are, much more often than not, mothers. The Fathers Rights Movement has been built on the myth that evil mothers have lodged false allegations of sexual or physical abuse or domestic violence against millions of fathers just to deprive and alienate them from their children.

All states have laws that make it mandatory that people who suspect child abuse or neglect must report it to Child Protective Services (CPS). CPS then must investigate. If there is a custody case ongoing, it is customary for CPS to be highly skeptical of sexual abuse allegations. Perhaps worried about being pawns, CPS generally just doesn’t want to get involved. This aversion, unless there is clear medical evidence of or the child’’s clear disclosure of sexual abuse, often manifests itself in the allegations being unsubstantiated, which makes the CPS investigator a nice witness for the abuser.

Thousands, if not millions, of dollars have been paid to psychologists all over this country who perform court-ordered custody evaluations that label protective parents, sometimes slyly using the key words without the title, as perpetrators of Richard Gardner’’s bogus Parental Alienation Syndrome (“PAS”), and who even misdiagnose them with real mental problems like Borderline Personality Disorder or Munchausen’s Syndrome. These custody evaluations, and their recommendations, are used to force protective parents into unfavorable custody settlements or to fully divest them of custody, doing the unthinkable, giving custody to the abuser.

Misled or desperate protective parents too often consent to the court appointment of a Guardian ad litem (“GAL”), often an attorney, for the children. It sounds like a great idea. Give the children their own attorney who will investigate the case and advocate for the children’s best interests. However, all too frequently these attorneys, often well-meaning volunteers, are not experienced in handling cases involving abuse or domestic violence. When faced with abusers who are well-spoken and financially secure wearers of suits and ties, GALs, much like judges, find it hard to believe that these professionals could possibly be abusers. Too many mothers in their desperation to protect their children act a little crazy. They generally make a lot less money than their ex-husbands, which also apparently means they offer less security for their children. If the GALs do not believe the abuse allegations, these protective parents are at risk of having the GAL recommend that the fathers get custody.

Like the custody evaluations, GAL recommendations also are used to force protective parents into unfavorable custody settlements or to fully divest them of custody, again, doing the unthinkable, giving custody to the abuser.

This reality sounds unbelievable, even crazy, but it is happening all over this country. Why is it happening? Some people swear that judges and lawyers are being paid under the table to take children from protective parents. Others say that federal child support enforcement money, used in part to give legal advice to fathers, is being misused to influence and possibly pay lawyers and judges, maybe even psychologists, who help fathers win custody. Perhaps the reason is a lack of training of judges, lawyers, GALs, psychologists, and Child Protective Services workers about how to investigate sexual abuse allegations and about the characteristics of the abused and the abusers. Maybe it is because sexual abuse is so despicable, that people just do not want to believe it really happens. Whatever the reasons, protective parents fighting to protect their children now are stuck with this reality, and the best thing they can do is try to find an attorney highly experienced with these issues and navigate the minefield.

Navigating the Minefield[2]

I tell my clients that they cannot afford to risk more problems by being an activist to change the world during their custody cases. After the case is over, there will be plenty of time to do the important work of organizing coalitions, seeking publicity about damaging judges and unjust outcomes, and trying to change the law and the reality. Right now, while seeking a support group is a good idea, they, and you, need to focus on what you can do to maximize the chances for success in your custody case.

Custody cases involving sexual abuse allegations become very expensive. Although there is a chance, if you prevail in your custody case, that the opposing party might be ordered to pay or reimburse your attorney’s fees, generally you are going to have to advance your litigation costs, and possibly risk having to pay attorney’s fees to the opposing party should you lose. Not only do you have to pay for an attorney, unless you are lucky enough to find a legal aid attorney to take your case, you also will have to pay for other costs such as expert witnesses, psychological evaluations, copies of medical records, and depositions. Underlying everything suggested in this article is the supposition that you can find the money to pay all litigation costs either yourself or through your family, friends, credit cards or loans.

Your goal is to protect your child or children[3] from being sexually abused. In a custody case, this translates into the abuser hopefully at least getting supervised visitation if not therapeutic visitation or none at all for a while. The sooner you can get a court order limiting the abusers access to the child the better. Most states have laws allowing the Court to enter an emergency temporary custody order to protect the child from abuse, and also there is usually the option to apply for a domestic violence temporary restraining order to protect the child from sexual abuse. Deciding which immediate option to use should be discussed, as with all the other possibilities mentioned in this article, with your attorney. It is best to go to Court as soon as possible for a temporary order either stopping visitation or making it supervised until the sexual abuse allegations can be investigated by CPS, doctors, and a forensic psychologist.

Chronological History

To prepare for your case you should create a detailed chronological history of all of the things that have occurred that might be evidence of sexual abuse to give to your attorney.[4] This history should include anything that might be relevant to the possible sexual abuse, such as:

•Sexual acting out with a sibling or another child or adult.
•Use of a toy or object in a sexual manner
•Repeated irritation around private parts
•Disclosures (child telling you or someone else about the abuse)
•Venereal disease, yeast infections, urinary tract infections
•Dates of visits or time spent alone, including at night, with the alleged abuser
•Complaints of pain urinating or using bathroom
•Enuresis or encopresis after being potty trained
•Self-mutilation (cutting, hair pulling etc.)
•Discharge from vagina or in underwear
•Blood or tears around vagina or anus
•Night terrors
•Saying or doing things that show a more advanced knowledge of sex
•Masterbation (although most masterbating in children is normal behavior
•Abuser shows child favoritism, gives child gifts
Also write down other relevant information such as:

•List of all people who have access to the child (possible abusers)
•List of all witnesses who might have heard or have seen the child say or do something unusual, and all caretakers, with their names, addresses and telephone numbers
•Make chronological history of any physical abuse of child, siblings, or yourself from abuser.
•Write about abuser’’s history, including any history of being abused, of any other people in his family who were abused or abusers, any criminal record, history of alcohol or drug abuse, names and addresses of his former wives or girlfriends.
•Use of child pornography by the abuser.
Document, Document, Document

Throughout your case, you need to document, document, document. Take photos of any injuries and of anything else you can document, for example, the child dressed by abuser in provocative, or age-inappropriate clothing. Keep all physical evidence, which is anything you can touch, such as soiled underwear (put it in a ziplock bag), objects child has used sexually, provocative or nude photographs that the abuser has taken of the child, pictures the child has drawn that seem sexual, and stories or letters the child has written that are relevant.[5] Request all medical records from your child’’s pediatrician and hospitalizations if any visits had any relevance. Get complete copies of your child’’s school files to see if there is anything helpful in there. After consulting with your attorney about the legality in your state, tape conversations between you and the abuser, particularly during the exchange of the child for visitations and phone calls. If legal in your state, and generally it is not legal, tape conversations between the abuser and your child. You can also discuss with your attorney secretly videotaping some of your child’’s sexual acting out behaviors. Communicate with the abuser during the pendency of the case in writing as much as possible (email is a great alternative) so that you can use it in evidence at trial. You also should confide in at least one, preferably two friends, not just family members, about the things that are going on as they happen, soon after they happen, when you are upset about things because later these people will be able to testify and corroborate what you said happened and because there is a hearsay exception for excited utterances that will allow them to testify to what you told them.

Doctors & Therapists

Take your child to the doctor if there is any complaint from your child about pain in the private parts or some other evidence of sexual abuse, such as sperm or a discharge in the child’s underwear, or if the child tells you something that makes you think that the child has been sexually abused. It is critical that you take your child to a doctor or a therapist soon after the child tells you or another person anything about the sexual abuse so that you (or the other person) will later be able to testify to what the child said at trial. Remember, if there is physical evidence on the child, not to bathe the child first and to take any relevant clothing in a ziplock to show the doctor. It is far better to take your child to the emergency room of your city’s public hospital right away than the child’s pediatrician. Most emergency rooms have doctors who are trained to handle sexual abuse examinations and most ER rooms have special social workers who will make the call to CPS to report it, which looks better than the report coming from you, especially if you are in an ongoing custody case. When you go to the doctor, be sure to tell the doctor everything the child told you. You can afterwards take your child to her/his pediatrician for a followup and to let the pediatrician know what has been happening. Again tell the pediatrician what your child told you. These statements will be written in the doctor’s and hospital records and can later be used as evidence as there is a hearsay exception for statements in aid of treatment. The child’s statements that prompted you to take the child to the ER or doctor also can come into evidence under this same hearsay exception. It is impossible to get the child’s statements into evidence without a hearsay exception. It is also a good idea to put your child in therapy or to encourage your child to speak with the school counselor so that there are other third parties who can later testify to what the child has said.

How You Play the Game

Most people think that only things that occurred prior to the custody case being filed are important in the final custody decision, but that is mistaken. Custody cases can easily last for a year or more. What happens and how you conduct yourself during the pendency of the court case is very important to the outcome. I tell my clients that their case is like a chess game, and it really matters how you play the game. You need to be on guard throughout the pendency of the case. It should go without saying that you need to make sure that you are squeaky clean because you never know if there is a private investigator watching you or whether you might have bad luck and get caught driving drunk or smoking pot. You also should not have persons of the opposite sex who are not related to you spend the night or live with you if at all possible. If your child or children are sexually acting out, you should clearly tell them that that behavior is not acceptable and then redirect them. You can talk with your child’s therapist as to how to handle this situation without shaming your child and about teaching your child about boundaries, but to avoid being criticized at trial, you need to clearly tell your children that the sexually acting out behavior is inappropriate. You also need to make sure your children are supervised closely and do not allow them to sleep in the same room together. You want to avoid giving the abuser opportunities to turn the tables and focus the case on you instead of him.

Combating Allegations of Parental Alienation (PAS)

A very important piece and one of the most difficult things for protective parents to do is to allow the child to go to visits with the abuser during the pendency of the case, especially if the abuser has been granted unsupervised visitation pending the trial. However, it is absolutely critical to follow the Court’s Orders. If you withhold visitation and are found in contempt of court, you could risk losing custody of your child to the abuser. It is equally important to appear to encourage your child’s relationship with the abuser during the pendency of the case because if you do not, it will be used against you. One of the biggest factors in custody cases is that judges want to give custody to the parent who will encourage the child’s relationship with the other parent. Obviously, this sounds crazy when you are convinced that the other parent is sexually abusing your child, but you have to be ever mindful of it and actually do things that will prove that you have encouraged the child’s relationship with the other parent, despite what you believe. When a protective parent talks badly about the abusive parent, allows others to do so, or does other things to make the child fear or hate the abuser, then the protective parent is in danger of being labeled as having alienated the child from the other parent.

Of course, one of the most critical factors in proving parental alienation is that the child actually has expressed or otherwise exhibited hatred or fear of the abusive parent. These cases can make a protective parent a bit crazy because it should be perfectly normal for a sexually abused child to fear or hate the abuser, but it is more likely that the child actually loves the abusive parent.[6] Moreover, if evidence of alienation is shown in the custody (psychological) evaluation or any other evidence (including the abuser’s own testimony) at trial, it will be used against the protective parent and could work to give the abuser custody of the child. It sounds crazy to do nice things for the abuser, but it will help you in your case and fend off any attempt by him to say you have alienated the child from him.

Here are some ways to create evidence that you are NOT alienating your child from the abuser. With all of these, you need to take photographs of the items or make copies of them to keep for evidence:

•Have the child make gifts and/or cards for the abuser (birthday & all holidays)
•Make sure the child calls the abuser at least every other evening, preferably from a cell phone so you will have a record of the telephone number called
•In writing (email is fine) inform the abuser in advance of all regular doctor and dental appointments, and teacher’s conferences, and invite him to attend (unless you have a domestic violence restraining order against him), and if he does not attend, send him an email letting him know what happened and what the doctor said or recommended
•Make copies of all school report cards, progress reports, notes from teachers, and examples of the child’s school work and send these to the abuser with a cover letter saying please find X enclosed. Keep copies of your letters and keep the originals or copies of the things you have sent.
•Send the abuser school pictures, even a few extra for his family, again with a cover letter, and keep a copy for yourself.
•Be polite and professional in all your communications with the abuser.
Remember, everything you say can and will be used against you. He is probably taping your every call.

Cooperate with Child Protective Services

You have to cooperate with CPS in their investigation. If you do not cooperate, you risk CPS turning on you and perhaps charging you with neglect for failure to protect your child. Your attorney should give CPS information that might tend to prove that the sexual abuse has occurred, but do not count on CPS substantiating the sexual abuse. It is best that your attorney try to stay on speaking terms with the CPS investigator(s) because CPS has absolutely no duty to tell anyone what is going on in the investigation and really should not tell anyone what is going on in it, but sometimes CPS will discuss the investigation, most likely with the protective parent and that parent’s attorney. It is more likely that CPS will say that the sexual abuse did not occur or that it cannot say whether or not it occurred. Sometimes unsubstantiation happens when there is no direct statement (“disclosure”) by the child saying that the abuser sexually abused the child (for example, touched the child inappropriately or had sexual relations with the child) or no medical evidence. Even if CPS unsubstantiates, the CPS records and investigators still can be helpful to prove that the sexual abuse actually occurred. It may be that both sides call CPS as a witness at trial. Your attorney can turn the CPS witness around to help prove some of the little pieces of the puzzle even if CPS unsubstantiates.

Domestic Violence

It is not unusual for sexual abuse to occur in the context of a battering relationship where the abuser might sexually and even physically abuse the child and also physically and sometimes sexually abuse the mother, who is the protective parent in the custody case. Depending on how long the domestic violence, which I am defining as physical abuse by the abuser against the mother, has been happening, it might have been more difficult for the protective parent to get away from the relationship in order to protect herself and the child. Domestic violence in the context of a child custody case is a complicated topic for another discussion, but suffice it to say that you can also obtain a domestic violence protection or restraining order to protect yourself and the child from the abuse, and that most custody laws now include at least as a factor that the Court should also consider evidence of domestic violence. Some states have a presumption that a perpetrator of domestic violence should not get custody. In trying to get supervised visitation for the abuser in your custody case, sometimes it is easier to prove domestic violence and its effects on the children or physical abuse of the children rather than sexual abuse of the child. So, your attorney needs to attack the case from all angles to achieve the goal of supervised visitation for the abuser.

The Guardian ad Litem

I’m a child advocate, but my advice to you is not to ask for or agree to the appointment of a Guardian ad Litem (“GAL”) to represent your child in the custody case. The basic reason for this advice is that a GAL just creates one more variable that you cannot control in your case. My other main reason is that all too often GALs, besides usually not having training in sexual abuse cases, also seem to gravitate toward the parent who appears more stable financially and emotionally … and in a sexual abuse custody case, that usually turns out to be the abuser. Furthermore, for the case to be settled, the GAL will also have to agree to the settlement. So, if you can avoid having a GAL, do so.

If you end up with a GAL anyway, then you have to cooperate with the GAL and provide information to the GAL. My best suggestion is to treat the GAL the way you would treat a CPS investigator, with caution. Your attorney and you are going to have to keep on the GAL’’s good side because, just as with recommendations from a custody evaluation, the GAL’s recommendations are going to carry a lot of weight with the judge. Your attorney should try to get the GAL’s recommendations in writing so that the GAL has to commit to them and so your attorney has advance warning of them. Once the GAL’s recommendations come down, you and your attorney need to consider settling the case before trial. Yet, you don’t have to roll over if the settlement is not going to protect your child.

On the bright side, you might want to consider that even if the GAL’s recommendations are not favorable to your position, you can look at them as the worst case scenario for an outcome in the case and negotiate from there.

If you cannot reach a favorable settlement at that juncture, your attorney may be in the unenviable position of fighting against the GAL’’s recommendations at trial or of trying to win over the GAL. Neither is easy to do. You can actually depose the GAL and call the GAL as a witness at trial, but you are going to need a very experienced custody attorney to be successful, mostly because the Court looks at the GAL as a neutral person with no preconceived biases, and your attorney is going to have to show that the GAL is basically either inept or biased.

The Custody Evaluation

One of the most common tactics in complex custody cases is to ask the Court to appoint a forensic psychologist to perform a custody evaluation, which will supposedly answer some questions and then give recommendations as to what custody and visitation arrangement would be in the children’s best interests. Quite often judges rubberstamp the custody evaluation recommendations; so, custody evaluations are muy importante and should be requested and consented to only with extreme caution. Choosing the psychologist is critical. Find a psychologist, preferably three because you will have to negotiate which one to choose, who has experience in sexual abuse, either in evaluation and treatment of victims or perpetrators. You also should investigate to make sure the potential psychologists are not aligned with the Father’s Rights Movement. It makes more sense in a sexual abuse case, to have a psychological evaluation done of the child / victim by an expert in child sexual abuse, instead of a regular custody evaluation of everyone; however, if you cannot obtain the former, you need to try your best to get a sexual abuse expert to do the custody evaluation.

Before the Order appointing the custody evaluator is entered, your attorney needs to formulate questions for the evaluator to be included in the Order to focus the evaluation. The questions should address the issues in the case, including asking if the child has been sexually abused and if so, is the alleged abuser (father) the perpetrator. The questions should also address domestic violence and child physical abuse if those are also issues in the case. Then, there are the general questions always included such as what custody and visitation parenting arrangement would best promote the child’’s best interests. Your attorney should make sure that the questions are carefully drafted so that it is clear that the existence of sexual or physical abuse or domestic violence are determined first as threshold issues before going to general best interest issues; otherwise, the sexual and other abuse issues could be minimized. Be warned that most custody evaluators recommend a form of shared parenting or joint custody, with one parent having primary custody and the other having secondary custody.

Once the custody evaluation Order is entered, your attorney needs to act swiftly to make sure that the evaluator gets copies of, or is alerted to, all the court documents as well as all other relevant documentation, such as CPS records, medical records, school records etc. Your attorney will need to decide what information to give the evaluator because everything you give the psychologist will eventually be given to the abuser. The evaluator may have a questionnaire for you to fill out about your family history and your parenting techniques, etcetera. Again, make sure your attorney reviews everything you write before you submit it to the psychologist. The psychologist will probably meet with you for an introduction and then give you a battery of psychological tests to show whether you have any DSM-IV diagnoses and how you view your child. The psychologist should also give you the Sexual Behavior Inventory test that asks you the frequency in the last six months of a variety of sexualized and normal behaviors in your child or children. The psychologist will meet individually with you and then with the abuser and will observe you with the children and then the other parent with the children.

The psychologist should also meet with or interview the child, although some say they do not want to subject the child to yet another interview. With your attorney’s approval as to the legality in your state, you might want to secretly tape your interviews with the psychologist in case there are discrepancies in what you reported when the custody evaluation is finished. You should be careful as to what you say to the psychologist, but at the same time, you have to be honest and remember that on the tests, some questions that are slighty negative about yourself are asked and it is normal to admit certain negative things about oneself. If you deny these things that most people would just admit, it will make you look strange, like you are trying to make yourself appear better than you are. You need to answer honestly and try not to make youself look better or worse because that finding on the tests is just as, perhaps more, damaging as having a mental disorder because it goes to your credibility.
After the custody evaluation is finished, you and your attorney need to review it, first to see if the psychologist got the facts straight. If there is a glaring problem, your attorney can write letter to the psychologist setting out the discrepancies. Your attorney also should take a deposition of the custody evaluator if the outcome is not favorable to your position. Your attorney should investigate the custody evaluator’s background, including his or her resume, books or articles written, conferences at which he or she presented , and any affiliations with certain groups that would show a bias, such as father’s rights groups. Your attorney should subpoena the custody evaluator’s complete file and review its contents, preferably prior to, or at the deposition, including all “collateral” statements, which are those given by people who you and the abuser named as supportive witnesses, all statements and questionnaires of, and interview notes about, you and the abuser, which may include audio or video tapes, and the results of all mental health examinations. Your attorney should be skilled and meticulous about deposing the custody evaluator in order to find out in advance how the custody evaluator will testify at trial and what holes there are in the custody evaluation.

Hiring a Sexual Abuse Expert

If the psychologist who did the custody evaluation did not adequately address the issue of sexual abuse or found that there was no sexual abuse, depending on the recommendations in the custody evaluation, you might want to hire another psychologist who is an expert in child sexual abuse to critique the custody evaluation and to do another evaluation solely on the issue of sexual abuse. You need to understand that your child’s therapist cannot be this evaluator of sexual abuse because it would be a violation of the psychologists’’ code of ethics because it is considered acting in a dual role. You need to have a separate psychologist to be your sexual abuse expert to evaluate and form a professional opinion as to whether the sexual abuse occurred.

You should definitely have this psychologist interview the child. If your attorney wants your sexual abuse expert to be able to interview the alleged perpetrator, your attorney will probably have to file a motion in the case; however that is a tactical move and must be taken with caution. Do not expect the Court to allow it once a custody evaluation has already been done, which is why it’’s best to choose a custody evaluator who has experience in sexual abuse in the first place. Furthermore, you need to know that there is no mental test that can tell for sure if someone is a sex abuser. Sexual abuse is proven from a constellation of evidence.

Even if you hire a sexual abuse expert, there is no guarantee that the expert is going to arrive at the conclusion that you desire; so, you might not want to tip your hand that you have such an expert until you have to do so. You can expect the other side to want to depose your sexual abuse expert, and you will have to pay to obtain a copy of that deposition even though you did not take it.

The Abuser’s Testimony

Your attorney will also want to request discovery from the alleged perpetrator and to take his deposition. You want to have the abuser’s version of the facts on the record as soon as possible before he knows what sort of evidence you have. A strategy your attorney might seriously want to consider, in addition to taking the abuser’’s deposition, is calling the abuser as your first witness at trial. This strategy takes away the opportunity for the abuser to change his story according to how other witnesses testify at trial. Since the custody case is a civil trial, if the abuser takes the Fifth[7] and refuses to testify, the Court can infer that he is in fact guilty of the thing for which he took the Fifth.

The Child’s Testimony

There are many ways to get the child victim’s statements into evidence at trial without having the child testify at trial. Some have been discussed above, such as the child’s statements made to doctors or therapists in aid of treatment or the child’s statements made to parents or other caretakers who then take the child to a doctor or a therapist based upon what the child said. Another exception to the hearsay rule is an excited utterance, which means that if the child says something at or soon after the time that something traumatic happens and the child is upset at the time it is said, then the child’s statement can be testified to by someone who heard what the child said.

Depending on the facts of your sexual abuse case, you might need to have the child victim testify. To minimize trauma for the child, you and the alleged perpetrator could agree to allow the judge to talk to the child in Chambers alone. However, a better strategy is to ask that just the lawyers and the judge be present and that the courtroom be cleared with even the parents having to leave. This method allows your attorney to direct the questioning on direct examination and also insures that the testimony is on the record, which is important in case your case ends up being appealed.

Other Witnesses at Trial

There are many other witnesses that can be called for trial depending on the time allowed for testimony. Some of these I call professional witnesses: doctors, psychologists, therapists, police officers, teachers, and CPS investigators for example. If there are medical records, sometimes these can come into evidence either by consent or with only brief testimony from the records custodian unless something needs to be explained, in which case you may need to subpoena the doctor. If there is actual medical evidence of sexual abuse, for example, tears or a sexually transmitted disease, you may need to have the doctor testify and explain how that medical evidence would tend to show that sexual abuse occurred. You might also need medical personnel if the child’s statements in aid of treatment are not written clearly in the medical records.

You should not forget that you also have to present basic evidence that you are a fit parent and that it is in the child’s best interests to be in your custody. Besides all the evidence above, you should choose two or three non-relative witnesses who have witnessed you taking care of the child and who will testify that you are an excellent mother. Friends, neighbors, your child’s friend’s parents, babysitters, daycare providers, housekeepers, and sometimes church members are possible witnesses.

For each possible witness, you should write down for your attorney what you expect that witness to say, the witness’ name, address and telephone numbers. Your attorney may want you to contact these witnesses first. A lot of times when it gets right down to court time, people do not want to get involved. Remember, a subpoena can be used to force someone to testify and also to get someone an excuse for work, but if that person is adamant about not testifying, you should probably look somewhere else. to help you in a crunch with your child is very important. You should choose at least one relative to testify, preferably a grandmother or aunt to tell about how your family supports you and has been and will be there for you. It is especially important when there are allegations of sexual abuse if you are asking for supervised visitation for the abuser because having any child basically 24/7 is stressful. All parents need help every so often.

Your Testimony

You probably do not want to hear this bit of news, but your testimony is probably the most important testimony in your custody trial. The reason is that, first of all, when it comes to sexual abuse allegations, you are probably the only witness who can prove most of your case. Your credibility, meaning believability, is absolutely key. You also have to appear to be loving, smart, concerned, and nurturing, and moreover, not appear to be vindictive, lying, manipulative or evil. Mothers still have a more difficult time in custody cases than fathers when the fathers contest custody.

Here are some examples: If a father changes diapers and bathes children, he is viewed as a saint. He gets extra credit. If a mother does it, she gets no points because that is her job. If a mother works full time, or god forbid, overtime, she is viewed as having abandoned her motherly duties. If she has a boyfriend, she is a slut. Throw sexual abuse allegations in the mix and mothers are viewed all the more skeptically by the Court and every other professional involved in the case prior to and at trial.

Your attorney should review your testimony with you prior to trial. You should review your chronological history before you testify. Dates are very important. If you cannot remember a date when you are testifying, do not guess at a specific date, either say you cannot recall or give a general timeframe. Details are very important. You need to paint a picture for the judge so that the judge can see what you’re describing as if she or he is watching a movie. You should think of all your five senses while you are testifying and describing what happened. Tell the judge what you saw, heard, felt, smelled or tasted. Take yourself back to the moment you are describing. The more detailed your testimony is, the more believable it will be.

Living with the Law

In the beginning of this article, I outlined some possible reasons why sexually abused children are not protected by the Courts. Sometimes, every so often, judges do get it. Sometimes children are protected. However, you need to also know that there are gradations of protection. The judge might totally stop the abuser’s visitation until the abuser gets some help. The judge might give the children therapeutic visitation with the abuser, which generally entails going to therapy together once a week, or the judge might give the abuser visitation supervised by someone else. You can even ask the judge to order the abuser to pay a person from a nanny service to supervise the visits if there is no one else available.

Unfortunately, when there is therapeutic or supervised visitation, the abuser is probably going to try to impress the supervisor so that he can come back to Court with a motion to modify his visitation to try to get unsupervised visitation. You need to be aware that just because the trial is over, it does not mean that the case is over. These types of cases can drag on for years. Courts have jurisdiction (the power to hear the case) over children in custody cases until the child turns eighteen or until one parent dies or has his or her parental rights terminated, whichever occurs first.

If supervised visitation is not going well or if the abuser refuses to attend the visitation for several months and you have a finding of physical or sexual abuse by the Court, you may want to consider filing a Petition to Terminate the abuser’s parental rights (““TPR””). In many states, if the abuser does not pay child support for a long period of time, that is also a legal ground, or reason, to TPR. The burden of proof in a TPR hearing is more difficult than in a regular custody case, and not only do you have to prove that there is at least one legal reason to TPR, but the Court also has to find that it is in the child’s best interests that the abuser’s parental rights are terminated. However, it does happen, and if you have that opportunity, you might want to take it because then you have sole control over the abuser’s access to the children in the future.

If you lose your custody case, you need to know that it is rare for a custody case to be overturned on appeal. The reason is because Courts do not want to move children around from home to home. The policy of all Courts is to have permanency for children; so, the appellate courts give the trial judges wide latitude, also known as broad discretion, in formulating custody orders. In each state, there are two levels of Appellate Courts. Generally, the first level is called the Court of Appeals, and the second level is the state Supreme Court. Rarely, you can appeal to the United States Supreme Court if you lose in your state Supreme Court. When you appeal your case, you do not get to put on new evidence or testimony. The only time to present evidence or testimony is at your custody trial itself. For your appeal, the appellate court looks at the transcript of the trial, the court documents filed in the case, and the evidence presented. The only reason you can appeal your case is a legal mistake made by the trial judge, either at trial or in the custody order.

You cannot just appeal because you lost your case. If there is no legal mistake, there is no ground for appeal. Sometimes there are only minor mistakes that would not change the outcome of the custody trial, called “harmless errors.” If the appellate court finds that the errors of the trial judge were harmless errors or that the trial judge did not abuse his or her discretion, then the trial judge’s custody order will not be overturned on appeal.

If you are unable to protect your child by way of your custody case, you can consider any criminal charges that might be able to be brought against the abuser, even for other things that the abuser has done wrong. You should consult your attorney to help you evaluate this situation, and if appropriate, contact the authorities. Remember that generally a defendant will get more prison time in Federal Court than in state court. Federal criminal law generally applies to things people do wrong that do or can cross state lines, like sending threats through the mail or crossing a state line to violate a domestic violence restraining order.

There is an underground network that tries to protect children from sexual abuse[8]; however, if you go underground with your child, you will most likely be committing a felony, and if your child is found, then the abuser will stand a good chance of gaining permanent custody of your child, and you may well end up in prison. Furthermore, life underground is incredibly stressful, and it robs your child of the childhood you wanted your child to have.

A more realistic option might be to make sure your child stays in therapy so that she or he will be more likely to disclose any future abuse to the therapist. Teach your child about good touches and bad touches, boundaries and private parts.[9] Do not allow your child to be alone with other children if your child has acted out sexually. Continue to document evidence without letting your child or the abuser know that you are doing so. Remember, disclosure is sometimes a process. Hang in there, get some support from others in your situation and be vigilant. If there is a significant change in circumstances, which could be new evidence of sexual abuse, you can file a motion to modify your custody order.

If you and your attorney have done everything you can think of to prepare and to try your case, then you will be able to live with the outcome a little better, no matter what it is. You want to minimize the “what ifs.” Sexual abuse is hard to prove, especially where there is no disclosure by the child, no medical evidence and no confession by the abuser. Yet, having these top three pieces of proof is rare. You need to be realistic when you begin your case. However, you must do all that you can to protect your children now before this case is over because after the permanent custody trial is over, you cannot go back and bring up evidence that occurred prior to that trial. You have to bring it all out now or that evidence will be lost.
________________________

[1] You may link to this article; however, this article may not be reproduced or republished anywhere without the author’s written permission. Email ARockey-at-aol-dot-com

[2] This article is general legal information only. It is not legal advice for your case. You should talk to an attorney about your specific case before you implement any of these strategies.

[3] If one child is being sexually abused, all your children, to whom the abuser has access, are at risk of being sexually abused.

[4] Do not give this information to anyone else before you check with your attorney first. In fact, you should consult with your attorney about everything you do and say to anyone else involved in the case to make sure you are doing the right thing for your case.

[5] Something is relevant if it tends to prove that some fact (like that the sexual abuse occurred) is more or less likely to be true.

[6] There will be time for healing after the custody case is over. You can ask the Judge to order the abuser into therapy with the child, in which hopefully the abuser will get to the point where he will acknowledge to the child that he did something wrong. You also can discuss healing with your child’s individual therapist. But, during your custody case, the top priority is to protect your child, and to do that, you must win.

[7] “Taking the Fifth” refers to taking advantage of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that says that a person does not have to testify against himself regarding any crime he might have committed.

[8] This underground has been profiled on tv programs such as “Dateline,” and allegedly involves a woman named Faye Yager.

[9] In doing all this though, you need to be sure not to allow your child to become alienated from the abuser (unless the abuser chooses not to visit, in which case, consider TPR as soon as possible) and to follow the suggestions above for ways to continue to have evidence that you are including the abuser so that he cannot turn the tables on you and try to get custody from you based upon parental alienation.

Custody Cases: Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse
© 2003 by Arlaine Rockey, Attorney at Law
http://www.ArlaineRockey.com
used with author’s permission

© Arlaine Rockey, Attorney At Law

31 Responses to Custody Cases: Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse

  1. Family Courts Best Kept Secret: Say that the father abusing the kids and you will lose custody to the abuser: http://wp.me/pYYMF-2Z

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  2. Jon says:

    A lot of good advice, but I take particular exception to you calling it a myth, “that evil mothers have lodged false allegations of sexual or physical abuse or domestic violence against millions of fathers just to deprive and alienate them from their children. ” I don’t know about millions but I know happened to me. My girlfriend and mother of my daughters attacked me and then had me charged with assault after she found out I filed for custody. I wasn’t convicted but she said that if I tried to do anything again that made her look bad she would just have me arrested again so I would not be able to see my daughters. Then a couple of years later after my daughters were raped by her sons while under her care she tried to convince the cops that I was the one that raped my daughters and her sons. She did a good enough job where they did investigate me and this is on my record. She was abusive to her sons, our daughters and me. She has been found to be an abusive parent around a dozen times by D.C.F. and she spins such a good story she has never been charged. When my 4 year old daughter told me what her brother had been doing to her. Her “mother” had already known and had no plans of telling me or any authorities. When D.C.F. was contacted they investigated and even with signed confessions (that the police obtained from her sons) she had put out such a good line of crap that they didn’t see any need for involvement. I was granted full custody of our daughters(13 months later) and one of her sons were removed from her home on a child protective order a year later. She is still going to court and lying to the point where the judge has threatened to give her custody. She beat all her children physically and mentally brought false charges against me to the point where the judge was going to lock me up because she had not gotten a court approved supervisor for her visitation. The probate system is very sexist and women lie all the time in court to get their way, which they do more often than not because of those lies. My children are alienated from “mother” but it is not because I did it. It is because she told my daughters that she didn’t want to be their mother anymore, blamed my 4 year old at the time and said to her that it was her fault that her and her sister kept getting raped,pushed my 3 year old at the time down to the floor with her foot and said get away from me when my daughter tried to give her a hug and the year she had visitation she did not show up once not once. I spent a year and a half telling my daughters that their mother loved them and she just had some problems that she had to work out. I stopped defending their “mother” to them when they both told me that they never wanted to see her again and started me about how she would hit them and scream at them when I was at work.I have done nothing but try to protect my daughters. I have never lied in the probate court or about her except when I told my daughters that she loved them. I am sorry you have such a hatred for men but you really should keep it out of articles about custody of children and stick to the facts. BTW I am poor and she makes more money than me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. loving mother says:

    This is unbelievable.. In my case my now exhusband molested our oldest daughter when she was 14, 3 years later when she told me. He’s admitted to it, been convicted as a sex offender, served 60 days in jail, has 3 years probation, and has to register as a sex offender for the remainder of his life. 9 months after my oldest complained against him my then 6 year old made allegations against him also. he had charges pending against him but they were dropped because my youngest cant remember specifics and of course this time he denied it….now i’m divorced from him and he’s fighting for custody of the 2 younger…i’m scared, feel betrayed by the very justice system i turned to to continue to help me keep these children safe from him. I dont know what they expect caring loving parents to do in situations like this. Its not fair to the children nor is it fair to the protective parent. The court is allowing him to write to them, then want it to turn into calls then visits. I’m not a liar…I believe my children. Im doing everything im supposed too and still because people think ALL women are liars to get their way my children may pay the price and be made to be around their abuser.

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    • Jon says:

      The courts suck and it is not right good parents have to watch their children go through that kind of crap all because a “Judge” can’t face the reality that any man or woman can have a child, regardless of their mental state, but that does not make them a loving parent. Time to make judges accountable for poor decisions. If they could be held liable they would think twice (or more) and review all the evidence before ordering kids to see abusive parents

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  4. Angelique Landry says:

    I am very familiar with, Arlaine Rockey, and she helps the judges and guardian ad litems give custody to the abuser.

    You are fooling no one, Arlaine Rockey, you have a long list of women you have assisted and made sure the abuser gained custody of their children.

    You are on here hoping to obtain more money from protective parents and more money from the corrupt judges and guardian ad litems. You are fooling only yourself.

    The judges, guardian ad litems and attorneys are in it for the money and are giving custody to whomever they believe to be the abuser or wherever they know they are going to make the most money.

    Arlaine Rockey, shame on you. You know darn well there are no laws or statutes for providing guardian ad litems in custody cases between the parents.

    If one parent is the plaintiff and one parent is the defendant,and the child is not a party then the guardian ad litem has no business being in the case, what they are doing is illegal and a violation of our constitutional rights and parental rights.

    If the court really wanted to do an abuse hearing, first of all DSS would be involved right from the beginning. And If the court really wanted to do an abuse case, then the parent or parents become the defendant, the state is the plaintiff and the child becomes a party as a victim called the juvenile.

    This does not happen because no laws are being obeyed, guardian ad litems are brought in where they do not belong and have no place. What the court does not want you to know is that there are no laws against reporting abuse if a party suspects there is sexual or physical abuse. There are ONLY laws against NOT reporting abuse if a person suspects abuse.

    The courts do not let you know this and neither does the corrupt attorney, guardian ad litem, parent coordinators etc.

    The courts are preying on the ignorance of litigants who do not know the laws and do not know the courts are following no laws, no statutes, no proper procedures and writing up void orders with no jurisdiction! And a clear violation of parental rights. The courts are there to make money and to hell with the mothers and the fathers and to hell with the children!

    The problem is not the mother or the father, not women not men, the problem is the ignorance of the litigants and the corruption of the courts and the legal system! And the fact that a major portion of man kind would rather live in ignorance than to wake up to the reality that there is no freedom in the United States and we are all prisoners of the system unless we decide to wake up and stop fighting with each other, stand united and work to regain our human rights and stop being slaves of the government and allowing them to destroy our children.

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  5. TimV says:

    I am sorry, I must disagree. I myself have been accused by my daughter at the coaching of her biological mother of sexually abuse. I have been though a psycho sexual eval, I have been through a standard psych eval, all came back I am not remotely interested in children in any kind of sexual way. then she was forensically examined and evaluated and that therapist also says the she doesn’t believe my daughter has been abused sexually, furthermore my daughter has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and labeled as an attention seeker and exaggerate, However even with all the evidence my daughter still remains in a foster home and my life is being torn apart, my other two children have been examined forensically, interviewed and my local DFCS has flat out made things up accused me of lying in my evals, and has allowed my daughter to hide behind them all because she doesnt wanted to live with her mother and/or sister where life is much less strict. it has been almost 5 months and I have still been denied all contact, my ex-wife has sent nasty emails admitting that she is doing this because I took our daughter from her,( by the way she has had all 3 of her children taken from her and recently went on steve wilkos show because she let her husband sleep with a 16yr old with the intention of getting her pregnant) and yet I am still being treated as If I have abused my children. This is the second Time I have had to defend myself after my ex-wife has called the abuse hotline. there are so called evil mother out there. she owes me over 13k in child support and owes her own mother over 30k for our other daughter. I got appointed an attorney by the courts that will not submit any evidence, makes no phone calls and has made no attempt to defend me properly as he puts it ” it is the way it is”. we are completely broke due to myself (disabled stay at home father) being removed from the house for a month after the CPS investigator cleared me of all allegations and having to pay for child care and the fact that DFCS has ordered me to pay child support. I have been unsuccessful in finding a lawyer that will take our case because all of the lawyers in this town are in bed with DFCS. after 5 months me and my wife are so emotionally and mentally exhausted. I was threatened my the local judge and DFCS SAG lawyer to back off or they would take my other children. If anyone knows of a lawyer in the metro Atlanta area that can help or could help please contact me. I want to persue this in federal court (the only place DFCS can be held accountable). they should not be allowed to do this. even our own governor has been accused of taking kick backs (from what I have read on the internet which may or may not be true) and benifiting financially from having 8-10 foster children at his own home at any given time. so MYTH …… I THINK NOT.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Angelique is exactly right (please contact me through blog or otherwise!) and I could tell immediately from a long scrawl through this attorney’s paragraphs upon paragraphs of advice — it’s OK to mention Gardner or PAS, but NEVER name a nonprofit organization (AFCC, CRC, CPR, NACC etc) whose very existence it to market the theory –and a lot more. See links at the below website, and I have another, more general one. You can tell people usually by their talk, but to cut to the chase, get online, find out what nonprofits they have (or are hanging with) and then if there’s something being sold.

    I have not yet met ONE parent happy with a GAL’s service, and in Lackawanna County PA (right next to infamous Luzerne County) the FBI has raided the courthouse and is scrutinizing the financial records on how this particular one got hired. A federal level lawsuit has been filed against her, but in the process this unearthed which organization — and it takes HHS funding — is pushing for MORE GALs where they don’t belong. Most people (or, see ALanna Krause story) have a horror story related to one (I do, and our case didn’t even have child abuse allegations — I was an abuse survivor). My ex was given the children, the driven out by his girlfriend (whose home he was using just to get the kids and apparently get out of paying child support anyhow) and that was that for a mother/daughter relationship, for the most part. End of story. GAL in this case came in to rubberstamp, and no doubt there’s some extra financial incentives along the way.

    Seriously Angelique, “talk to me!” I also comment over at scranton political times forum, I’m the one with ridiculously long comments full of links. under the main message board. I have a series there on parent coordinatiors, another one over at http://familycourtatters.wordpresscom and a more recent blog, http://thefamilycourtmoneymachine.blogspot.com

    THIS site does have some other excellent posts, and I quoted one this morning….
    LESSON #ONE — parents in a court battle don’t have time to go through pages and pages and pages of vague talk and advice. We need answers with enough data to show the operational system and what are up against. Some of that rhetoric is up there to distract, anyhow….

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  7. Marie says:

    The last comment by Angelique I’m too shocked to articulate.The 1st Attorney said : try not to act so parinoid but if I were you I would leave the state and let your child come when she can speak for herself. That was 7 years ago and 200 thousand dollars later.my daughter is 16 in December my ex has had me arrested ( during chemo) for domestic battery to bolster the case.(case dropped but gave him time to get his ducks in a row). To date I am being accused of lying as well as my daughter regarding the abuse that she and I have been the victim of.the CPS have entrapped my daughter under the veil they were going to protect her, ( telling me to find my daughter so they can interview her) only to have my house stormed with broken window and damage. my daughter already told CPS a year prior to no availe. talking to CPS is actually given her father the ammunition to keep her his slave. he took her learners permit away, phone and has completely alienated her from everyone . On my birthday a judges signed off to have my rights removed untill trial number 5. she might as well get down on her knees and be stoned to death by the system .My daughter was told that it is legal in florida to spank a child under the age of 18.. Wow that’s real appropriate for a sexualy active teenager. I mean I could go on forever with things that would make you look at me like I was crazy . which will be his next step to have my daughter baker acted and labeled crazy.Unfortunately it will not stop the damage to my daughter. she has no rights so she looks for love in all the wrong places. I watched Tapestry of hope, an independent film about Africa and the plight of the young girls being raped . The men believe it will cure AIDS. The women that made the film is an American. She made the statement that the system in America is even more tragic because they have no rights. if the child is not wanted she has foster care. 30 percent higher chance of being raped.We do not need to wonder why we have 3 million runaways living in the cubby holes we call freedom.My daughter can live with me ,I live along in a cute little warm house that she can’t come to for shelter. Without Justice we can have no PEACE and without peace there is no JUSTICE.

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  8. Marie says:

    I really agreed with Angelique statement ! The welfare of children gets stomped on by the almighty power and greed we call “The best interest of the child”.

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  9. Casonia sade Logenberry of Seattle washington says:

    When my daughter was taken the state took her 4 months and two weeks and 5days but a foster family took her for 9 days and so when cps and casa took over are lives are child was gone for 9 days and the foster family kept her for 9 days and then turned around and gave her back but my daughter was borned addicted to the doctor gave me but when a doctor blames a person who they gave drugs to and that means the doctor pushed pills in combination to a pregnant woman and the child is in the womb and then sends that child off the a programs for a child to clear out the drug and lets face the cold hard facts before the drugs where appied…I was 100% Drug Free! and when people are drug free and a doctor acts like your a drug attic or something but yes back to my daughter…In my hearts of hearts..I Feel something bad happened to my daughter because she acted different and really started doing some weird things when she got home and it grave me the creep and there fore social workers are keeping people in the dark and will not release information about wrong doers of Foster Parents but…I know that my daughter was giving us a hard time…With each visit of are social worker and would get really up set and we could not get sleep for days on in and felt helpless..because if we refuse to have this woman in are house that meant they where going to take her away and we felt that from December 9th 2002 until Feb 6th 2006 and that in itself is a crappy and shitty way to start off a relationship with are child and cps taints relationship and will mess with people they can fuck over and that has something to do with being poor and if your middle class…it is all about bleeding your money out of your pocket and giving the money that needs to go to the child! To a Blood sucking mother fucking two faced back stabbing son-of-a-bitch

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  10. Casonia sade Logenberry of Seattle washington says:

    Lawyers bleed money and they are there to keep the case alive and they are there to give you a snow job and bull shit you all the way to the bank..Public Defenders are pretenders and they are no Perry Mason and they are there to act and pull the wool over your eyes and to play along in court and keep things going and so they can buy Diamond and Half Million Dollar Home and Scam the state and what is really Messed up is that they are all friends and when they get caught in a lie and are seen for the piece of shit they are..They Coward out of it and leave the case and keep working for the department and that means they can’t play you and so know they are passing you but one thing cps and casa will not mess with and that is killer and Crimanals because they fear for there lives and they are scared they are going to get Robbed or there house is going to get burnt down but my family will do that to people but there are pigs out there having sex with are kids and are tainted after cps has passed them from home to home and they just don’t give a dam but if the shoe was on the other foot…If they had to put up with the sadness and hurt and pain they put on family…This Bastards are Blood Sucking Pigs who have made people lives sucks and they simply get off on playing head games and giving people false hope and Rapeing people children and allowing them to know about sex before they reach adulthood and fucking up the youth of tomorrow and they are forcing children to take drugs that are going to give them side effects in the future to slow them down and so that way they can send are kids off to foster family who want this children to be Zombies.

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  11. Casonia sade Logenberry of Seattle washington says:

    What we really need is lawyers out there that want the money and is willing to raise together and fuck this ass holes up the ass and not get a shit about brotherhood of lawyers and really nail there ass to the cross and stop the bullshit spending of programs and take that money to the middle man and allow the middle class to stay that way and stop the doctors who are fucking up are kids in the first place for there research and use of are kids as ginny pigs for there research programs and lets face facts ceo are there to use cps and casa to keep tabs on children they screw up before they are born but as far as pills go in my future…Fuck that pill and take it your dam self and I told them that and go alone with the side effects as well and that no one has the right to pick and choose what goes into my body and no one has the right to pick and choose how I am going to spend my time and that is why it is going to take the whole world to work and allow cps and casa to take all your kids and with that there budget will break and this mother fuckers will not have the money which seems to be un-ending to fuck with you and to drop all the programs and if no one shows will really take a major crack at this bastards pocket and it is going to only work if we all work together to crush those thieves and stop the future fucking over of the children in the world…Let make sure that we all Join together and give poor american people back there freedom.

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  12. Grandmother says:

    People, please, help now 4 y. old boy, who is being sexually abused by his father in Belgium.
    I need to collect a lot of signatures in order to continue my struggle for the saving of my grandson.
    Please, sign and share my petition! Return my grandson to a childhood free from abuse. God bless and thank you!
    http://www.change.org/petitions/a-little-boy-is-under-sexual-abuse-in-belgium

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  13. Thanks. Yours is the most lucid advice blog I’ve read anywhere on the topic.

    I support my ex’s access to the children, even though my daughters both said, “Daddy pinched my vagina.” And one said, “He bited my vagina.” They also told CPS. They pointed to a human figure diagram and showed the caseworker where he was rubbing and hurting them. (They were 4.) That wasn’t enough, apparently. CPS unfounded it.

    The notorious CPS validator (famous for blowing a big case) liked my ex husband’s narrative. A later caseworker, responding to a call during dad’s visitation the police made to CPS, interviewed her and found the validator was “biased” and the first investigation had been “improperly conducted.”

    –She would have made a great witness, but my lawyer didn’t do anything about what happened to my kids on visitation. Though my ex continued to act out during 6 years of custody litigation against me during unsupervised visitation by hitting, screaming at, endangering, neglecting and abandoning our children, my lawyer seemed intimidated by my ex’s influential (and well-funded) Father’s Rights lawyers and the Father’s Rights custody evaluator they had recommended. Sexual abuse investigations when unfounded allow a bully to silence his victims utterly.

    I share custody with ex now.

    He also won the lion’s share of joint assets (90% or so from a 20 year marriage, our lateborn children still minors) from the judge who may or may not have realized that the my ex had raided the joint accounts the first 2 weeks of divorce. Her hostility toward me during the financial trial was amazing. (A financial trial only, I folded/settled on custody; my attorney’s lack of action gave me no choice.)

    My attorney presented a bill for $464,000 (all attorneys made $1.6 million), after a trial during which she called no witnesses and began by saying the sexual abuse “never happened.” (A statement she later retracted, saying she mispoke–as the judge winked at her. Did she throw my case in a collusive deal? Perhaps.)

    The other side continued to accuse me of making “false allegations of sexual abuse” and won the money as they promised 6 years earlier–by capitalizing on that claim.

    We were forced to sell one house by the judge; her meager support decision forces sale of the other home, the primary residence: Homeless children of a multimillionaire (more than $11 million in joint assets, and a probable $6-10 million in postcommencement assets; he and I made $16,000 each per year when we married 20 years earlier.)

    I seem to have been punished in a “no fault” financial trial, despite the fact the biased evaluator stated in his report that I made the sexual abuse call to CPS “in good faith.” (On advice of a social worker who consulted with 6 psychologists when I resisted her advice to put my children in the hands of New York State. All agreed I should call CPS in response to my children’s statements and his and their odd behavior.)

    The custody evaluator recommended more time with the kids for my ex than my ex himself asked for and paved the way for years of custody litigation.

    He asked the kids no questions about sex abuse. Ignored our statements on physical abuse; ignored police records; and ignored the family therapist’s concerns they were being abused on visitation too. (There were two custody evaluations by this guy 5 years apart. $10,000+)

    The whole system can be purchased by the “monied spouse.” There is very little morality in a system for hire.

    Parental alienation is the perfect setup–requires no hard evidence, supporting opinions can be bought or influenced.

    It’s hard to champion my children’s right to safety and happiness while also being forced (under custody threat) to endorse their manipulative destructive father as an ok dad: But I must do both.

    And what message do the kids get about honesty, safety, sex, power, and control? Right and wrong? Reward and punishment?

    If only courts would read the stats: Fewer than 14% of mothers and children make misleading statements about abuse, yet at least 70% of dads accused win custody in contested divorce. Dr. Stark, an expert on domestic violence, cannot find a single documented case of a woman inventing a history of abuse. I was abused for years. I am still being abused. I saw my children being physically, emotionally, and mentally abused. The court gave our abuser new and interesting ways of inflicting harm on us.

    As social psychologists have proved for decades, both men and women are apt to believe men’s statements over women’s. Men have higher status. Period. That’s how gender bias works against mothers (and children.) The odds are always stacked against us. We are rarely heard above the din of whining, well funded (and government funded) Father’s Rights voices. Read this:

    http://www.wcl.american.edu/journal/genderlaw/11/meier.pdf

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    • Doesitevergetanyeasiet says:

      Thanks for sharing this post. I am going through a similar situation and wondered if I could PM you for help and advice please? It’s been an awful time.

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  14. AMiller says:

    My niece is five, has been molested multiple times by her half-brothers, ages 11 and 14, during visitations at their father’s house. These incidents were medically, psychologically and legally documented but the judge awarded her father custody because “her mother runs her to the doctor too often”. Since these incidents and law enforcement agencies cross two state lines no one is able to help my niece, sister or my family. My niece’s future and poor body is doomed. Who do you turn to when the judge deems himself untouchable, when he refuses to charge the mother with any wrong doings or crimes, and refuses to take any documents into consideration? NO ONE is protecting the children of poor parents in small townships in Georgia.

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  16. Taryn says:

    I NEED HELP PLS. has anyone experienced this????? Me and my ex share joint custody he has physical custody. I was only 14 when i had my son his father was 19. I had been abandoned by my mother at age 13 and lived with my sons father till the age of 19. He was incrdibliy controling I wasnt allowed friends or freedom, I was constintly accused of being a slut or a liar and always rediculed for falling short of my “wifey” and parenting skills…. HELLO I WAS 14!!! In constant fear of being homless and alone I allowed him to control my life once i left him he kidnnapped our son to get me back to az in order to alleniant me from my new found freedom. Anyways thats not what I want to talk about but as you can see I was with a monster, 2011 my son was 9 y.o while cps was responding to a report of my husband being intoxicated and braking my window It was discovered that my son’s father had been melesting my son for his entire life. Hearing that information, it shed light on the fact that my 9 year old was acting out by melesting my 2 year old son (not a child of my ex). We got lucky there was scarring in the rectum!!!! And we had his allegations… But than I chose to cope with everything by using drugs (I’ve sinced completed treatment) and found myself unable to protect my 2 year old from my 9 year old now that he was deemed unfit to be around any other children. so I signed over my rights to cps so he could get better help. than they had to transfer the case to the county that his father lived in, the inoppropriate desicio was made to place my 9 year old into the coustdy of the abusers parents and BOOM he recanted his story and that countys cps dropped all charges refused to take any evadince into account
    My ex hid my son from me for 1 1/2 years. I was told by police that I was harrasing him by sending over well checks. Once i’d signed my rights away there was nothong i could do at that time………… Now 3 years later my son finally said enough and brought it back to my attention durring a few and far between visit only when my ex allows it…….. Even tho its back to the original court order its just better not to anger my ex. I called who I need to in hopes that it would be taken seriously this time… No fear when I know Im doing the right thing! The “Lifetime Movies” right thing anyways. So cps took it very seriously plus this time caleb told them the whole story and the decied the evadince collected inthe county I live in is worth taking a look at.

    Here’s the problem…… I was with my son at his school to help him get passed the fear to tell the cps worker that he was being hurt…. Yet here I sit 11 at night with no answers…. Apparently when Cps takes costody away from the pysical custoodial parent that also means the parent holding joint costody has her custody rights takin as well… I called the worker to find out where my son was and found out he was placed into a group home for the nite… I asked why in the hell he was not placed into my immidiate custody and she said that they cant seperate court orders Still I’m confused!!!! THERE IS NO REASON IN THE WORLD FOR MY 12 YEAR OLD SON TO BE SITTING IN AN F-EN GROUP HOME WHEN HE HAS A BED AT HIS MOMS HOUSE!!!!! NOW WHAT DO i DO? Take cps to custody court??? they are saying that because I have a history with cps and ONLY 9 months sober that I may not be an appropriate placement. I than stated that if cps had walked into my home on a weekend I had a visit with Caleb, to investagate a report made on me, and found my situation just as it is…. (I have been on weekly random ua’s for the past 2 years, and I am on and have been on intensive probation for the past year, so my po does weekly home checks, so theres documantation that Im legit,) Proving my point that there is clearly no reason here for my rights to be taken in the first place

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  17. Taryn says:

    sorry i meant to use spell check before i posted that. I get so emotional and I mess up words alot

    Like

    • carolyn hill says:

      I NEED HELP IM NOT OKAY CPS IS TERMINATING MY RIGHTS BECAUSE I ASKED FOR THEM TO EXPLAIN WHYBNO ONE EVER CHECKED ON THE 5+ REPORTS OF SEXUAL ABUSE N MY OWN DAUGHTER WAS ONE OF REPORTS SHE WAS BEING RAPED AT 7 I NEED HELP IM SCARED SO SCARED I HAVE NOT SEEN MY GIRLS SINCE JANUARY 9 2014 CPS REFUSES COUNSELING IM SCARED I LOVE THEM PLEASE HELP TEXT 530 953 7132 OR E MAIL JESSTAYKEN6676@GMAIL.COM

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  18. Peanuts Daddy says:

    Your utterly full of crap….
    I am a very good daddy to my kids, changing diapers, to doing both parental roles. I do anything to protect my kids from anything. If my child got burned in a freak accident, i would happily offer all my flesh for them.
    It took one phone call after telling my abusive wife that i was leaving her…that one call placed my kids in a life of physical, verbal, and emotional abuse and neglect to the point my kids were emaciated. You could literally see the cartilage between the ribs.
    That one call was just a furious wife telling a detective i had kiddy porn. Yep ads for Good Humor ice cream, and a joke that was on a comic strip site that happen to have bart n lisa simpson naked…a cartoon…..on a comics website.
    The detective lied on the witness stand saying. I said im addicted to kiddy porn..
    While being housed in jail, my littlest daughter was held over the banister by her ankle by my wifes tweaker boyfriend. According to the phone conversation i had with my exwife, also recorded by the jail staff.

    Here in oregon the man is just a sperm doner wasting the states resources. And can be put in prison over a custody battle and phony charges… whereas the the mothers are immediately forgiven for child rape, molestation, abuse. In fact the state actually blames the husband for the wifes ill doings. Seen it happen. Unfortunately experienced it first hand.
    Also while on sheriff patrol i assisted officers in an arrest of a mother one tuesday evening who lived in the appartment across from me.
    She had told us her husband left her two years prior and moved north state. She had repeatedly molested her 18 month old son and her 4 and 6 year old daughters. Including using sex toys on them, inside them.
    She had her kids back friday morning. And her estranged husband was now in custody. I went over to question her what happened. She told everyone he did it all and not her…. hes doing a life sentance even though he left before any of it happened.

    Me, i am currently under sex abuse investigation for my eldest daughter.
    Visitation before last, i was told my kids babysitter molested another child and my exwife never reported it..so i did.
    They grilled my kids all day concerning the guy, thankfully nothing happened. But later that week they repeated interrogations however i was the new suspect because im a treated sex offender. I was proven innocent of any wrong doings.
    Several months later after my ex let me see them again. Her enemy sister inlaw called cps saying i beat my ex and the kids. Obviously they hadnt found a scratch on anyone. But…. thhey did another sex abuse interrogation because my ex and her drama…. i was cleared yet again..
    I made a choice to simply cut ties to my kids and it wasnt very easy at all.
    Now…7 years later my exes hubby walked out on her, my kids are distraught and my oldest says i abused her. Sadly i might goto prison for life for something ive been cleared of previously.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. EB says:

    I was the outcry for my boyfriends little 5 year old daughter. I believe she told me because I too have a little girl and she likes to watch me with her. I believe to be the type of mother she wishes for. Her mother shares a bed with her much older fiancé, 21 years older to be exact, and the child. I was told horrible things no little girl should know. I reported them. It has been a nightmare since. Thousands upon thousands of dollars in legal fees. Unfounded by DCFS yet proven by a GAL who spoke to the child. The offender is court ordered to stay away from the child yet the mother continues a relationship with him torturing her daughter with pictures of him around her home. My boyfriend who is an officer was denied custody because it would cause further stress to the child. So, more and more court dates. GAL visits. Psych eval request for mother. Money. Money. Money. Money. And the child? Still with her mother who is most likely and by all appearances mentally unstable. Her behavior in court is just abnormal to the normal eye. She even went as far as to say sharing a bed with her daughter and this man is “real love” and we are all just jealous. The child does not have her own bedroom with her mother. Yet, the police officer, functioning father is continually denied custody. Amid the horrific allegations, she had her attorney ask about a retro child support check! Meanwhile, myself the outcry, has missed work for court dates and suffered immense depression and anxiety over the realization…GOOD PEOPLE can’t help. This child will remain a victim. Her punishment was trying to help herself. A little girl brave enough to tell and ask for help, denied. Add to that, she is still in the pedophiles school district where the mother intended to move with him and the child. According to the child, the mother fully intends to move there after this court “nonsense” and nothing will be done. My boyfriend will have to come up with another $20,000 to fight that. Money this pathetic excuse of a mother knows he doesn’t have. This is a sad world. How these lawyers and judges lay asleep at night knowing what they are doing is beyond my rational thinking. They should be tormented and abused like the very children they disgrace. Illinois is a nightmare.

    Like

  20. joe says:

    Shes telling the truth in this article. Your case may be different but there is a war against protective parents and the custody courts areinsane. The gal is one of the worst things you can have in a custody case. They are not above lying or being flat out manipultive and there is nothing you can do about it.

    Like

  21. myexisanutjob says:

    I’m in UT. If I take pictures or record my kid’s stories, etc, the court won’t look at it. The courts will only allow this evidence if it’s handled through the police department.

    Like

  22. inca patton says:

    My son and I , our abuser got full custody .Exzactly as he said he would with the help of his families lawyers and associatesAnd his uncle friend shrink. 8 yrs of threats .once son could.nt walk. abuse .neglect from ex.Still nobody cares or listens I use to beg people to listen only to loose custody and time.Now my son begs me to keep him at my home. His dad dont take care of him.Son says he thinks his fathers tryn to kill him.oddly days I get him he, s sick repeatly.once son called begging for help dad wont feed him nothing ther. 2 yrs ago .Lawyers fighted I got some more time. Still sons father uses our son in unhuman ways for custody. He demands full medical then knowly sends him to school sick .Then he either dont answer calls or just wants to fight and lie .Even his schools knows somethings wrong. But nobody cares to stand up enough to protecf my sons well being.His father has changed docters to change docters reports then lie to docters about son not having cough or throwing up.Previous docter said brocchocial rasperatory asthma.My sons dad lies to docters and just tells son when he.s at his place just tuff it out.I call my lawyer who says as always we will send a letter to his attorney.Same always and same as sons black eye.bruises legs. Bruises back .same as black tooth n handprints back.same as when son was baby crawling in circle cramps everytime he returned from his father.Nobody cares nobody truely wants involved.ladies dont have a child with an abuser.The child will always be his next victom and forever in his reach of control.

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  23. ae em says:

    Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) has a prevalence of 1% to 2% and will eventually lead to divorce because of impact on marriage. The non-BP spouse really needs the divorce because of being subjected to psychological torture on daily basis. The Borderline Spouse will by high likely hood falsely accuse non-BP of abuse. It important that the courts actually demand evidence of abuse rather than just taking claims at their face value. Same regarding 911 calls and arrests. The non-BP should attempt to talk with the police for as long as possible to give the police time to find inconsistencies in the Borderline spouses accusations and thereby avoid unlawful arrest.

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  24. jessica burnett says:

    I’d like to see if my son can be removed from the home he’s in .My sister has lied to the state and got a divorce with her huband. Only because he’ s a registerd sex offender and she wanted to make it look good in court.But after there divorce she went back to live with him. Isn’t that against the law?

    Like

  25. Kk says:

    I am going through this as we speak and it is hell. I found out my 4 year old is being molested by his father, my ex. Never married, so I had 100% custody. When I started figuring this out I no longer allowed him to stay at his dads. I allowed him informal visits supervised by me. Since I had no proof he filed for custody. The judge assigned a Guardian ad Litem who just recently allowed him 2 days a week. His first day going back was 2 days ago. The GAL is concerned but also is trying to be fair. I have no proof, my child is scared to death to tell anyone, and is now forced to go back to his father. Since coming back, it is worse. The mental part scares me just as bad. I don’t know what he is doing or saying to my child, but I know that he has to say he wants to go to daddys, daddy loves him and daddy wont hurt me. I’m not sure what “will happen” if he tells but he told me he has to because he “crossed his heart.” All I know is that he is very afraid and will not tell anyone else but me. I have no proof, social services investigated but no proof, he has a therapist but still won’t talk to her either. Nothing is going in my favor to help him and I pray every single night. I can’t believe somebody is forcing my child to be with someone who is touching him. I know they want to help, but this is a mother’s nightmare. My only child and I am not allowed to protect him. It’s a living hell.

    Like

  26. RichProvost says:

    My son was sexauly abused. CPS, Prosecutor, Guardian Ad Litem and Judge ignored it. My son disclosed being sexauly abused to several people in Private. 3 years later the Abuse to my son has never been investigated.

    I’m absolutely disgusted

    Like

  27. RichProvost says:

    I almost had my Rights Terminated because I didn’t return him to his mother. How can you protect your Child when the Courts won’t allow it. You can protect your Child if you can afford an out of state Attorney.

    Liked by 1 person

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