April 14th, 2013
Testimony before the Judiciary Committee on Friday, April 5, 2013, revealed major flaws in Connecticut’s Guardian ad litem system. GALs are supposed to interpret the “best interest of the child” in contested custody cases. Often, judges lean heavily on information provided by the GAL. The ability of parents to spend time with their children can depend on support from the GAL.
Many of those testifying reported problems, including:
- Poor training. GALs require only 30 hours of training. No law degree, no study of child behavior, no other experience with children.
- No accountability. The parents paying the bills cannot fire the GAL! And, GALs have immunity from law suits.
- Few meetings with children and refusal to meet with those intimately involved with the children’s lives.
- Excessive pay. Hourly rates were reported in the $200-$325 range and total billings in excess of $20,000 per year. The testimony suggested that GALs are more interested in the pay than in the welfare of children. Parents can be jailed for failure to pay GALs.
- In some cases, getting a high paying GAL assignment requires a cozy relationship with an attorney representing one side of the custody case. In these cases, the GAL may be more interested in supporting the attorney than in the children.
In fairness, other parents have had good experience with GALs. But the testimony suggests major problems with the GAL system.
What is your experience with Connecticut’s GAL system? Click on the title above to leave a comment.
December 1st, 2012
I get a stream of complaints about “parental alienation” in Connecticut, the attempt by one parent to minimize or eliminate the other parent’s role with the children. Every year, two or three of these cases come to my attention. Clearly, Connecticut has a problem with parental splitting or even alienating behavior.
The case of Tauck v. Tauck provides court evidence of splitting behavior. Court records show that in 2005 allegations of child molestation were filed against the father; in addition, it was claimed that he had downloaded child pornography onto his laptop computer. During the trial, it was found by Judge Abery-Wetstone that Mr. Tauck could not have downloaded the images because he was out of the country, and the child molestation charges were entirely unsubstantiated.
The damage to children from splitting or alienating behavior is enormous. They are being denied a relationship with their parent. Studies have shown that children without one parent are at much greater risk of behavioral problems, poor school performance and incarceration.
Connecticut judges, DCF, family relations officials need to do a better job of recognizing signs of splitting and alienation. These include:
The aggressive parent fails to encourage the child to have a
relationship with the other parent. Failure to actively promote this important relationship in the child’s life is often the first indication of destructive splitting behavior to follow.
A parent penalizes the child for spending time with the other parent.
A parent refuses to allow the child to spend time with the other parent.
A child who previously had a positive relationship with a parent refuses further contact.
One parent cuts off direct contact between a child and the other parent. Phone calls, letters and emails are unanswered.
Protective orders are being used as a tool to prevent visitation.
Judges and other professionals need to make it clear not only at the outset but repeatedly throughout the proceedings that such behavior will not be tolerated. More so, they should question each party as to how they intend to assure the other parent has an equal role in their children’s lives.
Post your experiences with splitting or alienating behavior here. We are particularly interested in hearing from adults who experienced this as children.
October 25th, 2012
Many individuals become interested in shared parenting either during or after a difficult seperation. During this period all the individuals are going through a possible range of emotions. The fear, anger, and anxiety can be overwhelming. However, it is typically during this period that we have the greatest need to make decisions that will affect our lives, our childrens’ lives, and all of our relationships. A first instinct can to be protect those that are most vulnerable. But we may forget we are vulnerable as well. Having to make decisions during this delicate period is not ideal and at best extremely difficult. Developing a well defined and balanced parenting agreement can help avoid future conflicts, minimizing exacerbation of potential acrimony. In order for shared parening to be successful we need to know what works. This post is meant to provide a forum for people to share parts of their agreements that have helped to ensure or foster shared parenting.We have all learned from the process. This is an opportunity to share successes or things that you wish you had more clearly communicated to foster mutual involvement of both parents. Resources are provided by professionals such as those at Advanced Behavioral Care in New Britain, CT.
October 9th, 2012
We want to sponsor legislation in January 2013 for the presumption of equal parenting time and to penalize alienating behavior. If you support this idea, leave a comment by clicking on this post.
September 19th, 2012
An expert on parent-child relationships and author of the book “Parental Alienation Syndrome: Breaking the Ties that Bind” testified in New Haven court according to The New Haven Register on September 12,2012. Here are some of the signs that you or someone you love is being alienated from their children:
- constant negative comments by the parent about the other one;
- exaggerating or manufacturing that parent’s flaws;
- telling the kids lies such as the other parent is “unsafe, unloving and unavailable”;
- not allowing photos of the parent in the house; not allowing the parent to be talked about
- and withholding from that parent information on the kids’ sports activities and
other aspects of their lives.
The full article is at: http://nhregister.com/articles/2012/09/11/news/doc504fbf3ce9916764634059.txt?viewmode=fullstory
May 28th, 2012
A path breaking shared parenting bill was recently passed by the Minnesota legislature. Two new requirements: 1) The bill (HF 322) requires a minimum of 35% of the parenting time for each parent; 2) the 35% minimum takes effect immediately, even for temporary custody orders. This immediate effect is important because temporary arrangements often become permanent: judges don’t want to change existing custody time because they think this might be disruptive to the children.
But on Thursday, 5/24/12, Governor Mark Dayton vetoed the bill by failing to sign it.
Would you support a similar law in Connecticut? Send an email to email@example.com, subject line: 35% minimum custody time. You can vote Yea or Nay, and express your views. The editor will post your comments at www.sharedparentinginc.org. Or, you can leave your a comment on this post.
May 9th, 2012
Oregon recently passed a law making false allegations a class A crime — but the punishment is $750, and that requires proving “the intent to influence a custody, parenting time, visitation or child support decision (419B.016 Offense of false report of child abuse).”
It is not much, but then again, most states make no effort to punish false allegations.
As a lawyer, Jeanne M. Hannah points out: “These false allegations can not only make the family law case much more difficult and lead to terrible injustice, they can ruin parent-child relationships and change lives forever. I find myself hoping more states will enact such laws and wondering whether the law will make a difference.” Good thinking Jeanne.
October 5th, 2011
Faith and divorce mediator Bruce Clements agreed that the focus of divorce should shift to the children. Judges and mediators should put this question front and center: “What do you want for your children?” They advocate collaborate divorce to prevent the “poisoning” of children by one of the parents. Bruce Clements has published ten previous books. He lives in Windham, Connecticut.
September 28th, 2011
Amy writes: “The assumption that the child belongs with the mother with paternal ‘visitation’ is an outmoded model, and I think the courts are moving slowly to recognize this. It is in the best interest of the child to spend as much time as possible with both parents, when both parents are committed, loving and involved — as you obvioiusly are.”
June 25th, 2011
The respected Pew Research Center found that 69 percent of those questioned said they believe a child needs a father in the home to grow up happily. But 27% of dads surveyed live separately from their children, up from 11% in 1960.
Here is a link to an article about the Pew study: http://www.cnn.com/2011/LIVING/06/15/fathers.pew.study/index.html?iref=obinsite