Testify for Shared Parenting, GAL Reform and Alimony Reform on Monday, March 31

March 27th, 2014

When: Monday March 31, preferably near 8am, but any time after that is OK.
Between 8am and 10am you sign up for a lottery number. After that you sign at the bottom of the list of speakers. Expect to compete with many people testifying.
Where: Legislative Office Building, Second floor. Driving directions:
http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/DrivingDirections.asp. If the Parking Garage is full (which is likely), there’s a pay garage in a commercial building on Oak Street opposite the entrance to the Appellate Clerk’s office.
What: Bill 6685 – shared parenting; RB 494 -GAL reform; Bill 5524, alimony reform

If you can’t attend, submit written testimony by email: JUD.Testimony@cga.ct.gov . You can even submit written testimony through Tuesday, April 1.

Please testify to any of the following points that agree with your thinking and experience:
• Most of the problems – alienation, excessive cost, and experts trying to substitute their opinions for the parents’ – could be solved if judges, family relations officers and others simply asked repeatedly: which parent is more likely to provide “frequent, meaningful, and continuing contact” between the child and the other parent?
o The courts need to clearly send the message that each parent must promote frequent and meaningful contact with the other parent.
o Of course there are exceptions in cases with proven violence, neglect or abuse.
• Guardian Ad Litems (GALs) need to be carefully supervised as specified in RB494. Here is a link to the full text: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2014/TOB/S/2014SB-00494-R00-SB.htm
o RB 494 will be hotly contested by professionals who are making lots of money on the existing family court system.
o The Shared Parenting Council supports RB 494 as a step in the direction of much needed reform.
• Modify RB 494 to require GALs to promoting active involvement by both parents.
• Alimony requires guidelines for judges to follow. This will ensure consistency across courts in Connecticut.
• Absent abuse, neglect and domestic violence, children have the constitutional right to have both parents equally involved in their lives.
• There’s no oversight or accountability of the court appointed professionals such as GALs, AMCs, Psychological Evaluators. This opens the door to a few who want to exploit the system. Only in very rare circumstances should a judge appoint a GAL or any other individual to a family absent proven abuse and neglect.
• Absent findings of abuse or neglect the judge should be required to tell counsel and parties that we have a presumption of shared equal parenting time. If the parents disagree about the amount of time, then the burden of proof is on the parent who is not agreeing to up to 50% time for the other parent.
• The judge will enforce the laws and then sanction parents who lie to the court or mislead the court in an attempt to seek more parenting time. Sanctions need to be monetary and/or in the form of community service.
• Parental alienation: a Judge needs to be alerted in an emergency hearing that a child about potential alienation. DCF will be called in. Hopefully this will be a detergent for any alienator in their early stages of abuse.

We had a tremendous turnout in January, and as a result the Judicial Branch is beginning the process of reform.
Don’t miss this opportunity to participate in these major changes in Connecticut law.

Testimony in Hartford supports presumed shared parenting – click for shared parenting plans

January 9th, 2014

Over 50 people attended a hearing of Connecticut’s Custody Task Force at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Thursday, January 9, 2014.
Almost all spoke in favor of the presumption of shared parenting as a starting point. If shared parenting were presumed by the court, then parents would realize that they are wasting their time and money when they fight for control and time. Of course, shared parenting would be subject to review if there is substantial evidence of abuse or neglect,
The crowd enthusiastically supported many speakers who testified about excessive legal costs associated with custody issues. Several talked about spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal costs.
Would you like a model plan for shared parenting? It gives details of shared parenting time and decision making responsibility. Just leave a comment below specifying your interest.

Child Support Guidelines should recognize shared parenting. Testify to improve the lives of children in Connecticut.

September 4th, 2013

Hearings on 9/17 and 9/24. See below for details.
Suggested testimony: child support guidelines should recognize shared parenting
• Tell your own story, or the story of those you know, about a noncustodial (also known as “nonresidential” or not “primary residence”) parent who was made a second class parent, a visitor with his or her own children, or was unable to maintain a home for overnights.
o Try to weave the points below into your story.
• Everyone wants to adequately support their children.
o Do not recommend any reduction in total support for children. (The reason: CT’s support amounts are at or below those in surrounding states and about average for the nation.)
o Children need active involvement of both parents.
o Parental Responsibility Plans (PRP’s), currently required in CT, emphasize active involvement by parents. Child Support Guidelines need to catch up and encourage shared parenting.
• Shared parenting should be recognized by allocating child support between the two parents appropriately.
o Both parents need to maintain adequate residences for the children.
o Two nights per week is substantial involvement requiring maintenance of a home for the children.
• Massachusetts adopted new Child Support Guidelines effective 8/01/13
o Recommend that we adopt MA Guidelines for two shared parenting situations: 1. substantially equal time or 2. substantial (2 or more nights per week) but unequal time.
How and where do you submit written testimony?
By email: david.mulligan@ct.gov
Please copy NPO on your submission: rita1st@nationalparentsorganization.org

When and where do you testify?
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
6:00-8:00 PM
Department of Social Services
New Haven District Office
50 Humphrey Street
New Haven, CT

Tuesday, September 24, 2013
6:00-8:00 PM
Department of Social Services
Norwich District Office
401 West Thames Street, Unit 102
Norwich, CT

Tuesday, October 1, 2013
6:00-8:00 PM
Department of Social Services
Waterbury District Office
249 Thomaston Avenue
Waterbury CT.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013
6:00-8:00 PM
Department of Social Services
925 Housatonic Avenue
Bridgeport, CT

Tuesday, October 15, 2013
2:00-4:00 PM
Department of Social Services
Central Office
Mezzanine 2AB
25 Sigourney Street
Hartford, CT

How much time will you have to testify, and how do you sign up?
Expect 2-3 minutes for your testimony.
Arrive about 15 minutes early in case there is a sign up.

Child support guidelines should empower both parents

August 7th, 2013

Connecticut’s Child Support Guidelines need to empower both parents to maintain households and pay for expenses associated with child rearing. The term “empower” is important, since they benefit from seeing parents who have responsibility and the means to exercise this responsibility.
In August 2013, Massachusetts implemented changes encouraging shared parenting.
If you agree – or disagree – post your views by clicking the title above.

Testimony reveals major flaws in Connecticut’s Guardian ad litem system

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:

  1. Poor training. GALs require only 30 hours of training. No law degree, no study of child behavior, no other experience with children.
  2. No accountability. The parents paying the bills cannot fire the GAL! And, GALs have immunity from law suits.
  3. Few meetings with children and refusal to meet with those intimately involved with the children’s lives.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Parental Alienation: This Time Proven in a Connecticut Court

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.

Take care of yourself during divorce. What works for you?

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.

Lobby the Connecticut legislature to stop parental alienation

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.

Recognize the signs of parental alientation

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

Minnesota Legislature Takes Long Step Towards Shared Parenting – but the Governor Vetoes

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 info@sharedparentinginc.org, 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.