Even Abused Foster Children Do Not Reject a Parent

By Linda J. Gottlieb Kase, LMFT, LCSW-r

March 18, 2015

Research Observation:

Despite the abuse and neglect suffered by the 3000 foster care children who had been under my care, it was extremely uncommon for those children to refuse contact with a parent—even with an overtly abusive parent. Rather, abused children tend to protect and cling to the abusive parent. Moreover, in the rare cases in which that did appear to happen, there was always some evidence of indoctrination or programming (typically by foster parents who had the surreptitious goal of adopting the child).  Thus, it is counter-instinctual for a child to reject a parent—even an abusive parent.  When a professional observes a child strongly reject a parent in the absence of verified abuse, neglect or markedly deficient parenting skills—which should never be assumed based on the child’s self-reporting—one of the first thoughts should be that the other parent is an alienator.  Moreover, one should never assume that, because a child has rejected a parent, the parent must have done something to warrant it.

Having observed thousands of genuinely-abused children during a period of 24 years, I have concluded that a child’s innate desire to have a relationship with his or her parents is one of the most powerful of human instincts, surpassed only by the instinct for survival and the instinct to protect ones young; among normal children, in the absence of an alienating influence, that instinct is seldom suppressed because a parent exhibits relatively minor flaws, deficiencies, or idiosyncrasies.

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Testimony Supports Less Need for Court Ordered Professionals

The SPC advocates amendments to Connecticut’s HB 5505 to reduce conflict by giving each parent an incentive to support the other parents. This implements CT’s 2005 law – other states (MA, MD and others) are implementing shared parenting. Here are the proposed amendments:

Purpose: establishing the presumption of behavior encouraging parental involvement

Sec. 4. Section 46b-56 of the general statutes is amended by adding subsection (j) as follows (Effective October 1, 2015):

(new) (j) In cases involving an existing Parental Responsibility Plan (PRP), or any existing custodial order, statutory factors (6) and (7) of Conn. Gen. Sats 46b-56(c ) shall determine the resolution of any dispute. A pattern of noncompliance with existing custodial orders, or with an existing PRP provides evidence of unwillingness to foster a good parent-child relationship (violation of factor 6) and/or manipulative or coercive behavior (factor 7). Such pattern of noncompliance will result in a finding in favor of the other  parent.

Note: the relevant factors:

(6) the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage such continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent as is appropriate, including compliance with any court orders;

(7) any manipulation by or coercive behavior of the parents in an effort to involve the child in the parents’ dispute.

Rationale: to reduce litigation by establishing the primary role of behavior fostering a good relationship with the other parent.

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Shameful Attack on Rep. Minnie Gonzalez in the Hartford Courant

The Saturday, October 25, 2014 Hartford Courant editorial (p A9) engages in a poorly researched attack on Rep Minnie Gonzalez, who is seeking a 10th term in the legislature. To their shame, they neglect to mention Minnie’s heroic role in the family court reform movement. In fact, Rep. Gonzalez embraced the need for family court reform, even at the beginning of the process when she was ridiculed as a radical. After unanimous vote for Minnie’s legislation, senators and representatives thanked Rep. Gonzalez for not giving up on court reform. Congratulations and hugs from her colleagues rewarded Minnie’s hard work and dedication to the legislation. Shame on the Courant for cherry picking the information they use in their editorials.

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Walk October 24-27 for Divorce and Custody Reform with Patrick!

Patrick Glynn is walking 400 miles from Boston to Washington DC, taking every step for family law reform. He’s looking for walkers to join him on part of his journey, or simply provide a couch to spend a night, and is passing through CT this week.

http://eyeonconnecticut.com/2014/10/20/why-is-patrick-walking-for-walk-for-kids/

to sign up and learn more.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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Child support guidelines should empower both parents

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.

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

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.

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