According to a conservative estimate (2008) by experts at the Leadership Council on Child Abuse, more than 58,000 children a year are taken from safe parents and ordered into the custody of physically or sexually abusive parents. The report states:
Experts at the LC consider the crisis in our family courts to constitute a public health crisis. Once placed with an abusive parent or forced to visit, children will continue to be exposed to parental violence and abuse until they reach 18. Thus, we estimate that half a million children will be affected in the US at any point of time. Many of these children will suffer physical and psychological damage which may take a lifetime to heal. The Leadership Council urges citizens to work with legislators and agencies in their communities to examine this problem, review state agency policies and procedures, and develop legislative and policy solutions that help ensure safety from violence for children following divorce.
A study by the American Judges Association states that in domestic violence related divorces, the perpetrator gets custody 70 percent of the time even when there is evidence of child sexual assault.
Thirty-one states in the U.S. allow rapists to gain custody of children, while a growing number of states enable pedophiles to win custody over safe parents. In the article “Are ‘Good Enough’ Parents Losing Custody to Abusive Ex-Partners?” the Leadership Council states:
High conflict families are disproportionately represented among the population of those contesting custody and visitation. These cases commonly involve domestic violence, child abuse, and substance abuse. Research indicates that that custody litigation can become a vehicle whereby batterers and child abusers attempt to extend or maintain their control and authority over their victims after separation. Although research has not found a higher incidence of false allegations of child abuse and domestic violence in the context of custody/visitation, officers of the court tend to be unreasonably suspicious of such claims and that too often custody decisions are based on bad science, misinterpretation of fact, and evaluator bias. As a result, many abused women and their children find themselves re-victimized by the justice system after separation [emphasis added].
The courts are not only enabling this abuse, they are also profiting from the suffering they cause via the legal system that too often harbors criminal acts that are barbaric and inhumane.
Until they are standing in a court being judged, most people believe the courts will act fairly. Once you are there, in that courtroom, you quickly realize you are all alone. The protections you thought you had, you find no one will enforce.
Everywhere you turn for help, you will hear: “We can’t interfere with family courts.”
The errors are not only in custody but in some courts that bankrupt one parent in favor of another. Personal experience left this writer in poverty after a judge ignored the child support guidelines and set my obligation way above the legal limit, leaving me with $400 a month to live on, nothing short of court-ordered poverty.
But that I was able to finally, after years of work and ramen noodles, climb out of.
Not all people are as lucky as I.
In the summer of 2014, my wife let her 4-year-old daughter go to Newport, Washington, for a few weeks to visit her grandmother. One week before she was supposed to pick her up, my wife got a call from an attorney saying he’d filed a restraining order against her, and the court transferred custody to her ex despite a lack of a court hearing or any proof of negligence or harm to the child.
The family is typical. Non-violent, no drug or alcohol abusers, both parents working and a four-bedroom house in Colorado. Why would a court–without any notice– take a little girl away from her safe and stable mother who raised her for four years on her own and give her to a documented abusive father who has never paid child support and has been voluntarily absent for the majority of the child’s life?
This is way too often the reality, particularly for women who, as primary caregivers, may not have the independent financial means necessary to fight both an abusive ex and the family court.
Arriving in Washington state, my wife found there was an automatic order against her, which is illegal in custody cases, and an ex parte restraining order, which is legal only in bona fide emergencies.
Both orders violated mom’s due process rights despite evidence proving the accusations were false, including texts from the father two days prior asking what day she was picking the daughter up and that did not mention any concern or legal issues that he was championing.
In my wife’s attorney’s mind, there were obvious constitutional violations in the process, and it was abundantly clear the case was nothing more than an attempt by an abusive ex-spouse to continue harassing the custodial parent.
Assuming an intelligent court would be able to see the obvious ploy, we expected that the case would be over quickly. That was a year and a half ago, and the fight for her daughter continues.
During that year and a half dozens of blatant local, state, federal and constitutional violations have been documented for the court, which continues to disrupt the child’s life and mother’s parental rights.
Despite the violations of the court, no agency is willing to join our fight. From the State Bar Association to the Commission on Judicial Conduct, a blind eye was turned toward the rights of the mom because the father got there first.
Letters to every elected official in Washington and Colorado, to the Department of Justice, to the FBI, to the ACLU and many others got either no response or this: “We’d like to help you, but we can’t intervene with family court decisions.”
The reason this has gone on for so long is due to a long list of co-conspirators, ambiguous laws and two main loopholes: the doctrine of judicial immunity and the “best interest of the child” standard.
The doctrine of judicial immunity allows judges to ignore laws under the excuse that they are using “their discretion.”
This literally makes them untouchable for any act performed while on the bench, no matter how wrong or malicious it is. The only times that this immunity does not apply is when judges act outside of their jurisdiction or when they violate constitutional rights.
However, these judges have said that the best interest of the child standard allows them to trump constitutional rights.
This is treason because fundamental liberty interests are unalienable rights.
If we expect to remain a free and democratic society we must reform the family law system to be based upon the rule of law. For only through such law does the dignity of the individual retain respect and protection.
Without it, individual rights become subject to unrestrained power, and respect for law is destroyed.
As a member of the United States military, I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and DOMESTIC. I am currently deployed in Afghanistan. There is a chance that the family court system is a bigger threat to our freedom, families and American way of life than what we’re facing overseas.
The good news there is a way we can solve this problem, and that is through the United States Supreme Court. Currently there is a parental rights and child abduction case on the desk of the U.S. Supreme Court that could be the key to family law reform.
Today the justices were to decide if they are going to hear the case cited as U.S. Supreme Court Case Adkins v. Adkins, Docket #15-754. After the unfortunate passing of Judge Antonin Scalia, this case will hopefully be rescheduled. Early indications are that it has been pushed to Feb. 29.
However, American citizens can use that delay to tell the U.S. Supreme Court to enforce its authority over the states and lower courts, and protect our freedoms and parental rights.