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Showing posts with label ABUSE. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ABUSE. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU EMPOWER A BULLY: THE TRAGEDY OF MATHEW COULOUTE!

There are few cases that present the spectacle of the foolishness of family court here in CT quite as effectively as the Mathew Couloute versus Lauren Haiden versus Stacey Blitsch cases.  

Mathew Couloute, for those who are interested, is a native son, born and raised here in CT and said to be an associate of Gov. Dan Malloy.  An attorney and formerly a state prosecutor, Mr. Couloute is a talented, intelligent, capable if not brilliant professional with some unfortunately fatal character flaws, one being an inability to maintain a steady and law abiding career path, and the other, a complete inability to maintain a decent and courteous relationship with the mothers of his two children currently aged 11 and 5.  

Monday, November 28, 2016

FAMILY COURT POLICIES BAR MOTHERS FROM PROTECTING THEIR CHILDREN!

There are two things that happened to me recently which set off an important chain of thought.  The first is that I was contacted by a person I'd met in the course of writing my blog.  She told me that when her children are at their father's home he is often drunk and violent towards them.  Unfortunately, there is nothing she can do because, in her divorce, she was designated the bad parent and had to go through multiple hoops to retain custody.  

The testimony of the children, the documentary evidence of the father's abuse didn't matter.  What mattered was that the court had decided to favor the abuser who was again the father, and the mother was left in a position where she could do little to protect her children.  

The second situation is that a close friend of one of my children committed suicide.  This friend was in his or her early 20s, just graduated from College practically.  I don't want to provide identifying details regarding who this person is just for reasons of privacy and respect. However, what I did want to say is that doctors suspect that the reason why this person committed suicide had to do with sports related injuries which led to serious depression. I then asked my child if she had sustained similar type injuries and she said "yes", in fact she had.  

Her response completely shocked me because it never occurred to me that she'd gone through this without my knowing.  Apparently, because my child didn't want to trouble me with information about a situation she knew I couldn't protect her from given the ongoing indifference of family court, she decided not to tell me. The concussions my child was newly reporting to me were over and above the other injuries I knew about, i.e. two broken shoulders, two broken noses, and irreversible nerve damage.  

Some of these injuries occurred because my ex husband failed to provide my child with the kind of proper equipment that is essential when you play the kind of sports my child played.  I only found this out when other parents pulled me aside during games to ask me what was going on and why didn't my child have the proper gear.  Unfortunately, unlike my ex, who is highly sports oriented, I was unfamiliar with what was necessary. Thankfully, once these concerned parents had clued me in, I was able to stay on top of the problem.  But not before the damage had been done.

Another reason these injuries occurred is simply because my child was a very slight and fragile young person who should not have been engaged in these kinds of activities because he simply didn't have the necessary bulk to participate safely.  

However, when I brought these issues up with my own attorney and with the guardian ad litem in my case, they made light of my concerns and laughed them off.  The guardian ad litem sneered and made comments that led me to believe that he thought I was bringing up my safety concerns regarding my child's sports activities simply as a means to get an edge in the custody battle.  My own attorney went on about how team sports would toughen my kid up and prepare her properly for the cruel world she'd face in the years to come.

Even though I repeatedly brought to the attention of my attorney and the GAL medical reports indicating that my child was sustaining more injuries than was healthy at his age, they both dismissed and mocked my concerns.  What gets me even now is that it wasn't the opposing attorney who amused himself at my expense and that of my child, it was my own attorney. This tells you how difficult it can be for protective mothers.  

As mothers, we are well aware that our children are being injured in ways that will affect them for their entire lives and yet the family court system and its associated attorneys make light of the situation and act like mothers who express their worry must have Munchausen's by Proxy, or something similar.  

In fact, as a consequence of the fact that I expressed such concern regarding my child's well being related to her sports activities, the GAL and the attorneys in my case insisted upon including an additional provision in our parenting agreement specifically giving my ex husband sole authority when it came to signing my child up for sports. This gave my ex permanent free rein to expose my child to potentially life threatening conditions within the sports arena.  

I have already spoken about this problem in a previous blog on this website which I entitled "The Kids Are Not All Right." What I am writing about now is just a reaffirmation of the ongoing existence of this problem.  

I am also saying that little did I know that the problem was much more severe than I had earlier thought.  

As mothers, when we hand our children over to their fathers for parenting time, we simply have to trust that father's behavior will be responsible.  What can you do about what you don't know about because you aren't there? In my situation, my child was sustaining even more severe injuries than I knew about in his father's care.  As I said earlier, it is only now that my child feels free enough to tell me about the concussions and the nerve damage he endured. Those injuries are for life.  

The loss of a friend through suicide is also an injury for life.  This is a friend my child grew up with from Kindergarten.

That friend who died was also a child of divorce.  I can only hope that my child will not end up the same way, but there is no guarantee.  

Bottom line, however, is we have a family court system that is thoroughly irresponsible about the way in which they are handling the physical and psychological health of our children. In its rush to whitewash the behavior of fathers merely because they are fathers, particularly the abusive ones, they have put at risk thousands of children, placing them in situations that are completely unacceptable, and then demonizing their mothers who try to protect them.  

I continue to be appalled by the fact that the media doesn't report on this situation, that our representatives haven't addressed this issue about which they were well informed in 2014, and that our CT Judicial Branch continues to stonewall any attempt to hold them to account regarding how it treats vulnerable children.  This situation is and remains a disgrace.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

CT DCF FINDS 1 YEAR OLD BABY ABUSED AND STARVING, DOES NOTHING!

Josh Kovner of "The Hartford Courant" reports as follows:


"A scathing review by the child advocate of the near-starvation of a baby placed with relatives in Groton reveals "staggering failures and omissions" on the part of the Department of Children and Families, and raises doubts about DCF's decisions on child placements beyond this case.

A DCF social worker visited the boy, identified as Dallas C., on at least five occasions over 102 days between late July and late October 2015, but managed never to see Dallas awake, never roused him and never assessed what others who had contact with the family were calling the child's rapidly deteriorating health, according to the advocate's report, released Tuesday morning.

At one point, the social worker reported that he was "able to confirm that [the child] was indeed breathing," according to state Child Advocate Sarah Eagan's report..."

READ MORE:


http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-foster-care-dcf-child-abuse-1005-20161004-story.html

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

WHEN THE ABUSE IS PSYCHOLOGICAL--THE DYNAMICS OF COERCIVE CONTROL, EXPLAINED BY "NEW YORK TIMES" JOURNALIST ABBY ELLIN!

"Lisa Fontes’s ex-boyfriend never punched her, or pulled her hair. But he hacked into her computer, and installed a spy cam in her bedroom, and subtly distanced her from her friends and family.
Still, she didn’t think she was a victim of domestic abuse. “I had no way to understand this relationship except it was a bad relationship,” said Dr. Fontes, 54, who teaches adult education at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst..."
READ MORE:
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/07/11/with-coercive-control-the-abuse-is-psychological/?_r=0

Friday, October 23, 2015

PHYLLIS CHESLER REVIEWS THE BOOK: " DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, ABUSE, AND CHILD CUSTODY: LEGAL STRATEGIES AND POLICY ISSUES", EDITED BY DR. MO THERESE HANNAH AND BARRY GOLDSTEIN!

Phyllis Chesler reports as follows:

"I have been battling the Great American Custody Wars ever since the mid-1970s. I could not believe what was happening to mothers then—and when I broke the news, in the 1980s, few people believed me.

The prevailing myths were that women had an unfair advantage in custody battles and that men were discriminated against. This was not true then and it is not true today.

People also believed that only unfit mothers lost custody and that only very fit fathers obtained it. Mainly, the opposite is true.

No one believed that courts actually enabled or legalized incest or removed children from very competent mothers and gave them to exceptionally violent fathers—and then savagely restricted a mother's access to them.

Today, even I have a hard time accepting the fact that things have gotten worse..."

READ MORE:


Saturday, June 20, 2015

OP-ED LINKS DCF, BILLION DOLLAR LAW FIRM, AND PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES IN A CONSPIRACY TO EXPAND THE USE OF PSYCHIATRIC MEDICATIONS AMONG CT'S FOSTER CHILDREN!

According to an Op-Ed by Robert Fiddaman in 2011, 

"For some time now, Sheila Matthews has been suspicious about her home state of Connecticut's treatment of its most vulnerable children. As a mother of two children and co-founder of Ablechild, her instincts led her to scrutinize the dubious relationships among Connecticut's Department of Children and Family Services [DCF], the pharmaceutical industry, and a billion dollar law firm that has defended the likes of Pfizer Inc and Merck & Co., among others.

Sheila's investigation has led her on a journey that links a non-profit children's advocacy group, with assets over $15 million [2009], with nationally-renowned mass tort and class action defense law firms, to the Connecticut DCF - an $865 million bureaucracy, as described by the Connecticut Mirror..."


For more on this interesting subject, please click on the link below*:

http://www.opednews.com/articles/Billion-Dollar-Drug-Compan-by-ROBERT-FIDDAMAN-110310-185.html

*I am not familiar with the subject matter of this article and so I cannot guarantee its accuracy, however I do think it is important to be informed and if more substantive information comes forward to support these allegations, I will certainly share it with you all.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

LYZ LENZ OF "BUZZFEED" STATES MANY CHRISTIAN CHURCHES TEACH COMPLICITY WITH ABUSE!

Lyz Lenz of "Buzzfeed" states the following:

"Although my parents currently attend an Episcopalian church, swear, and drink a lot of wine, my family resembles the independent Baptist Duggars — America’s most famous Evangelicals — in many ways, one tragic. When my sister, then age 15, reported that she had been sexually abused by someone in our family, she was counseled by family members and church leaders that prosecution would make things worse. Better to forgive, they told her, and find true reconciliation with God. She was also warned that criminal proceedings would tear her family apart. And because she loved her family, she relented. After all, she was a child with nowhere else to go. She had been taught that her whole world was her family and her church, and they all conspired to keep her silent with the admonition to forgive. And forgiveness so often means complicity..."

For more on this topic, please click on the link below:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/lyzlenz/how-evangelical-churches-protect-abusers-like-josh-duggar?fb_ref=mobile_share

Friday, May 15, 2015

NANCY S. ERICKSON, J.D., DR. KARIN HUFFER, AND JANE DOE SPEAK ABOUT INVISIBLE DISABILITIES IN THE COURTROOM AND THE ADA AT THE BMCC 2015!

Nancy Erickson stated as follows:  In my work in litigation, I see that the fathers would abuse the mother who would then develop PTSD or some other form of mental illness.  The mother would then come across very badly in psychological tests and lose custody.  

These tests are not meant to figure out whether you are a good parent and they cannot really arrive at such conclusions, but they are misused for that purpose.  

PTSD is extremely common among battered women.  If you look at these percentages, there are studies indicating that among women in DV shelters 40-89% have PTSD.  PTSD is not what you would really call an illness.  It is an injury.  The best way to think about it and explain it to the court is that we are starting to learn about it.  Soldiers returning from combat have PTSD.  All of the research money is out there to treat PTSD, not for DV, but that which results from combat.  

There are similarities and also differences.  PTSD from DV is worse, because you have been traumatized by someone you thought was going to love, protect, and take care of you--not an enemy, but a person you trusted.  Thus, your trust in the whole world has gone.  So it is an injury.  

PTSD is defined in the DSM-5 as follows:

1.  You had to have had a trauma; 

2. you have to have the requisite numbers and kinds of symptoms, i.e. one or more--sort of like a restaurant menu in a Chinese restaurant:

A. intrusive thoughts--nightmares of the abuse, flashbacks or dissociative reactions, not a memory, an oh my God, I am back there again, distress at exposure to external or internal cues regarding what happen, physiological reactions to external or internal cues; 

B. avoidance, avoidance of thoughts and feelings of this event, avoidance of external reminders: people, places, activities, objects; 

C.  negative changes in cognition/mood, can't remember something that happened, change from before to afterwards, loss of trust, distorted thought like blaming yourself, anger, feelings of detachment or estrangement from others, memory problems, and persistent inability to experience positive emotions; 

D.  changes in arousal or reactivity such as exaggerated startle response, hypervigilance, problems with concentration, sleep disturbances, suicidal behavior or ideation.  

I sometimes like to give the Court the following analogy if they are considering taking a mother's children away from her based upon PTSD.  What if the abuser had taken a sledgehammer and crippled the mother for life because he destroyed her knees and now she can't walk.  Then he comes to court and says, your honor, she can't even walk how can she be a parent?  Yet he caused this problem!  

This is not something is biochemical; this is an injury caused by the perpetrator and will stop once the constant abuse is over.  Are these symptoms always at play?  No.  You have PTSD, but it isn't triggered all the time, only when in Court or facing the abuser, or having to see him in court.  In other words, PTSD is often episodic, which is covered under the ADA.  

Jane Doe mentioned requesting breaks, obtaining reduced price transcripts, pencil and paper to take notes on the stand, breaks, etc. as her accommodations under the ADA.  The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 has expanded and extended the civil rights of people with disabilities.  

Dr. Karin Huffer began her presentation taking note of Jane Doe's situation.  She has broken heart syndrome where the pressure of family court has caused her heart attacks.  

If you are in a situation like Jane Doe, says Dr. Karin Huffer, the first thing to note is:  1.  You are not crazy; 2.  You are not alone; 3. You have rights under the ADA.  

The ADA empowers us with a powerful federal tool so that victims of DV can stand up for themselves.  Family courts are a maze where you can end up being abused more because your abuser controls family court the same way he controlled the family.  

In this situation, the ADA can help you.  For instance, you can obtain accommodations under the ADA to undergo a deposition in writing in your own time rather than being put on the spot in an oral deposition.  

It is critical to have a person in your life to address the disability issues when you are in a court proceeding.  

When you request an ADA accommodation, you only have to provide a single diagnosis.    So don't feel you have to provide more than one.  A request for accommodation is administrative; it is confidential and does not belong under discussion in court.  

Federal Court also has to comply with the ADA as well even though they will deny that.  And this is why.  PTSD interferes with expressive speech and so without the ADA a litigant is unable to communicate effectively with the court.  

In addition,  Federal law supersedes state and local law.  

You don't file a motion with the judge.  You go to the clerk ex parte.  

People with invisible disabilities often need extra time; they need a stay, they need a break, etc.  People must have executive functionality--anything that takes it away is not lawful.  

It is my view that Family Courts have become a public health crisis and must be treated as such.  

Consider whether it makes sense to have a psychological evaluation which is intended to take your child from you if they find a disability vs. a disability asssessment in order to address the accommodations you need in order to function.    

One trick of the abuser is to litigate you to the point of bankruptcy.  We need to address this issue.  

Finally, we need to train ADA advocates to be in those courts.  If these advocates can get all over these courts like an anthill, they will not be able to do this any further.

SAM VAKNIN SPEAKS ABOUT NARCISSISM DURING THE BATTERED WOMEN'S CUSTODY CONFERENCE!

The person with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder regards children as extensions of himself and so are very possessive of them like they are of an arm or leg.

They have no concept of boundaries, which will lead to abuse, including sexual abuse.

They regard their children as pawns in their large game, their grandiose vision of what they are going through.  The children are props in their fantasy lives which they use to obtain Narcissistic Supply.

To get Narcissistic Supply from their perfect, brilliant, flawless, they consider children as props in their life story, and idealize their children.  

They establish an approach/avoidance cycle, try to coerce them into adulation or admiration; if they fail, then they will withdraw.  This will continues on for years, even when the children are in their 30s or older.

The cuteness of children, causes the narcissist rage because they get more attention, and so they feel they are compete with them.

Also, the narcissist considers the children to be bargaining chips.  The objective is to use the children, to influence, manipulate, harm the other parent.

All of these issues are contemporaneous in a custody issue with a narcissistist.

With a narcissist reckless behavior and substance abuse is standard.

They feel they will always get away with it, and they do.

They are frequently sexually deviant as well.

A NPD person is a present and imminent danger in the lives of his children, a point which should not be denied by authorities.  This insight still has not permeated into the system--police, legal, court, mental health

The conflict between the need to merge, to convert into extension of self, when a dependent source of NS can benefit from that child, to become one with them.

Many men with narcissistic personality disorder have many of the traits of co-dependence, react badly to changes in status quo.

At the same time, envies the children, particularly if they become more accomplished, more beautiful (if NPD is mom).

The NPD is destructive, seeks to eliminate the source of frustration, which is the child, but also seeks to merge, so this cannot be resolved in a rational way.

They will use Control Mechanisms: I sacrificed my life for you, I need you; I cannot cope without you; we have a common goal, parent and child we need to work for this together; classical psychosis, emotional incest, cultish setting, children are members.  you and I are united against the whole world, or against the monster mother.

The narcissist treats his children as objects and attempts to maintain total control over them.

He states to his kids, "You (my children) are my true passion.  If you don't obey my commands, I will punish you."

NO tv if 7.

I will disinherit you if 50.

This is how an individual with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) attempts to resolve the seathing destructive dependence he feels in connection to the children with his need to merge with them.

He will commit abuse by proxy in custody battles, with   the "proxy" being the children

He will attempt to get the children to aid and abet this abusive conduct.  

Why do I say "he"?  75% of NPD are men, 25% of women.  So the majority of people with NPD are men.

NPD within custody battle or divorce proceedings presents real problems.  Most abused mothers have a tough line to draw:  they don't want to be accused of PAS by telling to truth, so they end up pretending everything is OK, but, of course, that doesn't work either.

Children have the right to know; parents should say what is going on.

You don't cover up

You say, "Abusive conduct is wrong."

Children should be taught the warning signs of abuse: verbal, sexual, physical.

Children should learn to use the word "no".  Say no to drugs, say no to abuse.

The imposition of joint custody is a problem when there is abuse because it will never work.

There are various kinds of abusive parents, and each kind requires a different strategy.  They are as follows:


1.  erotomaniacs:  stalker who believes he is in love with you and that you are in love with him, ignore with that person.  He often has ideas of reference which feed into his delusions.  

2.  narcissistic:  Feels like he can demand your love and attention, reacts with rage and vindictiveness whenever you say "no".  The best approach is to  ignore, give no further contact.  Indicate that this is not personal, but a part of the process of ending the relationship, be firm, don't send mixed signals.  Ultimately these men are cowards, bluster notwithstanding, and they are easily intimidated.  They are not very emotionally attached. They don't love you or the children, because they lack the foundation for experiencing that emotion.  They will move on with ease.

3. paranoid: lives in an inaccessible world of his own making.  They love being threatened.  Keep as much distance between yourself and that kind of ex as possible.  Don't inform ex of new address and life.  will look for you, be suspicious and resentful of your freedom.  Must have a safety plan.

All of these three types are interrelated and one can end up being interchangeable with the other.

Stalking is very intensive during custody battles and divorce.  

Narcissists terrorize, intimidate, breach boundaries, gaslight you, create an atmosphere of anxiety and fear in order to gain advantage in the court battle.

In response, you need to ignore your gut reactions, do not do it, do not strike back.  Instead use the law, use all available option, jail, visits from police, and restraining orders.

Don't try to buy peace by appeasing the abuser; submission or attempts to reason give him more information which he can use to abuse

Narcissistic and psychopaths have cold empathy, calculating, leverage cold empathy in order to invade your boundaries.  He will use everything you say to support his illusions and psychopathic fantasies.  

NPD people believe all failures are from the abusive hostile world; they vengeful, seathing, ruthless, sadistic, calculating machine

threats are useless--just be determined.  Only meet the psychopath is public places

The system favors glib narcissist:  NPDs are cool, calculated, reasoned, willing to compromise, she is crazy, she is rigid

To expose the narcissist in court, you belittling the narcissist, undercut him, expose him as weak, average, weak, mediocre, hinting or outright belittling, will get narcissist in full view.

Keep in mind, you will have abuse in your life for a long time, so be prepared.

The system, people in the mental health professions, are simply not informed of the serious, pernicious nature of individuals with NPD.  System not prepared to cope with these people.  Hopefully, our work will be part of the movement to get people informed.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

HUFF POST: 92% OF KIDS POOR OR IN FOSTER CARE TAKE ANTI-PSYCHOTIC DRUGS FOR OFF LABEL REASONS!

According to Huffington Post,
"The release in late March of an alarming new report by federal investigators has confirmed in shocking new detail what has been known for years: Poor and foster care kids covered by Medicaid are being prescribed too many dangerous antipsychotic drugs at young ages for far too long -- mostly without any medical justification at all. The report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Inspector General examined in depth nearly 700 claims filed in 2011 in five of the biggest prescribing states -- California, Florida, Illinois, Texas and New York -- and discovered that two thirds of all the prescribing with these popular and costly "second generation antipsychotics" (SGAs) raised high-risk "quality of care" concerns..."
For more on this subject, please click on the link below:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/art-levine/feds-pay-for-drug-fraud-9_b_6966454.html

Direct Link to Study:

http://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-07-12-00320.asp


Primary takeaway:  Poor kids and Foster kids are dying.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

REBEL PUNDIT REPORTS: GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE OF NEW JERSEY EMBROILED IN FAMILY COURT RICO LAWSUITS!

According to "Rebel Pundit",

"Chris Christie has been named as a defendant in two cases that are part of series of lawsuits across the country where serious concerns about violations of citizens’  rights in family courts are under scrutiny.

CALIFORNIA
An upcoming civil RICO lawsuit to be filed on behalf of the watchdog group Family Court Accountability Coalition (FCAC) will allege that a feeder system created by the Sacramento County Bar Association Family Law Division, in conjunction with several powerful judges, creates a racket which chooses favored divorce lawyers and makes sure those lawyers get favorable rulings in Sacramento County family court rooms.
 
In 1991, Judges Vance Raye and Peter McBrien, formed the Family Law Executive Committee (FLEC) to help deal with family law cases in Sacramento County family courts. This FLEC would be a group of lawyers, according to the upcoming suit, chosen by the Sacramento County Bar Association’s family law division which would act as judge pro temp on certain family law cases and in exchange, the suit will allege, the lawyers chosen for this task would be given favorable rulings, deserved or not, when they appeared in divorce court in their regular roles.
 
One of the most high profile case examples of this scheme which will be featured in the suit is that of Ulf Carlsson who appeared in front of Judge McBrien and whose story received significant media attention culminating with a lengthy feature in the documentary Divorce Corp."
 
For more information on this article, please click on the link below:
 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

"BULLIES, BATS AND BULLDOZING" DR. JEANNE KING TALKS ABOUT HOW TO RECOGNIZE AND SURVIVE ABUSIVE BULLYING!

Dr. Jeanne King talks about abusive bullying as follows:  "Bullies and abusers have a way of bulldozing their way right through the “ask.” They know what they want and nothing is going to get in their way. Sound familiar?
 
It may start with an apparent pitch that looks like this, “I think we should...”
 
At first, you may not be certain whether the pitch invites your opinion or is the introduction to the bulldozing effort to follow. You seek to comprehend their suggestion/request, and before you can process it—much less formulate your reply—their eagerness percolates."
 
For more information on this topic, please click on the link below:
 

Monday, November 17, 2014

BEFORE THEY SHUT OFF THE LIGHTS: HOW TO DEAL WITH THE ELECTRIC COMPANY WHEN YOUR EX STOPS MAKING COURT ORDERED PAYMENTS! PLUS UPDATE!

I am lucky that my divorce situation is mostly in the past, but sometimes one of my kids will start talking about the old days.  For example, recently, my son said, "Oh, so when we were playing that game of using candles to light the house, it wasn't actually a game!"  I was like, "Now that you mention it, you are right."  This comes up because I still continue to advocate for people in divorce and the kids see me researching topics. 

Last week, I ended up researching the issue of the electric company, Connecticut Light and Power, when a young lady going through the pendente period called me to say her ex had not paid the electric bill which he was court ordered to do based upon their financial agreement.  She stated that the electric company had cut off power to the house and refused to turn it back on even though she was living in the house with an infant.  The next week her ex cut off fuel deliveries to the house and so it went. 

I had the exact same situation happen to me during the pendente period in my case.  Ex-husbands regularly fail to obey the financial agreements they signed and which became an order to the Court as a means to coerce and harass their ex wives. 


Unfortunately, as in my case, the Court often fails to enforce these agreements and when protective mothers go to Court to obtain some kind of relief, Judges will often imply that such concerns are trivial.  Of course, I'd like to see how some of those Judges would feel if they couldn't have a bath before getting in their cars to go to Court, or how they'd feel if they couldn't review their documents the night before because they couldn't switch on the light!

In fact, they are absolutely not trivial, particularly when you have children who are suffering along with you, as with my friend. 

So what can you do in a situation like this?

One, you can file a motion for contempt in family court.  The problem with this approach is that it often takes weeks before the motion actually comes before the court.  And, as I have said, Judges are likely to blow them off.  Meanwhile, you are sitting around your house without any electricity. 

The second thing you can do is negotiate with your electric company and try to get them to turn the electricity back on.  

Before I tell you more about that, let me answer the question that must be foremost in your mind.  Is it legal to shut off the electricity when there is an infant or a child under five living in the house? 

Yes, it is legal for the electric company to shut off the electricity under those circumstances.  

So, what can you do when it comes to negotiating with the electric company to get your electricity back on?  As far as the electric company is concerned, there are two primary issues that are in play when you have an outstanding bill with the electric company and cannot pay it:

1.  What is your income? Are you struggling with economic hardship? And

2.  Do you have a life-threatening medical condition that could put the life of an occupant of a house at risk should the electricity be shut off? 

Now, I personally think that placing an infant in a situation where he or she has no electricity is life-threatening, but that is just me! 

Here are some considerations to keep in mind when you are negotiating with the electric company.  For instance, if you are renting your home, the electricity service cannot be shut off because the landlord does not pay the bill.  If it is shut off, you should contact the police and the utility company.  The landlord must find a way to restore service to your home.

If the bill is in your ex-husband's name and he does not pay that bill, it is true that service can be shut off from your home.  However, there is a caveat to that, which is that if the family court judge provides you with an order stating that the electric company cannot shut off service to your home if the bill is not paid, then the electric company cannot not shut off service. 

The service representative I spoke to at C, L, & P stated he had never seen such an order in all the time he had worked with the company, but that does not mean you  could not ask for such an order or get one!  There is always a first time!

Another recourse that you have is that if you transfer the electric bill from your ex's name to your name, you then have 90 days from the date you ask for service in your name before the electric company can shut off service.  In addition, if you have a court order stating that your ex is supposed to pay the bill, you can then add an additional 90 days before the electric company can shut off your electricity. 

So that gives you a total of 180 continuous days where you can be safe from a shut off and resolve the problems, and that should not be sneezed at.  By then, you might even be divorced and the issue will be moot! 

Ok, maybe not in one of those high conflict divorces that last for years, but I am trying to stay positive! 

The primary point that the C, L & P representative made to me is that decisions regarding shut offs directly relate to income.  You could be eligible for energy assistance and protection from shut offs, particularly during the winter months of November 1 to May 1, if you qualify based upon low-income or slightly higher income. 

To find out if you qualify, call 211 and they will assist you in filling out the paperwork and once it is completed they will automatically send your application to the electric company.  You can also go to town social services where you live and do the same thing.  If you are determined to be eligible for one of these programs, the electric company cannot switch off the electricity to your home during the winter months, but they can switch off electricity during the summer if you are unable to straighten out your bill.

There are other special programs.  For example, you can also sign up for a payment program and agree to make regular payments to catch up with your prior balance.  The only problem there is that if it turns out you can't make those payments and fail to make them, the electric company will drop you from that program.  They will then demand the immediate payment of the entire balance and if you don't pay right away, shut off the electricity to your home immediately.  Often, they don't care how high or impossible that balance is; they still want their money right away or else.  Take it from me, because I have already gone through this.

This leads me to my other point about payment plans, don't agree to make payments you are unable to make.  Don't give in to pressure or agree to something you know you can't actually do when it comes down to it.  Instead, try to get the service representative to agree to payments that you are able to afford. 


Aside from payment plans, C, L, & P also has a matching payment program where you pay a portion of the bill, energy assistance pays a portion of the bill, and the electric company pays the rest.  The company also has forgiveness programs where they discharge some of the debt.  Again, this is based upon your income, and you would have to negotiate with the company to obtain the best possible program available for you.  

You can also obtain protection from shut off if you or someone else in your household, for instance, your children, would be in danger of a medical emergency without electric service.  To obtain this protection, you have to ask your doctor fill out an online form certifying the nature of the condition and confirm that electric service is essential for that condition.  This certification from a doctor must be submitted every year. 

The doctor has two options he can check off, i.e. 1. that you only need electric coverage for the winter months of November 1 to May 1, or 2. that you need electric coverage year round. 

The advantage for you of being on this coverage is that if the electric company anticipates any interruption in your electric coverage, they will notify you by phone call in advance so that you can make alternate arrangements to make sure your medical equipment is operating.  This is a big advantage for parents and children with disabilities who require ongoing electric service. 

Keep in mind, however, that just because the electric company cannot shut off your electricity because of an outstanding balance, this does not mean that you are not responsible for paying the balance, because you do still remain responsible.  This issue will have to be worked out in Court eventually if your ex refuses to follow through on making the payments he agreed to make. 

One question I posed to C, L, & P is the following scenario which has relevance to all protective mothers.  What if you have a couple that has filed for divorce.  The ex-husband earns $70,000 per year and Mom is an at-home mother with children who is court ordered to receive child support, but father is not paying it.  The father is no longer in the home and is court ordered to pay the electricity, but refuses to pay it.  In a situation like that, would the mother be entitled to participate in the energy assistance program based upon a lack of income, or would she be considered at the same income level of her ex, even though she has no access to it. 


The service representative at C, L, & P was unable to answer that question and transferred my call to a Community Action Agency for more information.  Unfortunately, all I got was an answering machine with a promise to call me back if I left a message.  I still have not yet received my return call. 


The next place I turned to was the 211 number.  When I dialed that number, a recording told me they were truly happy to receive my call.  However, they told me that there were nine people already in line waiting to receive assistance.  That number was reduced slowly until it was just me and then I was connected to an answering machine that asked me to leave my name and telephone number and someone would call me back.  I did that, but no one has yet to call me back. 


After that, I scoured my head for someone else to call and finally came up with the idea of calling town social services.  I then dialed them up and again obtained an answering machine that assured me that if I left my name and telephone number someone would get back to me shortly.  Again, no one has yet to call me back. 


So bottom line is, I do not have an answer to my hypothetical.  Once I do, I will report the answer to my question on the website.  I do think it is a problem that any woman who calls to obtain information or support will most likely end up with answering machines, unanswered phone calls, and a general lack of vital information.  This situation cannot help but be tremendously discouraging to people is distress.


Clearly, when an ex husband refuses to pay for electricity, fuel, cable, and telephone which he agreed to do and which he was required to do by an order of the Court, this is pure harassment.  There is no doubt that it happens all the time, that attorneys, judges, and mental health professionals under contract with the Court are quite familiar with this behavior, and that they are aware that the men who indulge in this behavior are jerks.  All that it would take to stop this behavior is a decision on the part of the attorney and judges, let alone the mental health professionals, to refuse to tolerate it.  Thus far, they have not made such a decision because they prefer to perpetuate the abuse.  Then they say no abuse exists. 


Among those of us seeking to find positive solutions to the complex problems of family court, eliminating the way unethical men abuse women by shutting off court ordered utilities is on the top of the list of essential reforms.

Update: I received a phone call late in the day from town services in response to the message I left on the answering machine.  Again, I posed my hypothetical which is what if there is an at home mother with a husband who makes $70,000 where father agreed to court ordered child support, and agreed to a court order to pay for utilities, but subsequently refuses to pay.  Now you are a mother with no source of income, young children, and your electricity has been cut off--what do you do?  Does the fact that father makes a high income prevent you from obtaining fuel assistance and other kinds of relief? 

The town social services representative told me that this mother should, indeed, go to town services and apply for relief.  Town social services will investigate the situation and connect the mother to whatever is necessary to make sure that she and her children are safe in their home, particularly during the winter months.  As long as the mother can verify her circumstances town social services will do whatever they can to help out.  This is includes referrals to the broad range of supports that they have available.  Often, town social services can speak directly to utility companies and work out a sensible solution.

The town representative told me that the theoretical peron I described should definitely be working with Interval House or the Susan B. Anthony House or some other domestic violence shelter to obtain guidance in regard to how to manage her circumstances.  She also suggested that mothers in this situation check in with The Connecticut Woman's Educational and Legal Fund.  The link to this organization is below:

http://www.cwealf.org/

The town services representative stated that for some women it is very hard to acknowledge that they are in trouble and need help.  Many such women have always taken care of themselves and paid their own bills.  For them it is tough to recognize that they have to reach out and let others support them.  What is important is that such Mothers accept the situation and recognize there is no shame in needing help.  This could happen to any person any time and anywhere.  So definitely take that first step to give town social services a phone call and set up a time to meet.  Don't wait until you have put yourself of your children at risk, particularly in regard to young children.

Still, despite these safeguards, there will be some women who fall through the cracks and end up being victimized by their ex-husband's refusal to live up to the responsibilities he took on to pay utilities and fuel.  That is, ultimately, what happened to me and it will continue to happen to other women. This is one of the most common forms of economic abuse that men get up to during divorce with the collusion of the family court system.
 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

EXCERPT FROM KEN DIXON'S 2010 ARTICLE IN THE HARTFORD COURANT SAYS IT ALL WHEN IT COMES TO TOM FOLEY'S LEGAL ABUSE OF HIS EX-WIFE!

"But in a transcript of a child-support hearing from December of 1991, Samuel V. Schoonmaker III, her [Lisa Foley's] lawyer at the time, described the protracted divorce litigation as a power game.
 
"She's [Lisa foley] got $60,000 to her name and he's got $39 million by his own admission and this fellow gets up there and he adopts the self-righteous, arrogant, dictatorial attitude, which is the only way I can characterize it," Schoonmaker said. "This whole hearing has nothing to do with money. This hearing has to do with control."
 
This is not a man who has the maturity to lead the State of Connecticut.