For Protective Parents. Your source for news and information on the broken Family Court System in Connecticut. I am NOT an attorney. This blog does not constitute legal advice. Blog spirit: In the words of Emiliano Zapata,"I would rather die standing than live on my knees!"
PLEASE NOTE: This blog is a bigotry free zone open to all persons, regardless of age, race, religion, color, national origin, sex, political affiliations, marital status, physical or mental disability, age, or sexual orientation. Further, this blog is open to the broad variety of opinions out there and will not delete any comments based upon point of view. However, comments will be deleted if they are worded in an abusive manner and show disrespect for the intellectual process.
In an article on "The Huffington Post" Phyllis Chesler explains as follows:
Battered senseless, choked into unconsciousness over and over again, bones broken repeatedly, American mother, Holly Collins, received no justice, no protection, in Minnesota. She lost custody of the two children she was trying so hard to protect from their father’s rages and beatings. When Collins believed that her children might not survive another week — or another day — she fled and received political asylum in Holland. A powerful documentary exists about her case.
Collins was the first and only such American mother to do so.
Other “protective” mothers, like Dr. Elizabeth Morgan, arranged for her parents to flee with her daughter to New Zealand, which had no jurisdictional reciprocity with the United States. Dr. Morgan sat in jail in Washington, D.C. for more than a year because she refused to disclose her daughter’s whereabouts. I personally talked to her daughter’s therapists who assured me that, in their view, her daughter was being sexually abused by her father.
PHYLLIS CHESLER ON HUFFINGTON POST STATES AS FOLLOWS:
"Just as the Argentinian mothers of the Plaza de Mayo boldly demonstrated on behalf of their missing children known as the “desaparecidos,” (both young and adult children disappeared by a military junta)—just so are American mothers crying out and publicly demonstrating about their lost children.
Yes, I am talking about children who are lost to their mothers, and mothers who are lost to their children due to the most profound and toxic bias against women in the American family court system.
These mothers have often been chronically and severely battered. I am talking about broken bones and welts and scars and near-deaths—I am talking about mothers who themselves have been tortured and whose torture has been witnessed, daily, by their young children; but I am also talking about heroic mothers who have desperately tried to protect their children from being beaten and raped by sadistic, sociopathic fathers who then invariably and unbelievably receive sole custody when such allegations are aired in a courtroom..."
Author Bio: Dr. Phyllis Chesler is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies and the author of sixteen books including the best-selling Women and Madness, Mothers on Trial, Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman, and An American Bride in Kabul. She is a co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology (1969) and the National Women’s Health Network (1975).
The Battered Mothers Custody Conference is an annual, weekend-long event that addresses the pattern of serious legal injustices encountered by battered women who approach the family/divorce court system seeking protection for themselves and their children from an abusive spouse or partner. It brings together the nation’s top experts on intimate partner abuse, child abuse, and child custody litigation and protective issues, who volunteer their time at the BMCC to educate the public and to support, consult, and network with battered mothers from across the country.
"Dr. Dianne Bartlow interviewed some of the best judges in the United States about the court response to the many murders of children by fathers involved in custody disputes. Some judges suggested a likely explanation for so many dangerous decisions that I believe influenced the original mistaken ruling in the Kelly Rutherford case. They said that because so many fathers abandon their children many judges unconsciously favor even bad fathers so that the children will have their father in their lives..."
(This blog draws parallels between society's delayed response to Bill Cosby's crimes and society's current indifference towards the ongoing abuse of protective mothers in family court as a result of massive fatherhood funding.) It is quite striking. The July 27-August 9, 2015 New York Magazine cover with candid, black and white pictures of 35 women who came forward to report that Bill Cosby raped them. There are also many more women Bill Cosby raped who chose not to come forward. The headline to the article by Noreen Malone states, "One by one, they came forward with stories of being drugged and raped or assaulted by Bill Cosby, finding safety in their staggering number and a culture that was finally ready to believe."
Why the staggering numbers?
Because for years we have lived in a rape culture that has had a primary response of "Boys will be boys" to the act of rape. We have individual after individual who knew about the situation with Bill Cosby and chose to stand by and do nothing about it. As Jennifer Lee Pryor the wife of the late Richard Pryor stated, "It was a well kept secret that Bill Cosby fucked anything that moved."
Journalist Noreen Malone tries to spin the Bill Cosby story by stating that our culture has changed and that the stories these women have can now be heard, when they couldn't be previously, because we no longer tolerate rape. I would question this conclusion. In my view, after decades of neglect and intentional indifference, this story has now garnered attention because the sheer numbers of women Cosby abused has become so great it can now longer be ignored.
People like me, who recognize this truth, are completely disgusted with this widespread tolerance of the abuse of women in all ranges of life, particularly family court. For instance, when the New York Magazine article came out, a friend of mine asked, "Where is OUR cover?" Where is the cover of the many thousands and thousands of women, formerly the primary caretakers of their children, who have been denied custody and or even access to their children as a result of the father friendly policies nationwide of our country's family court system? These policies have been bolstered through fatherhood initiative funding that has spent billions of dollars to promote the interests of fathers over that of women.
I have not spoken about this issue very much on this blog because it is such an overwhelming topic. I have ordinarily left the subject to highly qualified journalists such as Anne Stevenson or Doreen Ludwig. However, the recent death of Baby Aaden has galvanized me to the point where I feel I need to speak out about the issue. Because make no mistake about it. The death of Baby Aaden was the direct result of the father friendly policies that have permeated the State of Connecticut since these massive fatherhood funds began to pour into the state in the 1990s.
Let me pause here and ask the question which is probably foremost on your mind at this point. Am I against fathers somehow? Am I seeking to turn the clock back to the 1950s when fathers didn't have any rights at all to their kids, even very good fathers? No. What I am critical of are policies and strategies that have clearly been put into place to promote the interests of fathers over that of mothers and restore a 19th century status quo where women are firmly under the control of the men in their lives and have no right to a say in regard to their children. For an example of that, we don't have to look further than Charles Dickens who, when he left his wife for a younger woman, took 9 of their children along with him and refused to allow their mother to see them. This is what I am objecting to.
We have federal and state policies that prohibit gender bias and discrimination against individuals in the work place, in education, in government services, and many other areas based upon gender. Yet, other than gender bias, what can you call a federal and state government policy which for the last two decades has invested millions and millions of dollars annually into promoting the interests of fathers over that of mothers.
Just take a look at the John S. Martinez Fatherhood Initiative of Connecticut. Is there an equivalent Motherhood Initiative anywhere in Connecticut receiving the same level of funding?
The concept that we as a democracy could actively engage in massively benefiting one gender over another, and that this financial windfall could be distributed in the interests of men for the last two decades, and that few mainstream intellectuals, scholars, journalists, activists, or social commentators has picked up on this and criticized this situation is truly remarkable.
Of course, we see the outcome of these policies daily in terms of mothers falsely accused of PAS and losing all access to their children, mothers falsely represented as incapable mothers and placed on supervised visitation, and others tragically mired in lengthy and highly expensive custody battles. They talk about how 80% of self represented parties in Family Court are self represented. The number we don't get are how many of those unrepresented parties are women.
This is the cover we need. The cover with pictures of the women who have been the victims of these fatherhood initiative policies which have led them to lose their children, or have so little access to their children, they might as well not see them at all.
How are these father promoting policies put into place?
Here in the State of Connecticut they have been put into place by the establishment of a consortium of Connecticut state agencies entitled the "Fatherhood Advisory Council". The primary purpose of the Fatherhood Advisory Council is to promote the interests of men over that of women.
Those who have signed onto this mandate pretty much include every significant agency in the State of Connecticut including The Connecticut Judicial Branch.
This explains why Adrianne Oyola was unable to obtain a restraining order to protect herself and Aaden. Because the personnel in the Family Relations Department and the Judges themselves were on alert to give the father in that case all sorts of breaks as well as a very broad benefit of the doubt because of his status as a male. This is the Department's overriding policy which lip service to decidedly unfunded domestic violence mandates cannot overcome. After all, when Adrianne came into the Hartford Courthouse to fill out her protective order, there were no civil advocates to assist her in doing so. Why? Because while the CT Judicial Branch accepts millions of dollars to support fathers like Tony Moreno, to heck with domestic violence victims like Adrianne.
Let me just share with you the lengthy list of agencies who have signed on to help fathers out:
Department of Social Services
DSS Bureau of Child Support Enforcement
DSS Children's Trust Fund
Department of Children & Families
State Department of Education
Department of Correction
Department of labor
Department of Public Health
Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services
And the list continues.
I don't want to bore everyone with the full list, but if you interested to know more, just check out the website for the John S. Martinez Fatherhood Initiative of Connecticut.
What is even more interesting is that there are women's agencies that are also listed as joining in the agreement to support the interests of fathers, and which, as a result, receive funding from the fatherhood initiative in order to promote the interests of fathers. If they are getting money from men's funding, how can they possibly maintain unalloyed their mandate to support women.
Women's groups getting fatherhood funding include the CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence which, I understand, receives 60% of its budget from fatherhood funding. It also includes the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women as well as the CT Women's Education & Legal Fund. If these agencies are required to promote the interests of fathers over that of women because they receive funding from fatherhood initiative funding, how are they supposed to do the work of assisting women?
In the end, these organizations end up having to weaken their programs that serve women, and from the reports that I have received, this is exactly what has happened. When women attempt to approach these agencies that are ostensibly there to support them, all they are likely to receive is a pat on the the head and a sympathetic but condescending ear. Clearly, if you look at the situation with Adrianne Oyola and her child, women need a lot more than that. They need legal advocacy and they need protection from abuse.
While women are getting beaten and their children tossed off bridges to their death, you will find the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence celebrating their "first 100 plus" men "who are boldly stepping forward to advance policy and practice around serving victims of domestic violence." Ok, so that was the agenda for 100 Plus leading up to 2014, but this year in 2015, probably in response to the public scrutiny the agency will very likely receive after the death of Baby Aaden, it now includes women as well. Still, its primary fundraising involves selling purple ties to men so that men can express their support of victims of domestic violence.
Of course, no one wants to go on the record for supporting domestic violence, but a $5 million budget for the CCADV versus hundreds of millions of dollars for fatherhood initiatives tells a story in and of itself.
I don't have too much more to say here, but I would urge all of you to go to the CT John S. Martinez Fatherhood Initiative 2015 Family Services Directory which lists all the organizations in place to support the interests of fathers. It was too thick for me to staple at 45 pages worth.
In 2007. Legal Momentum, then the legal branch of the National Organization of Women (NOW) sent complaints to the Department of Health and Human Services about this situation. Their complaint was denied, and while I have not personally seen the response, I have heard that what they were told is that women who attempt to access fatherhood funded services will not be turned down.
However, this is the thing, how many women considering obtaining help from the John S. Martinez Fatherhood Initiative of Connecticut are going to know it is intended to support motherhood as well--if it is, of course. When a water fountain has a sign above it saying "whites only", most people are likely to think it is intended for whites.
Further, even if women approach fatherhood funded agencies for assistance, are they going to be well served by agencies that have officially signed a document that obligates them to do a considerably better job for the men it services rather than the women? I think the considerable number of women who have lost their children based on false charges of PAS, or based upon the presumption that any woman who says she has been abused is lying, or based upon the presumption that its OK for a man to lie repeatedly to the Court without consequences, would have a problem with it.
Right now, in the same way that the women on the cover of NewYork Magazine lived in a time that found sexual abuse and rape of women acceptable, we live in a time where men stalking women through the Court system is considered acceptable, where men using children to terrorize and destroy the lives of mothers in the family court system is acceptable. We look forward to the day when this holocaust of mothers losing their children passes by, when our culture is restored to sanity, and family court acknowledges the devastation it has wrought on the lives of mothers and children by giving custody to abusers. That's when we will get the cover shoot my friend was speaking of. And when we do there will be many thousands of women who participate, not just 35. RELATED ARTICLES:
"THIS LOST GENERATION OF MOTHERS AND THE RISE OF FATHERHOOD!"
Task Force to Study Legal Disputes Involving the Care & Custody of Minor Children
January 9, 2014
Good morning Attorney Cousineau, Attorney Dornfeld and members of the task
force. CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) is the state’s leading voice
for victims of domestic violence and those agencies that serve them. Our members
provide essential services to over 56,000 victims of domestic violence, such as 24-
hour crisis response, emergency shelter, safety planning, counseling, support
groups and court advocacy.
CCADV OPPOSES the presumption of shared custody as being in the best
interest of the child.
While there are variances on what constitutes “shared custody,” previous definitions
that have been considered by the CT General Assembly (House Bill 6685, 2013
Session) have included shared decision making as it relates to the “child’s welfare,
including, but not limited to, matters relating to education, medical care, and
emotional, moral, social and religious development.” Any such requirement for a
parent that is the victim of an abusive relationship would be very concerning.
From the perspective of the parent who has been abused, a shared custody
arrangement presents another opportunity for the abuser to attempt to exert control
over him/her and to do so in one of the most alarming manners possible - through the
children. In a continuing effort to gain control, the abusive partner may object to any
proposed decisions for the children or to put up stumbling blocks for the
implementation of any decisions once made.
As Louisiana has found, “the legislature finds that problems of family violence do not
necessarily cease when the victimized family is legally separated or divorced. In
fact, the violence often escalates, and child custody and visitation becomes the new
forum for the continuation of the abuse. Because current laws relative to child
custody and visitation are based on an assumption that even divorcing parents are
in relatively equal positions, and that such parents act in the children’s best interest,
these laws often work against protection of the children and abused spouse in
families with a history of family violence.” (LA Rev. Stat. Ann. Section 9:361)
In fact, Colorado recently passed critical child custody reforms that address this very
issue. In 2013,Colorado Revised Statute (C.R.S.) § 14-10-123.4 was revised to
reflect that children have certain rights in the determination of matters relating to
parental responsibilities, including:
a) The right to have such determination based upon the best interests of the
b) The right to be emotionally, mentally, and physically safe when in the care
of either parent; and,
c) The right to reside in and visit in homes that are free of domestic
violence and child abuse or neglect.
Colorado law also recognizes that co-parenting is not appropriate in all
circumstances, and clarifies that “when appropriate” parents should share the rights and responsibilities of child-rearing and encourage the love, affection, and contact between the children
and the other parent. Additionally, when a claim of domestic violence has been made, the court must first
consider whether one of the parties has committed an act of domestic violence, engaged in a pattern of
domestic violence or has a history of domestic violence prior to determining parenting time and decision-
making responsibility and prior to considering any of the other “best interest” factors (C.R.S. § 14-10-124).
The paramount concern reflected in the new Colorado laws governing child custody is the child’s safety,
including the physical, mental and emotional conditions and needs of the child. Recognizing that the
presence of domestic violence and the control and manipulation of one parent over another, especially
via the child, can and will have devastating, long-term effects on the child is imperative to any discussion
about the presumption that shared custody is in the best interest of every child.
Shared decision-making that forces victims of domestic violence into a vulnerable position of having to
negotiate with an abuser who has already traumatized them is unlikely to be successful and will certainly
lead to continued conflict not only for the victim, but for the involved child. Children who witness intimate
partner violence within their family face a greater risk of developing severe and potentially lifelong
problems with physical health, mental health, and school and peer relationships, as well as disruptive
It is wishful thinking that all parents are good parents and should have equal time with and decision
making authority related to their child. Presumed shared custody with shared decision making is not in the
best interest of any child whose parent has been the victim of domestic violence at the hands of the other
parent. Connecticut should not place into statute language that will easily allow abusers to maintain
control over their victim and their children.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.
Communications & Public Policy Specialist
AN ACT ESTABLISHING A TASK FORCE TO STUDY THE STATE-WIDE RESPONSE TO FAMILY VIOLENCE. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened: Section 1. (Effective from passage) (a) There is established a task force to study the state-wide response to minors exposed to family violence. Such study shall include, but not be limited to, (1) an examination of existing policies and procedures used by the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, health care professionals, law enforcement, guardians ad litem, attorneys for minor children and the Judicial Branch for minors who are exposed to family violence, and (2) the development of a state-wide model policy for use by (A) the Department of Children and Families, including organizations with which it contracts services; (B) the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, including organizations with which it contracts services; (C) health care professionals; (D) guardians ad litem; (E) attorneys for minor children; (F) law enforcement; and (G) the Judicial Branch, when responding to minors who are exposed to family violence. (b) The task force shall consist of the following members: (1) The Commissioner of Children and Families, or the commissioner's designee; (2) The Commissioner of Mental Health and Addiction Services, or the commissioner's designee; (3) The Commissioner of Early Childhood, or the commissioner's designee; (4) The Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection, or the commissioner's designee; (5) The Child Advocate, or the Child Advocate's designee; (6) The Chief Public Defender, or the Chief Public Defender's designee; (7) The Chief State's Attorney, or the Chief State's Attorney's designee; (8) A chairperson of the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to children; (9) A chairperson of the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to human services; (10) Two appointed by the president pro tempore of the Senate, one of whom shall represent the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence and one of whom shall be an attorney licensed to practice law in Connecticut; (11) Two appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives, one of whom shall represent the Connecticut Children's Medical Center and one of whom shall represent a multidisciplinary team established pursuant to section 17a-106a of the general statutes; (12) Two appointed by the majority leader of the Senate, one of whom shall represent the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association and one of whom shall be an adult victim of domestic violence; (13) Two appointed by the majority leader of the House of Representatives, one of whom shall represent a designated child advocacy center and one of whom shall be a medical doctor specializing in the care of children exposed to family violence; (14) Two appointed by the minority leader of the Senate, one of whom shall be a currently appointed guardian ad litem and one of whom shall be a psychiatrist or psychologist specializing in the mental health care of children exposed to family violence; (15) Two appointed by the minority leader of the House of Representatives, one of whom shall be a youth victim exposed to family violence and one of whom shall be a currently appointed attorney for the minor child; and (16) Two appointed by the Chief Court Administrator, one of whom shall be a judge of the Superior Court assigned to hear family matters and one of whom shall represent the Judicial Branch Court Support Services Division. (c) Any member of the task force appointed under subdivisions (10) to (15), inclusive, of subsection (b) of this section may be a member of the General Assembly. (d) All appointments to the task force shall be made not later than thirty days after the effective date of this section. Any vacancy shall be filled by the appointing authority. (e) The speaker of the House of Representatives and the president pro tempore of the Senate shall select two chairpersons of the task force from among the members of the task force. Such chairpersons shall schedule the first meeting of the task force, which shall be held not later than sixty days after the effective date of this section. (f) The administrative staff of the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to human services shall serve as the administrative staff of the task force. (g) Not later than January 15, 2016, the task force shall submit a report on its findings and recommendations to the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to human services and children, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes. The task force shall terminate on the date that it submits such report or January 15, 2016, whichever is later. Approved June 30, 2015 For the link to this information, see below:
"HARTFORD – After the tragic death of 7-month-old Aaden Moreno, does the way Connecticut handles cases involving domestic violence need fixing? Al and Jenn discuss this with guests Karen Jarmoc, Co-Chair of the State Task Force on Domestic Violence and Rich Rochlin, an attorney specializing in family law."
Alaine Griffin of "The Hartford Courant" reports as follows:
MIDDLETOWN — Tony Moreno, the Middletown father accused of throwing his infant son Aaden off the Arrigoni Bridge earlier this month made his first appearance Tuesday in Superior Court.
Under tight security and inside a crowded courtroom, Judge David P. Gold continued Moreno's case to Sept. 15. Aaden's mother, Adrianne Oyola, 19, sat in the gallery next to a relative and an inspector from the state's attorney's office. He did not enter a plea.
Members of Moreno's family were also at the hearing as well as a half dozen Middletown police officers who had worked on the case.
Moreno, 21, dressed in a green prison jumpsuit, was escorted into the courtroom. His legs were shackled and his wrists were handcuffed behind his back.
Moreno responded, "Yes sir, I do," when Gold asked him if he understood a request by Moreno's public defender, James McKay, to waive the time limit on a mandated hearing of probable cause.
"He's tremendously distressed and feels horrible about this," McKay said after the court proceeding. "There's no question that this is a bottomless tragedy."
Madeline Stocker of CT NEWS JUNKIE reports as follows:
"The death of 7-month-old Aaden Moreno of Middletown was a painful reminder to lawmakers about why they created a new task force to look at family violence cases.
Moreno was allegedly thrown off the Arrigoni Bridge in Middletown by his father after a judge rejected a request for a no-contact order against him, citing a lack of “imminent harm,” court documents show.
Moreno’s death and the events leading up to it are just one of the many cases the new task force on family violence will tackle when it convenes for its first meeting later this month.
Though the task force has not yet been fully appointed, Senate President Martin M. Looney and House Speaker Brendan Sharkey announced their appointments Wednesday at a Capitol press conference.
Looney named Karen Jarmoc, president and CEO of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, as co-chair."
As we consider the death of baby Aaden Moreno, we do need to keep in mind that Judge Barry Pinkus, who denied Adrianne a restraining order which would have protected her and saved her baby's life, was the very same judge who gave full custody of a 5 year old little girl to rapist and killer Joshua Komisarjevsky. For the details of this, please click on the link below:
"Connecticut Court Failure: The Deadly Rebranding of Joshua Komisarjevsky" by Anne Stevenson
For a description of Joshua Komisarjevky's criminal actions, see the Wikipedia description below:
"During this time, Hayes and Komisarjevsky escalated the aggravated nature of their crimes: Komisarjevsky raped the 11-year-old Michaela. Komisarjevsky, who had photographed the sexual assault of the youth on his cell phone, then provoked Hayes to rape Hawke-Petit. While Hayes was raping Hawke-Petit on the floor of her living room, Komisarjevsky entered the room announcing that William Petit had escaped. Hayes then strangled Hawke-Petit, doused her lifeless body and parts of the house including the daughters' rooms with gasoline. The daughters, while tied to their beds, had both been doused with gasoline; each had her head covered with a pillowcase. A fire was then ignited, and Hayes and Komisarjevsky fled the scene. Hayley and Michaela both died from smoke inhalation."
This is the kind of individual Judge Barry Pinkus considered would be a better parent than the little girl's mother who had been primary caretaker up to that time. And we are surprised about what happened to Baby Aaden?
The death of Baby Aaden Moreno was inevitable in the light of current Connecticut Family Court policies to place the interests of fathers well over that of mothers, no matter how criminal the fathers are.
"A battered mother lost custody of her kids to an abusive spouse after she refused to participate in court-ordered therapy with her ex-husband who had been convicted on nearly a dozen charges of sexually and physically assaulting her.
Connecticut family court judge Maureen Murphy issued the shocking order on January 6, 2015, giving sole custody to violent offender Angelo Gizzi because his ex-wife Angela Gizzi (nee Hickman) refused to participate in "family reunification" therapy.
In 2007, Angelo Gizzi was charged with 13 criminal counts ranging from spousal abuse, spousal sexual assault, kidnapping, threatening, and risk of injury to a child.
When defendant Gizzi’s ex-wife -- who was severely traumatized from the domestic abuse -- was unable to testify against him because of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the state of Connecticut cut a plea deal for Gizzi to plead guilty to a series of misdemeanors, avoiding jail time..."
WHEN PARENTS SEPARATE AFTER AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP, SHOULDN’T FATHERS HAVE AS MUCH RIGHT AS MOTHERS TO BE GRANTED PHYSICAL CUSTODY OF AND VISITATION RIGHTS WITH THEIR CHILDREN?
Tensions exist between children’s need for contact with their father and their need to be protected from the physical, sexual and psychological abuse that is common in families where there has been other forms of violence such as woman abuse.
Although most people believe that fathers should have equal access to their children after the termination of a relationship between the parents, the equal-access option is based on the assumption that the fathers will act in their children’s best interests. However, that is a naive assumption in situations where family violence has occurred.
Fathers who batter their children’s mothers can be expected to use abusive power and control techniques to control the children, too. In many of these families, prior to separation, the men were not actively involved in the raising of their children. To gain control after the marital separation, the fathers fight for the right to be involved. Often children who have been exposed to violence in the family are frightened to confront their father’s negative or abusive behavior, and mothers cannot protect them. Sometimes the father tries to alienate the child from the mother by using money and other enticements, negative comments, or restricted access to the telephone during visitation with him. Other times, fathers may threaten or actually kidnap the child to punish the mother for leaving, or to try to force her to return.
Most people, including the battered woman herself, believe that when a woman leaves a violent man, she will remain the primary caretaker of their children. Family courts, however, may not consider the history of woman abuse relevant in awarding custody. Recent studies suggest that an abusive man is more likely than a nonviolent father to seek sole physical custody of his children and may be just as likely (or even more likely) to be awarded custody as the mother. Often fathers win physical custody because men generally have greater financial resources and can continue the court battles with more legal assistance over a longer period of time.
Family courts frequently minimize the harmful impact of children’s witnessing violence between their parents and sometimes are reluctant to believe mothers. If the court ignores the history of violence as the context for the mother’s behavior in a custody evaluation, she may appear hostile, uncooperative, or mentally unstable. For example, she may refuse to disclose her address, or may resist unsupervised visitation, especially if she thinks her child is in danger. Psychological evaluators who minimize the importance of violence against the mother, or pathologize her responses to it, may accuse her of alienating the children from the father and may recommend giving the father custody in spite of his history of violence.
Some professionals assume that accusations of physical or sexual abuse of children that arise during divorce or custody disputes are likely to be false, but the empirical research to date shows no such increase in false reporting at that time. In many instances, children are frightened about being alone with a father they have seen use violence towards their mother or a father who has abused them. Sometimes children make it clear to the court that they wish to remain with the mother because they are afraid of the father, but their wishes are ignored.
Research indicates that high levels of continued conflict between separated and divorced parents hinders children’s normal development. Some practitioners now believe that it may be better for children’s development to restrict the father’s access to them and avoid continued danger to both mothers and the children.
According to journalist Bonnie Russell of "Media and the Courts":
"A few weeks ago, Family court litigant, AdrianneOyola, received a temporary restraining order to prevent Tony Moreno, the father of Adrianne’s seven month old son, Aaden Moreno, from hurting Aaden. The order was signed from a still as yet to be identified, family court judge.
But when Adrianne returned to court with a request to make the temporary restraining order permanent, Judge Barry Pinkus refused her request; and Adrianne’s temporary restraining order, expired.
“Expired” turned out to be the operative term.
Judge Barry Pinkus – killer judge
Barely a month after Judge Pinkus’s ruling, Tony Moreno threw seven month old Aaden off the Arrigoni Bridge, into the Connecticut River.
Attorney Michelle Cruz states as follows: "Obtaining a restraining order is not easy for a victim of abuse. Many times it takes weeks, months or even years for the victim to muster the courage and strength to ask the courts to protect her from an abusive partner. The victim often struggles with fears of trusting the courts and the terror of the offender's reaction when he finds out that a restraining order has been sought. Sadly, for Adrianna Oyola, when she applied for protection, she was let down by the court.
Oyola is only 19 years old. She filled out an affidavit for a restraining order on June 17. She alleged that Tony Moreno, the father of 7-month-old Aaden, threatened to take the boy and make him disappear. She said she was afraid Moreno would hurt the child, who was ultimately killed when Moreno threw him off a bridge. Oyola said Moreno threatened to kill her and she was afraid to sleep.
During a June 29 hearing on the request for the restraining order, Superior Court Judge Barry Pinkus never asked Oyola for details of her allegations related to the father's threats or concerns for the child's safety. Rather, the judge glossed over the specifics, instead inquiring about the time frame of encounters between Moreno and Oyola. Had the judge asked specifically why Oyola was afraid for the baby's safety, perhaps he would have better understood the victim's concerns and not dismissed them as a "custody dispute."..."