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

Sunday, November 19, 2017

25 STRATEGIES DIVORCE ATTORNEYS USE TO KEEP YOU IN COURT AND FIGHTING!

It has been interesting for me to read articles in "The Greenwich Times" about the horrific divorce cases which have taken place in Connecticut.  These are cases where mothers often lose everything that they have, not only their financial base, but also their children.  

Unfortunately, the focus in these articles has been on what litigants in family court have done rather than on the primary source of the problem, i.e. Family Court attorneys. So here for the uninitiated is a list of 25 things that Family Court attorneys do in order to generate conflict among family court litigants and profit from their distress. In no particular order, they are as follows. Such attorneys will:

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

FAMILY COURT INITIATIVES - ADDENDUM 2017! WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE CHANGES!

The CT Judicial Branch reports the following changes in their report on Family Court Initiatives.  Is this enough?  Should we have more?

  • Reducing the reliance on the Guardians Ad Litem
  • Waiving service of process for a marshal to deliver a complaint to a party in a divorce
  • Intensive Case Management
  • General Case Management - reducing delays
  • Individual Calendaring - Single Judge in a Case
  • GAL accountability - Creation of standing committee
  • Family Volunteer Attorney Program
  • Divorce Navigator - Website Assistance
For more details on these programs, please click on the link below:


http://www.jud.ct.gov/family/Family%20Initiatives%20-%20Addendum%20to%20report%20-%20April%202017.pdf

IS THIS ENOUGH OR DO WE NEED MORE?  SHARE YOUR VIEWS IN THE COMMENT SECTION BELOW!

Friday, November 11, 2016

THE ABUSIVE USE OF MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS IN CUSTODY SWITCHING SCHEMES, STVAN v. STVAN: PART VI!

I don't think I can fully express the depth of the terror I felt when it dawned on me in my custody case that my ex husband and the GAL in my case could actually coach my 13 year old son to lie about me.  I am still not quite sure what it is that he was told to say but it went something along the lines that every night I would leave him at home to put his younger sisters to bed while I went off to the Barnes and Noble bookstore to read.  I guess the saving grace of that accusation is that my son didn't say that I went  to a nightclub and danced the night away with various men.  I almost lost custody because of that false accusation.  

Luckily, since my son was living with me, he didn't keep up that nonsense for very long.  But what do you get when you take a child this age, cut her off from her primary caregiver, and brow beat her for week after week with suggestions that she's been abused.  You've guessed it: the kinds of questionable allegations of abuse that Paige Stvan's daughter may have come up with and which became the basis for the custody switching scheme perpetrated in the case Stvan v. Stvan.  

I say "may have" because, as it stands now, even though I have read the documents in this case closely, I still do not know what these allegations were. Ordinarily, if the issue is raised, the Court would order a forensic custody evaluation in order to verify whether abuse occurred or not.  In the Stvan case such an evaluation was never done, which leads me to believe the allegations were never very credible.  Bottom line, Mr. Thomas Stvan only started claiming there was abuse once he realized that he couldn't seize custody with fabricated tales about Paige Stvan's mental health difficulties.  In that approach, he was successful.

Thus, in his January 8, 2016 memorandum, Judge Gerald Adelman stated the following, "The court finds that the best interests of the minor child require that she remain in the custody of the plaintiff and that the defendant's parental access to said child shall be restricted to therapeutic visits with the child's therapist, at the recommendation of said therapist, and hopefully a continuation of the brief meetings at the local mall."  It is now November 2016, and no such meetings have ever taken place, and it looks like they never will.  

At the end of his memorandum, Judge Gerald Adelman acknowledges that he essentially has not obeyed the law and conducted the evidentiary hearing held 14 days after a temporary ex parte change of custody to determine whether that change should be made permanent stating, "That the temporary custodial orders shall remain in effect pending a full future hearing once the GAL, the AMC and the therapist are able to offer the court a more thorough presentation."  The sub text of this order is that the Court has no expectation that any such hearing will take place, since it still has not taken place and there are no plans in sight to schedule it.  

Basically, I'm not sure how such a presentation could happen since now both sides have been ordered not to file any motions without permission from the court, and often no matter how worthy such a request, they are often denied.  This is an unconscionable outcome for a case.  What has happened is that a temporary order has become a de facto permanent order simply by virtue of the fact that Judge Gerald Adelman has disobeyed the law.  

In addition, with this memorandum of January 8, 2016, Judge Adelman has essentially put into place a structure that guarantees that Paige Stvan will never be able to see her daughter again.  

For instance, Judge Adelman conveniently fails to mention that earlier on December 1, 2016, he had issued an order that Ms. Paige Stvan was not allowed to speak to the therapist, Ms. Donna Fletcher, unless the therapist gave permission for her to do so.  As Judge Adelman put it, the  therapist has full authority to decide "who she sees, when and under what circumstances."  It is my understanding that Mr. Thomas Stvan and the GAL Rosa Rebimbas immediately seized control of this therapist by telling her that the judge had established as a fact that abuse occurred even though that would be a lie.    

If the Court truly believed that there was possible abuse, the Court would have requested a follow up report from the therapist to verify any abuse, as well as an explanation regarding the extent of the damage that any parental abuse may have had.  If these allegations were credible, Paige Stvan would have been held legally liable, but so would the father. The bottom line is that the child was largely in the mother's sole care for twelve years.  If there was any abuse that was going on, and the father allowed that abuse to occur unchecked, then the father would be legally liable as well.  

Not only would there be follow up to verify any abuse, if the Court took these allegations seriously, the standard procedure would have been followup hearings to put into place a program of rehabilitation for the parents, and, at the very least, there would have been an investigation by family relations. The question is, why wasn't this standard followed?

Even with situations of abuse, parents are still allowed to remain in the lives of their children.  If they are willing, such parents are given the therapy they need to become better people and parents.  I know of a recent case of domestic violence where the father slammed his infant's head against a car door and gave her a concussion.  Still, he has been allowed unsupervised visits with that child after a period of rehabilitation.  Since this is standard procedure for the family court system, why has it been uniquely disregarded in the case of Paige Stvan?  Is it because this is simply a custody switching scheme?  And why would a State Representative such as Rosa Rebimbas be involved in it?

Finally, if the Court took these allegations of abuse seriously, it would have hired a qualified individual with an advanced degree in forensic psychiatry or psychology to do a proper investigation which would ordinarily include both parents, extended family, school personnel, therapists, and the child's pediatrician, just to start. Instead, the Court merely ordered that the parties hire a therapist for the child, a Ms. Donna Fletcher, who is a licensed practical counselor with a master's degree in psychology who graduated from Fairfield College. 

This is a person who spent 20 years in the computer industry and for whom this stint in counseling is a second career.  She has a specialty in alcoholism and drug addiction, not divorce and custody.  

In the brief period Ms. Paige Stvan had a chance to speak to Ms. Donna Fletcher on the phone, Ms. Fletcher made it very clear she had no intention of doing any kind of investigation.  Her intention was simply to provide counseling to the child for abuse.  Of course, that would be ridiculous if the facts bear out that the child was not abused, and my guess is they would.


Still, the bottom line is that, if you are providing therapy for a child who has allegedly been abused, as a therapist, you would have to meet a few times with both parents in order to do a responsible job of finding out what has been going on.  Instead, to my knowledge, Ms. Fletcher only spoke to Paige Stvan once over the phone.  That is unacceptable.  

In addition, what is even worse is that the therapist, Ms. Fletcher, has apparently accepted a deeply flawed characterization of Ms. Paige Stvan as an abuser, even though two highly qualified professionals--Dr. Linda Ginsberg and Ashley Adamson--took considerable time and trouble to write and to call the therapist in order to put her on the right track.  Unfortunately, Donna Fletcher has simply refused to have anything to do with them.  It is really unethical to disregard medical information from another provider which could be relevant to your work in connection to an abuse case.  You can't just dismiss testimony from other mental health professionals because it doesn't go along with your predisposed opinions.  Ms. Donna Fletcher also ignored testimony from a friend of Ms. Stvan's, the child's Godmother, a child dependency attorney, who had witnessed some of the domestic violence and wrote a supportive letter about Paige to the therapist.  All of this was ignored.  

Ultimately, it appears to me that this therapist, Ms. Donna Fletcher, was simply being used in order to justify the abduction of this little girl from her mother.   This is an abuse of the mental health profession itself to use the profession as a means to unethically deny a mother her constitutional rights as a parent.  Keep in mind that up to the present time there has been no report from this therapist, no confirmation of any abuse, and no attempt to integrate mother into a program to restore Ms. Paige Stvan's relationship with her child which is the proper thing to do.

In the end, there are several things that have gone wrong in this situation, particularly in connection to the mental health component in this case.  

First, If there are allegations of abuse in a high conflict custody case, you would not appoint an LPC with a background in computers--you would find a psychiatrist or a psychologist with extensive training in forensic custody evaluations, who can investigate the allegations, particularly in a situation where there has been considerable domestic violence and legal abuse.  

Second, there needed to be a specific plan for reuniting this mother and child.  If there were allegations, what were those allegations and what can be done about them?  If there were allegations that were verified, then there ordinarily should have been some specific plan put into place where the mother could have worked through counseling, parenting classes, and supervised visitation to improve her parenting skills and earn her way back into having a relationship with her child.  The fact that there was no such plan at any point, no followup hearings indicates that this was simply a custody snatching scheme.  

Third, this therapist has a responsibility to both parents when she is conducting counseling with a child.  She was required to discuss the therapy with both parents and obtain informed consent from both parents for the therapy before proceeding with treatment.  While she did not need to get a signature from Ms. Paige Stvan to proceed since she no longer had custody, it still remained her responsibility to sit down with the mother and explain what the treatment plan is.  

Finally, as a mental health counselor, it was Ms. Donna Fletcher's responsibility to take into account other perspectives on what kind of person Ms. Paige Stvan is, to review the mother's prior medical records to verify if information she'd received was accurate, and to include the mother in her daughter's treatment to the extent possible.  If Donna Fletcher solely listened to the father, and the GAL Rosa Rebimbas whose bias is clear cut and excluded the mother's perspective from consideration, this would simply be unethical and an abuse of her professional role.  

From month to month then, this case is full of schemes to deceive the court, of malicious legal manipulations conducted to deny Ms. Paige Stvan her constitutional rights as a mother, and other unprofessional conduct across the board.  

Thus, it will not come as a surprise that is not the first time that a case with Judge Gerald Adelman has ended up with a troubled and possibly illegal outcome.  This is not the first time that a victim of domestic violence in a case before Judge Gerald Adelman ended up with the victim losing custody or being mistreated in some other manner.  

We have the Jennifer Jones case, Kathi Sorrentino, Susan Skipp, Paul Boyne, Sunny Liberti, Martha Dean, and many others.  It appears that this is a Judge who sees victims of domestic violence and/or legal abuse and his sole thought is to abuse them further.  I am not sure how the CT Judicial Branch can incubate these kinds of judges and continue to allow them to hurt litigant after litigant, but it does.  

Most troubling is that the harm and damage the Court has perpetrated on the child in this case, who has been suddenly deprived of her primary caregiver, is incalculable. In fact, you could make a case that this maternal deprivation, in and of itself, adds up to child abuse. If something is not done soon to correct this situation, the adverse consequences may end up lasting for a lifetime. Ultimately, there is absolutely no justification for denying Ms. Paige Stvan access to her child, and the only factor that stands between Ms. Stvan and justice is the foolishness, blindness, and vengefulness of our family court system here in CT, an abusive ex husband, and a crooked GAL.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

DID ATTORNEY ROSA REBIMBAS IGNORE CONFLICTS OF INTEREST WHICH SHOULD HAVE KEPT HER OUT OF THE STVAN CASE? PART IV: STVAN v. STVAN!














On September 25, 2015, during an "ex parte hearing" in the Stvan v. Stvan case, the Court transferred temporary full custody to Thomas Stvan. At the same time, the Court also appointed Attorney Rosa Rebimbas as the Attorney For the Minor child or AMC.  Just to note, for your information, by ex parte I mean that Ms. Paige Stvan was not present at the hearing to defend herself from the accusations again her, and in fact, she wasn't even informed that the hearing was taking place.  By law, 14 days after the ex parte hearing, Ms. Paige Taylor should have been allowed to have an evidentiary hearing where she could defend herself.  But as I have stated, she never had one, which is illegal.

Of course, the immediate question here is, why does a 12 year old need an AMC?  An AMC   primarily participates in a legal matter involving a minor child to ensure the client is accorded her legal rights.  It is a very limited role and is usually reserved for older teenagers around 15,16 years old who are almost independent. No 12 year old is mature enough to make life changing decisions and direct the actions of an attorney at such a young age.  In contrast, a GAL's role is more geared towards conducting investigations and working with the family, which would seem more appropriate where one party had made unfounded accusations. 

What I would suspect is that the reason the Court assigned an AMC is that Thomas Stvan exaggerated the situation to make it appear as though Ms. Paige Stvan's condition was so severe that she wouldn't be in the picture for months to come, and that there would be no need for an investigation and a report in preparation for the 14 day follow up hearing to see if the change of custody was truly necessary.

Another reason a jaded person like me would speculate that the Court diverted from its ordinary manner of doing business and appointed an AMC for the child at this juncture is that all conversations, all correspondence related to representing a child become secret and confidential if you are acting as an AMC. Because documentation created or received while acting as an AMC is not discoverable, this means that acting in that role allows any legal professional considerable leeway to hide any wrongdoing.  

So who is this Attorney Rosa Rebimbas who is supposed to be acting on behalf of the child in this case as AMC? Attorney Rosa Rebimbas is a State Representative in the CT General Assembly.  This is the same Attorney Rebimbas who not long ago saw fit to verbally abuse and attack a fellow member of the Judiciary Committee, Rep. Minnie Gonzales, who has been so courageous in calling attention to the abuses and corruption of family court.  

Of course, those of us who fought for the Task Force that investigated the misdeeds of family court, those of us who had the courage to step forward, despite fears of retaliation, to speak out and provide testimony about our sufferings as a consequence of the wrongdoing of the CT Judicial Branch, have viewed Rep. Minnie Gonzales as our standard bearer.  Rep. Minnie Gonzales is the warrior who spoke out courageously on our behalf, who had compassion for our hurt and pain, and for the loss of beloved children and homes and college tuition accounts, who understood how it felt for us to be thrown out onto the streets, jailed and deprived of precious family bonds with our children as a consequence of the denial of our constitutional and human rights within the CT Family Court system.  

Attorney Rosa Rebimbas is the State Representative who took it upon herself to insult our standard bearer, Rep. Minnie Gonzales, and call into question her integrity and her devotion to the people of the State of Connecticut and also to the victims of family court.  This is the woman who appears in the middle of this case--Stvan v. Stvan--to orchestrate, what I believe to be, one of the worse cases of child stealing from a protective mother--Ms. Paige Stvan--that I have seen in years, and I've seen and written about some of the worst.   

Let me just say at the outset that it appears to me that appointing Attorney Rosa Rebimbas in a custody case before a family court judge represents a conflict of interest for her.  This is why I question whether it was appropriate for her to be in this case at all.  The reason why is because, at the same time she is appearing before Judge Gerald Adelman, she is also an active member of the CT General Assembly's Judiciary Committee.  It is her job to vote to reconfirm Judge Adelman to the bench when he comes up for reappointment.  So she is supposed to be appearing before Judge Adelman in a subordinate role, while at the same time she is also in the position of monitoring him and holding him to account for complaints that citizens make against him.  

Why is this even legal?  

There is also another conflict of interest.  At the start of this case during the ex parte hearing on September 25, 2015, Attorney Rosa Rebimbas was appointed to act as the Attorney For the Minor Child (AMC) in the Stvan v. Stvan case.  Again, we can call into question how come a child of 12 would ever in a million years have an AMC represent her, but be that as it may.  Later, in November 2015, Attorney Rebimbas switched roles and became the GAL for the minor child and handed the job of AMC to another attorney, Bradford Barney.  

I just personally find this switcheroo of roles very inappropriate.  

She shouldn't be playing two separate positions for the minor child, bottom line, of course, because it is confusing for the child, but most specifically because it blurs boundaries in regard to her responsibilities.  Of course, I am aware that in Connecticut Family Court it is a standard for an attorney to act as both Attorney for the Minor Child and Guardian ad Litem at the same time, but to me that's just one more example of the complete insanity of Family Court in Connecticut.  So now this little girl has been told she had one kind of relationship with Attorney Rosa Rebimbas, and now the page is turned and the relationship must transform to something completely different.  That's tough enough to do with an adult, but doing that to a child is outrageous!

As an aside, at this point it is worth noting that over half of the people elected to the CT State Legislature are all attorneys.  So it is like this private mafia of attorneys all together in this group, dominating the legislature, who I believe, engage actively in supporting and covering up for their comrades in the legal profession, even to the point where it is colluding with activities within the Family Court system which are causing harm and damage to Connecticut's citizens.  

If these conflicts of interest make you uncomfortable, you can imagine how uncomfortable they made Ms. Paige Stvan.  As a consequence, at the hearing on choosing a GAL for her little girl in November 2015, Ms. Paige Stvan strongly objected to the appointment of Attorney Rosa Rebimbas as GAL.   Not only did she object personally in Court, she also submitted two lengthy and detailed motions to the Court asking to have Attorney Rebimbas totally removed from the case, one on December 6, 2015 and another on December 8, 2015.  In doing so, Ms. Stvan had a strong legal position. Under CT Public Act 14-3, the Court must provide to the parties in a case a list of fifteen approved people to serve as the GAL.  The parties then have a right to agree on a person from that list of 15.  

Unfortunately, and this is where a huge loophole appears, if the parties disagree, then the Court is allowed to choose a person from that list of his own accord.  In the Stvan case, without even allowing the parties to confer regarding who would be the GAL, and without even providing them with the list of 15 potential candidates, Judge Gerald Adelman simply appointed Attorney Rosa Rebimbas over Ms. Paige Stvan's objections. Somehow, when it put CT Public Act 14-3 into place, I don't think that the State legislature intended the Court to ride rough shod over the wishes of the parties in a case as it did with Ms. Stvan, particularly when there were solid grounds to simply remove Ms. Rebimbas from the case entirely, i.e. her lack of neutrality and fairness towards Ms. Paige Stvan. 

As Guardian Ad Litem, it was Attorney Rosa Rebimbas' responsibility to carry out a full investigation into what was going on with Thomas Stvan, Paige Stvan, and the minor child.  As a result, If you review the record of the case, Ms. Paige Stvan brought to Court and made available to Attorney Rosa Rebimbas and the Court numerous mental health professionals and private citizens who supported her as an individual and as a mother.  There was Ms. Ashley Adamson, LCSW, Dr. Eric D. Jackson, Ph.D., Ms. Danielle Sileo, LMFT, Pamela Lape, M.S.W., Dr. Lawrence Lorfice, M.D., Dr. Linda Gunsberg, Ph.D., and Ms. Linda J. Gottlieb, LMFT, LCSW-R.  as well as friends who provided letters and affidavits to the Court.

However, even though some of these professionals personally travelled all the way to Court, some from out of state, and spent the entire day waiting to provide their testimony, Attorney Rosa Rebimbas, from what I understand, prevented the Court from hearing about or listening directly to their testimony.  Not only that, she simply ignored the recommendations that these professionals made.  

In an email dated March 6, 2016, one of these professionals, Dr. Linda Gunsberg provided a written overview of a conversation she'd had directly with Attorney Rosa Rebimbas in which she recommended that an independent forensic family expert evaluate the Stvan family to determine what was going on.  Dr. Gunsberg also recommended a mental status examination of both parents, psychological testing of both parents and an assessment of the child.  In specific, Dr. Gunsberg stated that "the forensic expert must be trained in the assessment of children, parental alienation, domestic violence, and the interrelationship between domestic violence and parental alienation."  

Despite these recommendations from a trained mental health professional indicating the most effective way of resolving the case in the best interests of the child, Attorney Rosa Rebimbas simply ignored them all and didn't follow through.  

Overall, obstruction and non cooperation were Attorney Rebimbas' way of interacting with Ms. Paige Stvan across the Board in violation of her professional obligation as a GAL to remain independent and objective and to show respect for persons.  

Eventually, Ms. Paige Stvan directed several discovery requests towards Attorney Rebimbas.  However, instead of responding promptly, as was appropriate, the latter chose to ignore the requests, even though she received a court order on March 17, 2016 from Judge Gerald Adelman to comply.  I would suspect Representative Rosa Rebimbas felt that she didn't have to be too concerned about a Judge's order, seeing that she was such an important person. And she was right.  What is particularly egregious is that, in her incomplete response to discovery, Attorney Rebimbas took the opportunity to slander Ms. Paige Stvan's character further and draw negative inferences in regard to the presence or absence of her ADA advocates which had no basis in the truth.  As I have stated, ADA advocates didn't remain in the case because the Court disrespected their work.

It is true you can take advantage of self represented parties like Ms. Paige Stvan because they are vulnerable and often don't know the rules.  The only question I'm left with here is what happened to Rosa Rebimbas' oath as an attorney "that you will do nothing dishonest, and will not knowingly allow anything dishonest to be done in court"?  What about her obligation to uphold the law?  Did these conflicts of interest I have detailed here compromise Attorney Rosa Rebimbas ability to act ethically in this case?  We will never know.  What we do know is that, as a direct result of her actions, Ms. Paige Stvan has had to endure the worst kind of pain and injustice that a mother can be subjected to.  

Friday, October 28, 2016

A MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE: HOW FAMILY COURT BULLIED PROTECTIVE MOTHER, PAIGE STVAN, AND CUT HER OFF FROM THE DAUGHTER SHE LOVES, PART III!

The custody proceeding that cut Ms. Paige Stvan off from all access to her daughter is most notable for its complete lack of due process and judicial integrity.  The resulting miscarriage of justice consisted of the following elements:

THE LACK OF AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING: 

Ms. Paige Stvan lost all access to her daughter in an ex parte custody proceeding.  So let's look at the Form JD-FM-222, the document that must be filled out in order to obtain the kind of ex parte change of custody that Thomas Stvan requested and received. On the last page of this document there is a notation that 14 days after the ex parte motion is granted there must be a proper evidentiary hearing with both parties present where the respondent has a chance to defend herself from the charges leveled against her.  Thus, the following statement at the end of the form:

"The court orders that a hearing be held at the time and place shown below, which, if relief on the application is ordered ex parte, shall not be later than 14 days from the date of such order for hearing."  

As it turned out, the ex parte motion was granted on September 25, 2015 and there was a hearing scheduled for October 8, 2015.  However, on that day, there was no hearing on the legitimacy of the ex parte order for a transfer of full custody from Mother to the Father, Mr. Thomas Stvan.  At no time during the October 8, 2015 hearing did Judge Gerald Adelman  address the issue, or allow Ms. Paige Stvan to present evidence or testimony in order to challenge the change of custody that occurred with the ex parte motion.  In effect, the Court simply ignored the legal requirement of an evidentiary hearing on the matter and, indeed, there never was such a hearing.

THE LACK OF COMPLIANCE WITH THE ADA:

In addition, if you look at the upper right hand side of the Form JD-FM-222 re an exparte motion there is a notification regarding the ADA which is as follows:  "The Judicial Branch of the State of Connecticut complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If you need a reasonable accommodation in accordance with the ADA, contact a court clerk or an ADA contact person listed at www.jud.ct.gov/ADA."  

The important point to note here is that once the Superior Court had identified Paige Stvan as a person with a disability, which it had by granting Mr. Thomas Stvan's ex parte motion, it had the obligation to make sure that Ms. Stvan had access to the ADA Designated Responsible Employee, and also that she had the opportunity to make arrangements for her reasonable modifications in order to have access to the legal proceedings.  This was not done.  To all intents and purposes, this means, in other words, that Ms. Stvan was essentially excluded from the legal proceedings.  

Even worse, from the report Ms. Stvan has given to me, even though she repeatedly requested ADA modifications, ADA contact people at the Courthouse repeatedly evaded her inquiries and denied her requests.  

This is simply illegal.  

If the Judicial Branch is going to state on every document it produces that it will comply with Title II federal ADA law, it really needs to do so.  

Returning to Judge Gerald Adelman's January 8, 2016 memorandum, one of the grounds that Judge Adelman cited as a reason that he decided to cut Ms. Paige Stvan off from all access to her daughter is that Ms. Stvan did not comport herself properly in Court.  As he put it, "the defendant had repeatedly demonstrated an inability to control herself requiring the court to stop the proceedings many times to remind her of proper courtroom decorum."  I did not see that when I read the transcripts, but be that as it may.  You have to ask yourself, was that before or after Judge Adelman told Ms. Stvan that she would never be able to see her child again.  I am aware that, at one point, the proceedings had to be stopped because Ms. Stvan burst into tears and had to leave temporarily.  I suppose Judge Gerald Adelman found that behavior outrageous.  

However, I don't recall seeing any CT legal statute that states showing "proper courtroom decorum" is a requirement for being a parent.  In fact, I've seen all sorts of parents walking into family court, some with their pants falling down, others with their midriffs showing, some chewing gum, many who directly argue with the Judges at length and challenge their decisions. These people don't lose custody because of that behavior. So why is Judge Adelman making demands on Ms. Stvan regarding decorum that are not made of other litigants, and that are independent of the law!  

More important, it is a standard complaint of Court personnel who are dealing with folks who have disabilities that people with disabilities lack decorum during legal proceedings. It is standard for Judges to find fault with the person and demeanor of individuals with disabilities because they do not understand what is going on with a person who has a disability, particularly when it is an invisible disability.  This is why Courts are required to offer these reasonable modifications under Title II of Federal ADA law as promptly as possible as soon as either side raises the issue of disability.  This Judge Adelman did not do.

Eventually, on December 4, 2015, Ms. Paige Stvan was finally able to figure out how to access her reasonable modifications, and the first request she had was the opportunity to have a person sit next to her and take notes during court proceedings.  However, the ADA advocate she hired soon quit because the Court treated her so badly she left.  This is the point where Ms. Elizabeth Richter signed up to work as Ms. Stvan's advocate, but she chose to withdraw as well for the same reason stating, "The atmosphere of family court is so hostile towards Certified ADA Advocates that I simply cannot provide the kinds of necessary services that my client needs."  

What this means, basically, is that, according to the law, the entire time that Ms. Paige Stvan has been going to family court regarding this matter, all the legal proceedings have been null and void.  

So the problem here isn't Ms. Stvan's demeanor, the problem is Judge Gerald Adelman's ongoing failure to comply with ADA law.  This has excluded Ms. Paige Stvan from even the barest modicum of due process in regard to these legal proceedings.  

THE DENIAL OF THE RIGHT TO LEGAL COUNSEL
UNCALLED FOR CHARACTER ASSASSINATION

Not only were there very basic violations of ADA law and fundamental due process in Stvan v. Stvan, Ms. Paige Stvan was also denied her right to legal counsel which fundamentally undercuts the legitimacy of the legal proceedings in her case. Also, her own attorney slandered her reputation without any justifiable grounds and wrongly compromised her legal position.  The story of how this happened is as follows:

Five days after the ex parte change of custody to the father, on September 30, 2015, Ms. Stvan's attorney, Christopher Brennan, filed a motion to withdraw.   He then scheduled this motion to withdraw for October 8, 2015, the day which  was supposed to be for the hearing on the ex parte motion.  In order to avoid an evidentiary hearing on the motion to withdraw, and to evade any accountability from his client, Attorney Christopher Brennan requested a Matza Hearing in order to withdraw from the case.  What is interesting is that, Attorney Brennan didn't say anything about needing a Matza Hearing in his motion to withdraw, so it came as a complete surprise.  This meant that Ms. Stvan had no opportunity to prepare for such a hearing.  The first time the Matza hearing got mentioned was in Attorney Brennan's opening statements on the the day of the hearing.

You've never heard of a Matza Hearing?  Well, neither had I before I read the transcript of the October 8, 2015 hearing and I'm sure neither had Ms. Paige Stvan!  She and I were completely clueless, as I am sure Attorney Brennan knew we would be.

I had to dig really deep and spend a several hours on research before I figured out what a Matza hearing is. This is the story--and by the way, this has nothing to do with passover (a Jewish attorney friend of mine had to make that joke!)  

The Matza Hearing arises from the case of Richard A. Matza v Jane W. Matza 226 Conn. 166 (1993).  In this case, the Defendant, Jane Matza attempted to implicate her attorney in hiding approximately $196,000 from the Court by falsifying her financial affidavit.  Her attorney then wrote up a sealed affidavit to this effect and discussed the matter with the judge in chambers, who then allowed the attorney to withdraw from the case. This ultimately led to a situation where the defendant, Jane Matza, was forced to represent herself.   

Once the case was concluded and the results were not to Jane Matza's liking, she appealed stating that she had been denied an evidentiary hearing in regard to the withdrawal of her attorney and she objected to the in chambers hearing which occurred instead and did not allow her to present her side.  

The case ultimately went to the Supreme Court which, in its decision, quoted rule  1.16 (b) which states that "a lawyer may withdraw from representing a client if withdrawal can be accomplished without material adverse effect on the interests of the client..."  However, one of the exceptions to that rule kicks in if "The client persists in a course of action involving the lawyer's services that the lawyer reasonably believes is criminal or fraudulent..."  

The question the Court was faced with is, if an attorney has a reasonable basis for believing that his or her client might be engaging in something criminal or fraudulent, is Superior Court required to hold an evidentiary hearing in order to confirm the factual underpinnings of the attorney's claim.  In Matza v. Matza, the Supreme Court stated that there is no need for such an evidentiary hearing, because the claim doesn't have to be proven in full;an attorney merely needs to establish that he has a reasonable belief that it is credible.  The Supreme Court pointed out that Jane Matza knew what she was accused of and never attempted to dispute the truth of it.

What Attorney Christopher Brennan did, therefore, by requesting a Matza hearing, is essentially indicate to the Court that he had a reasonable belief that Ms. Paige Stvan was intending to do or had done something criminal or fraudulent.  Of course, Ms. Stvan had no idea that this is what he meant and she was completely unaware that she was being accused.  Since she had no idea she was being accused, she had no idea that she needed to defend herself, and certainly she had no idea what it was that she was supposed to have done!  Talk about a complete denial of due process!  Then, merely by requesting the Matza Hearing, he proceeded to  convey to everyone involved in the case that Ms. Stvan was a person of poor character capable of doing something either criminal or fraudulent.  How more damaging to his own client can this behavior get, and how more unethical could he be?  How is Paige Stvan supposed to find another attorney to represent her with this kind of unresolved accusation hanging over her head?

At this point, the Matza case and the Stvan case diverge. In the Matza case, the Defendant Jane W. Matza was well informed regarding the issue that led her attorney to withdraw.  In the Stvan case, Ms. Paige Stvan had no idea what was involved because her attorney never  told her and she was excluded from the in chambers hearing.  The Judge, Attorney Christopher Brennan and her ex-husband's attorney,  Nancy Aldrich were at the hearing, but Ms. Stvan was told to remain outside the room in the hallway.  This meant that while even Ms. Stvan's ex-husband and his attorney knew what Paige Stvan was accused of, no one saw fit to inform Ms. Stvan herself.  

Second, when the Judge in Jane W. Matza's case allowed her attorney to withdraw, he then granted a continuance in the case in order to allow Ms. Matza an opportunity to obtain alternative counsel.  In Ms. Paige Stvan's case, she was not given a continuance and she was not given additional time to hire another attorney to represent her despite the fact that some major decisions were made during that October 8, 2015 hearing.  

Further, how is Paige Stvan supposed to obtain alternative counsel when her attorney, Christopher Brennan, left her burdened with the implication that she either had or  intended to commit some criminal or fraudulent action in her case, the nature of which is completely unknown since the hearing on the accusation against her was all done behind closed doors.


The bottom line is that Mr. Thomas Stvan, his Attorney Nancy Aldrich, and the GAL, Attorney Rosa Rebimbas have made many claims in this case. However, their claims have never faced the challenge of an evidentiary hearing, which is legally required before such claims are acted upon.  Aside from their unfounded, unverified statements to the Court, which are hearsay, for the better part, there is nothing to justify or prove their claims.  

Meanwhile, Ms. Paige Stvan has been cut off from her daughter for over a year now independent of any legal grounds.  The injury this separation has done to Mom, Ms. Paige Stvan, and the emotional damage inflicted on her daughter as a consequence, are incalculable and will continue to unfold.  This case is and remains a disgrace and a moral blight on the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch.

Monday, October 24, 2016

A MOTHER'S TEARS MATTER: HOW FAMILY COURT BULLIED PROTECTIVE MOTHER, PAIGE STVAN, AND CUT HER OFF FROM THE DAUGHTER SHE LOVES, PART II!

What we have here is a tragic situation where a mother has been separated from the child she raised for 12 years based upon unsubstantiated and untrue representations of mental illness.  Meanwhile, questions regarding her ex-husband's bipolar disorder remain unaddressed.  

Subsequently, Judge Adelman acknowledged that the representations regarding Ms. Paige Stvan's mental health weren't sufficient to justify keeping Paige away from her daughter.  At that juncture, he then claimed that there were other serious allegations that her child had raised which now justified separating Paige Stvan from her daughter. What were those serious allegations?  To be honest, I couldn't see anything in the many documents I reviewed that would explain it.

The allegation the child made that the judge cited in his memorandum as a basis to stop all visits was that Mom was making visits with her uncomfortable.  As Ms. Paige Stvan explained it, she was allowed visits with her daughter once a week for an hour standing in the corridor of a local mall.  To start with, that's a pretty difficult way to conduct a visit.  Next, Ms. Stvan stated that during these visits the father would remain in the sidelines monitoring the entire visit and at the least sign of trouble advise his daughter to simply leave.  As a result, under the pressure of essentially being put between two parents, the child would terminate the visit within ten minutes.  To Paige Stvan, this was simply a situation where the father was using the visits to drive a wedge between herself and her daughter.

Attorney Rosa Rebimbas, the GAL in the case, reported the situation somewhat differently.  She alleged that Paige Stvan insisted upon talking to her daughter about the case during the visit.  But what does that mean "talking about the case?"  Does that mean Paige tried to explain to her daughter what was going on and why she couldn't come home to her Mom?  Was it something else? Attorney Rebimbas didn't specify; she just used trigger words with the judge which she knew would elicit a negative reaction.  Keep in mind, we are getting this testimony from the ex-husband and a biased GAL who appear to be willing to do anything they can to justify a complete no contact order. I also think it makes no sense to have visitation with a child standing up in a crowded corridor in a mall.  What's that all about?

Repeatedly, the opposing attorney in this case, Attorney Nancy Aldrich insisted that Paige Stvan's daughter didn't want to see her Mom, so therefore she shouldn't have to. Attorney Rosa Rebimbas emphasized that the daughter didn't want to see her mother and indicated her belief that the daughter had the right to refuse to see her mother.  Judge Gerald Adelman reported in his Memorandum of January 8, 2016 that "the child was extremely resistant to any contact with her mother" and implied that this justified denying Ms.  Stvan access to her daughter.  However, this is not how state law works. According to Connecticut law, at any age, a child's preference is never the only criterion for making a custody decision in a custody proceeding.  What counts is what is in the best interests of the child.

Further, I am wondering how a 12 year old child who had never before reported being unhappy with her mother, all of a sudden, within two months of being totally cut off from all access to her mother, becomes extremely resistant to seeing her mother.  Keep in mind, these words never came out of the child's mouth directly, and were simply what biased individuals with ulterior motives chose to report. I am also wondering why a 12 year old child has the authority, not only to choose the time and place of the visits, but whether they take place at all.  I don't know of any other case where a pre-teen was given such extraordinary power.  

Perhaps the answer to this lies in observations that Dr. Linda Gunsberg reported on at the time these events were taking place.  In a letter to the court dated January 26, 2016,  Dr. Linda Gunsberg described hearing a conversation that Page Stvan had with her daughter over the phone.  She described this conversation, which took place on November 2, 2015, in the following terms: 

"The most incredible phone conversation occurred when Ms. [Stvan] called [her child] during the court ordered parent telephone access to speak with her.  I asked Ms. [Stvan] to put [the child] on speaker phone so that I could listen.  [The child] was very warm towards her mother, was eager to share with her mother information about projects she was working on for school, and actually wanted to remain on the telephone longer than Ms. [Stvan] could...It was a normal parent-child conversation."

However, Dr. Gunsberg reported that "By December 31, 2015, [the child] was telling her mother either in a telephone message or text that she never wanted to speak to her mother again."  Dr. Gunsberg attributed this dramatic change in the child's attitude towards her mother to father's campaign of parental alienation.  Keep in mind that by December 31, 2015, the child had been separated from her mother and her hometown and friends for three months.  

Again, it is remarkable that Judge Gerald Adelman supported this 12 year old child in making the decision not to see her mother again. A 12 year old child doesn't have sufficient cognitive ability to make such important life decisions.  In fact, you would hardly believe that this Judge Adelman is the very same Judge who, in the Sorentino case, put a mother in jail to force a 15 year old boy to live with the father he adamantly didn't want to live with.  Yet, in the Stvan case, when a 12 year old girl refused to see her mother, that very same Judge Adelman appointed two attorneys to defend her right to exclude her mother from her life?  

How is that OK?  

How come  Judge Gerald Adelman found a 12 year old's decision more credible than that of a 15 year old? 

Do any of you recall how, when Kathi Sorrentino cried at the thought of having to go to jail, Judge Gerald Adelman derided her and made fun of her, calling her tears "crocodile tears"? Why do judges in the State of Connecticut, such as Judge Adelman, only use PAS to deny mothers their parenting rights while excusing fathers who are equally culpable?  Protective mothers in the State of Connecticut would really like to know!  We need a new campaign in this State with the slogan:  A mother's tears matter!

WITH A NOD AND A WINK: HOW CT FAMILY COURT BULLIED PROTECTIVE MOTHER, PAIGE STVAN, AND CUT HER OFF FROM THE DAUGHTER SHE LOVES, PART I!

On September 25, 2015, Paige Stvan was hospitalized for a few days to address negative side effects she had to a new medication she had been taking. Meanwhile, since she was dealing with these medical problems, in a very responsible way, Ms. Stvan asked her ex husband, Thomas Stvan, to care for their 12 year old daughter temporarily. He agreed to do so. However, instead of just taking care of the child as agreed, Thomas Stvan used the incident as a excuse to file an emergency ex parte motion in court granting him full custody.  That motion was granted.  As a result, since that time, except for a few brief encounters at a local mall, Paige Stvan has not been allowed to see her daughter.  

Why?  

Paige Stvan had been taking care of her child for 12 years, and the child was happy and healthy, well fed and with a roof over her head, as well as successful in school. Nonetheless, family court, in a series of dirty tricks and maneuvers, effectively assisted her ex husband in excising the child from her mother's life with the collusion of a CT State representative, Rep. Rosa Rebimbas.  

Now remember, this is the same judicial system which gave career criminal Joshua Komisarjevsky full custody of his 5 year old daughter just weeks before Mr. Komisarjevky participated in the triple slaying of the Petit family.  In Paige Stvan's case, this was a woman who had done nothing other than be an excellent mother to her daughter for twelve years. Still, the Court saw fit to cut her off entirely from the child she had been bringing up so successfully.  

We all want the reason for that, don't we?  Just so you know, you would have no basis for knowing the reason had Ms. Paige Stvan not requested one because, unlike in every other custody case I've ever seen, originally the Court didn't bother to provide a memorandum of decision stating the legal basis for its decision.  

But here we go, I have before me a January 8, 2016 Memorandum provided by Judge Gerald Adelman explaining his decision.  This is what he says.  

The ex parte was granted (see p. 3 of the memorandum) because "it was represented to the court that the defendant had a history of mental health issues which had previously required the plaintiff to temporarily assume primary or sole custody of the minor child, due to the  defendant's inability to care for said child."  Yes, but these, to my knowledge are and were simply representations without evidence.  To this day, I not seen any documents that can back up these claims.  

Not only that, in these documents there was no mention of the fact that the Plaintiff, Tom Stvan, was represented to have a bipolar disorder.  Why?  Because the ex parte hearing only heard one side of the story at that time. That is why the law requires another hearing 14 days later--so that before anything is finalized, you have a fair hearing where both sides have the opportunity to present their arguments.  Mysteriously, in Paige Stvan's case, although such a hearing is required by law, it never occurred.  This is just the first of the kinds of procedural flaws that have plagued this case from the beginning.  

It is also important to note regarding the term "it was represented" that anyone can "represent" anything to anyone in this world. Eventually, in a court of law, you have to come up with proof.  At no time that I have observed during the many hearings that were held in this case was there any kind of legitimate evidentiary hearing in which allegations of this nature regarding Paige Stvan could be either confirmed or denied.  Futhermore, from all the information I have in front of me, there is no evidence at all that Ms. Stvan had any such history.

How can any judge possibly justify removing a child completely from a mother's life based upon "representations."?  

Meanwhile, I have in front of me a letter that Dr. Linda Gunsberg, Paige Stvan's psychotherapist, wrote to the court.  In this letter, Dr. Gunsberg stated that Ms. Stvan has "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of domestic violence within the marriage, after the marriage, and as a result of constant, continuous litigation brought against her by Mr. Thomas Stvan, her ex-husband."  

Dr. Gunsberg also stressed that Paige Stvan is a competent primary caretaker and mother to her child and that the child flourished under her care.  She also stated that the father's behavior of cutting Ms. Stvan off from all access to her daughter constituted parental alienation.  Of course, everyone knows I'm not a fan of PAS theory, but I just point it out for what it's worth. Again, as I've said before, when a mother points out PAS or PA whatever you want it call it, judges couldn't care less.  PAS only matters if a man complains about it.

I also have a letter from a social worker who also provided treatment for Paige Stvan in which she stated, "I can confidently state that...it is apparent that Ms. [Stvan] does not present with psychological deficits that would compromise her ability to care for her child. Furthermore, Ms. [Stvan] has been highly motivated to take advantage of the services that have helped her to gain an understanding of her current circumstances, while seeking a path towards betterment as an individual, as well as a mother."  In addition, on Paige Stvan's behalf, LMFT Linda J. Gottlieb took the time to provide an extensive explanation to the Court regarding the phenomenon of parental alienation and how to identify it.  I think it says a lot for Paige Stvan that three well qualified mental health professionals took the time to speak up on her behalf.

I would also like to point out that Paige Stvan has always been honest and straightforward to her ex husband about any medical issues she has and has always taken responsible steps to address them.  The result has been successful, and it appears as though she is being punished for that very success.

I understand that two sides in a legal case can end up interpreting data differently which is why you end up in Court anyway.  That is the reason why a case like this would end up in family relations for a custody evaluation to determine whether testimony one way or another is credible.  What is striking about this case is that despite the dire consequence where a Mother has been entirely cut off from any communication with the daughter she raised for 12 years, there was no family relations report, no custody evaluation whatsoever, indeed, no investigation whatsoever.

How is that possible?  I have no idea.  

Next, if you have serious allegations regarding a parent's mental health status--i.e. as in this case, that father has bipolar and mother has depression--the most logical and just outcome would be a psychological evaluation conducted by a court approved psychologist qualified to do the job.  Remarkably, there was absolutely no psychological evaluation, no psychological assessment by a legitimate professional in any way whatsoever.  

I just do not understand that.  

When issues were raised in my case regarding my mental health, I ended up having two psychiatric evaluations and one psychological evaluation.  What happened to me was pretty excessive and is testimony to the extremely damaging impact accusations regarding mental health status can have.  Still, the idea that you could cut a mother off from her child based upon allegations regarding her mental health status that have yet to be proved, and, as you have seen from the testimony I provided, have actually been soundly refuted, appears absolutely outrageous and represents a tragic miscarriage of justice for this mother and her child.  

You cannot simply point at people, call them crazy, and use such unfounded and unproven claims as the basis for denying them their parental rights.  

As the General Statutes Section 46b-46(c), which is the basis for all custody decisions, state, the mental and physical health of the parents involved is a factor in custody decisions, however, the "disability of a proposed custodial parent or other party, in and of itself, shall not be determinative of custody."  Furthermore, under Title II of federal ADA law, disability based discrimination is against the law in this country.  Certainly, the issue of disability should not be determinative without a fair and just evidentiary hearing where there is an equal playing field.  

However, what it looks like is that the judge and the attorneys in this case think that they can deny Paige Stvan her legal rights by nodding and winking and sweeping everything under the rug, simply by virtue of the fact that they think she has a mental health disability.  Likewise, they think they can smooth over and ignore father's possible bipolar disorder.  Trust me--that's not happening.

More on this case in Part II.

PLEASE BE ALERT TO THIS KIND OF CHILD SUPPORT SCAM!

Posted by a member of the public:  "Attorney X* manipulates the court to protect his clients wealth. My ex-wife of 12 years was able to collect past child support that I did not pay over 10 years ago. This is how the scam works. My ex makes 4x my annual salary we have equal shared custody and all is split 50/50. Attorney X was able to convince the first judge that I should pay her a large weekly amount. Here comes the scam, the ex-wife says to me 10 years ago “don’t worry just spend that money on our son” and I also have it in an email. So fast forward 10 years of baseball soccer and other child hood events never an issue. As soon as my son was out of the house and in school out of the blue she sues me for past child support. I was advised to work with her attorney Mr. X to arrange a payment plan. In speaking with Mr. X I asked the simple question why this is an issue now. Why was this not an issue 2,3,7,or eight years ago. Mr. X's response was that he was protecting his client’s wealth he had advised her to wait the 10 years. The reason for waiting 10 years was 1. “Had we gone back to court his client would have likely had no child support awarded”, 2. Child support is case law that can never be backdated, and she can charge me interest in addition. So effectively Mr. X got me to pay twice for my sons child support. And oh by the way he charged her over 10,000 in fees for a hearing that he requested 8 hours for when in fact the judge finished in 12 min."

*I have changed the name of the attorney here to ensure anonymity.  But I'm sure this scam is widespread and people should be alert to it!