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Monday, October 16, 2023



Tuesday, March 23, 2021



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Jennifers' Law

Dear friends,

We have a very BIG development to report from Jennifer's home state of Connecticut. A new law in Jennifer Magnano's name, (and that of Jennifer Dulos, who was murdered by her estranged husband in 2019) has been introduced by state senator Alex Kasser, (D-Greenwich) in the Connecticut General Assembly.
Jennifers' Law aims to expand the definition of domestic violence to include coercive control, the full range of tactics that abusers use to entrap and control their victims, beyond just physical abuse. Coercive control is a patterned behavior that includes nonphysical abuse such as emotional, verbal, financial and legal abuse as well as stalking, harassment, gaslighting, humiliation, cruelty and intimidation. Elements that are always present in domestic abuse. To date, California, Hawaii, Scotland, England and Wales have passed Coercive Control Laws. Australia, Colorado, Maryland and New York have introduced legislation this 2021 session. Jennifer's Law is supported by Mom's Demand and Connecticut Protective Moms
The public hearing on Jennifers' Law will take place this week, Wednesday, March 24, starting at 10am. You can watch it live on YouTube Live, or recorded on CT-N. Jennifers' Law is a monumental step towards making domestic violence law reflect the actual reality of what women and children experience at the hands of abusers, and the hope is that this new law will lead to earlier intervention - which we know saves lives. I will testify, as will our EP and world leading expert Laura Richards , attorney Michelle Cruz who did the original investigation into Jennifer's murder, and also Jennifer's children Jessica and David.
Our film Jennifer, 42 delves deep into this abuser behavior, as well as the catastrophic results when the courts fail to recognize the danger the victims are in. Laura Richards estimates that about 80% of domestic violence homicides happen in the first six months after leaving. Looking at Scott Magnano's coercively controlling behavior pre-separation, and his stalking behavior post-separation, and the lengths he would go to get Jennifer back within his control, is a powerful example of the close correlation between coercive control and homicide. 

Tune in on Wednesday, and if you want to support reform of domestic violence laws in the US, please sign this petition and learn more about this issue and our campaigns:


Jennifer, 42 is an animated true crime documentary about an American family's epic battle to escape domestic violence. Director Elle Kamihira, Producer Katie Hyde, Animation Director Yulia Ruditskaya and Executive Producer Laura Richards.


Monday, June 15, 2020


I was recently asked whether this blog is active.  I certainly monitor the comments on the blog and pay attention if something new comes up. 

Otherwise, everything that I see going on is just repeat. 

I have written as much as I possibly can about what is going on in family court. All of the situations that I have described are continuing to happen. This is an ongoing situation. There has been little reform, and little indication that the legal profession or anyone else, the media, your average citizen, give a shit about what is happening to people. 

I could continue to cover this issue, but again, as I said, it would all be repeat. 

There are 1800 blogs in total on this website with extensive observations on what to expect in family court, how to handle your own family court situation, and overviews in detail of specific cases. 

I think I've pretty much covered it all. 

If anything new appeared, certainly I'd report on it. But at this point, it's all the corruption again and again with the same family court operators doing it. 

I'm not sure what more I can say here. Nothing much has changed. 

Prepare to have your life destroyed if you enter family court, particularly if you are a mother.

Thursday, February 6, 2020


Judiciary Committee  


Monday, February 10, 2020  

10:30 AM in Room 2E of the LOB  

To be a Judge of the Superior Court:
1. The Honorable John F. Blawie of Greenwich
2. The Honorable Patrick L. Carroll, III of Seymour
3. The Honorable Anna M. Ficeto of Wolcott
4. The Honorable Donna Nelson Heller of Riverside
5. The Honorable Frank A. Iannotti of North Haven
6. The Honorable Sybil V. Richards of Orange
7. The Honorable Dan Shaban of Middlebury
8. The Honorable Kenneth L. Shluger of Waterford
9. The Honorable Hillary B. Strackbein of Guilford
10. The Honorable Mark H. Taylor of West Hartford
11. The Honorable Theodore R. Tyma of Trumbull
12. The Honorable Elpedio N. Vitale of Madison

To be a Workers' Compensation Commissioner:
1. Soline Oslena of Oakdale

Thursday, January 30, 2020





58,000 Children a Year are Awarded Into Custody with An Abusive Parent

Are you a mom or know a mom with children in the middle of a divorce or separation in family court who is fighting for custody of their children to keep them safe and protect them from abuse?

Let our Connecticut Judiciary Committee members know (EMAILS AND PHONE NUMBERS below) you want them to support the introduction of Senator Alex Bergstein’s (Greenwich, Stamford, New Canaan) Child Safety First bill this legislative session. Please use "Support the Child Safety First Bill" in your Subject Line.

Dear Representative …………….,

Why Do We Need the Child Safety First Bill in Connecticut?
DV and abuse exists across our state; DV and abuse pose an unacceptable and disproportionate threat to the health, safety and wellbeing of women and children; DV and abuse has been under-reported and under-recognized in our family court system; “high conflict” divorce cases often involve DV or abuse; the State of Connecticut has a duty to ensure the safety of all its citizens, especially children; House Congressional Resolution 72  encourages states to prioritize DV and abuse as the first factor considered in determining the “best interests of the child” in custody cases.
  • It is often legitimate for the partner of an abusive parent to try to protect the children from exposure to abuse, or to try to secure his or her own safety from the abusive partner by limiting that partner's contact with the children. Court appointed lawyers and psychologists do not have adequate DV training and are not able to distinguish appropriately protective behavior.  
  • The abuser blames the victim and claims parental alienation, that she was turning the children against him by alienating the children with false claims he was abusing them.  The court does not understand and/or acknowledge that the children are resisting being with their emotionally abusive parent who scares them. 
  • According to the American Psychological Association, abusive fathers file for sole custody more often than fathers who have no history of DV. Since 99 percent of DV victims also face some form of financial abuse, abusers tend to have more money and thus more access to legal resources than the women fleeing their abuse. That gives them an advantage in the courts that makes them just as likely, or even more likely, to gain custody.
Call Senate Dems: (860) 240-8600, Senate Republicans (860) 240-8800, House Democrats (860) 240-8500, and House Republicans (860) 240-8700.  OR EMAIL:

Please use "Support the Child Safety First Bill" in your Subject Line.


  1. The statutory definition of “domestic violence and abuse” is revised to include a history or pattern of coercive, controlling behavior including, but not limited to, physical violence, sexual assault, financial abuse, litigation abuse and psychological abuse including, but not limited to, isolation, stalking, harassment, intimidation and threats regarding the safety of a person or the safety of or access to that person’s 
    children. “Domestic violence and abuse” does not include the justified use of force or flight to protect oneself or others in response to abuse or violence. 
  2. In legal proceedings regarding child custody, domestic violence and abuse will be the first factor assessed by the court, before all other factors, in determining the “best interests of the child.” 
  3. In hearings regarding domestic violence or abuse, a court may only consider valid scientific evidence or testimony from qualified professionals with experience working with victims of domestic violence and abuse that meet admissibility standards. 
  4. A presumption against custody will be made for any parent with a history or demonstrated pattern of domestic violence or abuse or any parent who has sexually abused a child. 
  5. If a parent is found to have committed domestic violence or child abuse, that parent shall pay the attorney’s fees and all other court-related expenses of the other parent. 
  6. The legal standard for protective orders shall recognize forms of domestic violence and abuse that endanger the safety or restrict the agency of a person or children. (Refer to the new statutory definition in #1.) 
  7. The State shall provide legal assistance for all victims of domestic violence and abuse to help them complete protective order affidavits and other legal forms. (Legal assistance increased the likelihood of obtaining a protective order by more than 50%.) 
  8. Courts shall restrict frivolous or excessive motions in family court. When divorce cases approach 100 motions, additional motions shall be subject to review and approval before submission. “High conflict” cases should be diverted to a specialized court that recognizes litigation abuse and obstruction and holds parties in contempt for not disclosing financial or other critical information or following court orders. (A small number of “high conflict” cases consume a disproportionate amount of judicial resources. This specialized court would prevent litigation abuse and resolve cases faster.) 
  9. Reopen the Office of Victim Advocate and fund it adequately to support all victims across the state through the legal process. 
  10. Review and approve all judicial education programs to ensure that abuse is recognized and not rewarded. Allow only experts with a demonstrated history of working with Domestic violence and abuse victims to be the educators on this subject. 

Thursday, November 7, 2019



By Elizabeth A. Richter
I looked for committed activists in vain, for
There was brokenness as far as I could see
All I found was thick fog and the dreary rain
Bombs falling and shooters behind each tree
I figured this was my bad luck again
Plus folks want it all, but give-back is paltry
Still, I said I’d fight no matter what.  At least
I could give some a bit of what they sought


What can I do but list the typical wrongs
That family court has perp’d on me and you
We presented them to the Committee & Sen. Tong
All of whom talked like they had no clue
Actors all, they certainly knew all along
Of lawyers lying, evidence stolen and also
Rigged trials, bribed experts and corruption so deep
Parents are bankrupt because the cost is steep.

Next legal folks put their counter-truth on display
They cried and said parents put guns to their heads
Lawyers pulled out their violins and began to play
Judges spoke rivers about how carefully they listened
GALs fake tears over kids kept the truth at bay, while
Journalists twisted by threats repeated what they said
These fakes are so good and have such a good line
Family court victims seem out of their minds

We stand outside the Courts and hold demonstrations
Others speak to neighbors and hope they’ll understand
My friends live in fear of retaliation. So there’s no change.
When you go to Court with child abuse, you’ll be sure to find 
There’s no place to go for any protection
Because you’ll be accused of parental alienation
Meanwhile mothers end up homeless and alone
Children are bribed and their hearts turn to stone


This all arose out of a vision for father’s rights.
A bunch of right wingers saw Moms as welfare queens
They thought privileges for men would turn the tide
But now there are consequences they hadn’t seen
Men are now the Moms and they think they’re great
Moms have been driven away and are called unclean
I sit here and think what can I personally do
Still, change depends upon you and you and you.

Friday, July 12, 2019


Testimony Regarding How Child Abuse Allegations are Ignored in Family Court and Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is used as a Rationale to Award Custody of Children to an Abusive Parent

Joan Meier, JD
Professor of Law, George Washington University
Founder, DV LEAP
February 4, 2019

My name is Joan Meier, a law Professor at George Washington University and Founder of DV LEAP, an advocacy group for expert appellate litigation to reverse unjust trial court rulings and to protect the legal rights of women and children victimized by family violence. We would like to take this opportunity to testify and express our concern for current legislation being introduced to promote the use of Parental Alienation Syndrome as a tool to abuse domestic violence (DV) victims in family court.

Dr. Joan Meier

The Problem

“Protecting our children is one of the most important things that we can do for society. Unfortunately, some courtsare overlooking potential signs of abuse and are relying on scientifically unsound factors to make decisions that impact a child’s life.” Congressman Ted Poe

Despite numerous legislative and policy reforms designed to protect DV victims, many survivors and their children are denied legal protections in family court. Expert commentators assert that family courts are awarding unfettered access or custody to abusive fathers, and increasingly cutting children completely off from their protective mothers. This has been observed especially where mothers allege child sexual abuse. Studies show that an abuser will invoke the “alienation” defense, accusing the mother of trying to turn the children against him, rather than the court acknowledging that his abusive behavior has driven the children away. 

Studies also have identified a trend toward favoring fathers, in contrast to widespread assumptions that mothers are favored in custody litigation. The findings reveal a pattern of family court failures to consider evidence of intimate partner violence, disrespectful treatment of battered women, gender biased treatment of mothers, and granting of physical custody to perpetrators of intimate partner violence.  One study found that court preferences for joint custody and the “friendly parent” principle outweighed judicial consideration of abuse claims. More in-depth empirical research has examined the lack of expertise in domestic violence and child abuse—particularly child sexual abuse—among forensic custody evaluators, who are relied on heavily by the courts. 



A primary mechanism giving evaluators and courts a quasi- scientific rationale for rejecting or ignoring abuse allegations is the theory of “parental alienation (PA),” originally called “parental alienation syndrome (PAS),” and also called “child alienation,” or simply “alienation.” PAS is a construct invented and promoted by Richard Gardner to describe a “syndrome” whereby vengeful mothers employed child abuse allegations in litigation as a powerful weapon to punish ex-husbands and ensure custody to themselves. Gardner claimed that child sexual abuse allegations were rampant in custody litigation, and that the vast majority of such claims are false, designed by the mother to “alienate” the child from the father and drive him out of the child’s life. Gardner also characterized PAS as profoundly destructive to children’s mental health and as risking their relationships with their (purportedly falsely accused) fathers for life. Recommended remedies to PAS were often draconian, including a complete cutoff from the mother in order to “deprogram” the child. PAS quickly became widely incorporated into custody litigation when any abuse—not just child sexual abuse—was alleged. 

The Solution

On September 25, 2018, The U.S. House of Representatives passed H Con Res 72, a concurrent resolution urging state courts to determine family violence claims and risks to children before considering other ‘best interest’ factors. The resolution, backed by dozens of organizations advocating for protection of women and children*, encourages states to ensure courts rely only on admissible evidence and qualified experts, and adopt qualification standards for third-party appointees.  It also affirms that Congress is prepared to use its oversight authority to protect at-risk children. The resolution also asks for   strengthened evidence admissibility standards to help ensure only scientific facts or qualified expert testimony are used to prove or disprove child abuse allegations.

It urges Congress to:
  • identify child safety as the first priority in custody and visitation adjudications, considering it before all other interest factors;
  • allow only qualified scientific evidence and certified expert testimony to be introduced in cases involving child abuse claims; and
  • mandate Congressional hearings around the practices of family courts when handling family violence allegations.
DV LEAP also partnered with the Dept. of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women on a 2-year cooperative agreement to improve the family court system’s ability to protect children in custody cases involving domestic violence or child abuse. The agreement has concluded but great accomplishments and resources were achieved. In partnership with the Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence, we provided education on critical issues that often determine case outcomes, such as the misuse of flawed parental alienation theories and failure to consider evidence of abuse. One particularly powerful aspect of the Project’s work was the development of a unique database of cases that have “Turned Around.”  These are cases in which the initial custody order placed a child (or children) in dangerous contact with an abusive parent and a subsequent order protected the child. Analysis of these cases provided valuable understanding of how and why custody evaluations so frequently fail to identify or predict actual risk to children who are victims of family violence.

As as result of this Cooperative Agreement, DV LEAP and the Leadership Council produced a number of written tools and resource materials to assist professionals working in the family court system.  Links to each of the documents are provided below.

I. Resources on the misuse of Parental Alienation Syndrome/Parental Alienation

II. Resources for attorneys and advocates representing protective parents

III. Research Summaries

IV. Other Resource Materials
Critiques and Case Reports of GALs’ Failures to Protect Children in Custody and Abuse Cases

Data on False Allegations in Custody Context.

We respectfully suggest that any family court legislation involving custody, PAS, allegations of child abuse and  DV be thoroughly vetted by experts in the field of Domestic Violence.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit this written testimony. I can be reached with any questions at

*The list of organizations that have been advocating for passage of H. Con. Res 72 includes Advocates for Child Empowerment & Safety (ACES); California Protective Parents Association (CPPA); Center for Judicial Excellence (CJE); City of Covina; Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project (DV LEAP); ACTION OHIO Coalition For Battered Women; Azusa City Council; Battered Mothers’ Custody Conference; California Partnership to End Domestic Violence (CPEDV); Center for Child Protection and Family Support; Child Abuse Forensic Institute (CAFI); Child Abuse Solutions, Inc.; Child Justice; Child Protection Institute (CPI) at Liberty University; Child USA; Children’s Civil Rights Union (CCRU); Children’s Justice Fund; Coalition Against Domestic Violence – Lynchburg VA; Courageous Kids Network (CKN); Darkness to Light; Distinction in Family Courts (DFC); Families Against Court Travesties; Family Violence Appellate Project (FVAP); Futures Without Violence (FUTURES); Incest Survivors Speakers Bureau (ISSB); Joan of Arc Lawyers Foundation, Inc.; Justice for Children; Kids Are Human; Legislative Coalition to Prevent Child Abuse; Legal Momentum; Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; Lundy Bancroft; MassKids (Massachusetts Citizens for Children); Moms Fight Back; Mothers of Lost Children; National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV); National Coalition for Family Justice (NCFJ); National Domestic Violence Hotline; National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV); National Organization for Men Against Sexism (NOMAS); National Organization for Women (NOW); National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence (NPEIV); National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence; Peace Over Violence; Piqui’s Justice; Senator Ed Hernandez; SOAR for Justice; Stop Abuse Campaign; Support Network of Advocates for Protective Parents (SNAPP); Talk About Abuse to Liberate Kids (TAALK); The Hofheimer Family Law Firm; The Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence; The Nurtured Parent; and Wings for Justice.