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Tuesday, December 16, 2014


As you can imagine, writing a blog like mine, I end up hearing many stories of tragedy and suffering that have played themselves out in family court.  One case that I have found particularly striking is that of Karyn Gil v. John A. Gil.  This is a divorce case that was filed in 1999, but continued to have activity up until 2013--in essence amounting to 14 years of litigation. 

This is the classic high conflict divorce that frequently plagues family court and provides the subject matter of my website. 

I first met Karyn and her daughter, who is now attending College, when the Task Force was meeting at the Legislative Office Building last year.   Both of them were interested in providing their testimony and telling the Task Force about the injustice they suffered. 

For the sake of privacy, I will call Karyn's daughter, Jane. 

Jane pretty much told me that she is extremely unhappy with her father and that she doesn't want to have anything to do with him.  She told me of a traumatizing incident where he showed up at her high school graduation uninvited.   She said she was absolutely outraged that he came to this event without her permission.  Her primary concern which she expressed to me was how she could obtain a protective order to prevent her father from doing the same thing at her College campus and showing up uninvited again. 

Listening to her speak, I wondered what could possibly have occurred to make this young lady so adamantly opposed to having any contact with her father. 

I'm sure many of you here would think this has to be PAS.  But, in fact, I don't think this is the case.  From what I heard, John Gil did not have a relationship with his daughter well before the divorce took place.  As he acknowledged in court, he had never bonded with the child, not even before both mother and child moved out of the marital home.

What actually happened here is that this young lady basically observed her father hound her disabled mother through the family court system for 14 years, drain her Mom dry financially, and pound her with legal motions as she tried to defend herself.  Then Jane saw her father continue on to get a completely unjustified contempt judgment of approximately  $30,000.00 against her mother. 

This is my point that I make frequently in my blogs.  When these high conflict divorces occur, do the abusive parties ever consider how it appears to their children.  I mean, seriously, do any of the women think twice when they come home and say, "Boys, girls, I put your Daddy in jail today!"  Or how about the men, "Boys, girls, today I made sure Mommy won't be bothering us ever again--you won't have to have anything more to do with her.  She's out on the street."  

What this young lady saw was that her mother who is disabled and who supports herself and her daughter on a limited disability pension now has to pay considerable legal fees to defend herself and, on top of that, has a $30,000.00 or so judgment that will leave her financially insolvent for the rest of her life. 

What kind of idiot judge would issue an order like that?  Oh, I see, Judge Herbert Gruendel.   

The basis for the judgment against Karyn Gil was that she had interfered in the father's relationship with the child by restricting visitation.  In other words, this was the typical scenario  where the father uses false claims of PAS as a means to take revenge on the mother.  In looking at the specific dates noted in the Motions for Contempt where the father claimed he was denied visitation, each of them were dates where he never showed up or where he stated he didn't want to see the child.  In other words, these charges were completely fabricated.

From what Jane told me, her father was physically and psychologically abusive towards her from a very young age, so I can imagine that visitation would have been problematic from the beginning.  This is confirmed in the Appellate Courts report of  the parenting agreement which stated that "the defendant [i.e. father] would not exercise overnight visitation until the child's psychologist deemed that it was appropriate."  If you already have the child seeing a psychologist at the age of four, and there are overnight restrictions on the father's visitation, clearly there are indications that father is a problem right from the start. 

Still, once the  parenting agreement was signed in 2000, Karyn Gil must have thought that everything was all set.  This is the problem with many people who are in a high conflict divorce.  They have no idea that the seeds of decades long dissension are often embedded in that initial parenting agreement. 

What is interesting to me now that I have been in the system myself long enough is that I can immediately recognize a Parenting Agreement that is a set up for extensive and long term litigation based upon PAS right from the start.  Such agreements usually involve a visitation schedule that is confusing and extremely difficult for the residential parent to follow, and the Gil parenting agreement was no exception to that rule. 

In the Gil Agreement of 1999, father was allowed visitation two days per week.  In the footnote it states, "Under the visitation scheme, the dates and times of the visitation were to be arranged three months in advance, as soon as the defendant received his work schedule.  This scheme was later modified by stipulation of the parties so that the visitation would be arranged thirty days in advance." 

A year later, the agreement was defined further to state that defendant would have the child from 9:00am to 5:00pm on weekends and from 4:00pm  to 7:00pm on weekdays.  The agreement was then modified further to state, "The defendant (father) would provide the plaintiff (mother) with his work schedule with requested days and times for visitation, and the plaintiff would respond with a list of changes based on the child's activities and other commitments." 

Say what? 

To be honest, I have never heard of a schedule like that.  So every month you have a different schedule?  Of course, this kind of visitation schedule inevitably leads to mixups and miscommunications, particularly since you have a couple that isn't getting along.  Then, sooner or later, you have mother hauled back onto the mat  in court because she is "restricting father's access to the child."  Surprise! Surprise! 

And this parenting schedule didn't have to be this way because father had a regular five days on, three days off schedule.  As he stated in court, "I know my schedule forever."  The only intent of a vague, inconsistent, hard to follow parenting schedule is to trap the protective mother and drag her back to court with false charges of PAS. 

I can guarantee you absolutely that in the vast majority of cases where there are eventual accusations of PAS, at the same time you have visitation schedules that are PAS ready in terms of being vague, inconsistent, ambiguous, easily misinterpreted and misunderstood. 

John Gil accused his ex wife of "shorten[ing his] hours of visitation and, on numerous occasions, den[ying] visitation."  Well, that is very easily done when the times change from week to week and month to month and you have a child that occasionally gets tired and doesn't want to go or else has other kid's activities to participate in that, say, run overschedule.  In particular, most children under ten prefer a regular routine and find being randomly passed back and forth from one parent to the other in these changing circumstances very stressful.  Then the kids start to act out during the exchange from one parent to another so then you have the residential parent saying, "let's do this at another time." And since the schedule is open enough for that parent to hang herself, you then have trouble and conflict.

With a vindictive father who is hell bent on litigation, this is a scenario that easily translates into long term litigation within the court system. 

What I don't get is why pick on a disabled Mom with no money to pound away at--you'd think the Court would pick on someone their own size. 

From my perspective, having spent considerable time in court in my day, my ex-husband was repeatedly in contempt for failing to adhere to agreements regarding the children, failure to pay child support, failure to respond to discovery requests--you name it, he did it.  But I was never able to get a judge to rule on a contempt motion against my ex, and I certainly was never able to get him punished or have him pay the multiple thousands of dollars it cost me in legal fees to pursue my divorce.  I'd say the vast majority of high conflict divorce cases are like this -- multiple motions for contempt, but maybe .0005% ever end up with a ruling of any kind, let alone a fine.

Yet this John Gil was able to get a contempt ruling of up to $30,000.00 against his ex wife based upon her violation of a parenting plan that is probably the most difficult to follow in the history of CT Family Court?  Seriously, how did that happen, because I would really like to replicate what he did so I could get some of my money back.


Gil v. Gil, Part IV:

Gil v. Gil, Part III:

Gil v. Gil, Part II:

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