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Showing posts with label BOOK REVIEW. Show all posts
Showing posts with label BOOK REVIEW. Show all posts

Friday, October 23, 2015


When I first filed for divorce in 2007, I spoke to a few mental health counselors who listened to my story and then said they knew of other women who had gone through something similar. Those women eventually filed for divorce and lost everything they had, but at least they were free.  

I was lucky that I did not "lose everything I had" including my children, as so many abused women do, but clearly there is a large group of protective mothers out there who do.  This is the message of "Motherless America: Confronting Welfare's Fatherhood Custody Program by Doreen Ludwig, a well argued and cogently written book on the family court conspiracy to shift custody from fit mothers into the hands of abusive and often criminal fathers.  For an example of this kind of travesty occurring here in Connecticut, please review Anne Stevenson's article in "Communities Digital News" entitled "Connecticut Failure:  The Deadly Rebranding of Joshua Komisarjevsky" located at the following link:

The book "Motherless America" is divided into three sections, the first describing the author, Doreen Ludwig's personal experiences with the family court system, the second explaining how the massive influx of fatherhood initiative funding into the judicial systems through the country has led to a war on women where custody of children is transferred systematically from mothers to fathers.  This occurs particularly in cases of abuse where the children are used as weapons to extend the father's power and control beyond the divorce. The last section, Part 3, seeks solutions to this over two decade assault on the rights of women in family court. 

I was very familiar with Doreen Ludwig's description of the kinds of game playing that occurs in family court as a means to undermine the mother.  My own experiences in court and my experiences as a court watcher have confirmed that these scenarios occur repeatedly in family court.  Let me review just a few of the ones that Ms. Ludwig shares in her book.  

1. The custody evaluator in the case suppresses any information from witness testimony or written evidence that he or she doesn't like and simply writes it out of the evaluation.  The evaluator might even acknowledge that abuse occurred but understate it or indicate that it was an aberration not likely to happen again, and probably provoked by the mother's bad behavior.  

2.  The father's attorney will accuse the mother of a broad range of mental illnesses and demand a psychological evaluation.  Even though the mother was perfectly functional prior to filing for divorce, had no mental health diagnosis, and was widely respected as caretaker for her children, all of a sudden the expert appointed by the court will determine that the mother has a broad range of mental health illnesses.  Sometimes Judges will simply diagnose mental illness in a mother without bothering to obtain any kind of evaluation, particularly when it comes to parental alienation syndrome (PAS), a widely diagnosed condition that family court uses to deny mothers access to their children.  

3. In addition, attorneys representing mothers will frequently refuse to act in their clients' best interests and fail to defend them in court. They will urge them to agree to stipulations that are decidedly not in the mothers best interests and will, in the long run, cripple their ability to hold onto the custody of their children. 

4.  Fathers are usually given complete control of the marital assets and mothers only obtain support if these fathers agree to obey court orders requiring them to provide support to their ex wives and children.  If fathers refuse to provide that support, or randomize and withhold that support, Judges rarely hold them in contempt or order them to obey court orders.  

5.  Finally, there is simply a generalized atmosphere of lies and deceptions.  Father's attorneys regularly include a broad range of lies in their pleadings for which they are not held responsible.   Judges regularly refuse to admit into evidence documents and witness testimony that would support the mother's position and also refuse to allow mothers to cross examine witnesses or even see the evidence that is being used against them.  

6. One regular strategy father's attorneys use and judges allow is to submit a motion or level an accusation against a mother right at the beginning of a hearing without providing any advanced notice.  This is a fundamental violation of mothers' due process rights but it happens every day in courthouses across this country.  

I have listed a selection of these violations in my review of "Motherless America" because so many average folks are unaware of the incredible abuse that takes place in family court every day.  The advantage of Doreen Ludwig's book is that she goes into great detail regarding many of the fundamental violations of her rights which occurred during her divorce case in a clear cut and dispassionate matter.  Her book provides a very thorough and thought provoking clarification of exactly how a corrupt court system manipulates legal procedures and ignores the constitution in order to justify taking custody away from thousands of good mothers who have devoted their lives to their children and taken care of them since birth.  

In the course of undergoing these violations, Ms. Ludwig talks about how she approached the ACLU, the FBI, and her local Domestic Violence agency and yet none of these organizations which have been established to protect the rights of victims like her responded by reaching out to help her.  

As I have stated, Part II of the "Motherless America" explores the roots of the corruption of family court within the father's rights movement.  It begins with an analysis of how the family court system defines abuse.  

I can recall in my own case that when I mentioned that I was being abused, the Guardian Ad Litem in my case stated, "They all claim abuse."  In saying this, she was simply mirroring a family court system that has long maintained a policy of denying the existence of abuse.  

As Doreen Ludwig explains, they do this by narrowly limiting the definition of abuse to situations where a woman has been beaten or murdered.  As soon as a woman fights back, the legal system no longer considers that this woman has been abused any longer.  Further, the legal system doesn't include coercive control as part of abuse which opens the door to abusers continuing to pursue their victims using the court system as a means to do so and ultimately exacting revenge by taking custody from these mothers.  

Ms. Ludwig accuses those in the field of domestic violence of colluding to minimize and explain away the effects of domestic violence.  As she explains, the very organizations that are supposed to be defending women and assisting in protecting them from domestic violence are the ones that are making the situation worse.  In her words, "The DV community is well aware of this problem [custody switching from mother to father], yet for the most part, they have bowed to the fatherhood custody mandate. The DV community has not organized legislative awareness campaigns, they have not used their influence to generate a media spotlight, nor have they organized qualified legal opponents to represent battered mothers.  When battered mothers stuck in abusive litigation call for help, they are routinely shunned; the government-supported DV community tells them "We have no money to help."  

In addition, Doreen Ludwig points out that situations where there is Domestic Violence are often designated as "high conflict" which is a way of implying that the abuse is mutual.  This means that all sorts of mediators, custody evaluators, mental health professionals can become involved in these cases and they soon become quite profitable for the professionals involved.  This is where trade associations such as the AFCC become involved and maximize the profit that everyone makes by encouraging its members to recommend and hire one another for the various jobs that emerge as long as they continue to perpetuate the conflict and harass the mother.  

Doreen Ludwig provides even more detail on how these professionals carry out their custody switching schemes in Chapter 10 entitled "The Players and Their Methods."  This particular chapter is a must read.  

Ultimately, what all these professionals have in common is their commitment to the interests of the fathers and the belief that any woman who does not behave subserviently towards her ex husband ought to be punished.  

Doreen Ludwig locates the basis for this power imbalance in family court in the right wing religious backlash against women which fostered the belief that poverty arises not from a lack of economic opportunity but simply because there are too many single mothers.  Instead of seeing poverty as the central concern, this social movement has defined the problem as fatherlessness.  

As a result, starting in 1996, this led the government to shift its support from helping women get jobs, food, and shelter to marriage promotion programs and fatherhood support and access programs which provide economic support to fathers seeking to obtain custody from mothers.  

The end result, according to Doreen Ludwig, is that the only thing that matters to family court is how to keep fathers in the lives of their children no matter how abusive they are.  As she puts it "Judges are trained to put fatherhood above safety, security and stability.  If a father files for custody, he will almost certainly receive as much as he wants no matter what his character.  Alcoholics, drug addicts, abusers, criminals [who are fathers] are preferable parents to mothers."  

This is a world that seems to have been turned onto its head!  

Doreen Ludwig does an excellent job, particularly  in Chapter 9 of her book explaining the history of the war against women and digging up information on the sources of the fatherhood funding that the government is using to support the interests of men over women.  The amount of money being funneled into these fatherhood programs is phenomenal and rises to the the level of millions and millions of dollars, approximately $22 million per year going to Connecticut alone.  This money is distributed through block grants and matching funds and is often funneled through religious organizations.    

Part 3 of Doreen Ludwig's book is on the shorter side but touches upon the more recent developments in terms of seeking solutions to the brokenness of our family court system here in America.  One important point she does make is that it is the responsibility of government to address the problem of a judicial system that has massively gone astray.  The bottom line is the judicial system in this country must be held accountable and must obey the law that it is sworn to enforce.  

Doreen Ludwig has some thoughts on how this can be done and those are all worth reading and expanding upon.  

Ultimately, Doreen Ludwig's book is very timely.  The family court reform movement has spoken widely of the abuse of the massive amounts of federal funding but Ms. Ludwig is the first to codify where these funds are coming from and where they are going.  She is the first to encapsulate the extraordinary story of the multiple layers of corruption and deception that overlie our family court system and that undercut and destroy the lives of protective mothers and their children every day.  

Advocates who are working with their state legislators, investigative journalists, and ethical legal and mental health professionals to reform the system for the better and to expose its current abuses should all be fully informed of the contents of this book.  

Ms. Doreen Ludwig has founded Mothers Against Court Custody Abuse in order to fight back against family court corruption and educate people regarding the misuse of fatherhood funds.  For further information on her work in association with this organization, please go to the website at:

To order a copy of Doreen Ludwig's "Motherless America:  Confronting Welfare's Fatherhood Custody Program", please click on the link below:

Monday, November 11, 2013


Disappearing Act: A Mother’s Journey to the Underground
In 1986, Sharon Murphy’s friends flew her to NYC to attend the first-ever Speak Out on Mothers Losing Custody of Children which I co-organized. She did so just before she had to serve a jail sentence for having kidnapped her son from his violent father, who also happened to be Maya Angelou’s son. Over the years, Sharon tried to publish articles about her experience in the mainstream media and in women’s magazines. The article were always rejected. No one wanted to go up against Maya Angelou or be perceived as racists. Now, Sharon has told her story and told it beautifully. She currently lives on the same block as her now-adult son and is the grandmother of two. As we all know, her story is not unique although the path she chose required bravery, determination, and fierce mother-love. Here is the link to purchasing her book.