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Showing posts with label SHARED PARENTING. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SHARED PARENTING. Show all posts

Friday, April 20, 2018



Testimony of Attorney Shirley Pripstein, Greater Hartford Legal Aid

The Legal Service family law attorneys in Connecticut oppose legislation that would create a presumption that shared parenting is in the best interest of minor children for the following reasons:

-There is no empirical evidence that shared parenting is, in fact, in the best interest of minor children.

-A shared parenting presumption is a cookie-cutter approach that puts the emphasis on the rights of the parents rather than on the best interest of children.

-A shared parenting arrangement may be in the best interest of children whose parents are committed to living in the same school district and making shared parenting work, but it is clearly not in the best interest of the majority of children whose custody is determined by the courts. These are children whose parents may never have cohabited or developed the communication and compromise skills necessary to making a shared parenting arrangement a comforting situation for the child.

-Shared parenting is particularly inappropriate when the parents live in different towns, making choice of school districts and sports teams an issue.

-Shared parenting is particularly inappropriate when there is a history of domestic violence between the parents, which is concrete evidence that at least one of the parents lacks communication and compromise skills necessary for co-parenting.

Connecticut has a well-thought out child custody statute, enacted ... in 2005, which sets forth sixteen factors for the court to consider when making orders of child custody and apportioning time between parents.

The factors appropriately recognize and attempt to balance the need of a child for stability against the need of a child for contact with both parents, and recognize that there are other factors that the court should consider in deciding what orders to make regarding child custody when the parents are unable to agree.  

A shared parenting presumption is a thinly disguised and ill-advised attempt to elevate the parental time considerations above the other factors set forth in our statutes, and should be rejected by this task force.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Testimony Opposing
SB 1049, AAC Registration Fees for Counsel and Guardians ad Litem for Minor Children and Other Requirements for Certain Family Relations Matters
Finance, Revenue & Bonding Committee April 17, 2017

Text Originally Located at the following link:

Good afternoon Senator Fonfara, Senator Frantz, Representative Rojas and members of the committee. CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) is the state’s leading voice for victims of domestic violence and those who serve them. Our members provide essential services to nearly 40,000 victims of domestic violence each year. Services provided include 24-hour crisis response, emergency shelter, safety planning, counseling, agency/staff training, support groups and court advocacy.

We oppose SB 1049

Saturday, March 4, 2017


By Doreen Ludwig,
Author of "Motherless America: Confronting Welfare's Fatherhood Custody Program", see link:
Legislating Shared Parenting Awards Male Control
Fathers have succeeded in expanding public acceptance of shared parenting; creating the impression that shared parenting is the best situation for children whose parents no longer live together. Shared parenting has become so culturally normalized that in the Fall of 2016, Time Magazine endorsed it in “The Growing Case for Shared Parenting After Divorce” by Belinda Luscombe, going so far as to quote the nefarious father’s rights activist Jeffrey Leving. 

Friday, July 24, 2015


Written testimony

Task Force to Study Legal Disputes Involving the Care & Custody of Minor Children
January 9, 2014

Good morning Attorney Cousineau, Attorney Dornfeld and members of the task force. CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) is the state’s leading voice for victims of domestic violence and those agencies that serve them. Our members provide essential services to over 56,000 victims of domestic violence, such as 24- hour crisis response, emergency shelter, safety planning, counseling, support groups and court advocacy.

CCADV OPPOSES the presumption of shared custody as being in the best interest of the child.

While there are variances on what constitutes “shared custody,” previous definitions that have been considered by the CT General Assembly (House Bill 6685, 2013 Session) have included shared decision making as it relates to the “child’s welfare, including, but not limited to, matters relating to education, medical care, and emotional, moral, social and religious development.” Any such requirement for a parent that is the victim of an abusive relationship would be very concerning.

From the perspective of the parent who has been abused, a shared custody arrangement presents another opportunity for the abuser to attempt to exert control over him/her and to do so in one of the most alarming manners possible - through the children. In a continuing effort to gain control, the abusive partner may object to any proposed decisions for the children or to put up stumbling blocks for the implementation of any decisions once made.

As Louisiana has found, “the legislature finds that problems of family violence do not necessarily cease when the victimized family is legally separated or divorced. In fact, the violence often escalates, and child custody and visitation becomes the new forum for the continuation of the abuse. Because current laws relative to child custody and visitation are based on an assumption that even divorcing parents are in relatively equal positions, and that such parents act in the children’s best interest, these laws often work against protection of the children and abused spouse in families with a history of family violence.” (LA Rev. Stat. Ann. Section 9:361)

In fact, Colorado recently passed critical child custody reforms that address this very issue. In 2013, Colorado Revised Statute (C.R.S.) § 14-10-123.4 was revised to reflect that children have certain rights in the determination of matters relating to parental responsibilities, including:
  1. a)  The right to have such determination based upon the best interests of the child;
  2. b)  The right to be emotionally, mentally, and physically safe when in the care of either parent; and,
  3. c)  The right to reside in and visit in homes that are free of domestic violence and child abuse or neglect.
Colorado law also recognizes that co-parenting is not appropriate in all circumstances, and clarifies that “when appropriate” parents should share the rights and responsibilities of child-rearing and encourage the love, affection, and contact between the children and the other parent. Additionally, when a claim of domestic violence has been made, the court must first consider whether one of the parties has committed an act of domestic violence, engaged in a pattern of domestic violence or has a history of domestic violence prior to determining parenting time and decision- making responsibility and prior to considering any of the other “best interest” factors (C.R.S. § 14-10-124).

The paramount concern reflected in the new Colorado laws governing child custody is the child’s safety, including the physical, mental and emotional conditions and needs of the child. Recognizing that the presence of domestic violence and the control and manipulation of one parent over another, especially via the child, can and will have devastating, long-term effects on the child is imperative to any discussion about the presumption that shared custody is in the best interest of every child.

Shared decision-making that forces victims of domestic violence into a vulnerable position of having to negotiate with an abuser who has already traumatized them is unlikely to be successful and will certainly lead to continued conflict not only for the victim, but for the involved child. Children who witness intimate partner violence within their family face a greater risk of developing severe and potentially lifelong problems with physical health, mental health, and school and peer relationships, as well as disruptive behavior.

It is wishful thinking that all parents are good parents and should have equal time with and decision making authority related to their child. Presumed shared custody with shared decision making is not in the best interest of any child whose parent has been the victim of domestic violence at the hands of the other parent. Connecticut should not place into statute language that will easily allow abusers to maintain control over their victim and their children.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.

Liza Andrews

Communications & Public Policy Specialist (860) 282-7899 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


On December 20, 2013, Colleen Kerwick started the day with joint custody of her child and ended the day stripped of all her parental rights.  How could this happen?  Through a campaign of legal abuse and harassment which, for advocates such as myself is only too predictable.  

As I've mentioned, Colleen Kerwick had signed the Marital Agreement from hell on March 25, 2013 which gave both parents a shared access plan, minimal financial support for Colleen Kerwick and her child, plus decision making in the hands of her ex-husband, Kenneth Savino.  

Still not satisfied with obtaining his freedom at such a minimal cost, after the divorce, Mr. Savino repeatedly attempted to have Colleen Kerwick arrested.  Thus, even though both parties do not live in West Hartford, the West Hartford police were frequently sent to the mother's house in Avon to ask questions regarding the child's care while in the mother's custody. To Kenneth Savino's chagrin, nothing came of these visits. 

Then, in August 2013, after spending the summer months harassing Colleen Kerwick with police, Kenneth Savino filed a motion for sole custody, a reduction in parenting time for the mother, and also requested that Colleen undergo another psychological evaluation.  

This was when the ink was barely even dry on the Marital Agreement!  

It is also this writer's understanding that Kenneth Savino spoke to neighbors, medical care providers and school personnel telling them that Colleen Kerwick had lost many of her custodial rights because of mental illness.  This kind of slander is extremely degrading and humiliating.  

Again, Colleen Kerwick has been evaluated several times and she has not been diagnosed with any mental illness, although I would surmise that the kind of intensive legal abuse she has endured must be very traumatic.  

It was within the context of this kind of ongoing harassment and bullying that the Christmas Holidays arose for the year 2013.  There had been much discussion on what would happen during this upcoming Christmas Holiday.  Colleen Kerwick had wanted to spend December 20-21 with the child, but Kenneth Savino insisted that he had plans to take the child to Arizona on that Friday, December 20, 2015.  The Gal, Kerry Tarpey, shared her view that the child should go with the Father on Friday, and recommended that Colleen Kerwick celebrate Christmas later on after the holiday.

Thus, on December 20, 2013, at 9:00 a.m. Colleen Kerwick went to the drop off location--Starbucks in Avon--to transfer her child into the care of her ex-husband, Kenneth Savino.  

However, he never showed up.  


Because at that very time, Mr. Savino supported by his attorney, Attorney Campbell Barrett of Budlong and Barrett, was down at Hartford Superior Court filing a motion entitled "Plaintiff's Ex Parte Motion Regarding the Minor Child's Scheduled Vacation to Arizona With the Plaintiff Father."  In it, the father, Kenneth Savino, told the Court that Colleen Kerwick was "refusing to comply with the parenting plan" which granted him access to the child as of December 20, 2013.  

Of course, you'd think if he really wanted the child, he would have showed up at Starbucks that day to take him!  But, as I say, he didn't.

This early morning ex parte motion was presented to Judge Olear who promptly granted the motion and ordered Colleen to "transfer the minor child to the plaintiff father at 10:00 a.m. at the child's pediatrician's office."  

Marshal Kaz was then given a copy of this order to deliver to Colleen that day; however, he appears to have wandered around Avon all that day without actually delivering it, even though he reported seeing her periodically.  The end result was that Colleen never actually received a copy of it.  

Meanwhile, the father, Kenneth Savino, met Colleen Savino at the doctor's office that day at 10:00a.m. but never bothered to take custody of the child and never informed her of the order.  

Again, the question is: if he was so eager to have custody of the child that day, why didn't he just take the child when he had the opportunity?  And he did have the opportunity more than once.  

I also have a question for Colleen. Knowing that her ex was eager to have the child and that Budlong & Barrett was gunning for her, why didn't Colleen Kerwick simply insist that Kenneth Savino take the child at the doctor's office that morning, which would have been in accordance with their parenting agreement of March 25, 2013?  

Apparently, Colleen Kerwick believed that she had an understanding with Kenneth that changed the terms of the agreement.  Prior to the Thanksgiving Holiday, Kenneth Savino had agreed in writing that he would allow Colleen to celebrate December 20 and 21 with their child since she was not going to be able to be with the child on Christmas Day that year.  Thus, when he didn't take the child at the doctor's office, she just thought he'd changed his mind and was going to go with the agreement. 

Unfortunately, when she brought this argument up later on, it turned out the agreement was not notarized and so the Court did not think it was credible.  On the other hand, if you have an ex who is not hell bent to get you, verbal agreements, casual email agreements, and agreements scribbled on paper work quite fine.  It all depends upon what you want to achieve.  

I will grant you, however, that in the days leading up to the 20th, Kenneth made it clear that he wanted to have the child and he wasn't going to abide by that written agreement.  

But then it turned out that the child contracted pneumonia during that same time period and there was concern about his ability to travel.  In his later motion for sole custody, the father stated he had obtained a letter stating that the child was capable of traveling, however, what he didn't mention in his motion (and, of course, it's what doesn't get mentioned that is so important!) is that the pediatrician recommended that the child travel only as long as father brought an oxygen mask along and gave the child antibiotics.  

Colleen Kerwick could have appeared to be an overanxious mother except when you take into account the history of Kenneth Savino medically neglecting their child.  

In the first place, if a four year old child is sick with a fever and cough, and is recovering from pneumonia, why are you making him travel anywhere at all.  He is sick, for goodness sake!  The airline will take that into account and reschedule your flight without charging you an additional fine.  And you would think that if you are putting your child's well-being first, that is what you would do.  

Clearly, Kenneth Savino felt that his vacation was more important than his child's health.  

This aligns with prior information regarding Kenneth Savino's disinterest in the medical needs of his child.  For example, on April 4, 2012, the police arrested Kenneth Savino because he interfered with health care workers who were trying to give his child medical care for a seizure disorder.  

The arrest report stated, "The officer ascertained, after initiating dialogue with accused [Kenneth Savino], that the child had suffered a series of seizures prior to the notification of EMS.  Upon further attempting to converse with the accused, the officer was met with what he would describe as verbiage laced with an attitude of nonchalance a "holier than thou" demeanor, and arrogance.  The accused told the officer that his presence, and that of the other emergency service providers, was "overkill" and that his child was ok."  

Later, on December 5, 2012, neuropsychologist Dr. Rimma Danov issued a Record Review Report which indicated that during the year 2011-2012 the child "had experienced seizures only during his stays with his father, Mr. Savino."  

Further, despite professional recommendations to place the child in the highly respected birth to three program based upon developmental delays, Kenneth Savino did everything he could to prevent the child from entering the program.  Knowing as I do what a great program the birth to three program is, I can only say that Kenneth Savino's attitude here is nuts!

Granting these circumstances, it was only understandable that mother Colleen Savino was extremely worried about passing the child over to the father and did not insist the father take the child at the doctor's office when he appeared to be disinterested.  

Instead, she went around town doing a few errands,  took the child out to lunch, and ended up at Jefferson Radiology where the child had a lung x-ray per the pediatrician's orders as a prerequisite for going on the airplane--hardly necessary if she didn't intend him to go.  

At the same time that Colleen was carrying out these mundane tasks with the child, Budlong & Barrett dispatched Kenneth Savino, along with one of their attorneys, to the West Hartford Avon police station where they filled out an application for an Amber Alert stating they had no idea where Colleen was and said they suspected she was attempting to flee the country with the child.  

They said this even though there was voluminous back and forth email communication going on between the law firm and Colleen during the entire time--granted that some of that was interrupted when Colleen's phone temporarily lost energy and had to be recharged.   Budding & Barrett alone sent 41 emails to the point where Colleen clearly lost track of them all.  It does get to the point where volume of that kind comes across as simple harassment hardly due a response.

Then, at around 4:00p.m. that day, Attorney Campbell Barrett of Budlong and Barrett filed "Plaintiff's Emergency Motion to Suspend Defendant Mother's Access to Minor Child and to Award Temporary Sole custody to Plaintiff Father."  

In it Kenneth Savino claimed that "plaintiff mother disappeared with the minor child."  Right--to the local Burgerfi!  And further, "The minor child's whereabouts are unknown," even though it was understood she was heading for Jefferson Radiology later in the day.  And further, "the plaintiff father is in the process of speaking to the police about obtaining an Amber Alert."  

Yes, he was in the process, but no police officer in his right mind would have issued one!  

After all, according to the parties' Marital Agreement of April 25, 2015 father had custody of the child's passport, so there was practically no likelihood they could leave the country together without one.  

Still, it was in the face of this extraordinarily absurd claim that an Amber Alert was about to be issued that Judge Olear granted the motion giving sole custody to the father and barring mother from any access to the child.  

In defending their abusive actions, Budlong & Barrett were quick to state (more than once because they think people are deaf) that no Amber Alert was ever issued as if that somehow absolved them.  But the bottom line is they tried to get one issued, and further they implied to the Court that, in fact, one would be issued momentarily when they knew that wasn't true.  

Later that evening police came to Colleen Kerwick's door and took her child from her arms.  It was ten months before she was able to see her child again regularly and the court reinstated the shared parenting plan.

To be continued...

Thursday, May 7, 2015


I will grant the fundamental belief that Colleen Kerwick goes by, that in order for a child to be safe and healthy, he or she requires the positive involvement of both parents.  In situations where parents get along reasonably well and live closely to each other, it is possible to put together a very effective shared parenting plan.  This would be in the the best interests of the child in most circumstances.  

However, if an abusive parent simply uses the  close proximity to the other parent and the extensive access to the other parent that comes along with shared parenting, as a means to continue the abuse, the end result can be disastrous.  Unfortunately, this is what took place in the Savino v. Savino case.  

The shared parenting plan was in place from the beginning and then was memorialized in the Marital Settlement Agreement of March 25, 2013.  

I bring this agreement up because it is the mean spirited nature of this agreement that set up Colleen Kerwick to continue being embroiled in legal disputes well beyond its signing.  

In this agreement, the access schedule was established as follows:  the mother would have the child from after preschool Wednesday until Friday preschool in the morning.  Father was to have the child from every Monday at pickup from preschool until Wednesday morning at preschool.  Then each parent was scheduled to have the child every other weekend.  

I find this a pretty demanding schedule for a three year old child who has some physical challenges, and I would more have been interested in reducing the overnights until he was older.  

Both parents had joint physical custody, and when it came to legal custody, father was given final decision making authority. This makes absolutely no sense in the light of the fact that, according to Dr. Sidney Horowitz, Colleen was the more involved parent and father's judgment was in question given that he was in denial of his child's development delays and medical challenges.  

But just in general, even without those issues, in my opinion, giving one parent decision making authority to the exclusion of the other is the kiss of death.  It pretty much means that any time Colleen wanted to do anything important with her son, she was required to ask for her ex-husband's permission.  Aside from being a humiliating position to be in, sole decision making gives an abusive ex endless opportunities to cause trouble with that kind of power.

I asked Colleen why she agreed to it and she said that she simply didn't want to continue battling with her ex.  I understand that.  It is unfortunate when good people who would really prefer not to fight end up getting taken advantage of.        

Of course, this was not simply the consequence of trying not to fight; there was also a financial factor at play here.  Kenneth Savino had millions and millions of dollars at his disposal to continue the legal battle, while Colleen Kerwick only had the $220,000 she'd agreed to as a settlement in her prenuptial agreement.  This small sum of money which Colleen might have used to rebuild her life after the divorce pretty much ended up being consumed entirely by attorneys fees.  

The bottom line is that Colleen Kerwick wasn't street smart.  She'd had a very amicable divorce from her first husband of six years, and she assumed that she could count on fairness from her second husband--Kenneth Savino.  She had gone into the marriage believing that Mr. Savino was the person he presented himself to her as--a person of good character.  Thus, when she signed the prenuptial agreement, Colleen had not anticipated what would happen in an extended high conflict divorce, and had not ensured in that agreement or subsequent agreements that her ex would pay for her attorney's fees and related divorce costs.  I mean, why would she.  She wasn't out to take advantage of him.

Of course, this point exposes the fact that Kenneth Savino is high deceptive in his dealings.  In speaking to Dr. Sidney Horowitz during the evaluation, Mr. Savino stated, I will "pay her somewhere between $75,000 and $400,000" and this is "okay."  Well, no, that isn't true at all.  By the time Kenneth Savino was done Colleen had nothing and all Mr. Savino did was pay her attorneys.  He knew that at the time he made the remark because he was already scheming to drown her in legal maneuvers at the time he said it.

When it comes to child support, based on the agreement Colleen was allotted $465 per week which is considerably low given Kenneth Savino's resources and lifestyle. Then $65.00 of the child support was taken out to cover the cost of health insurance, which Mr. Savino was amazingly enough willing and able to obtain from the Connecticut HUSKY program, which is intended for people with low income, despite being so wealthy.  You can be sure Mr. Savino has a far better health plan than his son has.

I'm not sure why a businessman with such extensive resources would be interested in using among the most limited health plans in the state.  I mean, to me, that decision alone speaks volumes.  I am also somewhat puzzled because in these situations, it was my understanding that, according to the law, the child is supposed to live in reasonably equivalent circumstances when he goes from one household to the other.  How is he supposed to do that if Colleen Kerwick ends up with nothing, and Kenneth Savino gets everything?  

Further, it is quite striking that the Marital Agreement divides all expenses 50/50 down the line, disregarding Colleen's current low income, which was the result of having to stay in CT due to her extensive legal problems when her job is in New York.  In addition, all other expenses such as medical co-pays and extra-curriculars were also to be divided 50/50 between the parties.  Yes, Colleen is highly educated and there was no doubt she could build up her legal practice for the future.  However, it would have been only reasonable to provide a respite period to allow her to get on her feet before dumping so much of the financial responsibility upon her.  

So what we appear to have is an extremely stingy, punitive agreement put together by a legal team determined to pound Colleen to the ground on every level.  

Of particular interest in regard to this agreement, in terms of details, is the notation under provision 13.2 "International Travel" that "The Father shall hold the child's passport." and also another notation at k.ii indicating the "The Christmas vacation shall begin on December 22."  

The agreement requires that mother go to counseling and well as the father, but in provision I do note that mother will specifically lose access time if she shows evidence of any "alienating behaviors".  You knew that particular nugget would be directed at the mother and not the father!  There is no indication that any bad behavior on the part of father will result in a loss of access.  So the only person who bears any consequences here is the mother.  Talk about gross unfairness--here you have a fundamental example, one that is very typical in the father friendly State of Connecticut.  

I also have to say, I consider it a very unfortunate approach to punish the child for the sins of the mother.

Finally, there is also section 21 which indicates "A modification or waiver of any provisions of this Agreement shall be effective only if made in writing and executed with the same formality as this agreement."  A provision of this kind literally guarantees that the parties will return to court repeatedly.  When you are parenting young children, there are constant small emergencies where you have to change plans and head in a different direction.  

The car breaks down, forget your agreed upon meeting time.

The child vomits all over the back seat, forget your agreed upon meeting time.

The child wants to say a special good bye to the new friend he met in preschool and gets into a big conversation about dinosaurs while he is doing it, forget your agreed upon meeting time.

You are half way to the drop off point when you realize you left the child's medication on the kitchen table, forget your agreed upon meeting time.

I mean, what, are you going to go to court for each and every one of these instances?  Well, yes, if you are going to go strictly by a provision of this kind.  But if you have any kind of common sense, you will let it go.  Of course, if the provision is there so you can continue to persecute your ex-wife on an ongoing basis, then forget what I said.  In that case you have crafted just the Marital Agreement from Hell that you always wanted, and you can keep on wacking your ex with that legal stick as long as you want.  

To be continued...

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Reporter Ashby Jones of The Wall Street Journal reports as follows:
"Some of the biggest battles over child custody are playing out not in courtrooms, but in statehouses.
Prompted partly by fathers concerned that men for too long have gotten short shrift in custody decisions, about 20 states are considering measures that would change the laws governing which parent gets legal and physical control of a child after a divorce or separation.
The laws generally encourage judges to adopt custody schedules that maximize time for each parent. Some of the measures, such as those proposed in New York and Washington state, take an additional step by requiring judges to award equal time to each parent unless there is proof that such an arrangement wouldn’t be in a child’s best interests. 
Critics of these bills contend that they threaten to take discretion away from judges and risk giving leverage to abusive men. They also say the laws are poorly targeted because typically the only custody cases that end up in court are ones in which former spouses are too hostile toward each other to effectively practice shared parenting anyway."
For the rest of the article, please click on the link below:

Wednesday, January 29, 2014