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Extreme Custody Decisions That Risk Lives

Extreme Custody Decisions That Risk Lives

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Published by: Anonymom on Jul 24, 2011
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12/30/2012

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FACSIMILE
Date: July 22, 2011
 _17_ 
 pages with cover sheet
EXTREME CUSTODY DECISIONS THAT RISK LIVES
RE: Case No. 96-D-217
To:Domestic Filings
[thank you] 
 785.291.4911
F
rom:Claudine DombrowskiPh: (
785) 274-9075
 
TO
:Clerk of the District Court-
 please file on the record 
Case No. 96-D-217 
 
F
acsimile: (785) 291-4908and to:Judge David Debenham Div. XIII
F
acsimile: (785) 291-4917
(Certificate of Service
F
ollows)
 
EXTREME CUSTODY DECISIONS THAT RISK LIVES
http://timesupblog.blogspot.com/2011/07/extreme-custody-decisions-that-risk.html 
 By
 
 B
arr 
 y
Goldstein
 
Dear Custody Court Judge: David Debenham,
 
T
opeka, Shawnee County, Kansas
(R
estore a NO
 RMAL
Visitation in the Dombrowski Case.)
T
he research is now clear that certain extreme decisions in domestic violence custody cases thathave become all too common are contributing to an increase in the frequency of domesticviolence homicide and other harmful consequences.
T
his is established in the leading resourcesabout domestic violence and custody including
TH
E BA
TT
ERER AS PAREN
T
by LundyBancroft and Jay Silverman, D
OM
ES
T
IC VI
O
LENCE, ABUSE and C
H
ILD CUS
TO
DY edited by
M
o
T
herese
H
annah and Barry Goldstein and the major new Department of Justice study led by Dr. Daniel Saunders of the University of 
M
ichigan. Judges should be aware of the researchthat demonstrates the danger of creating these dangerous decisions avoid these decisions in thefuture and modify existing arrangements that create substantial risks to the children.
T
he decisions that must be avoided and corrected are ones in which an alleged abuser is givencustody and a safe, protective mother is limited to supervised or no visitation. I will more fullydescribe these dangerous cases below and I am not saying it can never be right to give someonecustody who was accused of domestic violence or child abuse or that a mother who makes abuseallegations should never be denied normal visitation.
(P 
age 1)
 
I will discuss the harm and danger of these extreme decisions below, but judges should be awarethat these decisions are probably the largest factor in the recent increase in domestic violencehomicide.
F
urthermore these extreme decisions are never in the best interests of children evenwhen the court is right that the abuse allegations are false and the mother seeks to take the father out of the child's life for bad faith reasons.
M
ore commonly, the research demonstrates that court professionals who used flawed practices to justify the extreme decision also got the underlyingfacts wrong. Judges should look to the specialized body of research now available that can helpcourts make the best decisions in domestic violence custody cases.
Description of Extreme Cases
 
T
he extreme cases I am speaking about include evidence or at least allegations of domesticviolence or child abuse. It is not limited to cases in which the allegations are confirmed or  believed.
T
he research establishes that courts fail to recognize valid complaints about domesticviolence and child abuse with frightening frequency because of the outdated and discredited practices that continue to be used in domestic violence custody cases despite the scientificresearch now available.
F
urthermore, even when courts reject abuse allegations because of inadequate proof or in rare cases in which mothers make deliberately false allegations, courtshave a tendency to punish mothers in ways that are harmful to the children.
M
ost of these cases involve mothers who are the primary attachment figures for their children.Primary attachment is created in the first couple of years of a child¶s life so later care or custodyof a child does not change the primary attachment figure. Some court professionals confusecontinuity, which is a valid consideration with primary attachment which is far more significantto children. Primary attachment is often minimized by custody courts because of stereotypes andgender bias.
M
others are often expected to provide most of the child care so they receive littlecredit or benefit for doing so even though it makes a big difference to the well being of children.In fairness to judges, many attorneys fail to present evidence about the mothers¶ early care for her children and the significance of that care.In attempting to treat both parents equally, courts often fail to understand that the parents maynot be of equal importance to the well being of their children based on past parenting such assuperior parenting skills, non-abusiveness and primary attachment. When a court treats unequal parents as if their value to the child is the same, this is actually a bias favoring the weaker parentand certainly not in the best interests of the children. Children who are separated from their  primary attachment figure are more likely to suffer depression, low self-esteem and to commitsuicide when they are older. It cannot be beneficial to subject children to such substantial risksunless the primary attachment figure is unsafe, but courts routinely do so when they treatalienation as if it were more significant than primary attachment or abuse.If custody courts were acting in the best interests of children as required by statute, they would be weighing the harms and benefits of any proposed custody-visitation arrangement. So if a
(P 
age 2)

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