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While you were sleeping. . . Part 2: Elkins Family Law Task Force

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October 22, 2009Public Comments hearing before Elkins Family Law Task Force in San Francisco, CA

Below is Dr. Sidiakina’s first speech on October 22, 2009 before the California Elkins Family Law Task Force. The copy of this speech with attached article (reference [1]) was given DIRECTLY to the Task Force members.  

Family Courts’ Reliance on Parental Alienation Syndrome Theory Turns Normal Children Into Mental Retards.

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Below is Dr. Sidiakina’s second speech on October 22, 2009 before the California Elkins Family Law Task Force. The copy of this speech with attached article (reference [1]) and calculations was given DIRECTLY to the Task Force members.

 The Family Courts’ System in CA Turns Children Into Slaves

 By Dr. Natalia A. Sidiakina for Elkins Family Law Task Force meeting on 10/22/09 in San Francisco, CA

By Dr. Natalia A. Sidiakina for Elkins Family Law Task Force meeting 10/22/09

{{THIS SPEECH & the 2nd speech (title below) IS POSTED AT THIS SITE:  To access it, click on the link to left called:

Free Legal Education and Community Events. 

 

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Not to be outdone or ignored, here is a response by “Fathers & Families” as posted on THIS site:

Fathers & Families Files Official Response to Elkins Task Force Recommendations on California Family Law Reforms « Fathers & Families

December 7th, 2009 by Glenn Sacks, MA, Executive Director

I’m posting links and titles without excerpts, so readers can actually go there and read the entire thing.  I will comment that Dr. Natalia Sidiakina’s site as a whole addresses how in pro per [self-represented, i.e., impoverished] litigants, and the Glenn Sacks article notes that:

Fathers & Families is the only family court reform organization with a fulltime lobbyist working inside the capitol of California or any other major state, and we probably have the only fulltime family court reform lobbyist in the country. This important work costs money–please support it by giving here.

And further notes that they wish to emphasize COLLABORATIVE law…

Many of the issues the Elkins Commission is taking up, such as conflict reduction, improving transparency, and protecting all parties’ due process rights, were first addressed by Fathers & Families’ legislative representative Michael Robinson during his work on AB 402 in 2006.

AB 402, a family law bill sponsored by then-California Assemblyman Mervyn M. Dymally, codified collaborative law practice into our family law codes. The current adversarial litigation process escalates conflict between divorcing parents instead of reducing it. Collaborative Law is a better option.

Among other provisions, AB 402 mandated a written statement of decision in all hearings or trials involving child custody. While this provision was already part of the Codes of Civil Procedure, it was not always being followed.

[[As to the last item, it seems they passed a law to tell the judges to actually follow the code of civil procedure…  We requested a statement of decision, specifically in my case (where I lost custody of my children).  The judge complained about it, protested it, and finally BURIED it.  I never got one. ]

Fathers & Families want collaborative resolution of family conflict.  So do the AFCC, as I blogged earlier, and as they plainly say.

 However, there are sometimes problems where mediation (collaborative) intersects with domestic violence — for example, mediation presumes a kind of dialogue between equal parties and an “adult” way to solve troubles, with a neutral helper. 

Where there has been domestic violence, probably if there are still two parties alive, considerable negotiation has already taken place, but it’s not quite the same concept as proper mediation. . . .

In googling “mediation and domestic violence,” it’s hard to know where to start.  But this obscure-looking reference says a lot.  Source is below the quote:

 Purpose of the Study:

 

     As mediation becomes more common in the court system, and as the widespread nature of domestic violence becomes more apparent, the appropriateness of divorce mediation in domestic abuse cases has become an issue of increasing national importance. While the strongest criticisms have been directed toward the practice of mandating abused women to participate in divorce mediation, some battered women’s advocates object to the use of divorce mediation when there has been any domestic assault. Concerns about divorce mediation in cases where there has been domestic abuse include the following: [[I’ll separate the numbers for easier reading]]

(1) Mediation decriminalizes domestic abuse and encourages a conciliatory approach that does not hold the abuser accountable for his behavior, and the abuser may learn there are no adverse consequences to violence.

(2) Victims might be made to feel partially to blame for the abuse.

(3) Ensuring the safety of the victim during a process that allows the abuser to know the time and place his or her partner will be present for mediation becomes an important issue.

(4) Power imbalances introduced by domestic violence may render mediation inherently unfair.

(5) The conjoint and compromising nature of mediation may discourage abused victims from expressing their anger and deny them the benefits that expressed anger can bring.

(6) Joint custody arrangements favored by mediators may run counter to what is best for the victim and their children.

(7) Mediation may erode the victim’s financial status and deprive him or her of the economic advantages they may have won through divorce litigation.

(8) Questions arise regarding the caliber of court-based and community-based divorce mediation programs and the ability of staff to properly screen and handle cases with domestic abuse. However, most mediators and their supporters believe that mechanisms such as screening, individual caucusing, and the use of advocates in mediation sessions can help mitigate safety and fairness concerns in domestic violence cases.

This study provides information on mediators’ and court administrators’ handling of these situations by focusing on: (1) whether and how mediators and court staff attempt to gauge the level of domestic abuse and the capacity of divorcing parties to mediate, and (2) common adjustments to the divorce mediation process made to enhance safety in cases with domestic abuse.

 

You notice “This study?”  Now that I’m no longer a family court virgin (and our family — what’s left of them — are veterans of the mediation process, each time totally upending lifestyle and job situations on the word of the mediator, in a mandated jurisdiction) I check WHO is saying what, and where else they are saying what else, and possibly WHY.  So here’s who did this particular study:

 

Bibliographic Description

ICPSR Study No.: 2561
 
Persistent URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR02561
 
Title: Divorce Mediation and Domestic Violence in the United States, 1993
 
Principal Investigator(s): Jessica Pearson, Center for Policy Research
 
Funding Agency: United States Department of Justice. National Institute of Justice.
 
Grant Number: 93-IJ-CX-0036
 
Bibliographic Citation: Pearson, Jessica. DIVORCE MEDIATION AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN THE UNITED STATES, 1993 [Computer file]. ICPSR version. Denver, CO: Center for Policy Research [producer], 1994. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1999. doi:10.3886/ICPSR02561
 

Here’s who they interviewed (Scope of Study):

. . . Data collection involved a collaboration with the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) in the administration and analysis of this survey. Court programs providing divorce mediation and/or custody evaluations in 1993 were targeted. The questionnaire was mailed in late 1993 to 200 institutional members of the AFCC and active providers of family and divorce services in the National Center for State Courts database. A total of 149 public-sector divorce mediation and custody/visitation counseling providers responded.

The AFCC already has assumed the position of pro-collaboration.  Battered women’s advocates assumed a position pretty much against it.  If that’s not enough conflict of interest, my sources say that Dr. Pearson is one of the incorporating members of AFCC to start with.  Then, as also one of the six members (and probably the lead one) of Center for Policy Research, she heads a study is done — at government expense — of the effectiveness of mediation and reports on it.

Where are the litigants actually asked?  Where are the kids who went through mediation actually asked?  Who is tracing who is paying for the mediators in the court system (well, for one, I am.  Another who is:  NAFCJ.net….  You should too). 

Beyond that, our government (USDOJ grant) is funding a study with an inherent conflict of interest among the people providing the services (also at government expense, sometimes, or at parent expense) who profit from the practice.

The Center for Policy Practice is also very influential — all over the country — in matters regarding child support; (see my last post), researching, advising, recommending, reporting.  That obviously is a FINANCIAL issue.

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MY SUMMARY:

That’s what I call WHILE YOU, the public, WERE SLEEPING. . 

For a few years, I read the material on the inadvisability of mediation in cases of domestic violence, and marvelled at the apparent disconnect in the court system, year after year.

Every time we went through mediation, I ended up — within the next month, almost — losing valuable things I’d built up after separation and needed to physically survive — primarily work.  Being a custodial single mother, work was extremely important.

Only when I saw the money trail did it make sense.  These court personnel were, and are, marching to the tune of a different drummer, which I didn’t hear.  Now, I pick up on its traces better.  Who is paying Whom?, and whose professions are at risk if practices were changed to actually save lives or livelihoods?   

Now, I am almost out of time to blog, but let’s go back to the

Elkins Family Law Task Force:

(This is a California group, incidentally): 

They are going to report to the California Judicial Council, that sets policy for the rest of the state, and we are the state with the largest court system in the country, to my understanding.  From the F&F site, above:

The Elkins Family Law Task Force is conducting a comprehensive review of family law proceedings and will recommend to the Judicial Council of California proposals that increase access to justice for all family law litigants.

And the judicial council will then, judiciously, consider all alternatives fairly with a view to the best interests of the children or the state of California who come through this family law system, for which the “Clear and Present Danger” in the eyes of the AFCC is not a spousal batterer (as the california code says clearly) but underfunding of the courts.  They will also of course not be swayed by mere money, either, to swerve either TOWARDS more collaborative measures or AWAY from them (and back towards due process, evidence, and clear statements in the criminal law of what is and is not a crime, and from that understanding, deciding whether or not a crime was committed, and so forth and from THAT determination, think clearly about what criminal behavior — as defined by existing criminal laws, and not as RE-framed and RE-defined by the family law advocates and proponents (who stand to profit from reframing violence as conflict and anyone who can’t resolve conflict with a batterer as needing a check up from the neck up…):

USASPENDING.GOV, searching California Judicial Council, FY 2000-2010:

spacer icon

Top 5 Programs

 93.586: State Court Improvement Program $16,056,967
 93.597: Grants To States For Access And Visitation Programs $8,863,750
 93.556: Promoting Safe And Stable Families $1,296,460

Top 5 Agencies Providing Assistance

 HHS – Administration for Children and Families $13,790,409
 HHS – Secy. of Health and Human Services $12,426,768

The grants for access & visitation programs, though poorly monitored (from what I understand) but contain a stipulation of a REQUIRED OUTCOME of more custodial time with the noncustodial parent.

The Health and Human Services  is where the fatherhood programs reside. That’s another post (sorry), along side promoting responsible marriage and abstinence, and so forth. 

Therefore, I’m sure the Elkins Family Law Task Force reporting to this judicial council will indeed be “heard” clearly by the judicial council, and women and children will continue to be protected, including their assets, as well as due process through the courts.

That said, I believe you will find both posts informative, and I particularly recommend Dr. Sidiakina’s link also on the neurological abuse of power, which (unrestrained) can be like a cocaine fix.  Too much power resides in the hands of the collaborativei and mental health professionals in this venue, and too many loopholes for violation of due process each time one more is called in. 

What we were sleeping on was the creation of layers and layers of professionals whose job is to handle problems created BY the crisis in the courts, which are a self-perpetuating institution themselves. 

If you don’t understand the constant creation of crisis while maintaining the goal is peace, you don’t understand the basic concepts of war., one of which is transformative language to cloud the hard facts.  Another thing about war — it’s always costly. 

But some things are worth fighting for:

  • Life
  • Liberty
  • Pursuit of Happiness
  • Due Process
  • Legal Rights.

 I’ll speak as a musician.  Some drama and tension is normal in life, as it is in any musical phrase, not counting muzak.  Some conflict is bound to happen, after which potentially there is growth and learning.   Conflicts which never get resolved can be handled by one of two ways:

Resolving them, based on facts and adjudication with a clear standard and a clear process of gathering the facts.

OR

Separation of the parties. 

The Government is not qualified to design families from above, or legislate the make up of them.  Clearly it’s not doing a real good job of protecting individuals within the families either; they are still killing each other, male, female, boy and girl, and sometimes after some horrible events including assaults and molestation.  There is retaliatory killing for leaving, or threatening to, for reporting abuse or for, sometimes money.  Can government really change human nature, and is this its job?

Since when?

Written by Let's Get Honest

December 13, 2009 at 4:42 pm

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martinplaut

Journalist specialising in the Horn of Africa and Southern Africa

Let's Get Honest! Blog: Absolutely Uncommon Analysis of Family & Conciliation Courts' Operations, Practices, & History

'A Different Kind of Attention Develops Sound Judgment' | 'Suppose I'm Right Here?...' (posted 3/23 & 3/5/2014). Over 680 posts, Public-Interest Investigative Blogging On These Matters Since 2009.

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