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AFCC Feb. 2010 Presenters — Family Law Vocabulary 101…

with 3 comments

This is a “drive-by” {{not polished…}} post.  It took me quite a while simply to get access to the internet here, and wasn’t easy. Not a best post, but I encourage us each to take a more detailed look at the array of professions and professionals (and the language that goes with them) in this conference, the conference that declares the clear and present danger to “our children” is that the family law venue is going to run out of money.

Well, what happened to the last thousands and millions that were spent there, and where’s the bang for the buck?  What lives were fixed?  Where’s the EVIDENCE that lives were fixed?  And is that what courts are for? 

Origins of AFCC and Family Law, for that matter:

Here’s the old, old California NOW Family Law page, but this hefty, but clear and readable, report is very informative.  {Any font/style changes, I added.}  I think I’ve blogged or quoted this report  before:

CA NOW 2002 Family Court Report

 From the founding of the women’s movement, feminists have worked for equity in divorce, child  support and custody.The struggle to move women and children from the status of men’s property to citizens in their own right continues today.

Over the last many years it has been brought to the attention of CA NOW that there are serious problems with the family court system for women and their children.

After investigating over three hundred cases–through online questionnaires and case studies–we determined that the family court system is wrought with gender bias, due process violations, incompetence, conflict of interest and in some cases corruption.

Although it is true that women, who are predominantly the primary caregivers of children, are awarded sole physical custody in about 80 percent of cases (according to Census data), contested cases often evoke inequities in {1} legal representation, {2} discrimination from a system not immune from sexism, and {3} the influence of fathers’ rights groups

(Some excerpts from this report, but for a better (visual) overview of these issues, and a RARELY-discussed angle, read the whole thing.  Although it’s now 7 years old, the issues of due process AND dubious financial origins of both the AFCC, read it all.  ):

9 a.
Conflict of Interest and CorruptionCourt Cancer Metastasizes

 b. Audit of Los Angeles Judges Fund  {{below, notice how many of the professionals are from the L.A. area, although this AFCC is an international organization of, I heard, over 3,000 members…}}

Custody Cases
Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)Parental Alienation Syndrome and Parental Alienation: Getting it Wrong in

 b. NOW Position Paper on PAS
c. American Psychiatric Association denies validity of PAS
 {{although this is obviously a hot topic, I am less interested in the PAS debate, at this time, than financial fraud and violation of due process… read on…}}


 From the section “Loss of Due Process” from this 2002 report:

In response to the data we collected, CA NOW set out to examine a pattern of loss of due process. The findings suggest the move to streamline family courts by engaging extrajudicial professionals to assist the judge in assessing cases has resulted in a loss of due process.
{{for example, see the job titles of many of the presenters below}} When of the maternal custodian, such as those espoused by psychologists Judith Wallerstein and Joan Kelly of Marin County, California and New Jersey psychiatrist Richard Gardner, they purported that children suffered irreparable damage to their development as a result of sole maternal custody.

With the publication of the ideas of these experts, the fathers began aggressively asserting that a presumption in favor of sole maternal custody was irrational


XXX[FIX QUOTE]XXX toward the presumption that it was in the child contact

dissolution, vis a vis parenting. It was at that time that father

in getting put into place access and visitation moneys to help them gain custody of children {{what I keep squawking about, and showing!}}


studiesbegan to emerge challenging maternal sole custody, theories denigrating the rolerights advocacy movementunfair. In the mid 1980s, it was the fathers rights movement that was instrumental in drivings best interests to have frequent and continuingwith each parent after divorce and that both parents were magically equalupons rights movements were successful


On page 50ff herein, Marv Bryer   states the timeline and audit of the predecessor of CCC, which had a bank account and address basically at the LA County Courthouse, but was not incorporated.  ..

{{Who is Marv Bryer?  Well, google him — I did, and from the link above:


Update 4/11/99

Published in Washington, D.C.. . . . Vol. 15, No. 16 — May 3, 1999 . . . .

Insight Magazine

Is Justice for Sale in L.A.?

By Kelly Patricia O’Meara

An alleged slush fund for the L.A. Superior Court Judges Association is at the heart of a scandal involving possible income-tax evasion and gifts that may affect judges’ rulings.

. . . Parents with business before the Superior Court say they feel caught in a web of judicial deceit that borders on an organized racket. But for years their requests for an investigation fell on deaf ears, as elected officials and law-enforcement agencies did nothing. Enter Marvin Bryer, a retired computer analyst in La Crescenta, Calif. …}}}

. . . . Bryer became ensnared with the family-court system after his daughter, Karen, was faced with losing custody of her 2-year-old son. Having spent nearly $100,000 on attorneys and research fees, Bryer took matters into his own hands and has been campaigning for a probe of a system that he claims “purposefully profits off the conflict of the families in litigation.” He says, “I felt violated, almost numb, when I learned that the judges were making money through the child-custody system. The judges have too much power, and nobody is monitoring these guys.”

So, unless you think that a retired computer analyst father is a feminazi, perhaps we might want to look at the $$ and cents; apparently this section was done by him….  It’s also better read at the original site…

1939 Judges, lawyers and mental health professionals got State law passed (SB 737).

The 53rd Session of Legislature.  The court became a lobby group.

 Section 1740 et seq formed The Childrens Courts of Conciliation, which was later repealed. 

{{Maybe that’s where the “Our” children concept got in there.  Kind of like, if there is an automobile accident, the participants th
{{Can you see where this MIGHT pose a problem, even long before laws against domestic violence (as far as I know) were passed?  ???}}}


Section 1760 Article III Whenever any controversy exists, disruption of household with a minor child, the Court of Conciliation takes jurisdiction: to create a reconciliation


 A Los Angeles judge formed the  the first Conciliation Court


as per this law in Los Angeles.  {{one, single, lone judge forms a court?}}


1958 The Los Angeles County courthouse at 111 Hill Street was dedicated.

1962 The Conference of Conciliation Courts (CCC) established a bank account at Security First National Bank Pacific Bank)



(which later became Security

Evidence: CCC 1968 Financial Statement. A balance from 5th Annual Conference is described.


This indicates the account probably began 6 years before in

1963 Conference of Conciliation Courts, a private organization, was


the LA County public courthouse.

The address of record was 111 N Hill Street, Room 241, which is

which was later repealed.

P A G E 4 9


No incorporation documents on file, and no registration with Secretary of State, Franchise Tax Board or IRS.

Evidence: Statement from IRS that there is no such entity and corporation papers in 1969.

The founders of CCC were Los Angeles judge Roger Pfaff and Meyer Elkin. Six (6) California counties were involved

Los Angeles County

Imperial County
San Mateo County
San Bernardino County
Sacramento County – Albert H. Mundt, Phillip Schleimer
•  San Diego County 339 W Broadway
The incomes of Blacks, Hispanics, Orientals, Caucasians were profiled  {how lovely…}}
. . . MORE (best read on the original link, and I do not have time to clean up the formatting here…)

1975 Association of Family and Conciliation Courts of Law was incorporated in Illinois

Registered with IRS and Secretary of State in Illinois, but claimed they were a charity and were brand new. {{i.e., LIED!}} But Meyer Elkin takes charge shortly after their incorporation. (NOTE: he is the co-founder of the CCC) Shortly afterwards they changed to Association of Family and Conciliation Courts
(dropped “Law”) (Not supposed to use a misleading name, claiming they are

At the same time the Conference of Conciliation Courts was still operating in California and was not registered with the IRS.  {{Moral:  The same group (CCC will morph into AFCC soon enough) claiming that the “clear and present danger” to “our” children (see “jurisdiction wherever there is a dispute,” concept, above….) was itself — if this report is correct — cheating the IRS.  Does this mean that the professionals are not nice or smart people?  Not necessarily; but it reflects on the history of the organization they are profiting from…}}

a court, but are not.) 

1981 The Association of Family Conciliation Courts {AFCC} was established as a foreign non-profit corporation

Located at 111 N. Hill Street, LA (no room number, but in courthouse) Headquarters in Cook County, Illinois They are an Illinois corporation doing business in California

Margaret Little is a custody evaluator since 1986 until now she is the child custody evaluator and the head of family court services in LA, and is the local agent/president, corporation head of the AFCC)
{{AND on the Elkins Family Law Task force…}}}
Jessica Pierson [sic:  It’s “Pearson”] is also an agent and incorporator outside of CA in Colorado  {{Center for Policy Research, Denver — recently blogged, again..}}.


1978 Child Custody Colloquium had their first conference.
1979 Conference of Conciliation Courts was suspended by Franchise


Each and every county would pay for marital counseling to help unclog the court system from divorce cases.




Readers:  Obviously I’m having a heck of a time with the paste function, above.  Basically, I’m saying, read that section — at a minimum — of this California NOW Family Court Report of 2002.  Unless you have a spare lifetime, or income….



I am simply going to highlight some common terms, possibly hyperlink a few cited organizations.  Again, a close reading of who’s here will tell a lot about the field.  

Also, if you are one of those here, or associated or working with them, please understand that my point of view is as a parent (I have — er, had — different professions as well) and is not meant to disparage anyone involved simply because of involvement.  Do not take my comments personally.  Also, have a heart — some of us have lost, literally, everything. 

I am clear when, where, and how the downhill slide began, and did not find out the driving professionals until AFTER all that had been lost, including employment, contact with children, and the infrastructure of life, including that which is required to stay housed, fed, and transported from Point A to Point B on an average day. 

Part of abuse is economic abuse; another part is isolation.  Accordingly, we are not always in the circles where we even hear about these conferences!  That would require consistent access to internet, knowing what to look for (i.e., some guideposts) and a critical eye as to what is NOT being told.  In addition, a parent would have to find the time to do some of the research — not always easy while fighting a court battle, with visitation exchanges (if they still exist) and trying to retain a living.

BUT . . . .  this is a serious matter, turning legal courts into therapy centers.  The Declaration of Independence, it seems, runs contrary to that.  To me, that’s a confusion of boundaries, and one characteristic I’m told (and know) about domestic violence, is that an abuser often has blurred identity, and cannot recognize the other as a separate individual, with rights, feelings, concerns, and privileges to exist separately.

So if a group of professionals of this collective weight get together and throw that weight behind blurring the boundaries of law — WITHOUT TELLING THE GENERAL PUBLIC — and posting this clearly in the courtrooms — yes, I have a problem with that.

More Vocabulary Lessons (Family Court Matters 101)….

I read every single bio below (see last post).  Some, I knew already, some, I had heard speak, others, I had read their materials.  (That’s just my manner in life…)

In reviewing the printout of the speaker bios, it is an impressive array of professionals, and associations.  Some people are specialists in one area, some have moved easily from one to another.  Others are founding members of prime organizations, including AFCC.  There is a Judge who is a member of the Elkins Family Law Task force (now reviewing California Family Law issues), which to me seems something like a conflict of interest.

There are some men and women with experience in domestic violence and rape or sexual assault, although clearly not the majority.  I saw just a smattering whose experience mentions “child abuse” although this primarily might be called (along with domestic violence) among THE scandals of this entire court venue, and central to the wars between men and women.  This includes women standing with the men against former partners, and sometimes men standing with battered women or “protective parents” (a term you won’t find much here below) with the women.

Major affiliations are listed, and of course what they have published.  As we see, this venue is a thriving business, with thriving conferences where things (including concepts) are indeed promoted and marketed. 

Noticeably absent are litigating parents, or parents who LOST custody (whether mother or father) either at separation, or after t he case was in the courts for a while, i.e., after custody was switched.  When I review all the degrees, and decades (in many cases) of professional experience, I ask this question:


If you were standing in front of a judge, parent educator, mediator, custody evaluator, parenting-plan coordinator, guardian ad litem (in a custody hearing, obviously), and so forth – – – or any of these people as being your attorney, or the opposing attorney, and presented your case — particularly if you’d been through significant trauma from one source or another — or if you had come to a stance based on what worked for your and your family’s SAFETY — and your views DIFFERED from the mainstream agenda (here, it’s somewhat clear, overall) – – – – would you be considered the expert on your own experience, or would the overwhelming mass of data and experience of THESE professionals sway the case

But wait a minute?  Isn’t this the LEGAL process?  Aren’t we supposed to weigh facts and evidence?  Are there hard facts versus soft facts, and if so, which one rules?  Are there facts that are clearly in evidence, and others which are assessment-based? 

THEY are the experts, and consult with and among each other.  You — no matter what your personal professional expertise prior to or during the family court/divorce/custody/child abuse/domestic violence allegations court process – – – are the plebian.  Got that?  You don’t know what you’re talking about, evidence or not — this is the sense that I have gotten in court, and that such a majestic assemblage of professional expertise would bring to bear on, perhaps, one parent — or a group of them — who disagree.  With the entire system of premises!


I believe it will be helpful to highlight some terms, provide some hyperlinks, and make a few points.  What’s below is a re-paste (verbatim) of the same speaker bios from the upcoming 2010 AFCC conference stating that the CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER in our family courts is lack of resources.


Association of Family and Conciliation Courts
AFCC-CA Annual Conference
The Challenge of Diminishing Resources in Family Law:

A Clear and Present Danger to Our Children.
February 12-14, 2010

“OUR children???”  These are the professionals deciding the futures of children.  The parents are not necessarily participating, representing, nor their attendance solicited in this conference.  I take issue with calling others’ children “our” children. ”

{{I am going to highlight the words “high-conflict” and “parental alienation”}}

Rhonda B. Barovsky, LCSW earned her Master’s Degree in Social Work in 1982.  Before working at Family Court Services she worked at two different shelters for battered women, at San Francisco Rape Treatment, and was the Director of the San Francisco Juvenile Sex Offender Treatment Program, which she founded in 1986.  Ms. Barovsky worked at the Contra Costa County Family Court Services for nine years and was the Director of the San Francisco Family Court Services in 2001 before starting her private practice.

Lynette Berg Robe is a certified family law specialist, certified by the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization, in private practice in Studio City, California. She is a member of the Board of AFCC California, and she has served on the Family Law Executive Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association since 1998. She also served on the State Bar Family Law Executive Committee for three years from 2006-2009 and was editor of the Family Law News during 2007-2008. A graduate of UCLA Law, where she served on the law review, she offers services in her law practice in all aspects of marital dissolution, paternity matters, premarital and other agreements, including mediation and collaborative law.

Steven F. Bucky, Ph.D.
California School of Professional Psychology / Alliant International University San Diego
(1972 – present)

Steven Bucky, PhD, is a full professor, the Director of Professional Training, Chair of the Ethics Committee, Executive Director of the Addictions Institute and was the Interim System wide Dean at the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University.

Dr. Bucky was on California Psychological Association’s (“CPA”) Board of Directors from 1996 to 2000, on CPA’s Ethics Committee from 1990 to 1997, Chair of the annual convention from 1999-2000 and was President of CPA in 1997. He is President/Chairman of the Board of the McAlister Institute, which consists of twenty programs throughout San Diego County that focus on the treatment of alcohol and other drug problems of women, their children and adolescents.

{{I am again reminded of the 10-year Kaiser/CDC study, (see http://www.acestudy.org) which found, astonishingly at the time (ending around 1998?), that among the major causes of obesity were “adverse childhood events” (trauma), including physical and emotional abuse.  Stop the abuse, may help stop the addictions, to food or other substances.  There are REASONS people abuse things, or each other…To this day, they are still analyzing hippocampus size of PTSD and non-PTSD kids and declaring, (WHAT insight! ) that it actually affects their learning.  Ya THINK??  Ya THINK this may relate to some ADD or ADHD??  While that analysis is OK, and I suppose very informative, I think that stopping whatever is CAUSING the long-term trauma (as opposed to analyzing its effects) ought to be a higher priority.  And I think that either witnessing a mother being abused, and then jerked from her custody to that of the father — OR vice versa (which happens also) and then being repeatedly interviewed by experts trying to re-unify this family (per social policy, above — I think that THAT might be traumatic.}}

Dr. Bucky has published more than 150 papers, presented at major conventions such as the American Psychological Association and the California Psychological Association and has edited the book The Impact of Alcoholism.

Dr. Bucky is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Silver Psi Award and the Distinguished Service Award from the California Psychological Association. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and of the San Diego Psychological Association.

Dr. Bucky also maintains a private practice that focuses on children, adolescents, families, substance abuse, forensics, and the assessment and treatment of professional and college athletes.

Dr. Bucky is a consultant to California ’s Board of Psychology, Medical Board, Board of Behavioral Sciences, and the Attorney General’s office, has consulted with the District Attorney’s office, the US Attorney’s office, the City Attorney and numerous attorneys who specialize in the defense of mental health professionals. Dr. Bucky is also a consultant to the NFL, the San Diego Chargers, and the Athletic Department at San Diego State University

Paula Savage Cohen is a senior attorney in the family law unit of Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles where she has worked since 1995. She coordinates the Domestic Violence Clinic at the Long Beach Courthouse, which offers free legal services and representation to victims of domestic violence. Paula counsels clients in all areas of family law with a focus on domestic violence, child custody and child abduction. Paula just completed a 3-year appointment to the Family Law Executive Committee of the State Bar of California. She received the 54th District “Woman of the Year” award (2006) from Assembly Member Betty Karnette.

Honorable Judith Craddick was admitted to the Bar in 1980.  In 1998 she was appointed to the Contra Costa County Superior Court by Gov. Pete Wilson.  From 1980 until 1986 she was an associate at a law firm specializing in defense of medical malpractice litigation.  From 1986 until her appointment to the bench, Judge Craddick was a principal and managing attorney at the same law firm Craddick, Candland & Conti.  Judge Craddick worked on the Family Law bench for seven years, six years as the Presiding Judge and five years as the Presiding Judge, Post-conviction Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Court.

{{for another discussion of the impact of specialized courts — see justicewomen.org}}

Leslie M. Drozd, Ph.D. is clinician, teacher, researcher, and forensic expert with expertise in issues related to child custody including partner violence, alienation, substance abuse, and attachment. She has written a myriad professional books, chapters, and articles, and is the founding editor of the international peer-reviewed Journal of Child Custody. She has served on advisory councils for the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. {{NCFCJ, well-funded, out of Reno, Nevada.  Information resource.  They have articles disputing PAS from a prosecutorial standpoint….}}  Dr. Drozd performs custody evaluations, co-parenting therapy, parenting coordination, reunification therapy, and expert consultations to attorneys.

Sandra Etue has been a Family Law practitioner in Woodland Hills, for over 11 years. In addition to her representation of Family Law litigants, numerous Judges throughout Los Angeles County have appointed Ms. Etue as Minor’s Counsel, in high-conflict custody disputes. Ms. Etue believes it is important for all Minors’ Counsel to understand the developmental stages of children and to keep current with the psychological research in the area of custody and visitation. Ms. Etue is also a trained Family Law mediator.

Judith R. Forman
Listed in: Best Lawyers in America; Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers; Southern California Super Lawyer, 2004-2008; Top 50 Female Super Lawyers, Southern California, 2005-2008; Top 100 Los Angeles County Super Lawyers, 2006-2007.

Author: “The Impact of Parental Alcoholism and Related Substance Abuse Issues in Custody Determinations,”; “The Effect of Parental Alcoholism in Custody Disputes,” Los Angeles County Bar, Family Law Symposium Books, 1992-1993; “Force of Habit,” Los Angeles Daily Journal, July 27, 1995; “Copyright Custody,” Los Angeles Daily Journal, Nov. 30, 1995; “Identifying and Dividing Intellectual Property: Practical Considerations at Marital Dissolution,” Aspen Family Law Update (Aspen Law and Business, New York City, 1999).

Co-Author with Patricia Phillips: “Custody and Support of Children,” California Transactions Forms: Family Law (Westgroup, 1998).

Stephen Gershman’s practice was founded in 1984 and is limited to family law including custody litigation, domestic violence, dissolution, paternity and complex property and financial issues in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. Represent men and women with extensive experience in domestic violence defense including cases with accompanying criminal charges. Custody matters include experience with move aways and children with special needs. I work with and make use of mental health professionals in several areas of my practice.

Albert R. Gibbs, Ph.D., is a psychologist practicing in Los Angeles County. He earned his Ph.D. in 1976 from the California School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles and is currently director of Co-Parents Solutions providing divorce and co-parent education classes. He is a frequent lecturer on co-parenting issues.

Commissioner Reva G. Goetz was appointed to the bench in November 1991. She sits in Department 9, one of three Probate Departments, in the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles. Her calendar consists of Conservatorships, Guardianships, Trust, and Estate matters. Previously she sat in a Family Law assignment for 5 ½ years. When to the bench, Commissioner Goetz was a Deputy District Attorney assigned to the Major Fraud Unit. Prior to practicing law, Commissioner Goetz worked as a Financial Analyst and Accountant. Commissioner Goetz received her law degree from Whittier Law School where she was an Editor on the Law Review.

Diane M. Goodman is a partner in the law firm of Goodman & Metz in Encino. She received her J.D. from the University of La Verne School of Law in 1984. Ms. Goodman is a family law practitioner, with an emphasis on representing the gay and lesbian client. Ms. Goodman has handled many child custody and adoption matters in the Los Angeles and surrounding areas. Ms. Goodman is President of the Academy of California Adoption Lawyers/Academy of California Family Formation Lawyers. Ms. Goodman volunteers at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center Legal Clinic. Ms. Goodman served as a commissioner on the Los Angeles City Commission on the Status of Women from 1980 – 1990. Ms. Goodman is also a member of Congregation Beth Chayim Chadashim, American Civil Liberties Union, Lawyers for Human Rights and the Los Angeles County Bar Association.

Scott Gordon is a Commissioner with the Los Angeles County Superior Court. He is currently assigned to the Family Law Department where he presides in Department 88. Prior to his election to the Los Angeles Superior Court, Mr. Gordon served with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for sixteen years and as a police officer and detective for the Santa Monica Police Department for eight years.

  • While a deputy district attorney Mr. Gordon served in a variety assignments including: Central Trials, Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Division, Stuart House, Special Investigations and the Stalking and Threat Assessment Team.
  • Mr. Gordon has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law for Southwestern University School of Law for the past fourteen years. He teaches Trial Advocacy, Advanced Criminal Procedure, Forensic Evidence, and the Criminal Response to Terrorism Seminar.
  • Mr. Gordon was named “Prosecuting Attorney of the Year” by the Los Angeles Bar Association, “Humanitarian of the Year” by the Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women and received the “Excellence in Teaching Award for 2003” from Southwestern University School of Law.
  • In 1997, Commissioner Gordon served as a Legal Expert for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Netherlands.
  • His first book, Shadow Enemies: Hitler’s Secret Terrorist Plot Against the United States, was recently published by Lyons Press.

Dianna Gould-Saltman is a certified family law specialist, first certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization in 1992. She has been selected as a Los Angeles Magazine Super lawyer numerous times and named as one of the Top 50 Woman Lawyers in Southern California twice. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. She has been active in the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts for many years and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Parent organization. She has served on the Los Angeles County Bar Association Family Law Section Executive Committee since 1997, was Chair 2004-2005 and now serves as a chair emeritus. She has been a frequent lecturer for continuing education of the bar at many events. She has written extensively for family law publications and currently serves as an editor for the Journal of Child Custody.

Elise Greenberg has dedicated her legal career to the practice of dependency and family law. Since 1996, she has represented thousands of children in cases of divorce and other complex custody issues arising in paternity, adoption, and guardianship disputes, frequently serving as minor’s counsel. She also has extensive experience in representing children in extra-judicial arenas such as the LA Unified School District, the California Department of Developmental Services, and the Department of Child & Family Services. She was a co-founder of the Birthday Project, which raises funds from corporations and individuals to celebrate the birthdays of children in foster care. She received her Juris Doctor from DePaul University College of Law in Chicago.

Daniel Harkins, Esq. was admitted to the Bar in 1981.  He has been practicing Family Law since 1982.  He has a lot of experience with complex litigation, is frequently appointed by the Court to represent minor children, and has led seminars educating attorneys who are appointed to represent children.  He serves as a Special Master/Referee, and has sat as Judge Pro Tem in CCC Superior Court.   Daniel Harkins has been president of the Family Law Section of the CCC Bar Association.

Carol Hirshfield is a Licensed Psychologist with over 25 years experience working with children, adults and their families on both the East and West Coasts. She has special expertise in child development, populations with special needs (such as learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, developmental disabilities, and autism), and services for families who are engaged in high conflict divorce.  Her private practice in West Los Angeles includes the following: psychotherapy and family therapy, social skills groups – for children ages 8-15, Collaborative Divorce & Custody Mediation, and teaching Co-Parenting for Divorce (COPE) – a course for parents. She is especially interested in helping children navigate the difficulties of living with separated/divorced parents, and her high conflict divorce work is done in that context.

Dr. Hoppe has been using psychological tests as part of his own and others’ comprehensive child custody evaluations. He has tested some four to five thousand individuals involved in high conflict custody evaluations for dozens of other custody evaluators.  Since 1987 he has compiled average scores of test results of custody litigants on several of the most widely used psychological tests. These results comprise the largest known database of different personality measures done on the same custody litigant.  He has spoken about the use of tests and these custody norms in comprehensive Custody evaluations since the 1980s and has disseminated the average scores on tests at national professional meetings since 1993.  Dr. Hoppe was trained in Child Psychology as a Post Doctoral Fellow of the National Institute of Mental Health in Child psychology.  He is member of the International Psychoanalytic Association as well as national and local psychological associations.

Karen Horwitz is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the South Bay of Los Angeles, California. She has a private psychotherapy practice in which she specializes in working with children ages 4 and up as well as with couples and families. She also works as a Parenting Shadow and Therapeutic Monitor. She does co-parent counseling and child custody mediation. She trained in “The Mindful Parenting Program,” at the Maple Counseling Center in Beverly Hills and holds certificates in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy for both adults and children from the Psychoanalytic Center of California.

Mr. Jenkins is an attorney whose practice emphasizes family law issues. Known
for his encyclopedic knowledge and easygoing demeanor, Mr. Jenkins spent five
years as a research attorney prior to bringing his estimable skills to private
practice. Mr. Jenkins has extensive experience as a litigator and has been
instrumental in the drafting of family codes for Indian tribal courts throughout the

Honorable Judge Juhas was appointed to the Los Angeles Superior Court in 2002 and has sat in family Law since then (for 7 years, i.e.).  He is the assistant Supervising judgefor family law in LA County.  He currently sits on several committees
for the Administrative Office of the Courts, including the Elkins Family
Law Task Force.  He has taught on several occasions for the Center for
Education and Judicial Research, the Los Angeles County Bar Association
and AFCC.  He currently sits on the AFCC-CA board

{{I’ll just flat-out say this.  That’s a serious conflict of interest! What did he do before this?}}

Judge Wendy L. Kohn was appointed to the Los Angeles County Superior Court in 2003 and has presided over a family law courtroom for six years. She is currently assigned to the Northwest District in Van Nuys, CA. Prior to her appointment to the bench, she worked as an arbitrator and mediator (with an emphasis on securities industry disputes), as a volunteer attorney for Bet Tzedek Legal Services, as General Counsel for a local certified public accounting firm, and as a business, estate planning and probate attorney in private practice. Judge Kohn received her law degree from San Fernando Valley College of Law, and her Masters in Dispute Resolution from Pepperdine Law School.

Alyce LaViolette, MS, MFCC is a pioneer in the field of partner violence. She has worked with battered women since 1978, with six of those years in the Long Beach Women Shelter. In 1979, she developed Alternatives to Violence, one of the first programs in the country to work with men who abuse women in intimate relationships and also one of the first men’s programs to originate as a shelter program. Ms. LaViolette developed the first domestic violence training program for the Los Angeles Department of Probation and provided that program statewide. She has also developed training programs for the Los Angeles and Orange County Departments of Children and Family Services. She is a frequently requested conference and keynote speaker both nationally and internationally. She has consulted with the Japanese Government on the creation of domestic violence policies.

S. Margaret Lee, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist whose work focus is providing services to divorcing families. Dr. Lee performs custody evaluations, custody mediation, co-parent counseling and expert consultation to attorneys. Dr. Lee has done research regarding psychological testing in child custody evaluations. Dr. Lee is a frequent presenter at conferences in the area of psychology/family law.

Renee Leff, MFT, JD is both a Juris Doctor on Law and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She is also Board Certified as a Diplomate-Fellow in Forensic Science. In addition to providing psychotherapy for individuals in transition, her specialties are pre and post divorce issues, including custody/visitation, parent-child re-unification, and blended families. She is a former child custody evaluator and currently co-creates parenting plans for custody arrangements with couples undergoing divorce. She coaches high conflict couples and individuals undergoing divorce and child custody evaluations. Additionally, she offers court mandated education, privately or in groups, for high conflict couples with respect to co-parenting skills. She also provides group psychotherapy experience for children and adults of high conflict divorce. Ms. Leff also works as a team with attorneys, and she treats people undergoing the depression, anxiety, and other psychological components that arise from legal cases: e.g., sexual harassment cases, employment issues, family law issues and personal injury cases. She has a private practice in West Los Angeles, Tarzana, and Woodland Hills California, where she treats individuals, couples, and families from an attachment, inter-subjective, and relational theoretical perspective. Ms. Leff achieved her undergraduate degree from California State University at Los Angeles, her Masters Degree from Phillips Graduate Institute, and her Juris Doctor Degree from Southwestern University College of Law.

{{Phillips Graduate Institute appears to exist to support this field; it just happens to be one that I checked; not to make a big point about Ms. Leff, but to illustrate who some of the institutes are…}}

Phillips Graduate Institute is a graduate school based in Encino, California. It provides graduate education in family therapy, art therapy, and human relations. In the 1950s its founders, Clinton E. Phillips, Ph.D., and David Jansen, D.Min., had pioneered the application of family systems theory and the initiation of family therapy at the American Institute of Family Relations. In 1971 they founded the California Family Study Center which, in 1992, was renamed in Dr. Phillips’ honor.

It is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC). It has trained more than 3,000 family therapists, and currently has 322 students.

Its Counseling Center has helped over 30,000 families reach a higher level of functioning and lead more productive lives. A center for organizational and business consulting is under development.

It also was recently on probation as to accreditation with the WASC (above):

At its meeting on February 18-20, 2009, the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities acted to place Phillips Graduate Institute on Probation. Probation is imposed when an institution has been found to have serious issues of noncompliance with one or more of the Commission Standards. While on Probation, the institution is subject to special scrutiny and any new site or degree program is subject to review through WASC’s substantive change process.

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges is one of seven regional accrediting commissions and is recognized by the United States Department of Education. This statement has been reviewed and approved by the institution.
March 5, 2009

She has completed the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy and Advanced Program at the Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis in Los Angeles. She is the past president of the San Fernando Valley Chapter of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists; an adjunct faculty member of Phillips Graduate Institute and California State University, Northridge; and a board member of the of the Los Angeles Collaborative Family Law Association. She is also a member of the Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley Bar Associations.

Honorable Thomas Trent Lewis, Judge Los Angeles County Superior Court, Certified Family Law Specialist, State Bar of California, Fellow American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and Vice President-AFCC- California Chapter.

{{Might be a good time to point out here:  A link on my blogroll to right, if you probe far enough, shows that “certified Family Law Specialist” is practically synonymous with “not much training in domestic violence required, and next to none in child abuse.”}}

Anne Lintott, LMFT, is a mediator, evaluator, and licensed psychotherapist, working for the Superior Court of California, Los Angeles , in Family Court Services. Anne has 16 years of experience in working with parents, children, and families dealing with separation and/or divorce issues, with expertise in facilitating parents in conflict management, child development education, and in addressing communication and co-parenting strategies. Anne is also a parent educator, and has taught “Parents and Children Together” and “Parenting Without Conflict” for several years. Anne also is in private practice as a psychotherapist and consultant in Los Feliz , California .

Mary Elizabeth Lund, Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from UCLA, did a postdoctoral fellowship at University of Cambridge, England, {{very prestigious..}}  where she did research on divorce and children.  She started a mediation and divorce therapy practice in 1985.  In 1990 was chosen by Los Angeles Superior Court judges to do custody evaluations.  She has been doing collaborative law cases for the last seven years.  Her articles include original research and theory on effects of divorce on children, parental alienation, divorced fathers, custody evaluations, and mediation training. She trains incoming California Family Law judicial officers and is on the editorial board of the Journal of Child Custody.
{{They cannot require sitting judges to receive much training.  Whatever she trains them in likely WILL include “parental alienation.” I recently searched a Library’s LINK+ system (interlinking libraries, I think including out of state) and there is plenty of training on parental alienation going on in this field, including among “CEB” — continuing education of the bar.  There were about 6, at least, articles by the (oft discredited, self-published, and he already committed suicide) Richard Gardner. It’s alive and well for sure, and is a hot topic of debate outside this venue.  You couldn’t tell, from the speakers list…}}


Karin Manger is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has more than 25 years of experience working with children and families. Prior to joining Family Court Services in 1991 as a child custody evaluator, she was the Program Director of the Aviva Center, a residential treatment program for adolescent girls and the Clinical Director of the Germaine Lawrence Intensive Residential Treatment Program in Massachusetts. She has expertise in working with children and adults with a wide range of psychiatric disorders, as well as situational reactions. She has conducted over 700 child custody evaluations, both full and solution focused, and has taught the Parenting Without Conflict Program. Currently, she maintains a small private practice in West Los Angles.

She also provides education groups for parents of children facing social and developmental challenges.

Diana Mercer, Esq. is an Attorney-Mediator and the founder of Peace Talks Mediation Service in Los Angeles, CA. (www.peace-talks.com). A veteran litigator she now devotes her practice solely to mediation. She is the co-author of Your Divorce Advisor: a Lawyer and a Psychologist Guide You through the Legal and Emotional Landscape of Divorce (Fireside 2001) and When Divorce Works (Penguin 2010). She’s an Advanced Practitioner Member of the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) and is admitted to practice law in California, New York Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and before the Supreme Court o f the United States.

Forrest “Woody” Mosten is a collaborative attorney, mediator, and author who provide training to professionals in workshops and seminars around the world. As a Certified Family Law Specialist who handles matters involving substantial assets, delicate parenting issues, and high family conflict, he never goes to court. He is the author of four books, Collaborative Divorce Handbook (2009, Jossey Bass), Mediation Career Guide (2001, Jossey Bass), Unbundling Legal Services (2000, ABA) and Complete Guide to Mediation (1997, ABA) and numerous articles. He is Editor of the Family Court Review’s Special Issue on Collaborative Practice to be published in April, 2011 and he is recognized internationally as the “Father of Unbundling..” He can be reached at http://www.MostenMediation.com.

Amy Neiman, CFLS received an undergraduate degree from San Francisco State University, and received her juris doctorate degree from the University of California at Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law in 1985. Ms. Neiman is a certified Family Law Specialist and has been practicing in the area of family law for close to 20 years. She currently works almost exclusively as minor’s counsel in high conflict custody proceedings. Prior to practicing in the area of family law, Ms. Neiman was a civil litigator at Latham & Watkins and Folger & Levin.  She also worked extensively in the area of art law, emphasizing public art destruction.

Nancy W. Olesen, Ph.D. graduated in psychology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She teaches, researches, and works in private practice, with a particular emphasis on child abuse and neglect, custody and access disputes and the interface between clinical and forensic psychology. She has collaborated on a number of professional articles about custody evaluation, alienation and domestic violence and has served on national advisory councils for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.

Judge Amy Pellman is a Judge for the Los Angeles County Superior Court and is currently assigned to a family law trial department at the Stanley Mosk courthouse in downtown Los Angeles. Prior to her appointment as a judge in 200 , she was elected a Commissioner in July 2005. During her tenure as a lawyer, Judge Pellman was a nationally recognized advocate for children’s rights. She served as the Legal Director for the Alliance for Children’s Rights for over five years, a nonprofit legal organization devoted to providing free legal services to children living in poverty. She received the esteemed Child Advocacy Law Award in 2003 from the American Bar Association. Prior to joining the Alliance for Children’s Rights, Judge Pellman spent seven years at Dependency Court Legal Services serving a senior trial attorney and appellate counsel representing children in foster care. She has authored numerous articles on issues related to children from a training manual for new judges and lawyers to a law review article addressing the complexity of planning for children in foster care. Judge Pellman received a Juris Doctorate from City University of New York Law School, which has a commitment to train lawyers interested in public interest and public service.

William Spiller has been involved in representing children for over 15 years. He has been a frequent lecturer at continuing education programs for minor’s counsel and family law issues. He has also served as a referee for the Los Angeles Superior Court of California Juvenile Court for over ten years. A member of AFCC and the National Association of Counsel for Children, Mr. Spiller also serves as a mediator.

Kyle Pruett, M.D. is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Nursing at the Yale School of Medicine’s Child Study Center, where he received the Lifetime Distinguished Teaching award. He has been in the private practice of infant, child and family psychiatry since 1974. As president of Zero to Three: The National Center for Infants, Toddlers and their Families, he headed one of the nation’s most prestigious multi-disciplinary training programs for infant/family professionals. Both clinician and scholar, Dr. Pruett conducted a landmark study, which demonstrated the powerful, positive impact which early care giving by fathers can have on a young child’s social and intellectual development. Dr. Pruett’s writings include the classic The Nurturing Father, winner of the American Health Book Award, and the more current Fatherneed: Why Father Care is as Essential as Mother Care for Your Child and Me, Myself and I: The Child’s Sense of Self, which won the Independent Book Publisher’s Award. He makes frequent contributions to national and international print and electronic media, and television appearances, serves as consultant to Sesame Workshop, was chosen by Peter Jennings to co-host the Children’s Town Meeting on ABC News the Saturday after 9/11, and by Oprah Winfrey to co-host with her the award winning video for new parents, “Begin With Love”.

Marsha Kline Pruett, Ph.D., M.S.L., is the Maconda Brown O’Connor Professor at Smith College and School of Social Work. Dr. Kline Pruett has trained legal and mental health professionals throughout the country, and served as commentator on radio and television news. She has more than twenty years of clinical experience with individuals, couples, families, and children, and has been trained in both Family Therapy and Divorce Mediation. Nationally noted for her research regarding child adjustment to divorce, joint custody, school interventions, and work/family conflicts, Dr. Kline Pruett has written over 50 articles, chapters and reviews, has co-edited two books, and is the co-author of Your Divorce Advisor: A Lawyer and a Psychologist Guide You through the Legal and Emotional Landscape of Divorce (2001). Her new book on co-parenting, written with her husband, will be released in September 2009. She trains lawyers, judges, and mental health professionals in family law topics related to father involvement, young children, parental conflict, and child adjustment to family transition.

Jane Shatz, Ph.D., practices in Beverly Hills, California, specializing as a custody evaluator, mediator and parenting plan coordinator. She is past president of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts California Chapter. She was an assistant professor of psychology at University of Wisconsin, a lecturer in psychology at U.S.C. She has numerous publications including Shatz, J.E. and LaViolette, A. (1998), “For Our Children: Helping Parents Help Their Kids: A 12 Week Curriculum for Never Married, Separated or Divorced Parents Where Domestic Violence Has Been an Issue.”

Lynn Rosenfield, LCSW brings 30 years of clinical social work experience, specializing in individual, couple and family therapy and the treatment of divorce issues, to her private practice in Los Angeles. She first became involved in alternative dispute resolution 25 years ago, when she developed and coordinated a divorce mediation program for Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles. Since 1990, she has been a mediator with Pulling. Together Mediation Center, a partnership she shares with an attorney and a Rabbi. She specializes in divorce issues in all aspects of her work: as a psychotherapist, mediator,
collaborative law coach, reunification therapist and consultant. Lynn is an active member of LAWCDP (Los Angeles Westside Collaborative Divorce Professionals, LACFLA (Los Angeles Collaborative Family Law Association, IACP (International Academy of Collaborative Professionals) and the California Society for Clinical Social Work. She is an adjunct faculty member of Smith College School for Social Work. You can visit her website at http://www.lynnrosenfield.com.

Leslie Ellen Shear, J.D., CFLS.
Ms. Shear is a graduate of UCLA School of Law and admitted to the California Bar in 1976 and maintains her practice in Encino, California. A frequent lecturer in custody matters, she has been involved in a number of high-profile custody cases over the years – most recently, Marriage of LaMusga and Marriage of Seagondollar.

Dr. Simon is a forensic and clinical psychologist with over 25 years of experience
as an evaluator, mediator, reviewer and litigation consultant and therapist and.
Dr. Simon’s professional work focuses exclusively on the issues of divorce and
co-parenting. He is current authoring two books on divorce – one dealing with
trial consultation and expert review in child custody litigation and the other on the
unique issues of remarriage and second divorce.

Tamar Springer, LCSW, is a psychotherapist, mediator and parent educator in private practice in Los Angeles, California. Tamar formerly trained in and worked for the Superior Court of California, in Los Angeles, as a family mediator and parent educator. Tamar works with parents and families in developing effective communication and conflict management skills, as a co-parenting counselor, and as a supportive and educational resource during the separation and divorce process. Tamar is a frequent lecturer on clinical topics to both professionals and laypersons and was a featured speaker at the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists’ (CAMFT) Annual Conference in May 2008.

Dr. Matthew Sullivan earned his Ph.D. in 1985 from the University of Maryland. He is currently a licensed Psychologist in private practice in Palo Alto, California providing psychological services and specializing in child forensic Psychology



Written by Let's Get Honest|She Looks It Up

December 16, 2009 at 5:11 pm

3 Responses

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  1. I was recently massacred in a custody battle for my 6 year old daughter.

    The following is a modification of what I posted on

    Convicted child molesters have more access to their children than I do.
    I am completely alienated from my 6 year old daughter.
    All calls and letters are intercepted, and I have no visitation.
    The mother completely alienated her older children from their father for 15 1/2 years in the same way.
    Judge Stovall punished me with over 20% child support, + attorney fees as child support.
    She inconsistently ruled on motions, laws, or rules to favor the mother.
    My lawyers repeatedly complained that she favored the mother.
    For 3 years, I pleaded for a trial or in some way, to present a case.
    Despite 3 years of hearings, Rule 11’s, hundreds of emails, letters, and conversations, Judge Stovall refused to compel the mother to provide discovery, yet granted the opposing lawyer 4 trial continuances; twice on the grounds that discovery was incomplete; one of which was a preferentially set trial.
    She disregarded over 3 years and over 300, exhibited, provable charges of Contempt of Court against the mother.
    I paid the jury fee and insisted on a trial, which never came.
    When I received a copy of the Final Decree, it was significantly different, even opposite, to what had been read into the record.
    I refused to sign and adamantly insisted on a trial but Judge Stovall signed the settlement that she knew would totally alienate me from my daughter.
    Perjury, forged letters, falsified evidence, unsupported, inconsistent, and unchallenged false accusations, by the mother, CPS, et al., outweighed exhaustive undisputed facts, certified evidence, sworn statements, and objective/testable/verifiable documentation disproving the accusations and proving neglect and abuse by the mother.
    Even with the mother’s sworn statements of medically abusing/neglecting my daughter and with the doctors corroborating records of her mistreatment, Judge Stovall took my daughter from me and placed her into her mother’s sole custody.
    For months, pediatricians and specialists examined, x-rayed, diagnosed, and ordered treatment for my daughter, but the opposite diagnosis of an undereducated CPS worker prevailed over the professionals, with Judge Stovall.
    The mother continues to deliberately, medically mistreat my daughter’s diagnosed medical condition(s), neglects her dental care, and the high risk lifestyles exposes my daughter to diseases.
    For over 1/2 of my daughter’s life, she has been left in her mother’s violent and abusive home.
    Depositions, CISD records, Sworn statements, and other Certified and Certifiable evidence revealed a home with an AGGRAVATED SEXUAL ASSAULT FELON, wrist CUTTING, daily VIOLENCE, runaway teen, destruction, criminals, drug abuse (METH, COCAINE, XANAX, OXYCOTIN, etc), frequent police visits and a SEARCH WARRANT confiscated drug paraphernalia, multiple sex partners, multiple suspensions for drugs and violence, burglary, vandalism, shootings, disease, fighting, screaming, profanity, pornography (including BEASTIALITY), boys and men sleeping over, taking my daughter to sleep at men’s homes, and so much more.
    My daughter is taught obscene language and gestures.
    The mother provided SEXUALLY VIOLENT material and entertainment to her criminal teen children since they were young.
    The well paid mother has lived rent and utilities free for 3 ½ years but is deep in debt from undisclosed medical bills.
    My fees and expenses have exceeded $200,000.
    I will never, ever, ever give up trying to rescue my daughter.
    Can anyone please help my daughter?
    I can provide:
    the CPS investigation reports of drug abuse and more
    the psychological evaluations
    CISD records
    police reports
    myspace entries
    emails to the
    ad litem

    I have recorded nearly every contact with the mother, CPS, and many others.

    Please help my daughter.

    David Ball

    December 17, 2009 at 8:10 am

  2. […] AFCC Feb. 2010 Presenters — Family Law Vocabulary 101… « Let … What’s below is a re-paste (verbatim) of the same speaker bios from the upcoming 2010 AFCC conference stating that the CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER in our … These were the first & second results when I simply searched “Clear and Present Danger AFCC”   The 3rd result was this:   […]

  3. […] Afcc Feb. 2010 Presenters — Family Law Vocabulary 101… « Let […]

    {{LET’s GET HONEST comments on the link….}}
    Whoever “pingbacked” and linked to my site is apparently advertising here, and hasn’t yet picked up on what I think about the AFCC in general, or turning the courts into social engineering institutions. For further take on my “take,” see yesterday’s post (3/25/2010). The site she links to is cryptic and appears to consist of links to articles, and other advertising for the uninformed….including one about a missing UTAH Mom, apparently a churchgoing couple, who “disappeared.”

    Well, (with my added comments here), I’ll approve the link. Maybe someone will explore my site and begin some analysis of what’s going on here in the courts, and why despite all the professional expertise and advise, women are still going missing with children, and families are still sometimes dying on court-ordered exchanges while the supervised visitation monitors, mediators, parenting plan-mongers (and the taxes funding all this) just keep on going, going, going (and not suffering financially OR professionally, for it, either…. that I can see)

    “Attorney says husband of missing Utah mom complied with police request to provide DNA sample”
    By Jennifer Dobner, AP
    December 16th, 2009

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