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So, Who wrote the PBI-published Guide to Pennsylvania’s “New Child Custody Act”?

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Continued from my last post on, well, the publishing arm of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, and several topics. Part of being (who I am) is the tendency to Look Things Up. So, I started looking up those attorneys who helped explain the new custody law in Pennsylvania.

This 7,000 word post has a very detailed chart at the bottom (hard to produce, as to html) and has soaked up too much of my time (I am still typing in “html” compose mode, visually). I then probably made it a little worse by introductory prose paragraphs. BUT, I still maintain that it’s valuable information to consider — these points are not raised enough among parents. Feedback solicited (comments). One way to understand the post may be to FIRST scroll down to some of the charts (for a visual) then go back and read the explanations.

On the other hand, I don’t owe anyone anything on this matter. I did my own lookups, networking, collaboration, and beyond that — whatever gets posted is public service announcement. It’s not addressed to people who are comfortable with groupthink (on the courts), uninvolved or unconcerned about the significance of dysfunctional (etc.) courts on the country, or the presence about money-laundering possibilites that each such setup presents, or the undermining of representative government in favor of the therapeutic, over-diagnosing, medicating, institutionalizing, iatrogenic “Nanny State,” and not a very nice nanny, either.

Iatrogenic (from “Wikipedia” definition):

The term iatrogenesis means brought forth by a healer from the Greek ἰατρός (iatros, “healer”) and γένεσις (genesis, “origin”); as such, in its earlier forms, it could refer to good or bad effects. . . .The transfer of pathogens from the autopsy room to maternity patients, leading to shocking historical mortality rates of puerperal fever (a k a “childbed fever”) at maternity institutions in the 19th century, was a major iatrogenic catastrophe of that time. The infection mechanism was first identified by Ignaz Semmelweis.[2]


So, yes, Pennsylvania had a Custody Law Revamp passed in 2011


Jan. 2011 article (fairly substantial) in the Legal Intelligencer on the new custody law.
(more on how it happened, at bottom of this post). This post looks at a PBI release with many attorney authors (plus a single Judge, and some AFCC Psychologists, i.e., Arnold & Kasey Shienvold, Ph.D.’s) on the impact of the new custody law. See article for some issues it raises.

In fact, at the bottom of this post — something you probably won’t find anywhere else on the Internet — is a chart of the authors, with columns for “how AFCC ARE they?” and basic descriptors. While AFCC is hardly “The Skull & Bones” of Yale, it still is an association which many more judges and attorneys have adopted the mindset of, or may even be members of, without saying so on their website. In other words, its influences are felt – they are real — but not always mentioned directly.

While I did (or started) this for Pennsylvania — it really could and should be done for EVERY state as an ignorance-reducing movement for people who like to complain about judges, the courts, evaluators, GALs, etc. It has not been done (yet) for the primary reasons, as far as I can tell, is limited resources (i.e., you’re looking at a volunteer blogger, and family court veteran, which generally means, SOMETHING was stripped violently and suddenly (but in a process that still somehow manages to last for YEARS) out of one’s life — whether children, or assets // income, social support networks, or all of the above. So the people that are most motivated to report (or should be), are often least financially positioned to. (I’m working on it!).

And those who have funding, as nonprofits themselves, associating with other nonprofits for clout (just like AFCC does) and press, and a “day in the sun” — are less than motivated to examine the function of Nonprofits (per se) as a topic relevant to the family courts AT ALL. They too, would rather form coalitions and self-selecting groupings to run conferences, publish, attract followers, and proclaim theories.

RELEVANCE of answering the “How AFCC ARE they?“: Membership in AFCC, or agreement with and repeated references to its standards are throughout the family law system — yet the organization has been at many levels functioning as a monopoly (while private in association, conferencing, funding, etc.) trade association among my PUBLIC employees. It has a definite mindset towards matters which tend to bring custody cases to the courts to start with — domestic violence and child abuse, in particular. Or, co-parenting when there has been DV or CA. And yet the organization — for all its own self-promotion, dramatic conferences with flashy brochures — is under-reported in the MSM press, and is scarcely mentioned !!! by advocates involved in the stopping domestic violence and child abuse industry.

As such, few people have even ruffled their feathers, or disturbed the seas on which they operate, let alone questioned the practices AS an organization. VERY few, although definitely some have. And yet this organization — and the others that work under, or with it (much of my blog names and describes them, specifically) — is able to operate with more influence and less accountability by virtue of it being “under the radar” of people who need to know MOST about it — which is 1. parents, and 2. all taxpayers.

For example, this past weekend, a Battered Mothers Custody Conference was held in Washington, D.C. — rather than in upstate New York. It deals with the problem of coverup of abuse, and custody being transferred to batterers (see title of conference) throughout the country — and has been conferencing for ten years!!!

To date so far, I do not believe it has (from the platform, or via a workshop) ever called attention to any organization called AFCC which focuses on disseminating information on and reducing “Parental Alienation” — the favorite thing of the BMCC to conference against. At some point (certainly after a decade of conferencing), I believe a “why not?” question would be in order. Understanding by learning about them this organization (and a few others, such as NACC, CRC, etc.) and understanding the basic concepts behind welfare reform (TANF), transformation of the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) into a fatherhood grants-dispensing center, and that the religious element has involved themselves (esp. since 2001) in obtaining these grants — is VALUABLE VOCABULARY and presents a VALUABLE TOOLSET (WITH SKILL TO BE ACQUIRED BY USING THEM) — to noncustodial or “custodially-challenged” mothers who have serious and traumatizing life issues already from the violence and abuse they are either experiencing, witnessing, or reporting.

And yet this BMCC conference self-censors that vocabulary and those tools, helping suspend their audiences (followers/market niche at some level) in certain behaviors simply because they’re not taught alternate, empowering behaviors — which would also reveal what was censored in the conferences!! (And possibly cause attendance fallout).

Therefore, in my opinion, probably one of the most important factors to understand in an local state, or county jurisdiction, and especially under any “Unified Family Court” jurisdictions — is, how “AFCC” is the leadership?. It is a term which condenses a set of behaviors, viewpoints and practices into a single phrase, alerts others to the jargon used, and is a very wonderful education on how systems are changed to protect private interests. “My bad judge” does NONE of this, and leaves the targets or fallout of such “bad judges” — defenseless against ongoing repetition of the same issues.

And that can be told sometimes by their stating their allegiances, but moreso by the jargon, the tendency towards judicial and attorney activism which “just so happens” to match AFCC task forces on certain topics, and so forth. In short — it is very valuable information to have UP FRONT about individuals who very well may (as we speak/ while public is asleep-at-the-wheel on this matter) working to further rewrite and revamp “domestic relations” (and custody) laws, procedures, and practices.

On that chart, which it’s up to the interested readers to complete, two other columns are in place to note whether a given attorney was on the: Joint State Government Commission (Domestic Relations Advisory, for example, “Custody Subcommittee”) in Pennsylvania responsible for revamping the law. This is a site to bookmark (presently reviewing child protection laws). See:

Recent Publications
Domestic Relations Law: Legislation Recommended by the Advisory Committee on Domestic Relations Law 1993-2010

Its Final? Report

The second link is to the May, 2013 (current enough for you?) Report, and is self-explanatory. That this commission existed 1993-2010 shows it pre-dates welfare reform (1996), and as we know along with welfare reform came a renewed interest in (and funding for) promoting marriage and fatherhood, not to mention Access and Visitation grants streams: while not large, that stream was intended to set up/support programs that specifically, would increase the odds of a noncustodial father winning more custodial (access and visitation) from the mother, and with it consequences as to the amounts of child support, etc. So — it’s significant!

Who wants to lay down a bet that NOTHING remotely similar is happening in another State? (So, could anything learned from this example be useful elsewhere? Very likely….)…

Another, I recommended, though didn’t painstakingly write down (I already know this; and where to find it) would be who, as to judges attorneys or psychologists, was on a 2005ff “Changing the Culture of Custody” task force? of a Pennsylvania-Supreme-Court [Justice Max Baer, 4/24/2005)-initiated Commission on Judicial Initiatives. (phrasing approximate, links available). This 2005 Commission produced a May 24, 2007 Committee Report and Recommendation Note the URL shows it was posted here by the PA BAR. (slow-loading, at least it seems). So as an individual, you can look at what’s posted at that Commission (under Supreme Court) site and at the PA Bar site for “what’s coming down the road” before it arrives). This particular report has “AFCC” stamped all over it, both in leadership, by references, and by general symptoms of what AFCC is also promoting. For example,

Underneath that “Changing the Culture of Custody COMMITTEE” is naturally at least one SUBCommittee — such as the one on Parenting Coordination.
The membership (including some familiar names if you follow the topic) is listed as a footnote on page 1. This report (see URL) was posted at “Momjiananderer” firm’s web page. Both Momjian’s firm and Anderer are significant on the charts below.

There another task force, obviously a standing one, on Domestic Relations Procedural Rules Committee. This link tells both the membership, and when the committee broke off from Civil Procedural Rules:

The committee originated in 1984 as a section of the Civil Procedural Rules Committee and became a separate committee in 1987. In 1997, the committee’s title was changed to the Domestic Relations Procedural Rules Committee.

For those who are paying attention (nationally) the movement towards access visitation started ca. 1988, and of course any significant mid-1990s change in the family court system will likely have a relationship to welfare reform of 1996, which drastically altered the funding (federal/state) process, adding new streams of funding for certain practices — like counseling, supervised visitation, and parent education. These systems are resonant to each other, so procedural rules can be noted mandating parent education classes, for example, in local jurisdictions, and point to specific classes, i.e., how to drive business to one’s colleagues who were smart enough to set up businesses to match the available federal-to-state funding. (for example, Termini & Boyan’s “Parenting Coordination Central, with Termini being the PA connection….)

Committee Members:

Carol S. Mills McCarthy, Esq., Chair
David L. Ladov, Esq., Vice Chair
Vivian Appel, Esq., ex officio
Maria P. Cognetti, Esq.
Honorable Kathryn M. Hens-Greco (Allegheny County/Pittsburgh area.
Honorable Margaret Theresa Murphy
David J. Slesnick, Esq.
Ellen M. Sweeney, Esq.
Honorable Carol L. Van Horn
Ann G. Verber, Esq.

**Mentioned in a 2009 article highlighting mental health services in the courts). Note the mental health issues followed mothers’ experience of being in an abusive relationship including rape “a decade ago” (oldest child, 9 years old). (Personal story used to highlight court mental health options and practices).

These are things (Commissions and Advisory Task Forces in any state especially. also Round Tables, Rule changes, etc.) which, if the public would pay some attention to, many of their custody issues and problems might have been headed off at the gate, or at least some of the practices, these task forces and commissions would be on notice that the public is paying attention, and if they are going to ram through some revisions — it will be over certain objections.

The type of professionals who tend to actually cite AFCC in their public bios seem to be either those who are near the top (it lends credibility for sure if you’re at the TOP (on the Board) of a major, international nonprofit association of judges, attorneys, and mental health practitioners whose primary livelihoods are custody disaster cases — fixing them, or when necessary, creating some. The other type may be (I’ve noticed) are those who don’t have very much going from them BUT their association with this networking group.

The other significant factor of AFCC membership (or signs of indoctrination by the same) is that this organization has a LESS publicized (but word is now getting out) actual history of setting up “fail to stay (or even bother getting) incorporated subsidiary (in influence) membership-based organizations which specialize, at will, in one of the “created market niche professions” — for example mediation, ACR, ADR, Collaborative Law, and of course Parenting Coordination. So AFCC membership is significant, as are other things when it comes to family law viewpoints — such as, depending on the lifelong commitment to a certain religion — religion. Obviously certain religions have specific views about divorce per se, and about, ah, the role of mothers (definitely not “leadership” when it comes to a divorce).

File under:

  • Do you Know your Local and Statewide Attorney Leadership? How AFCC are they?
  • Do you know what’s the difference between an Institute, a Foundation, and a (Bar) Association?
  • Do you know what’s coming down the legislative reform pipeline (or legislation by procedure rules): AS it happens, BEFORE it happens, or are you a “What HAPPENED!?? I’m going to sue that GAL(/parent coordinator/custody evaluator/judge)?”** In fact, I’ll sue EVERYONE in the County Courthouse!#@##!!…”

**Which you probably can’t anyhow; see “Rooker-Feldman” which came up when someone tried to directly sue a Lackawanna County GAL recently. (simplified // more elegant….”The basic proposition that the lower federal courts do not have subject matter jurisdiction to review state court decisions….”).


If this is really not your “cup of tea,” scroll down to the table followed by my Lawyer-List-Links personalized, on-the-fly LGH “who are they?” lookups… Interesting stuff! However, concerned citizens ought to consider the CLE-Connection….

To review: The PBI (Pennsylvania Bar Institute) is registered as a corporation in Pennsylvania and has an EIN#. Its primary function seems to be providing continuing legal education classes (“CLE”) and otherwise educating the public. It is an “arm” of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and actually has more assets than the PBA. The Pennsylvania Bar FOUNDATION (so we have ASSOCIATION, FOUNDATION and INSTITUTE) is the 501(c)3 (it says) supporting the Bar Association, and also has an EIN#.

I was looking up and decided to post the authors of a comprehensive book on Pennsylvania’s New Child Custody Law, and checking for how “high-conflict” are they? — in short, what are the background, mindsets, and in general beliefsets of these teaching training attorneys (and one judge) who are going to coach the rest of the legal system (courtesy PBI press) on how to handle custody cases from now on. The idea is not to be complete, thorough and “the final word” but to point out — it’s a good idea to know “how AFCC is your leadership?” — because that tendency in an judge or an attorney is meaningful. So here’s the book they co-authored:

WHY NOW? Because the very out-of-character recent rule-change regarding Parent Coordination, and my having discovered that PBI book on “HiGh-Conflict Custody and Parent Coordination” put together by fraternal (+ the sisters) collegiality of Deutsch (AFCC/MSPP), Anderer, Anderer, Anderer, Deutsch, and a smattering of Judges including Harhut, plus Termini.

Then I saw how eager (almost salivating) the APA was to make sure that parenting coordination became entrenched at the superior court level, and how disappointed they were when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Domestic Relations Procedure Rules Committee, apparently, cut it short this past April. (see recent posts).

So, high on the webpage of the PBI was also:

Get the one book you need to skillfully represent your clients in custody cases. This book—written by some of Pennsylvania’s best family law professionals—gives practitioners at every level a comprehensive, useful resource. Plus, a detailed analysis of the new Child Custody Act, major issues of custody law and practice, and a long-term view of the future. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.

Never Underestimate the Network and Funding Influence of the Nonprofits!

Consider the Trade Association, and Nonprofits in the Legal Arena — Bar Institute, Bar Foundation, Bar Association (a 501(c)(6), and other very influential nonprofits around family court actions — such as the PCADV which got in one year $26 million of revenues mostly contributions. On the other hand, the PBI (approaching half that amount of revenue in 2011; $13.5 million — generated this much revenue mostly from program service revenues; contributions were only about $1,000. Again, PCADV is soaking up the contributions, and producing little program service revenue; the PBI is the opposite. (tax returns, below).

Meaning, PBI publishes and educations, most definitely (MCLE) but that’s hardly free. See last post on the cost of coaching judges and attorneys (and others) how to set up their nonprofits right!! ($499 a pop for top earners, like judges. Lower, for others….)

Think about it:

Interlaced, overlapping, and Interdisciplinary nonprofit who are not even government — they are Corporations, trusts or Associations (all tax exempt). Government doesn’t tax itself — so who bears the brunt of the taxation? (People coming through the courts???)

Thus, in this economic and influential-educating-funded-TAX-EXEMPT yet NON-GOVERNMENTAL NONPROFITs climate, Thinking about traditional representative government with elected members — isn’t going to cut the mustard any more. That tree parents have been barking up has more than one set of roots, interlocking branches, and overlapping mutual interests which may be closer with each other than with the subject matter (excuse me, “children, and families, and recalcitrant parents”) they deal with. After all, what do you think the word “interdisciplinary” actually refers to within the “Association of Family (and) Conciliation Courts”?

Language from AFCCnet.org re: the “provisional Washington Chapter.” Posted for the language, this is the picture frame of the family (and conciliation) court system these days….

The provisional Washington chapter of AFCC is an emerging [[sic]] interdisciplinary association of dedicated professionals who strive to serve the needs of children and their families within the various segments of the legal system. Members and leadership in our chapter arise from the combined contributions of judges and court administrators, attorneys, mental health professionals, mediators and and educators** in our field. [[WHOSE field?]] We seek to exchange ideas and review various methods and models currently in practice to promote the enhancement of our service delivery for the benefit of families throughout the state, including those in the metro Seattle and Puget Sound regions, Western Washington and Eastern Washington jurisdictions. We provide leadership and an interdisciplinary forum for communication, education and innovation among professionals and interested persons who are concerned about the legal process for resolving family disputes. Our Chapter is dedicated to employing and promoting best practices and collaboration among professionals involved in family court matters.

COMMENTS: In this world view — first of all, do you see the word “justice” or “rights” in there? (nope!). Do you see the Us/Them grouping? On THIS playground, there are the collaborating professionals (that role is taken). Now, if those are the practitioners, who has to (gets to?) play the role of the “practiced upon?” I mean, without someone to practice on, where would the practices, the practitioners, and “our field” be? And what issues are they handling — domestic violence, criminal assault and battery, kidnapping, abduction, molestation, stealing, fraud, stalking — criminal matters in the family context? NO — it says right there; though these and other matters surely may become “family matters” — the focus is on calling them “disputes” and ALL the above professionals are needed to resolve them. Shame on disputing parents for having disputes and needing someone else to break up the arguments and bring some sense to the world — right? That’s the word “interdisciplinary” in the words of the (failing-to-incorporate-consistently) expert professionals themselves.

This worldview and language change didn’t happen overnight. it took time, money and networking to become a “norm” infiltrating the fields mentioned above: “judges and court administrators, attorneys, mental health professionals, mediators and and educators.” At the bottom of this post, in lookups, I ran across a term called “High Fidelity Wraparound,” and the “Nineteenth Children’s Interagency Training Conference….Cross-System…Partnerships.” That’s the sign of the times. Separation of powers with a view to avoiding over-centralization of power in one source? No….this is therapeutic America. Time to dispense, and to practice. There are the practitioners (and their funders) — and there are the practiced upon. You can’t be both at the same time; they are different castes within the country. Therefore, it’s necessary to collaborate away from the practiced-upon lest they comprehend what’s up and put a stop to it. (??) Or run away, like Alanna Krause did long ago.

Without SEEING (becoming aware of) the role of NONPROFITS composed of PROFESSIONS THAT OVERLAP WITH HHS, LEGAL AND JUDICIAL, COURT-APPOINTED functions, this world isn’t going to make sense. However, seeing some of this will I believe reduce the “what-happened??” response mode of shocked at the loss of my human rights mode, and at least provide a framework for understanding more of how things work. I am going to post tax returns, EIN#s, and post a few notes.

[Posted Separately, as above, Here]

In summary

These nonprofits are still corporations; they have budgets, expenses, revenues, and at the end of the year, sasets. They take advantage of tax exempt status that wage earners do not have, and are able to attract funding (donations) because they are organized in this manner. And they seek to educate each other, educate the public, attract grants and public money, get a piece of the court-connected action, AND influence legislation in their favor. They also provide services, I’m sure — but the flavor of the service is definitely influenced by the power of the nonprofits. Individuals, unless they similarly organize and start to understand these organized influences (in the form of nonprofits, corporations, in other words) — do not have the same collective clout. If their voices are not promoted and participating — they will become subject matter, and unable to resist, from a sheerly financial and time standpoint.

Back to the Pennsylvania Bar Institute and its CLE Function:

Continuing Legal Education is important and has to happen. It should be obvious that lawyers and judges (I’m not sure why PSYCHOLOGISTS should be in the mix, but they now are) would be the ones to do such training — it’s very important that those doing the training, guidelines, etc. — be held to a strict non-conflict of interest policy.

To the extent that the membership of this organization AFCC is a driving and leading force — there is a conflict of interest. Why? Because, despite the reputation, it’s becoming clear there are financial and incorporation issues (lots of them) involved with the nonprofit. People know — but don’t feel able to deal with the scope of it, and so it simply goes on, year after year, and in state after state.

Seeing the authorship of a recent publication (guideline) for attorneys on the new Child Custody Act in Pennsylvania (not sure, but I believe “new” means as of about 2011) I immediately recognized about four people from AFCC, so simply went about looking up others. I’m sure there was a better use of my time, however it does put some information in the upstairs database (between my ears) for future reference.

I believe we should know who’s leadership within a state, and particularly interesting: are they openly highlighting their AFCC affiliation (i.e., may need the boost), or towing the party line, clearly an adherent, but not, er, saying so on the website. Then, it’s possible that family law itself is so highly influenced by that group that started years ago (and not in 1963 as it claims) in Los Angeles, operating illegally under the county EIN#, but as a private corporation, and from the county courthouse — that the two are hard to separate.

I know that people currently working in the field run the risk of being tarred and feathered if they “out” the situation, so why don’t we who have already lost SO much (like contact with our kids, etc.) through this programming — do the work for them. I mean, it’s pretty hard to disbar someone who’s not concerned with staying among the brotherhood of those who have passed the bar, and networked with them. Right?

Same thing if we are not existing and subsisting professionally on the federal dole as a nonprofit receiving grants AND as a civil servant — we may have a little more freedom of operation.

It’s a sad day when this type of lookup is necessary, but these are the legal and ideological flora and fauna to be dealt with.

In 2005, or so, a “Commission on Justice Initiatives / Changing the Culture of Custody” (task force, etc.) was set up by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. In 2007, the published this report, which I kept telling Scranton Political Times forum about — next time, pay attention to these commissions (and the procedure rules committees). However, here it is: and predictably, “parent coordination Is in Part I, Section J, Page 40. Looking at who is on the commission up front, I recognized of course Arnold Shienvold (Ph.D.) and Chester Harhut (the Honorable). Now that I’ve looked over the attorneys below, I recognize more of them as well (such as Maria Cognetti, The Hon. Katherine H.L. Platt, and The Hon. “Manny” (Emanuel) Bertin. I guess they are on first-name chatty basis while deciding the fates of the families within the state… Shienvold is, or was, President of AFCC, and his speciality is Psychology, not Law. of course it’s going to affect the report!

In 2006 — before Yates v. Yates (2008) established Parenting Coordination as the Court’s Prerogative, PBI put out this book, as I’ve now pointed out in two or three recent posts, and a page:

Parent coordinators in Pennsylvania : handling high conflict custody cases. [Library of Congress Catalog Link]

Author: Pennsylvania Bar Institute.
Publisher: [Mechanicsburg, Pa.] : Pennsylvania Bar Institute, ©2006.
Series: PBI (Series), no. 2006-4499.
Edition/Format:  Book : EnglishView all editions and formats
(not yet rated) 0 with reviews – Be the first.

Table of Contents, one more time, to highlight contributors:

Chapter# Title___________________________________________________ Submitted by/pg.
Chapter One High Conflict Couples: Who are they and what do we do about them? Robin M . Deutsch, Ph.D. 3
Chapter Two Guidelines for Parenting Coordination [AFCC] Stephen J. Anderer, Esquire

Honorable Jeannine Turgeon \31
Chapter Three Websites on Parenting Coordination Stephen J. Anderer, Esquire \65
Chapter Four Other Information of Parents [??] Stephen J. Anderer, Esquire..\77
Chapter Five Sample Orders, Agreement and Related Opinions – Pennsylvania Stephen J. Anderer, Esquire
Stipulation and Order for Parent Coordination Honorable Katherine B.L. Platt.. 83
Order: Cooperative Parenting Individual Program Honorable Chester T. Harhut
Ann Marie Termini..93
Stipulation and Order for Parent Coordination Honorable David N. Wecht..103

Chapter Six Sample Orders and Agreements – Other Jurisdictions Stephen J. Anderer, Esquire 183
Chapter Seven Statutes, Rules and Cases Related to Parent Coordination – Pennsylvania Stephen J. Anderer, Esquire. 229
Chapter Eight Statutes and Rules on Parent Coordination — Other Jurisdictions Stephen J. Anderer, Esquire.261


Get the one book you need to skillfully represent your clients in custody cases. This book—written by some of Pennsylvania’s best family law professionals—gives practitioners at every level a comprehensive, useful resource. Plus, a detailed analysis of the new Child Custody Act, major issues of custody law and practice, and a long-term view of the future. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.

The table of contents and other material is freely available (courtesy PBI also) on-line as pdfs.
Here’s the Table of Contents:

The table of contents shows who worked with whom on which chapter. For example, when you see a chapter that was authored by Shienvold, Shienvold and Anderer, you are reading an AFCC chapter in general (Custody Evaluations).


Chapter 1: Legislative History

This is presented in alpha order by last name, and each author has a biographical blurb telling where they worked, what they’ve published, and what kind of influence the hold in general that qualifies them to speak on these matters.

Note: Briefly scanning the 21 pp of single-spaced text, and (on first scan) only saw two (2) authors who referenced AFCC — and that’s Arnold and Kasey Shienvold. However, there’s plenty mention of (naturally) AAML (which conferences with AFCC) and other organizations which are off-shoots of it (it would seem, historically) — including ACR (Association for Conflict Resolution) and ADR (Alternate Dispute Resolution). Those also are trade-type nonprofits with a common goal, similar in part to the APA. There are many overlapping areas of mutual SELF-interest among these groups.

How much their policies overlaps with the best interests of children and families is a matter of debate. However, it’s kind of hard to debate with someone who has a far closer professional connection (in general, whether or not specifically) with judges who hold the power to incarcerate, deprive of access to one’s children, or to bankrupt — and have wielded that power to do so at times.

I felt it might be useful to show at least these very quick, very cursory lookups on my part, as someone familiar with the ideologies of the AFCC, to learn about the authors.

I just did click, and looked at the faculty.  So far, I see plenty of AFCC professionals listed.  In family law, membership or leadership in AFCC does matter…. Separately….

About the Authors – Impromptu

While the information I got from looking this up is now in my head, for general reference in further reading (and a few more “aha” moments), it might be more useful to others, for lookups, if the following column headings were considered:

Check yes/no — Attorney on Advisory Task Force which helped rewrite the laws? On “Changing the Culture of Custody” commission? Year they got the Bar? And, sorry to bring this up, but: Undergraduate or other background from conservative religious institution? Realizing PA is a “blue” state, and not all graduates of “Villanova” are going to be extra conservative, if the attorney’s background is all about church — sorry, that’s going to influence views on custody! This still has come up in a few cases.

Basically the table below is just an attempt to clean up the list somewhat. Mentally, I”d want to keep track (somewhat) of who’s been on which influential tasks forces — particularly any pushing you got it, parent coordination. Or obsessed with protecting children, and not at all, their parents, particularly if they are female parents. Or crusading to expand the local court-affiliated services (etc.).

IS “AFCC” actually mentioned? Is AFCC evident, but not mentioned?
I put up the JD column to indicate year, and how many came out of Villanova, Widener, a State System, or elsewhere. I put up Etc.1 and Etc.2 columns because it’s relevant if people have been helping write (highly positioned and interested in Advising on how to Rewrite) Domestic Relations law — don’t you think?

However, this post has taken FOREVER to write and format, and I’m not going to do any more minutia homework. The chart is to visualize a few items: First of all, many attorneys may be active in AFCC causes, or even conferences, without mentioning their affiliation (membership) on their public profiles. Many here seem to have been pushing parent coordination (an AFCC invention), and use the word “high-conflict” like a warm fuzzy blanket — without citing AFCC affiliation. Another field pushed hard by AFCC is Mediation. Yet Ed Blumstein, below, one of the original mediators, doesn’t mention AFCC membership or collaborating with them – yet that was an original “thing” of the organization. A 2006 publication exists with an article by a prominent (retired, I believe) California Judge (Leonard P. Edwards) crowing about the “Miracle of Mandatory Mediation (see p. 16ff)” as a force for good in the lives of parents (I have a blog in draft). That depends on perspective — in my life, it’s been a force for evil. It did pull off the “miraculous,” of turning, not water into wine, but a felony into a “dispute” and my children overnight motherless, after previously having helped strip off protection much needed.

There was a time when divorce contained fault provisions, and felonies, abandonment, and extreme mental cruelty were considered “faults.” Extreme mental cruelty is not what marriage is for and ought to remain a good cause of action for divorce, as should abandonment. What our children are now getting under this regime is simply the same behaviors, with a lid on the garbage can calling it “disputes” and forcing “mediation” with criminals, while the fatherhood promotion goes into prisons to recruit more participants in the custody process. All of this at public expense, and to the great rejoicing of the ultra-religious in the process; after all, who’s the boss of the truly “Christian” household?

Sorry about the opinionizing there — however it is factual and history that the promotion of mediation itself was an early AFCC agenda, and is not a “fait acompli,” leaving scores of ADR, ACR, and other professions well established, which is why inventing new ones already has the professional niche promotion system in place and fully established. As part of this process, it helps to have membership attorneys (or loyal to these causes) on task forces revising domestic violence rules, Chairing Bar Association Family Law Committees, etc.

Through looking up some of these attorneys, I learned about the “Joint COmmission on State Government” and its “Domestic Relations Advisory Task Force” which a Senate Resolution established in 1994 (note — same year as the VAWA was passed by Congress) and which met, and produced its first report in 1999. One of the attorneys below (Cognetti) was over the subcommittee on Custody. I have already made a note of the about 21 attorneys and several judges on there, however it’s not in my personal time budget to key it in for readers how many of them are also on the list. (Do have another post in draft). The public (non-lawyer, non-judge) input into the proposed legislation does NOT include any member of the public at-large on the advisory council. Why — aren’t we smart or educated enough to be heard? Or is there a real need to keep the deliberations off the radar?

I would, though recommend people look it up and write in, or notice who is (several are). Again, I don’t live in PA. I wonder how many other states have similar task forces, and how many of them are instrumental in getting laws changed to favor AFCC or other professional-friendly policies without significant input from the public. I would recommend the leadership of this Domestic Relations Task Force become “Etc.1” column for making a note of.

The last column, Law Firm Abbreviation — I only put in there after noticing it seems “Fox Rothschild” has more than one representative on there; it lets us know who among the people writing the PBI-published guide are also working in the same firms, or who have been mentored by membership at senior firms, etc.

So, in the interest of hitting the “PUBLISH” key (and moving on in my own, not independently wealthy, life), here’s the list. Again, this is not to discredit the expense and obviously hard work it takes to even complete law school and pass the bar. However — other professions, AND raising children is expense and hard work, a work of love — and shouldn’t be discredited either by those who had the opportunity and chose to become lawyers.

I’m not a web technician, and it took a long time and many revisions to html-detail this into table format. “Never again!” Hopefully the idea communicates that people ought to stay aware of when lawyers are lobbying for legal changes to benefit the professions, and how this is done. Better yet, WHEN this is done, to communicate to the legislators, you know what’s going on. I can assure you, almost no one in Scranton, Pennsylvania (home to Lackawanna County, the courthouse that got a nice FBI raid not too long ago) seemed aware of the out-of-state networking their local judges, GALs, parenting Coordinators, etc. were engaged in; it was so personal, that information was simply not processed. However, the information was spelled out, and now the opportunity does exist.

No. Cites AFCC? SOUNDS “AFCC”? NAMES College/
Etc.1 Etc.2 My Miscellaneous Lookups LawFirm


Cites Sounds David N. Hofstein, Esq JD 1 2 Hofstein Weiner & Meyer, P.C., Philadelphia LF
2# Cites Sounds Sandra L. Meilton, Esq. JD 1 2 Daley Zucker Meilton Miner & Gingrich, LLC, Lemoyne  [[Co-presenter with The Hon. Jeannine Turgeon (Dauphin County), see website]]


Cites Sounds Stephen J. Anderer, Esq., JD 1 2 Momjian Anderer LLC, Philadelphia [[See pp. on Parenting Coordinator, see yesterday’s post on PBI]]


Cites Sounds Mark R. Ashton, Esq. JD 1 2 Fox Rothschild, LLP, Exton  [[Note:  Doris J. Freed Inns of Court. Notice:  Members only… What are “Inns of Court?” Inns of Court modeled after British concept.  There’s a “Family Law Inns Alliance” (see list)

This basically spells “privileged informal access to judges, &/or wealth”  See “The Inns and Outs of Court” (Tulane Law) “Receptions, Retreats, and Exclusive Meetings Provide Opportunities for Privileged Attorneys to Discuss the Business of Litigation with Judges


Cites XXX Lewis Becker, Esq., JD 1 2 Villanova University School of Law, Villanova.  Doris Jonas Freed Inn of court [since 1994], presented on “High Conflict Custody:  Abduction, Alienation and Abuse” at ABA Family Law Plenary, Tampa FL 2000 (p. 5 in very full vita)  No mention of AFCC


Cites XXX Todd M. Begg, Esq. JD 1 2 Pollock Begg Komar Glasser & Vertz LLC, Pittsburgh  [[BA sociology & psychology 1986, Law 1989, doesn’t mention AFCC, but co-presented with Judith Wallerstein in 2003 on “Divorce and Human Development: Medical, Legal, and Psychotherapeutic interventions Faculty in conjunction with Guest Speaker Judith Wallerstein, PhD, 2003”  SuperAttorney.  The word “high-conflict” on bio site.  Might as well be…)


Cites XXX
Ed Blumstein, Esq. JD 1 2 Ed Blumstein Mediation Services, Philadelphia  [No mention AFCC; one of the earlier mediators, member of oldest marriage counseling group around (Council for Relationships):  “I created the first law school program in the US, ( 1994) in which, we trained (24 hours)and brought 3rd year law students in Phila Family court to mediate custody cases over a 14 week semester. I taught that course for 12 years.”  “A family mediator since 1982 and a mediation trainer since 1994, Ed was instrumental in establishing a mediation program in Philadelphia Family Court. For 12 years he was an adjunct instructor at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law, where he taught a clinical course in custody mediation.”  [[doesn’t mention AFCC. One of original mediators…]]


Cites Sounds Helen E. Casale, Esq. JD 1 2 Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudin & Schiller, P.C., Norristown  [[Rising Super-Star, 1994 Rutgers Law; Same-Sex/LGBT emphasis, “Amicable Divorce”


Cites Sounds Frank P. Cervone, Esq. JD 1 2 Support Center for Child Advocates, Philadelphia. Very well known, has made a lot of my posts (co-director National Children’s Law Network — see page to right.  Villanova Univ, LaSalle Univ, i.e., part of an international association; focus on protecting children, LaSalle, from Patron Saint of Teachers, esp. re: poor children] Obviously well known, active in adoptions.  Feb. 2013 was testifying (p. 123ff) before PA House of Reps/Children & Youth Committee Hearing on protecting children; “Advokids” recruits and trains lawyers to represent abused children.  It does seem significant the Catholic background in re: approach to adoption, single motherhood vs. feminism, etc.  No mention AFCC..]]


Cites Sounds Maria P. Cognetti, Esq., JD 1 2 Cognetti & Associates, Camp Hill (see program committee & other presenters at joint AFCC/AAML 2013 conference)..  Active leadership, VP of AAML, Chair of committee helping change PA custody laws, leadership.  Doesn’t mention AAFC (however AAML/AFCC often collaborate, AFCC helping sell her stuff]


Cites Sounds Mary Cushing Doherty, Esq. JD 1 2 High Swartz LLP, Norristown  (Cushing & Cognetti teaching on new custody law, which specificall encourages ongoing contact with both parents.  Amicable Divorce, Resume, Villanova Law, comes from Chicago, attorney family (father, 3 brothers), and (See Momjian ANDERERER), her first mentor was Albert Momjian.  (significance).  Momjians also a family of attorneys, looks like.

From her page, Community involvements, also note PBI Board:
~UNITE, Inc., Chair of the Board, 1988 – 2007; member since 1982
~St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church, Horsham, Pre-Cana counselor for more than 30 years
~Upper Dublin High School, adjunct instructor, Child Development II, since 1995

Publications & Presentations:
Ms. Doherty has been a Course Planner and Lecturer for the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers since 1992 and for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute since 1985. She also has been a Lecturer for the Pennsylvania Bar Association Family Law Section and Montgomery Bar Association since 1985. She has lectured on family law topics at many regional law schools including Villanova University School of Law and Widener University.


Cites Sounds Scott J.G. Finger, Esq JD 1 2 Hofstein Weiner & Levit, P.C., Philadelphia  [[Law degree only 2006, yet is Exec. Committee of Nicolas Cipriani Inn of Court already, i.e., gets to schmooze with judges..]


Cites Sounds Theresa Glennon, Esq. JD 1 2 Temple University Beasley School of Law, Philadelphia  [[Yale, focus on children, disability; see resume.  Also notice the multiple children’s rights groups (company) in Request to file Amicus, here. ]]


Cites Sounds Dawn K. Gull, Esq. JD 1 2 McCarthy McDonald Schulberg & Joy, Pittsburgh.  Undergrad from Assemblies of God private Christian “Evangel” University.  Translation:  Conservative Pentecostal (recently consolidated), since 1955.  See Hobby Lobby funding…Forbes #79,  “Biblical Billionaire,” etc.  fought Obama over contraception…


Cites XXX Darren J. Holst, Esq JD 1 2 Howett Kissinger & Holst, P.C., Harrisburg.  AFCC not mentioned, however I notice him teaching alongside Anderer, the Hon. Katherine Platt et al. (including in a “postponed!!” Parenting Coordination Course over at PBI


Cites Sounds John C. Howett, Jr., Esq JD 1 2 Howett Kissinger & Holst, P.C., Harrisburg.  Does not mention AFCC, however see on Parenting Coordination Task Force HERE (listed in fine print at bottom)


Cites Sounds Steven S. Hurvitz, Esq., JD 1 2 McQuaide Blasko Law Offices, State College
Member of the task force listed at bottom of this page. Seems to have got into Family Law as a consequence of helping his business clients with their family matters; been around a while (this is just a quick lookup).

(See website): Board Member, Tides support program for grieving children
Second Vice President, Pennsylvania Chapter, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
Member, PA Joint State Government Task Force on Domestic Relations Law Advisory Committee (referenced at bottom of this post)
Member, PA Bar Association Family Law Section Executive Committee


Cites Sounds James E. Mahood, Esq JD 1 2 Wilder & Mahood, Pittsburgh


Cites Sounds Joseph P. Martone, Esq. JD 1 2 Martone & Peasley, P.C., Erie  Chair of Family Law Adoption/Surrogacy, frequent PBI? lecturer.


Cites Sounds Carol S. Mills McCarthy, Esq JD 1 2 McCarthy McDonald Schulberg & Joy, Pittsburgh. Sounds like a mature practitioners, active in pro bono (Neighborhood Legal Services), was appointed to the Domestic Relations Procedural Rules committee in 2008 (That’s a PA Supreme Court appointment). She is in practice with several other women, including Dawn Gull (above) and (one man). On board of directors of major pro bono service provider, Neighborhood Legal Services Association. Represents Indigent Birth Parents in termination of parental rights. So far, I”m not picking up “AFCC” on this one, except I know that pro bono firms are also apt to get fatherhood (i.e., help noncustodial parent) funding.


Cites Sounds Catherine M. McFadden, Esq. JD 1 2 Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, LLP, Philadelphia [[Read. Leadership, currently co-chairing the Family Law Dept. with Albert Momjian, “the Dean of Family Law.” Previously in Bucks County, PA Family Court system, expanded the special masters responsibility (?). …


Cites Sounds Benjamin E. Orsatti, Esq. JD 1 2 Pollock Begg Komar Glasser & Vertz LLC, Pittsburgh (Resume gives me the impression: Young (JD in this century) and Smart….


Cites Sounds Hon. Katherine B. L. Platt JD 1 2 Chester County Court of Common Pleas, West Chester
It should be evident from previous posts on Parenting Coordination. Also notable — the only judge herein.


Cites Sounds David S. Rasner, Esq. JD 1 2 Fox Rothschild, LLP, Philadelphia


Cites Sounds Julia Cronin Rater, Esq., JD 1 2 McQuaideBlasko, State College. Graduate of St. Vincent’s — small private college outside Pittsburgh; first Benedictine College in the US; 1 out of 5 faculty are priests or brother: ,/td>


Cites Sounds Jennifer J. Riley, Esq. JD 1 2 Rubin Glickman Steinberg & Gifford, P.C., Lansdale [[Villanova, Villanova, Rising Star, Temple Beasley School of Law, Rising Star (attorney), Montgomery Child Advocacy Project]]


Ldrship Arnold T. Shienvold, Ph.D. JD 1 2 Riegler, Shienvold & Associates, Harrisburg [CATCH THIS 18-page 3/2012-faxed (see upside down print fax info) fuzzed out Parenting Coordination Agreement (citing 2 Shienvolds and a 3rd member of their firm), plus the Canadian model cited at the back end (dated 2009, 2011). Typical….


AFCC Kasey Shienvold, Psy.D., MBA JD 1 2 Riegler, Shienvold & Associates, Harrisburg (most likely also …) [LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON?]


Cites Sounds Judy McIntire Springer, Esq JD 1 2 Fox Rothschild LLP, Philadelphia


Cites Sounds Carolyn Moran Zack, Esq. JD 1 2 Chester County Family Masters’ Unit, West Chester

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