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

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“AFCCnet.org/About/About-AFCC” is (Still) Long on Labels, Short on Content, Cleverly Obscuring What Its (Only Eight) Featured  Collaborators Have in Common… (Publ. Nov. 23, 2019).

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As a blogger, I more typically referenced the “History” page of the AFCC.  This time I’m talking about another, shorter, secondary page accessible from its “About” page drop-down menu.

Per The Wayback Machine (Archive.org : “archive” is singular), this “About-AFCC” page has been around in its present format  and with it seems the same text since at least August 26, 2014.  It easily may have been around earlier, unnoticed by the WayBack machine. That page was crawled by The Wayback Machine 31 times since 2014, the “History page 48 times since 2012, and the main page (AFCCnet.org) only 488 times since 1998.  That’s (488/21 yrs) an average of only 23 times a year, less than two times a month.  Somehow I think the website isn’t being publicized much to family court litigants!

AFCC Website, WayBackMachine (EARLY!) ~~>2019Nov22 Fri PST #1 of 3. Notice the street address at the bottom!

Here are three AFCCNet.org images from  the very early years. From looking at the earlier versions, I also saw that the original “Family Court Review” (produced then and now by Hofstra University but controlled by, and it is the journal voice of, AFCC, not the university) was at first called, like the organization AFCC and like my own blog “motto”, The Family and Conciliation Courts Review (“FCCR”).

Of these three images my only annotated one (#3, mostly text not pictures) is from a very early FCCR.  Those facts and features can be found at Archive.org by copying in the url as a search string; they are time-consuming to display, and being such fine print don’t display well, so, except for these three images, I leave it up to readers to repeat the search if they are curious. Along the very top of the images you can see a sideways bar graph and time-line.  That’s from the Archive, not the old web pages. I happen to think the theme “Kids COUNT on Us” is a bit narcissistic, and a call to a “rescue / intervention” mentality.

AFCC Website, WayBackMachine (EARLY!) ~~>2019Nov22 Fri PST #2 of 3 (redirect to Hofstra.edu upon click on previous link to ‘AFCC Journal’ as shown in Image #1

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE.   AFCC Website, WayBackMachine (EARLY!) ~~>2019Nov22 Fri PST #3 of 3 (I annotated with 3 comments in yellow, two others not highlit, and any arrows, underlines or ovals you may see! About “Family and Conciliation Courts Review” (See Image #2).

I trust this post’s breakout of labels and claims from AFCC’s self-description on its own website will reveal some less obvious traits of the organization, as judged by having allowed this type of self-description to be posted on-line for now at least five years with the same words.

Given the high level of authority in decision-making over families’ lives AFCC’s “interdisciplinary” membership taken as a whole holds (individual types shown in an image below), the sloppy, incomplete list, incomplete description of activities, and poorly sorted single-paragraph summary of “Collaborative Leadership” organizations is disturbingly “off”  which my post title reflects:

AFCCnet.org/About/About-AFCC. (This time I’m focused on the fourth heading, although only the first one shows in expanded” format. I do quote “History” paragraph, but my interest is “Collaborative Leadership”)  LGH 2019Nov20.

TITLE: “AFCCnet.org/About/About-AFCC” is (Still) Long on Labels, Short on Content, Cleverly Obscuring What Its (Only Eight) Featured  Collaborators Have in Common… (Publ. Nov. 23, 2019).. (short-link ends “-bFi“). . [Tags and AFCC’s latest (available, that is) Forms 990 added w/ commentary Nov. 24, now about 11,700 wds (incl all captions for its many images).

See nearby image with “The AFCC Membership Network” as the first of the four headings expanded to show its two paragraphs.  The image caption holds link to the same page (url also as shown in the post title).


These headings all presumably refer to “in the family courts” or (judging by the organization’s motto) anywhere internationally “family conflict” needing resolution may exist, worldwide… providing substantial business opportunities for AFCC’s membership.

My post focuses on the single paragraph under the fourth section, describing  its “Collaborative Leadership.” That paragraph basically just lists with whom AFCC collaborates “To Improve (sic) Practice and Policy.“##  

To Improve” or do anything else indicates only intent, not necessarily accomplishment!  Like many other public policies, in a nonprofit organization such as AFCC’s home page no actual improvements seems necessary, just statements of shared good intentions to do so.  That’s implicit in the word “to,” which indicates purpose (as in “in order to _______”).

I noticed this from other descriptions of legislated public policy for some of the family courts programs (such as “increase noncustodial parent contact” or “prevent abuse before it occurs” etc.  Policymaking and public funding of each policy is full of such phrases which show intent but are not held responsible to produce results as a condition of continued appropriations…).  Here, AFCC on its self-description page takes credit for the good intentions behind its collaborating in order to lead behaviors. It also in the motto claims intent to “improve the lives of children and families.” (See Footnote “To Improve” or do anything else indicates only intent, not necessarily accomplishment at the bottom of this post, the first one there.  Each Footnote has light blue background, orange borders.)

The Mission History and Values page, though short, also uses the word “collaborate” in three different forms (adjective, adverb and noun) to describe how it intends to “improve the lives of children and families…”  (Collaborative approach, work collaboratively, collaboration and respect — among the professionals involved if not particularly with the parents themselves…)


For this post I also quote but don’t focus on the one-paragraph “History of Innovation and Positive Change.”  Both sub-titles (the second and the fourth on “About-AFCC” page) embody claims some of us parents subjected to that leadership and aware of these changes believe might well be challenged as being neither positive nor improvements.  To some of us parents (aware of AFCC) the means used to justify this “improvement” compromises due process, legal rights, and — the results seem clear — personal safety where violence and/or abuse have been involved. It is a form of “therapy” as in “threat therapy” (coercive control by the court-connected networked professionals) very much reminiscent of what we refused to put up with, at some point, from the other spouse, partner, or parent.

Whether or not it was “positive” or “improvement” dodges the obvious: both those words are broad, vague and subjective: the opinion rests in the eyes of those making value-judgments against a standard without openly stating the standard in plain words, where it might be compared with existing law and any rights under (typically, for the USA) state constitutions — which handle such matters, not federal.  Basically it’s just self-promoting “PR.”


The “About-AFCC” page is so short — five very short paragraphs and the following short introduction — that subtitles aren’t really needed:

AFCC is the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts – the premier interdisciplinary and international association of professionals dedicated to the resolution of family conflict.  AFCC members are the leading practitioners, researchers, teachers and policymakers in the family court arena.


‘PRACTITIONERS, RESEARCHERS, TEACHERS, POLICYMAKERS  — in the FAMILY COURT ARENA.’

I’ve added this next part post-publication.  I was going to add it at the bottom, but might as well remind us of it here:

True as this is, AFCC is a private business corporation with limited funds, limited (through international) representation on its board of directors (compared to entire states, regions, or countries) and operating tax-exempt, meaning it is required to file tax returns the public can read with the Internal Revenue Service to give an account of itself.  These can (and should) be found, but the entity certainly doesn’t make it easy.  AFCC functions like many other tax-exempts as a “society.”  Private societies and corporations should be clearly differentiated from any forms of legitimate government to which any people are by agreement as willing (naturalized) or (born-there) citizens subject for mutual benefit and welfare.

As usual, it took two searches at Candid.org to get three results because the two most recent tax returns for AFCC had been, somehow, mislabeled (a function more likely of Candid.org than AFCC).  My three screenprints here show that.**  Always locate the EIN# and repeat a search for this particular database, although it’s a pain in the neck.  The three images** are followed by an interactive table which I create (throughout, on this blog) by simply selecting the table (which picks up the links to underlying tax returns) and copying it into the blog so I can discuss or at least show it for readers:

(**The second/by EIN# search I marked up a  lot, so I provided a clean copy as well to show the typos, probably by Candid (not AFCC) which complicate even the most basic look-ups on this database, at least for non-subscribers which I am… I wonder if a paid subscription would result in greater accuracy, but don’t feel like taking that chance, and I doubt it). 

AFCC NameSearch (its EIN# is 952597407) at Candid.org brings up older return only ~~> Screen Shot 2019-11-24 (see two nearby images of EIN# search)…


Total results: 3Search Again.  AFCC is EIN# 952597407.  After some preliminary comments.

The latest year’s tax return shows only 7 employees, but 19 board members.

There are some internal inconsistencies between supporting details page and statements (Part VIIA total vs. Part VIII).  The 7 employees, judging by total “Salaries” would be paid about $100K each except Exec Director (ONLY Pt. VIIA Paid person) got $230K (+ benefits) for FY2017 (top row).  Also, as I’ll continue to point out, it claims to be, but most likely still isn’t, a Wisconsin legal domicile entity, nor did this particular entity start in 1963.  That’s two, continuing, wrong claims on the Header alone.  One mis-states geography as out of state, the other exaggerates by about a dozen years when it actually started.  Again “it” means the reporting entity — not a predecessor entity which was suspended for non-filing and skipped legal domiciles to start up again elsewhere before it got caught (non-filing) again.  

This aspect of the current entity AFCC has been researched  and documented before I came around and is one very disturbing character trait, i.e., lying to the public about itself and maintaining the lie for decades.

I’ve post that before on this blog, but this last time I went to look and found the CyberdriveIllinois.com has been set up differently and is missing a link to search exclusively the business registry (which I complained about on Twitter and posted as a footnote below, yesterday Nov. 23).

Another minor (?) detail I’d like to mention is that it’s listing substantial income (as I recall $913K) on its “Statement of Revenues (also reflected on Page 1 summary, and reflected historically on “Schedule A” making Line 2, “Program Service Revenues” appear to be about double what it really is — for the past five years (which Schedules A show).  Line 1, “Contributions” has a category for “Membership Dues.”

There may be a legitimate excuse for this practice (I’ve seen it before), however it makes the organization overall seem as though it’s main function is providing services, as a 501©3 when in fact its main function is charging fees to its members and charging (next big expense) fees for its conferences, which include trainings for some of its members and others of similar professions (i.e., lawyers, judges, psychologists, etc.).  AFCC is not claiming tax exempt as a “Business and trade” organization (501©6?) which it probably should, but a 501©3 non-private foundation (i.e., public charity).  Entering such a large source of revenues as “Program Service Revenues” rather than what it is, Member Contributions in exchange for privileges of membership, I believe imbalances the profile and is misleading.  That said, I’m not an accountant.

Given WHO its members tend to be, most of these fees are going to be passed on to the public one way or another anyhow…

Total results: 3Search Again.  AFCC is EIN# 952597407 and its fiscal year ends June 30.

ORGANIZATION NAME ST YR ending FORM PP TOTAL ASSETS EIN
Association of Family and Conciliationcourts WI 2018 990 37 $4,332,375.00 95-2597407
Association of Family and Conciliationcourts WI 2017 990 38 $4,137,304.00 95-2597407
Association of Family and Conciliation Courts WI 2016 990 33 $3,731,286.00 95-2597407

(My copied table’s different color scheme, besides being irrelevant (it doesn’t change the numbers), just comes from an older version of the same provider color scheme which I made boilerplate html to add the (same, i.e., older) colors, making these tables easy to identify no matter what year’s post on FamilyCourtMatters.org you’re reading.


From its tax returns (the “mother ship” with a Madison, Wisconsin, USA address) one can see that it basically runs conferences and trainings, and promotes the interests of its members.  The conferences switch locations (even countries) from time to time, meaning that interested parent litigants for the most part couldn’t afford to attend most or all of them, unlike our representative forms of government which have elected persons and must maintain local offices. As such it’s intentionally elitist and offering privileges to its members that people who are forced (often by the judges or by administrative rules of practice) to sit through its programs and sometimes PAY its professionals (beyond any pay they may already have a civil servants), cannot partake in.  This encourages arrogance among the membership and group loyalty while building relationships with each other and those in power locally, not “constituents.”  (Parents run through the courses and courts aren’t AFCC’s “constituents” either; it does not own us — just seeks to exercise ownership control over us and our youngsters and extended families in the name of a particular blend of shared values.  

AFCC may have members in every state but it certainly doesn’t have a chapter or a street address in every one…


It seems like they have also, with outside help from other nonprofit associations and to a degree, government funds, figured out an arena where they are “premier” and on top of the decision-making heap – – – the leaders.  Given that AFCC represents a limited number of professions compared to the number of professions, practices, and “arenas” people operate in nationwide (and worldwide), I’d say that designating or facilitating this subset of people with a shared mindset does NOT represent the best interests of society as a whole, or any nation in particular, based on that shared mindset that “we are the ones…”   When it comes to kids or individual citizens with civil rights — no they aren’t!


If somehow the acronym “AFCC” representing the business name “Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, Inc.” is unfamiliar to you, you’re a very new reader of this blog!  Go back to my front page, sticky posts, or blog sidebar for more information on it; some recent links  here:

For more on who/what is AFCC from this blog:

Several sidebar links (further down on it) also feature  earlier (1980s – 2003) newsletters across the organization’s history and in a few recent posts I mentioned how it’s been claimed in a document commissioned by the Ohio Supreme Court (1997, in surveying) as a contributor and possible creator of the family courts themselves in the first place, which document also shows how the family courts as separate jurisdictions and dockets are still a recent development.

Here’s that Sept. 15, 2019, post and a related one addressing current “family court reform” movements and buzz-words, key themes, specifically the “protect children.”  They ask, if family courts were designed with the purpose of “protecting children” then what was the purpose of dependency/child welfare courts (and legislation to go with)?  Why criticize family courts’ failure to do things they weren’t initiated and never claimed to be organized to do in the first place?

This “Builders and their Blueprints” post

Builders and their Blueprints: Who, Really, Designed the Family Courts, How, and Since When? (“The Evidence Speaks”) [Started Aug. 17, 2019, Published Sept. 15].(short-link ends “-aI6” — the middle character is capital “I” as in the personal pronoun or “Idaho; with post-publication addition, 8,800 words.

….explains a key theme of an earlier one,

Reform, Solutions, Enhancements, Adjudication Improvements Built on WHAT? (Unproven Because Unspoken Assumptions about the Deliberate Design = the Deliberate Purposes of the Family Courts in the USA)., (short-link ending “-9PC” started May 2, 2019, revisited and expanded June 6-8, “sure hope to publish soon” status, Aug. 6-7,  and finally (!) published August 29 ,

i.e., common sense says, before choosing Reforms, Solutions, Enhancements or Adjudication Improvements, ask, and find out who were the builders and show the blueprints which show purpose/design, intent.

(end, mini-section “For More on Who/What is AFCC from this blog.*”

(*My blog consistently provides links to sources outside the blog, so what I say will not be just opinion or hearsay, i.e., unsupported.)

One of my key exhibits in my ongoing assertion what family courts were NOT designed to do for historically in this blog came from the entity Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, Inc.’s own “About Us/History” web page, along with ongoing publications of its own prominent or not-so-prominent but devout  excuse me, devoted and loyal members.

The History page features sections “Divorce with Dignity” and “Mediation Explosion,” and commented on the improvement of introducing the new words of “behavioral science” to replace the old words of “criminal law,” although the family courts aren’t designed to handle or prosecute criminal behavior.  As I recall this is shown on the Front Page or linked to from that page.

In fact one unique quality of family courts (USA at least) is that being accused IN them (unlike when accused of crime and being prosecuted for it by the state) a litigant is NOT appointed a defense counsel when he or she cannot afford one — after all, it’s a problem-solving, dispute-resolving conflict between citizens, not “the state and the accused.”

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Written by Let's Get Honest

November 23, 2019 at 7:07 pm

Posted in 1996 TANF PRWORA (cat. added 11/2011)

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Blurring Boundaries Between: Nations, Sacred and Secular, Public and Private; Continually Infusing More Social Science into (=Diluting) Law. For example ℅ Nuffield Fndt’n, or Oxford Univ. Press’s ‘International Journal of Family Law, Policy and Social Science’ (Nov. 8, 2019)

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ANY post may be further edited (as in, condensed, or expanded, or both) after publishing.  Blogger’s privilege, and at times, necessity!

You are reading:

Blurring Boundaries Between: Nations, Sacred and Secular, Public and Private; Continually Infusing More Social Science into (=Diluting) Law. For example ℅ Nuffield Fndt’n, or Oxford Univ. Press’s ‘International Journal of Family Law, Policy and Social Science’ (Nov. 8, 2019).” (Short-link ends “-bxq”), as moved about 2,500 words, as published, about 7,000).

Lifted verbatim from a footnote at this Sticky Post (currently third from the top of this blog):

Acknowledgements, Executive Summary (Current Projects | Rolling Blackouts) and What Makes This Blog “What You Need to Know” (July 31, 2019). (Shortlink ends “-auh”, marked sticky, this is currently 9,900 words.  That includes two lengthy footnotes, one of which I expect to remove to its own post.)

There, this section was a second footnote, labeled:

THIS FOOTNOTE IS LIKELY TO BECOME ITS OWN POST (IDEALLY, SOON…)

“…resulting from my curiosity about a journal I’d just discovered and the specific USA “Overseas Advisors,” —  “FOOTNOTE: NUFFIELD FOUNDATION (involvement in Family Law-related projects, UK).”  The second footnote** I hope to off-ramp to its own post in the near future. (Hope =/= Guarantee, however….).

and, within that footnote:

WELL, I CERTAINLY LEARNED A FEW THINGS IN JUST LOOKING UP THREE ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS HERE!  (Aug. 2, 2019). Probably going to move this section soon to a new post.

(**The first footnote dealt with pending Family Court-related legislation in Pennsylvania in which, “surprise, surprise,” the same professionals had managed to get their [pages] words in, somehow, despite not being listed even as witnesses on the testimony hearings at the time…For details, see originating post shown above).

This material stems from simple search results which led to a journal article.   International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family (Oxford Academic) (Introducing Social Science Evidence in Family Court Decision-making and Adjudication: Evidence from England and Wales.  (John Eekelaar is one of its two editors listed)

(Editors: Mr John Eekelaar Pembroke College, Oxford, UK and Professor Robert Dingwall, Dingwall Enterprises/ Nottingham Trent University, UK).  Quick look at the latter: shows a career academic, now a consulting sociologist (and professor):

Robert Dingwall draws on more than forty years’ experience as an academic researcher studying health care, legal services, and science and technology policy at the Universities of Aberdeen, Oxford and Nottingham. Over that time, he has held grants and contracts worth more than £6 million (at 2016 prices) in total from the Leverhulme and Wellcome Trusts, ESRC, NERC, MRC, EPSRC, BBSRC, the EU, the UK Department of Health and various NHS/NIHR programmes, the Ministry of Justice, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the Food Standards Agency. These have resulted in 30 books and more than 100 scientific papers. Robert Dingwall is also an experienced manager: he served for five years as head of a large social science department and founded and directed what was one of Europe’s leading research institutes in science and technology studies for 12 years. He retains an academic association as a part-time professor in the School of Social Sciences at Nottingham Trent University.

And in referencing (this is a sub-menu on the website) how he ran across the “sociology of law” — when ran into John Eekelaar, a family lawyer; “very crudely” summarized as …everything to do with the law that is not criminal, although there is some overlap in areas like regulation….

I (Dingwall) stumbled into this field because the Oxford Centre for Socio-Legal Studies wanted to develop some research on court decision-making in cases of child abuse and neglect, led by a family lawyer, John Eekelaar. My PhD research on health visitors had given me a detailed knowledge of the agencies with whom the legal system interacted in these circumstances. Together, John and I developed one of the largest ethnographic studies ever carried out in the UK, tracing child protection cases from the initial sifting of families by frontline workers in various health and social service organizations through to the disposals reached in court hearings. In contrast to many activist claims at the time, we showed that the system had a strong bias against compulsory interventions, like the removal of children. This reflected the fundamental tension between child protection and family privacy at the heart of liberal democratic ideals. Our work had a strong impact on the Children Act 1989 and key concepts like the ‘rule of optimism’ continue to be employed – often inaccurately – by reports on the deaths of children as a result of maltreatment.

At the end of this project, I became involved in three other lines of work that occupied me for much of the next decade: a conversation analytic study of the emerging practice of divorce mediation; a study of asbestos disease litigation, led by WLF Felstiner of the American Bar Foundation; and a programme of studies on law and health care…

Google search link for one of only six “sample publications” shown, I copied from this website: “(D. Greatbatch and R. Dingwall) ‘The marginalization of domestic violence in divorce mediation’, International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family 1999, 13; 2: 17490. This shows the journal goes back at least to 1999.  I also found one (publ. 1989) published in  AFCC’s  mouthpiece, “Family and Conciliation Courts Review, 1990“, as seen on this page (not including my emphases):

(D. Greatbatch and R. Dingwall) ‘Selective facilitation: some preliminary observations on a strategy used by divorce mediators’Law and Society Review, 1989, 23; 4: 61341.  Reprinted in abridged and edited form in Family and Conciliation Courts Review, 1990, 28; 1: 5364.  Reprinted in C. Menkel Meadow, ed., Mediation: Theory, Policy and Practice, Aldershot, Ashgate, (2001).


Theme from my originating July 31, 2019 (Sticky) post (-auh) for Nov. 8, 2019 post (-bxq)

I knew while writing the original material as a post footnote that it should be featured more directly, soon.  Here it is.

While this post has images, they’re mostly screenshots of other printed documents (websites). If as a reader your need and desire today is for brighter colors, catchy icons, big logos cartoons, or photographic head-shots, to grab or hold your attention, pick a different post: this one features almost exclusively words, most of them assembled into long sentences.


 

The situation illustrates that journals (here, published by Oxford University itself — Oxford University Press is a Department of the University) can and do pick and choose their “international” experts according to shared value systems, whether or not in the home countries these individuals might be considered fair, neutral, or unbiased. At the time (last summer) I looked up every single one of the “overseas advisors” (shown below)… but have only posted here on those from the USA.

“Oxford University Press Is” statement at bottom of Journal page..

The post also references a sponsoring foundation (Nuffield), and in passing, the Wellcome Trust (archives of influential group psychotherapist and his wife, which directly connects to establishment of child psychiatry in Canada, to family law, domestic violence prevention, and (as this one turned out) the Association of Family and Conciliation Court (“AFCC”)’s role in all of the above) but the main focus here is on the journal and its USA editors.

Here, out of all professors sharing an interest in this topic across the United States, they have chosen three (two men and one woman) who share specific beliefs about fathers’ rights, at least two a shared religion, and the woman, with powerful prestige (you’ll see), also openly anti-feminist and who:

was named to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences by Pope St. John Paul II in 1994… [cite, below on this post]

PASS (Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences) Wiki (top summary), viewed Nov. 8, 2019

I see that “PASS” (its acronym) was established only in 1994 (see nearby image) and that this woman was listed among (very few women) “Former Academicians” some of which have Wikipedia pages, some which do not.  Of those which do, Nußberger from Germany (doctorate obtained 1993), …

From 1993 to 2001, Nußberger worked at the Max Planck Society Institute for International and Comparative Social Law, including a period as visiting researcher at Harvard University from 1994 to 1995. From 2001 to 2002, she worked as a legal adviser at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

In 2002, Nußberger achieved her habilitation, the highest academic qualification a scholar can achieve in Germany, with a thesis on public international law.

A few “former academicians” seem to have been women.  Of the current 27 ‘Academicians‘ listed alphabetically on PASS’s own website, I found only three women. They were from (in alpha order) England, Spain, and Norway (a Dame of Malta).  Also of interest, the American Joseph E. Stiglitz (b. 1943) at Columbia University.  The provision is for no less than 20 or more than 40, total.  Some (not many) are from the USA.

United States concerned citizens should notice how academics whose views run contrary to basic concepts of law and individual rights under it have sought publication abroad, while welcoming editors from abroad to lead (in a similar-themed journal) journals labeled American (specific example in this post, I’ve mentioned it before on blog).

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