Run, Mommy, Run

Protective mothers who defy family court orders may be justified, this author argues. She knows the territory of custody battles well. As a child, the author’s parents divorced and she was kidnapped by an uncaring father seeking vengeance.

Mother on Run Arrested by FBI in Montana

A mother grabbed her son and headed for the highway to avoid obeying a family court custody order. This all-to-familiar scenario came to an end that family law experts worry could indicate the repercussions for mothers on the run are escalating.

Man Who Raped Child Retains Visitation Rights

(WOMENSENEWS)–A Canadian family court judge said that it was in the best interest of a 10-year-old girl to have visits with her father, who was convicted of having anal intercourse with a 5-year-old girl before his own daughter was born.Judge John Brownlee ruled last week that the man should be able to continue to see his daughter in supervised visits–at least until a custody battle with the mother is resolved, the Calgary Herald reported Saturday. The father served a four-year prison sentence for the crime.Child-welfare officials wish to gain permanent custody of the girl, taken from her estranged parents in December 2000.”The evidence so far is that the child is enjoying supervised access with the father, with no negative results,” Brownlee said. “The father has displayed appropriate and loving care.”The mother’s lawyer, Peter Ward, argued against any type of access by the father. “He has a history of masturbating to deviant fantasies about children, with violent overtones,” Ward told the judge.The father’s lawyer, Antonio Simoes, said the man’s relationship with his daughter has been positive.”She has a benefit from the access,” Simoes said. “I recognize it must be supervised.””He understands and he’ll do everything to make sure all boundaries are in place.”

Woman to Lose Home to Pay Divorce
Lawyer’s Fees

WOMENSENEWS–An Albany, N.Y., judge could issue a foreclosure order as early as Monday against a woman who was unable to pay her divorce attorney’s fees, despite ethics rules passed in 1993 that bar divorce lawyers in New York from foreclosing on a client’s primary residence.Jean O’Sullivan, who has already paid $46,200 in legal fees, is expected to lose her home of more than 20 years, according to report by the National Coalition for Family Justice.In 1986, O’Sullivan hired attorney Stewart Schantz, the former chair of the state’s Committee on Professional Standards, to represent her in divorce proceedings. During the eight-year course of the divorce, O’Sullivan gave Schantz two mortgages against her home for a total debt of $39,000 in legal fees, according a decision by the state’s appellate division. The mortgages were later signed over to Schantz’s wife.However, Schantz claims that O’Sullivan owes him an additional $77,176. He offered to reduce the fees by $20,000 if O’Sullivan paid the remainder. When she refused, Schantz’s wife brought the foreclosure action.Schantz’s legal position–that his wife is entitled to foreclose against O’Sullivan’s home–was upheld Nov.

A ‘False’ Claim of Abuse Is Not Necessarily a Lie

(WOMENSENEWS)–The persistent controversies over what exactly happens in family courts, especially in contested cases involving allegations of sexual abuse, are lacking in clarity often because accusations that can not be proven are often deemed “false” or “fictitious.” That doesn’t mean the person who makes the claims is lying.In fact, they might be unsupported by sufficient evidence, but they could be true. They might be a good-faith but erroneous misperception. Often, it is impossible to determine whether abuse has taken place.The scrupulous use of precise terminology is crucial to the fairness of the proceedings and to evaluating claims, but there is no one lexicon for all family courts in all states.Further, the cases become even more confusing because many in the legal system believe that an accusation must be either true or false, rather than provable or not-provable, according to the National Judicial Education Program of the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, the American Bar Association and the Center on Children and the Law. (Women’s Enews is a media project of NOW Legal Defense.)Researchers and writers in the field have used and interpreted the terms “false,” “fictitious,” “non-valid,” “untrue,” “unsubstantiated” and “unfounded” to cover a range of situations that involve one or more of the following: insufficient evidence; mistaken but good-faith misperceptions; fishing expeditions and deliberate fabrications.In addition, social service agencies use the term “unsubstantiated” to cover a range of situations in which the agency is unable to confirm or make a finding of abuse.In fact, many articles and reports about “false” allegations are mistakenly cited as studies of fabrication rates.The most difficult and potentially misleading case to describe is one in which no sexual violence is found.