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Wednesday, January 19th 2011

CSM Reports Courts Grant Abusers Access to Children

In an opinion piece in the Christian Science Monitor, according to Kathleen Russell, co-founder of the Center for Judicial Excellence in Marin County, Cal., "more than 58,000 children per year are ordered by family courts into unsupervised contact with physically or sexually abusive parents" in the United States.  Ms. Russell opines that the "protective parent" is often labeled as an alienator; thus, triggering an argument of Parental Alienation or Parental Alienation Syndrome by the other parent, i.e., the alleged abuser.  Ms. Russell does acknowledge that during the course of a heated custody battle some parents may either exaggerated or fabricate abuse.  However, without providing any citation, she states that research on child sexual abuse indicates that nearly 98 percent of children who claim abuse during a high conflict divorce are telling the truth.  Along with the Safe Child Coalition, Ms. Russell has worked with California legislators to seek an audit into how family courts appoint, train, evaluate, and discipline professionals in family law matters in Marin and Sacramento counties; a bill that would outlaw PAS in state family courts; and a bill that would allow children to have a voice in family law proceedings.

Perhaps, it is the last bill, i.e., a child's voice through an amicus attorney or guardian ad litem that may serve as the best line of protection for children caught in the middle of a contested divorce or SAPCR suit.  Fortunately, Chapter 107 of the Texas Family Code provides such an avenue for Texas children.

Child abuse: when family courts get it wrong

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