Attorney Failure to Advocate Leads to $20 Million Claim for Breach of Duty

What would lead a judge in Family Court to terminate a parent’s rights?

We all assume – until this happens to a GOOD parent you know – that parents must fall below some clear and compelling threshold of conduct to cause a loss of parenting rights:

This article shown below clearly reveals, and in a simple way, that this is not true for the parent named who has not seen her child for three years.

It is also not true in hundreds of cases here in Georgia.  This is why My Advocate Center is growing rapidly through the support of both parents and professionals.

Disclaimer added following an objection raised online: It is My Advocate Center’s position that the problems being faced by parents and children in #GAFamilyCourt cases are caused by select attorneys, experts and not all.  There are a good number of ethical, talented and diligent professionals who do not condone the practices that are escalating conflict and leading to increased injury to children and losses to families.  Our mission is to raise up those professionals while improving the process for families, to allow them to transition more smoothly through and out of conflict.

Children deserve the best that both parents have to offer (assuming both parents are safe for the child), so we are highlighting cases where apparent professional misconduct and violations of ethics rules are interfering with what is otherwise possible and necessary for the needs of children to be served.

In this case, which is an accurate representation of what happens to many parents who report child abuse, this parent has made a bold move to pursue her attorney for obvious failures to advocate for his client as his duty states he must under ethics rules.

Excerpts are posted here from this article, which we believe more parents – both mothers and fathers – should use to compare to what they are experiencing in their own cases:

Counsel’s “failure to adequately prepare for {the custody expert’s} testimony left the judge with the impression that Perkins {the protective parent} had a personality disorder.” 

Relying heavily on that impression, the judge terminated Perkins’ parental rights to one of her children.

“Because of Peterson’s {counsel for protective parent} deficient trial representation, M.P. has been adopted, and Katie will never be able to raise her son or have a meaningful relationship with him,” the lawsuit states.

Christensen said Perkins lost contact with the child about three years ago.

[My Advocate Center can reveal to the State Bar, to our legislators, law enforcement & to the Press and Public that similar Georgia cases caused a shocking number of parents here to not see their children for longer than this, even as long as 12 years+.  The point is that this was not necessary, could have been avoided, but for the conduct…the missing loyalty, honesty & diligence of the attorney representing the undermined parent.]

The lawsuit states Peterson’s failures led to Perkins losing all contact with one of her children, and severely limiting contact with another child.

Perkins also racked up nearly $100,000 in attorney fees. She is seeking more than $20 million as compensation for emotional distress, the lost opportunity to spend time with her children, and attorney fees.”

It is our opinion at My Advocate Center that these attorneys know full well that the judge is going to rely on custody expert’s opinions, and that they have the duty to ensure the facts and evidence of the case are relied upon by the experts and then the judge.

What we are seeing in Georgia – repeatedly with a certain group of attorneys and custody experts –  is that key evidence is not being used and diligence is not being exercised in representing to the Courts what should be considered in decisions and orders, especially affecting children who are under stress from some form of physical abuse or alienation.

In many cases, while desperate to protect children & to try to retain their rights to nurture and protect, parents are put under duress and told they must forfeit money and rights in order to continue seeing their children.

Considering how many parents are wrongfully cut off from their children, you might believe that the ability to purchase the right to nurture your child is a great “deal” – but this notion has no place in our Court system, and can be avoided where counsel & experts follow the rules and our laws.

There is another lawsuit of this nature currently before the Georgia Court of Appeals, which is due to be ruled on at any time.  This case is a template for “Breach of Fiduciary Duty” specific to Family Law attorneys who lied to their client and withheld loyalty in the context of a custody dispute.  These failures led to losses, not just large financial losses where duress was used, but also led to damages to mental health of the parent as well as damages to the children.

Other family law & psychological and financial professionals have weighed in that these damages were caused directly by the parent’s counsel, and could have been avoided.

We have a rapidly growing list of case studies, and according to the Georgia Supreme Court, this exercise of using duress around the rights of parents to care for children is viewed as fraud. [Case citation information available through consultations with our professional advisors].

If you are the kind of professional who can support lawsuits of this nature, please email here or send a message via LinkedIn.  The Counsel for Change was established to help support solid & committed professionals, including legal, psychological & financial counselors who will lead by example to help change how cases like these are managed.

Parents who have experienced loss from custody experts and attorneys who ignored evidence, did not properly prepare testimony and did not uphold their duty to advocate diligently, please contact us for more information.

Wake Up Georgia: Solutions to Preventing Tragedy

According to The Violence Policy Center, Georgia ranks 10th in nation for domestic violence related homicides.

The Kristofak murder in Marietta is a much needed wake-up call.

M-A-C is asking all professionals involved in high-conflict cases to handle each aspect of these cases with the utmost care and to intervene early with the proper counseling on BOTH sides of the equation.

Protocols & the RIGHT kind of help for mental health instability, violence and conflict management do exist here — they just aren’t always being followed or used effectively.   It is past time for all of us to ask questions and follow through, taking it more seriously than before, because the Needs of Children dictate that we do this.

What can be done to dial back the conflict and discourage & prevent more violence?

Can we make better use of the laws, protocols & intervention programs that we have in place?   How strongly are we holding people accountable, and what about inserting more transparency onto high-conflict cases?  (Please note that Men / Fathers are also victims in a number of these cases.  False allegations of abuse DO impede solutions, wasting time and resources, which are needed for better/faster resolutions.  All of this negatively impacts children, parents’ ability to work together, drains family resources and harms our communities.   Just Don’t do it…)

Can we make better use of our healthcare system and law enforcement professionals?  Of course, the answer is a resounding YES on all of the above, but how?  Where do we start?  With whom do we start?

Prior to this disaster unfolding, we created the M-A-C Counsel for Change to address these issues and help interrupt the patterns that lead to this kind of loss and tragedy.   We did this based on actual case studies done on past and present/pending cases.   Yes, there are other pending cases needing intervention, so we are working with several alliances to change these outcomes so that the Needs of Children and good parents are better served.

To join in this thought leadership discussion, if you are a professional engaged in these matters or in a position to contribute to Solutions and Change, please email

Parents & anyone needing guidance:  If you are not sure where to turn for intervention with anger, violence, or are caught in a situation involving mental health disorders or addiction (any dysfunction affecting the well-being of your children and peace in your home) send us a message & we will help guide.

Please engage with us on Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn to contribute to solutions and follow our development on these case studies and on improvements being made.

Here are a few of the links to the most recent – and preventable – loss experienced by children in the Atlanta, Georgia area:

AJC, by Bill Torpy:

11Alive News, by Rebecca Lindstrom:

East Cobb Patch, by Wendy Parker:

Perryville News, Obituary of Donna Kristofak:

If you are aware of or producing another piece on this story, please email


The Kristofak boys have now lost both of their parents, but thankfully have the care and protection of other family members.   They deserve all the help we can give them, so please send contributions to:

Harrison & Zac Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 70091, Marietta, GA 30007-0091.