The Rights of Children

Should children have rights when parents and other family members fight?

Needs of Children_Freedom to Know Their Parents and Be Protected

Excerpt of material borrowed from Jennifer Baker PhD’s article on this case of child abuse and deprivation:

“Barbara Bennett Woodhouse  is the L. Q. C. Lamar Chair in Law at Emory and serves as faculty advisor for the Barton Child Law and Policy Clinic.

She is one of our most eminent scholars on the topic of children’s rights. She has developed an account of five basic human rights that represent what other experts agree is crucial to the well-being of children. (Please read her excellent book on children’s rights, here(link is external).)

These are: privacy rights. While we are familiar with how these work in regard to adult lives, for children, “the basic unit of privacy is not the individual but the relationship between the child and the caregiver. “ Children, in other words, need us to respect their relationships and their capacities to form relationships.

Agency rights. Children develop voices and they have agency. They need to have a voice in matters that affect them, even if “they are not ready to take responsibility for the ultimate choice.” Children are both citizens-in-training and valuable in their own right, as they are.

Equality. Children, dependent on communities as they are, deserve access to the necessities of life that other children in the community are given.

Dignity. Children are their own persons, and “laws that penalized innocent children for the sins of their parents,” as existed in the Victorian era, have come to look “inhumane.”

And finally, protection rights. Civilization depends on the weak being protected from the strong. Situations where children are put in danger of harm violate these children’s rights.

Woodhouse explains that children’s rights flow “from the same set of basic values” that give adults rights. We cannot, in other words, pretend adult rights are on some firmer basis than those of children.”

Do you agree?

Let us know: MyAdvocateCenter.com

Use your voice,

Deb Beacham

 

Pro Advocate Radio: A Father’s Mission

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Protected: Good Guardian Ad Litem Disregarded by Augusta Family Court Judge

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Augusta Court Fails to Allow Due Process: Children Gone

The rest of the story in this Augusta case is much darker that at first believed. It is also similar to other troubling stories, the damages revealed by families throughout this judicial circuit. When we contrast the order and beauty inside of Augusta National with what is Outside the Gates, it is for this reason: parents are set up to fail intentionally and children are being left in harm’s way, when there was evidence, testimony and opportunity to prevent poor outcomes. This reality is the opposite of what the world thinks of when they hear Augusta or think of The Masters Tournament. This case and others are pulling back the curtain.

Civil or Criminal?

At one time it appeared that Atlanta attorney Kathy Portnoy was properly advocating for her client, one who appears to have not gotten a fair shake throughout this case. The issue featured here in this news report?

A DFCS report was made available to the court by the father’s attorney and used by the judge in reaching a decision as he noted. The problem for the judge was that the report was not made available to the mother and her counsel so that she had a chance to cross-examine the report and be fully informed in her case. The report was never put into evidence and therefore was not supposed to be considered by the court.

If this report had been put into evidence, the guardian ad litem on the case would have been able to refute it, as she knew it was created as a part of the father’s legal team’s strategy to wrongfully cut the mother out of the lives of her children. This issue was resolved when the appellate court agreed that the judge erred in considering this report. [See VIDEO at the bottom of this page.]

The bad news is that it didn’t matter; the fix was in on this case, and the judge gave the father permission to remove the children from the state before notifying the mother. The mother learned her children were gone when they did not get off the school bus. They did not even get to say goodbye.

We now know this was not merely an “error,” and that it was intentional to cause the mother and children this unnecessary trauma. It was also intentional that this mother was not allowed to know what was being said or used against her, denying her right to a defense.

Have you been allowed to know what was being used against you, or to know that all available evidence is being used to support your case? The more news reporter Nick Lulli investigated, the worse this case looked as evidence surfaced – – evidence that was either not being used by the mother’s counsel, or was being ignored by the court.

This is an ongoing and larger story than we first realized, as the court is now expected by the father’s team to force an agreement on the mother, an agreement which is different from what she was considering, and one which she did not sign. Her attorney used up all of her financial resources and abandoned her. The timing on her withdrawal and how her presence was used to keep this mother in the dark is telling.

Court Watch on Augusta Family Court – April 17th – 9am. If the court refuses to allow a continuance as requested by the mother so that she can find counsel to help her navigate and defend her rights, it will become even more obvious that she was never meant to have a fair trial on these issues, or to have a fighting chance at parenting her children.
WFXG FOX54 Augusta – Your News One Hour Earlier
How can parents prepare ahead of time to learn the pitfalls in managing family disputes, especially involving children?

Request more information to learn about the hiring the best team for your needs. This case is another glaring example of what can go wrong when you rely on word of mouth and online marketing to make hiring decisions. There currently is no real accountability for attorneys who allow their clients to fail by withholding evidence and avoiding opportunities to prevail, or for others who use special relationships with judges to reach outcomes that are damaging to children and to good parents. This is just “normal” for Augusta and for other judicial districts.

What is a Guardian ad Litem?

Question Number One: What is a GAL?

Now that we see how prevalent the misconduct is and how extreme and lasting the damages are, we are developing the dialogue about what to do next.

You have to understand what a Guardian is and what they are supposed to be doing before you can properly review and judge their work, so let’s start here.

The news station reporting on the GAL misconduct and the bad case outcomes in Augusta, Georgia, asked us to explain more about the GAL program in Georgia.

They asked us, “What is a guardian ad litem, and is what we are seeing in Augusta the norm?”

We are opening the discussion for professionals and parents to work together to help improve this situation. The Augusta Chronicle ran a great summary of the GAL program, so please read that and let’s revisit how to improve this system so that we can avoid more of the same, and improve outcomes for children and families.

Please also connect with us via LinkedIn, and professionals may join the Counsel for Change group to contribute privately as we work on answering and correcting what is is wrong.  

Help Break the Silence about GAL misconduct that has been leading to harm to children and good parents.

Help Break the Silence about GAL misconduct that has been leading to harm to children and good parents.

Understanding GAL Misconduct via The Augusta Chronicle

Augusta news media have picked up what we think of as the HeartBeat of its citizens.

This is the burning desire of parents and grandparents to be able to nurture and provide for their children. And to keep them safe.

Housing and employment are critical as well, but in at least one case in every county we see these being taken wrongfully from good parents. The Roberson case in Augusta, as reported in by WFXG and The Augusta Chronicle, is a perfect example. Another case in Hall County is a stunning example of the court allowing fraud to occur for the sake of stealing property and work tools, while putting a child and father wrongfully out on the street. In Cobb County a mother is having to give up her profitable franchise business all because a guardian is dragging out a case to earn more fees, by saying a father indicted on child porn charges should have unsupervised access to children. Different cases, but the same pattern of fraud used to steal and destroy.

This burning desire to change this situation – for the sake of children – is not unique to Augusta, and as pointed out the damages caused by certain custody experts and other court professionals can be seen all around Atlanta. All it took was the will, the financial resources, the emotional tolerance and the time to start analyzing these cases, and to continue the work throughout Georgia. The damages here mirror what families around the country are experiencing.

It really boils down to corruption, which we often refer to as bad practices, because most people cannot picture what corruption looks like – how it plays out – at least not in family court.

As the Augusta Chronicle says so clearly, “It’s very, very wrong” and “stunning” in terms of the lack of accountability. In our analysis of over 100 cases in Georgia we’ve seen not one incident of professionals reporting on others they know to be clearly violating ethics rules and/or laws. This includes laws put in place to protect children from abuse, or to protect victims of violence or sexual assault.

What is glaring beyond belief in Augusta is that Superior Court judges knew that the guardian ad litem being appointed to child custody cases was preying on vulnerable women, trying to coerce them – and even a witness on a case – into having sex with him. Those who did not comply lost their children. Most still do not have their children with them, are devastated financially and emotionally, and Doug Nelson now has a new job. Would you be surprised to know that his new job is allegedly back in the court system?

Somehow our court system, or certain professionals controlling family court matters, decided it is okay to put profits over the needs of children, to just ignore laws and every rule governing professional conduct or judicial conduct.

Advocating_truth_MAC 2014

So as the number of families negatively impacted has grown, so has the beat gotten louder as more hearts have been broken.  Time for open discussion and greater public awareness.  Time to do something about these pounding hearts aching to have children returned and protected by loving parents.

We are not hesitant to ask for certain custody cases in certain jurisdictions to be reviewed and examined closely. The heated public discussion about what the reality is for parents being held hostage in these child custody fights demands that we follow through on this.

We hope more families will have a chance to recover now that public support is triggered and focused on the cause of their losses. So now we need to take a closer look.

The Augusta Chronicle in this opinion piece takes some of the guesswork out of the question being raised about why so many parents and children are being harmed in this process. What we are hoping parents will get for right now is that following advice blindly when facing a legal conflict in the family court system may not be the best approach.

Learn the process, talk to people who have been through it, and do due diligence on professionals before you hire or agree to subject yourself to someone else’s judgment or oversight.  All guardian ad litem and custody “expert” professionals are not created equal, that one thing is for sure. As treacherous as it appears to be in Augusta, Atlanta and in other areas in Georgia and the US, there are a good number of ethical and talented professionals, so if you have a good experience we encourage those names to be shared as well.

This is an excerpt that stands out and we expect much more animated debate around this topic in the coming months as more parents come forward after realizing that it was not just their imagination that something wasn’t “normal” or right on their case.

“Even though guardian ad litem reports are only recommendations that judges can accept or reject, both the woman in the Chronicle story and the divorced parent we talked to said their attorneys advised them not to report Nelson’s behavior, for fear of what he could do to them in his report.

We find that unconscionable, but also horribly bad legal advice – to sweep inappropriate behavior under the rug.

It shocks the senses to think of a court-appointed official preying on women who are in some of the most vulnerable states in their lives, while going through divorce with children.

The lack of accountability and responsibility in the system is stunning.”

Augusta has named Doug Nelson as one of the main custody experts who has harmed good parents and their children, but he doesn’t work alone in all cases. The next step is to determine which professionals teamed up with him to ignore evidence and guide cases to the wrong outcomes.

In some Atlanta cases we could see where Dr. Howard Drutman has worked with GAL Jim Holmes to suppress evidence of child abuse, and the same pattern has occurred with Dr. Drutman and other GALs in the Atlanta area, including attorney Larry Yarbrough who openly said he was working to protect the alleged molester in Cobb County (which the record reflects he has done).  This is just how they operate, when it is profitable and possible for this to happen. The rules, laws and needs of children just do not factor in with certain professionals, as the investigation into GAL Doug Nelson as proven for everyone. When parents attempt to stand up for themselves and fight to PROTECT their children, they are intimidated and retaliated against.

This is why we are adamant that this innocent father in Augusta be exonerated in his “criminal” trial in Columbia County. He didn’t do anything wrong…but he did work hard to fight for his rights to care for and protect his daughter. He was not allowed to have motions heard, has been jailed for many weeks now and key witnesses have been blocked from testifying. Can you guess who was involved in making this situation happen? Yes, a “doctor” acting as a custody expert. Check out the facts of this case and stay tuned to the news reports coming out.

Now that we know there is a problem, and we can see one source of the problem, let’s regroup on why it is so easy for this exploitation of parents and children to continue.  Join in as we work on #TurningTheTables on bad practices in Family Court.
By contrast, this mother’s case was damaged, with her children moved out of state without her knowledge, by the judge and the father’s attorney and not by the Guardians ad Litem who both recommended the children stay with their mother:

Judge Rules: States “Something Wrong with You” for Molesting a Child

It is a good day in Georgia when evidence and testimony are allowed into Court, and allowed onto the record, showing that a crime was committed against a child.  

This is the lead-in to this story in The Daily Report, crediting Oprah Winfrey’s show with giving a teen girl the courage to report the crime committed against her when she was younger:

“A man who was convicted of child molestation after an Oprah show prodded a teenage girl to report him received a 20-year prison sentence and some stern words from a Cobb County judge.”

This should not be such a surprise that this happened, but based on large numbers of cases we have seen this is not happening as often as you would hope given the evidence and testimony available to the Court.

We posted about this story recently because the Court so clearly stated, “You have a hole in your soul…” for molesting a child.

The Court found this man guilty and it will be a long time before he is out of prison. There is more in his history that supports keeping him in jail, but our focus here is not on his time being served, but on the fact that the Court did not shy away from the damages to the child, to the egregious nature of the crime and did not help to deflect the evidence and testimony, or to explain it away.  

The Court in this situation did not act to allow a crime against a child to be covered up, rewarding the criminal and highly-paid court professionals to help “deal” with the crime by denying the evidence.  

This is quite the contrast from what is happening in many Superior Court cases when profits are driving the conduct of family law attorneys and court-appointed child custody experts.  It is one thing for a criminal defense team to use laws and due process to help protect a client against charges.  But what is happening on child custody cases in Georgia, where attorneys and Guardian Ad Litems are choosing not to advocate for children, or attorneys for their own clients, is something completely different. (Please note the emphasis online in comparing Augusta “Outside The Gates” to our Atlanta news stories.)

If there is money to be made from helping to keep evidence off the record in a criminal matter, while denying a child protection in a child custody case, there is much that can go wrong.  My Advocate Center is working with news media and local and State leaders to show that much IS going wrong on these cases in Georgia.  

Sadly, there is repeated interference with rulings that should lead to larger investigations and, most importantly, to the protection of children. 

There are pending cases in Fulton County, Cobb County, Dekalb County, Forsyth County, Columbia County and Richmond County where My Advocate Center has seen enough evidence and heard enough testimony to know that teams of investigators are needed to correct these situations.  Law enforcement and ethical attorneys have a different opinion of this situation, and are not the problem.

Our hope is that real investigations can happen before more children die, and before more parents commit suicide due to the trauma of seeing their children suffer and having their rights removed on top of the loss of all of their property and income.  Parents are in dire straits, and it’s time for our State to take action.  This cannot continue being swept under the so-called “rug” as it is a filthy, soaking-wet, and thread-bare “rug” at this point.

Below are some examples of coverage on the story in which the Court properly recognizes the nature of the criminal and rules to protect children:

 

Cobb County is waking up to the fact that children are being left unprotected even in light of clear evidence and substantiated reports of abuse.  WHY?

One Judge Properly Calls a Crime Against Children what it is…TERRIBLE.   We are asking that more Cobb County Judges wake up to the fact that children are being left unprotected even in light of clear evidence and substantiated reports of abuse. Why not allow investigations based on the evidence & testimony available?

 

In other sections of this website you will see reports about good parents who are falsely accused and even imprisoned when evidence exists to exonerate them.  It is the same problem in those cases, that for some reason certain professionals do not want evidence and testimony heard that would lead to proper rulings based on our laws – and based on common sense and what would serve the needs of children.  

If you have not seen the Divorce Corp. or No Way Out But One documentaries, now would be a good time to get up to speed by watching those.  The Kids for Cash documentary is also being screened in Atlanta in June, so you will not want to miss that if you care about what certain judges are doing — abusing power while exploiting those who fall under their power.

 

 

 

Cobb County: Need for Green to Protect Children

Can you imagine finding out that you and your children were secretly filmed because some sick person decided to use your family for entertainment?

This is what is happening to parents and children in Cobb County and in Florida:

This story is terrible enough…but can you also imagine that the COURT and Guardian Ad Litem in Cobb County would disregard this evidence in deciding whether or not to protect children?

This is why we have Court Watch invitations on these cases.  Just  recently the Court was going to consider giving un-supervised visitation to this father out on bond in Georgia, and wanted in FL on 4 counts.

Thankfully CBS and the FL news media covered this story.    

Cobb County is waking up to the fact that children are being left unprotected even in light of clear evidence and substantiated reports of abuse.  WHY?

Cobb County is waking up to the fact that children are being left unprotected even in light of clear evidence and substantiated reports of abuse. WHY?

 

The same GAL in another Cobb County case is revealing his alignment with the alleged molester, positioning himself to make more money off this case by helping to cover up crimes against children.  This is in spite of DFCS substantiating the abuse and putting a safety plan in place for the children.  This is in spite of the fact that police are currently investigating this case.  

Based on this GALs recommendation, the court may remove the protective order now keeping the children safe.  Can you guess who the GAL used to excuse the fact that he had not done his own due diligence on this child abuse case?  Dr. Howard Drutman and his often quoted “custody evaluation” that ignores all evidence of abuse.  This is the “doctor” who has no expertise in child sexual abuse and who conducted no thorough review of the facts on the case related to the abuse.  Sound familiar?

Why would these professionals do this?

Watch and learn.  Let us know how you can help, or if you have more data / cases related to this story.

This story and what the highly paid court professionals are doing here MUST count!
Why do we need your help?

If THIS evidence can be ignored in the above story, then you can see how easily perpetrators can get away with silencing their victims.  

Help Break the Silence that certain court professionals are working to ensure - - by suppressing evidence needed to Protect Children.

Help Break the Silence that certain court professionals are working to ensure – – by suppressing evidence needed to Protect Children.

 

 

Please support My Advocate Center and the Georgia Center for Children’s Advocacy by learning about the intervention needed.  

“It is believed that less than 10% of those victimized by child sexual abuse will ever tell anyone of their abuse. The result will be issues that last a lifetime.
It is imperative that we break the silence of abuse, whether it is sexual or physical, and that children are protected. If you believe that a child is being abused, or if you are a child that is being abused, please contact your local law enforcement agency as soon as possible. We believe that getting this secret out into the open is the first step towards healing.”