When Child Custody Becomes Deadly

“His children were his life,” Prather’s sister Jerdonna Sawyer told The Associated Press by phone. “He wasn’t crazy at all. He just chose a terrible way to deal with his pressure and his stress.”

We are all saddened by this tragedy in Georgia, in the town of Douglasville, in which a father just could not take it any longer. Family members are grieving, and we may never learn the whole story.

Loss and stress do terrible things to the minds of people who could otherwise manage fine, but the escalated conflict surrounding divorce and child custody is enough to put many over the edge.

This father is one of a large handful in Georgia to end his own life, and one of several around the country who have murdered family members during the taking of their own lives.

So we advocate for reducing conflict and ensuring protections, as much as can possibly happen. Based on our data the courts and certain court professionals are exacerbating conflict rather than helping parents receive proper counseling and guidance.

If you recall the murder of Donna Kristofak in Cobb County not too long ago, she also had a restraining order and the court knew she was in danger. She tried to protect herself. These cases are different but there is still much we can learn by studying what happened in both.

When one parent loses control and believes they can no longer function or have any quality of life, something can switch in their brain and cause the urge to do something extreme and rash like finding a gun or a knife to use. It is not the choice of the weapon that matters, but the opportunity and the circumstances that feed this rage and desperation.

We can and must do better.

Our research has identified cases that are ripe for more loss and tragedy, and much of it could have been lessened if not avoided.

Please join the conversation on Pro Advocate Radio and follow our posts on our blog and on other social media. Let us know what you can contribute – how you can help?

In the meantime, watch for parents who are struggling around the loss of their children, their jobs, homes and health. Look for ways to ease their stress and to intervene if the situation makes no sense.

Court House

Protected: Baldwin Blunders Should Lead to an Open Investigation

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Yellow Ribbon for Kids

This campaign is being designed to bring kids home to the parents they need and love.

The only reason these parents are not able to care for their own children is that certain court professionals chose to put their profits over protection, over the needs of the children in divorce and child custody disputes.

No, this is not the case in every situation, but an astounding number of cases in Georgia and around the country are being exposed for professional misconduct – – that led to children losing good parents.

The Yellow Ribbon is the symbol and theme that we know well…for it says to us to expect a welcome home, and especially a welcome home from war.

This IS the war on our home turf that many parents are fighting, including those who serve and have sacrificed to support our military.  While they fought for our rights, many of theirs have been denied.

Missing parents? Yes, moms and dads, including many in our military, our veterans, have been told they aren't good enough... #YellowRibbon time?

Missing parents? Yes, moms and dads, including many in our military, our veterans, have been told they aren’t good enough… #YellowRibbon time?

 

Help restore these parents and children to each other.

#Stand4Heroes

#YellowRibbon4Kids

#MyAdvocateCenter

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.

Testimonials from Supporters on Facebook

A friend knows you are going through a divorce and that you’ve been displaced from your home.

But you keep to yourself the gory details, as much of it as you can handle.  Suddenly he reads something online that helps him understand what you’re dealing with.  Betrayal and shame take on new meaning, but in a way that makes him reach out to offer support.   He gets it now.  This is not your issue that you created, and he sees that you had no way to know the trap you were walking into with this “family law” situation.

You were trying to make the best of things, trying to do right by your children, while actually being guided in a way that didn’t make a ton of sense… But who are you supposed to ask?   Now it appears you are being penalized for being honest, and for NOT trying to punish your spouse for leaving you.  What gives?

Thanks to news media and social media, people like this friend are saying, “Wow, what if that had been me?  Could I have seen a way to react differently?”  And, “That guy is one of the smartest and most well connected people I know…if this can happen to HIM, then it can happen to anyone!”

Social Media is allowing us to “change the game” being played at your expense.  This friend of a Buckhead business owner is a great example of how people are opening their eyes, and placing the judgment where it really belongs.

People around you likely think there must be something wrong with you based on the look on your face, or how you sound…or maybe because of your silence.  They have no way to know the shame, the fear, the uncertainty…or that dishonest professionals may be adding to what was a tough situation to begin with.

So if you share a post about our work to help promote awareness, do not be surprised if you see something like what this person wrote to a friend in this situation:

“…why on earth should a lawyer be allowed to strip a percentage of a family’s wealth and drag out a lawsuit simply to rob a family blind when they are already in distress. It is sickening.”

Because healthcare providers and media personalities like Dr. Drew are validating the impact – and that it is NOT just “something that poor guy brought on himself” – more people are willing to learn and to support parents and children caught in unnecessary litigation.

What can you do or how can you use your voice?

Stand by people caught in a legal conflict.  You may be the only one to speak the truth, or who can make sense of what they are dealing with.

Stand by people caught in a legal conflict. You may be the only one to speak the truth, or who can make sense of what they are dealing with.