Why Should You Know More about Attorneys?

What should you know before making a decision about your legal counsel and the team coming together around you to help you through a conflict?

Because it is more than just their reputation and promoted success rate that will determine the value you get for your money.

Depending on whether or not they choose to be honest and loyal to you, it will not only impact your finances, your home, your ability to co-parent effectively, but it will also impact your mental health.   Most of all, it will impact your children.

Our case studies illustrate how families and children have been affected – harmed – because parents and others in the community were not aware of how to truly vet counsel to ensure a proper outcome.

We are smashing myths because dozens of parents are reporting that what they believed to be true about their attorneys and the highly regarded custody experts they paid, is simply NOT true.   The simple answer is that the Value just isn’t there.  Value, in our dictionary, has a lot to do with honesty and loyalty.

A big myth being turned upside down is that if you have money or status, that you can buy loyalty and influence.  The myth that “mothers always get custody…or good mothers” flew out the window, but so did the one that says, “If a father has any power, owns a big company, or knows the right people” that he will prevail.  If it were this simple, My Advocate Center would not be fielding so many calls and emails.

Parents are finding out too late that even after they have sought referrals from local, well-known sources like a non-profit organization that promotes a select few experts, that there was actually no assurance that their interests or their children’s interests would be taken seriously.  There currently is no oversight of services and no guarantee of loyalty or honesty even when you accept referrals through most other sources.  My Advocate Center is working to change this.

As we work with press, law enforcement and legislators, more case studies and reports will serve to provide clarity to the public about the due diligence needed when hiring professionals – especially those serving family law.

For now, learn as much as you can, work to understand the process and how you can be your own best advocate – in hiring, in preparing and in making informed decisions.

When you are ready to assess your own strengths and weaknesses, and how to best empower yourself to work with the right team, let us know.  That is your best starting point.

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.

Naming Names – Help for Parents Caught in Conflict

You’ve now seen through press coverage of specific stories that certain judges are being influenced – in an inappropriate way – by certain attorneys and custody experts.  Many of you are asking, “So who are the others doing this?”

Obviously, as your comments reflect, there are more than a few people engaged in misconduct and in covering it up, or these actions would not be so blatant, and so profitable.

EXTRA NAUGHTY LIST 2013

This “hidden influence” is leading not only to financial and emotional damage to good parents, but also leading to physical and emotional damages to children.

The impact on our community is tremendous – and virtually no one is immune to what is going on.

But we should all be putting our foot down collectively over the damages to our childrenWe are seeing children develop severe, long term medical/emotional problems that would not be occurring otherwise.

This trauma is leading to drug problems, truancy, jail time and even suicide.

That alone is worth naming names publicly of those contributing to or benefitting from the court-related misconduct, and working toward transparency and accountability.  (Yes, we are inviting discussion with these professionals, asking for help in restoring health, peace & support for these families and children.  It is the ONLY right option, and it’s not too late to shift gears and help rather than harm.)

Please feel free to submit via PRIVATE email here on this website or via PRIVATE message on Facebook the names of professionals who have conducted themselves in similar fashion. 

The best means of sharing information is to Contact Us HERE.

We don’t need a lot of detail for now, just enough to know that a bad/harmful outcome was obtained because professionals ignored or suppressed evidence that, if the laws and ethics rules were being followed, would have been used to provide protections and support.  Should you want to discuss your case or situation further, let us know and we will provide you with our Intake Form.

Any and all legal advice must come from an attorney licensed in the State of Georgia, so please note that submitting information – while we treat with all possible confidentiality and view submissions as sensitive – is not considered “attorney-client privileged.”

We are not attorneys but do have legal, financial & psychological advisors on stand-by and will help inform you so that you know you are in the right hands going forward.  (If you have peace of mind about those supporting you, you’ll make better decisions..meaning your children will be better cared for.)

Information can be shared with our Resource Team and advisors by telephone or in person if digital/email communications are not appropriate for your situation.  You can also submit evidence directly to contacts with press or law enforcement, and we can arrange to help you with that if appropriate;  just get the information where it can be followed through on.

At a minimum, and for starters, if you have a case where you can show what appears to be professional misconduct, you should immediately call the State Bar and request a grievance form.  We’ve been told, “If people are being harmed, then WHY are they not filing grievances with us?”

So, please do ask for those forms, fill them out, send them in on a timely basis.  (If you need assistance, we have good malpractice attorneys available to consult with you on this process.  Note that this is hourly fee-based work, but worth it if you can afford to pay it.)

The more information that comes to light about misconduct and cases being mishandled, the better our community can be served.

*Our job is NOT to act as law enforcement or reporters, but our mission includes informing and empowering those entities responsible for reporting and protecting.

Professionals: if you are committed to upholding laws, ethics rules, fiduciary duty and the needs of your clients – and especially their children’s needs – please let us know if you would like to help with these cases coming in.

One part of our mission is to help the State Bar fully realize the nature of the misconduct and the extent of the damages, and to influence this conduct to cease.

Give parents and children a chance to recover, so that they can thrive as they would be doing but for the interference, misconduct and hidden influence as described in the press coverage.

Going forward, we are working hard to help families transition through and out of conflict faster, to support children in receiving the best that both parents have to offer, and to allow the family’s resources to be preserved for the benefit of children and parents.

Children deserve to be healthy and supported, in the care of loving and available parents, and they deserve to see their parents thriving in this role.  Anything else is not natural, and does interfere with the child’s development and future.

Sometimes it’s OK to be seen as controversial, or even “radical” as certain guilty parties like to say… But here goes: Shame on you if you disagree with this, or if you stand in the way.

If you are a parent who has hired and used professionals engaged in these tactics… aimed at harming the other parent, please know that there is a way to correct your situation without making things worse.

We are especially asking you to reconsider this situation.  You’ve probably already done enough harm to the other parent to feel that sick sense of satisfaction…not that it’s ever enough when your temper is raging or when you are feeling wounded.

Just know this: There is a way to meet in the middle, better serve your children, and allow your family to move forward with less conflict, expense and stress.  For sure, having a conversation about options will not do you any harm. (We won’t tell if YOU won’t!)

Thank you for your trust and your support.

Improving the Divorce and Child Custody Process: What Matters?

A conversation for professionals and for parents interested in contributing to Solutions.

Solutions related to child custody disputes -including policy revisions & upholding fiduciary duty:

We hear that the Court is supposed to help parents arrive at something that is “in the best interests of the children” but that often is miscontrued.

It is most often just a notion that sounds good on paper or rolling off the tongue of a member of the Court.  It causes GOOD parents to assume that there is really nothing to worry about, that surely the Court will see the obvious…and the evidence…and allow them to continue serving their children well.

Sadly that is a myth. Actually it is more of a Trap than a myth.  Myths usually do not cause real, lasting harm.  A trap is something you are not meant to get out of.  Not in one piece anyway.

Disclaimer:  When we at M-A-C say, “Good parents” and “best interests” that can be applied to mean either Mother or Father;  this is not a gender issue.   Remove bias & restore accountability for Fiduciaries, ensure that laws & guidelines have ‘teeth’ and we can make rewarding progress.  For all parents.

Progress means getting rid of what merely sounds good, or lip service, and doing the hard work of helping parents resolve conflict, and getting help with dysfunctional behavior that led to the divorce or custody dispute.  

That statement is a big part of the solution:  proper counseling.

We have, at least in Georgia, some incredibly talented and effective healthcare and law enforcement professionals who are capable of amending and improving relationships between “high-conflict” parties.

These are resources that go largely untapped due to how the legal process is manipulated and controlled by a few who are not focused on “doing the right thing” — simply because it is assumed that it is harder work for less profit.  For certain Fiduciaries managing these cases, that is.

If you know how to identify legal professionals who will uphold Fiduciary Duty and apply their talent and experience to reach the best outcome for the family, then you have the best of all worlds:  the best legal minds doing legal work, the appropriate psychological or healthcare providers, along with law enforcement where called for.

So our mandate is to shift the focus to be: “Your bottom line as a professional improves as you Do the Right Thing, and uplift the Real Needs of Children and good parents.”   The guidelines and protocols are there to follow, which demands proper counseling — and parents are asking for it, children need it desperately, and it just isn’t that hard.

“Good parents” do not destroy children by undermining their needs just to get at, restrict or punish the other parent.  Period.  You don’t “split the baby up the middle” – you straigten out the parent willing to use the child as a pawn or weapon.

What currently exists in Family Law matters is something that is less about reality, or the REAL needs of children and parents, and more about doing favors and manipulating parties and litigation tactics to wear one party down, increase profits for the professionals, and reach an outcome that rewards the other party for being abusive.   That hurts good parents – no matter whether the “caregiver” and nurturing parent is the mother or father – and especially hurts the children.   Everyone who is owed a duty of loyalty and honesty here LOSES.   Unless they know how to prepare and avoid the traps…

Children & parents who have experienced trauma are counting on us. 

 We are determined that “Divided Families do not have to become Destroyed Families” as we are seeing in the current standard being set by certain practitioners of law.

WE CAN SAY THIS FIRMLY BASED ON CASE STUDIES WHICH WE WILL BE PUBLISHING SOON.

If you would like to receive white papers and case studies – or briefs related to cases involving misconduct – then fill out our contact form on www.MyAdvocateCenter.com.

You can also follow us on http://www.linkedin.com/company/my-advocate-center-llc.    If you decide to engage and contribute on this topic, joining the M-A-C Counsel for Change on LinkedIn may be your next natural step.

Simple ways to see our updates and excerpts of cases studies: Facebook.com/MyAdvocateCenter — @MyAdvocateCentr on Twitter

 

Most people agree, parent or not, professional or not, that children deserve the best that BOTH parents have to offer, right?   Sounds better than the “best interests of children…” whatever that might turn out to mean to someone focused more on profit than on helping children.

Children cannot get the best of both parents when both parents are left in a worsened state, often both emotionally and financially, and even physcially if home loss or medical conditions/illness result.

Children – tens of thousands of children each year – are experiencing more violence, addictive behavior, stress and uncertainty, as well as critical time with parents being lost…all due to an intentionally escalated and prolonged process.  More children turn to unhealthy coping skills as they react.

Want to interrupt cycles of violence and addiction?   Address what is happening in throes of legal battles.

Why is there so much trauma?   It can be due to the improper handling of Domestic Violence issues, or the loss of parenting rights, financial resources and homes, and sometimes due merely to the lack of honesty and loyalty from counsel.     All of these things destabilize parents and exacerbate anger, confusion, depression, anxiety…and all of this is absorbed by the children watching their parents and getting caught in the middle.

Who is watching these children to see what the effects on them are?

Teachers, healthcare workers, school directors, neighbors, family members and too often law enforcement as the dysfunction leads to juvenile delinquency.   But these people are not involved in the legal process and have no control over curbing the manipulation that is worsening the situation.  They feel their hands are tied.

Know that our perspective & value come from the collective strengths of many who have experienced loss due to breakdowns in communication, transparency & accountability around this legal process governing the division of children and other “property.”

What can you do?

Join us in contributing to the conversation about raising standards to mean something for children around how these cases are handled and governed, and do what you can to strengthen a parent who may be vulnerable in a “high conflict” legal matter or co-parenting.

Empower someone who needs to know how to better prepare and manage, and confront and hold accountable one willing to do harm.

 

Please spread the word that if someone is exploiting another who is in need of help and protection, and/or is disabled from PTSD or other qualified disability under the ADA, that ability to profit from their weakness is coming to an end.


Georgia Ethics as Priority

One of our top legislative priorities for this current session is ethics reform.  That’s great news.  

Why?   Because ethics problems, meaning the lack of ethics and how well they are hidden or glossed over, are hurting pretty much every facet of our lives, from our children to our economy.   Most business and government leaders are focused on a few top priorities, so we are asking that the view be expanded a bit.   We believe our intelligent, talented, creative and compassionate leaders will figure out a new way to approach and resolve this matter.

Why is My Advocate Center engaged in supporting and provoking ethics reform debate?

Consider that ethics problems affect our ability to create or replace jobs, encourage housing loss, and negatively limit talent and creativity in how our law enforcement and schools are run.   We expect great results, but we aren’t necessarily getting them, at least not compared to the money being invested and spent.

How is this impacting the Needs of Children?

The examples we follow at the top of the food chain in various sectors seem to be sending a poor message – the actual message, not the packaged message.

If numbers, efficiency, cost-effectiveness mean something to you around business development, then be a part of the conversation around what we have been missing in terms of how poor ethics are hitting us and draining our resources.   It has much to do with honesty and loyalty to our state and its citizens.   And it’s going to take more than lip service, glossy ads and well-run campaigns to get through on this.

(Even children, thanks to movies like WALL-E, can see what many of us are missing.  If you haven’t seen this, even with no children present, it might surprise you with some new insight and empathy.)

We have researched and produced case studies to help this sink in for government, business and community leaders:  because drained resources and inefficiency and problems running amok are getting in the way of serving and uplifting children.

Look at it from this angle:  a lack of integrity or ethics in leadership or professional conduct skews how families, parents, youth and individuals are treated in our Court system.   Individuals are so significantly harmed by poor ethics and a lack of Fiduciary Duty (by professionals) that it is taking a hit on our workforce, small business investment, local spending, and greatly increasing the burden on our healthcare system and schools.

If you’d like to understand how a company, say of 3,000 employees, is affected from a quality and cost standpoint, we can show you.  Our case studies can reveal not only the plight of children, families and individuals, but what this means to those investing in our local workforce and economy.

What might happen if we demanded better integrity and performance?   Isn’t that what we plan for and demand in our companies and in our homes?   How much more in benefits – profit, peace and enjoyment – could we experience here in this state by getting the ethics discussion on the right track?

By all means, let’s grab this ethics topic not only with both hands and with our microphones and pens, but by digging in our heels and holding on tight.   This will not be an easy resolution to reach in a meaningful way.  There is just too much money at stake for a few to let go of the status quo.   Only now it is time to ask the right questions and look at the issues in new ways, and to ask Oz to come out from behind the curtain.

Thank you in advance for choosing to be a Part of the Solution.

Now, let’s get to work…

For more detail, please refer to the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s January 14th edition, and attend the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s Eggs and Issues breakfast at the World Congress this Wednesday morning at 7am, January 16th, 2013.

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 CFC@MyAdvocateCenter.com.

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. Resources@MyAdvocateCenter.com

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:  http://www.ajc.com/news/news/crime-law/slain-woman-predicted-her-own-death/nTgj4/

11Alive News, by Rebecca Lindstrom: http://www.11alive.com/News/Crime/269855/445/Domestic-Violence-advocates-call-Marietta-murder-a-wakeup-call

East Cobb Patch, by Wendy Parker: http://eastcobb.patch.com/articles/donna-kristofak-feared-for-her-life

Perryville News, Obituary of Donna Kristofak: http://www.perryvillenews.com/archive/article_ba8feb62-53a8-11e2-991d-001a4bcf6878.html

If you are aware of or producing another piece on this story, please email Press@MyAdvocateCenter.com.

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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.

The Looking Glass: How Children See Themselves

Why the focus on children for My Advocate Center?

Check out this video, then keep reading and join in on this event to learn more!

This is important for both parents and professionals.

We do what we do because that is what is missing from too many legal disputes related to divorce and child custody matters.

There is an enormous gap in how cases are handled that allows the needs of children to get dropped from the discussion.   Yes, it sounds good enough that the law says we are to decide and act on matters based on the “best interests of the child,” but what does that really mean?

Can you think of many examples where that was carried out in a way that meant something positive to the child involved?

Chances are, what you recall from your own case or that of someone you know is that your children lost out in more than a couple of ways.  That is sad given that the parties and the professionals claim to be working for the “sake of the children.”  Please consider this:

“Children get their earliest, most lasting impressions of who they are from what is reflected back to them by their parents.  These impressions become those ‘records’ in the jukebox of your child’s brain.”  This is the Looking-Glass-Self principle provided by psychotherapists to describe what happens, and you can read about more examples in the Parenting Roles section on the Focus on the Family website.  Please read their articles about both the Real Job of Mothers and the one linked here for Fathers.

Can you imagine what children are seeing in this looking glass – this mirror that IS the faces of their parents during a time of extreme tension, conflict, uncertainty, hostility, fear, duress?

If you care about children, then your focus should be on improving what is being reflected for children.  If a parent, especially the main caregiver is made to feel fear, then the child absorbs and learns fear – and there is no way around it…the child learns to see himself as fearful.  Anxious, Uncertain, Sad, Pained.  Naturally this leads to a greater need for attention, for self-soothing, and affects sleep, focus and relationships.  Not what you are going for?

If you are a Parent currently embroiled in a custody dispute, ask yourself & your spouse what your children are seeing, hearing, feeling.  Is it necessary?   Are you willing to change the dialogue & your actions to be geared FOR your children rather than just ABOUT your children?  If you aren’t certain how to have this discussion or what to do about increasing conflict, let us know.  The professionals we are aligned with get this.

The time to insert common sense and reason – on behalf of children – is before conflict starts to escalate.  Parents on both sides, as well as the professionals, need to consider what they are willing to risk around the child’s well-being before they go down the wrong path.

We have found that this is missing in the process, so everything we provide to parents, professionals & policy makers comes back to this one point.

The truth around Family Court practices – what our case studies show – is that too often the wrong outcome is being intentionally created, causing the children to experience the worst of both parents, rather than what is best.

If the process and attitudes remain as they are in the legal arena involving divorce and child custody matters, then too many thousands of children will continue to be sacrificed for the sake of something much less important.  They are being sacrificed for the profit of a few.

If you are not willing to allow this to continue – if you want to be a part of the Solution and not a part of the Problem, then please connect with us and  help continue this discussion.