Parents Rights in Georgia Law and Rule 22 Application

Rule 22 Governs Permission for Recording Court Proceedings

Parents in Georgia have rights that are often not applied in child custody cases, including when someone other than a natural parent is seeking custody of the children. But is anyone paying attention to this type of loss and trauma?

If you are paying attention or are interested in increasing this focus, contact me here.

Protecting the right to record and maintaining open access to courtrooms does improve protections for families and children.

The content to follow is a developing body of work revealing clear examples of the difference it makes to have cameras allowed in courtrooms and to avoid restricting our press.

While I have much more to do here I wanted you to have access now to documents and videos as I upload them and welcome your questions and feedback as this story unfolds. Your attention is needed to ensure we protect access to our judiciary and ensure our courtrooms remain open.

Two problems are ripe to be solved:

1. Missing clarification of Georgia’s laws on the rights of natural parents.

Georgia judges and domestic lawyers expressed interest in this case because it could help clarify what was previously an uncertain matter left to the court’s discretion. Let’s address this issue first.

In the case featured in this article, the lawyer for the maternal grandmother convinced the court that the children would be at risk if they were left in the care of their father. The father was able to receive help thanks to volunteer lawyers through the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation and successfully appealed the trial court’s order giving custody to the grandmother.

With no evidence in support of the grandmother’s claims that the father was a violent man, the trial court gave custody for a second time to the grandmother. This time the Court of Appeals made sure the message was received, that the rights of natural parents should be taken seriously and that absent clear proof of ongoing or future danger to the children the natural parent’s rights are above those of a grandparent. Attached first is the June 24th ruling by the Georgia Court of Appeals, the final ruling driving home the instructions to adhere to the law and facts of the case. Additional filings and orders follow in reverse order.

Rights of Parents Georgia COA Jun 24 2016 by Deb Beacham on Scribd

2. A lack of transparency or ability to review proceedings in child custody matters

You might say this is the problem in all types of judicial proceedings, hence the attention given to the proposed amendments to Georgia’s Rule 22 governing decisions to allow filming or other types of recordings in courtrooms. Changes were proposed by Georgia’s judiciary and only a few organizations and individuals are focused on the flaws which could further restrict public access to court proceedings and discourage open records.

The focus here on child custody is due to the high volume of cases wherein children are used for leverage and/or to punish the other parent by moving to restrict rights, to cause pain and suffering or to avoid paying child support, for example. This is a widespread problem with almost nothing being done to curtail damaging tactics which exploit children and vulnerable parents.

Given the question of law governing the rights of natural parents and the opportunity to observe and film three pro bono lawyers fighting for a wrongfully accused father, I filed a Rule 22 Request to record this Hart County hearing. I learned about the case because the Court of Appeals had twice reversed the trial court’s ruling and remanded the case.

When I began my investigation into the case history and factors that caused the reversal, I recognized the pattern of abusive litigation that is causing so many of Georgia’s children to lose access to loving, available parents. When you’ve seen this pattern of foul play unfold nearly one hundred times, it becomes obvious pretty quickly that intervention and transparency are needed.

There are several videos to this story:

Initially the hearing was set for late summer in 2016, and the grandmother’s attorney argued vehemently against having the proceeding filmed. This video portion will be added shortly.

After listening to her argument, the judge allowed the recording to go forward.  The lawyer was not about to give up on her strategy for denying the father custody, so another tactic was put into play that would either prejudice the court against the father or cause another delay, or both. This clip will be added.

Rather than allow the grandmother’s surprise expert to testify without fair notice and a deposition, the father’s counsel objected and moved to continue the hearing to allow for their deposition of this child custody psychologist Dr. Barbara Oxley.

The argument made by Athens attorney Ed Tolley is one often missed in similar proceedings. His argument and commentary from our interview will be added here.

The continued hearing was reset for December, 2016, and again the court ruled in favor of my Rule 22 Request, saying afterwards, “These days you’re afraid not to grant these things.” Interesting perspective and statement, but I’ll take it.

I’ll be back to complete this story and share the outcome, which will definitely surprise you!  In the meantime, please let me know if you’d like to contribute to additional use of Rule 22 Requests and other forms of increasing both public safety and especially better protections for parents and children.

The rest of the footage of the trial above will be shared in the coming days, and admittedly it will have much more meaning to children taken from safe parents, and for parents stripped of their right to nurture children without cause.

In the meantime, here’s another sampling of images and news reports that have meaning and which support protecting the intent and integrity of Rule 22.

Where There’s a Will

The Will of a Loving Parent

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

We believe that to be true, but another way to put it, especially if you’re caught in a family conflict or in our court system, is where there’s willpower (and a fat checkbook), there’s a way to avoid accountability and even to harm an innocent party.

In every jurisdiction we’ve studied, multiple cases have surfaced in which innocent parties – especially parents – are being set up to fail.  This happens frequently in the form of false allegations of some form of abuse or fraud, targeting the innocent party to take the blame and the consequences of the party actually breaking the law and doing damage to the children and other parent.  Our mission began with sorting out why this was happening in family law or domestic cases but the same foul play occurs, of course, in other types of cases.

Our priority at My Advocate Center is the children who are caught in these battles and getting dropped through the cracks in our system, regardless of which court or which type of process is being used.

When children are suffering because someone they need is being intentionally and wrongfully targeted for failure, and when a judge, attorneys, guardians and especially DOCTORS just stand by or even participate in this foul play, we should all stop what we are doing and do not pass go until this problem is solved. And that is where we are in Georgia.

To learn more, to offer support, present a useful resource or to report a case, contact us here.

Psychology Today Contributor Gets It

No, it’s not your imagination. You heard correctly: a judge ordered children into a detention center and then into a special “camp” because they reported on family violence and asked to not be subjected to further abuse. The children spoke up because they did not want to be separated from the parent protecting them.

This issue is not about gender but about ignored facts and profit motives of certain professionals; it is just a game that is played in family court, and it harms mothers, fathers, grandparents and always the children.

At My Advocate Center in Atlanta, Georgia, we have been receiving data from and reporting on cases involving (equally) damages to good fathers and to good mothers, cases in which nothing makes sense when you look at the facts and available evidence and testimony.

The gender war (along with racial bias) is encouraged by the professionals profiting from the conflict, so that one group believes the other is benefitting from a bias or “unfair advantage.” Money does often play a role, but it is not always the person with access to money and status who is driving or benefitting from the foul play. This is why our data and reports are valuable to authorities, and why we support both professionals and parties in organizing facts and outcomes; it is overwhelming for those subjected to this misconduct, and even to professionals trying to unwind the case and assist the victims. You might not see who is causing the damages, how they are doing it and how it is being covered up if you do not look closely enough, or look at enough cases, including transcripts, billing records and custody reports (if the report has not been put under seal, if the transcripts are accurate and complete, and if the billing records or file are not withheld.)

The Michigan story this Psychology Today writer reports on could almost as easily be featuring a father who has been wrongfully separated from children who have asked for protection from their mother. That is the situation in an Augusta case covered by The Augusta Chronicle. It was not the father who was violent (per DFCS records which were hidden from the father), the child did testify on his behalf as did a competent, ethical guardian, but the facts and the needs of the child were ignored…while the father was stripped of everything – his rights to and time with his child, his financial assets, his job, and he was put in jail.

This Augusta case and other cases we have investigated show that men also are abused, and men can be the “protective parent” while the mother is the one involved in a “pay to play” game to avoid consequences for her own misconduct. What is being done to parents, to both mothers and fathers, sends the message that you are better off staying quiet about abuse (from addiction, violence, financial or fraud-related abuse) than asking for the court’s help. Ask for help at your own peril…and at your children’s peril…not that you are better off if you stay quiet, mind you. But many are told, “Do nothing, say nothing, or this will get worse; you will never see your child…”

The wrong outcomes are being forced upon good people and abused children as frequently as you see panhandlers near a highway or intersection; it is just something that happens and that many people have become numb to, but this happens to an unsuspecting public and causes irreparable harm. Currently there is no way to recover, including no way to recover or to bring home these children.

Coercion and intimidation tactics, and retaliation methods, rule the day, just like we see in this Michigan case with the children put in detention centers, cut off from their mother and the mother put under a gag order.

Child abuse can be prevented_My Advocate CenterAs in other cases, the children are old enough to be heard and to be believed, and they were clearly not represented properly by professionals charged with the duty of representing their best interests.

Psychology Today contributor Jennifer Baker, PhD, nails this story and the problems emphatically with her pen, in this article and in others, including this one and this one. This case and the issues is raises are not going away anytime soon.

This is one reason we focus on the needs of children consistently when noting questionable conduct and outcomes. The term best interest has been so badly misconstrued or even corrupted that it has become meaningless, at least in terms of the results shown in thousands of cases across the country, and around the world. Children are being betrayed when they ask for help and often silenced as the judge did in this case.

It is almost impossible to fathom that this is happening, let alone that it is often intentional and done in bad faith and with a complete lack of empathy for the trauma being caused to children and to the parents they need and want.

This is also a reason we emphasize to legislators that loopholes must be closed that allow certain court professionals to block evidence and testimony that should be used to protect children and victims of abuse. Evidence and testimony should be recorded and used for the benefit of our most vulnerable citizens; it is just not that complicated, but our data reveals that the opposite is taking place when cases are easily manipulated and controlled by certain attorneys and select child custody experts. If you read the transcript of this Michigan case and the associated articles, you’ll see what we mean.

What is consistent across these cases is the motive:

It is simply more profitable to keep children and safe parents off-balance, unprotected and ignored.  They have to spend money to fight back, until there is nothing left to spend. But typically the other side – the side driving the stress and trauma – will keep on spending. Profit over protection has become a pattern or a formula followed by professionals who typically lack oversight and who believe there will never be any consequences for causing harm to children.

We advocate for children to have the best of both parents, meaning the best that each has to offer, and that sometimes means one or both parents need to receive a “tough love” message from the court or the right treatment for addiction or counseling to manage bad behavior, but it that message should NEVER mean sentencing and locking up children who have not done anything wrong. Unfortunately, children in many states are being convicted and locked away – from safe, loving and available parents and families – when they asked to have a voice and to be protected.

To learn more or to report details of similar cases, please visit our Report Cases form on MyAdvocateCenter.com.

Deb Beacham, Founder and Director

Pro Advocate Radio: A Father’s Mission

Pro Advocate Radio

Protected: Dr. Elizabeth King, Atlanta Psychologist for Child Custody Matters

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Protected: Fraud in Georgia: Use of False Claims of Racketeering

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The Mystery Around False Allegations & Alienation

The subjects of False Allegations and Alienation of parents and children come up often, and are also often intertwined. In a large number of the cases we see, the parent who is committed to hurting the other parent – using the children – engages in tactics to either cut off the other parent from the children and / or works to discourage the children from loving and trusting the other parent.  This hurts the children in harsh and lasting ways, so this is why you see groups around the country focusing on stopping this form of abuse called alienation.

Making false claims against the other parent is just one way that the aggressor parent and his or her lawyer can manipulate the court into disrupting the relationship between the other parent and their children.  The aggressor parent can be motivated to punish the other parent, looking to use the children to control the outcome of the case, and using this form of foul play to reduce the financial settlement and child support to the other parent.

This is what we have observed in the Newnan story reported on by news media, as it was being driven by false claims perpetuated and leveraged in court by certain experts and attorneys. This case is not the only one where a mother is being falsely accused and prevented from seeing her children. Another Fulton County case reported on by news media shared the same use of foul play – creating a situation that could be falsely claimed as being the mother’s fault – to support a motion to make her pay…in every way possible. In both of these cases the local law enforcement and courts are being manipulated, undermined in their duties and leveraged to increase damages financially and legally to the targeted parent.

Most of these targeted mothers and fathers do not have much of a voice, and often have been drained of resources so they are unable to recover and manage through the necessary litigation to get their children back.

What is interesting is that at least one attorney calling himself a “Father’s Rights” attorney is doing to good mothers what men claim is being done to them — setting them up to fail and preventing them from having a relationship with their children. Based on what we’ve seen this attorney do in court, this is not just a big problem for fathers. Do your due diligence before you hire, and think twice before you wrongfully have another parent prosecuted.

More recently we are seeing good parents (mothers, fathers, grandparents) and professionals come together to support each other and to see what can be done about this.  Is it possible to intervene and turn these cases around, and to help victims recover?

It is terrible for these children to lose healthy, loving parents, and some of these children are being abused by the parent that the court awarded custody to, while ignoring and suppressing evidence of abuse. This is the situation in some of our Cobb, Fulton, Forsyth, Newnan Augusta stories.

If the mother is using false allegations, she may be looking to increase the amount of child support or the financial settlement by using fear and duress around the children and the father’s career and reputation. She may just want the father out of her way so she can move where she wants to freely, or may need him to appear guilty when she is the one who is addicted or violent. This is the situation in several of the Atlanta and Augusta cases we are analyzing and reporting on. Neither the aggressor parent nor their attorneys – or the custody experts involved – are thinking twice about the damages to the children, let alone the fact that they are destroying an innocent party.

False Allegations_Unreasonable Child Support Either way, this is wrong and should not be enabled by court professionals. We are looking to the court professionals to allow more transparency and to stop encouraging and enabling these harmful practices. False Allegations and alienation tactics are coming up a lot on cases because they cause the cases to be prolonged and lead to larger billings for certain family law and child custody professionals. Where we can see the active participation of certain professionals in using these tactics, whether it is causing them or enabling them – dishonestly and unethically – we refer to this practice as “Putting Profit Over Protection.”

One of the worst cases, and one with the highest dollar amounts going to dishonest professionals is a Fulton case you have seen aired on CBS Atlanta news reports. The GAL Jim Holmes has billed and been awarded approximately $166,000 in fees, and while helping to ensure that evidence of child abuse and child pornography are not allowed on the record. This GAL and others use psychologists such as Dr. Howard Drutman and Dr. Betty King to instead point the blame at the other parent, so as to justify the court’s ruling to punish or restrict that targeted parent.

This happens to both mothers and fathers, as personality disorders, abusive conduct, fear and hate are not gender-specific problems. The abusive parent can easily use the court system to control, punish and undermine the other parent.  The myths you may hear about is that more women alienate fathers, or you may hear that more men are abusive and able to get away with foul play because they are men and control the money. It is not that simple, so we use case studies to educate both men and women, and ask them to look at ways to intervene and support each other – meaning good parents and good professionals have to work together to address what is really driving and enabling the foul play.

The truth is that foul play comes in many forms, but the abusive parent is the one most likely to aggressively seek out ways to harm the other parent, and certain family court professionals are inclined to reward that behavior as it pays them well, regardless of which party has access to the funds from which they’ll be compensated. The truth is that certain professionals do not care which parent – mother or father – is willing to be abusive.

It doesn’t matter either whether their client or the other party has some form of misconduct they are motivated to hide or to continue doing (like child abuse, violence, substance abuse or financial fraud).  It is not the concern of certain professionals, according to what our case studies show, if this misconduct continues even if it is hurting children and the parents these children need caring for them and protecting them. When we use the term foul play, we do not just mean what one parent is doing to another, but what those professionals are enabling and ignoring. In this context, when we say foul play we mean where certain attorneys and select custody experts are used to help either suppress evidence – evidence that should be used on the record to protect children or the targeted parent – or where they are used to launch and validate False Allegations against an innocent parent.

By keeping evidence off the record, filtered out and hidden from the custody reports and “psych evaluations,” and by causing False Allegations against the innocent / targeted parent to appear valid, they can manipulate what the Court hears and rules on, and they can alter and manipulate the outcomes of court cases. For many of these professionals, this is just standard operating procedure, but the problem is that we have an unsuspecting public who does not realize that it is not safe for them.

If you are innocent and simply believing the court professionals will use the evidence and funds to protect you, your children, your rights and your property and life savings, you will face a rude awakening, but probably not until it’s too late. Because of this situation, we see many good parents losing their children, their homes, their careers and health, and filing bankruptcy. Some parents try to stand up for themselves and appeal rulings to correct a situation where they and their children have been set up to fail, and they wind up in jail because the judge and opposing counsel do not want to allow the case to be exposed or corrected. Fortunately this practice is not being used by all attorneys or condoned by all judges. All child custody “experts” and mediators are not involved or complicit.

In our reports you will learn about ethical, talented attorneys and child custody professionals and therapists speaking up and taking a stand to interrupt these practices and to help parents and children recover. To help you learn more from experts across the country, we shared this video from 2007 which includes a police officer who speaks to the use of False Allegations in the context of custody cases.  Her background leads her to speak more to men as the victim of this form of foul play, but our data is showing that women are just as likely to be falsely accused, to lose their rights to care for and protect their children, and to be destroyed financially and even jailed. Currently we have several parents who are in jail where their cases have been brought to our attention, and from all we’ve seen there is no valid reason for them to be in jail, and the fault lies with the professionals who acted as described above. In other cases, the abusive parent is going after the targeted or innocent parent, and lying to law enforcement and the courts to have the other parent cut off from their children and even jailed.

From what we are learning, law enforcement would prefer not to be lied to and used this way. It is a waste of our tax dollars and manpower, and it is leading to our communities being LESS SAFE and less economically sound or prosperous.

Law enforcement officers are seeing the damages to the children around the use of these foul play tactics.

We are asking the community to get more informed, to learn about these cases, and to ask legislators, news media, law enforcement and our leadership to get involved. This is destroying good families, destabilizing children and causing them to fail in school and to develop addiction problems, worsening their health and setting them up to repeat these cycles. Is that what we want?  Should we allow certain court professionals to keep building the mystery around the use of false allegations and alienation? Or is now the time for us to look at these issues and bad practices, and intervene? This is a Mystery that we can now take head on and clear up.  

Call to Action: Release Father from FALSE Allegations

CALL TO ACTION FOR MAY:  Ask the Augusta Assistant DA and the Court to not prosecute this innocent father.

COURT WATCH AUGUSTA: MAY 19-23 IN COLUMBIA COUNT. https://www.facebook.com/events/1424811577781088/

The Georgia Court of Appeals and Supreme Court are also asked to review this case and understand how this case went from a clear civil matter to what it is now.

This is wrong, and the same bad practices are affecting many good and innocent mothers and fathers in Georgia.

PRESS UPDATE:

WFXG Augusta Fox54 reported last night about the innocent father jailed for going to see his daughter.

This group of supporters is building in strength and number, and showing how effective you can be when supporting both fathers and mothers who are being damaged by the same unethical custody experts on these cases. 

This father believed he was not violating a court order when he went to see his daughter, but he had been set up to fail.

This is the problem created when certain attorneys use select custody experts to do the dirty work of suppressing evidence and creating or supporting what they know are FALSE allegations.  The attorney working this case with the father was told by the judge to stay on this case, but it appears the “work” being done was more that of a collection agent rather than advocate. Now is the time for all Augusta professionals to abandon the bad practices that undermine cases and damage children and good parents.  It is time to Turn this Around!  No, not too late…

What started this? A psychologist decided this father should not have such a strong bond with his daughter so he cut them off from each other for weeks (6-8 weeks). 

When a good, nurturing parent is cut off from a child who truly needs that parent…it causes severe damages for both.  Can you imagine being the parent your child relies on the most, and being told you have to avoid seeing her and that she can’t be told what is going on?  

Can you imagine also having your career taken from you, your vehicle and work tools, so that you have to leave town to find income to pay the fees put on you by this same custody “expert” who is destroying your child?

She now feels abandoned and confused, and it will take time to learn the depth of her suffering. How can she know what has really happened to her father and why?

Because this father has been denied medical treatment, and is being denied a real defense with full access to the evidence and testimony to support his case, the court found him guilty on civil contempt charges. He is now facing the criminal charges that would not exist but for the bad practices of the custody experts on this case.

Keep it going advocates, supporters and Augusta news media! 

If you are outside of Augusta or interested in learning how good parents are being set up to fail, and how our child custody laws are being undermined and our criminal justice system is being misused, this is a good case to examine and follow.

Parents around Georgia and the US who are struggling with similar cases: this is a true team effort here. This group has found a way to strengthen each other, and to leverage the information and tools demonstrated by @MyAdvocateCentr in the Atlanta area cases and news reports. Find people in your area and repeat what we are doing in Augusta – – this is possible!

Augusta:
Keep telling this court:

“Protect children first.”

“No More Fatherless Daughters – and Children deserve the Best of Both Parents”

“False allegations hurt children.”

“Open up the custody records and cases associated with GAL Doug Nelson and Dr. Jody Frey, and others.”


WFXG FOX54 Augusta – Your News One Hour Earlier

 

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If you haven’t yet read “Green Light Augusta” and seen the series of stories here in Georgia spelling out how parents and professionals are pulling together to undo and recover from bad family court practices, this is a good time to get up to speed and take action.

You’ve heard most likely about false allegations being used to give one parent an advantage over another, right?

Now we can show how certain custody experts play a key role in carrying those false allegations through the process to help the Court reach the wrong outcome in select cases. Join the Augusta Court Watch going on now.  

Observe, learn, ask questions and report on how this innocent father is being treated. Ask what can be done to ensure the available evidence and testimony are used to not only exonerate him, but help him restore his life and career – and more importantly get his daughter back in his care.  We are expanding on this case and other critical situations on Facebook and Twitter, and using LinkedIn as well.

#GreenLightAugusta

See this Event Page on Facebook to join & follow the updates.

We know that a GAL in Augusta was guiding the Courts there to take custody away from mothers who would not give in to his demands, but other very harmful situations are happening involving fathers as well.

This post is about yet another case manipulated and “thrown” by suspect practices inside of a child custody case in the Augusta district.

Now – this week in early May 2014 – this father is being held while a jury is selected, when he knows that transcripts and other evidence and testimony have been blocked by this court in the past, so that he could not prevail. It is a dire situation for him and his family, but the community is beginning to rally around him.  How can YOU help out? 

Will you be there to watch how the court handles the evidence and testimony?  Will they continue to deny him due process and insist that he serve time when it was the custody experts who suppressed evidence and set him up to fail?

The court has left him jailed for many weeks without bond and has denied him due process throughout his custody case and now into this criminal case (one that never should have been taken in the criminal court to begin with). He was taken into custody because he mistakenly believed he should be allowed to call his daughter and to see her before he left town to start a new job.  

WHY was he having to leave town to start a new job?  Because the Court and these custody experts made him turn over his work vehicle and tools – and all of his premarital assets – to cover their fees.  Fees that were NOT necessary on this case. He lost his ability to work there near his daughter, so he was forced to take a job out of STATE in order to earn enough to pay both child support AND the outrageous and unnecessary fees on his case. He merely wanted to say goodbye to his daughter before leaving town. He tried to file an appeal to better manage an unmanageable custody outcome, and the Court chose to jail him instead of allowing him to move forward on appeal.

Can you even fathom how complicated and challenging it is to defend yourself against something like this?  Unfortunately this is the reality in many counties when the wrong custody experts get involved in your case. This is the reality for many families in the Augusta and Atlanta areas.

Back to this case and to this father.  This is URGENT that leaders and news media learn more and investigate this case!

His daughter needs him and misses him, and doesn’t understand why her good father cannot provide for her as he was doing before this case was interfered with like it was.  The mother in this case was led to believe it was right to allow the Court and police to believe he posed a threat, when he did not. Now she and her daughter are unable to get child support, and her daughter faces losing a devoted father on top of that financial support.

Yes, this case shows the same issues as the cases that have been in the Augusta and Atlanta news.  The custody experts used on these cases should be investigated and have their billing records and reports thoroughly reviewed.