Preparing Your Court for a Trauma Consult

Being trauma-informed means asking,

What happened to you and how can we help?

versus

What is wrong with you?

The Trauma Manual for Judges in Family and Juvenile Courts

Informed judicial officers and other court professionals can make an immediate, positive impact on children and parents who are being traumatized by abuse and fraud within their immediate family or through their extended family units. We believe it’s worth spending the extra time to learn and to discuss these issues with other court officials and also with family members in your cases to engage them in the process.

This guide or Trauma Manual as referred to by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges will go a long way toward making your courtroom a safer and more constructive path for those who enter your court seeking protection and relief from abuse. [Read the Judicial Guide to Child Safety in Custody Cases to learn to recognize signs that abuse may be concealed from the record.]

NCJFCJ Trauma Manual for Family and Juvenile Court Judges by Deb Beacham on Scribd

Trauma Prevention in Courts: What Judges Should Know

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges has developed several insightful tools for judges and court staff involved with families dealing with conflict and troubling transitions. Mental health, family violence / economic abuse, child abuse and neglect, addiction, loss of homes and jobs, confusion and fear all mix together to bring new and greater challenges to our courts every day.

Previously I wrote about Judicial Guide to Child Safety in Custody Cases as the safety of children is often lost in the shuffle of legal documents and tactics to gain an advantage. Improving safety, reducing stress and keeping loving, safe parents together with their children can be back-burnered when professionals appearing before judges are too focused on billings.

Denying children safety or peace of mind and failing to protect parents who are being victimized by physical, mental and/or economic abuse translates to trauma and trauma-related symptoms that can set children up to fail, impacting them harshly for life. Fortunately more professionals are making time to learn and to advocate against abuse and uncertainty, and policy leaders are making this a priority.

Please read and share these documents with your staff and other judges and court professionals you know. Preparing to assess trauma and to respond for the sake of improving safety and recovery time will save lives. Contact me here if you would like to review case studies that show the difference – how lives are saved vs. lost depending on how courts respond to abuse of parents and children.

The Trauma Manual for Judges can be downloaded from this page as the next step after reading the “Changing Minds” Infographic below.

Thank you for paying attention – and taking action on this important topic!

Deb Beacham

Trauma Infographic for Judges 2016 by Deb Beacham on Scribd

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.

Protected: What Makes a Guardian Great?

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Our Wish is for Children to Be Cared for by Safe, Loving Parents

These simple wishes this holiday season remain our top priority:

family, charity, healthcare, health. christmas, x-mas and happy

Return children who have been removed from parents they love and need. Prevent children from being sent out of state and isolated for the purpose of silencing them.

Restore relationships between children and parents when they are separated for all the wrong reasons, and even cut off from all communication.

Protect children who are being abused, including emotionally abused when safe, loving parents are threatened with the loss of their children.

Protect the rights of parents asking court professionals to ensure they stay in the lives of their children. When the opportunity presents, help them recover from trauma and loss associated with these avoidable problems.

Show some courage and help grant them their wishes!

 

Financial Guidance During Divorce

Financial Guidance During Divorce Can Make All the Difference

While that statement seems obvious, the issue is where you obtain your advice and knowing whether your counsel actually has your best interests in mind, or not.

Financial counselors, like attorneys and child custody experts, are not all equal and a handful will actually stand by or participate in helping to misguide you during a very emotional and turbulent family conflict.

One trust source of information is nationally recognized author, speaker and advisor Jeff Landers.

We invite you to read his work, and let us know if you need help selecting a local expert to review your situation and to assist legal counsel during a divorce or other legal or financial matter.

Financial Uncertainty & Resentment Towards a Partner’s Financial Status is a Large Factor Contributing to the Divorce Rate

If there is a way to get the right counsel at the onset of conflict and disagreement, please do not hold back in trying to resolve the issues before hiring lawyers and filing for divorce.

You may find out there are options you did not know were available to you otherwise, and in many cases, it’s worth the investment and taking a chance.

Please contact us if you are seeking financial guidance and before deciding on a team of professionals if you are caught in conflict that may lead you into the legal system.

Founder’s Tip:

Just because many family law attorneys use certain forensic accounting firms that does not mean there is any value to be had in signing a contract, paying a retainer and hoping for the best in the end. Get informed from those who have gone before you in this process. 

The exterior of a Bankruptcy Court building

Data gathered by My Advocate Center shows that there is a way to manage through family conflict without being forced into bankruptcy. Understanding fiduciary duty is a good first step.

Now That We Know: End Human Trafficking

This Pro Advocate Radio broadcast page is dedicated to a unique organization that is positioned to end the trafficking of children and other victims of sexual abuse:

CLAWS: Civil Lawyers Against World Sex-Slavery

“Could you have fathomed that human trafficking would present a real and present danger in the United States, let alone right in your own backyard?”

No, neither could we, but our eyes are wide open now and we invite you to listen and to get involved with CLAWS.

Please scroll down to the Audio Clip for this special show featuring CLAWS, then visit www.usCLAWS.org to purchase tickets for the inaugural benefit on 9/24 at the Atlanta History Center.

This is an event you don’t want to miss, so come prepared to be moved into action!

Who ~ What  ~ When and Where:

David Boone, Trial Lawyer, President and Founder of CLAWS

David Lester, Executive Director of CLAWS

Civil litigation is a powerful tool that is available to help law enforcement and society interrupt, intervene and eradicate this nightmare.

CLAWS has the legal prowess and willpower to take predators to task, while helping victims seek restitution. Your support will go a long way toward seeing the number of survivors trump the list of perpetrators.

Yes, this is a bold call to action, but now that we know, we must use our resources, including our time and talent in the world of civil litigation, to end this nightmare that ruins the lives of so many.

The Launch on September 24th: Learn more about CLAWS and show your support at the Inaugural Fund-Raising Gala at the Atlanta History Center.

Check out event details on this Facebook page and please share with your networks:

 

US CLAWS Save the Date 9.24.15 GALA

 

Pro Advocate Radio broadcasts out of Atlanta, Georgia, on both 92.5fm on Saturday morning at 8am and on the Buckhead Business Radio channel. Advocacy is in the Air: we spotlight important issues and help non-profits and dedicated professionals continue conversations that save lives and support our communities.

Exploitation and trafficking destroys lives, so we invite you to join with CLAWS and decide how you can help.

 

Protected: Corruption Investigation in Dekalb County by Mike Bowers and Richard Hyde

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