Atlanta News Radio – Family Court Reform

The gavel dropped to open the 2014 Georgia legislative session, right after this brief segment aired.

All News 106.7 and Scott Kimbler reveal what is going on behind the scenes at My Advocate Center regarding Family Court Reform.

Help us serve the real needs of children who are not being protected due to foul play and hidden influence in certain family court cases.

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New Series: What Lawyers Say

Day One:  Lawyer Quote #1

Social Media Rocks.  Why?  Good lawyers are getting the word out.  We are listening.

It is NOT all attorneys and judges involved in wreaking havoc on unsuspecting citizens.

This is anonymous for now, until we have permission to use his name:

“Reforms are definitely needed in [my state]. To establish reforms that benefit the parties will require the participation of family law lawyers who support certain changes, too many which can be listed here.  (MAC: we agree) That said, it’s no secret that the family law system is a business. Additionally, it should be generally understood that model does not serve clients well, unless a client gets lucky and hires a highly ethical and competent family law lawyer who is more interested in resolving the divorce as amicably and efficiently as possible, rather than generating the most billable hours. I’ve seen far too many examples of the latter.

I was told by prior employers that I solved cases too quickly, and that by doing so, I cost that employ tens of thousand of dollars that could have been generated from the case (had I not resolved the parties issues so soon). That’s the primary reason I decided to work for myself, so my hands would not be tied, in terms of helping people resolve their divorce without costing so much, and without the unnecessary generation of conflict.

To put out a fire, one should apply water, not gasoline. Many family law lawyers apply gas to increase the fire. The brighter and longer the fire burns, the more money they make. Of course, one who has a conscience (such as myself) finds this approach beyond deplorable.

Again, it’s no secret (at least within the industry) that most family law lawyers don’t bend over backwards to resolve conflict as quickly as possible, whether their reason is to generate more billable hours, or they lack the skill (professional/legal or interpersonal) to help parties resolve conflict in a competent manner.  (MAC note: why should this secret be kept from the public?)

Most lawyers are adept at conflict. Also, many get into family law for the wrong reason (because there’s plenty of work and it seems like an easy area of law, and it’s also easy to start a solo practice). Hence, parties are at high risk that once they initiate their divorce process and hire a lawyer, that their problems will escalate.”

* This is just one sample: lawyers all over our country are stepping forward to say they are OVER being labeled along with those who commit fraud, breach fiduciary duty, commit legal malpractice…or who are just plain lazy or greedy, or all of the above.

Keep it coming!

#Courage #ThrowawayClient

problem_solved

What many lawyers – not all – want you to do

The Full Story Behind the Divorce Corp. Film

There was another documentary made before this Divorce Corp. film, but from a different perspective. It was not narrated by a big name media personality so most of us did not hear about it. My Advocate Center’s Executive Director Deb Beacham learned about this documentary after talking about the Divorce Corp film with family court leaders and advocates around the country.

That’s the lead in to the rest of the story, a story that will continue developing as we get closer to our event and the world premiere of this shocking film.

Just know it’s about more than one film, and about more than one voice.

While waiting to hear what Dr. Drew says about the family court industry, please watch this trailer and understand the issues from the perspective of children. Many of Dr. Drew’s adult patients were victims of childhood abuse.

No Way Out But One is important, and is complementary to what we are talking about on the night of our Divorce Corp. screening.

This is about child abuse that is covered up, but using the same court professionals who punish innocent fathers.

 

After you watch this trailer, please join Court Watches around the country like this one in Cobb County, Georgia.

Fulton County: Pay to Play (Part Two)

 

Why raise the issue of “Pay to Play” on these child custody cases?

It’s a simple matter of the public wanting to know why the damages to good parents and to so many children are what they are during and following a legal conflict:

Some of the questions the public is asking include, “How many high-paid attorneys and custody experts does it take to influence a judge to ignore evidence and the wishes of a child?”  This is a fair question raised in Fulton, Cobb, Forsyth and Dekalb counties in similar cases involving child abuse.  It is fair to ask also, “Should this influence be allowed to stay hidden?”

It is a bigger question because many of these cases had possible outcomes that were faster, less traumatizing and expensive for the parents and children.

But the damages are not just happening to children, or around cases involving abuse.

Evidence of addiction and other misconduct / foul play is being ignored where it will allow a healthy and innocent parent to protect themselves. This is while certain professionals on those cases earn higher fees from that keeping that parent caught in the process.  It just takes lying to the innocent parent in saying “Oh, that evidence doesn’t count, or that misconduct won’t matter to the Court,” then creating more uncertainty by faulting the innocent parent instead of using available evidence, and the perfect storm is ripe for increased professional gain.

Parents are being told that the “trends” in family law mean that leaving out evidence is appropriate, and that means the financial losses & physical / emotional harm to good parents and children…is all fine, too. So we invite the press to ask, are these “trends” in line with our laws?  We know for sure they are not in line with common sense or with what our children need to be healthy and supported.

So this question on this Fulton case becomes fair game:

Does it really make sense that a GAL on a case like this one is billing over $133,000.00?    Wouldn’t the evidence on its face suffice to provide the right answers to the court?  How is this “trend” good for our children or our state?

Because of this coverage on these unusually high custody expert bills, many more cases have surfaced revealing that “things just don’t make sense” around amounts billed and by whom, and when compared to the evidence and facts of the case – and when seeing the damaging outcomes for children.

See the story posted below for the reason reporter Jeff Chirico did a follow up story on billing records and money.  Note that we have not seen one case with an innocent parent where these same professionals worked this hard to use their influence over a judge.  If they have such a case, our analysts would welcome the chance to compare billing records and the advocacy involved.

There is nothing wrong with making  a great living, or with paying experts when you need and can afford them.

The issue we are raising is that “neutral”  or “child-focused” professionals and their billing practices are doing harm in ignoring evidence that would end litigation and provide protections.

The results are reflecting that more innocent parents are being damaged in spite of evidence that supports them, while the actual perpetrators are able to get evidence ignored.  Either way the children are harmed.

Based on what we’ve seen in this case and in others, if you are guilty of something, then you have a clear path to follow in how to avoid losing in court.  Our point here is that the evidence of this case is impossible to argue with; and certain professionals are working hard to keep out the evidence, even those whose job it is to be “neutral” and to protect the child. (This statement is true and is based on the analysis of dozens of local cases, so we are not amending this statement until we see evidence to the contrary – which we hope will be the case in this next trial.)

If you are a good, innocent parent working to protect a child and to protect your rights, then hiring is a very different matter.  Having significant financial resources and connections as this father does, does not guarantee that the professionals you hire will advocate as needed on your case.  Money does not buy loyalty, but apparently it can buy a cover-up.  The cover-up can work in favor of a parent who is guilty of abuse, but in a number of cases brought to us the cover-up is done to protect a parent and professionals who have lied to police in bringing false allegations.

This means that in other cases, the professionals hired by affluent fathers are allowing their innocent clients to be set up to fail around false allegations.  So, if you are a father who has been falsely accused and lost big, do not make the mistake of thinking that this case may be like yours.  It simply doesn’t work that way – not based on a large number of case evaluations done over a period of several years.

So here is a tough question that is asked of us repeatedly:

Why is it that fathers who have been arrested in different jurisdictions, with reports of abuse substantiated, can use these professionals to hold a child hostage and harm an innocent, nurturing mother?  Then on the flip side, why are fathers who have done nothing wrong and have supported the mother and children (even in the face of adultery and addiction), being condemned and destroyed?

This is happening because it is profitable, and because there is no transparency on these cases.  The next question obviously is “where is the accountability” – does it exist?  The recording and reporting of these hearings is critical for both the public safety – especially that of children who barely have a voice to be able to ask for help – and also for the sake of the public trust in our legal system and judiciary.

If you are a professional who wants to see these cases adjudicated according to evidence and laws, and to ensure the safety of children and the rights of good parents, please look into this case and attend the hearing if possible.

If you are a parent who is uncertain about where to turn to safely navigate situations involving real or false allegations, contact us first.

* This post and this story are posted here together so that following the outcome of this case is easier.  CBS Atlanta did a thorough job investigating and reporting, and was threatened by Dr. Howard Drutman.

 

This is an excerpt from CBS Atlanta’s coverage on this story:

FULTON COUNTY, GA (CBS ATLANTA) –

CBS Atlanta News has learned attorney James Holmes is revising his $133,000 bill in a custody case, in which he served as a guardian ad litem, after reporter Jeff Chirico questioned his fees and his recommendation.

As a guardian ad litem, Holmes is responsible for advocating for the best interest of a 10-year-old girl whose identity CBS Atlanta News is withholding.

Last month, Fulton County Superior Court Judge John Goger ordered the girl live with her father despite allegations he had sexually abused her. Holmes and a court-appointed custody evaluator, Howard Drutman, recommended that the girl’s father receive primary custody of his daughter.

CBS Atlanta News obtained an e-mail Holmes sent to the parties, indicating his fees for working on the case from Spring 2012 through April 22, 2013 totaled $133,000.89.

Fulton County Follow Up: Pay to Play (Part One)

Update on Fulton County CourtWatch:

Please learn more about what parents go through when trying to support children who report abuse.  This article is helpful, so please click here to read.

Judge Goger allowed a hearing this past week on whether or not he will allow press to record an upcoming trial.  Good arguments were made about the potential risk of the “digital footprint” that video and audio recordings present, but risk to whom?

Is the risk greater for the experts ignoring evidence, or is it greater that the child will not get the protection and freedom deserved?   It might be worth comparing this case to others to see what these same experts are doing, and what the fallout is for the children involved.

The risk that press coverage presents is that whistle blowers might be validated, and those involved in “pay to play” might not get as much bang for their buck.

The whistle blowers around this case were certainly attacked, and even accused of conspiring with each other.   That was as interesting as claiming that “recording this hearing reduces the dignity of the court.” Opponents of the press recording said a “digital footprint equals digital ranting” and “this case already has too much attention, and too many blogs.”

The conclusion of that hearing: Judge Goger chose to use GAL Jim Holmes’ version of the Order, which said press could record the trial but only if Jim Holmes received the full recording from the station.  We are not sure how this protects the girl’s interests…or what caused Mr. Holmes to add that strange condition to the order.  To help balance out this issue, large numbers of concerned citizens will be in the courtroom recording notes on what is said and done by this GAL and other experts who are clearly not interested in supporting the evidence presented by this child and her therapists who reported abuse to the police.

Attorney Jeff Bogart is the father’s attorney.  Custody expert Carol Webb is advising the father along with his attorney.  Jim Holmes is the GAL, Dr. Howard Drutman is the custody evaluator and therapist supporting the father is Danielle Levy.  This is why recording this trial is important: What Matters is whether the judge hears an unbiased presentation of the evidence and whether the experts represent accurately what has transpired on this case.

The hearing transcript around the question of allowing press to record the trial will reflect that the father’s attorney made a clear misstatement of the facts of the case.  But his concern for the child’s future and current well-being is to be commended.  Our position is that if you are truly concerned for the child’s health, then do not misrepresent the facts, as these facts serve to ensure protection of the child.  If you mean it when you say, “She deserves a clean shot at a healthy life,” then allow her to get the right treatment and to have access to her mother and to safety.

“This is far greater than a custody case,” was another true statement made.  Where this child lives is important, and for her to be able to have her health and mother back as her caregiver are critical.  But what is being revealed in this case is more than about custody.  It raises many questions that will only get bigger throughout this trial.  When Jeff Bogart claimed in frustration, “This case has already been a CIRCUS” and “the previous press coverage was unnecessary,” he invited even more answers to the foregoing questions.

Thank you to all the professionals present who made solid arguments, and by doing so help make us better advocates here as well.  With each case that we observe and report on, we learn more and do better for both the public and for your profession.  Our collective goal should be to better support children, help parents give children their best – the best of BOTH parents – and in doing so we can help to restore the public trust.  Currently that trust has been destroyed by the professional misconduct in so many of these cases.

My Advocate Center is here to help encourage transparency, and not to incite anger or disrespect for the Court.  We do not promote rantings. Other blogs that incite negative emotion are not associated with My Advocate Center, as our focus is on solutions and clear, positive answers.  We check facts and consult with court staff, law enforcement, healthcare providers and policy makers to ensure the right perspective is presented. Our purpose is not to promote one side or the other, or to be antagonistic; it is to be thoughtful and constructive.

The point is that children deserve the truth to be heard and to receive protections where called for, regardless of who the “protective” parent is or who the alleged perpetrator is.  The family’s resources should also be preserved for the benefit of the children as well, rather than drained away and withheld from parents working to care for these children.

Where “Pay to Play” is enabled and encouraged using these custody experts and “reunification” experts, this is a problem requiring our community and state help to find solutions.

Note to good fathers: what applies here can be said for your cases. You and your kids are being hurt by the same issues.  Children are being given to unhealthy parents while good parents are being cut out of their lives.  That is a BIG problem.  Please watch our Court of Appeals and Supreme Court dockets for more on these cases.

 

Mission: Improve Family Law

Why is My Advocate Center a mission, or considered a public service?

The public trust is being destroyed at an alarming rate around our legal system.  This is not just a family court issue, of course, but our focus with this organization is on what is happening to parents and children, and what can be done to restore balance, help families recover faster, and to prevent more of the misconduct that is driving a severely negative aftermath.

What this Situation looks like to families:

  • Parents are being deceived as they go through divorce, manipulated due to their vulnerable emotional state.
    • They are experiencing escalated and prolonged conflict rather than advocacy designed to lower and end conflict.
    • They are losing everything they have in the process, rather than having resources (including time and health) preserved for the benefit of their children.
  • Parents are losing their right to time with their children and the right to nurture and protect children.
    • This is happening to both fathers and mothers, and in contrast to what the evidence of the case dictates.
    • This is in conflict with our laws & ethics rules governing family court professionals. It is in conflict with common sense and with our humanity.
  • Our reporting stemming from the investigation of these cases explains that in many cases, the healthier parent is often targeted for loss and undermined with regard to providing for children and with regard to the financial outcome.
    • This is occurring while the more dysfunctional or vindictive parent is rewarded for using foul play.
    • It appears there is a simple profit motive for cases to be managed toward this end.  The more you incite an “off-balance” or vindictive party, or the more risk you create for a child, the more desperate the other parent will be to litigate to restore balance or prevent loss.
    • The examination of billing records by many attorneys and custody experts provides a clear picture of the motive behind the mismanagement of cases and the abandonment of ethics.
  • Children are losing the best of both parents in many situations, as one or both parents are removed from the children and to a degree that is either not necessary.
    • What is being done to parents in a large number of cases is not in keeping with the facts of the case.  If you look at each case it is clear that what is being told or done to parents by professionals is either causing or exacerbating the problem.
    • The damages, the worsened outcomes, are beyond what these parents would cause or experience on their own.
  • These families are not just dividing assets and time; they are being destroyed, and the mental health damages are on the rise.
    • These leads to more addiction, more violence, and more trauma for children.
    • This also means that in cases involving child abuse, the children are losing the parent who is more nurturing and protective, and they are often subjected to more abuse.
  • Parents are so distracted & destabilized by the process, by what certain professionals are doing and saying to them, that they feel helpless and hopeless.
    • They cannot make informed or good decisions, and until it is too late, they do not realize that they have been set up to fail.
    • Many are losing their homes as a result.
  • Many litigants lose control after realizing that much of what was done to them and to their children was done intentionally.  The trauma from the betrayal combined with their losses is too much for some, and we have seen suicide and other devastation.
  • Some parents work to learn the truth surrounding how their cases were handled, and are finding that it is virtually impossible to correct the damages or to have accountability for the professionals who caused the damages.
    • After vetting many dozens of cases in this area, a clear pattern has surfaced which reveals that certain attorneys, custody experts, financial advisors and judges are cooperating to cause the damages and to cover for each other.
    • This realization is leading to a desperate and outraged public.  With no end in sight for consumers, there is no hope for the public to trust our legal system.
  • Even more parents are too destabilized, or too ashamed to acknowledge what was done to them, to even be able to speak up and ask for help.  This serves to feed desperation and bitterness, while also enabling the misconduct to continue and even increase.

It is critical now that we work together as a State to avoid more of this where and when possible.

My Advocate Center helps you see the path ahead, like never before possible.

My Advocate Center helps you see the path ahead, like never before possible.

Solutions:

We believe all of this does not need to be the case, and that there are solutions that are positive, inclusive and that can benefit parents and children across the socio-economic spectrum, from all areas of our state.

These solutions benefit both consumers and professionals, while also serving to uplift our schools, law enforcement and our government agencies — as healthier, more intact families make contributions to community and help reduce waste and time lost from school, work and life.

  • We are working on a number of cases right now where we can demonstrate that it IS possible to make corrections and to restore balance.
    • Transparency is being introduced where none existed before.
    • Identifying & supporting the right legal professionals as they advocate for corrections in a way that serves the real needs of children is key.  It is clear now that there are attorneys who believe in upholding the needs of parents and children, and who take fiduciary duty & the standards of care seriously. They are using available evidence to reach the best outcomes, protecting clients and children in an ethical manner.
    • Our healthcare community plays a critical role in supporting families, but is currently under-utilized in serving the mental health needs of parents dealing with conflict and dysfunction.
    • More upstanding medical & psychological professionals are showing support and speaking up, offering help on these cases.
    • Demonstrating what is possible when parents can address their real mental health needs, and while being served with honest and loyal guidance from legal & financial professionals will do much to create positive changes to the negative trends described here.
  • The forward-thinking part of our mission is to create an informed public who will seek out the best counseling early in the process, where prevention and intervention can take place.

Improving the Family Law Environment:

  • Doing this work will go a long way toward restoring the public trust, to restoring balance in a way that helps our legal system function as it was designed to – for the benefit of our citizens and their children.
  • Parents and children will have a voice and a way to be heard that makes a difference in how they are treated in our legal system, and in a way that leads to better outcomes and faster recovery.

With the help of our advisors from various civic and business sectors My Advocate Center has developed white papers and case studies that address both problems and solutions related to the damages being caused to far too many parents and children in Georgia.

In these documents we outline the various components of this industry in a way that will help you understand the big picture, specifically why thousands of people and children are left in worse shape than where they were found before entering the legal system.  This section on our website was designed to present some of the highlights.

Perspective:

There are several key points we ask you to keep in mind as you read and digest our reports:

  • The extent of the damages being caused to good parents and to children is unnecessary.
    • Divorce is bad enough, but what the process is doing to families is worse than what even “high conflict” parents do to each other, and it is worse than what the children are experiencing before their parents enter the legal process.
    • We are asking you to focus on why that is the case, who is driving this situation and preventing transparency and accountability.
  • While this is a large and complicated problem, we believe nothing is impossible.  The alliance that has been forming to start shifting and correcting these issues has powerful resources.
  • A growing percentage of our population believes that all legal professionals, including all judges, are corrupt.  Many see the whole system as broken, and want it taken down.
  • Our leadership sees extensive damages, large numbers of cases being mishandled with a worsening aftermath for children and for parents.
    • Their mental & physical health are negatively impacted by trauma created from professional misconduct layered on top of naturally occurring losses.
    • Parents are finding they cannot provide for their children because of what was taken from them financially, and they are losing their ability to work and be productive, or to recover as they might have otherwise.
    • These parents and children are unable to thrive and contribute in our communities, certainly not in the way they would have without this additional damage.
  • However, we at My Advocate Center and those in our alliance do not see that this is caused by a completely “broken system” but rather it is caused by a select group in each sector of the legal system who choose to exploit for financial gain.
    • Not all attorneys, judges and custody or financial experts who serve in family court do business this way.
    • By focusing on those professionals who uphold families, laws and ethics rules we can improve this situation.

Please contact us to learn more and to request your copy of our White Paper or to review case studies appropriate to your area of interest.

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.

The Hostage Child, Fiction or Non-Fiction?

An unfortunately accurate title.  So what do we do about it??

In 2013, in Georgia, there was a hearing that was a continuance of an “Emergency” hearing that had been scheduled for over a MONTH where a teen girl has been begging the Court for relief.  Not because she was yelled at…because she was being tormented & cut off from the help she needed, to the point where she became desperate and even suicidal.

It was outrageous and worth revealing to the public because most of us believe that when children are in danger that the court would respond quickly and efficiently to help save a life.  Too often that just isn’t the case.  This is one of the reasons for sharing stories from across the country, and asking our leadership to work on changes that will better protect kids in these situations.

Is it really necessary to make a child wait like this after so many outcries for relief?

@MyAdvocateCentr reports that her affidavits made jaws drop and eyes become shiny with tears.  Not one affidavit…several.  These were filed in Forsyth County to ask Judge Bagley to please pay attention, to please give her the freedom to say “Stop.”

Please stop here and watch this video.

Back to Georgia:
The father decided to retaliate against the school counselor who has worked to give the teen relief from oppression and duress – so the father tried to have him fired.  Is this community going to stand behind a courageous girl & the school counselor?

A bold attorney actually found visible evidence – the morning of the first part of this hearing – of the very comfortable relationship between the Judge and the father’s attorney.  Seasoned professionals approached & thanked her for speaking out & revealing the truth.  Of course, the Judge saw no reason to recuse…so maybe he believes he can rule properly on this evidence?

Update:  Judge Bagley did, in fact, see reason to grant this girl’s request and restored balance to her life with both parents.  He also prevented the father from sending her away to another “camp” that the father insisted she should attend since she was indicating she wanted more time with her mother.

Why send a child away, getting LESS time with her, just to keep her from having time with her mother?  Whether it is this camp he mentioned or the previous one he used, why do that at all?

The father’s attorney actually put in writing that she not only recommends the Rachel House in Texas on cases like this one, but she also said this judge would help support another judge sending children there.

Do you know what the #RachelHouse (aka #RachelFoundation) does to children?  Do you realize the purpose behind sending children out of state and isolating them?

Please join in, and do report cases here where a #Judge has worked with the #RachelHouse to tell children that abuse is OK.

#NeedsofChildren #GAFamilyCourt #DomesticViolence #StopChildAbuse

 

Please see our Facebook post about The Hostage Child book for more detail on purchasing this book, or learning the reality for many children who make outcries to the Family Courts in Georgia.