Fathers to Protest Domestic Violence Court Training
Court gender-profiling attacked with mock training manual
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"Were you cut?"
"Did you go to the hospital?"
"The judge won't want to hear that."
"Bruises and cuts.... but no broken bones."
"We're afraid of what she'll do if we take custody away from her."
... Spoken by GALs to fathers during custody evaluations; examples of how female domestic violence is minimized and dismissed to produce biased custody recommendations.
BOSTON, April 11, 2003 In anticipation of their protest next week of domestic violence training for court investigators, the Fatherhood Coalition today released a mock GAL training manual document ("How to Write an Effective GAL Report", excerpts following) intended to lampoon the double-standard employed by GAL investigators in contested child custody cases.
The protest will be held on Tuesday, April 15, from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) at 10 Winter Place in Boston. MCLE will be conducting mandatory training in domestic violence for the state's guardian ad litems (GALs), those people appointed by the Probate & Family Court to investigate families in contested child custody cases, usually social workers or attorneys.
The Fatherhood Coalition claim that GAL and family court regimes are incapable of an objective understanding of domestic violence and recognizing the truth in conflicting accounts of domestic violence in divorce cases.
Coalition officer John Flaherty explains why the Fatherhood Coalition rejects in principle the use of GALs to make custody recommendations:
"We reject the use of GAL recommendations to deny custody to constitutionally 'fit' fathers. The 'abuse training' for GALs is simply more proof of unscientific, feminist self-serving procedures to unconstitutionally deny fathers custody of their children."
In response to the training, the Fatherhood Coalition is calling for all fathers entering contested custody battles to refuse to participate in GAL investigations.
According to Mike Franco, State Co-Chair for the coalition, much of what happens to us seems driven by money and an ill-contrived social agenda. "We all know that the divorce and child custody industry is a multi-billion dollar industry nationwide," Franco said.
"There is an agenda that uses our children as leverage to distribute wealth from families to agents in and around the legal system.
"Parents often naively and righteously commit much of their wealth to fight for their children because they have a natural instinct to love and care for them," he said. "This uncanny predicament entangles people, preys on their vulnerability and keeps them dependent on the state."
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Excerpts from the mock GAL training manual, "How to Write an Effective GAL Report":
Parent was intoxicated, but claims to be in a rehab program.
The mother has had a history of substance abuse, but she shows a clear willingness to deal with her problems in a healthy manner, as evidenced by her voluntary treatment in a rehab program.
The father was intoxicated, and "claims" to be in a rehab program.
2. ObservationDespite very difficult economic circumstances following the family breakup, the parent has managed to rent a comfortable apartment with enough room for the children. The apartment was clean and sufficiently furnished.
Despite very difficult economic circumstances following the family breakup, the mother has managed to rent a comfortable apartment with enough room for the children. The apartment was clean and sufficiently furnished.
Father(Leave out of report).
3. ObservationParent recounts a violent episode where their spouse screamed obscenities, grabbed a picture off the wall and threw it at them, which struck them and shattered upon impact.
The mother revealed an episode where, in a blind rage, the father launched into an obscenity-laden verbal attack, and then grabbed a picture frame of the wall and threw it at her. The picture struck her and shattered. She chose not to go to a hospital for fear of further angering him.
Try to deny that the event happened as he perceived it. If that fails, minimize the event's importance by explaining how the judge won't want to hear it. If he is still insistent, try to discover what he did that caused her to react as she did.
If you do decide to include it in the report, you can write it up like this:
In response to the father's verbal, psychological, and physical abuse, the mother revealed an incident where she defended herself by grabbing a picture off the wall and threw it in his direction. The picture shattered upon impact, but the father was unharmed.
4. ObservationParent hugs child and openly displays physical affection.
The mother has a loving relationship with child, which she demonstrates by healthy physical displays of affection.
The father appears to be excessive in his need to touch the child. Though this reporter found no evidence of sexual abuse, the father's display of physical affection is troubling.
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CPF / The Fatherhood Coalition