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A Cry for Oversight: The Necessity to Effectively Regulate America's Family Courts

Nationwide, judges are given a great deal of discretion in handling family court matters. Many of these decisions carry a great impact not only for the families who are directly involved but also for the community as whole. Due to the very nature of family court cases, with pertinent events taking place within the privacy of the home, it is no surprise that decisions being made often result in situations that are not in the best interests of children.

Many custody cases are mishandled and in some cases judges abuse their discretion or act in a way that is arbitrary or biased. Those who are harmed by the court's actions often face a lengthy process in resolving these situations and tend to obtain very little relief if they choose to take steps to have the judge reprimanded, leaving the judge free to continue to do harm to the community.

It has become endemic within our legal system that not only do judges and other court professionals receive very little training (in North Carolina, new judges only receive 2-3 hours worth of training on the dynamics of Domestic Violence and Abuse) but due to pushes from father's rights groups, many have been trained to view claims of abuse with skepticism. As a result, protective and loving parents are being met with suspicion and, sometimes, outright aggression and children are being removed from stable, loving homes and placed with their abusers. In many instances counsel for the abusive parent will site parental alienation, a scientifically unfounded "syndrome" and potentially dangerous in it's application within custody hearings. What is dangerous in it's application is that it sets the precedent that it is worth the risk to possibly place many children with abusers rather than lean toward protecting the safety of children. The incidences of false accusations of abuse are relatively small and there is far more danger in treating abuse allegations as being fabricated. The courts have relied very heavily, in recent years, upon what has been coined the "friendly parent doctrine", an idea that on it's face is very good in your standard divorce and custody hearing. However, when applied to cases where there is domestic violence or child abuse, use of this doctrine turns on the parent who is trying to keep their children safe from harm as it is both unnatural and contrary to the well-being of any child for a parent to be permissive or enabling in regards to an abusive parent- which is what "friendly" behavior often leads to when dealing with the personality type who is willing to abuse.

Abusers are often masters of manipulation and since the inception of the father's rights movement, something which was originally intended for good, they have learned to manipulate the system. Abusers are now using the arguments made by men with valid complaints and utilizing them to continue to abuse their victims. It is now estimated that 7 out of 10 abusers receive custody in contested divorces, often slandering their victims in court with utter apathy. Due to poor policy and lack of oversight America's children are suffering with research showing that hundreds of child deaths per year can be attributed to placement by the courts within the custody of abusive parents. Billions of dollars are being spent maintaining a system that no longer works and those responsible for it's breakdown, who callously ignore what the potential consequences of their decisions may be, are left to continue to perform inadequately with a slap on the wrist and a private letter of reprimand- if that.

We urge our leaders draft a bill that would allow for the firing of judge's when they continuously flout procedure or act arbitrarily in family law cases, that if a judge is investigated and found to have violated procedure that they WILL be removed after a set number of incidences, that the procedures within the family courts be refined in order to protect victims of abuse more adequately, that judges be prohibited in applying the "friendly parent doctrine" in cases where there are allegations of abuse and that the junk science of "parental alienation" cease to be applied in family court as the consequences of abusers taking advantage of it's application far outweigh the consequences of discontinuing it's use, altogether.

The United States must be proactive in ensuring the safety of abused children of divorce. It is imperative that our nation's leaders fix this broken system to ensure that children are protected in the family courts. We demand that Congress hold oversight hearings on the need to reform the U.S. family courts.

Please sign this petition and share it with your friends. America's children are counting on us to stand.

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16 Public Comments So Far

February 15, 2017
Lesa R. from Sevierville, TN signed.
February 15, 2017
Lesa R. from Sevierville, TN signed.
3 months ago
Andrea L. from Marion, NC signed.
December 13, 2016
Amy B. from Kannapolis, NC writes:
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I have nothing against 'father's rights' groups...Children need their father...I support many father's who are part of these groups, because they too are dealing with similar family court situations/injustices as myself - being kept from their children for no reason what-so-ever...my issue lies with those continuing to use this 'system' for controlling their own agenda (this includes family court personnel - creating jobs and job security for themselves, using funding to push their own agenda, not whats best for the child)...and in my case...my children's father using this current unfunctional/abusive 'system' against me and my children...to control me, and my children and I's lives...keeping my children from their loving, fit, mother because I chose to not have their father's in my life. My children need me, Brett Armstrong is and always has been abusive...I was in a battered women's shelter as soon as I found out I was pregnant with my now 6 year old (that I have had no contact with in over 2 1/2 years,...the events that continue to occur are unfathomable...an example..I called police when he would cause harm to us...he would laugh and leave until the police left...then he would come back...these type events went on for several years/the abuses...no way out...then he paid many to assist him in creating an order to take my child from my primary care and custody, giving him control over us...forcing me by order of court - to ask his permission to see or have contact with my child (he was arrested on 6 counts, and convicted of child abuse to my child - yet I am required to be 'supervised' by him - the abuser)...it has been since June 10, 2014 since my little girl has been with me - her mommy, or any of her family...the details leading up to this, would make your head spin. I need my children, and they need me, the harm this man causes, and this unfunctional-Right violating 'system' that helps him needs reformed...My children need me, and I need to be able to parent them...the harm being caused to us, is killing us!...and sadly, no one cares...the abuses continue because they can.
just now
Susan W. from Roxboro, NC writes:
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Children are to be loved not abused. They belong with the family that loves them
December 5, 2016
Someone from Timberlake, NC signed.
December 5, 2016
Someone from Newland, NC writes:
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I have seen this first hand for myself and I can tell you right now, the mother is not always the best choice. Any woman that puts her "desires" before her children doesn't know the first thing about being a parent!
just now
Tabetha C. from Marion, NC signed.
December 5, 2016
April G. from Advance, NC writes:
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Should always do what is best to provide a healthy and stable home for the children. Stop giving the children to drug abusers and parents who don't care for the children adequately. Too many innocent children are being abused or worse dying by the hands of their guardian. We need to change the way children are being sent back into abusive homes. Train the judges and child advocates better.
December 5, 2016
Cheryl A. from Lake Junaluska, NC writes:
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Should ALWAYS be in the best interest of the children. The children NEED to be represented by unbiased personnel. In most cases the kids are better off with the mother.