Saturday, October 29, 2005

Custody evaluations are unscientific

I ran across some articles that explain how unscientific and bogus child custody evaluations are. Reputable psychologists do not do them. They would not even be admissible in court if the court followed its own rules of evidence.

Unfortunately, the articles are not readily available online. Here is what I have.

Thomas Grisso:

Replying to the paper by Tippins and Wittmann, this commentary notes that the problems they identify have been recognized for many years, yet this has resulted in little change in the practice of child custody evaluations. Three underlying reasons are offered for the stalemate that frustrates the implementation of standards for an empirically based child custody evaluation practice: (a) the economics of child custody evaluation practice; (b) inconsistencies between proposals to restrict testimony in this area and the lack of similar restrictions in most other areas of forensic practice; and (c) inadequate motivation for researchers who might contribute an empirical base for child custody evaluations. Directions for breaking the stalemate are offered for each of these problems.
Leslie Eaton:
William O'Donohue, a psychology professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, is calling for a moratorium on forensic evaluations until more research is done.

"Psychologists don't have the knowledge to do what they attempt to do when they do custody evaluations," he said.

Many custody decisions, he said, involve not scientific findings, but competing values, like a father's wish that his child excel in sports versus the mother's emphasis on studying.

While mental health experts have been debating these issues for several years, the legal world has been slower to recognize them, at least in New York.

Enter Timothy M. Tippins, an Albany lawyer who increasingly specializes in cross-examining forensic experts. For almost a year, Mr. Tippins has been writing articles in The New York Law Journal questioning the role and expertise of forensic evaluators in custody cases. He has teamed up with Dr. Wittmann to write a paper titled "Empirical and Ethical Problems With Custody Recommendations: A Call for Clinical Humility and Judicial Vigilance."

Among its recommendations is a call for judges to "begin to help the psychology discipline rein in itself" by not demanding or accepting specific custody plans.
Scientific American Mind:
Custody Disputed
The guidelines judges and psychologists use to decide child custody cases have little basis in science. The system must be rebuilt on better research
By Robert E. Emery, Randy K. Otto and William O'Donohue

Courts are overwhelmed with couples who are splitting up and disputing custody of their children. If parents cannot agree on their children's fates, a judge will decide who gets custody, and increasingly, psychologists are becoming involved as expert evaluators during legal wranglings. But do any of these professionals have proof that the bases for their life-determining decisions are empirically sound? It seems not, and it is the boys and girls who suffer.
I'll try to get more complete articles and post more info. Both sides are apparently represented here.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Punished again in court

I just got out of court. The hearing was supposed to resolve a number of pending money issues. We have been operating since July 1, 2004 under temporary support orders that are retroactively modifiable. We were supposed to file financial statements last Friday, and have them decided today.

My ex-wife was unprepared, and claimed that the hearing today was just to get the judge's approval to continue seeing the co-parenting counselor!

We had a discussion of financial issues anyway, with nothing decided. My ex-wife went into a rant about how her lawyer, Ms. Jennifer J. Gray, had subpoenaed 2000 documents from me back in Nov. 2004, but had never bothered to sort them or extract useful info from them. (I think "2000" is the number of documents, and not the year of the documents. She was rambling, and the details were not too clear.) My ex-wife talked about how much money I have, how I might be hiding money, how she doesn't have to time to figure out where all my money is, and how I am not working to my full potential. The judge complained that I had not given a copy of my 2004 tax return to the court, but seemed satisfied when I said that I had given a copy to my ex-wife.

Then Judge Irwin H. Joseph turned his attention to my ex-wife's income, and asked her about getting a job. She said that she could not work because she is busy taking care of the kids and studying for the patent bar exam. She said that she flunked the exam last time, but was taking it again next month. She is already a licensed California lawyer. Passing the patent bar exam would allow her to practice patent law (along with other kinds of law that she can practice already). She also said that she could not afford day care. I volunteered to provide day care, if necessary.

Judge Joseph explained that the law required that she diligently act to become economically self-sufficient, and suggested that she broaden her job search. He said that even a starting lawyer just out of school can make $3,000 per month with a part-time job.

He scheduled us to come back on Dec. 12 to resolve the money issues. My ex-wife didn't want to do it next month because of her busy schedule and her difficulty reading my financial statements. I was a little amazed that she could come into a trial completely unprepared, have no good excuse, and still get a 6-week delay. I didn't pursue the point.

She raised the issue of paying for the co-parenting counselor, and pleaded poverty again. The judge refused to say who was liable for paying. I reminded the judge that last time this issue came up, he lectured us on how we should be equally liable for the fees, even if one party is temporarily fronting the cash, so that we would both be invested in the process. He would only say that he might well do the same again, but he wasn't going to let me pressure him into making a decision.

After that, she complained about the driving to drop off the kids. She said that one time I asked her to pick up the kids, and that this was unfair because she has to drive the kids around during the 80% of the time that she has custody of them. The problem was that my ex-wife had claimed that she had gotten an order to get me to do all the driving for drop-offs and pick-ups, and the minute order from the clerk was ambiguous. The judge remembered the issue from the last hearing, and said that his intention was not to change who does the driving, but merely to tell us to do it on time. I said that was fine. But then my ex-wife persisted in demanding that I do all the driving.

Judge Joseph was getting annoyed with us at this point, and wanted to get back to his other cases. He asked me who is supposed to do the driving under the order. I said that the court-ordered schedule does not say. He seemed surprised at that, and asked me who has been doing the driving. I said that I was doing most of it. He asked me why. I said that I didn't believe that I was obligated to do all the driving, but that I was doing it just for the sake of peace and harmony.

I then explained that Dr. Bess, the court-appointed psychologist, had said that my capitulation was not co-parenting. In order to comply with his idea of co-parenting, I needed to insist that my ex-wife cooperate in the driving. The judge seemed amused by this argument, and acted as if I were a fool for taking the guy seriously. The judge then asked me if I was going to continue to give him grief about Dr. Bess.

I was tempted to say that now it is only Dr. Bess's inkblot analysis that is keeping me from my kids, and that I would complain about it as long as my kids are being withheld from me. But on the odd chance that the judge actually understands what a kooky report Dr. Bess wrote, I let the matter drop. So I explained that I had been willing to do the extra driving, but since my ex-wife had chosen to complain about it in court, I think that she should do her share herself.

The judge rejected that argument as well, and ordered me to do all the driving. When I asked him what possible basis he could have for ordering me to do the driving, he just said, "for peace and harmony". Sigh. No good turn goes unpunished, I guess.

Then my ex-wife went into a rant about this (Angry Dad) blog. She said that I was describing the events of this case on a web site, that it was limiting her ability to get a job in town (because it was damaging her reputation among lawyers, I guess), and that it was preventing her from getting a lawyer. She said that her previous lawyer bailed out because she couldn't stand having her actions described on a web site. Furthermore, the kids have access to the web site, and might learn bad things about their mom from it.

The judge didn't seem to know what to do with this complaint. He probably doesn't realize that I complain about him by name on this blog. (He'll probably find it eventually.) He just told me that I shouldn't denigrate my ex-wife to the kids on any medium. I assured him that I never badmouth her to the kids.

Curiously, my ex-wife and I were under oath for the whole session. Normally, in routine court appearances like this, the arguments are made by lawyers who are not under oath. It is not a crime for them to lie. Lawyers are supposed to be able to give phony stories without significant consequences, I guess. We were sworn in because the judge thought that he'd be collecting financial facts from us. As it turned out, all he got was just the usual silly arguments, and we didn't need to be sworn in.

On the way out, I grumbled to the judge that I cannot win anything in his court. He said that wasn't true because he is now willing to impute income for my ex-wife if she doesn't get a real job. (Judges have been telling her to get a job for about 6 months now, but she has ignored them.) We'll find out at the next hearing, I guess.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Answering public accusations

I just got this from my ex-wife:
To AngryDad,

I am writing you with the hope that after you read this letter, you will dismantle your blog site entitled The way in which you have gone about the journaling of your version of this divorce process has become an impediment to successful co-parenting efforts.

It has come to my attention that [our kids] have access to your angry dad blog site, have read it, and have witnessed you writing on it. They know that you write bad things about me on this blog. This is not beneficial for the children's well being or our attempts at co parenting.

It would be in the best interests of our children and co-parenting to dismantle your blog site.

Sincerely, [AngryMom]
No, I think that this blog has aided our co-parenting. My ex-wife does not listen to me, but she reads this blog. At least she learns my point of view, if nothing else.

This blog would be very different if I really used it to write bad things about my ex-wife. I do not believe in badmouthing my ex-wife, either to my kids or anyone else. But I do believe in defending myself against accusations. When those accusations are made publicly, then I will publicly defend myself.

Unfortunately, my ex-wife continues to say bad things about me in court, and my kids continue to suffer the consequences. If she stops attacking me in court, then it won't be necessary to defend myself any longer.

If my ex-wife really cared about the best interests of the children, then she would stop her current court action. She is desperately afraid that our kids will someday learn the details of what she has done.

Friday, October 21, 2005

TV show intro

this is an audio post - click to play
This is the first minute or so from PBS TV show mentioned below.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Breaking the Silence

I am watching Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories on PBS TV. An "abuse intervention specialist" named Lundy Bancroft just said:
There is a societal misconception that mothers are very heavily favored in custody and visitation litigation over fathers and that will somehow will take care of the needs of mothers who need to protect their children from a battering or sexually abusive father. In fact the maternal preference went out more than 20 years ... fathers now have preference for custody.
This is really wacky. The family courts still have a heavy preference for mothers. Most child abuse is from mothers, not fathers. Child sexual abuse is nearly always the result of mothers winning custody, and fathers being unable to protect their kids.

Another opinion by Carey Roberts:
Breaking the Silence leads off with this whopper: “One-third of mothers lose custody to abusive husbands.” That outrageous statement contains two falsehoods.

First, divorced fathers win custody of their children only 15% of the time, so the one-third figure is obviously suspect.

Second, women are known to be just as abusive as men. As a recent report from the Independent Women’s Forum notes, “approximately half of all couple violence is mutual…when only one partner is abusive, it is as likely to be the woman as the man.”

Continuing its mean-spirited dissing of dads, Breaking the Silence goes on to claim that children are “most often in danger from the father.” Apparently the producers never bothered to read the recent report from the US Department of Health and Human Services which reveals that the majority of perpetrators of child abuse and neglect are female.

But the real objective of the PBS fusillade is to whitewash the problem of Parental Alienation Syndrome. Divorcing parents – usually mothers – sometimes try to turn the children against the other parent. If the mother can claim that the kids are refusing to talk to dad, she is almost certain to win child custody.
Here is another review by Mark B. Rosenthal.

This might well be the most hate-filled show that I have ever seen. It was a documentary without a single valid fact.

Another copy of picture

I had to upload another copy in order to use it in my profile.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Restarting the co-parenting counseling

I just got out of court-ordered co-parenting counseling. The counselor insists on doing confidential counseling, where nobody reports to the court. So I am not going to report on any discussions in the counseling session. The judge wants some sort of report, so it is not clear whether this procedure will satisfy him.

The counselor firmly believes that co-parenting requires giving both parties the confidence that they can speak openly and frankly and cooperatively without fear that their words will be used against them.

It is odd that we got sent to this sort of counselor in the midst of a brutal court fight. It would have made more sense for the judge to decide the legal issues, and then send us to the counselor.

I dropped my 2004 tax return in the mail this afternoon, and I gave my ex-wife a copy a few minutes later. I included a copy of my second request for an extension, but she complained that I did not have a copy of my first extension request. I cannot imagine why she would want a copy of that. The first request is automatic, and just asks for my name and SS number.

Effect on child support

A reader asks:
If you get awarded 50-50 custody, do you still have to pay child support? Is child support supposed to be shared equally between mother and father? You pay expenses while the kids are with you, she and her fiance pay expenses when the kids are with them, and then clothes, education, medical etc is shared evenly?
Sometime in the 1990s, the feds forced the states to use formulas for child support, and the amounts were increased to make alimony unnecessary. The formulas vary from state to state. In many states, a mom collecting child support under the formula can live better than the dad.

The formulas depend on the time-share and income of the parents, as well as the number of kids and a few other factors. If the custody is 50-50 and the parents have the same income, then there is no child support. If the custody is 50-50 and one parent earns more, then the parent earning more pays to the parent earning less. The formulas don't have anything to do with the actual child-related expenses, and there is no obligation to spend child support money on the kids.

Your questions allude to a really bad aspect of the formulas -- they encourage moms to fight for custody purely as a way of getting more child support money. If the formulas were made more just, a lot of custody fights would just disappear.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

this is an audio post - click to play

Paying alimony

A reader writes:
I have been reading your blog on and off for awhile now. I accidently stumbled upon it while googling family court info.....

Although I am happily engaged now to a wonderful woman, (this is in fact her email address that I am borrowing while away from my computer), I have experienced the frustration and pain of family court.

My story is too long to type to you at this time, but one thing I wanted to share with you is now that your wife is engaged, I hope that you are going for monthly spousal support payments rather than one large sum settlement just to get it over with. The reason I write to you is that I did not know that my wife was already engaged to the man that she had an affair with while we were marrried and was the ultimate reason that she left what I thought at the time was a beautiful relationship, silly me, (he was younger, very handsome, quite the charmer, and partied and played with her while I was out working my butt off for her and the kids), and she convinced me that a one time settlement would be best and easiest for all involved - Imagine my surprise when the day after she got my money, she moved in "officially" with the other guy, WITH my kids, and got married a month later - apparantly my money went to buy HIM a new truck and to pay off a large chunk of his morgage on his house - I was livid.

I later found out that if I had been paying monthly spousal support, all support would have ended once she got married! I would still have to pay child support, but less since they were living with a new "dad" and financial provider, etc. But the actual "spousal" support would have ended since she couldn't claim that without my money she would be starving and be destitute and without gas money or clothes money because she was "alone" and had no support that she had become accustomed to in our marriage - once she got married, she became the other guys wife and his responsibility!!!!

Only recently does it seem that you are mentioning more your ex-wife's attempts to get more money from you - especially since now she claims to deserve lawyer fees as her own lawyer - precious. - I am not sure what your marriage desolution alimony plan is or even if you can change it at this time - but if I can help you by sharing my experience with you, then great.

As I mentioned at the beginning, I am now engaged to a beautiful special woman - after a few years of pain and anger, I see the silver lining of the mess that my ex brought into my life. She is married to a guy that ended up being an alcoholic and has a problem sleeping around with other women....... Since she was married to me when she started her affair with him, and apparantly, he was in a relationship with someone else as well, then I say that she is getting the proverbial karma bite in the butt that she deserves! And now I have my kids full time since she and the new young pretty blue coller husband are always fighting............ I am a happy man.

Good Luck, ...
Thanks. I am told that with the increased child support formulas of the last few years, there isn't even supposed to be any need for alimony. Most cases do not award alimony. Alimony is supposed to be temporary, and ought to end soon whether she gets a job, or gets remarried, or what. Of course, I don't have much confidence in the legal system.

Glad things worked out okay for you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Sent out for another report

I just got screwed in court again. My ex-wife showed up with no lawyer, as she had just fired Jennifer Gray. The judge still did not have a copy of Dr. Inkblot's report, so he asked for my copy, and read it during a break. He said that he had read the other paperwork in the file.

Judge Joseph said that the report says that we cannot co-parent, so he sent us out for co-parenting counseling. He will review the custody situation when he gets another report.

This is now our sixth expert referral from the family court, and it will be our sixth written report. The process is extremely frustrating. I am tempted to post all six reports so everyone can see how ridiculous this is. I remember being shocked about a year ago when I heard about a case with three written reports.

I don't know why, but nearly all of the judge's comments and questions were directed at me. I did most of the talking, and my ex-wife didn't say much.

After another break, my ex-wife wanted to bring up some other issues. She complained that this month I paid her on Oct. 2 instead of Oct. 1. She complained that sometimes I drop off the kids 10 minutes late. One time, I dropped off the kids to her babysitter about 20 minutes. She implied that this was somehow inconvenient to her babysitter, although I didn't get why.

My ex-wife threw a little tantrum in the court about refusing to co-endorse a $56 tax refund check. She claimed that she was creating a liability for herself by signing it. The judge tried to explain to her that she wasn't, but she didn't get it. Ultimately, the judge said that he didn't want to waste court time over it, told her to give the check to me, and asked me to write her a check for $56.

She also had a theory about how the existing support order made a mistake about how it apportioned the monthly support amounts into child support and spousal support. The judge asked me if I agreed, and I said that this was the first that I heard of it, and that I could not make any sense of what she said. The judge didn't understand it either.

She also complained that I had not given her all the documents that she demanded. I told the judge that I had given her everything. The judge asked her what was missing, and she said that she didn't know. He told her to figure out what she wants, if she wants something.

She also about having a hard time paying the rent, and she wanted more money. As it is, my monthly payment is about three times her rent and she doesn't even live there. She lives with her boyfriend.

The crazy thing about my support payments is that it has never been based on my actual income, and the court has kept making orders based on fault figures with the excuse that the orders are "retroactively modifiable". This has been going on for 15 months now. So the judge ordered a hearing on financial issues for Oct. 27.

Judge Joseph acted like he has an opportunity to teach us to co-parent. If we only attend some counseling sessions and learn to co-parent now, he said, then several years from now we might come to agreement on what age to let the kids start watching PG-rated movies. I was startled that a family court judge would say something so silly.

I called our previous co-parenting counselor and left a message. Last time, he said that he doesn't do reports, so I guess that we'll have to find someone else. My guess is that my ex-wife will be uncooperative, as usual.

Monday, October 10, 2005

New photo

My kids gave me a haircut.

Judge Kelly's ruling

My ex-wife tries to claim that there have already been court findings that I am a bad father, and tries to quote Judge Kelly in support of her request for sole legal custody of our kids. Actually, she made all of those arguments at trial on March 25, and here is an excerpt from Judge Kelly's concluding remarks:
THE COURT: Right, with one of these these people will help me get a sense of you more than I can get from just an hour on the stand or something. These are really skilled people. They're there to help their clients. They're not there to snitch to the Court for returning fees. These people are really good. That's why they're on the list and they will have a sense of you that they can communicate back to me that might give Mother, give me the assurance that we can go right to D and get you guys back on a fifty fifty time line here. ... If you're well, it will give me information I need to make a good call on this because I do want to go to 50 percent but I have to be assured that this is in the best interests of the kids. I think if you go to this counseling regiment it will be. You can get there. … If things are going well I'll tell you. I will go to D, okay, fifty fifty time share.
Plan "D" is 5-2-2-5, a 50-50 time-share plan. The "list" consisted of Jay Goodman, Ph.D., Jay Muccilli, Ph.D., CJ Neustadter, LMFT, Sheilah Seigel, Ph.D., Judy Zappacosta, LCSW. My ex-wife had requested that I see someone on the list.

Judge Kelly said that the switch back to 50-50 custody is supposed to benefit her as well:
THE COURT: This is written for Mother too is because she desperately, I'm sure, wants to be out in the work force and once she gets employment she is going to be real busy and parenting time is she's going to be torn a lot of directions trying to have a career and with these children. She's really going to need you to step up at the plate here, so this is a win win here. Like I say, once she has full employment then it's going to be really critical that you guys are working as a team. [March 25, 2005, p.121]
So when my ex-wife claims that the trial evidence "overwhelmingly validates and substantiates" her concerns, she is ignoring the actual findings at the trial. The judge did not find me at fault in any of the issues being tried. He merely sent me to a court-approved expert in order to get some further assurances.

Court uses queer counselor

I just ran across this article in the Setpember/October 2000 issue of the Utne Reader.
As psychotherapist Bret Johnson explains in In the Family (July 1998), gays and lesbians often go through a second coming out, from lesbian or gay to bisexual-sometimes decades after their first coming out. "Back in the 1960s and 1970s, coming out meant making a break from heterosexuality," he writes. "But in the late 1990s, we are witnessing a break from gayness and lesbianism."

But, he adds, "the new wave of coming out almost looks like going back in.... It's as if we're seeing a challenge to the old, modernist way of thinking 'This is who I am, period'and a movement toward a postmodern version, 'This is who I am right now."' ...

Perhaps this needs to be balanced with what Bret Johnson notes about the new generation of queer people he works with in therapy: "They don't want to fit into any boxes -- not gay, straight, lesbian, or bisexual ones. They want to be free to come out as who they are, when they are ready to decide that, and then they want to be free to change their minds."
Besides counseling gay men on coming in and out of the closet, Bret Johnson works as a custody evaluator for the Santa Cruz County family court. He may be tolerant of the "queer people he works with in therapy", but he is not tolerant of fathers rearing children.

He wrote a report that said this of me:
Further, Father's tendency to "do things over and over" such as feed the children one vegetable for a long period, have the young children brush their own hair because they are too fussy, and that he is unorthodox in parenting approaches may not be neglect or abuse in the pure sense of the words; rather it suggests he runs things in his own way, on his own time, and may not take new input well with regards to the children's best interests.
The vegetable remark was based on interviewing my 5-year-old daughter:
at Father's they have oatmeal; and she went through the vegetable rotation, e.g., broccoli, potatoes, asparagus -- "We are still on asparagus."
In Bret Johnson's view, I guess it is okay to be unorthodox about how I use my bodily orifices, but not about my vegetable rotation or my hair brushing.

Actually, I don't think that there is anything unorthodox about my vegetable or hair-brushing policies. I have consulted with dieticians and they say that my so-called vegetable rotation is excellent. Bret Johnson is an out gay man who knows nothing about children, so perhaps any normal practices might seem unorthodox to him.

Bret Johnson is someone that most people would regard as a kook and a pervert. Because he thought that my vegetable rotation or my hair brushing was unorthodox, he recommended that the family court issue the following order against me:
10. Counseling/ Related: A. Father shall participate in a minimum of six months of thrice monthly individual counseling with a licensed therapist familiar with issues of healthy child care ... and shall continue as needed thereafter or until released.
Until recently, homosexuality was considered a psychological disorder and a felony. In much of the USA and the rest of the world, people still think so. If being unorthodox justified forced psychotherapy, then surely homosexuality would qualify. Bret Johnson would be imprisoned and forced to undergo psychotherapy until he switches to more normal sexual preferences. In another time or another place, he would face the death penalty. Instead, he is working for the Santa Cruz County family court, and trying to order me to undergo long-term forced psychotherapy because he thinks that my vegetable rotation and hair brushing are unorthodox.

My ex-wife complains that I disagree with Dr. Johnson. You bet I do. Bret Johnson is incompetent and malicious. No one should ever take child-rearing advice from him. My kids could do better custody evaluations than he does.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Her demand for sole legal custody

My ex-wife filed this demand for sole legal custody of our two kids. She attached over 100 pages of transcripts.
Petitioner, Jill AngryDad, is in propria persona
Respondent, George AngryDad, is in propria persona

This is a marriage of seven years, and there are two minor children of this marriage. The children are Mary, currently age 8 years, and Jenny, currently age 6 years. The date of separation is October 6, 2003.

This Status Report includes the following: A. a summary of the previous hearing held on September 28, 2005; B. a discussion of the relationship between the psychological evaluation report and Judge Kelly's findings and orders after the trial [including: 1) a description of the case history up until the psychological evaluation report; and 2) the psychological evaluation report's impact upon the parties legal and physical custody dispute]; and C., a brief reply to Mr. AngryDad's Status Memo comments.

A. SUMMARY OF PREVIOUS HEARING ON SEPTEMBER 28, 2005: On September, 28, 2005, the parties appeared before The Hon. Joseph for a review of the Dr. Bess's report concerning the psychological evaluation in which both parties were ordered to participate. Both parties received a faxed copy of the psychological evaluation report on the afternoon of September 26, 2005, but as of September 28, 2005, Judge Joseph still had not received the report. Judge Joseph gave Ms. AngryMom's then counsel, Ms. Jennifer Gray, until October 6, 2005 to file her comments regarding the report with the court. The new hearing date to review the psychological evaluation report was set for October 11, 2005.


After both parties participated in a court ordered mediation with Dr. Berrenge, and then a court ordered evaluation with Dr. Johnson (summer of 2004), Dr. Johnson recommended to the Court that there be joint custody with Ms, AngryMom to be the primary custodian. Dr. Johnson recommended that Mr. AngryDad attend two 10-12 week parenting classes, and individual counseling (three times a month for six months), focusing on child safety and parenting issues. Depending upon Mr. AngryDad's successful or unsuccessful completion of the parenting classes and the showing of positive progress in his individual counseling, his custody percentage could and should be increased or decreased. In November of 2004, Judge Kelsay ordered Dr. Johnson's recommendations be put in place pending the outcome of the trial that Mr. AngryDad requested regarding Dr. Johnson's written report.

On February 25, 2005, Mr. AngryDad cross examined Dr. Johnson for 3 hours, eliciting the same information from Dr. Johnson that was in his report and the reasons for Dr. Johnson's recommendations Mr. AngryDad's inappropriate risk taking behavior while parenting as well as other poor parenting methods. The following are examples of Dr. Johnson's concerns with Mr. AngryDad's parenting (Attached hereto as Exhibit "A".
Reporter's Transcript, February 25, 2005, p. 17, 22 23, and 43) "Well, you might start by saying there's some issues that came up before the court where the safety has been brought up and possible supervision of the kids and there are some instances where you need to work on perhaps paying attention better and being more vigilant with the kids and understanding how your idea of perhaps "independence" may not be appropriate for the children of your age, children that you have of their age." (p. 43, 3 10) "Without going over the whole report, that's the essence of what I wanted to have happen here was for father to be willing, and as the Judge said, perhaps humble himself to be willing to participate in parenting classes and increase his level of awareness and insight into what appropriate parenting for two very young girls would be, including supervision." (p. 23, 6 13)

"But I think that there needs to be more awareness around two small girls and level of dependency versus independent and supervision." (p. 17, 20 22)

"Q. And do you feel any of those situations are trivial? A. No, I think they're important. And I address them because I feel like father needs to pay attention to them." (p. 22, 24 26; p. 23, 1 2)
On May 13, 2005, in an all day trial, Mr. AngryDad had the opportunity to cross examine witnesses to his risk taking behavior which had put the children in harm's way. He also testified on his own behalf. After viewing the evidence before him, Judge Kelly ordered the physical custody situation to remain the same, and that Mr. AngryDad participate in one 10 12 week parenting class, and receive the individual counseling that Dr. Johnson recommended two times a month. In response to Ms. AngryMom's request that both parties receive co-parenting counseling, Judge Kelly also ordered both parties to participate in co-parenting counseling. The following are some examples of Judge Kelly's comments concerning Mr. AngryDad's risk taking parenting behavior (Attached hereto as Exhibit "B". Reporter's Transcript, March 25, 2005, p. 106, 107, and 112 114.):
"...and also that you get some of this parenting class under your belt because I do see safety risk issues, you taking more risks than really is appropriate" (p. 106, 20 22)

"And I think, Father, what you need to your own behavior needs to be a little more on the caution side." (p.107, 21 23) "Let me just tell you, some of this behavior I've heard today is inappropriate. It's not all putting the kids at unacceptable risk. I would give you that, okay. Some of it is clearly, but a lot of it is just bad bad parenting, just inappropriate parenting. And it's not something like it's way off on this bell curve, okay, but it's just something where, with some input from a counselor, you might rethink some of these positions. So that's the parenting part." (p. 112, 16 24) "And I wanted you to do the parent counseling at Simply Your Best for what that will [tell] teach you. Some of this behavior that I heard today, as I say, is just not appropriate." (p. 113, 16 19)

"Some of it is safety. Some of it is just not appropriate, okay. I have the ultimate call on this but I'm just trying to let you know where I'm coming from so that we don't we can bring some closure to this and not go to the continue these hearing with more people, more court time, more expense... " (p. 113, 22 26; 114, 1)
The evidence garnered at the trial on Mr. AngryDad's risk taking behavior and inappropriate parenting overwhelmingly validates and substantiates Ms. AngryMom's concerns for the health, safety, and welfare of the children while in Mr. AngryDad's care. Attached hereto are Exhibits "C", "D", and "E", which provides further evidence that Ms. AngryMom's concerns were indeed necessary and genuine. (Exhibit "C" Reporter's Transcript containing trial testimony and Judge Kelly's comments on March 25, 2005 [p. 5 6, 10 14, 17, 22, 32, 34, 9, 42 54, 56 59, 61 69, 71 94, 97 101, 108, and 111] Exhibit "D" Reporter's Transcript containing trial testimony and Judge Kelly's comments on February 25, 2005 [6 12, 14, 16, 21, 25 26, 29, 31 33, 37, 39, 47, 53, 55 56, 60, and 65], and Exhibit "E" Reporter's Transcript containing Mr. AngryDad's deposition testimony on February 15, 2005 [100 102]; significant portions are highlighted for the convenience of the Court) Following Mr. AngryDad's failure to comply with Judge Kelly's court order regarding classes, individual counseling, and co-parenting counseling, Judge Joseph ordered both parties to undergo psychological evaluations in order to determine:
1 . Do the parents have the ability to co-parent?
2. Are there any personality disorders or other mental illness that would impair parenting? What is the recommended treatment or solutions to these issues?
3. Are there any other psychological or behavioral issues that the Court should consider in determining what arrangement is in the best interest of the children?
Pursuant to Family Code Section 3006, and based upon the court's findings and Dr. Bess's Evaluation Report, Ms. AngryMom is requesting sole legal custody of the two minor children be awarded to her, and the physical custody arrangement be slightly changed to accommodate Mr. AngryDad learning to care for the children during a school week. Dr. Bess's report states that both parties do not at this time have the capacity to co parent. His report goes on to state that co-parenting requires the capacity to discuss a parenting issue or decision, reach an agreement and then to follow through on the agreement. Dr. Bess found that both parties are not even able to agree on whether there are legitimate issues they need to agree upon. Dr. Bess reiterates Ms. AngryMom's concerns in his summary of assessment, which are that she does not feel that Mr. AngryDad provides adequate supervision for the children and she does not feel that Mr. AngryDad is willing to adjust his behavior to provide closer supervision. In his interviews with Dr. Bess, Mr. AngryDad indicated that he does not feel that Ms. AngryMom's issues are valid or that her concerns are necessary or even genuine. (Psychological Evaluation Report [Psych. Eval]) Dr. Johnson and Judge Kelly found Ms. AngryMom's concerns to be valid, necessary and genuine. Mr. AngryDad refuses to acknowledge and/or accept this finding.

Dr. Bess also wrote that he thought that it would be necessary for the parties to have clear orders from the Court that define their relative authority to make parenting decisions. (Psych. Eval.) Clear court orders do not work for Mr. AngryDad. If he will not go to simple classes and pay money when ordered to, then he will not accept orders from the Court on how to parent. He has been brought to court two times under motions to compel documents and money. He has not delivered the compelled documents, nor has he properly filled out documents that he has delivered under court order. He hasn't taken the classes, counseling, or the extent of co-parenting counseling ordered by the court. His unwillingness to comply with court orders directly impacts the children. For example, despite a court order in place since November of 2004, about 25 entreaties from Ms. AngryMom, and two co-parenting counseling sessions, Mr. AngryDad still refuses to set a specific time at which he plans to deliver the children to Ms. AngryMom. This event should be one of the simplest co-parenting decisions, but yet, it has been the subject of a discussion for a year. As Dr. Bess points out, the parties cannot even agree that there are legitimate issues that they need to agree upon.

The bottom line is that Mr. AngryDad insists upon behaving in such a way that is detrimental to his children, and that whomever disagrees with him is wrong Dr. Berrenge, Dr. Johnson, Judge Kelsay, Judge Kelly, this Court, and inevitably, Dr. Bess. Moreover, Dr. Bess's report points out that the parties each have a strong investment in their attitudes and approaches. (Psych. Eval.) Finally, Dr. Bess's report characterizes Mr. AngryDad as a man who values his autonomy and perceives Ms. AngryMom's alleged concerns suspiciously, as a tactic to gain an advantage in court and as an unnecessary effort to interfere with his autonomy. Consequently, Mr. AngryDad feels that there is no legitimate need for co-parenting and that it could actually make matters worse by supporting her manipulative tactics. (Psych Eval) Just as depicted, Mr. AngryDad's character weighs heavily and negatively in all of his interactions with Ms. AngryMom.

Therefore, in view of the court findings on health and safety issues, the psychological evaluation report, and the reality that unsuccessful co-parenting efforts are for the most part paralyzing the children's lives, Ms. AngryMom requests sole legal custody be awarded to her, pending a strong demonstration to the Court on Mr. AngryDad's part that he is willing to comply with court orders, make great strides in co-parenting issues, and modify his behavior for the children's best interests when it comes to their health, safety, and welfare.


Just about every sentence in Mr. AngryDad's Status Memo is some kind of distortion of the truth. Please read the following corrections:
1. "We had a fact finding hearing on March 25, 2005, and no significant defects in my parenting practices were found." (AngryDad's Status Memo [hereafter, S.M.] pg. 2)
See attached exhibits "A", "B", "C", "D", and "E" for 'significant defects' found.
2. "He does not give any explanation for the fact we did 50 50 co-parenting successfully for a year." (S.M. pg. 3)
The reason why the parties have been in court for the last year and a half is because they were unsuccessful at co parenting the children such as agreeing that there are legitimate issues of concern.
3. "Dr. Bess's report does not show that anything would be gained by delaying a return to 50-50 custody." (S.M. pg. 3)
Dr. Bess clearly states that we are unable to co-parent, which is a major ingredient in the recipe for a successful 50-50 custody situation.
4. "Dr. Bess's report suggests that the current schedule and court oversight might be an impediment to collaborative parenting, and sees no concrete reason why 50-50 parenting would not work." (S.M. pg. 5)
Mr. AngryDad seems to confuse his own words and reasoning to be that of Dr. Bess's.
5. Property Division: (S.M. pg. 1)
Ms. AngryMom does not acknowledge the validity of any marital settlement agreement.
6. Attorney Fees: (S.M. pg. 1)
Ms. AngryMom intends to make a request to this Court to order Mr. AngryDad to pay Ms. AngryMom for the amount of bills incurred throughout this court case.
7. Child Support: (S.M. pg. 1)
Mr. AngryDad has refused and continues to refuse to fill out documents that would allow the court to pinpoint the amount of money he is making per month. That being the case, Mr. AngryDad is under a court order to pay Ms. AngryMom a retroactive amount of child support, totaling about $2,000. This was ordered on March 25, 2005. It is now October of 2005, and Mr, AngryDad still has not paid.

Jill AngryMom
October 5, 2005

Cc: George AngryDad
She cites Family Code Section 3006, which only says:
3006. "Sole legal custody" means that one parent shall have the right and the responsibility to make the decisions relating to the health, education, and welfare of a child.
I am flabbergasted by this. I will defend myself in court and on this blog.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

My custody request

I filed the following shortly before the Sept. 28 status hearing.

Status Memo

Status conference issues
Child custody: A temporary order is in effect. Judge Kelly has ordered a return to 50-50 custody, pending the parents jumping through some hoops.
Child support: A temporary order is in effect, based on inaccurate data, retroactively modifiable back to July 1, 2004.
Spousal support: Same story. I paid $4,000 for Dr. Bruce Bess, and AngryMom owes me for her half.
Attorney fees: AngryMom has requested $40,452.01 for legal work from June 2004 to May 2005. $20,000 was ordered and paid by me. The rest was denied.
Property division: Property has been divided by mutual agreement, but it has not been recorded with the court.

I have been fully scrutinized as a father

To comply with this court, I have now seen Dr. Melissa Berrenge, Dr. Bret K. Johnson, Dr. Warren Farrell, Dr. Laura Delizonna, Prof. Dr. Hans Steiner, Kari Wolman, Bruce Ross, Connie Jo Neustadter, Simply Your Best, Parents Center, and Dr. Bruce Bess. Five of them have submitted written reports. None have found anything wrong with my parenting, and all supported 50-50 parenting. (The weakest was Dr. Johnson, as he supported 50-50 shared parenting conditioned on AngryMom's consent.)

I have had forensic psychologists administer the following psychometric tests: Weinberger Adjustment Inventory (WAI), Response Evaluation Measure (REM 71), Structured Clinical Interview for DSM 111 R (SCID), Structured Interview for DSM IV Personality (SIDP IV), Parent Child Relationship Inventory (PCRI), Parenting Stress Index (PSI), Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2), Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory III (MCMI-III), and the Rorschach (inkblot) Test. I have written reports for all of these tests, and no disorders or other factors negatively influencing parenting were found.

AngryMom has spent the last 16 months in a sustained legal attack on me, in an attempt to get custody of our kids and maximize her support payments. Ms. Gray has run up over $40,000 in legal bills for this attack. AngryMom is a lawyer herself, and has devoted much of her time for the attack. The file has grown to hundreds of pages. We had a fact-finding hearing on March 25, 2005, and no significant defects in my parenting practices were found. Judge Kelly ruled in favor of 50-50 custody at that hearing, after a good report from C.J. Neustadter.

The latest report from Bruce Bess

I received the report from Bruce H. Bess, a Menlo Park licensed psychologist, on Monday, September 26, 2005.

He conducted inkblot and other tests. His results were that I was "within the normal range on all procedures", and that we "are both competent individuals with good basic coping skills and are free of any significant mental or emotional disorders."

Dr. Bess does have some doubts about our ability to co-parent. His reasoning is unclear, and his report is notable for what it does not say. He does not give any example of the interests of the children suffering because of our supposed inability to co-parent. He does not give any explanation for the fact we did 50-50 co-parenting successfully for a year. And he refuses to say who might be at fault for the alleged co-parenting difficulties.

The picture of AngryMom that Dr. Bess presents is that of a demanding, manipulative, and intransigent mother with a lot of unresolved anger. She refuses to negotiate or even discuss parenting issues because she believes that she can win in court. I attempt to cooperate as much as possible and practical. Because of her intransigence, this frequently means that I have to capitulate to her demands. Dr. Bess says that capitulation is not co-parenting, and that it would be better if we had a more collaborative relationship. If I followed Dr. Bess's advice, then I would capitulate less often, in order to force AngryMom to collaborate with me.

Dr. Bess's report does not show that anything would be gained by delaying a return to 50-50 custody. It is more of a reason to name me as primary custodian. I am not the one with psychological problems, I am not the one who is trying to cut off the kids from the other parent, I am not the one who keeps running to the court with petty gripes and accusations, and I am not the one who is being uncooperative.

Dr. Bess also suggest co-parenting counseling. I think that he means appointing someone like C.J. Neustadter to act as a nonbinding referee in parenting disputes. Ms. Neustadter was previously appointed by the court, and is familiar with the case. This might be helpful after we return to 50-50 custody and AngryMom actually has an incentive to cooperate with me.

Maintaining the current order violates statutes and precedents

There is no legal, factual, or psychological justification for the current custody arrangement. It is contrary to California Family Code Section 3010 (stating that the father and mother are equally entitled to the custody of the children), Section 3061 (requiring this court to enter an order granting temporary custody in accordance with our agreement), Section 3011 (requiring the court to state its reasons for a custody order in writing or on the record, when one parent makes abuse allegations), Section 3087 (requiring that the court state in its decision the reasons for modification or termination of a joint custody order, if I oppose the change), Section 3064 (forbidding an order granting or modifying a custody order on an ex parte basis unless there has been a showing of immediate harm to the child or immediate risk that the child will be removed from the State of California), and higher court precedents on due process in child custody changes (forbidding a judge to just rubber-stamp a custody evaluator report without a hearing, see Fewel v. Fewel (1943) 23 Cal.2d 431, and Forslund v. Forslund, 225 Cal.App.2d 476 (1964)).

50-50 custody is the only reasonable alternative

All of the law and evidence points to an immediate change to 50-50 custody. AngryMom's divorce petition asked for 50-50 custody. We did 50-50 co-parenting for an entire year, and no one has found any problems with that. The kids very much preferred the 50-50 custody arrangement. None of the experts found any problems with 50-50 custody or my fitness as a father. The only judge who looked at any facts (Judge Kelly) has ruled in favor of 50-50 custody. The last court-appointed expert to interview the kids (C. J. Neustadter) recommended an immediate shift to 50-50 custody. Dr. Bess's report suggests that the current schedule and court oversight might be an impediment to collaborative parenting, and sees no concrete reason why 50-50 parenting would not work. There is no reason to wait any longer.

George The AngryDad
September 26, 2005

Cc: Ms. J. J. Gray, Bosso et al, POB 1822, Santa Cruz CA 95060
(or by personal delivery to 133 Mission St #280)

Friday, October 07, 2005

School mix-up

I went to pick up my kids at school, and my ex-wife was there, with the kids, and sporting her new engagement ring. She said, "What are you doing here?"

I explained that it was the first weekend of the month, and therefore my turn with the kids. She didn't believe it. I said, "Have I ever lied to you before?"

She replied, "everything that comes out of your mouth is a lie." Sigh.

I tried to tell her that if we can just agree to our own schedule before court on Tuesday, then we don't have to be subject to some arbitrary court-dictated schedule. It was hopeless. She didn't even respond.

So she took the kids, went home, reread the court order, and eventually delivered the kids back to me.

On my way home, I got the mail, and there was a brief from my ex-wife demanding sole legal custody. She is as intransigient as ever. More on this later.

Later I found our 8-year-old daughter by herself saying, "Mama is a liar, Mama is a liar." I sat down and explained to her that Mama just made an honest mistake about the schedule, and that she was not a liar. She said, "No, no, I said Mama was a LAWYER!" Funny. Okay, my mistake. Someday I'll figure out the difference, and explain it to the kids.

This case is getting stranger. It was my ex-wife's lawyer who requested a delay, with briefs on the 6th and a hearing on the 11th, to accommodate her (the lawyer's) vacation. Instead, I get a brief on the 7th, and my ex-wife fires her lawyer. The brief is pretty crazy. It appears that Miss Jennifer Gray refused to sign the brief, so my ex-wife is taking the matter into her own hands. My ex-wife doesn't want to take any chances that someone might do something reasonable.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Her lawyer bails out

I just got this letter from my ex-wife's lawyer, Miss Jennifer J. Gray:
Dear Mr. AngryDad:

Enclosed please find a filed copy of a Substitution of Attorneys, indicating to the court and to you that Petitioner, [Mrs. AngryDad], is now representing herself in the above matter. Please be advised that the filing of this substitution in no way affects the court's recent order that any briefs responsive to Dr. Inkblot's evaluation report must be filed and served on or before October 6, 2005. Further, the review hearing remains on the court calendar for October 11, 2005, at 8:30 a.m.
in Department 4.

Very truly yours,
JJG/b Jennifer J. Gray
Good riddance! Miss Gray was dishonest, greedy, and evil. All she did was to drain money and cause misery to everyone involved, including the kids.

The one good thing about Miss Gray, from my point of view, is that she would always put her personal greed ahead of the interests of her client. If she had to choose between helping her client and generating additional billable hours, she took the billable hours every time.

The result was that she prolonged the case as much as possible, and never resolved anything. She refused to negotiate or settle any issue. We have been operating under temporary support orders for 15 months because she has never been willing to state her demands. She always has some lame excuse how she lost her financial papers or that I have failed to prove that I have enough money to justify to sort of demands that she would like to make. She ran up $45,000 in legal bills, and only ever got delays and temporary orders. She planned on getting me to pay her entire bills, but that didn't work out. Now she has decided that she has milked the case for most of what she can get, and would rather move on to fleecing other clients.

My ex-wife is a lawyer herself, so Ms. Gray's departure may not make too much difference. But I'm glad anyway. My ex-wife will no longer be able to hide behind her lawyer. She'll have to stand up and explain herself to the court.