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)


George said...

Thanks for the support. Be sure and read the next post to get my ex-wife's side of the story.

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right when you say: "There is no legal, factual, or psychological justification for the current custody arrangement" That is because there is little scientific basis for child custody evaluations (see recent story on NPR I am familiar with a Christopher Lane in the DC Metro area, who charged well over $10,000 for bunch of tests that had no scientific basis and then acted like he was a hired gun for one side of the case. It is a business and it should be recognized as that...and it is making money off of children's futures.