My deposition of Ken Perlmutter, the court-appointed child custody evaluator, was yesterday. Here is what he testified.
I paid him $19,350 and he wrote a 44-page comprehensive report that assessed everything of interest to the family court.
His first recommendation is that I be reduced to two hours of supervised visitation per month. He refused to say whether this was harsh or severe, because he does not know whether anyone has ever made a similar recommendation in the past. In particular, he refused to say whether any or all of his previous 650 evaluations had such extreme recommendations.
There were four years of successful joint custody, and there were never any problems except that my ex-wife had some minor complaints that he was never able to verify.
The case has had no domestic violence, alcoholism, drug abuse, psychological disorders, physical abuse, sexual abuse, child neglect, or parent coordination problems.
The kids are doing very well, and have not had any behavior problems or evidence of inferior parenting either now or in the past.
The current court dispute is based entirely on an accusation of emotional abuse by my ex-wife, and the accusation is unfounded as far as he knows. He is not sure because he does not know what emotional abuse is, either legally or psychologically. He said that he is required to report emotional abuse but he has not reported any kind of abuse in many years. If he found out that a parent told a child to stand in the corner for an hour, then he would have to research whether that was reportable emotional abuse.
His evaluation did not bring any psychological or legal knowledge to bear on the situation, and was unscientific. He did not use any methods that meet standards for being admissible in court. He had no substantiation for any of his child-rearing opinions.
The reason for the visitation supervision is that he disapproves of me telling my kids that the abuse charges against me were false, even though that is the truth, as far as he knows. He claims that the information would be harmful to my kids, even though he has never heard of any example of any child being harmed in such a way.
He recommended that I be ordered not to disparage my ex-wife in front of our kids, even though there is no allegation that I have ever done that. He did not recommend that I be ordered not to tell my kids about the court case, because such an order would not be legal.
He admitted that my ex-wife broke the law by withholding school records from me, and that he cooperated with that violation of the law by allowing her to submit those records to him without sending copies to me. He denied any responsibility because he said that he knew that I could subpoena the records from him.
His report trashed previous reports, saying that one was non-scientific and another violated court rules. He admitted that his report was no more scientific, and that he misread the court rules.
He admitted that his evaluation ignored the fact that we had a full child custody trial in 2005, and a final judicial custody determination of 50-50 joint custody. He said that he studied those 2005 court orders, but he is not a lawyer and he could not figure out the outcome of that trial.
His report blamed me for falsely claiming to have joint legal custody. My ex-wife had claimed to have sole legal custody and he said that he checked the court order himself, and confirmed it. On reexamination of that court order during the deposition, he admitted that she had asked for temporary sole legal custody but it was denied.
He asked for $1800 for the deposition. His report blames me for telling my kids that he was doing the evaluation for the money.
He very strongly disapproves of me posting info about my kids on the internet. He admitted that he has heard of Facebook.com, Myspace, and Flikr, but he has no idea whether tens of millions of people are doing similar things.
He said that he was very surprised that his recommendations got ordered without any due process in court, and that Cmr. Irwin Joseph was insane to do that. He said that parts of his recommendation do not make any sense. He said he was more familiar with the Santa Clara and San Mateo county family courts where they cross out the parts that do not make any sense before issuing an order.
His report said that I should give up my fight with the court if I want to see my kids more, but he admitted that I ought to contest the order which rubber-stamped his recommendations.
He admitted that he recommended that my ex-wife get temporary sole legal custody based on his mistaken conclusion that she already had it. As far as he knows, this is the only instance in California history of a father losing joint legal custody on the say-so of a psychologist, without any court appearance or hearing.
He admitted that his report does not resolve anything, and he could not explain how he would done anything differently if his sole purpose had been to maximize litigation and prolong court supervision of my kids.