Our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy have changed. We think you'll like them better this way.

Child Custody Professionals Who Help and Harm

  • Broadcast in Parents
Dr Carol Francis

Dr Carol Francis


Follow This Show

If you liked this show, you should follow Dr Carol Francis.
Parents searching for helpful psychologist, lawyers, DCFS workers, etc. need to know the pros and cons of each professionals who is part of the financially successful industry of child custody battles. Dr. Francis, experienced and linked to many such professionals, discusses choices, warnings and ways to maneuver your way through the sea of well paid child custody professionals who can help you and harm you and your child. Dr. Carol Francis can be reached at drcarolfrancis.com, childcustodyprofessionals@webs.com, 310-543-1824. T This program is a precursor to a series of interviews that will be occurring during August, 2009 and links to many related programs from May to July.


0:00 Narrator

Blog Talk Radio


this is Dr. Carol Francis from Make Life Happen. I'm about [UNINTELLIGIBLE] of the Pacific Ocean near the Ocean Side region. And as you know there's some military forces down here that are in that process of training. And at this very moment as I drive past them I see an umpteen number of helicopters that look like transport helicopters that are waiting to do some sort of practice activity with some of the naval forces that are out in the Pacific Ocean that I can see from a distance. The activities are covering a few miles; I would say probably, 10 to 12 miles with the different watercraft and aircraft all set up in the various and sundry ways. I'm going to be able to see a lot of what is going on.


Now this may all seem off topic, but the truth of the matter is that while I see these individuals preparing and practicing for offshore battle and some sort of practice procedures, there is absolutely no difference between child custody battle and the preparing of a military expert. And that is a sad and unfortunate truth. Some of the individuals of you that have turned in, really do perceive the whole process of fighting for your children as if you are fighting for their life. And you genuinely believe that what it is you are going to propose or wish for the family court to adapt or adopt will in fact be what is going to be in your childrens' best interest. Others of you are much more into the experience.

1:44 Speaker

Drive 29 miles


my GPS is talking. But in the experience of trying to just win your children because it feels like you're in a competitive battle with your ex spouse. That of course is not good for your children, and in the long run will cause them tremendous damage. But it is your option to do so, and therefore, you are the perpetuator of a child custody battle.


The process of child custody battle involves a number of different professionals. I'm going to just list off some of them, many of them, and I want you to please tune into other programs that have been done since May of 2009 and know that in August 2009 and September 2009 we're going to have a series of other professionals, we're going to interview them on the very issue of child custody battle. For yourself, if you're in a child custody battle than you have an attorney. There's also a possibility that your child has an attorney, otherwise known as the minor's counsel in the state of California. After the minor's counsel, which will represent your children's best interest from the point of view of your minor's counsel, not from the point of view or you or your other spouse, ex-spouse.


Then of course, you're probably going to have a child custody evaluator that has been appointed by the court or selected by the lawyers. Then of course, you're going to possibly have Department of Children Service social workers or the Social Service Department social workers that have investigated whatever serious abusive crimes that are taking place. You also have your family court judge or hearing officer that is hearing your case. And then, in addition, you have the arms of investigation. For example, Mark [UNINTELLIGIBLE], earlier, was interviewed who was known as a child/family investigator. That is something that's not offered in all states. You have in addition to that, the psychotherapist or psychologist who are also keenly involved in the process of trying to help you in your dispute so that your children can have a life.


I want to say, at the beginning of all of this, that the most essential thing for you to remember-- and we can say this until I'm blue in the face-- is that you remember, that it is your child's welfare that you need to guard. And if you are not guarding it, then you are causing harm to your children. For you to attempt to take your child away from the other parent, having an emotional satisfying relationship, is a very, very serious crime against your child. And your child, in one way or another, will let you know that that's exactly what is happening. In another respect though, if in fact, your ex-spouse is abusive to your child and it behooves you to take the seriousness of a child custody situation in hand and to not be timid about it and to know what professionals are here to help you, and which ones are here to harm you.


The truth of the matter is that they are there to help you if they are of helpful type, or they are there to harm you if they have that MO as well. And I'm going to try to, throughout the remainder of this program, to really help you engage and to recognizing what or when each of these particular individuals actually are there to help your child or to help you. The faux pas of the whole thing is that you need to be very self-reflective about whether or not you're there to help yourself win a battle against your ex-spouse or if you're there to help your child. You must be extraordinarily self-reflective on that.


And one reason the toxicity of family court is so intensely confused is because there are any number of parents that cannot keep that issue clear in their head. So you are the first child custody battle professional that can either harm or hurt your child, and you can harm or hurt your child by the mere act of you deciding that you're going to compete with your ex-spouse for your children.


The helicopters are going overhead. They're huge choppers; they look like transport choppers. And now you see any number of crowd of people gathering around to see whether or not they can actually capture a moment that would demonstrate what it is like for them to be on an actual battle situation. Let's see if I can actually demonstrate for you what would be on actual battle situation.


Once you've decided that you are in a battle, a child custody battle, if you are egotistically involved in the process of battling, you need to hire a lawyer that is as shark and militia oriented as you want them to be. This is not a lawyer that carries ethics or even the welfare of your child above anything else, instead this is a lawyer that you've hired to win your position. That individual will harm your children, but might win your case. And that's what you need to be aware of because that individual will not keep in the forefront of their courageousness the welfare of your children, will not confront you on welfare of your children, and will not help you hire professionals that care about the welfare of your children. Instead they will help you hire child custody evaluations that are prone to slant things in your favor.


In other words, there will be some child custody evaluators who have a reputation of slanting everything in the favor of a father. They will help you in the Department of Children Services if you are being accused of abuse, of figuring out ways of minimizing the impact of whatever report that they come. They will school and train you as to what to say to the Department of Children Service individuals, so that you can undermine the effectiveness that the Department of Children Service has in being able to investigate and assist your children if they have been actually, subjected to abuse.


In addition, you can just as easy manipulate the psychologist that might be called to help in a psychotherapeutic process of conjoint therapy between you and your child. So that you can manipulate the therapist in a way that makes the therapist find the innocence and find the other spouse guilty. Guilty of what? Parental alienation syndrome. See if you have hurt your children, you need to prove that the children don't want to be with you not because of anything that you have done, but rather of what your ex-spouse has done. And therefore, you will no longer be accused of estranging your children. Instead you can accuse the other spouse of brainwashing or filtering your child's experience with false courage and contrived statements that make the other parent look unfit, and sabotaging your right to have a relationship with your child by way of parental alienation.


A child [UNINTELLIGIBLE] lawyer isn't even unnecessary. But a lawyer that's used to being hired as mercenary battalion force will understand these strategies and will be able to manipulate all of the individuals that the court will put into place. Also, that particular lawyer will know which judges tend to be pro-fathers, which lawyers tend to be really keen on the idea of claiming alienation, and which lawyers are really frustrated with the experience of false accusations of child abuse. So there you have it. That will hurt your children because as soon as you deviate from the truth of the situation, you've confused your children, you are barricading your children into having to live in denial of their primary experience, and you're trying to cause their other parent to be looked in a bad light, and your children eventually will not have a positive relationship with you.


However, it will probably win the case, but in winning the case you have actually lost the overall war. Because winning is going to be-- the children are going to be loving, trusting, and they can love both you and the ex-spouse [UNINTELLIGIBLE PHRASE] incident involved in the process. And love authentically, not in terms of defensiveness and not in terms of denial, and not in terms of being forced to. Or bought. But authentically be able to love and trust regardless of the family configuration.


Your children, we do not-- I personally don't want your children to lose. I'm very pro-children. And on the child custody professionals website that is the key that every professional needs to adhere to the experience of what's in the child's best interest and not what's in the parent's best interest. For those parents who want to win however, you need to realize that currently, especially in California, but we find this throughout the United States, the court is more concerned about parental rights than they are about children rights because there have been too many courts that are frustrated with the experience of parents trying to manipulate the courts so that the child looks like they need to be estranged from parent or the other. Most courts nowadays would prefer to just automatically put into place 50/50 custody so that the children are not in the middle of an embroiled battle, and so that the children can move forward with having a relationship with both parent regardless of the reality of the child abuse out there.


I did a program in May that discussed how these family courts actually are unfortunately, entangled in the process of perpetuating parental abuse against children. And this is one of the reasons why they are. It's not necessarily because they are eager to harm children, but because they are trying to work out a dilemma that has been put in place by parents, quite honestly, not being honest about their own culpability and complications, and parents who are also trying to make other parent look artificially bad. Now there are other professionals besides the lawyers. We will now look at the child custody evaluator.


Child custody evaluator has in their hand the necessity to investigate you, your child, your home, and the other side of the family. The child evaluator should, if they are worth anything, investigate every single individual associated to the child that might give them different perspective. That means teachers, counselors, a neighbor, childhood friends, grandparents, et cetera. Most child custody evaluators are not that thorough, but the more thorough information you give a child custody evaluator actually, the more you can say that if they are not fair you can actually say that they have not fulfilled their ethical and legal guideline standards-- requirements, professional requirements to be thorough in their investigation before writing a report and coming to a professional conclusion.


This can be very helpful to those of you that are experiencing child custody evaluators that are not adequate and are harming your children. And helpful to those of you who wish to manipulate the child custody evaluator. You see, it works both ways. Unfortunately I'm giving information to parents what point of view you've come to looking to this program. How you're going to use the information. I have no control on how you're going to use it; I am only trying to educate with the hopes that those individuals that really want their children to have happy and successful lives and good relationships with everybody involved, will use it to the best.


[UNINTELLIGIBLE] child custody evaluators are actually very linked in to the family court system in such a way that they figure out what that particular judge wants them to say and they can form all of their research and investigation on lack thereof to what they know that that judge wants. So if the judge says, I want 50/50, make it so. The evaluator will only investigate and report that information that's in support of what the judge wants. There are a few child evaluators that have survived not being manipulated by that, but the truth is is that most lawyers will help you select the evaluator that's going to most conform to your point of view.


If you want to move out of state and your child needs to come with you and the other parent is going to be jeopardized in the relationship, they will be looking for a child custody evaluator that's friendly to that process as opposed to those child custody evaluators that are not friendly to that process. Your lawyer needs to know, the judge may or may not know. Chances are that they do. Your judge will have-- your hearing officer will have some point of view on it as well and hopefully your lawyer, and you need to know what your lawyer knows about that judge or know whether or not that judge is friendly toward having to move out of state and changing the custody arrangement or not friendly toward that. And most judges are not friendly toward that process. So you need to know that that is a complication.


The issue of a child custody evaluator is that there are certain ethical and legal standards that they are supposed to follow. However, most states do not have guidelines that are specific to child custody evaluators. And in fact, you do not even have to have a special status or execute or education in some states or in some situations at all to be able to perform the evaluations. And therefore, there's no specific guideline that you can actually call to task your evaluator on that says, look, you didn't follow through on what your primary responsibilities are in terms of accurately coming to this information.


However, if you feel your evaluator is not doing things in an honest, straightforward way, not taking into consideration all the facts, not interviewing the people that are available, are coming to conclusions that do not correspond with what you definitely know are the facts, then you can go to the state board and say, I would like to have ethics and legal standards sent to me that govern this particular activity of the professional, the psychologist, the evaluator, and have them sent to me and see whether or not those ethics or evaluations are being followed.


Child custody evaluators are supposed to do appropriate amount of testing. That means objective testing, as well as projective testing. Objective testing means that the tests have been standardized, usually multiple choice or true/false answers. And then they are compared to the very large population, and then statistically analyzed as to whether or not there is a propensity towards child abuse, anger, hostility, self-centeredness, narcissism, being a con artist or sociopathic, and the possibility of child abuse, sexual abuse, so forth and so on.


In addition, if there are any ideas of estrangement, alienation, child abuse of any form whatsoever, the evaluator needs to be interviewing everybody that is available that can testify against the parent. If the evaluator does not do that then your lawyer needs to take advantage of that slip because that's inappropriate, unethical, and illegal for that professional to not perform a very thorough evaluation. If you feel like your evaluator is not doing that then you need to in a very politically correct and standard and polite fashion call your evaluator to task on that so that they know that they're going to be held responsible and accountable to be able to evaluate all aspects of that. They must realize that in whatever investigation that goes on, and that child custody evaluator is an investigator, and not on your side, they're no sensitive individuals. They are there to investigate and come up with a conclusion that's not necessary to make you happy and won't make your children happy, won't make your ex-spouse happy, but will make the judge happy.


Now realized what I've just said. That's a pretty potent statement because that evaluator gets the referrals from judges and the lawyers. That is just the nature of the human beast, is to put more weight on who's going to finance their pool or extension of their house than what about your child. Now that's not always true and there are some child custody evaluators out there that are extremely willing to disappoint everybody, but the children. But they are rare and far between, and to find those that are effective, thorough, and also very good forensically and able to testify on behalf of your children takes a lot of leg work. Your lawyers are probably more inclined to get you to someone that's going to slant the case according to your desired endpoint.


So call to task, have all of your information, all the investigative information available to the child custody evaluator. Have it checked off if they have done it appropriately or not, and have it ready to be able to call to task in a politically and judiciously correct fashion because you don't want to be seen as hostile, and you don't want to be seen as causing any difficulty. But you will let the evaluator know that there are going to be bigger forces is in the court and bigger forces in the lawyers that want to hire them That are watching the efficacy, and ethicalness of what they do because they can lose their license or lose their right to practice for six months or pay a fine to the state if you are able to prove to the state boards that govern them that they have performed their job either unethical or illegally or substandardly.


So there you go. There's some information that will help you keep those professionals in place. It's also really important that you feel like you have a list of questions for your evaluator that might actually let your evaluator know that you're savvy to this. And again, they need to be strategically well written, carefully, politely, respectfully so as not to engender any sense of undue defensiveness or antagonism. And those questions can consider: How long have you been doing evaluations? Do you have a slant that goes in one direction or another? Do you have experience with child abuse of your own? Have you ever been abused as a spouse? You need to know those things if those two things are relevant, what types of abuse are you talking about? And what are their views on parental alienation? What are their views on parental estrangement? How many reports have they written? Is there a proportionate amount of those cases that have slanted towards one gender parent versus the other gender parent? Have they interviewed the ages of children before, teenagers are a different animal to interview in those circumstances than young kids. And to ask the appropriate questions, let them know that you are indeed savvy and that you would like to select them because of their expertise.


Now the thing is, realizing if you are going to use that person you want to convey that you want to have something authentic and positive and really in the child's best interest at all times you need to walk that path. If you do betray any other positioning by your question you will actually slant the examiner against you or for you, but you need to be careful in the process of slanting them for you because they may feel the manipulation of the process and go against you. The trick on maneuvering human beings is in every single field. And unfortunately, in child custody battle they are very paramount.


Department of Children's Services are in a very difficult situation when the family court is present. The family court takes precedence over any sort of ruling of the Department of Children Services unless there is immediate danger to the child in terms of sexual abuse or physical abuse. Verbal and emotional abuse are not weighted as strongly. Sexual abuse is weighted very high but you must realize that any sort of abuse that is accused toward a divorcing set of parents is often viewed by the Department of Children Service as nothing more than a ploy on your part to try to puff up the data in the family court situation in an artificial manner. This activity is frowned on very strongly by courts because they're so used to be manipulated as the Department of Children Services, and so the way the family court has organized itself-- wrongly so, I firmly believe, is to be very angry and antagonistic toward any parent that claims child abuse during a child custody battle because it looks suspicious. And involve the Department of Children Service in any kind of child abuse. Unless you have video or photo or audio tape that clearly demonstrates that the parent has inflicted some sort of abuse toward your child be very careful about making reports to the Department of Children Service. You not only need to convince the court, but you need to convince your lawyer that you're not making this story up.


Now you can make lots of claims and you can be very upset as a parent and you can say that this is not right for a child to experience. But remember, there's no way for a court to really know what's true. There's no way for the Department of Children Services to know what's true. They only go by impression. And if they find out that you're in the middle of a child custody situation, all their impressions that you are truly, authentically reporting child abuse will suddenly be put on tremendous pause, and you'll be held as being suspiciously contriving stories or schooling your children to claim abuse when actually there's none taking place. I understand that for those of you that are really experiencing child abuse or spouse abuse that this is really unfair to you, but it is a fact.


Now, since the person that's being accused of child abuse has a very good lawyer in the child custody battles, the very good lawyer will say, great. You've been accused of child abuse, there's absolutely no proof. I not only can use this against your ex-spouse that she's trying to create alienation and is an unfit mother because she unwilling to have co-parenting. Great. Now we can say you can win child custody. In many the cases the parent that is the abuser wins complete child custody, 100% with even watched visitations with the other parent; they're watched or supervised because they don't want that other parent to brainwash the child so that the abusive parents get full custody and the other one has visitations that are only being monitored because the judge has been convinced that the other parent is falsely accusing the abusing parent. That is such a twisted matrix. I encourage you to go on YouTube and actually put this issue through and you will see any number of testimonials from parents throughout the United States that are going through this extraordinarily scary and frustrating situation. People that are harmed are the parent that is not the abuser and the children.


The courts are very hostile towards abuse being claimed and you have to move very, very carefully. The Department of Children Service social workers tend to be not overly experienced or educated. They're overworked. They're stressed. They've probably seen worse cases than yours. And if they immediately feel like they're being manipulated they will immediately push back. So you need to be very, very careful and cautious. Your lawyer needs to be very careful and cautious when those situations occur, and just don't take it for granted that the Department of Children Service is going to assist you when there's really child abuse taking place. Remember, evidence, evidence, evidence must be hard core, believable, indisputable so that no one can call you a faker.


Another individual in the equation, this is the minor's counsel. This is the lawyer that's appointed to your children. That means your children can talk to the minor's counsel at will or when the minor's counsel is willing. You can talk to minor's counsel into helping your children so the can talk to you-- so she can talk to your children. We're going to be interviewing a group of minor's counsel shortly from Orange County area. I'm so looking forward to talking to them. It'll be some time within August.


Now the minor's counsel can be your friend or can be our enemy. The minor's counsel, interestingly enough, can be your child's friend or your child's enemy as well. They can help or they can hurt. If the minor's counsel is more concerned about making the judge happy, which they often are and I'll explain it in a moment. Then the minor's counsel is not going to care about what your children say and not going to care about what you say. The minor's counsel is going to care only about what the judge wants. If that judge wants 50/50 or prefers one parent over the other, the minor's counsel knows that their bread and butter comes from the referral from that judge. If that judge is not happy with that minor's counsel, that minor's counsel will not get the [INAUDIBLE] amounts of referrals from that judge that have been bread and butter in how that lawyer finances his livelihood. It is definitely a conflict of interest, but if there's conflict of interest, you need to know is in play. Do not be naive.


The minor's counsel may also have an interesting relationship with your lawyer or the other counsel. They may have a golf relationship, a luncheon relationship because remember, the lawyers also the ones that give that minor's counsel the cases. So the interesting situation is that if your lawyer has a relationship with the minor counselor on another case, your lawyer might actually sacrifice your case in order to be able to get that minor's counsel give something, another case that either is paying more than you are or is in a trickier situation. Or that that lawyer, your lawyer may be upset with you and just wants to twist it around. In dealing with human beings that are all about self-interest and all about just winning the war. This is all about establishing position. It is not about helping your children. You may be all about helping your children, but you have got to be strategic as you maneuver through these series of [UNINTELLIGIBLE] that the court in the child custody court situation has slam dunked you and your children in to. Do not be naive.


I know that I'm giving you the worst case scenario. There are minor's counselors out there that I have worked with very directly that are lovely, lovely individuals that care about the children and are much more concerned about the children's welfare, safety, and take child abuse reports, neglect, and other issues that the child brings up about their parent so to [UNINTELLIGIBLE] and say they don't care what the judge says. They don't care what the lawyers are and they don't even care about referrals, they care about the child's welfare. Those minor counselors can be sifted out by savvy, gentle, non-offensive questioning, and also realize that just as the child custody evaluators, you can ask questions that let them know that you can get the bar association to challenge their license if they don't follow through on what they're strategically supposed to follow through on. Don't play this battle naively.


I am watching now more [UNINTELLIGIBLE] moving from the naval landing era ocean craft maneuver. I'm watching soldiers moving in place. Here we are [UNINTELLIGIBLE] watching it all happen. They are practicing for having their life at risk for the welfare of us whether you agree with war or not. The maneuver strategy train and learn so that your child, your children can be safe, happy, healthy. Your part in their life is actually fairly short. You have them for just a few years. Try to minimize the damage, maximize the support and love, move your ego aside, keep your wisdom in focus. And never, never become passive towards the so-called child custody professionals interventions in your children's lives. Be aware, be alerts, do not be offending anyone, but be offensive and strategic in what it is you need to do as you move through the very complicated pathways involved in child custody battle.


This is Dr. Carol Francis. Please contact me at 310-543-1824. Check in to drcarolfrancis.com. Please do listen to the other Blog Talk Radio programs that have been on this topic. There are many helpful professionals there that I've been able to interview and more to come. And finally, as the childcustodyprofessionals@webs.com-- W E B S.com. That website grows in professionals that might be able to answer your questions further on each of these issues. I would ask that you watch that grow, that you contribute as well. If you have a story or a circumstance that you would like to be interviewed through anonymously on this radio program or in writing on the website through blogs, et cetera, I would so appreciate you helping other parents and their children through this very difficult [UNINTELLIGIBLE]. That's [UNINTELLIGIBLE]. Make your life happen now in the most generous and positive manner possible. [UNINTELLIGIBLE]. Take care. Buh-bye.