Florida Family Court

Florida state flower

Why am I adding photos of blurred state flowers to the top of each state’s page?

Unblurred photos were going to help readers get through the twisted content of this blog, but it makes more sense to distort the photos. The blurred photos help explain what happens to the equally beautiful lives of mothers and children caught in the “PAS” trap. Still there, but not the same as they used to be. 

Take a great mom. Tell her about her children being abused. Then tell her the children won’t be protected from the abuser.  What would happen to any good mom in that situation? It depends on how long the torture lasts.

Most moms would be worried all the time. Family court attorneys and custody evaluators then could call her “paranoid” — depending on who’s side they’re on. Most moms in this situation are naturally preoccupied and defensive. On edge. Usually angry and frantic too when those in positions of authority refuse to protect the children. A mom who is worried, preoccupied, defensive, angry and frantic can then be called a “parental alienator”. She’s then the perfect candidate to have her children legally removed from her care. 

 How does a mother survive such devastating assaults on her life and the lives of her children?

Some mothers who are caught in the “PAS” scam curl up in a corner and  are without the physical and/or emotional strength to continue. Some mothers fight like a mother lion protecting her cubs – and then lose custody for being too “alienating”.  

Some mothers, like Linda Marie Sacks, focus on the beauty of the world in whatever shape that beauty takes. Ms. Sacks takes picnic baskets full of wholesome foods to her supervised visits and spends those few precious hours doing arts and crafts projects with her beautiful daughters.

 Keep the faith Ms. Sacks. As you always say, “Justice will prevail.”

The following article is from DailyKos.com:

DailyKos.com

Mothers Lose Custody for Reporting Sex Abuse

by Linda Marie Sacks

Apr 29, 2010 at 07:51:05 AM PDT

It has been three years since I lost the right to be a mother to my two beautiful daughters, now ages 13 and 15.  I think about all the things I have missed – caring for them when they’re sick, helping with homework and taking vacations. But mostly, I pray they are safe.

My name is Linda Marie Sacks. I’m an Ormond Beach, Florida, mother whose life began reeling out of control in April 2002 after an administrator at my daughter’s school called to tell me that my then-7-year-old was sexually acting out.  I was quick to follow the school administrator’s advice and took my daughter to a therapist. Then Sunday School officials called to tell me that my daughter was talking in class about performing oral sex on her father. At age 8, in her therapist’s office, my eldest daughter drew the family picture shown after the fold that depicts her father as an erect penis with legs.

Child's drawingI didn’t want to believe it.  But after eleven years of marriage, I filed for divorce (Case 2004-30312 FMCI) and asked the Volusia County Court system to protect my children.  Instead Volusia County Judge Shawn L. Briese called my daughter a liar, identified me as the problem for believing her and, for three years now, I’ve only been allowed to see my daughters twice a month for an hour-long supervised visit at The Family Tree House Visitation Center in Daytona Beach.

Now that I know the stories of so many other mothers like me —Wendy T. in  Georgia, Annette Z. in Illinois, Danielle M. in Tennessee — I’m so thankful for those two hours a month. My daughters tell me how much they love me during those hours.

I know what you are thinking: This mother has done something wrong. But I am a squeaky-clean soccer mom, no drugs, no alcohol, no arrests, no abuse, no infidelity, nothing. I was an active school volunteer – and for many years the class mom for both of my daughters’ classes.

My daughter’s teacher said, “If you, of all Mothers, can lose custody of your children and be placed on Supervised Visitation, then America better wake up, because anyone can.”

The only thing that I can think I did wrong was naively believe in the United States justice system.

During hearings, each time I tried to submit information about why I am worried about my daughters’ safety, the court system stopped me. The father asked for and was granted a protective order on testimony from the children’s therapist who wrote in reports about suspected sexual abuse and watched as my eldest daughter drew her father as an erect penis with legs. Testimony was not allowed from the Sunday School volunteer who heard my daughter tell a classmate that “She sucks her daddy’s penis.” Three times, Dr. Kathy Pearce, a licensed clinical psychologist from Melbourne, Florida, has come to the Daytona Beach courthouse, ready to testify that she is concerned the father is sexually abusing the children and each time she was turned away.

Justice for Children, a Houston-based national child advocacy organization, wrote a letter to Volusia County law enforcement authorities, including Department of Children and Family Administrator Reggie Williams, expressing concern that the allegations of sexual and physical abuse of my daughters were never properly investigated.

The letter was used in a motion by the children’s father to complain that I was still a problem and had not accepted the court’s ruling that no child abuse has taken place. From the bench, Judge Briese did not show concern about the points raised in the Justice for Children letter but instead wanted to know who had contacted the organization.

I’ve spent more than $130,000 in legal fees trying to help my girls. In 2008 the Florida Fifth District Court of Appeals in Daytona Beach reversed Judge Briese’s custody decision (Case 5D07-1682), and ruled that the judge had abused his trial court discretion, violated my due process rights and ordered the custody decision be retried in the lower court. Despite the appeals court ruling and numerous motions to have him removed from the case, Judge Briese has continued to deny me full contact with my children.

Instead, just a few months after the Fifth District Court of Appeals ruling, Judge Briese quickly set another custody hearing, denied to admit any of my evidence or witnesses and again ruled that I be allowed only supervised visits with my daughters.

I had paid my appeals attorney more than $85,000. The appeals court concluded that Judge Briese “reversibly erred” when he took my children away. But the justice system sent me right back to the judge who the appeals court judges said had abused his trial court discretion and violated my due process rights. I again found myself in disbelief. How can this be called justice?

But these are my children, and I made a promise to them that I would do something every day to get them back, and I will never stop. I have to believe that one day justice will prevail – not only for my two wonderful daughters but for all of the children thrust into America’s broken family court system.

So now, I spend hours each day teaching myself the justice system. As a pro se litigant, I filed another appeal with the Fifth District Court (Case 5D09-3752).

I also successfully requested another hearing to get my children back in the lower court. Six months ago, Judge Briese granted that hearing for this month.

Within days the father’s attorneys filed a subpoena in the lower court demanding I appear for a lengthy deposition and filed a motion to end my precious two-hour-a-month supervised visit with my girls.

So now Judge Briese has changed his mind about allowing my hearing to consider reuniting me with my daughters to proceed. Instead the judge is demanding I submit to this lengthy deposition during my hearing time.

I don’t understand how this can be happening. I can learn the rules but apparently they will never apply to me or my children.

I have dutifully complied with every court order. But last week, I demanded that my hearing to reunite with my children be held and that my witnesses that I subpoenaed be allowed to testify. The hearing was scheduled for three days, so the next day I went back again to demand my hearing.

Dr. Pearce, who had long been ready to testify that an 8-year-old should not know what an erect penis looks like nor have any idea about how oral sex is performed, was again there to be heard. This time I filed an emergency motion requesting Dr. Pearce, the Melbourne therapist, be allowed to be heard about her concerns for the childrens’ safety. According to Florida state law all judges must hear evidence being offered concerning child abuse.

But again Judge Briese refused to allow Dr. Pearce to be heard.

I don’t know what else to do so I’m writing. I’ve sent out press releases. I’m hoping someone with the power to help my children will hear my cries. And the cries of so many parents just like me.

All documents linked are filed with the court and public record, though I have replaced my minor children’s names with D1 for my eldest daughter and D2 for my youngest. The court docket for this case can be seen at http://www.clerk.org, click “Search Online Records” in the upper right corner, click “Case Inquiry,” accept the terms, then enter case number 2004 30312 FMCI.

6 thoughts on “Florida Family Court

  1. Family law courts in Tampa are some of the most corrupt courts I have ever had the displeasure of dealing with…….for example, in 2004, I file a paternity action against my former girlfriend seeking shared custody of our two children, me as primary…..she never answered the petition nor filed a counter-petition….unfortunately, months later, I was indicted by the feds for a work related issue…..the mother retained an attorney, who moved the case forward without counter-petition, financial affidavits and obtained a “sole parental responsibility” final judgement. I have never been convicted of a domestic crime against a family member, as required to by statutory law, financial affidavits cannot be waived. At best, the case should have been dismissed for lack of prosecution on my part.

    In 2014 I sought relief from the above mentioned final judgment, to no avail…the motions are summarily dismissed by the judge with no written opinion…..making it impossible for appellate review,

    In 1997, after a Dissolution of Marriage case…my former wife decided she wanted to travel the county (as an adult entertainer), regardless of the visitation plan of our (then), minor child…..she alleged a false claim of abuse (resulting in no arrests), visitation was place on hold, she left Tampa and 17 years later……..I get to see my daughter. Ironically, the judge in that case would be indicted by the feds for money laundering another “adult entertainer” money…….

    In all of the above mentioned cases, I was always made to feel that appearing pro se was the reason for the negative outcomes …however, during the same period of time, I was efficient enough to successfully abolished an ordinance in federal court and civilly prosecute city of Tampa at a non-jury trial. A feat only accomplished by very few seasoned attorneys.

  2. I am trying to connect with people in Florida especially to combat this issue. Judges think they are immune because of judicial immunity and Social worker, guardian as litems, most attorneys have been grand fathered in and are essentially immune also. When they don’t have c to answer for their actions they become complacent. Judicial immunity and judicial fabrication are not the same. Parents and children that have been negatively affected sound crazy. There are lots of affected parents and children but we need to unite and combat the c issue as one instead of individually behind closed family court doors where they can secretively dismiss as a crazy paranoid person. Affected parents and children’s cases may not be 100% identical but individual violation of one child or parent gives judges confidence and their actions get progressively worse. I would like to organize a statewide day for affected individuals to file a Judicial Qualification Complaint against judges. If judges wasn’t too call their numbers illegal acts and violations errors we can bring attention to the fact that multiple “errors” are considered incompetence and it is a violation of judicial canons. Judicial canons state every judge has to maintain competency in the law. If anyone makes multiple “errors” on their profession they would be considered incompetent and fired. If u have documented errors in n your case even small technicalities judges did let’s address the judge’s actions on a constructive manner. Telling our story is therapeutic but using our story and judges errors to bring about change is productive and healing. My email address is cojamalik@aol.com. let’s connect.

  3. I would like to connect with others in Florida to put numbers on how often this is happening. I think Florida will be surprised. Alone we sound crazy but of we can show how c often it is happening we may get x others to support is. Judges are c the c problem we can learn there language and file JQC complaints. I have read the JQC just river stamps complaints. I would like to get website that keeps Copies Of JQC COMPLAINTS before they are filed. I know once the are filed they are confidential. Because the public doesn’t have access to complaints we have to trust v the JQC is fair. Lets get everything in the open. Cojamalik@aol.com

  4. Hi Mom in Tampa,

    I’m so sorry to hear about what happened to your family. I agree. It’s definitely difficult for the public to understand how there can be so much corruption in family courts – probably because most of us don’t expect to find corruption in an industry that’s supposed to help families.

    Like you, I also hope everyone will send their cases and that those with “legal abuse syndrome” – PTSD caused by years of intense trauma in the mandatory family court processes – will ask for help when going through the boxes and boxes of paperwork. Someone just sitting in the room and saying nothing (maybe with a cup of tea and a few cookies) can help get us through the boxes and boxes of paperwork. When we sit to write the timelines, it’s going to be tough for some to not go on and on, explaining all the minor traumas associated with each major trauma. Some say it can help to think of what we’d say in an “an elevator speech”: You get on an elevator and you see the Director of the Department of Justice standing there. You have about a minute to explain your case. If the timelines can be one page in outline form, that will be easiest for the DOJ staff. They definitely have their work cut out for them.

  5. I am in disbelief when I read these stories. So similar to my own. Most people cannot believe this kind of thing really happens. But it does. You have to have been thru it to understand. Makes me ill to my stomach. My police officer ex husband and his brand new “christian counselor” wife kidnapped our 12 year old daughter out of school and I have been fighting to get her back for 16 months now. I raised her alone for 11 and a half years. He was never interested before. They took her to a counselor “friend” and “business partner” of the new wife’s for special therapy. My daughter has never been the same since. Contempt, parental alienation, denied calls, holidays, visits, etc. Judge knows, does not care. I hope everyone sends the outline in that the DOJ has requested on custody nightmares by January 15, 2014.

  6. “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL?”
    Six years ago when I tried to leave my abusive husband, I believed that the legal system was a professionally governed organization where my rights and my property would be protected. I went into family court believing in my history teacher’s promises that we live in a land and have a government whose words, “And Justice For All” are backed up with our justice system and the laws of our land. I also knew that I could be found dead if I did not escape this man. Since my family court experience, I now know that there is no justice in family court and in fact there is extreme injustice and the laws of the land are applied only and possibly if you have enough money to take the case to appellate court as Family Court is a special court (a court of law) that is not a court of equity.
    Court of law verses a court of equity.
    Family court is a court of law, not a court of equity (where the court will provide a remedy). This is important for survivors to understand. We have been seeking remedy in a court of law, family court. The professionals in the business, do not tell us that we will not get remedy in this court. They tell us that we must go to Family Court and they sell us a bill of goods, using our state of despair and helplessness to make money. In a court of equity, there is a jury of peers who will listen to the facts. There is no jury of peers in Family Court, there is only one judge who does not understand the dynamics of domestic violence. The judge is the sole trier of the facts and is given the authority to make decisions that affect the survivor’s family, financial, physical, emotional, and mental health. Some individuals have said that the judge does not even read the file, s/he leaves that chore up to the clerk, and the clerk and the attorneys make the decision for you. Many lawyers feed the fire of what they term a “high conflict divorce” (meaning a divorce from a personality disordered individual), to line their pockets and after you have finished, the attorneys and the system (who have all knowledge of your financial information) know that you do not have the money to appeal the judge’s decision to a higher court. Behind closed doors, this is communicated to all parties and your fate is then sealed. You are stuck with this decree. Needless to say, if you have children, this court decree becomes a double-edged sword that cuts you and also your children.
    While I do not advise people to stay with abusive mates, I cannot advise survivors to trust family courts and all the professionals who benefit from family court. This is another double edged sword, you are cut both ways. If you stay, you will suffer and perhaps lose your life. If you leave, you may save your life physically, but your children will be forced (by the court of law) to live without your protection with an abusive parent and you will give away all of your finances (and the finances of your family) to protect yourself and your children. Family court will order by the law, remember they are not a court of equity, where a jury of peers will look at the whole environment and make recommendations that are equitable. Family court is a court of law and the law states that a parent does not have to be a good parent to have parental rights. Of course if you try to protect your children, then you are alienating the children from the other parent. The court of law may decide to take the children from you and give them to Foster Care or to the abusive parent to preserve the rights of the abusive party.

    Is abuse too profitable?
    These facts are evident to all concerned, but sadly ignored because the profit is so great to the players involved in this business of terror. Why hasn’t the system changed? Why is there no media coverage? Could it be that this system is profitable to lawyers, judges, dcs, cps, clerks, domestic violence shelters, victim advocates, guardians, psychologists, expert witnesses, etc? Our elected officials are lawyers and media companies follow the advice of their lawyers. The American Bar is a private body comprised of lawyers. Is it too much about profit and not about the protection of children and families?
    Victims of abuse are not aware of the injustice until they step into the court room with an abusive partner and begin to realize that the Family Court is a playground where the disordered can manipulate all the players. The players will not change the system because they have those mortgages that need to be paid and profits to be made. The judges will not speak up, because the attorneys will not fund their elections. The devastation of families and children are ignored perhaps because it is too profitable for the court system.
    What are those of us who have suffered left to do?
    We have become survivors of a dysfunctional organization and many of us suffer with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Depression and Anxiety. If we did not develop PTSD surviving in our relationships with a disordered individual, we will develop PTSD when exposed to a system that is set up to punish and keep us exposed to trauma. Your attorney will threaten to withdraw and drop you (especially) when you begin to challenge the attorney about the game being played with your life and your children. The attorney expects that their bill is paid, even the trumped up charges. The Bar of you state will claim you have no claim against the attorney, just pay the bill. The bar tends to pat the team player attorneys on the back for doing a good job and not challenging the dysfunctional system.
    I believe that all we can do is keep challenging the validity of this system, writing, talking to others, counseling, presenting reality to others and asking all to support a change to this system. Are the states who insist that we divorce in this type of court responsible? Perhaps Family Court needs to become a court of equity. Some survivors are suggesting that If there is any domestic violence, (also financial assault by any party), the case must be heard in criminal court with a jury making the court a court of equity. A jury will then decide your fate, not a judge or a clerk who wants you to return and keep financially supporting their lifestyle.
    Those professionals involved in this system need to stop turning their heads to the rape and assault of American citizens and families. If you have been raped by the family court system, keep talking and sharing your story. I wish that I had the opportunity to have heard your stories before I entered this court of injustice that permitted more abuse and financial violence. I would have been safer financially and physically if I had avoided hiring the attorneys that I hired. These attorneys were not even remotely aware of all facts of my case, they were only interested in what money was available to pay large fees to continue the game of injury and the transfer of wealth to their trust funds.
    There was more justice when I was able to present the evidence to the court and file pro se. If you file pro se, you will have to learn the laws and I recommend that you have a disability advocate with you. This is important because in the presence of your abuser, you may become symptomatic and will need support. The court claims that the pro se litigant clogs the system, but perhaps this is a system that should be clogged.
    Perhaps another avenue is to file civil charges for damages. A very serious damage is the formation of complex Post Traumatic Stress due to the legal abuse. You may want to check out attorneys who litigate brain injuries.
    Are there many attorneys who will dare challenge the system and become a whistleblower? I’d like to see a national foundation set up to challenge and assist those who have been injured. I humbly ask those of you who know of solutions to write “Lovefraud” and help those of us who are still in shock from the legal abuse perpetrated by the family court system. We must help each other, because we do not have the assistance from the legal system, victim advocates, our legislators, or the media.
    Rebecca Potter, LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist who practices in West Palm Beach, Florida. She may be reached at: tlc211@gmail.com

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