CA Family Courts Helping Pedophiles Get Child Custody
According to this article in SF Weekly,
Looking out for the children who find themselves in the middle of bitter divorces is the most important function of the state’s family courts, and arguably one of the most significant duties of the judiciary as a whole. Yet evidence has mounted in recent years that it is a responsibility in which family court officials are sometimes failing dramatically.
Interviews with dozens of parents, activists, lawyers, judges, children, and former family court employees, as well as a review of hundreds of pages of family and criminal court documents, indicate that the system’s methods for assessing whether child sexual abuse or spousal battery has taken place — findings that are critical to deciding whether a parent should retain custody of or visitation rights with a child — fall short of the standards accepted by domestic-violence experts and the criminal-justice community.
The results can be tragic. In some cases . . . abuse allegations have been confirmed decisively, in the form of criminal convictions, after a poor custody decision was made. In others, court officials have ignored existing domestic-violence convictions, sending children to live with admitted batterers. In at least one case, an infant boy lost his life because of a judge’s refusal to take seriously warnings about an unstable parent.
Compounding these issues, critics say, is a lack of accountability for judges, attorneys, custody evaluators, and other court personnel, who enjoy immunity from lawsuits even in cases where they make decisions that do obvious harm to children and parents.
The article focuses exclusively on cases, both in the San Francisco Bay Area and the rest of California, where allegations of domestic violence or child molestation were backed up by criminal convictions — and, in one case, a murder-suicide. The SF Weekly concludes that in all of the cases reviewed “the courts seem to have failed to follow basic procedures, including some dictated by state law, for weighing evidence of a parent’s abusiveness before making crucial custody decisions.”
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