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Ensure child safety and justice in family courts – Longmont Times-Call | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey


I write this letter with a deep concern for the vulnerable children and families who are navigating the complex landscape of family courts. Recent developments, including a bill signed into law in May in Colorado, aim to protect children from being isolated from trusted caregivers during reunification programs within family courts. While this is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, it’s important to recognize that more comprehensive measures are needed to ensure that justice prevails and children’s safety remains paramount.

The bill’s focus on preventing family courts from ordering children into programs that could isolate them from caregivers is indeed commendable. However, the issue of child trafficking within family courts goes beyond just the scope of these programs. The very foundation upon which some custody decisions are made remains deeply problematic, particularly when guided by concepts like “parental alienation.”

The so-called Parental Alienation Theory, championed by its inventor, Richard Gardner MD, has long been a divisive and scientifically dubious narrative influencing custody decisions. It’s concerning that this theory can be weaponized to demonize one parent and shield another who may have subjected a child to harm. The disturbing reality is that this theory often dismisses or downplays accusations of abuse, even when credible evidence is presented.

What’s more troubling is that the system itself tends to lack the psychological sophistication needed to fully comprehend the nuances of high-conflict custody litigation. Cases involving allegations of abuse can devolve into a “gaslighting” scenario, where victims’ accounts are discredited, and children are further traumatized in the process. This is a grave concern, especially considering the real trauma that some children have experienced at the hands of abusive parents.

While the recent legislation seeks to address some aspects of this issue, the underlying problem remains deeply rooted in the court system. Educated judges who can critically assess complex situations are vital to protecting families from manipulation and harm. It’s imperative that the court process isn’t treated as a blood sport where only one side emerges victorious, often at the expense of the safety and well-being of the child.

To truly address the fear and trembling that families experience within the court system, there needs to be an ongoing commitment to vigilance and oversight. Families must be empowered to understand their cases from every angle, ensuring that they’re not passive participants but active advocates for their children’s well-being. This includes scrutinizing the roles of evaluators, therapists, and attorneys who sometimes amplify the flaws within the system rather than rectifying them.

In light of these concerns, I urge our state senators and legislators to continue their efforts to reform family court systems. The recent bill is a positive step, but it’s vital that we go further. We need judges who are well-versed in psychological dynamics, child protection, and the complexities of high-conflict cases. We must work toward a system that genuinely puts children’s safety and well-being first, and that offers support to parents facing the challenges of custody disputes.

Let us remember that the pursuit of justice and protection for children should not be confined to legislative changes alone; it’s an ongoing journey that requires constant vigilance, education, and a shared commitment to bettering our family court systems.

Judi Atwood is a Longmont resident.

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