To access the podcast episodes corresponding to these notes, visit www.CPDilemmas.com. There you can access Season Two, Episodes 1-6.
(NOTE FROM DIANE: Names of the parties have been changed to protect the information, but all facts of the case are taken directly from court documents, professionals’ written notes, or email communication shared with me. Any parent’s quotes are taken from text/email docs provided to me. It will be noted when quotes come from conversation with only Sarah – the one parent I was able to speak to. Any errors are completely my own, but there is so much more evidence than what is listed here, that a few errors wouldn’t change the egregiousness of the case’s facts and failures. I’ve used dog breeds for names because I love dogs :-) and I thought a little levity would make it less heavy to read. Thank you for indulging me on that point.)
MEET THE DOBERMANS
Mother: Sarah Doberman, current age - 42
Father: Dave Doberman, current age - 50
Married in 2005; separated in 2015; divorced in 2016
Daughter: Chelsea, current age 14-1/2 (born 2008); talkative, very social, ADHD
Son: Kyle, current age 13 (born 2009); quiet, rule follower, looks to sister for guidance
THE MARRIAGE: History of Conflict (according to Sarah)
Dave and Sarah married in 2005. Sarah reports that things went well (as long as she didn’t make waves with Dave) until the children were born. That is when the conflict between them escalated and Sarah could not simply acquiesce to Dave’s controlling behaviors. Sarah had a normal birth with Chelsea, but Chelsea was diagnosed with a chronic childhood disease a week after Dave filed for divorce in 2015. She continues to be treated for it today. According to Sarah, she was not notified by Dave upon Chelsea’s diagnosis, but his attorney emailed Sarah to tell her that Chelsea was in the hospital and would need treatment the rest of her life. Sarah said she told Dave prior to the hospitalization that there was something wrong with Chelsea, but Dave told her that Chelsea was fine, and that Sarah was just being overprotective. This was the beginning of what Sarah believes to be gaslighting.
Kyle was born a month early and he was evaluated and provided therapy through Babies Can’t Wait in another state. When he was five, they did a psychological evaluation on him, something required to enter an Atlanta-area private school to detect any learning disabilities. I have a copy of that evaluation (done while they were married, a year before the divorce filing), and it also came with an evaluation of Sarah. I asked why she was evaluated also (and not also dad or the daughter). She said that while they were married, the children had front row seats to name calling, as their father repeatedly put her down with comments such as dumb, stupid, sick, not well in the head, mentally ill, and mocking behaviors, such as yelling out loud in annoyance or frustration towards her with, “A.D.D.! A.D.D!” in front of the kids. I believed this version of events, since I heard a recent 911 call made by Dave’s wife and saw the police body cam video on that same day of Dave talking with the police. Both Dave and his wife tell the 911 operator and the police officer that Sarah is mentally ill and severely ADHD. They also reported on that day that she had repeatedly abused the children, although there is no evidence of that in any of the DFCS or court records I reviewed.
At Sarah’s request, she and Dave attended marriage counseling in 2014 with the same doctor who did the psych eval on Kyle and Sarah. Because Dave continued calling her mentally ill, Sarah thought if they used the same professional who did the evaluation of her, she could tell Dave that Sarah was not mentally ill, and it would save her marriage. Dave quit the therapy, saying they couldn’t afford it. Sarah suspects it was because Dave didn’t want to hear an alternative narrative from the therapist. The only thing Sarah was diagnosed with in that only psych evaluation of her was ADHD and anxiety. There were no diagnoses that indicated she was unable to care for her children or that she had issues that would lead to abusing a child.
There have been a total of six judges, ten different attorneys, two custody evaluators, one GAL, and several therapists involved in the legal actions below that span from March, 2015 to the present. At least ten calls to DFCS (Department of Family and Children Services) were made (I only had documents from DFCS when they closed a case and was not privy to case reports as they were sealed). it is unclear how many times the police have been called. I counted five police reports, but I did not match police reports with all of the calls that were reported to me in Sarah’s detailed notes.
HISTORY OF CONFLICT CONNECTED TO SEPARATION AND DIVORCE PROCEEDINGS (2015-2016):
03-07-15 First visit by DFAC caseworker - visits the home and daughter, Chelsea, (age 7) reports to -the caseworker upon entering the room, “My mother pulls my hair and twists my arm” (reported by Sarah). It is not clear who made the DFCS call.
03-25-15 Sarah is served divorce papers and FIRST temporary protective order in her driveway and told she must leave the residence and the children in Dave’s custody, which she does.
04-14-15 Violence/protective order dismissed due to failure to prove the occurrence of DV; Sarah is allowed to return home and parties agree to share 50/50 custody of children temporarily while they “nested” in their family home.
May 2015 Dave installs video camera in kitchen. She said (in a later motion) she didn’t know about it and that he wanted to record her interactions with the children; he said, in answer to her motion, that she knew about the camera installation and that they agreed it was for safety reasons.
07-28-15 Sarah files for emergency child support to provide food and items needed for the children
07-31-15 Dave responds to request for emergency hearing, saying Sarah has her own income and that he was “forced to request a TPO due to Respondent’s abuse of the minor children”. Emergency motion for child support is denied, pending temporary hearing in September.
Aug. 2015 DFCS is called based on Sarah yelling at the children on the camera’s recording that Dave installed; DFCS investigates, and they have Sarah sign a safety plan, but do not remove the children from Sarah’s care.
09-17-15 Temporary hearing on custody and GAL request, presided over by Judge Coonhound, later substituted by Judge St. Bernard.
09-24-15 Order appointing a Guardian ad litem, Ms. Labrador
09-24-15 Affidavit filed on behalf of Sarah by a parent (Mr. Labradoodle) of a daughter who is Chelsea’s friend. It stated that he had heard Chelsea say to his daughter, “Daddy told us mommy has mental issues, and we don’t have to listen to her.”
10-05-15 Interim order, giving Dave temporary primary custody of the children until Sarah completes the DFCS safety plan. Sarah is ordered to do supervised visitation at a visitation center every Saturday for four hours; order allows GAL to alter visitation once engaged in the case.
10-07-15 GAL requests order for all DFCS records for the children
10-08-15 Sarah’s attorney, Ms. Terrier, requests to withdraw from the case due to non-payment of fees
10-16-22 In camera inspection of DFCS documents is ordered
10-22-15 Notice of trial calendar beginning 11-06-15
10-28-15 GAL files motion for custody evaluation
11-05-15 Order appointing a custody evaluator, Dr. Beagle
Dec. 2015 GAL puts in place new 2-2-5 visitation schedule for the parties because Sarah had fulfilled the safety plan that she signed with DFCS
02-25-16 Order for late case evaluation
04-12-16 Meeting among GAL (Ms. Labrador), children’s psychological evaluator, and both attorneys. Notes from the meeting state: [Custody evaluator, Dr. Beagle] said he was alarmed that Dave used the kids to encourage them to report child abuse on Sarah and that the oldest child, Chelsea, told him that dad tells her to say the things he does about mom, which the evaluator interpreted as a classic and extreme alienation tactic.
04-15-16 Sarah’s attorney files for an expedited hearing, stating that Dave is escalating conflict by encouraging the children to report abuse before a final hearing
04-22-16 Dave’s attorney, Ms. Boxer, requests to withdraw from the case because Dave wants to seek other counsel
04-25-16 Sarah’s attorney files an objection to Dave’s attorney withdrawal, stating that he is trying to delay the court process to have more time to make abuse allegations
05-06-16 Dave’s NEW attorney, Mr. Rottweiler, files a notice of substitution of counsel
05-??-16 Parties mediate and agree on a parenting plan; according to Sarah, at the time, her attorney told her she did not have money to go to trial so she should settle in mediation. Sarah took the advice and settled, despite never seeing the GAL’s or the custody evaluator’s pending reports.
05-24-16 Final Parenting Plan Order – May 24, 2016; Sarah gets primary custody; Dave gets one night a week and every other weekend; Sarah is ordered to do therapy with the children, and children are to do individual therapy in addition.
06-17-16 Final Decree of Divorce
06-20-16 Court orders sealing of GAL’s and custody evaluator’s report, which were never seen by the parties or their attorneys
10-03-16 Dave files a motion for contempt and modification of visitation because Sarah had not started the therapy they had agreed to, and he wanted more summertime visitation than their consent order allowed.
Oct. 2016 Sarah begins family therapy with the children with Ms. Dalmation. She initiates individual therapy for the children with a different therapist, Ms. Yorkshire; she only went to a couple of family sessions with the children because she found out Dave had filed a contempt motion and she needed the money to hire an attorney. She continued the children’s individual therapy with Ms. Yorkshire.
11-02-16 Sarah files answer
01-27-17 Consent final order on motion for contempt; Sarah agreed to give Dave summer
visitation and continued individual therapy for the children, but not the previously agreed-upon family therapy.
HISTORY OF POST-DIVORCE CONFLICT (2017-Present)
Sept. 2016 DFCS investigation – physical abuse of children, unsubstantiated
Sept. 2017 DFCS Investigation – physical abuse of children, unsubstantiated
Oct. 2017 DFCS investigation – physical abuse of children, unsubstantiated
Mar. 2018 DFCS investigation – physical abuse of children, unsubstantiated
04-17-18 Dave marries Sharlamayne (aka Sharl) Corgi
08-25-18 Police called (it is not clear why)
09-10-18 Police called; Dave takes Chelsea to children’s hospital; said mom pulled her hair; no evidence documented
09-11-18 Dave requests and received SECOND temporary protective order against mom; she is denied access to the children
09-19-18 Hearing on protective order; continued protective order denied by Judge Springer; Dave requests an additional hearing on it (as is his right), which is set for 10-05-18; Sarah gets the children back.
10-03-18 Sarah hires a separate attorney, Ms. Whippet, to assist her with the violence order. Ms. Whippet later bills her $12,000 for the one case (according to invoice I viewed). According to Sarah, she ended up paying this attorney in excess of $14,000, using her mother’s credit card.
10-05-18 Letter written to Sarah by DFCS stating that pending case is being closed due to unsubstantiated claims of physical abuse
10-05-18 Sarah’s attorney, Ms. Spaniel, asks for a continuance on the violence order hearing because (according to Sarah) attorney learns from opposing attorney that Dave is intending to have the children (ages 10 and 9) testify against Sarah; it is reset for 01-07-18
11-11-18 Dave calls police while children are at Sarah’s, saying daughter called him and says she is being strangled by Sarah; police investigate and find no signs of strangulation marks on Chelsea
01-07-19 Order of continuance of hearing on protective order until 02-28-19
02-14-19 Dave takes Chelsea to urgent care in the morning for a reported bruise on her cheek that she said mom gave her; physical examination of the children, DFCS called; Sarah attends Chelsea’s cheer practice after school and takes a picture of her smiling at mom with no apparent bruise
02-15-19 DFCS caseworker assesses Chelsea; Sarah attends Chelsea’s soccer game and has more pictures of Chelsea and mom smiling together
02-26-19 Police called (report made but no I was unable to get it)
02-26-19 Second violence order voluntarily dismissed by Dave because Sarah’s attorney showed his attorney a video Sarah took of Chelsea yelling at her mom, threatening her with a knife, and saying things that indicated she was not afraid of her mother.
02-28-19 DFCS supervisor calls Sarah and tells her that she believes the children are being coached by dad because they use words that children their age typically do not say (reported to me by Sarah; she gives me DFCS caseworker’s name, who later shows up on a witness list compiled by Sarah’s attorney; that DFCS worker never testifies because hearings were delayed and caseworker moved on to other work opportunities and could not be located after that)
Mar. 2019 Sarah’s attorney files motion for attorney’s fees she incurred to defend against violence order that Dave voluntarily dismissed; motion was denied
04-02-19 Letter to Sarah from DFCS informing case closed, physical abuse unsubstantiated
05-13-19 Mother’s Day; Sarah is at a park with children; Chelsea tells a woman in the bathroom that her mom is abusing her and gives woman dad’s phone number; she calls dad, and dad calls the police. Police arrive at mother’s home late that afternoon. Police report says they have been to the address before and told Sarah, “if we thought you were abusing the children, you would not have them today.”
05-28-19 First appointment for children with new therapist because DFCS thought the current therapist, Dr. Yorkshire, was not helping the children and advised Sarah to find someone else. She takes them to Dr. Shepherd shortly thereafter.
06-09-19 (Sarah’s account) Chelsea was hiding a bag in her closet and mom caught her and asked about it. She started hitting mom saying she couldn’t show her because she would get in trouble with dad. Sarah got the bag and looked and saw that there was a tracking device in it. She later sent pictures to her (Sarah’s) therapist the following week. Both children ran out of the house. Sarah calls the police because she suspects they are running to their dad’s house and are going to report on her. By the time the police got there, the children had returned to Sarah’s with their dad, and Chelsea had a red mark on her foot and had told the police that her mom stomped on it. The police arrest Sarah, causing her to get emotionally upset, but another officer shows up and tells the arresting officer that he has been to this house before and children are making false reports. Police report states: “Officer says he arrested the mother for allegedly stomping on the child’s foot, however, another officer who arrived on scene who had known the family from previous PD calls for similar incidents, felt the children were manipulative and did not feel the mother harmed the children. She was taken off of arrest. Officer brought her to the ER as he felt she would benefit from speaking to someone about the incident and help with her emotional state.”
06-15-19 Sarah begins to see a counselor, Mrs. Mutt, for therapeutic support
06-20-19 Sarah installs cameras in her own home, due to fear of continuing false allegations by her children
06-28-19 Petition for Modification of Custody, filed by Dave, based on 06-09-19 event
07-09-19 Sarah is served with custody modification papers
07-17-19 Dave takes children to their therapy session. Son tells therapist that mom pulls sister’s hair and twists his arm (similar reports as in 2015 and 2018). Therapist calls DFCS.
07-18-19 Children are with Dave; Sarah is informed by DFCS that he will keep children for 45 days until they can provide a safety plan. No plan is ever put in place by DFCS this time.
07-18-19 DFCS investigates police incidences in June; unsubstantiated
07-18-19 Sarah retains new attorney, Mr. Malamute, on a flat-fee arrangement
07-28-19 Sarah is served with the THIRD “temporary” protective order, signed by Judge Springer; she is denied access to the children
08-08-19 DFCS case closed, physical abuse unsubstantiated
08-10-19 Police are called to do a welfare check on children while at Sarah’s; it’s unclear who called, but Sarah assumes it is Dave because she had the children in her care.
08-12-19 First scheduled hearing for protective order – postponed two weeks
08-30-19 Hearing for violence order
08-16-19 30-day status hearing set for modification case 09-04-19, presided over by Judge Bulldog
09-06-19 60-day status hearing set for modification case 10-08-19
10-10-19 60-day status hearing set for 12-03-19
10-11-19 Order for Parental Fitness Evaluation with Dr. Schnauzer
10-21-19 Ex-parte protective order continued until Dr. Schnauzer finishes his custody evaluation. Public visitation ordered (See Note A at the end of this document)
10-23-19 Sarah’s first contact with children in three months (public place; 3 hours on Wednesday evening)
12-07-19 120-day status hearing set for 02-07-20
12-09-19 Order to allow Sarah’s attorney for modification case, Mr. Malamute, to withdraw
02-06-20 120-day status hearing set for 04-03-20; states final hearing will be set then
02-19-20 Sarah’s therapist advises her to consider hiring a supervisor for the visits to protect her from the children making continue, which she did that day. Sarah emails Dave to let him know that she will be hiring a supervisor and he tells her that she cannot do that because the court order does not allow it. Sarah eventually decides against it because she can’t afford it.
03-04-20 Sarah (acting pro se) motions to dismiss the protective order based on the 90-day clause which is expiring from the original order. Motion was denied. Dr. Schnauzer still working on evaluation.
03-16-20 COVID lockdown and courts closed indefinitely
03-25-20 Dave’s attorney sends a letter to the court, stating that they are not ready for mediation prior to 04-03-20 hearing until Dr. Schnauzer finishes his report.
During COVID crisis, Sarah continues public visits twice per week, despite no restaurants or public places being open.
NOTE: Left off of this timeline are the numerous emails, photos, and visitation reports that show the children, from this date until present, increasingly become difficult with Sarah, do not want the visits, disrespect her in public restaurants to the point that they are asked to leave because of the children’s destructive behavior. Sarah’s therapist noted that she met the children once when Sarah brought them to a session because she couldn’t get childcare. The therapist put the children in a private room that they vandalized without remorse, while Sarah was in the therapy session. The therapist said she began to work with Sarah on discipline strategies for the children while in her care. But the children were removed from her care shortly after that due to the modification and violence order that remains in place today. During the entire public visitation time, it appears Sarah has only missed a couple of visits with the children due to illness or scheduling conflicts, but she has missed numerous visits with the children because of activities that were scheduled on her visitation time that she was only recently allowed to begin attending.
05-07-20 120-day status conference set for 06-05-20; orders mediation to take place before status conference
05-20-20 Affidavit filed by Sarah’s therapist, Mrs. Mutt, expressing concern re: parental alienation based on police report and past documented history of possible child-coaching in the divorce case
05-29-20 Sarah hires a temporary attorney, Mr. Dachshund, who files answer with defenses to Dave’s petition for modification of custody. Attorney Malamute withdraws after that.
06-01-20 Dave files an emergency motion to seal the records Sarah used as defenses in her answer on 5-29-20, to include the police report that states the children were manipulative, as well as the unsubstantiated DFCS reports.
06-01-20 Order to seal the records
06-05-20 Sarah receives email from Dave that he will not meet her at the public place she has chosen because it is 5.2 miles from his home (court order says 5 miles); he sends her a Google map to prove it. She has to choose a different locale.
06-25-20 Sarah (acting pro se) writes a letter to the judge presiding over the violence order case, correcting errors in a letter written to the judge by Dave’s attorney (See Note E).
07-08-20 Scheduling order (See Note B), giving Dr Schnauzer a deadline for the evaluation completion (07-31-20)
07-14-20 Email from Dr. Schnauzer to opposing counsel, giving eval status update, saying he anticipates finishing the interviews for the evaluation within the next 3 weeks, not to include the written report. He asks if Sarah is represented by an attorney, and if they want an oral report prior to the written report.
07-28-20 Dave takes children to therapy; Chelsea reports that mom pulls her hair and twists her arm (as she did in 2015 and 2019); Psychologist calls DFCS
08-28-20 Sarah received copy of email to both attorneys from Dr. Schnauzer, who says he has not yet finished his report and will need more time.
08-28-20 Sarah’s therapist, Mrs. Mutt, talks to Dr. Schnauzer to express concerns about the case delays and how they are affecting Sarah’s mental health; he suggests to the therapist that she encourage Sarah to get on some anti-anxiety medication
10-30-20 Entry of appearance of Sarah’s new attorney, Mr. Pekingnese -- the attorney who remains on her case to the present -- who is also a flat-fee attorney ($1,750 down and $375/month indefinitely)
03-24-21 Two-day final video conference hearing set for 03-30-21
03-26-21 Motion to continue hearing; Dr. Schnauzer says he needs 8 more weeks
09-13-21 Email from Sarah’s attorney stating that Dr. Schnauzer says he will be ready to meet with the attorneys to give recommendations sometime in the next couple of weeks
10-26-21 120-day status conference hearing set for 01-21-22; order to attend mediation
10-27-21 Sarah’s therapist, Mrs. Mutt, emails Dr. Schnauzer to inquire about the delay in his finishing the evaluation; hearing has now been delayed until January, meaning the third holiday season Sarah cannot be with her children because of court delays
11-03-21 Dr. Schnauzer finally meets with both attorneys, Mr. Rottweiler and Mr. Pekingnese, to give his verbal recommendations; no written report is generated; According to Sarah’s attorney in an email, he writes: I spoke to Dr. [Schnauzer] and he is recommending custody stay with Dad, not because you did anything wrong, but because the children do not behave while they are with you. He is recommending reunification counseling to be paid by the father. He is recommending less time with the older child and more time with the younger child with you eventually getting a standard visitation plan when recommended by the reunification therapist. We will discuss more details later but that is the basics of his recommendation.
11-06-21 Sarah’s therapist, Mrs. Mutt, responds to attorney about reunification therapy and how the court should oversee it; no response is received
11-09-21 Dave’s attorney sends Sarah’s attorney a proposal (See Note C), suggesting less time for Sarah.
11-15-21 Sarah’s therapist, Mrs.Mutt, emails Sarah’s attorney expressing concern that no abuse has been proven and the apparent assessment of the custody evaluator that she is an anxious parent makes sense given the nature of the case, but certainly doesn’t make her an unworthy parent.
01-31-22 Two-day bench trial set for 05-16-22
04-06-22 Order to transfer case to new judge, Judge Basset; trial delayed until 06-02-22
04-13-22 8-hour mediation with a proposed consent order (see Sarah’s email to her attorney after mediation in Note D)
04-30-22 Doctor’s office calls Sarah to let her know their daughter’s eye surgery is scheduled for 05-12-22. She was not notified by Dave of any problem, let alone surgery being scheduled.
06-02-22 Order to attend status hearing on 08-09-22 via Zoom
06-17-22 Sarah requests and gets a meeting with Dr. Schnauzer via Zoom; she sends questions to him ahead of time via email (see Note G)
06-18-22 Sarah (at the advice of her therapist) sends Dr. Schnauzer an email confirming what he told her were his recommendations and comments (see Note H); he responds with “that sounds accurate.”
07-22-22 Police are called by Dave’s wife, Sharla; Officer body cam and written report show the following: Sarah took children to movie theater; their two friends showed up unannounced and the four of them began talking loudly during the movie; Sarah asked them to be quiet; Sarah said Chelsea hit her in the head with the phone; Chelsea told the police mom slapped her arm; the four friends left the movie and went out into the hallway of the theater; theater employee reported they ran around the hallway laughing and ended up in the bathroom, giggling; while in the bathroom, Chelsea called her dad; he and step-mom got into the car and on the way, called 911 (I listened to recording and step-mom told the operator mom had a history of abuse and was on mental health medication – neither is true); When officer was talking to Dave at the scene, Dave told him that mom had a protective order against her; officer asked if she was violating it and Dave said no, she was allowed to be with the children in a public place; when Dave told him it was 3 years old, the officer acted surprised and went back to his car to look it up. It wasn’t clear from the video what he thought about what he found out. Chelsea told officer that her mom slapped her and showed him a mark on her upper arm; he reported that it did not look like a slap, but more like a grab and that it could have been self-inflicted or one of the friends could have grabbed her. He reported that the stories began to change among the four kids about whether it was a slap or a grab; he left the scene without making an arrest because he could not find fault with any party.
08-09-22 Status conference; Sarah attends; Dave and his attorney do not show
That is where the court records end, as they are behind in getting them online.
10-16-22 – Present time (Diane’s notes)
I have created this timeline, and the case remains unresolved, in limbo, and Sarah continues her twice per week public-only visitations that were ordered three years ago. The children, now 14 and 13, continue to be disrespectful during the visits and cause trouble in public, obviously to either get Sarah to stop the visits or to get rewarded by Dave for ruining them. Sarah’s therapist has advised her to not attend any more visits that are not supervised by a professional, or she runs the risk of ending up in jail, since the children are becoming more creative and calculated in their attempts to get her in trouble. Sarah says she can’t give up on her kids.
The protective order remains in force, despite the custody evaluator stating that she did nothing wrong and that he has witnessed alienating behaviors by Dave and stepmom, Sharla. The attorneys have not come to any agreements based on the custody evaluator’s (Dr. Schnauzer) oral recommendations. Sarah has contacted three reunification therapists on the oral recommendation of Dr. Schnauzer. To this day, he has not produced a written report for the parties. I reviewed his contract with the parties and it says specifically there will not be a written report, only verbal to the attorneys, despite him saying in an email to the attorneys that he wanted to give them an oral report prior to the written one. The court order appointing him says there would be a written report, unless the attorneys agreed on an oral one. It is unclear why Sarah’s attorney did not ask for a written one. So, we can only surmise that he agreed to the oral report, which is why no written recommendations exist from Dr. Schnauzer. Her half of Dr. Schnauzer’s bill was in excess of $5,000. The reunification therapists she called said they had no time in their schedule or did not return her calls at all. Dave has done nothing to that end, as there is nothing ordering him to take action.
It is doubtful these children can be rehabilitated in any kind of therapy to have a normal relationship with either parent. Yet, Sarah fully expects the court to order it anyway to check off the box of attempts to fix the problem at her expense. There is no motivation for Dave’s attorney to try this case because his client has the children, and he can just wait for the youngest one to turn 14. Then (in Georgia), they can both simply, and legally, elect to live with dad and not visit mom any longer. Sarah’s current attorney is not motivated to try it because he is getting paid a miniscule amount each month. Her attorney advised her this week that she needs to get the GAL from the first case to testify for her if she has any chance of defending against the child abuse. She called that GAL, Ms. Labrador, and was told she would have to do a lot of case research since it has been so long since she worked on it. It will require a retainer at $550/hour – most likely a $10,000 expense, which Sarah cannot afford. She reports her credit cards are maxed to their limits, and her mother cannot help her any further. No one is interested in this case because there is no money left in it, and it has gone on too long. It will likely stay on the dockets until one of the parents simply gives up. The way I see it, there is no healthy solution for anyone in this family, especially not for the children.
Language from September, 2019 Protective Order Continuance
Heading: Supervised Visitation
Pending further order of the Court, the Respondent/Mother, shall have the
right to visitation with the minor children, from 5:45 p.m. until 8:45 p.m. every Wednesday, and from 12:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. every Saturday. Said visitation periods shall occur in a public place within a reasonable distance from the Petitioner/Father’s residence. For purposes of this provision, the term “reasonable distance” shall mean not more than five (5) miles (driving distance) from Petitioner/Father’s residence. The Petitioner/Father shall be responsible for having the children delivered to the visitation location at the designated time and picking them up from the same location at the end of each visit. The Respondent/Mother shall not leave the location where the visitation is scheduled to occur with the children. The Respondent/Mother shall notify the Petitioner/Father, in writing, exclusively by way of the Our Family Wizard portal, of the public location where she intends to exercise her visitation periods, not less than twenty-four (24) hours in advance of the scheduled visitation. In the event that the respondent/Mother is more than thirty (30) minutes late for the scheduled visitation period, she shall be deemed to have forfeited that visitation.
In the event that the psychological evaluations have not been completed within ninety (90)
days of this Continuance Order, the Court will review the circumstances at that time in order to
determine if a continuation of the Ex Parte Protective Order is warranted.
Language from July, 2020, Scheduling Order
The parental fitness/child custody evaluation being performed by Dr. [Schnauzer]
shall be completed no later than July 31, 2020. [Dr. Schnauzer’s] report and/or findings shall be shared with the parties no later than August 31, 2020 (this may be done in writing, in person, via telephone or video conferencing).
The Court orders the parties to contact the Alternative Dispute Resolution Program to schedule mediation or a Judicially Hosted Settlement Conference. Alternatively, the parties may arrange for mediation with a private mediator of their choice or request a late case evaluation. Mediation or other alternative must be completed on or before September 30, 2020.
Heading: TRIAL NOTICE
The Court hereby specially sets the above styled action for bench trial on November 9,
2020 at 10:00 AM, before the Honorable [John J. Pincher]. in Courtroom 2E.
Email from opposing counsel to Sarah’s attorney 11-08-21, regarding Dr. Schnauzer’s “oral report” to the attorneys – two (plus) years after the order for Dr. Schnauzer’s involvement.
Now that I have had a chance to discuss Dr. Schnauzer’s recommendation with my client, he would like to propose a change to the current visitation schedule with your client in order to accommodate the recommendation and the parties’/children’s schedules. Specifically, he proposes that we move adjust the visits as follows:
- First Week – Sarah would have Kyle for a two-hour dinner visit (i.e. 6pm-8pm) on Wednesday and would have Chelsea for a two-hour visit on Saturday.
- Second Week– Sarah would have Chelsea for a two-hour dinner visit (i.e. 6pm-8pm) on Wednesday and would have Kyle for a two-hour visit on Saturday.
- The schedule shall continue to alternate in a like manner (i.e. First Week, Second Week, First Week, Second Week, First Week, etc. …), pending further order.
- All visits shall occur at a public location.
- Notwithstanding this schedule, Dave shall have the children for every 5th weekend (i.e. the weekend beginning with the 5th Friday in a given month) pending further order.
Please let me know if this adjusted schedule is agreeable to your client, as I believe it accomplishes two of Dr. Schnauzer’s stated goals on an interim basis.
April 14, 2022. Sarah’s email to her attorney (who encouraged her to accept this proposal) after an 8-hour mediation and a consent order proposed by opposing counsel. At this date, she has only had public visits with the children 6 hours per week since 10-23-19 – 2-1/2 years!)
I am tired and still feeling unsettled and uncomfortable regarding this potential settlement. Yes I can sleep on it. However, after thinking about it, these are my concerns. We are now reducing time and now I am not seeing one of my daughters at all during the weekday and it is shortened… we have to follow Dr. [Schnauzer’s] recommendations with reducing time, and he is receiving possibly 1/2 of the bill, and I am receiving basically the other half for damage that their father created along with massive attorney bill. They state I have not paid child support, but I have paid some support along the way as I have paid for co-payments, sealants, contacts, eating out 2x a week, etc. What exactly did the mediation accomplish besides possibly removing the violence order? For some reason I am not feeling comfortable, as this was not much of a mediation, as it looks like we lose time together mother/children, while I pay for a reunification with no assurance of a court date, and am now told my reunification therapist will become my only hope, just like I was told Dr. Schnauzer was my only hop. What is the timeframe needed to work my way back to AT LEAST 50/50 parenting? Reunification Therapists are not able to do this. I want to avoid setting up a scenario where I end up a visitor, weekend parent, and bill payer. I have to sleep on this proposed order, however, instead of feeling more hopeful, I feel more unsettled. Thank you.
Sarah’s response to Dave’s attorney’s letter to the court about continuing the violence order:
In paragraph 2., [Dave’s attorney] stated:
Pursuant to the terms of the Consent Order for Continuance of Ex Parte Protective Order
entered on October 21, 2019, [Sarah] is to have supervised visitation with the
parties’ minor children pending the completion of a psychological custody evaluation by
To clarify, even though the heading in the order states “Supervised Visitation,” the body
of that paragraph states:
Pending further order of the Court, the Respondent/Mother, [Sara}, shall have
the right to visitation with the minor children, from 5:45 p.m. until 8:45 p.m. every
Wednesday, and from 12:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. every Saturday. Said visitation periods
shall occur in a public place within a reasonable distance from the Petitioner/Father’s
“I have maintained the visitation schedule stated in the order as much as possible given the
COVID circumstances, but I have not been “supervised” unless the court considers a
restaurant server a supervisor. On March 15, 2020, I asked [Dave] if I could hire a
supervisor so the children could come to my home since no public places were open due
to COVID, and he refused to allow it, saying it would violate the order (see attached
email response). Yet, [Dave’s attorney] persists in calling my visitation “supervised.”
Which is it? Thank you for considering this communication. Although I cannot currently afford legal representation, I am intelligent, and I love my children. I look forward to presenting my case in the upcoming hearing.”
Ignore – it was a duplicate
Sarah’s email to Dr. Schnauzer in preparation for their Zoom meeting:
Before our meeting tomorrow at 2:00, I have written a few questions that I would like to have addressed to save time. Please see below:
1) What are the specifics of your recommendation? What leads you to those options? My attorney never shared them with me.
2) What facts are you basing your recommendations on?
3) The books you recommended for reading, including “Divorce Poison,” were read by me. What I read confirms Parental Alienation. Do you see Parental Alienation too?
4) How is it considered beneficial for us all to continue public visits in a confined location a few hours a week for 3 years?
5) Why can’t the TPO be closed/dismissed since there has never been any evidence of this? It was all based on a false claim and the courts do not seem compelled to seek the truth. The harm done to the children with this one flawed decision is abuse!”
6) My funds are depleted, so what can parents like me do when they are at risk for losing their children (relationship) for false claims of child abuse?
7) I was told you were my "only hope," yet it took over two years for you to give us any direction. In the meantime, the TPO remained in place with no evidence that I am abusing our children which has negatively impacted many aspects in my life from things as basic as renting a house at one point to personal relationships. What hope do you have for us? It makes no sense to suggest that this situation should remain the same, it has promoted further alienation and isolation, just as the format for visitation does now. We need to fix this and start to bridge the divide, not suggest it is too disruptive for the children, when the distorted format currently mandated has left all of us feeling distant and without the intimacy that is essential for family bonding.
I have additional concerns that can be addressed in our meeting. Thank you for meeting with me. I look forward to receiving the link.
Sarah’s email after her meeting with Dr. Schnauzer, clarifying what he told her were his recommendations (and his emailed response was “that sounds correct”):
Thank you for meeting with me this afternoon and clarifying your recommendation as the attorney in November did not relay in detail and a lot of information was missing from your recommendation.
From the notes taken today during our meeting the recommendation was:
1) Kyle’s time is increased to 8 hours a week
2) We have the ability to go anywhere, including my house.
3) We are NOT confined to a 5-mile radius or confined to one location.
4) We work with a reunification therapist-when can this start? I called Dr. Poodle & no answer.
5) I am allowed to pick up Kyle anywhere in my car, drive to home school, etc. (days of choice not limited to Wednesday and Saturday).
6) Kyle and Chelsea are separated for visits (so we can pick alternate days); they do not need to be on the same days.
7) I can attend all school events, doctor appointments etc. Exercise my joint legal custody.
8 We can also work toward overnights as well.
1) Chelsea’s visits are 2 hour visits, 2x per week, in a public place
2) Does not matter the day.
3) Dave would need to drop off/pick up Chelsea
*You have seen alienating behaviors displayed by Both Dave and his wife
* Dave pays for reunification therapist for Sarah and both Chelsea and Kyle, so he is held responsible to make sure they connect.