In search of custody hearing advice ...

by dubstepped 27 Replies latest jw experiences

  • dubstepped

    I don't have kids, but I recently found that someone with kids that lives in my town is also an ex-JW. She just happened to post on an Apostafest thread on Facebook for an event that I attended, saw that we lived in the same place, and I met her for the first time tonight. Pretty cool.

    She has a 14 year old boy that is super smart and very articulate. There is shared custody between his mom and dad. Dad is an active JW, with lots of JW family around. Kid doesn't want to go to meetings and conventions and such and wants to just live with his mom. They like to pull him out of meetings if he's not paying attention, take him outside with multiple elders, and tell him he's going to die if he doesn't listen. They like to coach him on how he should manipulate his mom to let him do more JW things too. He can see through it all, but is tired of being subjected to it.

    His mom has done her best to help the judge see that this isn't a healthy environment for him. Ultimately though the judge just sees it as a kid that doesn't want to go to church. She has plead her case but this time has the hard evidence from Watchtower publications to show certain things about their beliefs that are unbecoming. At some point baptism came up and the father said that disfellowshipping doesn't break family ties, which we all know is baloney, even sometimes when kids are young and at home it gets super ugly.

    The dad has messed around financially and tried to get child support lowered, though he's still never paid a dime. Mom was hoping to get her son into counseling to have a counselor state that the cult doctrine is unhealthy and to get her son's take on things to present to the court, but the dad quit his job and started a new one so that he has no insurance leading up to this next hearing so there's no money for a counselor.

    Apparently in these hearings mom and dad can present what they want. Mom has tried in the past but wasn't armed with hard copies of certain publications which she has now. She has asked if I would testify as to the impact of the cult, shunning (especially since I do the podcast and can show that it indeed destroys families), and just whatever she needs.

    It seems like the biggest issue for the judge is that he sees it as freedom of religion, though clearly it is only mom and dad that have that freedom. Dad has the right to indoctrinate his child, mom has the right to go against that. So proving that it is harmful to the child who is 14 might be of help, but the way it works is that you can't just show what even an expert like Steve Hassan has to say without having him there in person. There are some ex-JWs that will come testify but one of them wanted $8,000 to do so and they all charge for their services. I get that too, to a point, but we're talking a 4 hour drive and 2 hour hearing. I'm charging nothing, and I'd like to make sure that whatever I can provide is at least worth the cost.

    So, if the main argument is that the judge just sees it as religious rights of both parents superseding the rights of the child, what angles might be taken? Any ideas? Mine was to show that it is unhealthy doctrine, which is an option. Apparently since dad has said that he gets his beliefs from the elite eight those WT publications are in play without the morons at the top being present. I tried to get her to say that she's a worshiper of cult experts to get their testimony allowed, but I guess your fantasy has to claim religious status to be accepted as is.

    I'll take any advice and forward it on. I can only testify at the direction of the mom and upon the cross examination of the dad's attorney. She cannot afford one. She cannot afford a counselor on her own either. So she's at somewhat of a disadvantage, not that it may make a difference if the judge sees it merely as simple religious rights without the kid really having any.

  • Scully

    The kid is 14. He's articulate. He should be able to testify on his own behalf.

    First of all, he can say how the religious environment of the JWs tries to pit him against his mother in favour of the JWs/his father. That, in legal terminology, is called "alienation of affection". It's like a kid being around a father who refers to the child's mother as being a 'slut' or a 'whore', in an attempt to coerce the child to distance himself from the mother.

    Secondly, he can explain how the religion impedes his ability to have friends Outside the Truth™. The old School brochure, the one we had to bring in on the first day of class every year, to explain to the teachers and headmaster why we couldn't do all the fun stuff that other students got to do - celebrating birthdays, Christmas, Hallowe'en, participating in debate club, sports or other extracurricular activities, does a really good job of that. I seem to recall how some of the Caleb and Sophia videos show how kids are expected to Make Disciples™ of their classmates rather than establish true friendships, as well as how it's okay to tell a "friend" that their same sex parents are living a sinful life that Jehovah hates.

    Third, there's that 1994(?) Awake magazine with the cover that has all those pictures of now-dead JW kids who died because they were brainwashed into refusing blood transfusions.

    Let the Watchtower's own literature be used against them. Let the kid say that he doesn't like being told he's going to die if he doesn't follow the religion. Let him say that he just wants to be a normal kid, and to be able to make up his own mind when he's a grown up. Let him say that Jesus didn't get baptized until he was 30, why do they want him to do it now, when he's not even old enough to drive a car, or open a bank account, or enter into a contract?

  • dubstepped

    Yeah, to date the judge has been reluctant to let the kid testify because he doesn't want to put him in that position, or so I was told. The kid wants to testify. From what his mom said she was planning on having him there so she could call him to testify if she wanted.

    I like the advice and will pass it along. Thanks!

  • Gayle

    In Arizona, the judge gives "full" medical right/authority to the non-JW parent. Hopefully, the son is interested in extra-curricular activities at school and will have no time for JWism. Unfortunately, no doubt JW parent will have his right to take his son to JW meetings, but maybe not all, just on Sunday. In Arizona, the never JW mom was granted that the children can only have a Bible study only with JW father and no one else in JW cong. The never JW mom was counting on the father wouldn't really do a Bible study with kids for long, not a follow through type JW father.

  • caves

    14 is of legal age for a minor to testify. He could write a letter to the judge in his own behalf. Showing initiative might seen as a good step to have taken by the minor to the judge. Especially if the judge is avoiding or not wanting to have the minors testimony.

    If shes not getting Child support, get the attorney general involved. There must be some sort of case worker assigned to the case(there always is). Records of missed payments please, at least. Sometimes an attorney general rep will come to a hearing. It usually spells trouble for the nonpaying father.

    Approach it from the money angle that the state has to pay while the father does not. Judges usually do not like to have a record of having let a "non paying parent" just slide on by.

    Id be cautious on the JW doctrines.

    On that note one could add this scripture and tons of JW Literature on taking care of your family. Financially.

    “If anyone does not provide for those who are his own, . . . he has disowned the faith.”​1 Tim 5:8

    If the judge is religious, they may not "get it" even if explained.

    I hit it concerning with blood issue. If son were to get injured,'no blood'. A valid concern for his potential safety. Keep it simple. To the point.

    Also I really feel the boy needs to write a letter to the judge. Hes going to have to squeeze his voice in somehow. Legally he has one! It needs to find its way to the judges ear. That alone should do it.

    It could easily be seen as ex-wife just wants to interfere in any "family""church" time to cause a ruckus.

    This doesn't seem like a case to go to hardcore specifically after doctrine issues. The words can intertwine to easy with 'Christianity as a whole and a rebellious teen.'

    The father has an attorney.

    She doesn't? Attorney general will if nothing else provide proof he has not been paying. They might even come to the hearing.

    Also most people and courts are aware of the benefits of counseling for children of divorce. What about a school counselor? Could a school counselor write a recommendation for him to have professional counseling to help him cope with the divorce. Then argue that the father does not provide insurance to help cover that cost. Perhaps the mother in the mean time can find a therapist that can do a sliding fee for her and son just at least to have something documented in that area.

    If cross examined issues I would hit are, blood, fear tactics, "shunning",(even if the father says that "shunning doesn't separate family's").

    If the mother is at all believing in god, it seems reasonable that she might/ could approach (anything the father throws out there regarding religious stuff) from scriptures/ religious standpoint herself.

    Has the minor listened to your podcasts? Might be a good idea. With mothers approval of course.

    Look, I hunted my bio father down at 15 and got married 2 days before my 16 birthday. What I mean by that is this 14 year old has got a lot more power, Im thinking, than he knows.

    What a sweet thing you are doing dubstepped.

  • dubstepped

    Lots of good stuff here. I think she wants me involved to back her up. Her ex has an attorney but apparently he's not great from what she says. I'm hoping the kiddo will testify, I like the idea of a letter.

    I'm jumping in somewhat blind here and just trying to get as many ideas as I can to pass to her because I just had a conversation with her about this tonight. I don't know everything that she's tried, but ideas might help directly or spark another idea indirectly.

    I just figure if I can take a day and make myself available to tell what I know by helping people to tell their stories of what living that life as a kid can do to kids, even some that I've seen come on here that struggle so much as the pressure to get baptized ramps up, then it will be worth it. If it doesn't pay off in this hearing, it may in a future hearing as the evidence accumulates.

    This boy was the sweetest kid. Funny, articulate, and it just pissed me off to hear of some of the ways he was being bullied by the dubs. For every one of us, myself included, that was that bullied kid by authoritarian JW parents or elders that cornered and shamed us, I just want to give it my best shot. If I can help, awesome. If I can't, I tried.

    One good thing is that the ex husband should have his health insurance up for the kid's use about two weeks before the hearing. Not fast enough to get anything done for this hearing, but it should be able to provide him access to counseling before any further hearings.

    I'm not sure how long this has gone on. It sounds like the child support payment thing may be a recent decision and he's already fighting it and the judge got mad and told him to just prove he can comply with the order first before discussing anything else further. I don't know the ins and outs, and was trying to piece together things here and there, but it doesn't sound like the judge is super happy with the dad.

    Thanks for the great feedback!

  • jwfacts
    jwfacts discusses a couple of cases where the court found in favour of the non-believer, and the reasoning why. has quotes that show that shunning is very strictly enforced. She could play the 2016 Convention Video on shunning video to the judge, where the mother refuses to even answer calls from the child, and how that coercion forced the child back into the religion.

  • LoisLane looking for Superman
    LoisLane looking for Superman

    Since her smart son is only 14 years old, if I was the mom, I would lean heavily on the plea that he wants to go to College or University to study _____. At this age he wants to be involved in ______ to help him get a scholarship towards his goal of becoming ______. Instead of going to meeting and field service he wants to study and be involved in sports or whatever it is he is interested in which is opposite to what his father wants for him. He wants to volunteer at the local Red Cross Blood Bank and that is against his religions rules.

    I have no idea what this 14 year old young man would be interested in but two things come to mind that the Judge will think is logical and alright and the JW father who's mind is stunted by WT control will hate it. Being interested in Political Science, and wanting to work for his Congressman or Senator at the local level and eventually the State level. Then telling the Judge that JW's are forbidden to vote or run for office and are forbidden say the Pledge of Alliance. When the National Anthem is played, JW's must sit down and not stand out of respect.

    If the young man is interested in sports and tell them that the religion is against competition and that he has never been allowed to play in his neighborhood Little League games or hockey or wrestling or any type of martial arts to learn to protect himself.

    JW's don't allow after school curriculum or joining any school clubs. He won't even be allowed to go to his prom or ever date unchaperoned.

    If the young man is interested in studying Earth Science and tell them from their own literature that JW's believe mankind has only been alive for just over 6,000 years and that that kind of misinformation, messes with his young mind.

    WT is against so called higher education. Any educated person hearing that will instantly know someone is bonkers.

    I also strongly suggest, she needs an avocate for herself and her son. She needs a professional of some kind to show up in Court with her. Can she really stand up for herself and her son and be articulate and not crumble under the pressure her husband's attorney will most likely shower her with?

    And dubstepped, thank you for having a heart and being a true friend and going out of your way to help some one in need.

  • DesirousOfChange

    The WT society publishes a packet that it provides to JW’s who are in a divorce with a non-witness mate that explains how to manipulate the judge in the case. I’m sure you can Google to find it easily. Often showing that these are the tactics being used will infuriate a judge.

    If the child is indeed intelligent and articulate then the JW position against Higher Education could be a key issue. If he is athletic, high school sports are the principal way of obtaining scholarships.

    Certainly the blood issue can be made to be a critical issue. It means the father would let his son die rather than allowing transfusion. Force him to admit that in testimony. That should allow the mother to have full authority on medical decisions

    Good luck.

  • Freedom rocks
    Freedom rocks

    Thank you jwfacts for the links. I need evidence like those articles as well to use in child welfare hearings.

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