• Andrew Thurston

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    Andrew Thurston is originally from England, but has grown to appreciate the serial comma and the Red Sox, while keeping his accent (mostly) and love of West Ham United. He joined BU in 2007, and is the editor of the University’s research news site, The Brink; he was formerly director of alumni publications. Before joining BU, he edited consumer and business magazines, including for corporations, nonprofits, and the UK government. His work has won awards from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, the In-House Agency Forum, Folio:, and the British Association of Communicators in Business. Andrew has a bachelor’s degree in English and related literature from the University of York. Profile

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There are 11 comments on Examining America’s Family Courts

  1. Garland Waller supports groups that reject the existence and credibility of Parental Alienation(PA). Holly Collins story serves as an excellent example for me. If indeed it is based in fact, which the organization Fathers and Families repudiated with different facts, then my story is a case in point for the existence of systematic Parental Alienation and how wrong ‘well doers’ can be. Perpetrator mother was rewarded with a return to custody of my daughter by one of Waller’s affiliates, Justice for Children (JFC). JFC rejects PA and is a gender biased group, publicly making such statements to the press in the Houston Chronicle of May 2, 2007.

  2. So, having done some research into this case, the problem is that there is a large amount of evidence that Holly Collins is mentally ill, has fabricated these claims of abuse, and in fact was endangering her children. This has, in fact, been the legal opinion of seven different judges in the state of Minnesota, which. To say that “Not everyone—the original family court judge included—has always been as convinced about the veracity of Collins’ abuse allegations as have Waller and her students” is a drastic understatement.

    Here is a quote from an less sypathetic investigation into the case: “Holly Collins’ claims about her high-profile custody case are disputed by her own mother, grandmother, sister, brother, stepfather, former in-laws, her ex-husband and his wife, the father of her third child and his wife, numerous doctors, Guardians ad Litem, social workers, mental health professionals, and all seven judges who have heard this case.

    For decades Holly Collins has made false accusations of abuse against a wide variety of people, including her mother, stepfather, both of the fathers of her children, both of the subsequent wives of the fathers of her children, as well as former landlords and neighbors. Holly’s own words and actions have continually contradicted her claims of being abused. And while Holly Collins detailed for the court over 50 rapes and violent assaults Mark Collins allegedly committed against her over a 10-year period, she has never been able to produce witnesses to any of them.” Holly was also found by the court to have personality disorders, has a restraining order against her due to physical abuse from her sister who suffers from cerebral palsy, and accused her neighbors in Holland of repeatedly abusing her and her children (accusations that, like all the other one she has made, were found to be without merit). Here’s the link: (http://www.fathersandfamilies.org/2009/01/27/the-controversial-holly-collins-custody-case-what-really-happened/)

    Now I honestly don’t know who is right or wrong, although Occam’s razor suggests that it is more likely that one woman is mentally ill and was identified as such by the justice system than that her ex-husband is some criminal mastermind, capable of abusing her and her children for years without leaving any evidence accepted by a US court, aided and abetted by an international conspiracy of judges, social workers, medical professionals, and her own family. I also freely admit that some “father’s rights” groups like the one linked to above can be fronts for retrograde, mysoginistic ass-hats. My point is that responsible journalism, like film making, should try to present more than one side to such a complex issue.

    1. I was thinking along these same lines. I had previously read a story similar to this one, and didn’t realize it was, in fact, the same one when I came across this article until you posted that quote. I was absolutely astonished that someone could make a documentary about women having to fight for custody, when, in fact, it is the other way around. There are multiple reports of women killing their children (and themselves) to avoid giving the father any custody. I was thinking about creating my own documentary on this issue, because I live in a home with 3 men who are all facing the same problem: Every Other Weekend Visitation. Thank you so much for your comment.

  3. These stories always have two sides. The bigger problem is a system that has become to quick criminalizing fathers for any “alleged” acts of abuse. Sadly the Lautenberg amendment which strips a convicted spouse of a fundamental human right was intended to prevent abuse but ironically it has caused many woman to be silent for too long while others abuse the system to seriously hurt their spouse. Having a special set of crimes for spouses and parents with unique punishments is the real civil rights crime here. First the police are required to pick sides and arrest someone and then the courts are compelled to pick sides and convict someone to ostensibly prevent further abuse even in the face of scant evidence; the real purpose of this feel good legislation is to protect the state from being sued for having not acted. Picking sides in any domestic dispute is always a very bad idea as these issues tend to be incredibly complex and benefit more from time with a marriage counselor than with legal counsel. Add to this state no fault divorce policies which encourage rather than discourage therapy and you have a system that is worse now than before the government got into the business of picking the winners and losers of domestic disputes and family problems.

  4. “Waller says abused women who want to win custody battles are often advised to keep quiet about the cruelty; it improves their chances in court. It’s a wrong that Waller—and the students who worked with her—are determined to right.”

    There’s a good reason for that. If there’s no documented history of abuse, then a woman suddenly trotting out “oh and by the way, he abused me” rightfully looks like character assassination to the court. Get proof of abuse, don’t drop the accusation in the middle of a custody hearing.

    My best friend was abused by her ex-husband. The photos of her bruises were a key part of him losing any chance at custody.

  5. Noticed a typo in my post which incorrectly says “which encourage rather than discourage therapy”

    should read the reverse ie “discourage rather than encourage therapy”!!

  6. “according to the American Psychological Association, fathers who abuse their families are more likely to win custody of their kids than those who don’t.”

    And the good dads who lose custody to abusive moms have no option other than death. Lies in family court kill 18,000 of them every year.

    Family courts favors abusers, regardless of gender. The reason is that lies, and false accusations, are not aggressively prosecuted. They are crimes, and abuse.

    The best interest of the children is to be assured never to have to live with a lying parent. Especially if the lie is used to get a fraudulent restraining order, which are granted without investigating the claims. “Yeah, but they all lie”, some say. How many murders are avoided by not letting perpetrators get away with it? Lies are no different, and as deadly as any murder weapon. “Jews must be eliminated” is a lie that killed millions of innocents.
    Domestic violence victims, MALE OR FEMALE, should not be persecuted by liars winning in Court. Parents in custody battles must be monitored and recorded by audio and video 24/7 to prevent or prosecute bad-mouthing, lies and alienation.

    Our kids deserve the truth. They don’t deserve to be stuck with an abuser who just got away with murder, by driving the victimized parent to apparent suicide.

    Victims of family court injustice may appear to kill themselves, but they are just like the victims who jumped off the burning World Trade Center: MURDERED. They don’t want to die, they are denied the right to live.

    You can’t take your own life when it was taken away from you.

  7. I have 12 years of psychiatric records(taped recorded at time of visit) and then typed , and a former psychiatrist who practiced for 14 years and does is alternative, and no recorded abuse, with a resounding, it was the abuse , it was the recurrent trauma, and our 3 sons, were alienated , when he did not bother to communicate ,or get family counselling, early on, but did constantly blow his angry red headed temper, abused me with neglect and his all present power, by money… 3 sons, who for Christmas , made excuses for not meeting me to pick up their gifts, and finally the eldest stated via text he would see me in Hell… I think not… I have not given up, but given in to exposing this Dad, who never attended a OB or shrink appointment with me and only recently said to he (on discussing our 4, grandchild, a girl) that he did not recall our sons as infants.
    Exactly and he has shown so little respect for me , for his sons, yet he bankrolls them, treats them like friends not adult children. And he his all his bad money deals at my feet, blaming me for everything , lies on top of lies , including his no fault divorce , where my mental illness was not broached I was declared “of sound mind”, I received nothing for the sale of our home etc… I was not myself, because for the whole of our 21 years I was not supported by this man, this businessman , pillar of the community who has kept me from graduations , weddings, births and deaths, for his own selfish ego , soul less existence .. My sons know this but they were in a situation, beginning with my being medicated and toxic, ill; they chose the friend.. Many reverbs to this , life long and I have tried everything. Now I have way too much to share and it seems to be epidemic ..It must end. Our children are not prize or revenge tools

  8. It is so true about the court system failing and causing the one parent hurt and loneliness.The family courts seem to be supportive of dead beat dads.I going through that with family court.The state taking my children and the small courts to.D.F.S taking my children.

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