The Case for Sharing Parenting

Give Ellie her Hero, her Father

How can we help this little girl avoid years of anguish and angst over missing her father and grandparents?

This child loves both of her parents – we will refer to her as “Ellie” in sharing her story. Why is Ellie’s story important to us? She is under siege in our Cobb County court system because of what is being done to her parents and grandparents. Her peace of mind, the nurturing she receives and her way of life are under attack. Ellie needs a hero to show up for her – and her hero, her father, needs our support. This is why we showed up for her and for her family – her entire family.

Ellie has been enjoying equal time with her father and mother since they separated two years ago. She is thriving with both sides of her family, including with her grandparents on each side. Ellie cannot fathom that anyone would try to take that away from her.

This content little girl has equal time with her mother and her father.

Ellie’s family is without the financial means to pay what it will take to ensure that she has what she needs from both sides of her family. Do you want to help?

Your tax-deductible donation can be made here. Your help is needed because two lawyers want to prevent the court from giving Ellie what she needs from both her father and her mother. It seems they want to set her up to fail.

Shouldn’t every child be afforded what is within their reach, what they can have from both parents? Of course!

The reason we ask for donations is simple: without financial support, parents are forced to give up on being an important part of their children’s lives. Without financial backing, parents are separated from children, and the children suffer. This is a problem we can fix! Click on the image below to send your tax-deductible gift.

donate to Navigating Justice to save lives, helping parents and children stay together.

What’s happening with Ellie, and can I make a difference for her?

Yes, your contribution will make a difference! Your support will help this family stay involved in her life so that she doesn’t have to know the pain of separation.

In this Cobb County case, in Marietta, Georgia, we have the opportunity to show this child that our court system can function as our laws and rules promise them it will. Justice is possible, but it takes financial backing in most situations. Just imagine what the joy and peace in this child’s life will yield – just imagine what she deserves, what we can provide for her. Are you in?

Ellie should have plenty of opportunities like this with both of parents, without strife and without losing her parents to months of litigation, shouldn’t she? Let’s talk about making this her reality.

Why is Navigating Justice fundraising and bringing awareness to this child’s need for intervention?

The harder conversation to have is about what happens to children who are deprived of what they need from both parents or whose parents are destroyed in abusive litigation. These children do not fare well in life. Some turn to drugs and other forms of self-harm to deal with the grief and pain of separation and manipulation. We want the professionals surrounding Ellie’s parents to do right by her, to ensure she has equal access to her father, not just her mother and maternal relatives – we want them to be fair and just in how they treat the parties and the issues as that gives Ellie her best chance for success in life. Currently, the guardian ad litem is only considering what the mother’s lawyer wants, which is to cause Ellie and her father to fail, meaning he wants them to have as little as possible of each other. It appears that their real motive is to create duress, to escalate stress in the father’s family and to increase their fees in this case. It is a profit motive that harms this child. We believe Ellie and her entire family deserve better than what these lawyers are dishing out thus far. If you would like to observe the proceedings to learn and/or to show up in support of fairness and justice for this child and her father, please contact us here and enter “Ellie’s case” in the comment field. We’ll provide details of the proceedings and explain how you can help them.

A challenge to do better.

What if we could save the lives of children and parents by legislating common sense changes to how child custody matters are resolved? What if even one child’s life were saved by creating oversight and accountability for those involved in family disputes? Would it be worth it if we could save just one?

Ellie is worth saving, and her young life is on the line in this case. How do we encourage the guardian ad litem and the court to save Ellie?

For ten years or so, we have watched parents in litigation bring out the worst in each other. We’ve documented in hundreds of cases the many ways that child custody lawyers, guardians and psychologists managing the parents’ interactions and responses make dramatically more money by helping parents ruin any chance they might have had to co-parent and recover from the litigation. It’s a problem that has to be addressed – the way families in conflict are being exploited cannot continue as it is now. In Ellie’s situation, her family is being exploited, her parents drained financially and emotionally; the professionals involved are setting them up for failure in co-parenting and in maintaining income and stability. This case is a prime example of why a solution is critical and urgent.

One proposed solution being discussed locally and nationally is the move to legislate the requirement that separated parents must share equally the time and rights to their children. Shared Parenting law is being discussed and bills passed into law in many states around the U.S., but Georgia has not yet passed a law protecting parents and children from the problem seen in this case.

In many courts, parents and professionals are already creating and abiding by equal parenting plans, and legislation for shared parenting isn’t needed. For the purpose of this article, the issue of true child abuse and domestic violence are reserved as people who are proven to be abusive do not need this protection and consideration. The point that must be made is that family court is so problematic around parents fighting over custody of children that it has become dangerous and many lives have been lost.

The main problem is that people who are abusive in some way, especially those who are willing to use the children to punish the other parent, have the upper hand in litigation, not because they are so capable or adept, but because certain lawyers and other professionals involved in the case make more money by enabling the abusive parent. It’s terrible, but simple – and this is one issue where coaching and preparation with one of our Navigators makes a big difference for the children and the parent forced to defend against abusive litigation. When you know what to expect, when you have insights into how to manage and work around these tactics, you can better protect yourself and your family.

The harsh reality, though, is that some professionals go so far in their abuse of process as to cause a level of suffering that has led to suicide by some parents. In the case that is the focus of this discussion, the lawyer for the mother has referenced the loss of life by a father in another case he was involved in. This lawyer knows that this happens – that parents are pushed to a breaking point and that some do not survive the break and take their lives. Why would he bring up suicide by another father? It would seem that it’s because he knows that this is his intention here, that he is creating the kind of breaking point that he hopes the father of this little girl will not overcome. This form of cruelty and level of duress is hard to fathom. Maybe if yet another life is lost, it will be time for an investigate and oversight? Since we know this is happening, that this extreme degree of abuse is in progress, why not act to save this life – this father and this child? We could just ask that the abuse of parents and children stop here, couldn’t we?

On behalf of this little girl and her family, we ask that you, the lawyer and the guardian aligned with the mother’s lawyer, do what you can to see that this child has the best that both of her parents can offer, that they can care for and provide for her equally. It appears at this time that the intention is to keep the father so minimized and restricted as to force stress on him and the child – and to force future litigation.

Our hope is that it doesn’t take another death of a parent or child to see the justice system start to work again as it should – for the benefit of children and families, rather than to their detriment. There is no guesswork here, as shown in the story described below, a custody battle that led to suicide by drug overdose of a boy from the same area where Ellie’s story is unfolding.

Christopher lost his life after his parents litigated custody.

Let’s talk about that “one child” now.

In a Cobb County case, when a mother and father divorced, but neither was harming the children and there were no allegations of abuse, the lawyers led the parents through a long, drawn-out custody fight. Huge money was spent and many people became involved.

The evidence in that case proves that one parent intended to manipulate the younger child to turn him against the other parent – it was even spelled out in a psychologist’s report that this would harm the child. The harm to the child was predicted by a highly regarded Atlanta child custody expert. That show of intended harm, though, was not addressed and this evidence treated as though it never existed. The abusive parent followed through as predicted by the psychologist, the court-appointed custody evaluator; the child was manipulated, turned against the other parent and custody was taken after the divorce by the abusive parent. What happened to this child?

The child who was the pawn of the abusive parent stopped being a kind boy who loved both parents, changing into a drug addict who was arrested for stealing as a teenager and later for more serious crimes as an adult. He was kicked out of schools, sent away to special programs for “troubled youth,” and after multiple suicide attempts spanning more than a decade, he ultimately took his life in an apparent drug overdose. All that was needed to save Christopher’s life was for the professionals and the court to acknowledge the evidence and to ensure that both parents were guided to protect this child. His death was avoidable.

From the Founder and Director of Navigating Justice:

This child whose life was lost was my step-son. I did not understand everything he went through when I was the young step-mother watching his parents fight, but I wish every day that I knew then what I know now, and that is that someone needs to intervene when this is happening to children who are being set up for failure by those managing the family’s conflict.

Someone needs to ask the lawyers, the guardian ad litem, the psychologist if one is involved, and the court to look at what is happening to our children – and do the right thing.

Because Christopher lost his life and because I witnessed what happened with his parents and documented what the court professionals did to worsen the situation, I have the duty to intervene now for Ellie and others like her.

This little girl in Cobb County deserves better – and we can do better for her and her parents.

Join me in supporting a better outcome for this family. Contact me here for details about the upcoming trial and to learn what you can do to help.

Deborah Beacham

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