More than 2 dozen mothers protest Solano court’s custody stance
FAIRFIELD — A somber crowd of as many as 30 mothers gathered in protest Wednesday in front of the Solano courthouse.
The mothers, many of them affiliated with four area advocacy groups, want to see a change in how Solano County’s four family law judges treat some mothers in contentious child custody disputes.
Several of the mothers say the judges have deprived them of time with their children or lost custody entirely because the jurists adhere to beliefs embodied in a disorder first identified in the 1980s that the women believe has been debunked.
Solano judges need more domestic violence training, one mother said while handing out small symbolic votive candles to shed light on the family law judges’ tools for decision-making.
Several of the women agree the judges too often seem to disregard evidence of domestic violence and abuse that may result in endangering children.
One example of a needed change raised by some of the mothers is when judges conclude a child has developed a mental health disorder known as parental alienation syndrome that arises when a child in the middle of a divorce starts belittling and insulting one parent without justification, due partly to indoctrination by the other parent.
“This was junk science,” said Jaclyn Qirreh, a divorced mother of two. “A lot of parents don’t know that this exists and is being applied by family law judges.”
Qirreh says several specialists, therapists, counselors and evaluators, who the courts currently rely upon routinely for learning about family dynamics and children’s situations, are diagnosing parental alienation syndrome even though no medical or legal associations recognize the disorder.
“The disorder almost always points to the mother in parental alienation,” Qirreh said, although she is quick to add that the protest is not being framed around gender lines.
The advocacy groups include the California Protective Parents Associations, Mothers of Lost Children, Advocates Against Domestic Violence in the African-American Community and Princess House, a transitional living shelter in Suisun City.
“Almost every day we are hearing from mothers in Solano County who want to share their stories about problems in their custody disputes,” Qirreh said.
She is helping collect those stories and invites anyone interested in sharing their stories to email them to CPPASolano@Gmail.com.