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In 1989 People magazine reported about a network called “Children of the Underground.” Faye Yager emerged as the movement’s leader. This movement helped men and women hide their kids as a way of escaping partners they alleged were abusive, but to whom the courts granted custody.

Newsweek reported that the United States Department of Justice estimates family members abducted 203,900 children in 1999, which is the most recent year for records estimating child abduction. By comparison, this is more than triple the number of stranger abductions. In family abduction cases, 21 percent of the time, children are gone for a month or longer. However, only 28 percent of children abducted by family members are reported as missing to law officials.

Yager, the Leader of the Underground Network

In a New York Times interview in 1992, Yager said she assisted some 2,000 families in hiding children. Reports describe the network as consisting of ministers, homemakers, people involved in domestic violence shelters, women’s groups and everyday people. They have used birth certificates of deceased people for new names to hide the runaways. The underground network’s purpose was to disclose the fact that courts had failed to protect abused children and running became the last resort. The movement forged ahead as child abuse became increasingly an issue during the late 20th century. As lawsuits mounted against Yager, she disappeared.

Continued Existence of the Network

Even so, the network still exists, only Yager flies under the radar more evasively today and the movement isn’t publicized.

In the Minnesota case where the Rucki girls disappeared, the couple that harbored the girls at their ranch face felony charges of parental alienation for helping hide the girls for two and a half years. The couple’s lawyers deny their involvement in any formal network.

In September 2016, Dede Evavold was prosecuted for deprivation of child custody in the Sandra Rucki Teenager Family Abduction Case and found guilty. She was associated with the underground network.

Do You Need Legal Help with Child Custody?

Whether you feel the courts ruled unfairly about abuse or your child has been abducted, going the legal route and hiring a competent attorney is your best recourse for the issues involved.

Attorney Chris Palermo is diligent about providing you with sound legal help and protecting your rights.

During divorce, emotions fly high, conversations become heated and threats are often made. One parent alleges abuse by the other parent. Yet, the other parent counters with claims of parental alienation (brainwashing). So, which is it — abuse or brainwashing? The courts must examine the facts and decide which it is.

Minnesota Case of Two Missing Sisters

Following a bitter divorce in Minnesota, ABC News reported about a case with claims of abuse and parental alienation in 2016. After the father was awarded custody, his two teenage sisters disappeared for almost three years.

What Is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation involves one parent feeding lies to the children about the other parent who is portrayed as bad and unloving. The alienating parent hammers on the other parent’s flaws until the children completely withdraw and may even pull away from the whole extended family. Often in these cases, the alienated parent is accused of being abusive.

The court has the job of determining whether abuse actually exists or whether the parent claiming abuse is simply alienating the children.

Mothers Alleging Abuse Often Lose Child Custody Cases

According to George Washington University law professor Joan Meier, judges often assume children were brainwashed to lie instead of believing that abuse actually occurred. She says that child abuse cases must be substantiated by strong evidence or you will lose custody because the court will assume parental alienation occurred. She did a pilot study where 80 percent of parental alienation cases involving mothers alleging child abuse against the father ended up with the mother losing either primary or joint custody of the kids.

Charges Against Mother in the Minnesota Missing Girls Case

In the Minnesota case, the mother lost child custody after alleging abuse, and when her girls disappeared she faced felony charges for hiding the girls and was put in jail with bail set at $1 million. The girls were discovered nearly three years later, living at a farm less than three hours from their home. When they disappeared, no Amber Alert was issued, no police press conferences were held and no manhunt was undertaken to find them.

Slowly, the truth came to light in this case after the girls were found. On July 28, a jury found the mother, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, guilty of six felony charges for hiding her two teenage daughters from their father for more than two years.

Seek Legal Help Early on in Your Child Custody Case

It is important to seek legal help early on in a divorce case so your attorney can gather necessary evidence to prepare a strong case on your behalf or effectively negotiate an acceptable settlement. Attorney Chris Palermo offers compassionate legal help an can help you protect their rights.


The decision to divorce is life changing, and unanswered questions can linger in the back of your mind, making you uncertain or insecure about your decisions.

Scientific American reported about research that could be helpful to know.

Should you stay in an unhappy marriage to protect your kids from the harmful effects of divorce?

Every year about 1.5 million children live in families where their parents divorce. According to one research study, only a small percentage of children suffer from serious problems related to divorce. On the short term, the divorce may seem traumatic. Your children may react with anger, anxiety, sadness or shock. However, kids overall recover quickly, and usually by the end of the second year after divorce, such negative emotions disappear. Studies showed that children from intact families and divorced families didn’t differ significantly.

What effects do high levels of parental conflict have on children?

Children subjected to high parental conflict had a more difficult time adjusting in life. This is true whether within a marriage or during or after divorce. Despite this fact, children in high conflict families experienced less shock when learning their parents were getting a divorce. Children were more prepared to hear about the divorce and were less surprised or terrified by the news. Some even experienced relief.

How can you reduce the factors that would adversely affect your children?

You can limit your conflict associated with the divorce process or avoid exposing your child to the conflict. The better you adjust to life changes after divorce, the more likely your child is to adjust well too. Open communication with your children and answering their questions helps them. Good parenting that provides warmth and support and economic stability are also positive influences. Socially supporting your kids and social support from other adults like teachers and the children’s peers can also help them bounce back from the divorce.

Work with a Divorce Lawyer You Can Trust

If you’re contemplating divorce and have questions Attorney Chris Palermo is glad to provide you with experienced legal guidance. He can help you make the right decisions.

The divorce between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie has become high profile in today’s news. It’s not often that a celebrity divorce earns its own nickname. In this case, the press is calling it the “Brangelina Split.”

Even though each parent is worth many millions, the main contested divorce issue is child custody of their six children.

As in many divorces, if the couple can reach a settlement outside of court, they have better chances of making their divorce more amicable. It remains to be seen how they will resolve the custody issue, but here are some benchmarks along the road of their divorce.

Divorce Filing

Angelina Jolie filed for divorce at the end of September 2016 and sought sole child custody.  Allegations of abuse emerged against Brad Pitt shortly after she filed.

Temporary Custody Agreement

In October, USA Today published an article that disclosed the temporary custody arrangement was for Angelina to have sole custody and Brad to have visitation. They worked out the agreement through the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). The agreement included terms of Brad submitting to random drug/alcohol testing and both parents undergoing separate and family counseling. Brad’s first visit with the children was to be monitored by a therapist, but that stipulation was not necessary an ongoing requirement for later visits.

Pitt Cleared of Abuse Allegations

On November 9, USA Today reported that the LA County DCFS cleared Brad Pitt after exhaustively investigating charges of Pitt’s alleged abuse against his 15 year old son. Brad Pitt subsequently has filed for joint custody of the children.

Their divorce case is being heard in California, and under state law, courts favor awarding joint custody whenever possible. Generally, parents enjoy a 50/50 parenting time arrangement so both parents can spend time with their children. Children over 14 years of age typically can state their preference during custody proceedings and the court takes their view into consideration.

Do You Need Legal Help with Divorce or Child Custody?

Attorney Chris Palermo offers compassionate legal help for individuals seeking divorce to help protect their rights.

The parent’s decision to move after divorce is not just his or her own decision. In fact, the court will decide whether you get to relocate or not based on what is in the best interests of your child.

Why Is Relocation a Court Matter?

When relocation is a considerable distance, it affects a number of things — parenting time with the children, the children’s school, extended family, friends and community involvement.

What Courts Consider When Deciding Relocation Cases

Various cases have come before the New York Appellate Court and rulings show there are no one-size-fits-all factors in deciding cases. Two cases the New York Court of Appeals decided in 1996 established the precedent that each case must be considered individually without “formulae and presumptions.”

In the case Tropea v. Tropea, the original custody court order prevented either parent from moving outside of Onondaga County without judicial approval. The mother became engaged to an architect with an established firm in Schenectady. She was expecting a child and wanted to relocate. She offered a liberal visitation schedule, providing frequent and extended contact and driving the children to and from the father’s Syracuse home. The father contested based on his involvement —coaching the children’s football and baseball teams, participation in religion classes and academic education involvement. The lower court denied relocation. The Appellate Court reversed the decision, finding the move to be in the children’s best interests and that the father would retain regular and meaningful access. The scheduled awarded the father substantial weekend, summer and vacation visitation with the children.

In the Matter of Browner v. Kenward, the Appellate Court also reversed a lower court’s decision, finding in favor of a mother moving to Pittsfield, MA where her parents were moving, which was 130 miles from the father’s Westchester County home. The court based its decision on the children’s best interests. The grandparents provided the children with significant support and would enhance the emotional well being of the child. The move would also reduce bickering between the parents.

Get Experienced Legal Help

Relocation can often be complicated. Suffolk County Divorce Lawyer Chris Palermo provides you with compassionate legal guidance and can help you make the right decisions.

Whether you call it joint child custody, co-parenting, or shared parental responsibility, when parents can raise their children together without a high degree of conflict, statistics show this type of parenting is best for the children.

Or course, parents divorce because they are unable to resolve issues in their marital relationship. Naturally, barriers exist in getting along with each other that they must overcome for joint child custody to work.

What Children Prefer

An article in Psychology Today lists reasons why co-parenting is the preferred arrangement. The article promotes considering what is in the child’s best interests from a child’s perspective. It offers arguments for shared responsibility, stating that shared responsibility does the following:

When violence and high conflict aren’t an issue, children typically want both parents in their lives and want to have meaningful relationships with both parents.

New York courts weigh a child’s preference on custody more heavily when the child is 13 years or older, and this is true even when they do not rule as a child would want. Courts also try not to separate siblings from each other whenever possible.

Do You Have Questions about Child Custody?

Attorney Chris Palermo is glad to answer your questions, help you consider all the aspects of child custody and to protect your rights as a parent.

Because breaking divorce news may be one of the most important conversations you ever have with your children, it’s worth the time to plan the best approach.

Guidelines to Follow recommends the following guidelines:

Both parents should tell the children together. Both parents should put their children’s well being first when telling them about the decision to divorce. You should present divorce as a joint decision and set your reactions about it aside — resentment, blame, etc. Your children need reassurance that you will still work together as parents to provide what’s best for them.

Tell all of your children at the same time. Generally it’s better for all the kids to find out at the same time. An exception may be if you know an older child will react badly and upset a younger child, in which case, tell them individually.

Figure out what to say in advance. Telling your children in a way that addresses their concerns is extremely important. It is important for your kids to understand that:

Mentally Prepare for Your Kids’ Reactions

Kids often get angry, cry, shout or run to their rooms. Let them express their feelings without having your own reactions to their behavior. You may need to give them time alone. You also may feel like they need affection and to be held or hugged. Many children respond by being concerned about how their immediate life will be affected. Will they still be able to go to the same school, see their friends or go to a party they’ve been invited to attend? While that type of response may seem superficial to you, it is typical for kids to respond this way.

Answer their questions and continue to have talks with them about their concerns over your divorce. If you don’t know the answer to a question, it is important to be honest and tell them so, rather than make promises you may not be able to keep.

For Experienced Legal Help

Divorce can be complicated because there are many facets to consider. Attorney Chris Palermo can provide you with experienced legal guidance and help you make the right decisions.

Anyone going through divorce knows it is costly and not without repercussions. For one thing, the adage two people can live more cheaply than one definitely holds true. Two homes or apartments, each with separate utility expenses and other maintenance costs create a greater expense than one residence. In addition to dividing assets and paying for lawyers, each spouse starts a new life with less income.

Divorce Takes a Toll on Economics

Economicdevelopment.org1 reported studies conducted in 2012 that showed when divorce rates dropped, economic health increased and vice versa. This is not only true individually but also on a national basis.

It is a fact that women and children experience a significant decline in income following divorce.2

As it stands, divorce rates for first marriages have dropped and are now at 41 percent. One factor leading to lower divorce rates is that many couples now marry later in life. Later in life marriages tend to last and not end in divorce. Also, fewer people are marrying.

Granted, some couples may stay together for financial reasons, and this is especially true if they are in a low conflict marriage. Marriage counseling and mediation helps many couples resolve their differences short of getting a divorce.

So, given the fact that divorce is not good for economics on a personal or national level, why are divorce rates so high?

When Divorce Is Not About the Money

Today’s statistics show women initiate divorces more than men do, by 70 percent 3.

A relatively new study by the University of Arizona and University of Colorado Boulder3 found that unhappiness was a main factor in women’s initiation of divorce. Women in general are more concerned about the quality of their marriage and relationships than men are.

Researchers studied 1,639 men and women between the ages of 25 and 74 who were married when they first took a personality test and divorced when taking the test 10 years later.

Women with much lower quality marriages than average experienced greater happiness after divorce than women who stayed in comparable marriages. However, women in marriages that were just slightly lower in quality than average were less satisfied after divorce than women who stayed in comparable marriages.

Women’s Vs. Men’s Views on Marriage

Despite the fact that men are far less likely to experience an income decline after divorce, they are also more content about staying in a low quality marriage. In fact, research showed divorce had either little or no effect on their level of life satisfaction.

If you have questions about divorce or family law litigation, Attorney Chris Palermo is glad to provide you with legal help.



2Future of Children

3 Psychology Today

4 Fusion

Different states and different countries have laws that can significantly affect the outcome of a divorce.

A prime example is a high profile case reported in the New York Post .Tracey Hejalian-Amon is the wife of a wealthy estranged husband, Swiss businessman Maurice Alin Amon. The couple has been married for eight years, and Hejailan-Amon has filed for her divorce with a Manhattan judge because she wants to have the case heard in New York.

Legal Residence

The couple has multiple residences, which are in Monaco, France, Switzerland and New York. Hejailan-Amon’s lawyer argues that she spends enough time in the New York apartment that it should be considered her legal residence.

Monetary Advantages of a NY Divorce over a Monaco Divorce

The main reason for filing in New York is the legal advantage of trying the case under New York divorce laws over trying based on Monaco divorce laws. Under Monaco divorce laws, spouses can take back the gifts that they gave to the other spouse during marriage. The gifts that Hejailan-Amon received included a $15 million Fifth Avenue apartment, jewelry, cars, art and furnishings, totaling in value around $70 million. Under NY divorce law, the $25 million art collection the couple acquired during marriage would likely be considered community property and be subject to property division.

In addition to keeping the gifts, Hejailan-Amon is seeking $235,000 a month in alimony.

In a case involving considerable assets, establishing the jurisdiction where the case is heard may be one of the most important legal strategies involved in the case. The Manhattan judge said she would rule within 60 days on whether the divorce could proceed in New York.

If you face issues regarding divorce or have questions about various legal strategies, Attorney Chris Palermo will be glad provide you with reliable legal guidance and help you make informed decisions.

Suing a judge occurs rarely, but does happen. In 2015, the judge presiding over a NY divorce case sanctioned an attorney who represented himself in the divorce case. Recently, the attorney filed a lawsuit against the judge and sued for damages.

Details of the Filing

The New York Law Journal reported at the end of July that Anthony Zappin, a former associate of Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo, filed a lawsuit against a Manhattan judge who imposed a $10,000 sanction on him for misconduct during his divorce case.

The day the press coverage was released, Zappin was fired from his position as associate at the law firm and suffered significant damages including loss of future earnings potential and denial of a fair trial on custody of his son.

Judge Recusal

Judges bear the responsibility to be fair and impartial when presiding over a case. If a party in the case believes the judge is unable to be fair and impartial, several means of recourse the party can take is to request that the judge recuse himself or move to have the judge recused from the case.

In a article, examples given as reasons for recusal include:

It remains to be seen what the court will decide in the lawsuit brought against the judge.

If you have questions about divorce or family law litigation, Attorney Chris Palermo will be glad you answer your questions and advise the best course of legal action.