DAY IN THE LIFE OF A COURT SUPPORT COUNSELOR

REV S BRANDT

Client came to shelter with 4 years old daughter after a violent incident with husband and after years of psychological abuse which has left her feeling terrified for her safety. Client determined she would be well served with an emergency protection order and parenting order

May 6 08 Received referral from cwes crisis counselor then met client and daughter –mother distraught after years of reported psychological abuse from common law explained options re emergency protection order [epo]and parenting order[po]

Client feels she is in personal danger but child is not as C/L loves the child

We arranged to go to court the next day

May 7 08 arrived at court and assisted client to fill in forms and arranged to meet duty counsel Marie Rainer- while client waited at play area with child her common law appeared- arrived about 5 minutes after we arrived-I whisked terrified mom and child into a secure area and notified security-we then met with duty counsel -mom very emotional -offered comfort and emotional support-EPO filed and client went before judge with sheriff in attendance as I cared for the child-Judge issued no contact epo with a court review may 15 -as we waited to get finished documentation common law attempted to file ex parte parenting order granting him parental custody but judge wouldn’t hear it because it was suspected he had stalked his wife to court and we filed the epo first so court was set for parenting order tomorrow 930 am

We went as per court clerk instructions to police station to register the EPO with them so it would be police enforced and the papers could be served on common law-when at police station no one seemed to know how to process an epo

Finally found an officer to take the respondent papers

After leaving the building police phoned me and gave us the papers back saying we had to phone police ourselves and they would pick them up in the squad car –we took a taxi back to shelter and instructed Crisis counselor and client to call police to get papers served-also gave counselor a debriefing report

May 8, 2008 930 am took taxi to court -alerted security to accompany us to 12th floor court rooms-child saw dad and ran to him -security stayed nearby as client told us she had not called police to serve husband papers yet therefore Epo wasn’t enforceable-security accompanied mom as she personally served husband under their supervision -during court child was supervised by sheriff -in court husband became disrespectful to judge and judge evicted him from court room to reappear in afternoon court-went for lunch with client after security secured our exit from building -took taxi -had lunch debriefed with client-took taxi to return to court for 2 pm -alerted security -went into court room was heard as first case -husband did not appear until 15 minutes later -by that time the judge had granted a no contact order for dad to be with 200 meters from mom and child, that he had to move out of family home by tonight and both are to appear back in court for the EPO review may 15 -mom was upset -she feels dad is safe with child and wanted him to care for child on weekends so she could go to work at her weekend job -offered mom emotional support -dad arrived late and was furious that he would not be heard by judge –accused mom of ruining his life and “its all your fault”- mom was clearly afraid of angering dad-offered emotional support and Domestic Violence information -security escorted us out the courts back door as husband had to be removed by security and was pacing in front of building on the curb

-Took taxi to shelter -client plans on returning to family home tomorrow- reinforced safety plan- debriefed with Community Counselor and recommended that mom be put on outreach program for continuity of care and follow-up and possible referral for ongoing legal issues