From the Executive Director's Desk

Choices and Personal Growth

Parents who become involved in the challenges of contested parenting time (custody and visitation) cases in our Family Courts face demands on their resources of time, money, emotional well-being, and psychological health that can deplete them very quickly. Parents experience overwhelming feelings of sadness, anger, hurt, betrayal, and, in many cases, shame. Moms and dads are often stunned when they discover that the judicial response to their requests is not as straightforward as they expected.

Family Court can be an adversarial process which results in winners and losers. The courts listen carefully to parents, weigh the evidence, and, ultimately, make an effort to make the best possible decision. These decisions must be made in the context of several conflicting principles:

·        Protect the constitutional rights of the adult parties to parent their children, 

·        Prioritize best interest of the child

·        Consider determinative law – clear and predictable outcomes

·        Respect the approximation principle – what was shall be (status quo)

·        Gender equality - human rights and non discrimination

Judges have an extraordinarily difficult job of determining the weighting of each of these 5 principles and then making judgments that come as close as possible to following that weighting in each individual case. In San Diego, judges rotate onto and off of the Family Court bench every 2-3 years. Many judges say that they leave the bench in Family just as they have fully achieved competence and confidence in the intricacies of the law and the dynamics of families.

This process can leave parents feeling as if they have no choice.  This is particularly true when the parents have chosen to -- or been forced to -- take a litigation approach to seeking resolution of their family conflicts. Regardless of the choice of approach a parent in engaged in, there are pros and cons that complicate the process of breaking apart a family from living together in one home to living separately in two homes.  Any family breakup can leave people feeling helpless and powerless.

There are almost always choices.

There are almost always choices because there are almost always people who are willing to help us become a better person, a more capable mother or father, a more positive human being. Hopefully, that is what we want for ourselves and for our children; to keep becoming more truly and completely who we are capable of being every single day of our lives.

For 30 years, Hannah's House has been dedicated to two things:

Protecting children during the breakup and reorganization of the family; and

Improving the co-parenting relationship.

We do this through 5 comprehensive programs that provide a multitude of services that can be individualized to meet the needs of each particular family. No matter where you are in your family reorganization process, we can help. 

Our 2 Home Kids Program provides supervised visitation and supervised exchange services for Family Court involved parents and children. Services are available at 3 levels: agency-based with outside privileges; community-based with visits starting and ending in the community; home-based depending upon the security issue on the case (DV, Abduction, child abuse)

Our Transitions Family Program provides a full range of therapy and psyho-education services that are specifically designed for families navigating the challenges of family breakup and restructuring. Tranisitions offers free Support Groups - one for moms and one for dads. The only requirement for membership is that the parent is involved in a family breakup or the aftermath.

Our Bridges Family Program provides specialized services like Home Studies, Home Safety Checks,  property and gift transfers for families with Restraining Orders, Weekly Welfare Checks - parents with history of alcohol/drug issues, child abuse or neglect, mental health concerns; and many other services.

Our Family Resource Center offers a wide range of free referral-matching and resources to our families in the areas of childcare, housing, employment, medical/mental health care, resume writing, legal document preparation, co-parenting workshops, infant/toddler supplies and accessories, home furnishings, and many others.

Our Human-Animal Bond Program is woven through all of our programs and offers the joys and delightful surprises that occur when humans connect with each other through an animal experience.

There are almost always choices because there are almost always people willing to help. Our staff at Hannah's House is dedicated to helping parents, children, and extended families find peaceful resolutions to family conflicts.

Hannah House