KidSide Newsletter May 2022
Kids in Court: When Can They Appear and How Can the Court Hear from Them?
by Hon. Denise Martinez-Scanziani Dmartinez-Scanziani@jud11.flcourts.org
Access to justice, for many, is the right to be seen and to be heard by the court. Some may even define this as due process. Thousands of cases in Miami-Dade County involve children in one way or another. In family court, children are often the focus of extended litigation when parents cannot agree on parental responsibility or time-sharing. In domestic violence court, children may be the beneficiaries of a petition for injunction filed on their behalf. In dependency court, children are a party to the case and without them, there would be no case. As a result, children are the beneficiaries (whether they want to be or not) of countless rulings and court orders entered every year. Being so directly impacted by these rulings, the question then becomes, to what extent, if any, does a child get a voice in a case where the child will be affected?
A child’s direct involvement in any given case will depend on the type of case it is and on the court’s determination of what is in the child’s best interest.
When Children are Victim/Witnesses in Criminal Court Proceedings
by By Fran Feinberg, Esq. and Katrina Valiente, Esq.
The Criminal Court Project is an outreach program of the Guardian ad Litem Program in Miami-Dade County, Florida. This program was created in 1991 to represent the interests of child victim/witnesses in criminal court proceedings. The CCP staff consists of two full time attorneys and one court advocate whose caseload consists of 50 % of cases in dependency court where the child victim/ witness is the subject of a dependency case and the defendant parent or legal custodian is charged criminally with Child Abuse (physical or sexual). The other cases are ones in which there is no corresponding Dependency case. The Criminal Court Project is housed at the Orlowitz-Lee Children’s Advocacy Center (also known as Kristi House) and is co-located with the Sexual Battery and Child Abuse Unit of the State Attorney’s Office along with the forensic interview team and Kristi House therapists and case managers. Kristi House provides a free office for the CCP and is conveniently located two blocks from the Richard E. Gerstein Criminal Courthouse.
Amplifying Impact Is Up and Running
Through this program we are able to fund free therapy to families in need. No child should be on a waiting list to see their parent or to receive counseling services due to financial difficulties. KidSide is funding the supervision of several skilled doctoral level psychology clinicians to provide these services.
Your Donations At Work
Therapeutic supervised visits with my daughter, provided by Family Forensic Services, have been great! The therapist assigned to my case was excellent. Our therapist keeps us informed; he communicates with us routinely. He is on top of everything. His diligence keeps us consistent with our visits. The therapist has also assisted us by interviewing both the mother and I, to see what issues we might have, and he has helped us to figure out a way to get around them. Thanks to that, my daughter’s mom and I were able to come to an agreement and improve our co-parenting relationship. Prior to FFS and our therapist’s help, it was very hard to talk to my daughter alone.
Thanks to FFS and our assigned therapist, my daughter’s mother and I have agreed to have additional meetings at the park, together with our child. I now get to attend my daughter’s swimming classes. This is all because the therapist suggested that the mother take part in our Zoom visits, maybe to get us interacting and communicating again. My daughter now sees her mom and I getting along great, and she is very excited. She loves to see her parents together, getting along. This has been a real turnaround for our co-parenting relationship. Now, we can just share time with our daughter. I could not have afforded to do any of these services on my own. My daughter’s mother and I are going through a divorce right now. Financially, we are drained. Thank you to KidSide and FFS for this opportunity. The free services have been a great help! – F.V.
New Partnership Opportunities
Partnerships Now Starting At $2,500!
The KidSide partner program has been updated to recognize more of our valued supporters. Your annual support will allow the continuation of critical assistance, counseling and other resources that bridge gaps in the system to protect children involved in antagonistic cases like high conflict divorce, domestic violence or abuse.
Thanks To Our Partners
Thank you to all of our existing partners for their continued support of KidSide. We also want to welcome our newest Silver partner, Our Family Wizard, as well as F.A.C.E.S and Zoe’s Divorced Happily Group, who joined as Bronze partners.
For more information, please reach out to Adelmis Bohigas-Naderpour, Esq., Executive Board Chair of KidSide at email@example.com
Support the work of Family Court Services by donating to KidSide!
14261 SW 120 Street #103-552
Miami, FL 33186
Telephone: (305) 908.1126