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4-14-1997 GAL Scott D. McKenzie Repo

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4-14-1997 GAL Scott D. McKenzie Repo Powered By Docstoc
					                                 SCOTT         D.     McKENZIE
                                EXECUTIVE      WOODS     OFFICI!   PARK

                                    1603     S,W, 37TH     STREET

                                 TOPEKA.      KANSAS    66611.2563

                                            (913)   267.5400



                                        April 14, 1997


            Honorable Jan W. Leuenberger                           Donald Hoffman
            Judge of ,the District Court                           701 S.W. Jackson Suite 206
            Shawnee County Courthouse                              Topeka, Kansas 66603
            200 S.E. 7th st.
            Topeka, Kansas 66603

            Sheri Keller                                           John Ambrosio
            Court Services Officer                                 1208 S.W. Tyler
            Shawnee county Courthouse                              Topeka, Kansas 66612
            200 S.E. 7th st.
            Topeka, Kansas 66603
                               Report of Guardian Ad Litem
              The undersigned was appointed by the District Court October
         23, 1996, to conduct an independent investigation and report to the
         court concerning the best interest and needs of the parties minor
/\       child, Rikki Dombrowski, in relation to contested custody and
         visitation proceedings. The court and the parties should bear in
         mind that this report is prepared without the benefit of
         participation in an evidentiary hearing, which could very well
         influence or modify my conclusions.         As ~s the nature of
         investigations, I am influenced by the opinions of others familiar
         with the circumstances of the parties, investigations of others
         that were not duplicated by this writer, hearsay statements, and
       ~ other indirect information and inadmissable evidence. Despite my
      ~  best efforts to be child centered and neutral as to the parents
  \ ~conflicting       position, conclusions are also influenced by my
   \)    personal values.
~~           Initial investigation consisted of reviewing the court file
       ~
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        and the confidential social file maintained by court services.
  ~,    Court Services Officer Sheri Keller was interviewed at length.
                       ,     ,      ere: Ms. Dombrowski's prior counsel
              Freu     d Alan Alderson Gretchen Morganstern, who assisted
             visitation exc anges in Salina, Kansas; Dr. Richard Maxfield,
        who has submitted a custody evaluation to the court; Mr.
        Richardson's children from his first marriage, Tiffany (18), Lisa
        (16), and Hal III (15); and Bernie Nobo, MSW, who had previously
        counseled the parties. Mr. Richardson was also interviewed, but
        our discussion centered solely on possible solutions to the
        visitation exchange problems. Also reviewed were a telephone tape
     , recording provided to Sheri Keller by Mr. Richardson, 1 police
(', ~rt        from 1993 involving Ms. Dombrowski and Kermit Lindgren, 7



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          It is apparent that    since the birth of Rikki, ~e     has been
    under the primary care and    control of Ms. Dombrowski. ~owever,  the
    circumstances indicate ~       Dombrowski has intentionally kept Rikki
    away from Mr. Richardson.     There have been short periods when Rikki
    was in the care of Mr.       ichardson or in the care of his former
    wife.
         Several sources of information expressed negative comments
    regarding Ms. Dombrowski's mother, with whom Ms. Dombrowski moved
    to Larned, Kansas, around May, 1996.     As a child, Ms. Dombrowski
    was apparently a victim of rape, incest, and physical abuse while
    in the care of her mother. Ms. Dombrowski's childhood is described
    as bouncing back and forth from multiple foster care placements and
    her mother's horne. Ms. Dombrowski wants to protect her daughter
    and provide a positive upbringing.    Mr. Richardson states he does.
    not get along with Ms. Dombrowski's mother, and has requested her
    contact with Rikki be supervised.   Gretchen Morganstern of Salina,
    Kansas, also stated the maternal grandmother should be kept away
    from Rikki.   Ms. Dombrowski indicates her mother has moved on to
    California and is no longer in the area.

         Mr. Richardson's   children from his first marriage, Tiffany,
    Lisa, and Hall III, all speak fondly of Rikki. Lisa has a definite
    dislike   of Ms.   Dombrowski.      Hall Richardson   III has been
    interviewed by police regarding domestic disturbances between Mr.
    Richardson and Ms. Dombrowski, and related to me incidents he had
    observed.   All three children are of sufficient age and maturity
    to assist in caretaking of Rikki, and are quite curious about how
    their half sister is doing.      All three expressed concern about
    Rikki's welfare as she gets older should she remain in her mother's
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    care, and fear they will never get to know Rikki or watch her grow
    up.    Tiffany Richardson    resides with her father, and visits
    regularly with her mother.     Lisa and Hal III alternate residence
    between their mother and Mr. Richardson,     spending approximately
    equal time in both homes.

          Ms. Dombrowski's therapist and Rikki's day care provider in
     Larned have been interviewed by Sheri Keller and Dr. Maxfield. All
     indications are that Rikki has adjusted well to her mother's new
    .home and day care, and that Ms. Dombrowski benefits from therapy.

         Ms. Dombrowski is an L.P.N., which I view as a mobile job
    skill. Ms. Dombrowski was previously employed at the Topeka State
    Hospital, and 'now works at Larned State Hospital.    Mr. Richardson
    is a small business owner, operating Minuteman       Solar Film and
    Topeka Vinyl.   It appears Mr. Richardson is tied to the Topeka area
    by his business, the children of his first marriage, and extended                                          ,
    family.    Court documents   indicate Ms. Dombrowski    has extended
    family in the Great Bend area, but they are not identified.        As
    previously stated, Ms. Dombrowski's mother with whom Ms. DombrowSki
    resided in either Great Bend or Larned, has apparently moved on to

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           california.  It is my opinion Ms. Dombrowski could utilize her job
           skills in any area she chooses to reside, but that Mr. Richardson's
           employment opportunities would be diminished outside the Topeka
           area.
                All sources of information indicate the parties are absolutely
           not able to deal with one another on any level, which will have
           consequences for Rikki.   The communication between the parties is
           nonexistent.   In his report Dr. Maxfield states it is abundantly
           clear that it is impossible for these parents to co-parent.    There
           has been no improvement     in this situation    since the parties
           separated.
                There is a hi story of violence between the parties.         Dr.
           Maxfield believes both parties suffer from significant psychiatric
           difficulties.    For her part, Ms. Dombrowski presents a history of
           multiple abandonments by her mother, is a victim of abuse, has a
           pattern of unstable relationships,      and has been in and out of
           therapy most of her life. Mr. Richardson admits to having trouble
           with the law in the past, is also a child of divorce, but appears
           more stable and consistent      in that his first marriage     lasted
           fourteen years, he successfully operates two small businesses, and
           the children    of his first marriage     appear well adjusted with
           positive aspirations for the future.       There is no evidence of a
           viol.ent or abusive relationship    between Mr. Richardson and his
           first wife.   Ms. Dombrowski's. allegations of a violent and abusive
     \
           propensity of Mr. Richardson are so far fetched I do not find them
           credible.   If Mr. Richardson was as bad as Ms. Dombrowski states,
           his businesses and the children of his first marriage would not
           have turned out as well as they have.
                 It is my opinion that Mr. Richardson   is probably the more
           stable parent of the two and would probably do a better job of
           fostering a relationship with the mother.     I disagree with Dr.
           Maxfield's   conclusion that neither parent can support Rikki' s
           relationship   with the other parent, but believe Dr. Maxfield is
           correct as it relates to Ms. Dombrowski.

                I share the concerns of Tiffany, Lisa, and Hal Richardson III
           that they will "not be able to watch Rikki grow up" or have a
           relationship  with her should Ms. Dombrowski be the residential
           parent.   I believe Rikki is entitled to a relationship with her
           half siblings,    and view Mr. Richardson's    other  children  as
           potentially positive influences on Rikki's life.

                  It is my opinion Ms. Dombrowski should not have been permitted
            to move to Great Bend or Larned last May with residential custody
            unresolved.   Bernie Nobo commented to me Ms. Dombrowski follows her
            own mother's pattern, in that Ms. Dombrowski "uses Hal for awhile
            then disappears."     Uncertainty as to the final outcome of this
            custody determination    has probably contributed   to the enormous




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        visitation difficulties.   Both parties have been described as
        manipulative, and the long distance separation with Rikki in her
        mother's care has placed Ms. Dombrowski in virtual control of
        visitation. For this reason, I do not view any perceived lack of
        parental bonding between Mr. Richardson and Rikki a determining
        factor.
                                      Recommendations
        (1)        It is my opinion the best interest of Rikki would be
              served by placing her care and custody with Mr. Richardson,
              and that he be awarded sole custody. The primary factors for
              this recommendation are the inability of the parents to
              cooperate or co-parent this child at this time, the
              opportunity for Rikki to grow up in closer proximity with her
              half-siblings, and a higher level of stability and continuity
              on Mr. Richardson's part.
                   Should the court impose this recommendation, it will be
              devastating to Ms. Dombrowski. I have no doubts as to her
              love and devotion to Rikki.   I view continued therapy with
              emphasis on anger control as essential for Ms. Dombrowski.
        (2)        I suggest a rigid and detailed visitation schedule be
              imposed by the court, regardless of which parent is designated
              the residential custodian. The inability of the parents to
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              compromise and manipulative behavior requires a very concrete
              schedule with terms clearly laid out in black and white. The
              court may wish to impose an inflexible schedule for only a
              year or two, in hopes the parties could cooperate in the
              future after a period of stability. The present posture of
              the parties is such that court involvement will probably be
              necessary when family reunions, funerals, weddings, and other
              important family events occur.
                   Should the parents continue the present geographic
              distance between each other, travel time must be considered
              in setting the visitation schedule.      Until Rikki attains
              school age, and if the parties schedule will accommodate, I
              suggest visitation with the non-residential parent be at least
              four days twice a month. Both parents should also have the
              opportunity for at least a two week vacation each year with
              Rikki.
        (3)        I have no specific recommendation but only suggestions
              concerning visitation exchanges.    It is my hope that once
              determination of custody and visitation occurs, animosity and
              strategic posturing will decline.      It is my opinion Ms.
              Dombrowski should bear the greater burden of transporting the
              child for visitation since she is the parent who chose to
              depart from this area.       I suggest the parties attempt




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                          visitation exchanges in well populated public places.      If
                          exchanges occur at some geographic point between Topeka and
                          Larned, I remind the parties that one or the other will often
                          have some delay as it will be nearly impossible for both to
                          arrive at precisely the same time. Ideally, exchanges would
                          occur in a private home or child activity center where short
                          term amusement is available while the child waits for pickup,
                          such as the new service provided at the Kuehne Branch of the
                          Topeka Y.M.C.A.
             (4)               I make no recommendations at this time for joint therapy
                          or counseling because I believe it would not be productive.
                          However, mediation could be attempted addressing only the
                          issues of visitation and exchanges of the child. Should the
                          parties ever be in a posture to attempt co-parenting,
                          appropriate therapy could get the process off to a positive
                          start.    I do not subscribe to the view that required
                          counseling or therapy will cure what ails these parents.

             (5)               Finally, I suggest the court impress on the parties that
                          they no longer control Rikki's custody and visitation, but the
                          matter now rest in the hands of the court. Their opportunity
                          to resolve between themselves issues concerning Rikki is no
                          longer available.      Continued game playing, dishonesty,
                          manipulation, or violation of court orders should result in
                          the offending party being dealt with very harshly by the
                          court.


                                                              c   0)Y ?ze<~:
"        ,
                                                          cott D. M~Zie
                                                         GAL for Rikki Dombrowski
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