SCOTT D. McKENZIE
EXECUTIVE WOODS OFFICI! PARK
1603 S,W, 37TH STREET
TOPEKA. KANSAS 66611.2563
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
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
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
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
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
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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Apr-.1.~ .24, .2g97
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
(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
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
(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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Apr.:L~ ~", ~S'97
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
(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
c 0)Y ?ze<~:
cott D. M~Zie
GAL for Rikki Dombrowski