New details from the McCann/Wooten divorce suggest that Sarah Palin is an abusive scumbag

by twit

Back when I was a family law attorney, I sometimes taught a “pro se education” class at the court, which was mandatory in the state I practiced in for people going through a divorce without an attorney.  One of the issues that I covered in the class was the standard interim order that is issued in every divorce that involves children in that state.  This order includes the requirement that neither parent disparage the other parent in front of the children.

The explanation I gave about why this part of the order is so important is that children automatically understand that they are created by both of their parents, 50% one parent and 50% the other.  To disparage the other parent disparages that child.  If you call your soon-to-be ex-wife a scumbag, you are calling your child a scumbag.  It is confusing and hurtful for children, and it often backfires.  It backfires because a child typically becomes defensive of the disparaged parent – and of course they would, they are essentially defending themselves.

Which brings us to Sarah Palin and the concern that she and/or her family members engaged in “emotional child abuse,” to such a stunning degree that the judge presiding over the McCann/Wooten divorce threatened to give residential custody to Michael Wooten if the disparagement continued.

Via Newsweek on September 9, 2008, by way of TPM:

In an order signed Jan. 31, 2006, which granted Palin’s sister and Wooten a final divorce decree, Judge Suddock continued to express concern about attacks by Palin’s family on Wooten. The judge even threatened to curb Palin’s sister’s child custody rights if family criticism of Wooten continued.

Based on what Newsweek reports later on in the article, the judge didn’t just threaten to “curb” those custody rights, the judge threatened to order the children into Michael Wooten’s residential custody if the “emotional child abuse” continued.  The exact role played by Sarah Palin isn’t clear from what Newsweek reports, but it does sound like the Court determined that there was a concerted effort by her family to disparage Mike Wooten in front of the children.

In monitoring how a joint-custody arrangement worked out, the judge said in his order that he would pay particular attention to problems noted by a “custody investigator,” specifically “the disparagement of the father [Wooten] by the mother [Molly Hackett, Sarah Palin’s sister] and her family members.”

“It is the mother’s [Hackett’s] responsibility to set boundaries for her relatives and insure [sic] they respect them, and the disparagement by either parent, or their surrogates is emotional child abuse,” Judge Suddock wrote.

He added that: “If the court finds it is necessary due to disparagement in the Mat-Su Valley [the area north of Anchorage where Palin and her extended family live], for the children’s best interests, it [the court] will not hesitate to order custody to the father and a move into Anchorage.”

One serious quibble with the Newsweek article is this line:

A court filing by Wooten’s lawyer indicates that within months of being issued, the violence protection order was dismissed.

Because the online court records are clear that the protection order was voluntarily dismissed by Molly McCann before it was ever finalized, and the temporary protection order that was granted (based only on McCann’s affidavit and without a hearing) was in effect from April 11, 2005 through April 27, 2005.

On April 11, 2005, Palin’s sister, Molly J. McCann, filed for a domestic violence restraining order against her then-husband Michael Wooten. The hearing was vacated, and the venue of the case changed to Anchorage, Alaska.  On April 27, 2005, there was a brief hearing on the restraining order, and the domestic violence case was dismissed, and a “no contact order” was instead entered in the divorce.  The hearing was a status conference, not a trial, and the case was settled by an agreement to the entry of a civil “no contact order” in the divorce.  This means that no findings of domestic violence were made on the record in this case and no domestic violence protection was granted by the court beyond the temporary order.

A detailed chronology of the Troopergate scandal and the McCann/Wooten divorce case can be seen here.

6 Responses to New details from the McCann/Wooten divorce suggest that Sarah Palin is an abusive scumbag

  1. tefta says:

    Exactly!! At least this judge saw the truth and he’s looking out for those kids.

    The Palins apparently don’t think much of those kids or their mental health. It’s almost like a “hysterical rage” in that they honestly have become so consumed with vengance that they aren’t seeing things clearly – either that or they truly just don’t care at all what comes of their actions.

    I have heard around the net Payton has actually been heard to say that he feels sorry about what they’re doing to Mike – that is just terrible!

  2. Pingback: The case for the impeachment of Governor Sarah Palin « The Church of the Apocalyptic Kiwi

  3. TruthinessRules says:

    Thank you for providing this chronology. As a retired family law attorney myself, I would not like to see ignored the infrequency with which judges in divorce matters issue orders specifically restricting third parties not before the Court. The party is, of course, intended to have full parental rights while the child is with him or her, and is responsible for the care of the child, which includes contact with third parties. That fact may be mentioned in dicta, but in my experience judges don’t really like–for valid reasons–to put orders affecting third parties into formal Orders unless absolutely necessary.

    imho, a judge has to be pushed pretty far, and be extremely convinced of the third party’s noncooperation without an order, to issue such an order pertaining to a high ranking administration official in his jurisdiction.

    From another perspective: The infatuation of judges with joint custody varies from area to area. Nevertheless, it is hard to imagine any judge who found the allegations made to the Palins and their family to be at all credible to give the alleged offender, in this case Mike Wooten, joint physical custody.

    Those inferences are from professional experience. From living in the world a long time and making my living understanding what is going on with people (as a psychologist and then as a family lawyer), I infer without even a blink of doubt that the Wooten matter is part of a constellation of behaviors we have now learned about, that can be summarized as, “Watch out for Sarah! If she doesn’t get her own way, she has a screaming tantrum, stamps her feet, and throws things. And she WILL get you back!”

    Just my opinion. People here know, though, that my perceptions of people are ignored only at their peril.

  4. Truthiness,

    Thank you for sharing your perspective. In a hypothetical situation, if there was an order imposed on a third party in a divorce case, I would be concerned that the court lacked jurisdiction to enforce an order on individuals that were not parties to the divorce. So I agree that if there was such an order in the McCann/Wooten case, it is likely dicta (which I was taught in law school is adequately defined as “bullshit”).

    However, I can see how a Court might order the parties to take reasonable steps to prevent their children from being exposed to disparagement of the other party, and that it would be the individual circumstances of the alleged disparagement by third parties that would ultimately determine whether a party to a divorce could be held responsible for the actions of third parties.

    I agree that the Judge in the McCann/Wooten divorce appears to have been pushed quite far to have made such findings. I haven’t looked into the Alaska law on this issue, but I assume that the “best interests of the child” are the central focus of any child custody case in that state. Therefore, it does seem relevant if a party is unable to restrain third parties from engaging in behavior that is damaging to children. It speaks to the environment that the parent can provide for the children and the relative safety of the environment for the kids. It may not seem fair to penalize a parent for the actions of third parties, but the central issue is what is best for the children. In my opinion, if a parent cannot provide an emotionally safe environment for the kids, it does damage their case for custody rights.

    I updated this post today to point out the allegation that Governor Palin and/or her staff attempted to exert pressure on the Department of Public Safety to transfer Wooten to a rural part of Alaska. Not only does it undercut her claim about having concerns about Wooten’s relative merits as a trooper, but it really seems to speak to the constellation of efforts to gain an advantage not only in the divorce case, but also to simply keep him away from his kids.

    This is NOT legal advice (and anyone with questions about a specific case should seek advice from an attorney and should under no circumstances rely on this opinion to make any decisions in their particular case), but in general, if there are concerns about a parent and attempts to restrict visits with that parent are unsuccessful in Court, there are options that exist to address ongoing concerns. For example, a child could be enrolled in regular therapeutic counseling, so an expert could become involved to monitor the child’s well-being and the child can receive ongoing support from a neutral party. The child can be provided a cel phone so they can call for help in the event of an emergency. The school can be informed of the situation and asked to pay close attention to the child and their school performance, and to provide a counselor so the child has additional support. If concerns are severe, the state’s child protective services could be contacted for assistance. All of those options may set the stage to allow a concerned parent to go back to court with new evidence if it develops. The point of these options would be to support the child in a difficult circumstance, based on the concerns of the parent and to generally help a kid cope with a divorce and dramatically new living arrangements. However, if new information develops, experts working with the child could help prevent the child from potentially having to testify in court and could serve as an ‘early warning system’ if conditions deteriorate for the child.

    A divorce with minor children can be a very difficult process for a family and the vast majority of people do not have the option of working outside the legal system to try to manipulate a case. My lawyer’s fin snapped up when I first read about Troopergate, and the details that continue to emerge only heighten my concern that Governor Palin attempted to use her political office for personal gain.

  5. sandrar says:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

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