Lady Liberty's BRONZE Award


This site is:

  • Paula Werme's Web site about NH's Division of Children, Youth, and Familes
  • devoted to Defending Constitutions and Your Freedoms.

    Honored to be the recipient of Lady Liberty's BRONZE Award of Recognition for Promotion of Justice.

  • This site is not, repeat, not,  legal advice, see the disclaimer below.   It is also NOT the official site of NH's Division of Children, Youth, and Families. Their site is here.

    Furthermore, I'm now retired and the content herein is getting stale, but I'll keep it up for what's still useful and for the historical interest.

    Immediate Problems

    Is DCYF knocking at your door?

    Read the rest of this page later. First, read about how to handle their first contact and then come back here for the rest of the story.

    Are you the non-charged parent?

    [New!] I've completely changed my mind about fit parent hearings. Don't do it! Submit this Notice to Court by Non-Abused Parent document instead. I'll revise the page on fit parent rights as soon as I can. I'll make a cheat sheet to take to court with you at the first hearing so you know what to do as well. As well as adding a new page on how you can custody of your kid and other stuff. Working as fast as I can. June 2020.

    If you need to, you also file this Second Notice to the Court regarding DCYF's admission that they don't consider you a party to the case - meaning that the court makes orders concerning your parental rights because they refused your request for discovery."

    Just make sure you ask for discovery in writing, after asking them orally - new pages coming out about that eventually. This discovery request is NOT a request under RSA 170-G-8-a. You are entitled to all the information in the file.

    [Old] If your spouse or significant other got a petition, you NEED to check out the page on fit parent's rights.

     In the meantime, if you already have an order for supervised visitation, check out this page on how to protect your right to privacy as you litigate your right to custody. 

    Do you need to find an attorney in your state?

    The most common question I'm asked when folks take the time to contact me is how to find an attorney in their state. The second most common question is if I can represent someone in a state other than New Hampshire, and the answer is "no."  This page has some helpful (I hope) hints.

    Recent updates

    For regular visitors, here are the recent changes to this site:

    2020 June 24 - This is curious - Ann Marie Moynihan turned her experience through the NH system into a PhD thesis. A 232 page (double spaced) thesis, Structural Violence in the New Hampshire Family Court System: An Autoethnographic Exploration. I'm not sure about the autoethnographic part (there's a description), but the saga is interesting. Along the way she discovered there are Double Binds and Orders of Impossibility. No surprise there!

    [Update, July 11] - See my critique of Moynihan's thesis based on my experiences.

    2007 April 28 - As a result of my page on my client - I wrote an entire new page on father's rights!

    2007 March 30 - My new campaign is to stamp out judges who ignore the LAW in their rulings. I can't really stamp them out, of course.  Nor does it appear that the New Hampshire Supreme Court will hold them to any account.  This will eventually turn into a new directory off of this page.  I still haven't decided whether to concentrate on the issue of father's being denied justice in the courts or the failure of the judiciary to apply the law and give folks justice.  Every case will wind up getting its own index page.

    Funny how my comment of June last year talked about my new scanner being my latest toy.  Between the scanner and Youtube, there are some powerful new ways to tell one's story about the court system.

    The first such story is about my client David Johnson.  As of 30 March, 2007, he is sitting a custodial parent sitting in jail for failure to pay child support to the non-custodial, and quite marginal mother.  His case is out of the Derry Family Division.  Until I get this all on a separate web page, you can start the story  here.

    David thinks that  Master Philip Cross and Judge Sadler of the Derry Family Division working hard to ruin his young child's life.   He  is sitting in jail as of this date on civil contempt.

    So far as I can tell there are a few irregularities in the case file that led to this.  The fact that my client has accussed NH Attorney L. Jonathan Ross of Wiggin and Nourie of lying to the court kind of makes it more fun.  And I get to use my scanner and  Youtube <> to tell the story.   A new challenge to be sure.   If the story outrages you, feel free to complain to the NH House Judiciary Committeee, the NH Senate Judiciary Committee, the NH House Child and Family Law Committee, Judge Kelly, (Family Division Administration) the Executive Counsel (they approve judicial appointments), or anyone else in the state.   There's more than one way to hold the government accountable, and Youtube has made us all "members of the press." 

    Links of interest that will eventually hang off the new web page on David's case:

    2006 - June 12 - I'm cleaning out the office.  Look below for some new PDF files from original documentation, including a controversial, and eventually rescinded DCYF "Court and Legal Handbook."   High speed scanners are my new favorite toy.   High speed scanning a dot-matrix printed document just seems weird.

    About Paula Werme

    About the Law Practice


    The viewing of material from this site, the exchange of mail, and/or other communications with Paula J. Werme, Esq. does not constitute or create an attorney-client relationship with Ms. Werme. Ms. Werme makes no representation or warranty regarding the resources or other professionals to which or from which this site is linked. The information at this site is provided as a public service. However, it may not be relevant to your situation and is not intended to replace a thorough and proper consultation with a competent and experienced attorney.

    Contact Information is in separate WWW page.

    Index of local  pages 

    This section is undergoing a major re-write.  Some links may not work.  2006, March. Contact me for more information. 

    If a Petition is Filed

    Father's Rights in New Hampshire

    A useful guide for the fathers not involved in the child protection system!  Really!

    How to find an attorney

    Vague laws can be unconstitutional

    My library of important reference books

    Right of non-offending parent

    Adoption of children in DCYF custody

    Trying to get the Court Appointed Attorney of your choice

    Secret Courts on Their Way Out?

    If You are Under Investigation

    First Contact

    Home visits  and the 4th Amendment


    Stories about DCYF interactions

    My involvement with the Professional Conduct Committee


    Quick Law Finder

    Federal Law:

    CAPTA - Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act  (1974) - Nixon, if you're interested, although my recollection is that this was Mondale's baby.    Kind of makes you think twice about voting Democrat.   A good legislative history of child abuse laws is here.

    A Heritage Organization article on successes and failures of CAPTA is here.

    Three other articles critiquing CAPTA are located here.

    The Adoption & Safe Families Act  - Clinton

    Keeping Children & Familys Safe Act     Judd Gregg had some major influence in helping to keep CASA in the mix  for appointment of Guardians ad Litem.   Having now taken both the CASA GAL training and the new training offered by the Guardian ad Litem Board, I can say that the GAL training now offered through the GAL board is much, much better.  CASA must have quite a nice relationship with Judd Gregg..  They do spend a lot of time talking with legislators.   Kind of makes me think twice about voting  Republican as well.    Are you listening legislators?    

    NH Law:

    RSA 168-A - NH Uniform Act on Paternity.  If you're a father who needs to establish paternity to enforce your parental rights, you need to read this, and file a paternity petition with the Superior Court.  In most RSA 169-C hearings, the judge will make a judicial finding that the father is the father based on DNA evidence.  That finding will NOT get your name on your child's birth certificate.  You need to file  the paternity petition separately!  
    RSA 169-C, the NH Child Protection Act (1997) - Clinton (2003) - Bush II - what can I say?   Read the definitions of abuse and neglect.  It's the most important thing in the statute.  The definitions are vague, which is part of the problem.

    Statutory History of RSA 169-B, the Delinquency Act, RSA 169-C, the Child Protection Act, and RSA 169-D, the "Child in Need of Protection Act.   All 90 pages of it, as it was originally passed.

     Additional Statutory History of RSA 169-C.  HB 1174, 1989, if you're interested.  It'a when they took attorneys away from kids and gave them GAL's as the default.  I forget why I needed it in the first place.

    RSA 170-A - The Interstate Compact on the  Placement of Children.  Many fathers who live out of state wind up being asked to do a "home study" before being permitted to have their "fit parent" hearing in the NH Courts.  This law does NOT apply to out of state "placement" with parents!   It ONLY applies to placement of children out of state for adoption or foster care.   See RSA  170-A:1,  Article III (a).  

    RSA 170-C, the Termination of Parental Rights Act

    RSA 170-G:8-a, Parent's right to DCYF records

    RSA 170-G:8-aa - timeline for DCYF to give you your records 

    RSA 170-G:3 - Commissioner Powers & Duties - breathtaking  in scope and vagueness. 

    RSA  570-A - the wiretapping statute.   I love their definition of "oral communication." 

      II. "Oral communication" means any oral communication uttered by a person exhibiting an expectation that such communication is not subject to interception under circumstances justifying such expectation. " 

    They did that so cops could wire anyone in a public place or at the police station without getting into trouble!   

    Court Protocols for the Processing of Abuse and Neglect Petitions -  no child abuse or neglect defense attorneys were asked to be on the committee writing the protocols, so they're not very constitutionally sensitive, if you get my drift.  I'm told that some defense attorneys were consulted before they were finalized, but I don't see where they had much influence.  Most court rules are subject to the rule making procedure., which include a period of public comment and published hearing schedules.   Oops, they forgot.

    In the same vein as forgetting to invite actual child abuse defense attorneys to help promulgate the rules for the processing of abuse and neglect petitions, DCYF used to have a "Court and Legal Handbook."  

    Story behind this - after it got out I was interested in DCYF defense, I got some calls from what I thought were nut cases, telling me that DCYF had a "secret" handbook that made it official policy for them to wine and dine judges.   I heard it from several folks, but only a couple had claimed to have seen it, and they were among those I deemed probably nut cases. . . . so I did a "Right to Know."    Golly gee, they weren't nuts at all.  It's in there.

    I put the most offensive stuff on my web page elsewhere, and filed the rest.   I got a high speed scanner last week in an effort to help clean up the office.   The difference between 1996 and 2006 - it took about 20 minutes to scan and upload the thing in its entirety.   Most offensive stuff is right around pp. 20 - 23 if I recall, but the entire thing is interesting.   Some days it certainly feels as though iti's still in effect.  But not always.

    - a continual source of surprise.   My current feeling is that they're like the nursery rhyme about the little girl "with  a curl right in the middle of her forehead.  When she was good, she was very very good, but when she was bad she was horrid!"   If you get one with some brains, it doesn't hurt, but if you get a bad one, your life can be miserable in terms of having to write motions to tell them to read their own job description.   You can guess by this description  where I stand the night I'm writing this.   I told one client I was going to write a MOTION TO REMOVE CASA FOR BEING TOO STUPID TO DO THE JOB.   One of these days I'll have the nerve to put it at the top of the motion.  

    A guardian ad litem, or CASA guardian ad litem's job is to advocate for the "best interest" of "abused and neglected" children.  My own training manual from CASA years ago says right in it that there is little to do until there is actually an abused or neglected child via an adjudication.   I have huge problems with that when there is an uncharged parent who is presumed fit to act in the best interest of the child constitutionally, but that's on the fit parent page.   So why is this <insert expletive of choice here> writing a motion saying he has to SEE a kid pre-adjudication?  

    At any rate, the "objective third party" who is apponted to be Guardian ad Litem has a "Mutual Agreement of Understanding" with DCYF - basically to work together.   So much for  "independent."   Can't these folks see it's the same as a judge or other mediator who has a financial stake in a positive outcome for the other side?     Even kids can see it!   I'll never forget one savy pre-teen who, when the CASA introduced herself and said that she wasn't  on "DCYF's side," asked her point blank  "Then why are you sitting with them? "  The wisdom of babes. . . .  CASA gets an entire page at some point, but I have to get more materials scanned.

    The NH Guardian ad Litem Board -  recently created under statutory law, all guardians ad litem will be responsible to take the new training (or the CASA training, which is virtually devoid of any instruction on parental rights).  The GAL board will be involved with the discipline of GALs, which is a good thing.  It was all done through the Administrative judge of the District Courts before, and they love CASA so much, it was a waste of time.   I'll write a better page on the nature of the fundamental rights of parents to make decisions in their kid's best interest some day, but for now, see the listing  at the left.

    While I'm at it, if you want to file a complaint on your attorney, the information on the Attorney Discipline System is here.  The most common question I get from my telephone calls is "Is my attorney doing a good job?"  Unfortunately, I generally have to tell folks that many attorneys don't do as much as I do based on the low pay for court appointed counsel in New Hampshire.  The rate, which hasn't been increased since 1992, is $60 per hour with a dollar max of $1200 per case.  It can be increased for complicated cases, but it's no where near the time I spend on legal research.   That doesn't pay for much legal research.  In some cases, I find that the attorneys aren't even reading the statute, however, and that should be grounds for a complaint.

    DCYF Advisory Board Minutes, annotated by me.

    Links to other state's child abuse laws

    Link to This site working mostly to refom child custody laws in NH on behalf of fathers.  It's also important work.  If you're fighting for rights in the context of a custody case, they have information. 

    Other Legal links

    2005 March -  I gathered a lot of information together for the Governor's Efficiency Commmission study of DCYF.   They never finished their work because after the first visit, the Commission members agreed that DCYF was controlling the flow of information in their office visits to the point of choreographing and it was useless to go in again if DCYF planned the visit.   Just about any publicly linked information on DCYF is available off of this page.   I also explain why I think much of the information is invalid as a measure of DCYF's true performance.  The bottom line is that  most  studies or audits don't measure what's important when measuring the performance of a government organization.   If you're lookinig for statistics or audit results, here's a good starting point.

    DCYF in the news I track it, so I figured why shouldn't it be available? It will be updated rather irregularly.

    2004 May, DCYF Advisory Board Minutes from January, 2002 - February, 2004.  Highlighted for areas they originally redacted from the minutes they sent me!   Tsk, tsk.   Violating the NH Right to Know law!

    Other Information links of interest

    The following are links outside of my WWW hierarchy. Some do not reflect my beliefs, some have unsubstantiated opinions. is run by Barbara C. Johnson, a lawyer in Massachusetts. Her site is Massachusetts centric, but has a number of links to other states and will collect more over time. Her site has more information on polygraph systems (lie detectors) than any other I know.

    Greg Hession is another Massachusetts lawyer. Among other things, he has tried mightily to reunite the Howard family. Massachusett's DSS is a tough opponent, but he keeps at it. He is also working on a class action lawsuit against DSS.

    National Coalition for Child Protection Reform is the result. Their focus is on building a high level dialog, not on individual cases.

    The Preble Law Firm site has information on that and other cases.

    Florida has a group called the A-Team that offers links to some services, some which New Hampshire people could use.

    Washington State was home to a nightmare called "The Wenatchee Witch Hunt".

    The Alliance for Non-Custodial Parents Rights (ANCPR) is a nonprofit Corporation dedicated to promoting and protecting the civil rights of non-custodial parents and their families with respect to such issues as child support enforcement, visitation, shared parenting and joint custody. Their collection of case law is a big time saver and has links to some Supreme Court decisions.

    Center for Parental Responsibility is run by my good friends I met in Minnesota.  Their focus is on non-custodial father's rights, but if every state has a group this good devoted to reforming child abuse laws, we'd have the problems fixed!   Molly is very professional, and the Minnesota group has made great strides in influencing the legislature to look critically at non-custodial parental rights. 

    The Fathers' Rights to Custody organization has this list of good and bad lawyers and GALs. Last I checked, they had one page of good and three of bad. Feel free to make your own submissions to the list.

    The Reason Public Policy Institute has a good analysis called Child Protection at the Crossroads: Child Abuse, Child Protection, and Recommendations for Reform

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families gathers this data on child abuse statistics for each year. For New Hampshire in 1997, they report that 9,015 referrals were made for investigation, 1,092 were substantiated, and 824 perpetrators were identified. It would be interesting to see a breakdown of the the 8,000 unsubstantiated reports and why they were made in the first place. It would also be interesting to see how many perpetrators abuse/neglected multiple children and in how many cases no one was accused of being the perpetrator. Yes, your children can be taken with no one being charged with abuse or neglect!

    Related to the above, The National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information has a large database of synopses of books and articles that may offer good pointers.

    Cornell University has a large WWW presence devoted to prevention of child abuse, including a  document archive and used to host the International Society for Preventaion of Child Absue and Neglect.

    Stephen Baskerville's web site.   His book Taken into Custody is amazing.   I would recommend it to everyone before having children, or in particular, men in the midst of a marital break up that involves children.   

    Organizations with national scope

    The Family Rights Association is an eclectic group of lawyers, victims, and others interested in stopping unwarranted government intervention into peoples' lives.

    The National Child Abuse Defense and Resource Center is a wonderful organization that works tirelessly to assist attorneys defending child abuse cases.  If you're an attorney who has no idea where to find an expert for a child abuse defense, call them! has a good summary.

    ASPAC (American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children) is a non-profit organization coming up with standards for investigating child abuse claims. is maintained by a California law firm, but has information of national interest. The lawyer registry offers many more legal links. The site is accessible only via Javascript, without it you will get a blank page.

    Other resources

    I mentioned Osteogenesis Imperfecta above. The Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation is the best resource for help and information about dealing with this genetic disease. They even have pages on OI being misdiagnosed as abuse. The problem with allegations of multiple broken bones is that it takes 4 months to get back the first test they do to test for the disease.  The second (DNA test) takes longer. Even if both tests are negative, some cases of OI do not cause positive test results. ANY attorney that lets their case go to trial without testing in the presence of multiple broken bones but no other injury is not doing his or her client a favor!

    DCYF has alleged Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy which is when a parent, usually mother, injures a child to gain recognition by bringing the child in for medical attention. This is often a faulty diagnosis, sometimes with tragic results. MAMA, Mothers Against Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy Allegations is an organization to correct the misperceptions and their results.

    Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-anon and Al-ateen are worldwide organizations that offer self-help recovery programs for families and friends of alcoholics whether or not the alcoholic seeks help or even recognizes the existence of a drinking problem.

    More information about DCYF

    The above link goes to my husband's WWW pages. It has information and observations about DCYF that are of general interest and were culled from many public sources. It also has links to some state and personal web sites that are not included below. It is not central to my practice. In general, pages with this background pattern are my pages and contain information I can readily defend in court.

    Contact Paula  Werme

    Last updated 2020 July 11