Family Law Nightmare: Alienated Teens Disappear, Mom Says She Knows Nothing

GEO CASUALLegal experts say that most spouses settle their matrimonial differences consensually despite resentment and hard feelings that linger, yet for the sake of their children and their sensible desire to avoid court proceedings and the enormous costs, life carries on and the family makes the necessary adjustments.

However, law books and judicial dockets still abound with high conflict cases where extreme positions rule and one or both parties’ hatred and anger escalates to crisis levels.

A family in Minnesota now enters Lawdiva’s “Family Nightmares” Hall of Fame. As is typical, the divorce between Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and David Rucki got off to a bad start after the first court orders Sandra obtained in May 2011, including full custody of their five children and $13,000 a month in child and spousal support, were set aside as fraudulent.

In September 2011 Judge David Knutson ordered a new trial ruling there was “sufficient evidence showing that Ms. Grazzini-Rucki defrauded Mr. Rucki and the idea that the father would agree to those divorce terms was “beyond belief””. Apparently, Ms.Rucki obtained the earlier orders by alleging her husband agreed to them.

From there it grew even uglier. Ms. Rucki now alleged that her husband had abused their two eldest daughters ages 13 and 15, who were living with her, pending the new trial. In preparation for the fresh trial Judge Knutson ordered the daughters to see psychologist Dr. Paul Reitman. In 2012 Dr. Reitman recommended the girls be put into foster care. His report to the court highlighted the mother’s tragically successful parental alienation. He wrote that the girls were “depressed and browbeaten” and required “deprogramming”.

In October 2012 Judge Knutson ordered Ms. Grazzini-Rucki to leave the family home and the girls were ordered to reside with their aunt, Nancy Olsen, who was to share temporary custody with Mr. Rucki’s sister, Tammy Love. Neither parent was to contact the children.

In April 2013 Ms. Rucki’s sister, Ms. Olsen, advised the court she was no longer able to take care of the girls and Judge Knutson ordered them to reside with their father’s sister in the family home. On April 19, 2013 the girls arrived back at the family home for several hours before they escaped from the basement of the home, never to be seen again by the court or their father.

In November 2013 the court granted full custody of the children to Mr. Rucki with supervised visitation to Ms. Rucki, necessary because “the court was concerned she would abduct the children if she is allowed unsupervised parenting time with them.” Judge Knutson found that Ms. Rucki had intentionally alienated her two eldest daughters from their father and her testimony at court about their whereabouts was “uncooperative and obstructionist”.

Mr. Rucki described the disappearance of his daughters as “worse than death” as he cares for the three youngest children on his own.

The media reported that an independent witness saw the girls get into their mother’s car after running from the family home. The girls also contacted a local television station saying they were afraid of their father. Ms Rucki continues to deny knowledge of the children’s disappearance or their current location.

Sandra Grazzini-Rucki portrays herself as the victim of a corrupted court system. Blog “Carver County Corruption” describes her dilemma:

“Since then Sandra has lost all custody of her children, her home, vehicles, assets, even her personal belonging were awarded to her ex husband. She has not been allowed to see her children in almost a year for reasons unknown. Her two oldest daughters are runaways since April of 2013 due to severe abuse by their father, therapist and court appointed custodial guardian. Judge David Knutson has violated all of Sam Grazzini-Rucki`s constitutional rights and refuses to remove himself from this case due to obvious bias to the ex husband and his lawyer.”

The girls, now 15 and 17 years old, have been gone for two years. To date, no criminal charges have been laid. As I have said repeatedly, parental alienation is the worst form of child abuse. Ms. Rucki: How on earth could this be in your children’s best interests?

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

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6 thoughts on “Family Law Nightmare: Alienated Teens Disappear, Mom Says She Knows Nothing

  1. As an equal parenting activist, I don’t enjoy stories in the press about extreme alienators who engage in criminal behavior and harm their children. Bad cases make bad law, and family law, to me, is covered with evidence of bureaucrats covering their butts and thinking the worst about the very people that they are forcing into desperate battle. A system like this is bound to do harm! Natural parents, even in conflicted divorces, are much better parents than any gang of unaccountable black robes or social worker minions. Bad cases could make people forget about the overwhelming majority of ordinary, good parents and think that the family court horrors are unavoidable.

    No matter how smart you are, you almost certainly can’t be prepared for people who are mentally ill and have irrational ideas. An alienator just about has to be mentally ill, and will have extreme views of the relationships and situations in the family that differ factually from what ordinary observers will see. Alienator behavior is likely to be unpredictable to people attempting to manage the situation, because a rational observer has a hard time accepting that the alienator really believes what he or she is saying.

    Under the pressure of a custody battle, many or most ordinarily healthy people will develop mental illness, including alienator behavior. This is the only way I’ve seen it — in people I’ve peer-counseled when I was with HEART years ago. It’s normal, and people typically get over it when they’ve had time to adjust to the pressure or when some of the problems have been resolved. Have you ever changed your mind about something? That’s all it takes, though it doesn’t always come easily. Fortunately, the sicker, incurable alienators are also rare.

  2. The Family Court has, in essence, become a “suspect” in this kidnapping. Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s allegations are severe – she claims her ex husband abused the children, and claims that the family court system failed to protect her children from abuse, and put her children’s lives at risk. She says her rights were violated, and the judge took the law into his own hands. If Sandra is apprehended, that will likely become her defense.

    But is there any merit to these claims? Given the circumstances, I think an investigated of Judge Knutson, and the family court practices, is warranted. I am NOT supporting anyone who breaks the law but wondering if something happening in the family court system is destabilizing families, and intensifying intra-family conflict.

    There are other families in Minnesota, across the nation, and even all over the world who feel that the family court system is flawed, and that its decisions often place children in the custody of abusive or otherwise unfit parents. Unjust custody decisions are happening to both men and women, people of all socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. Fit, loving parents are being stripped of custody, and are being forcibly separated from children.

    I am not here to defend Sandra, but as an observer, and someone who’s grandkids has been taken unjustly… I am hoping this case will raise attention to family court issues,and spur a needed discussion on how the court can improve it’s ability to serve families.

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