New Haven parental alienation case ends with a deal….
July 18, 2013 § Leave a comment
NEW HAVEN — At the very end of another long and emotional day at the courthouse for their parental alienation dispute, Jerry Mastrangelo and his ex-wife, Trudianne Formica, Monday reached an agreement to finally settle the case.
The back-and-forth negotiations, conducted behind closed doors and interspersed with hallway consultations, culminated in an agreement announcement at 6:15 p.m. The courthouse was kept open late to resolve the issue.
Attorney Norm Pattis, who represents Mastrangelo and writes a column for the New Haven Register, refused to provide a New Haven Register reporter with a copy of the agreement because he did not wish to antagonize Formica’s attorneys.
Mastrangelo said he could only make this comment: “I’m glad this is finally over. I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my life.”
According to details obtained by the New Haven Register, the agreement specifies Mastrangelo can no longer talk publicly about the case and he has to take down billboards referring to parental alienation. Both sides also agreed to another round of reunification thearapy involving the kids.
Mastrangelo went to court because he alleged Formica had kept him from seeing their triplets, now 13, and had turned them against him.
He sought a court order that would force Formica to follow the recommendations of the court-mandated reunification therapist, so he could spend time with the kids.
Mastrangelo also wanted a court order requiring Formica to pay his legal fees and other costs, which he said totaled about $250,000.
Mastrangelo had been scheduled to testify at 10 a.m. Monday and a tape was to be shown depicting his happy times with his kids before the parents’ estrangement.
At least two dozen of his supporters had assembled in Superior Court, wearing tags showing a photo of Mastrangelo with the triplets and carrying the message: “parental alienation is child abuse.”
But he never testified. Instead, settlement negotiations began and lasted throughout the morning and afternoon.
A technician brought in by Mastrangelo to show the tape did screen a few minutes of it during a recess at the request of Mastrangelo’s family.
Technical problems halted the showing but the initial segment contained photos of Mastrangelo and his kids on family outings and parties, to the tune of the Beatles’ “In My Life.” The photos included them swimming with dolphins in Cancun.
While Mastrangelo waited in a courtroom corridor mid-morning, he said, “The problem is the system has let me down. The professionals did nothing.”
His suggestions for reforming the legal system in such cases included: financial sanctions to force a parent to bring the kids to court-ordered therapy sessions; court contempt charges if this is not done; and awarding legal custody to the deserving parent in such cases.
If these measures were taken, Mastrangelo said, “Things would change quickly.”
Mastrangelo has said he has not seen his kids in 2 1/2 years but charts brought to the courtroom Monday showed the kids did make it to some therapy sessions within that time frame. Another poster was from an outing he had with his two sons in May 2012 when he took them to a Boston Celtics game. Each son signed the poster, thanking their dad for taking them.
At 4:45 p.m., as the courtroom staff was preparing for the 5 p.m. closing, Pattis told Judge Mark Gould that only one party had signed a proposed agreement. But Gould arranged to have Judge James Kenefick Jr. agree to the settlement if it could be reached within the following hour or so.
Just before 6 p.m., Pattis came to Keneflick’s courtroom with Formica’s attorneys, Martha Wieler and Thomas Esposito as well as attorney Lynn Pellegrino, who is the children’s guardian and Anne Epstein, attorney for the children, to announce they had reached an agreement.
All of them told Keneflick they believed the agreement was “in the best interests of the children.”
Keneflick noted one clause of the agreement: “Both parties will absorb their own legal costs.”
Keneflick also read out loud a provision that Mastrangelo “retains the right to write about his children” on Facebook. Pattis noted, “He just can’t write about Dr. (Richard) Formica,” Trudianne’s husband.
When Pattis asked Mastrangelo if he understood “there’s no turning back” once he agreed to the settlement, Mastrangelo said he did. But when Pattis then asked him if he was willing to enter into the agreement, Mastranagelo was silent for nearly a full minute before softly saying, “Yes.”