The Ambrose Papers #4: Follow the Money, Not the Children, as CT Family Court Guardian Jocelyn Hurwitz, of Cohen and Wolf, Does!

Jocelyn Hurwitz of Cohen and Wolf has recommended that the father, Chris Ambrose have full custody of the children.

This is Part 4 of our ongoing series, the Ambrose Papers. It is an astonishing story of how the Family Court system in Connecticut could unravel a family and upend the lives of three adopted children without, what anyone in any other court of justice would call, the slightest trace of due process.

The system permitted in the divorce and custody battle between TV screenwriter Chris Ambrose, the father, and his wife, former special education teacher and longtime stay-at-home mother, Karen Riordan, a completely lopsided decision to exclude the mother from the children’s lives and hand them to the father without regard for the children’s oft stated wishes and without evidence that the mother is unfit to do what she had done their entire lives — almost always without the father – raise the children..

The children are 14, 14 and 11. They were removed from their mother, who raised them every single day of their lives, on April 24, 2020 – some 18 months ago. They are still crying to be heard. They want to go home, home being wherever their mother is.

[Above] Mia, Sawyer and Matthew, when they were  under the care of their mother.

For those who have not read the earlier installments in this series, here are the links:

The Ambrose Papers Part 1: ‘Secrets and Lies’: TV Writer Chris Ambrose and the Connecticut Family Court Puts Children in Danger

The Ambrose Papers Part 2: Children Cry Out for Escape From Father; Nobody Listens

The Ambrose Papers # 3: TV Writer Bought Influence in Connecticut Family Court; Cohen and Wolf Lawyer Jocelyn Hurwitz Gets Results for Bad Dad as Children Suffer

Slow-By-Slow

I have been studying this case quite a bit, and I see now that there are at least 50 more stories to write. The injustice is blatant, but it requires explanation. No one at first will believe what happened here, for to believe it is to lose confidence in the family court system in Connecticut.

It is that egregious. I know that. That is why I have to do what I have done before; continue to reveal evidence, and explain it carefully. Give the mother and children a voice, and, with the slow, patient ear, listen, then discern, then tell the truth. .

It is important not only for these children, to return them to their mother, if not exclusively, at least with responsible shared custody, and to expose what happened. In this case, children were ruthlessly made bereft of their mother.

I do not think the Ambrose case is unique.  I suspect it is going on elsewhere in family  court in Connecticut, quite possibly elsewhere, in other family courts in other states. The Ambrose case is most likely a model of what is wrong with family court.

Follow the Money

Because decisions over the lives and welfare of children are decided by people making money off the decisions, and that they can make more money by making certain decisions, the influence of money has insinuated itself into the process.

This is not much of a leap of faith to believe. Everyone knows the courts favor those with money. We see it clearly in criminal cases. A defendant without money is sometimes as good as convicted. An affluent defendant has the chance at decent legal representation and his innocence can prevail in a verdict.  It’s the way it works.

What makes the family court system worse, is the government is unchecked by a jury.  At least, when an innocent, poor defendant is charged in a criminal case, he has some chance of overcoming the awesome might of the government by appealing to 12 of his own — the jury, who are not paid and who cannot make more money based on their verdict.

The family court is the best example of why we need juries.  If any jury of 12 heard the evidence in the child custody dispute between Karen Riordan and Chris Ambrose, the result would be different. The jury is the deterrent to reckless government.

Instead, we have an all powerful judge who makes decisions of custody based on what paid attorneys, paid guardians ad litem, appointed by the judge, and their paid experts recommend.

Money has entered into the marrow of Family Court. Whether this is a subtle influence that ruins justice or whether it is open, known and notorious, is something to investigate.

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The Guardian Drives Custody

A few things are certain: The children did not want to leave their mother and live with their father. They made that abundantly clear.

The court-appointed guardian for the children, the guardian ad litem, attorney Jocelyn Hurwitz, a partner in the law firm of Cohen and Wolf has billed more than $175,000 for her services in this case.  She bills at $400 per hour and, as she claims in her retainer agreement, this hourly rate is a 20 percent discount over her usual $500 per hour fee.

The guardian ad litem is the court-appointed protector of the children.

In the Ambrose case, Hurwitz asked for an initial retainer of $7,500 and her retainer is clearly written so as to assume minimal participation in resolving the matter, saying she would meet at least once with the parents and at least once with children, couching her language in minimums, never maximums.

The guardian ad litem, an attorney with Cohen and Wolf,  Jocelyn Hurwitz. If she is recommended to be the guardian on your family court matter, and you consent to let this wolf in sheep’s clothing into your life, watch to see if her decisions follow the road to maximum billings. With Hurwitz, follow the money, not the children.

What Hurwritz did, it seems, is that, once she understood that the mother would never voluntarily quit her role as primary caretaker,, but she had no money, [and she naively trusted in law and justice] and the father controlled the money, [and was worldly wise, looking to avoid huge child support payments] the opportunity to fashion a win, win existed – with the father.

The chance to bill enormously existed, but that billing is dependent on one custody recommendation – custody to the father, exclude the mother.

This is a bold and brash statement to make against an attorney admitted to the bar, Jocelyn Hurwitz Esq.. It is a blunt statement to make, since Hurwitz’s billings go into the general fund of her law firm, Cohen and Wolf, a prestigious firm of some 45 lawyers, a firm known for wanting to win, a firm who, some say, are just as sharp a bunch of sharpies as exist in all of Connecticut, who compete tooth and nail, pen and sword, hard and furious, below or above the deck, to make sure each of them get 2000 hours of annual billings [and woe to the partner who fails].

To say that any one of them would be driven by money over the interests of children, is a hard thing to say. That an attorney could game the system to accomplish this was impossible for Karen Riordan to believe, at first.

For Chris Ambrose, a lawyer who had written for TV shows like Law and Order, Family Law, Judging Amy, Harry’s Law and others, before he made his career into shambles by getting caught plagiarizing, he knew.

He understood how the real world works.

Most people do not think the world could operate this way. But the law firm Cohen and Wolf says truthfully on their website, “Count on a firm that intently focuses on the small details while never losing sight of the big picture.”

Hurwitz, in her role as guardian ad litem, never missed a detail ever so small that allowed her to get involved in the minutest matter, at $400 per hour.

I would wager that from the day she arrived and saw the score, the father had money, mother had the intense need to protect her children, that Hurwitz discerned the big picture and never lost sight of it.

With $175,000 in billings so far [all to be paid by the father since he controls the marital assets, after he locked the mother out of their accounts] and with at least as much or more billings to come in the future, so long as the mother cannot see her children, since she will never give up, Hurwtiz is in the driver’s seat and this is a gravy train.

She knows the father is a practical man. He has always agreed to allowing Hurwitz to bill more hours. It is practical, for whatever he pays to Hurwitz as the children’s guardian, he will save in the end in whopping child support and alimony.

Yes, guardian Hurwitz sees the big and small picture with astounding clarity.

Read her retainer. Look at the language. Imagine if she had told the mother then that there would be $175,000 in billings and the case not half concluded. The sum, $175,000 represents 437 hours of her work on the case. That is a far cry from “at least one visit with the parents” and “at least one visit with the children.”

Take My Psychologist, Please

It is a simple formula. Family Court Judge Jane Grossman appoints Hurwitz as guardian ad litem. The guardian starts billing hard. To execute maximum billings, she plans to arrange to remove the mother from the family. To get the optics covered, she refers a psychologist who will do a custody evaluation report, which will lead to a baseless “determination” that the children should go with the father.

Enter the quack.

The psychologist chosen was Jessica Biren-Caverly. She has worked with guardians ad litem before. This is her living.  Being recommended by guardians to do custody evaluations is her bread and butter. And the record shows she knows which side to apply the butter.

The judge in turn sides with the recommendation of the guardian ad litem backed by the psychologist. But not at once. A number of hearings, court appointments, motions, and of course the trial must occur. But the result is a forgone conclusion

The literal result of the process is that, as it has been in this case, that three women in a room decide the fate of three children.

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Stay tuned for Part #5/


About the author

Frank Parlato

16 Comments

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  • My daughter needs help, the courts have taken my daughter from me because the dad has money and we don’t, after the 5-year-old girl at the time was sexually abused by her dad. PLEASE HELP

  • She is clearly a bottom feeder. Note that she does not have the backing of her own law firm, but is instead on her own and getting paid directly by Ambrose. In what world does a putatively independent GAL get all her pay from one and only one of the litigants. That’s a complete conflict of interest on its face.

  • Small but significant point. Jocelyn Hurwitz is not appearing for the firm of Cohen & Wolf. She is appearing under her own name and her own juris number. This is a practice that should raise an eyebrow. In 2005, ABSOLUTE IMMUNITY was conferred upon Guardians Ad Litem (GALs) by the Connecticut State Supreme Court. The immunity however does not apply to the law firm, only to the lawyer appointed by the court.

    The firm does not act in this guardian ad litem matter, despite invoices that suggest otherwise.

    So, there is probably not a chunk of this change being shared with the partners. However, it is not as if Jocelyn gets it all. I think a large chunk of it has to go to the judges.

    Most people were unaware that Cohen and Wolf even does family law. Looks like it is Jocelyn’s little boutique operation.

    In all cases in which Jocelyn has an appearance as a GAL, it is needless to say, these parents have money.

    Cohen and Wolf have only appeared in one family case, which concluded three years ago. So simply put, Cohen and Wolf does not do family law. Jocelyn runs around doing GAL work for the suspected pedophile ring, under her own license. Easy money as they say.

    Probably not even going thru the firm’s books. They simply do not have a family law group.

    • Can you explain how this works? When I looked up Jocelyn Hurwitz up – (as I did – and found all she does with her law license is perform the role of GAL – red flag) it shows 406765 A
      JOCELYN B HURWITZ
      (Admitted:12/11/1992)
      Current Status: Active
      COHEN & WOLF PC
      1115 BROAD STREET
      P. O. BOX 1821
      BRIDGEPORT, CT 06601-1821

      Why is she listed with Cohen & Wolf and why is her retainer agreement with cohen& wolf letterhead, if she is not practicing in the capacity of a Cohen and Wolf attorney?

      What is her Cohen & Wolf juris number? How would I go about finding that?

      Why is it, do you know, that it currently appears Jocelyn Hurwitz is the GAL on five cases with that same attorney as the Ambrose father – Nancy Aldrich?

      She doesn’t charge sliding scale fees. If parents are given 15 guardians to choose from, how is it she’s partnered with Nancy Aldrich five times on the current docket?

      What do you know about Aldrich? I read she took kids from a mother with Judge Adelman. Same with Judge Ambrose now. Thanks for your help.

  • You better start focusing on Judge Grossman and Judge Adelman. The judges of the family court under the administrative leadership of Judge Michael Albis. These are the real villains. Some focus on the Chief Justice of the judiciary Richard Robinson. Leaving out a lot of the players. Granted you are focused on Ambrose, but he is not the shot caller.

    • Why do you think Ambrose is pushing through trial? 30 days of trial under Adelman. If Ambrose isn’t the shot caller, why won’t he let his children see their mother? Why wouldn’t he settle this? Why is he denying his children their mother?

      There is not a criminal conviction.

      There is not a restraining order!

      The mother has not been deemed unfit nor dangerous. There is a bench ruling of “no-contact”

      Even restraining orders can be challenged after six months. Judicial discretion of an indefinite no-contact order is criminal itself! It violates Connecticut and federal statutes.

      Criminals hiding in plain sight- protected by judge alibis and judicial reviews that absolve the bar. There is no law.

  • Jocelyn Hurwitz is the Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) on my case in court right now. I’ve tried to have her removed. I was denied. Please tell your viewers once the GAL is “appointed” there is little chance of ever getting rid of them. She’s destroying my life and that of my children. I need to contact the editors privately because I will suffer the consequences if I open my mouth publicly. I was NEVER given any choice in who the GAL was. Now I know you are supposed to get a list of 15 names. They took me from the start. It just gets worse. Can you PLEASE look into ALL the cases of these people and help us? There is no one within the judicial system that will help. IT’s a known problem but you don’t find out until it’s too late. There was a task force in CT with Mimi Gonzalez, but even with her advocacy, I learned she was forced off the judicial review committee– too much of a challenge. It’s a frightening place to be and there is no way out. Please fight for our children. I will contact you privately.

  • How were the kids taken from the mother? What did she tell them? How is this explained to them? This is very confusing to me.

  • Reminds me of the elder care case (in California, I think) that you reported on previously. And makes me very grateful for my divorce lawyer – I think the outcome for my child would have been much worse without her help. This whole using GAL status as an easy money source is just vile.

    • They need to eliminate GALs altogether. Or use only casa volunteers. They are more qualified in the health and wellness-being of children than most attorneys and will not benefit financially.

      So many solutions have been proposed by heart-broken parents to prevent such trauma to children and families but the judges and attorneys have a system that works for them – nothing is broken – money transferred to their pockets and their children are inheriting the inheritances of motherless children (and less frequently – fatherless children – all by judicial discretion and GAL recommendation).

About Frank Parlato

Frank Parlato Investigates

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg; “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson; “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been featured prominently on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and acted as lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” He was credited in the Starz docuseries, 'Seduced,' for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Parlato has appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest, which was ironic since many credit Parlato as being one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

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