On May 27, Catherine Kassenoff posted on Facebook notice of her upcoming assisted suicide later that day. FR has not confirmed her death and is seeking confirmation, which is expected in the coming week.
From Catherine’s Final Facebook Post:
In the last four years of my life I have woken up every day to a nightmare like no other. I can no longer endure the abuse and terror of Allan Kassenoff, who has spent the last 4 years mercilessly trying to incarcerate me on false charges,
Catherine wrote she had terminal cancer, and could no longer fight the battle against her wealthy husband to see her children.
FR is investigating her divorce and custody case – Kassenoff v Kassenoff – for it is a case like many others in family court, except that it has the tragic result of a mother announcing she is in Switzerland to end her life because of the abuses of family court.
In this post, FR looks at the custody evaluator, Dr. Marc Abrams.
Dr. Marc Abrams
The Power of the Custody Evaluator
In family courts around the nation, the custody evaluator carries enormous power. They write custody reports that judges take as gospel. If the report says the kids should be with mom or dad, the judge sends them there. Judges often exclude contradictory evidence in the jury-less, due-process-less court.
The custody evaluator can flip custody from the primary attachment figure for the children to the parent they fear and distrust. Children can be happy living with their mother in the morning. By afternoon, they can be removed from their home – or, as in the case of Catherine Kassenoff, the court can remove the mother based on the custody evaluation report.
The Profitable Industry of Parental Alienation
Many custody evaluators make their living from “finding” parental alienation. These custody evaluators posit that parental alienation of a father by a mother is worse for children than losing the mother they love.
The late Dr. Richard Gardner “discovered” parental alienation syndrome and its remedy – removal of the mother from the children’s lives until therapists can cure her. Dr. Gardner wrote that a mother who alienates the father causes terrible trauma for the children.
Dr. Richard Gardner’s Influence on Parental Alienation Theory
Gardner authored over 250 books and articles advising mental health professionals and family law attorneys. His theory proved to be a financial bonanza for family law attorneys and therapists, and birthed a new industry – the parental alienation-seeking custody evaluator.
As family law attorneys soon found, if they could successfully implement Dr. Gardner’s theory, affluent fathers would pay enormous fees for the removal of their divorcing wife from their children’s lives.
Through the mere finding of parental alienation, the father gets custody. He can avoid child support and oftentimes alimony. Sometimes the poorer mother must pay child support to the affluent father.
Dr. Gardner’s work is the basis for countless parental alienation decisions that removed mothers in family courts across the nation.
While Dr. Gardner wrote that parental alienation is always traumatic for children, in his 1992 book, “True and False Accusations of Child Sex Abuse,” he wrote, “Sex abuse is not necessarily traumatic; the determinant as to whether sexual molestation will be traumatic to the child is the social attitude toward these encounters.”
He also wrote in the same book, “the child has to be helped to appreciate that we have in our society an exaggeratedly punitive and moralistic attitude about adult-child sexual encounters.”
Dr. Gardner felt society overreacted to child sex abuse.
Catherine Kassenoff: A Mother Removed Based on Evaluation
Catherine with one of her three daughters.
Dr. Marc Abrams, a psychologist imbued with Dr. Gardner’s parental alienation philosophy, was the court-assigned custody evaluator for the Kassenoff children.
Connection Between Judge Lubell and Dr. Abrams
Judge Lewis Lubell, who appointed Dr. Abrams, attended his marriage at his home and officiated the wedding.
Judge Lubell officiated the wedding of Dr. Marc Abrams during the pendency of the Kassenoff case.
Dr. Abrams’ Custody Evaluation Report: Sole Custody for Father
On March 25, 2020, Dr. Abrams issued a custody evaluation report stating Catherine alienated the children from their father. He determined she must not be alone with the children, and that the father, who paid Abrams’ $32,000 fee, plus $400 per hour to testify for him, should have sole custody.
Dr. Abrams felt the kids should remain in the family home with their dad, and Catherine, the children’s primary caretaker all their lives, should move out immediately.
Should she ever see the children, it must be in the presence of one of his colleagues, whose business is to supervise visitation with alienating mothers and their kids for hourly fees that could cost more than $1000 per week.
Catherine’s Alleged “Unspecified Personality Disorder”
Dr. Abrams reported that Catherine appeared to have an “unspecified personality disorder.”
He could not say which personality disorder she “appeared” to have.
There are, among others:
- paranoid personality disorder,
- schizoid personality disorder,
- schizotypal personality disorder,
- antisocial personality disorder,
- borderline personality disorder,
- histrionic personality disorder,
- narcissistic personality disorder,
- avoidant personality disorder,
- dependent personality disorder,
- obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.
While Abrams was unable to speicfy which one he thought Catherine appeared to have, he knew she had one.
Catherine Ordered to Move Out Immediately
Two days after the report, on March 27, 2020, Judge Lubell ordered Catherine removed from her house. No due process. No hearing. No evidence. No trial.
Catherine had to leave the home she co-owned with Allan so quickly she could not pack her belongings. During the COVID pandemic, Catherine was childless and homeless overnight.
The Children’s Lives Drastically Changed, As Allan Gains Control
The children’s lives also changed dramatically. Enforced by the judge, who never met the children, mother and children were separated, based on the report of a man who only briefly met the children.
Catherine was homeless; the children motherless. The father, Allan Kassenoff, an attorney from Greenberg Traurig, whose annual earnings were said in court filings to be around $1 million per year, now had control of the children and the $2 million family home.
Dr. Abrams’ Removal from the Certification Committee
In our next post, we will explore how Dr. Abrams handled the custody evaluation, and how Catherine fought back, filing a complaint against him for misconduct, resulting in his removal from the Mental Health Professional Certification Committee, State of New York, Appellate Division, Supreme Court, First and Second Judicial Departments, as a mental health professional.
While it cost Dr. Abrams a fortune in business, it did not return Catherine to her children.
After being kicked out of her house, where she lived with her children in the village of Larchmont, Catherine, homeless, lived out of her car.
Catherine’s Restraining Order and Forced Relocation
Later, when Catherine rented an apartment in the village, Judge Lubell signed a restraining order, requiring her to be more than one mile away from her children. Since the Village of Larchmont is one mile by one-mile square, and her kids lived in the family home in Larchmont, the one mile requirement forced Catherine to move out of her apartment and not set foot in the village.
FR will explore what led to Abrams’ removal, and how Judge Lubell disqualified himself in the aftermath.
Scrutiny on the Kassenoff Case
As readers know, it availed Catherine nothing. On May 27, she posted notice of her coming assisted suicide still separated from her children.
Meanwhile, the family court case of Kassenoff v Kassenoff is getting scrutiny.
Allan, who took a voluntary leave of absence from Greenberg Traurig to “focus” on his family, and the roles of professionals paid primarily by Allan, who worked together as if in concert to separate mother and children, will be examined.
The Investigation into Family Court Operations
The professionals are:
Judge Lewis Lubell, who recused himself, based on Catherine’s accusations of bias, but not before ruling she could not live in the same village as her children.
Constantine ‘Gus’ Dimopoulus, attorney for Allan Kassenoff. Based on other cases, where he is the defendant in lawsuits, Dimopoulus may have earned between $1 -2 million to use his alleged powerful connections with Judge Lubell, Judge Koba, attorney for the children, Carol Most, and custody evaluator Marc Abrams.
Carol Most, court-appointed attorney for the children, billed at least $270,000 to work for the “best interest of the children.” She recommended the court remove the mother from the children’s lives. Catherine sued Most, and Judge Susan Capeci removed her from the case for misconduct, denying her more than $100,000 in billings.
Dr. Marc Abrams, “neutral” forensic evaluation, kicked off the custody evaluators’ panel based on Catherine’s complaint. Our next post will examine why the courts removed him from the panel and whether Judge Lubell’s “one-mile” stay away was possible retaliation.
Dr. Kathleen McKay, the second custody evaluator, who replaced Dr. Abrams.
Dr. Susan Adler, a clinical psychologist and psychoanalytic psychotherapist.
Dr. Carolyn McGuffog, neuropsychologist.
Dr. McGuffog and Dr. Adler worked with the children to “understand” that their mother’s removal by the court was appropriate and to look to their father as their primary attachment figure.
According to court filings, the two psychologists invoiced about $100,000 – paid by the father.
Chirstine Paska, former Westchester County Assistant DA who prosecuted Catherine on a false charge of violating the one-mile restraining order. The case was dismissed, but while prosecuting Catherine, ADA Paska entered into discussions with the children’s attorney Carol Most about joining her law firm, which neither she nor Most disclosed to the court. Paska joined the law firm, leaving her lower paying position as ADA.
Judge Nancy Quinn Koba, who, without hearing from Catherine or the children, signed orders to keep Catherine away from her children.