Five American Children in URGENT NEED OF HELP
Andrea Wainer, a single mother, teacher, and clinical social worker living in Greenwich, Connecticut with her five children, urgently needs help, while she represents herself and children in an international divorce and custody battle that has spanned the US, UK and Singapore.
This is a watershed moment. The case is so critical that Connecticut’s domestic violence agencies, child welfare services, and the Greenwich police have been intimately involved on a continuous basis, to ensure the safety of Andrea and the children
After volunteering to return to Singapore for the resolution of custody, the US ordered the children to remain living with Andrea. Under court order, her husband, Fred Scolnick, cannot come to the home of Andrea and the children without written consent from a court. Now, Andrea must participate in a custody hearing in Singapore where the husband has filed for sole custody. She has no funds to represent herself and risks not being heard and losing the children.
The Greenwich police regularly monitor the property where she and the children live, call and drive by the home to check in, watching movements to ensure the safety of the children. In London, social services conducted two investigations on Fred Scolnick, resulting in a restraining order and a worldwide freezing injunction placed on monies he put into offshore accounts in his own name, without her knowledge.
Social services documented the husband’s “neglect and harm.” Currently, the US federal court has issued an order to prohibit him from family violence.
Andrea and the children have received regular counseling and services from the DVCC (Domestic Violence Crisis Center of Connecticut), for over a year. In July 2013, her husband stalked the property of her friends home in Maine, attempting to take the children away in a van driven by his brother. This was immediately following a London divorce hearing. In August 2013, he appeared at the family's home in Greenwich, forcibly entered, kicked the door open, pushed the babysitter and the infant she was holding, and snatched his three year old daughter. He fled the country and dodged arrest. He left his daughter with his accountant and went to Asia. A restraining order was issued. When he returned in November, he was arrested upon arrival at Bradley airport.
After the incident, all five children immediately received trauma counseling from Connecticut’s emergency mobile crisis team. Connecticut’s child and family services also became involved. The Department of Child Services immediately dispatched a team of therapists who specializing in trauma; all five now receive therapy weekly, and are diagnosed with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and anxiety.
For the past three years, Fred has breached, ignored, stalled, delayed and disrupted London financial and divorce proceedings. All of this is documented. He has been in contempt of court, violated freezing orders, dissipated marital assets, submitted false financial statements, and lied to the presiding judge over his knowledge of his children's whereabouts in July 2013. As part of this, he intentionally caused the family to lose their home in New York in a foreclosure, draining assets that could have provided for the children.
Fred was served with a penal notice in December 2013. Andrea and the children were blocked from all monies and existed on welfare. In May 2013, after moving monies into his name solely for several years, Andrea came to the US with children for summer holiday. At that time, he shut down access to all bank accounts, cancelled her credit cards and denied her access to any funds to provide for the needs of the five children. They existed on welfare for months until he was ordered and did provide child support for a few months only. That order (maintenance pending suit) is over and there is no financial order in place. She receives no child support at all and is blocked from all marital assets.
Despite these issues, Andrea is voluntarily returning to Singapore. She encourages the children to have a relationship with their father, but wants to do so in a safe and supervised manner, and requests an adherence to basic safety guidelines. There is no legal aid in Singapore, and very few social services. As a US citizen, she is not eligible for them. Fred has funds to pay his lawyer. Andrea has no money to pay her lawyer to represent her in the custody hearing or mirror the US order of protection in Singapore.
In Connecticut, Andrea is in a welfare to work program, but it is not enough to provide for her legal fees, or her five children’s basic needs.
CONCERN FOR SIX YEAR OLD WITH SEVERE SPECIAL NEEDS: Of serious concern is her 6-year-old, who has critical special needs, and developmental delays. If not managed properly, he is prone to violence when he is not receiving medical treatment. Several times in the past few years, Fred refused to get any form of medical treatment for their son while they lived in Singapore, even though the child received many services in London.
Without services and proper treatment, the child has rapidly spiraled downwards. He is increasingly impulsive and prone to violent outbursts. He has thrown his siblings down the stairs, banged his babysitter's head on a marble tile, tried to throw his sister out a window, pushed his sister in traffic and poked her in the face with scissors. His speech has become delayed, and he became uncoordinated. Later, his school in Connecticut put him on a safety plan. Before he was properly treated for his conditions, Andrea had to physically intervene to calm him 40 to 60 times per day.
In court, the psychologist treating the special needs child testified that he must receive complete evaluations (Neuro developmental Pscholgogicla evaluations) immediately and explained the window for his chance for change and improvement was closing. The father has refused to get him support. His teachers and the school psychologist have observed great deterioration when he went off medication as his mother could no longer afford it. He is hitting himself and others as he does not transition well and is disrupted by a decrease in service and move to a country he lived in for under one school year. His father refuses to set up services for him in Singapore and has not yet demonstrated to have the necessary health insurance.
There is no legal aid in Singapore and no social services for foreigners. There is no court ordered child support order in place. Andrea cannot continue to pay her lawyer in London to order child support.
A few other facts, detailed in documents and reports:
-Caretakers in London reported him to social services, once for abuse and neglect. Once he left the children unattended to work out at gym.
-There is non-disclosure of offshore accounts, as well as a freezing injunction on offshore accounts due to repeated financial threats. This included eventual draining of frozen accounts after an expedited restraining order was served on Fred in Sinagpore.
-Submission of a falsified lease for a Singapore residence to the US federal court for the children to live in.
-In US federal court, admits not filing US taxes for many years.
-Unpaid tuition for children, unpaid dental, health insurance or alimony
-Collusion with company to submit falsified employment compensation record.
- Refusal to allow Andrea to get medical treatment (needing serious back surgery). Leaving her to care for all five children repeatedly for weeks and months at a time while he travelled overseas.
-The father has no visits with kids without supervision from the federal court judge and court appointed psychologist.
-The children have begged the father to let them remain in the US. The children are acting out and wake up with nightmares.
All the children lived in Singapore for less than a year. Andrea's husband has held no residence in Singapore for over a year and is documented to have spent less then ten days per month there during the past year. His company's main Asia office is in Hong Kong, so he must travel there frequently. In court he admitted that the Singapore office conducts minimal business but Singapore has a better "regulatory" situation and tax shelter. The children have no family, and no ties, but are being forced to return to Singapore. The children are devastated to leave their family, grandparents, home and school to return to a foreign place they lived in for under one year.
MAGNITUDE: IF ANDREA CANNOT PAY HER SINGAPORE LAWYERS, SHE COULD LOSE CUSTODY OF THE CHILDREN FOR FAILURE TO REPRESENT HERSELF.
Connecticut’s social services, the police and domestic violence organizations are seriously concerned. Court documents, restraining orders and other legal documents detail the situation. These are available for public record. Andrea wants to protect her children, but encourages a relationship with the father, as long as visits are supervised, with safety plans in place.
What We Need & What You Get
The most urgent initial need is $40,000 (by June 15). The funds will be used to pay for the initial round of legal representation in Singapore, including the filing of a restraining order to prevent family violence. If Andrea does not pay for legal representation she will not be available participate in the custody hearing. Legal aid does NOT exist in Singapore.
There are other costs involved but these will be posted at a later date. These are at a minimum of another $60,000. These costs include the final payments for legal fees, as well as funds for neuropsychiatric evaluations and treatment and therapies for her child with special needs. Living expenses are also part of this.
If Andrea doesn't not reach her goal, she will use the funds to pay as much as the legal fees as possible. She cannot work in Singapore, which means she will be completely dependent on Fred Scolnick for support. She is now on a dependent visa and will be forced to leave the country, 90 days after entry if her husband does not cooperate to renew her visa. Once the divorce is finalized she can no longer remain in Singapore on a "dependent" visa.
What you will get are regular updates on the progress of the campaign and the satisfaction that you have helped a devoted mother and children truly in need.
Protecting child welfare and ensuring a mother from domestic violence is critical to the future of these children, especially to her son with special needs.
As detailed above, Andrea has no funds to pay for legal representation, but her husband has spent $600,000 to file numerous motions to stall or delay proceedings, abuse the children and Andrea financially and control the family. Andrea has fought without resources to pay custody lawyers, and several of the US and UK are working for free at this point.
Her desired outcome is to be awarded joint custody with sole care and control and to relocate back to the US with her children, especially since Fred is rarely in Singapore and travels extensively. She would encourage his visits to see the children in the US often.
The children deserve to have the father in their life. However, therapists and and the court have documented the children are negatively impacted by the prior nomadic lifestyle. They concluded the children would benefit and feel stable and , security and a sense of belonging by continuing to live in the US with their mother, other family, and community that they have become embedded in.
Andrea would like to renew her social work license, convert it to Connecticut and resume work. She also plans to provide adoption counseling for parents in need, once she has created a safe and stable home for the children and provides them with the grounding and roots all children deserve.
Twitter Account: Team Children @help5children