Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Retaining Custody - Step One

Okay, so you are getting a divorce. I realize this on it's own is difficult, but take a deep breath, try to shove the grief aside for now, for the sake of your children you need to be proactive and effective immediately.

First, find an attorney!! Do not share an attorney, regardless of how generous or rational your ex may seem. It protects both of you to have independent representation. The cost of hiring one on the ground level will be much cheaper than hiring them down the road and paying them to catch up on your case. Also, having an attorney up-front may prevent your ex from taking a more unscrupulous legal route. Maybe not. But if nothing else, it will send a message that you are not messing around nor will you be fooled into agreeing to any bunk arrangement.

Most importantly your attorney can advise you on the best IMMEDIATE (We have found being proactive very successful) route to take with your case.

I have to run, I'll add more to this later. Sorry, MC

So sorry about that, client emergency that required I be out of town for that past week. Let's finish this post.

As for attorney, I am going to re-print a previous post about locating an attorney: If you are looking for a lawyer referral there are far better places to start. If you know anyone in your area who has gone through a similar process ask about their attorney and their spouse's attorney. Ask as many people as you can and see if the same name pops up repeatedly. If this is not possible, the American Bar Association has an area on their website for public information. You can access lawyer locater, legal aid and research through their website. This is a free service to locate a lawyer in good standing with the bar and in your area. Link to the ABA.

In my county there is a local chapter of the ABA and they also offer a lawyer referral program. If you receive a referral through this chapter you are allowed a free 1/2 hour introductory visit. You can utilize this service for as many attorneys as you are referred. This is a good way to get a feel for an attorney before you have to start paying them. You want to hire someone you feel comfortable with in personality, methodology and knowledge of family law. Try to look in your phone book for your local chapter of the ABA or search online (I prefer Google) using your county, state and the terms bar association. Each state also has their own bar association so if you are unable to find one for your county, start with the state.

Your local chapter of the bar association should also be able to provide information on legal aid if you are unable to afford an attorney. Know, however, that the requirements of legal aid are very strict and only a limited number of people qualify for assistance. Most likely you will have to hire your own attorney. This will not be cheap. If you look for a cheap attorney you will get what you pay for. I know this process can be astronomically expensive, believe me, but you have to weigh the costs.

Many attorney's will require a retainer fee upfront and this may be several thousand dollars. Be prepared to hear this. What they are effectively telling you is that custody cases in particular have a tendency to draw out for extremely long periods of time. They need to know up front that you have the capacity to pay for the long haul if necessary. Your retainer will be placed in an account through which the attorney will effectively pay himself. You should be sent copies of the bills indicating for what and how much that attorney is billing you. After the retainer runs out, your attorney will either begin to bill you directly or ask that you provide another lump sum as a retainer. If you are billed directly, request that you be billed frequently so you can pay in smaller sums and so your bill never adds up to something you find unmanageable. If there is any money left over from your retainer after your case is finalized, your attorney should give that money back to you. In my area the average cost for an attorney is between $150 - $200 an hour.

Even with an expensive attorney there are ways to keep your costs down. To do this you will have to try and do as much of the legwork as possible for your attorney. If you can, until you go to court, utilize the attorney to do only the legal things that you are unable to do. Do your own research and have your own objectives in your mind. Obviously you need to discuss with your attorney to make sure you are on the correct path, but try to take as much initiative as possible. Don't call your attorney with every question that comes to mind, try and research the answer yourself. Ask your attorney what you should or could be doing to help your case.

Use word of mouth and the bar association for help, do not hire the first attorney you see with a commercial or a full page ad in the phone book.

Another good source in your search for an attorney: martindale.com. Look for a rating of AV.

Do, if at all possible, retain an attorney and do so as quickly as possible. A good attorney will be an invaluable resource for you.

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Retaining Custody

I realized this cannot be a site dedicated to equal custody rights for fathers, without some practical advice on the best way to retain to custody

Caveat: The advice herein is not, nor should it be considered, legal advice. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE consult an attorney if you are able. If not, try legal aid or some of the other resources commented about within this site. You are welcome to email me specific questions and I will answer them to the best of my ability. Visit other father's rights sites for more information. Be as informed as possible on the law and precedents of your own state. The advice I give is only what we have learned (or wish we had done) during the course of our custody adventure. That does not mean it is necessarily practical advice in your case.

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Marriage Strike

This is an article co-authored by Glenn Saks and Dianna Thompson from July 2002. It addressees the reasons men may choose not to marry. Marriage Strike

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Child Support Editorial

I am including this article because I see a lot of merit in some of the statistics offered by the author. Some of his sources are quite relevant. And while I understand his apparent frustration, I do not necessarily enjoy his overall tone. While I agree that many women may take advantage of the legal system, the inherent problem is not the women, but the system that condones, codifies, even expects their actions. This is where anger should be directed. Women hating is not beneficial to anyone, particularly the related children, to which inevitably some form of that sentiment will trickle down. Child Support Lock Up


LaMusga Case

This is an editorial concerning LaMusga and move-away cases in general. HeraldTribune.com


Friday, February 20, 2004


And more tragedy... Cincinnati.com

Halifax, MA

Another father takes the law into his own hands, with devastating consequences... Patriot Ledger

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Strengthening Families Act of 2003

More succinct info on the bill proposed by Senator Even Bayh. The co-sponsor for this bill is Senator Joseph Lieberman so if you are a resident form Connecticut you may also get special consideration. Contact Senator Lieberman here. And you can read the details and status of the bill at Congress.org.

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Evan Bayh, Senator, Indiana -- Positions on Fatherhood

Recently it was relayed to me that Evan Bayh, a Senator in Indiana, was at the forefront of fatherhood issues. This intrigued me so I visited Senator Bayhs web site, which can be accessed here. If you click on the Issues in Focus heading you can then choose the sub-heading Fatherhood.

I want everybody to know that at this point I was getting really excited. Aside from being a respected politician in Indiana, Senator Bayh commands respect nationally. His name was thrown around for the VP position when Al Gore ran in 2000 and is being thrown around again in conjunction with John Kerry. To have a congressman, or potentially a VP, interested in fatherhood of his own volition could at a minimum be a step in the right direction.

I can going to copy select parts of the Fatherhood page for you or you can access the entire page here. I'll start with a quote by Senator Bayh.

"The irony in our nation's unprecedented economic prosperity is that many Americans still feel like our country is on the wrong track, that there is a deterioration of our values that is fraying the social fabric. Many indicators point to the dramatic increase in absent fathers as the culprit -- this epidemic is self-destructive and anti-social." -U. S. Senator Evan Bayh

Okay, so at this point I am still thinking maybe this will be okay. I didn't really like the tone of the quote, but I haven't given up hope yet.

"Bayh's Responsible Fatherhood Act spotlights the importance of families and marriage for child development. It also aims to strengthen fragile families and promote responsible fatherhood through public awareness, community involvement and removal of federal barriers to active fatherhood and married, two-parent families."

Okay, getting better... And then here we go

"Women are heroic in their efforts to raise our nation's children. But it is unfair to ask them to shoulder the entire burden," Bayh said. "Many men have abandoned their families and have failed to do their fair share. Through their irresponsible actions, they are sending the wrong message to their children about morals and values."

What!? But wait, it keeps going...

"To understand what we address with this legislation, one must understand the scope of the crisis that absentee fathers present for our children and our communities," said Bayh, who noted that nearly 25 million children in the United States today (36% of all children) live apart from their biological father. 40% of children who live in households without a father have not seen their father in at least a year.

Children who live without contact with their fathers are, in comparison to their counterparts:

Five times more likely to live in poverty;
More likely to bring weapons and drugs into the classroom;
Twice as likely to commit crime;
Twice as likely to drop out of school;
Twice as likely to be abused;
More likely to commit suicide;
More than twice as likely to abuse alcohol or drugs;
More likely to become pregnant as teenagers.

I love that part. He uses accurate statistics but only to enforce the deadbeat dad mythology, not to question all of the reasons this might be occurring.

The Responsible Fatherhood Act has two sections. Title I seeks to raise public awareness and community involvement on the issue of absentee fathers and the importance of two-parent families through a state-by-state media campaign, a state block grant program for fatherhood programs, and the creation of a national clearinghouse to share best practices.

Title II seeks to remove federal barriers to responsible fatherhood and two-parent, married families through increased opportunities to move unemployed fathers into jobs through the Welfare to Work program, direct child-support payments to families, and state incentives for programs that promote maintenance of two-parent families and responsible fatherhood.

"We must address this challenge. The urgency is here because poverty, crime, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, all these problems come back to tackling the challenge of fatherlessness," Bayh said. "Children need the financial and emotional support of their fathers. The mothers of these children deserve the help and support that good fathers can provide. Getting fathers involved in the lives of their children is by and large much better than just handing these kids a check."

To check myself I thought, maybe Indiana has a huge problem with poverty that I was completely unaware of and that is why the welfare to work, direct payments, etc were part of the plan. Meaning Indiana poverty was so rampant that fathers were simply unable (not unwilling) to provide for their children in an adequate fashion. So I did some research and I found in the official poverty rate in 2002 (the most recent numbers I found) is 12.1% while in Indiana in 2002 it was 9.1%. So that's not the problem...

So then I decided to look at the site from which Senator Bayh had pulled his statistics to see if I had missed some major change in current studies. Then I realized he doesn't cite any source for those numbers so no check could be made. Convenient.

Then I thought, Senator Bayh simply must not have any children so he lacks the full understanding of the importance of a father and it just looking for some heart-string issue to latch on to... Nope, wrong again, Senator Bayh is the proud father of twin boys. God help him if his wife ever decides that they have grown apart... Though he probably has enough connections to guarantee equal rights in the eyes of the law.

As I looked through some of the statistics available on the CCJ website (here, here and here) it appears to me that some of the numbers cited on Senator Bayh's web site might have some support, other seem at least skewed. Potentially, Senator Bayh has access to more recent information than the general public so he may be able to support those numbers. However, it appears to me, that more likely he cherry-picked (for those of you watching the Kerry/Edwards run for the Democratic nomination, hopefully you will appreciate that terminology) and generalized the relevant statistics. This is in itself is unacceptable for a Senator who is basing an entire plank of his platform to the issue of "fatherhood."

Nonetheless, even using statistics in the fashion that Senator Bayh has chosen, the issue of children needing their fathers is entirely accurate and relevant to the landscape of this country, including all of the issues Senator Bayh mentioned in his summation (poverty, crime, drug abuse, teen pregnancy). However, the manner in which they were used is a disgrace. I would highly recommend reading the statistics provided by the CCJ that I linked to above and contrast those with how Senator Bayh presented the issue.

I think Senator Bayh is on the right track in his contention that children need their fathers but completely misguided about where the responsibility falls. We all know that there are deadbeat dads... but we also all know there are deadbeat moms- and more importantly, the majority of fathers desperately want to have a meaningful, fulfilling, relationship with their children, one in which they are on the same footing as the other parent. This is not asking too much.

If Senator Bayh would like to continue his fight against deadbeat parents , I commend him. It is his responsibility, however, to provide an accurate picture of all the facts regarding this fight. There is no reason that his fatherhood initiative could not (or should not) be expanded to include a legislative initiative to remove government barriers to able and desperately willing fathers and the extreme abuse of an overworked judicial system by custodial parents, more often than not - the mothers.

I encourage anyone to contact Senator Bayh with your thoughts on this matter. If you are a resident of Indiana, your thoughts will likely carry a little more weight. Remember, however, that Senator Bayh is a United States Congressman and therefore (in theory) must answer to all citizens of the US. All senators take the same oath: I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

If you choose to contact Senator Bayh PLEASE do so respectfully. State your position in an informed and concerned manner utilizing whatever resources you have to back your position. (Also - Cite your sources!! This is so much more professional!) If you would like some direction on good supporting information, email me and I will get you started. If you want to utilize your own personal experience, do so in a manner that is explanatory but not overly verbose. Remember, the more concise your letter, the more likely it will get read in it's entirety.

Do not write pages and pages of how wronged you were by evil judges, bad evaluators or the antichrist that is your ex. Let the facts of your case demonstrate the wrongs you have suffered. Explain, in real dollars, the type of financial impact this has put on you and relate that money to how it would have been spent otherwise. Recently, a good friend calculated that just what he had spent in the past year of a 5 year battle, put into a 7 year CD at today's interest rates, would have entirely covered his sons 4 year state college education plus two years in a state college masters program. He even adjusted these numbers to the current percentage that tuition raises each year. He said when he presented this information to his judge it was the first time it appeared the judge understood the enormity of his case and the resources being drained from both parties.

But I say again, do not send off some letter in which you try to martyr yourself. Be clear, directed, organized and informed. Explain that you are simply seeking equal rights, do not present yourself as a woman hater or zealot. After you put something together a good thing to do would be to put the letter away for a day and then go back and re-read it. Do you sound like the caring, intelligent, concerned and rational father that you are? This will resonate, women and judicial bashing will not. You want to aware Senator Bayh of error in parts of his platform but still to commend him for taking any initiative in this arena.

You an contact Senator Bayh several ways. Email through his web site can accessed here and various addresses for postal mail can be found here. Also contact info is available through Yahoo.

If you would like to have your letter reviewed before you send it please email it to me as an attachment, with Evan Bayh Letter as the subject. Also, I would love to post any letters up on this site to provide as an example. I will be preparing my own correspondence in the following days and if I feel it will be a benefit, I will post in it's entirety here. However, I would rather show other readers examples, I think everyone here has a pretty good idea how I think.

I know this can be time consuming and emotionally draining, as almost all aspects of this fight can be. Remember, though, many men and women do not realize how bad it can get until its happening to them. When this started for us I honestly thought there was no way our government would act in this type of fashion, I truly thought such an injustice was simply unfeasible. We all know now that is not the case. And sadly, every day more parents will come to realize that as well. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to galvanize fathers until they are faced with a divorce and a custody hearing. I believe until that occurs we all live under the pretense that such flagrant inequity is not possible in our modern system of justice. For all of those who will wake up tomorrow to learn that they will soon be a statistic of divorce, we need to do what we can. Maybe Senator Bayh will be totally unreceptive. Maybe this is just a token issue for him, maybe his father abandoned him when he was young and he hold a severe grudge, maybe he will act as we have all come to expect politicians to act -- respond with some completely noncommittal, though understanding commentary, to keep his voter base intact without having to initiate any forward-thinking legislation....

But maybe not. And what if we did strike a chord?

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Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Positions on No Fault Divorce

This links to two views on ending no fault divorce. Both are well thought out and presented, you'll have to decide which best encompasses your feelings. End No-Fault Divorce?

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Divorce Reform

This is a wonderful site, headed by an attorney, with a plethora of information about no fault divorce. This attorney, John Crouch, would like to see no fault severely limited (or completely eliminated) and replaced by a form of content based divorce. The site includes statistics, legislation, current laws, facts and news, polls and miscellaneous other relevant content. Divorce Reform Page

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No Fault Divorce

This article is about previous and current levels of support for making divorce more difficult. It also discusses long term cohabitating partners in terms of their rights at separation. Washington Times

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Georgia, SB 298, No Fault

Last week the Georgia Senate passed a bill that would require a 180 day waiting period (up from 30 day) for couples filing divorce using the no fault standard. This would not apply to divorces in which domestic violence was an issue. It also includes some facts about children from divorced homes and the governments interest in marriage. My question is, if you allow domestic abuse divorces to proceed more quickly, what prevents people from falsely claiming abuse. For a woman, it will both expedite the divorce as well as give her an advantage in a custody determination. ajc.com

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Tuesday, February 17, 2004


Written laws are like spiders' webs, and will like them only entangle and hold the poor and weak, while the rich and powerful will easily break through them. Anacharsis

Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a law-breaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. Louis D. Brandeis

No written law has been more binding than unwritten custom supported by popular opinion. Carrie Chapman Catt

This is a court of law, young man, not a court of justice. Oliver Wendell

The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced. Frank Zappa

The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly. Abraham Lincoln

When dealing with a legal matter - always remember that you are your own best advocate. No one will care as much about the case as you do. Use lawyers but remember - you must take primary responsibility for a successful outcome. Grant Fairley

The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.Thomas Jefferson

Where you find the laws most numerous, there you will find also the greatest injustice. Arcesilaus

Even when laws have been written down, they ought not always to remain unaltered. Aristotle

Law is mind without reason. Aristotle

The welfare of the people is the ultimate law. Cicero

A judge is a law student who marks his own examination papers. H. L. Mencken

Divorce is probably of nearly the same date as marriage. I believe, however, that marriage is some weeks the more ancient. Voltaire

"It is easier to divorce my wife of 26 years than to fire someone I hired one week ago. The person I hire has more legal clout .... than my wife of 26 years. That's wrong." Judge Randall Hekman, President of the Michigan Family Forum

"Only acts of war and the events of natural disasters are more harmful to a child's psyche than the divorce process." The Newsletter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Summer 1997

"We must make individual self-fulfillment secondary to the health of the family." GA. State Rep. Brian Joyce

"It really hurt. It was hard for me to accept not being able to live in the same house with both parents." Teenage girl

"If I go live with grandma can you and dad stay married?" Seven-year-old girl

"Divorce is like two lions in a den attacking each other. You know somebody is going to get hurt real bad. All kids can do is sit behind a window and watch it happen." Nine-year-old boy

"Dad couldn't really be as bad as Mom says he is." Nine-year-old girl

"I don't care who I live with. I love you both. Please don't make me choose--just tell me." Nine-year-old boy

"In one day I could be a college student, my mother's therapist, my dad's escort, and my brother's mother. Small wonder I was a little ditzy that year." Nineteen-year-old woman

"My mom doesn't think she's a good cook. I don't want her to feel bad. So I tell her it's good, just like Daddy used to do." Eight-year-old boy

"I hate my mom's boyfriend but I don't tell her. After all, she'll be alone someday when I'm gone, so I pretend I like him." Thirteen-year-old girl

"To me, getting married is like walking over a mine field; you know it's going to explode . . . you just don't know when!" College student

"I'll probably grow up and get married and have babies, and then I'll get a divorce. Everybody does." Ten-year-old boy

Quotes courtesy of Divorceandkids.com, Worldofquotes.com, houseofquotes.com, and quotationspage.com.

More Evidence That Family Courts Are A Disgrace Nationwide

An audit on Hawaii Family Courts turns up some serious problems. (Are you surprised? Sadly, these are the same problems witnessed in every state when a critical eye is turned to the family court system.) Haleakala Times

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History of Family Court

I am not precisely sure why and for who this article was written but it is an interesting look at the inception of the family court system and some of the most notable decisions. Familyrightsassociation.com

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Las Vegas, Nevada

The Las Vegas Sun did a week long series on Family Courts. (Family Court: Out of Order, 1997). You can access the entire series here: Las Vegas Sun

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North Carolina's Family Court System

This article discusses the North Carolina family court system in depth, including a fabricated example case. This is a PDF so you will need Adobe Reader. NCInfo.iog.unc.edu

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Dysfunction in New York

This article is about the problems with family court in New York. It addresses potential remedies to some of the problems. recordonline.com

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Private Secondary School Tuition

This is an article out of New Hampshire about secondary school tuition costs. Portsmouth Herald


Judge Rapkin's Defenders

This is the other side to the Judge Rapkin story. Apparently William W. Merrill III, the President of the Sarasota Country Bar Association, is defending Judge Rapkin. Heraldtribune.com

The Nightmare of Family Court

Monday, February 16, 2004

Judge School?

This is an article about an introductory seminar like program offered for newly appointed judges. It is somewhat of an interesting read, not overly relevant to fathers, though it does touch on custody cases briefly and pro se litigants. What I found most telling, and personally had a problem with can be found in the following:

"His first day on the bench, he presided over 30 protection-from-abuse matters and 10 child support contempt hearings -- a day of highly charged, emotional cases.

''As I look back on it, it was a good day to start because it was like jumping into the deep end of the pool and just swimming,'' Johnson said.

He remembered what he had been taught. Keep things moving. Make decisions quickly. Keep control of the courtroom, where 60 people at various times throughout the day were looking for answers.

''Somebody asked me, 'Were you nervous?' I didn't have time to be nervous,'' Johnson said. ''I just had to get to work.''

I realize, as I am sure we all do, family courts are clogged with cases and as such potentially the natural tendency would be to "keep things moving". However, to say that the responsibility of a judge who presiding over 30+ abuse cases and 10+ child support cases is to be almost instantly decisive, is appalling to me. These are cases that directly hinge on the welfare of a child and must be handled reverently and with due attention. To handle such matters quickly is only to rely on ingrained stereotypes and (in effect) cross your fingers.

I would have thought the recent attention given to Judge Harry Rapkin by Bill O'Reilly regarding the brutal murder of Carlie Brucia would compel judges nationwide to reconsider this drive through approach to the law. Apparently not. (Get the entire story behind Judge Rapkin through Bill O'Reilly's eyes at FOXNews.com.) As an aside, Mr O'Reilly (who I believe vacillates between brilliant and utterly detestable and pugnacious) has offered for Judge Rapkin to come on his show, an offer that has been systematically declined. That did not stop Judge Rapkin for saying a few choice words about Mr O'Reilly to a Fox News staffer. I will refrain repeating what he said here as it is only from memory and I have been unable to find an exact transcript. I will say I found it to be in particularly bad taste as Judge Rapkin made his comments so personal, but even more so, I found the comments especially unbecoming of a Judge. (I must admit, however disgraceful I found Judge Rapkin, I cannot begin to explain why I continue to be surprised at how judges nationwide treat the public they are entrusted to serve, in actions as well as words.)

My other problem with this article can be found here:

"In State College, she got advice on civil disputes she eventually may have to handle. One of the issues judges discussed was whether they should question children in custody disputes.

One judge said he never asks a child who he wants to live with. Another said he usually gets around to that question because, ultimately, it is what a judge wants to know.

What Johnson found most valuable were the veteran judges' real-life stories -- ''things that only someone who has been doing it a long time can tell you,'' he said."

I know we all already know this, but this just documents the enormous amount of discretion given to family law courts. Should there not be some type of protocol in these case, to ensure that all parties (particularly the children) are given every opportunity to present a factual and accurate case. While I agree that a judge should not pull a 3 year old into chambers and ask if they prefer mommy or daddy, should there not be some definitive time when the desires of the children are requested and considered within the framework of the entire case. This statement about asking children where they prefer to live is only the tip of the iceberg, each judge can handle each divorce/custody case exactly to their own preferences. How on earth can a system that is admittedly so discretionary even be expected to be fair?

Read the entire article at mccall.com.

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Child Tax Credit

More info on the retroactive child tax credit. Contra Costa Times


Father and Son Reunion

14 years after being kidnapped by his mother, a 17 year old boy will reunite with his father. calgary.cbc.ca

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Dating After Divorce

This is an article about some of the problems single parents face when trying to date. Seattle Times


Friday, February 13, 2004

Happy Valentine's Day

I am heading out for the day so I hope everybody has a nice weekend and enjoys Valentines Day.

Potential Kidnapping in California

A kindergartener never returned to school after her mother picked her up, saying she was taking her to lunch. The parents of the child have separated but have not filed for divorce or formally agreed to any custody arrangement. The child's father reported the girl missing but there was little the police could do. An alert was sent to law enforcement in California and Washington, where they believe the mother to be headed. The father said he did not feel his daughter was in serious danger so the Amber Alert was not used. Visalia Times-Delta

Mississippi Supreme Court

The Mississippi Supreme Court may hear the appeal of a man faced to pay child support on a daughter he never knew existed. The child, now 4, thought she was the daughter of her mothers now ex-husband, as did the ex-husband. When the ex-husband asserted his right to custody and visitation during divorce proceedings, the mother told him that she did not believe he was the father. Paternity tests were administered and the biological father was located. Even though the ex-husband offered to take full parental responsibility for the child, the court ruled he had no legal standing to request custody or visitation and forced to biological father to begin paying child support. HeraldTribune.com

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An article about single parents in Australia. The Prime Minister commissioned an inquiry in to how the family court system could work better, to the advantage of both parents, but primarily the children. The results will be addressed in March. Look for changes in Australia that potentially could be mirrored here. smh.com.au


Children First

This is a wonderful article about the aftermath of divorce and ways parents can help alleviate the stress on their children. It touches on programs based in Atlanta, GA, but it is a great read for anyone going through a divorce - or (more importantly) a custody case. AJC.com

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Millbrook, NY

Dean Goddard files a suit for malicious prosecution stemming from charges made during his divorce, nine years prior. After his wife accused him of spousal abuse during divorce proceedings, he was convicted of assault in the third degree. He was given probation and made to pay a $500 fine. He also lost custody of his daughter during the case. In 1996, the Court State of Appeals overturned the verdict citing insufficient evidence. Mr Goddard has brought a suit against the county, the former assistant district attorney and the district attorney. His original judge was Louis "Mickey" Prisco and Mr Goddard would like him to apologize. Millbrook Round Table


Detroit, MI

Grandparents awarded custody after mother is killed. Father not charged, but suspect. Detroit Free Press

Thursday, February 12, 2004

St Louis, Missouri

This is an article about a father in St Louis. He claims after 8 years as a stay at home father, his wife alleged abuse during divorce proceedings, and now he is to have no contact with his children. STLtoday

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Custody Abroad

This is a very well done article by the BBC News. It discusses Fathers4Justice and then takes a look at both sides of the legal issues. BBC

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Utah's Uniform Parentage Act

This act was passed by the Utah Senate on Wed (2/11/04). It is most relative to surrogacy cases, but it does have two provisions that are related to father's rights. Although the intent of these provisions may have been for the purposes of updating surrogacy laws, they potentially could impact fathers in other family law cases.

1) Creates a registry for the biological fathers of children in adoption cases.

2) Protects the rights of men who have a father relationship with their children, only to find out they were not the biological father.

Daily Herald



Fathers4Justice is at it again... ic Coventry


Legislation in Michigan

This is another article about the 16 proposed bills that make up the Family and Marriage Preservation Plan, the proposed legislation in Michigan. This site does not require a subscription. HollandSentinel.com

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Marin County, California

If your divorce or custody case was handled by Judge Michael Dufficy in Marin Co, California, you might find this article interesting. Marin Independent Journal

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Changes in Michigan?

This is an extremely interesting article about 16 bills (Family and Marriage Preservation Plan) introduced in Michigan, aimed at various problems within current marriage and divorce legislation. It includes a measure for mandatory education or counseling prior to marriage, a waiting period of 27 days (up from 3 days) after applying for a marriage license, a tax credit to defray pre-marital counseling costs, etc... Six of the bills are to protect children of divorcing parents, the most important of which "requires that a parenting plan, detailing custody and decision-making for children, be in place before a divorce is finalized." I got to this article no problem, but I believe after a number of days a subscription might be required. I am going to try and find the article elsewhere and if that doesn't work, I may just reprint the entire article here (and hope no one cares). MLive.com

If you live in Michigan, write to the legislature and tell them that you support these bills. If you link to Yahoo here, and scroll all the way down, on the left hand side (under the heading Politics Tools) you can enter your zip code (or search by state) to write or email your elected officials. You can email them all at once or one by one. The ANCPR site also has a LEGISLATIVE ACTION CENTER through which you can contact your elected officials on a variety of subjects relevant to father's rights.

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Denver, CO

This is an article about the state of the court system in Colorado (Hint: It's not good) DenverPost.com

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Reason Magazine

This is a link to a letter written by Stephen Baskerville in response to an article written in Reason magazine. You can link directly to the article from here as well. The article discusses the link between the bureaucracy we have created to handle issues of custody and support and the unwillingness to dismantle the system. Mensnewsdaily.com


Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Marriage of McGinnis

Another relevant relocation case, summary copied verbatim from Brief Reporter.

Marriage of McGinnis
Diane M. Matsinger
Petitioner-Appellant's Petition for Writ of Supersedeas
California Court of Appeal Second Appellate District Division Six
September, 1991

After having granted joint custody of children to parents following a divorce, the court may not grant the mother sole physical custody of the children simply because she was moving to a different city and would be staying at home full time with the children. Where both parents are equally capable of caring for the children, the court may not change custody because one parent has the financial where-with-all to stay home with the children. Further, if a custodial parent chooses to move outside the community where the children have resided since birth, the court should award custody to the parent remaining in the community so that the children's lives are not disrupted. Pending appeal, child custody should remain at the status quo.

Get the entire case at Brief Reporter.

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Nellis v Renwick

This is extremely relevant case law for relocation cases. I am reprinting the summary verbatim from Brief Reporter:

Nellis v. Renwick
Richard M. Bryan
Defendant-Appellant's Reply Brief
California Supreme Court
April, 1996

In a child custody move away case, a child's mother is not entitled to take the child with her when she moves to pursue another career when the move would prevent frequent contact with the child's father. The court must determine whether the value of the woman's right to pursue a career is greater than the child's right to frequent and continuous contact with its father considering the age of the child and the distance of the move. A parent with custody of a child may move away if she proves the need for the move is compelling, essential, and outweighs the detriment to the other parent's relationship with the child.

You can download the entire case (for a price) on Brief Reporter, or you could look for the entire case elsewhere. A good place to start would be lexisone.

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I haven't been able to find much else that is useful regarding cohabitation. Open to suggestions...

The Theme For The Day: Cohabitation!

This is a study done in the Netherlands (and while the article refers to the increasing number of divorces in the country, it also states the current divorce rate is 25%, half of the US divorce rate for first marriages). It was published in 2000, so it can be considered relatively recent. Be prepared, it is 36 pages long and in places, largely technical in content. If you can get through, it is an interesting look at remarriage versus cohabitation and offers some interesting interpretations of those numbers. While it is obviously not directly applicable to the US, I believe we can safely assume that some of the noted tendencies cross national borders. Let me know what you think. Alternate Routes in the Remarriage Market (This is a PDF, so be sure to have Adobe Reader)


Tuesday, February 10, 2004


This site is run by a law firm, but there are some very good resources here. The site includes relevant news, posts free seminars, hosts a chat room and discussion board, links to specific state laws and statutes, etc... Potentially the most helpful part of this site is the "Ask A Lawyer" forum. Readers submit questions and some are answered by an attorney. You can also search through the forum to see if your question has already been asked and answered. Dadsdivorce.com


Fact Sheet

This is a fact sheet put out by Ohio State University concerning single, custodial fathers. FactSheet

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Men's Defense

This a link to a page on the men's Defense Site that has a variety of downloads. Of particular interest is the article The Case for Father Custody by Daniel Amenus. Men's Defense Association Or here is a direct link to the article: Fathering Magazine

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FORCE,a Father's Rights group specializing in Kentucky. Custodyequality.org

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I don't know what I think of the acronym, I understand the levity, but wonder what people think when it pops up on a search engine. Anyway, this is another Father's Rights group. They are planning a march on the capital on Father's Day and have a mailing list you can join. The group appears to be based in Florida. Fathers Awareness and Custody Equality

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This is a link to checklist for when you begin a custody case. Childcustody411



This is a link to an online support group. There is a support group for fathers as well as one for girlfriends and second wives. Stilladad.com

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This site is largely the same, a few free resources, but mostly aimed at getting you to pay for their services. What is interesting is that they offer two plans through which they help you represent yourself pro se. Their specialty appears to lie in California. I have no experience with their services so I am in no way endorsing them, however, it you are extremely strapped for cash and especially if you live in California, it might at least be worth taking a look at. I would love for anyone with experience with this service to please report on their thoughts. I hate to unequivocally blast all pay sites, but most appear to be pretty opportunistic to me. If anyone has had a positive experience with any pay site, I would love to hear about it and would gladly post your thoughts. FathersRightsInc.com

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This is a site run by an attorney out of Louisiana and as such may be particularly beneficial to LA residents. It has some interesting links, but I believe the end goal is to get you to retain an attorney through the site. Get from it what you can and if you live in Louisiana, you may find this would be a very good attorney for your case. Do some outside research however, try to find cases this attorney has been involved with and the subsequent outcomes. You can always contact your local bar association to see if he is in good standing. I have previously discussed finding a good attorney so I will not rehash everything here. Web sites to start include the American Bar Association and Martindale.com. If you have any personal experience with this attorney, please share either through the comments or send me an email. You can find the site here: FathersRights.org.


Tennessee Court of Appeals Reconsiders

The Tennessee Court of Appeals has agreed to reconsider it's own decision that upheld a lower court decision baring a boy's father from introducing him to his gay partner. Yahoo News


Family Feud

This story gives new meaning to family feud. This story is from last November, but I never remember hearing about it. Apparently a family conspired to kill the ex-wife of one of the sons in order to retain custody of their child. Some of the family, including the father, were charged immediately, however, the father's sister adopted the child. Now, the child has been removed from her as even though it does not appear she participated in the murder, police appear to believe she had knowledge of it and conspired to cover it up. ABCNews.com

Shots Fired at the Welfare Office

Reading this article I can't even get a good handle on what occurred. Winchester, IN. StarPress.com


Monday, February 09, 2004

Articles on Relocation

This is a link to a site (it is a PDF so you will need Adobe Reader) that lists articles written specifically on relocation. AAML.org


Georgia Supreme Court Relocation Decision

Georgia overturns precedent allowing custodial parents to move out of state virtually at will. Law.com (via Yahoo)

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Custody Case Law

This is a link to the ANCPR site about custody case law. ANCPR

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LaMusga v. LaMusga

This is a good site for all the material relative to the California relocation case LaMusga v. LaMusga. It does come from a women's movement site so be prepared. What is important is that it chronicles the case, not the authors personal feelings or intent. Lizlibrary

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South Dakota

The South Dakota House Judiciary Committee voted against a bill that would require counseling for parents who cite irreconcilable differences as the reason for their divorce. AberdeenNews.com


Taxes and Child Support

This article addresses the child tax credit being retroactive to last year as well as some of the tax implications for custodial v non-custodial parents. TCPalm


California Relocation

California Supreme Court reconsidering the question of relocation. A decision is expected in the next 90 days, but you can read some of the details here: Mercury News

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I have been contacted by a news outlet about putting together a type of conglomeration of stories about fathers facing custody battles. If you would like to submit your story, please email it to me using the link at the bottom of the page. Please let me know if you would prefer to be anonymous and how you would like the facts of your case handled. If you submit your case, you release me to use it in whatever form I deem appropriate. That includes, but is not limited to, be posted on this site, to be utilized in the above mentioned manner, to be included in any type of publication I may author concerning fathers and custody, or any other forum I deem appropriate. I will not release names or facts that you ask to be kept anonymous and I will inform any submitter when and where their story will be shared. If you choose to submit your story, please try to be as specific and succinct as you can. I realize there are a lot of emotions that go along with this process, but whenever possible, please try to accurately explain the legal parameters concerning your case, especially any relevant case law or history. I am fairly well versed, but my expertise lies in my own state. Also, please make sure you provide valid contact information. If I have a question and your email address will not work, I will not be able to include your case. If you have any concerns or questions before you submit, please feel free to email me. The more information we can get out there about what is actually happening in our family courts, the easier it will become to institute change. Thanks!

Deadbeat Mom? Really?

It appears as though the first deadbeat mom was sentenced to prison. Newsday.com


Friday, February 06, 2004

A New York woman and her father plead guilty to conspiracy charges for paying a judge $5,000 to influence the woman's custody case. Newsday


This article is in response to some of the tactics taken by Fathers4Justice, based in the UK. The irony of this article is that while the author derides Fathers4Justice for using statistics “conveniently,” she does the same throughout the article. However, as I have said before, I am not much a fan of Fathers4Justice either, their guerilla like tactics I do not believe benefit much of anyone. Guardian Unlimited


This is a more complete article concerning Lowell Jaks kidnapping his son Mensnewsdaily.com
This links to an AP article from Nov 2002. The article describes desperate measures taken by some fathers after custody determinations. AP

The irony of this article is that it includes commentary from Lowell Jaks, the former(?) president of ANCPR, who went on the run with his son late last month. Authorities appear to believe Jaks and his son crossed into Mexico, but have released few details. Daily Independent

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Virtual Visitation

I find the idea that you can maintain meaningful contact with you children through the computer completely abhorrent. Besides potential technical difficulties and scheduling problems, just the idea of forcing kids to spend an hour on the computer twice a week to pacify dad, seems to me a clear route to children loathing this time. Kids don't really have extended attention spans, inevitably friends will stop by or call during this time, a special tv program will be on, school events, athletics or various other extra curriculars with conflict... I cannot even imagine the implications. Any judge who makes this type of order should be relegated to "virtual visitation" with their own children, save one or two weekends a month. Various articles on the topic:
Glenn Sacks
NCSOnline (This is a PDF, you will need Adobe reader)
People's Law
Stark & Stark
Salt Lake Tribune
Washington Post
The more I read about this, the more disturbed I become. The natural question I have is if mother's (generally) are so insistent that "virtual visitation" is a suitable substitute for regular contact, why don't they offer to be the "virtual" parent!? It seems such a transparent request, they would obviously not want that scenario for themselves so why is it acceptable for the other parent? Parents trying to move are simply looking for any reason they can provide that will allay the moral nagging the judge may feel about letting one parent effectively take away another parent's child. What in God's name is going on here? I can't believe this is the "best court system in the world." What a joke, I have never seen such flagrant and obvious discrimination against both non-custodial parents and children all over the country. The children may not understand the effect these decisions will have on them when they occur, but as noted in countless studies, children rarely forget or cease feeling emotional pain about their parent's divorce. The only way to alleviate most of their concerns is for the two parents to stay close, not only geographically, but in their parenting styles and goals as well. Even then children will likely always feel disappointed that their parents divorced, but at least they feel overwhelming love from each parent. I feel that parents give up their rights to their children and their children have every right and desperately need to remain close to both parents. This whole thing just makes me want to scream and then drive to Washington DC and shake sense into each and every member of Congress. If only if we that simple...

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Moving in Alabama

This article is about relocation in Alabama. The statute has some pretty specific requirements for both custodial and non-custodial (Those are the worst terms! But then I can't think of any less horrible, open for suggestions...) parents. This statute is relatively restrictive to custodial parents seeking to move. It answers some of the problems, but may create others, and isn't nearly as comprehensive as I would like to see. We need laws that negate custodial v non-custodial and instead enforce the inherent rights and needs of a child to have ample access to both parents, which in my mind requires legislation making moving impossible except in the most extreme of circumstances, or at least a presumption that if a parent chooses to move the other parent will be awarded primary custody unless it is clearly and fundamentally not in the best interest of the child (ie. abuse of any sort... alcohol & drug, physical, emotional). The burden of proof should be on the moving party. Legislation of this type hopefully would reduce questions of relocation only to those cases where it was imperative. The Alabama statute information can be viewed at Divorceinfo


Relocation Study

This link is to one of the only published and recent studies concerning the effects of parental relocation after divorce. While there have been some questions brought up about the study, it can be called landmark in it's findings. This would be a good study to provide to your attorney if relocation is at issue in your case as well as to provide to a custody evaluator if you have one. Hopefully, your evaluator will already be aware of the study, but by giving it to them you eliminate the possibility that they are not as well as presenting yourself as a parent who is up on the current research. Apa.org The link is a PDF file so you will need Adobe reader. If you don't have it, you can download it here: Adobe


Another article about the failings of the family law court system. Center for Children's Justice


Glenn Sacks

I have stumbled upon this name several times. He is a radio DJ in California who does a show called His Side, Men and Fathers' Issues Radio. You can listen to his show on KMPC 1540 AM in Los Angeles at 9pm and KKOL 1300 AM in Seattle/Tacoma at 11 PM every Sunday evening. His web site also features a listen live feature. Glenn Sacks



This site has a variety of articles and information regarding move away cases in California. (I previously bashed this site, now I feel guilty) Mensnewsdaily.com

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This is an interesting article about the effects of a father's love on a child's self esteem. Unfortunately, it is quite brief and as of yet I have been unable to locate source information (good articles should always cite the studies that made these conclusions). Nevertheless, I'm going to post it anyway. If anyone knows from what studies this was premised on, please pass that information on and I will gladly post it. Dr. Joseph Mercola

I found an almost identical article elsewhere, but with some interesting leading commentary... Fathers Matter

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Children's Rights Council

For those of you who are disgusted enough to try and change the system, a good place to start is the Children's Rights Council. I am copying verbatim their purpose:

CRC works to assure a child the frequent, meaningful and continuing contact with two parents and extended family the child would normally have during a marriage. We work to strengthen families through education, favoring family formation and family preservation. Unlike many other organizations with some of the same concerns, CRC is genderless; we are not a women's group nor a men's group. Rather, we advocate what we believe to be in the best interests of children including the Children's Bill of Rights.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2004

This is an absolutely heartbreaking article written by a junior in high school who has been subjected to a move away parent. It was published in Newsweek in February 1999. My Long-Distance Life

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Moving and Custody

This topic weighs heavily on me today. One of my parents is gearing up to move over 1,000 miles away and simultaneously initiating a custody case. This will not be the first, second or even third attempt to modify custody by this parent, and each time it becomes more difficult. As I sit here today, I realize that it can only be called miraculous that my siblings and I have not voluntarily cut this particular parent out of our lives. I suppose you never give up hope. Unfortunately, my youngest sibling still has three years before the golden age of 18, so she can still be used as a pawn in the custody game. I am the most upset for her and wondering to myself what compels parents to make these decisions. Whatever they proclaim, inevitably it seems for their own self-interest and little else. Widowed mother v. paternal grandparents


Tuesday, February 03, 2004

E-Mail Postage

Okay, this has nothing to do with divorce or custody, but considering we are all obviously computer literate, can you freaking imagine having to put postage on your email!? Isn't that why you pay your service provider, to absorb the costs of your use? I just feel sick... STI
This is one of the saddest stories... The court clearly let this situation spiral out of control and as a result these two children could have lost both of their parents. These are the types of stories that answer the "why is the court biased" question. KRT Wire

Drastic Measures Abroad

America is not the only country where fathers report feeling discriminated against by the family court system. These tactics seems extreme to me and don't really solve any of the problems (except potentially making the father look like an extremist, giving the court more leeway in finding for the mother). These types of stunts do bring attention to father's rights groups and causes, unfortunately I'm afraid for the participating fathers, it probably does more harm than good. Borneo Bulletin

Even the rich have custody issues...

I am pretty impressed they are both fighting, usually in these situations one of the parents effectively buys out the other parents "interest" in the child. However, this situation is surely damaging to their son, witnessed by the child yelling in a room adjacent to the courtroom. (Why on earth would they take him to court?) What a miserable world we live in ... TBO.com
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