Thursday, May 20, 2004

New Iowa Custody Law

Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack signed a new custody law on Wed, May 19th. I have copied this off an email list which I subscribe to:

Here is the essence of the change to Iowa custody law signed yesterday by the Governor. The previously existing 2003 Iowa Code, Custody of Children, Section 598.41, subsection 5, reads:

Joint physical care may be in the best interest of the child, but joint legal custody does not require joint physical care. When the court determines such action would be in the best interest of the child and would preserve the relationship between each parent and the child, joint physical care may be awarded to both joint custodial parents or physical care may be awarded to one joint custodial parent.

That subsection is replaced as follows, effective July 1, 2004:


If joint legal custody is awarded to both parents, the court may award joint physical care to both joint custodial parents upon the request of either parent. If the court denies the request for joint physical care, the determination shall be accompanied by specific findings of fact and conclusions of law that the awarding of joint physical care is not in the best interests of the child.

Further information available from the Des Moines Register.

This is the type of legislation we need to see in all states.

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Monday, May 17, 2004


I have been doing this for a couple months now and I notice that my post are becoming less and less frequent. I can only assume that is because the more reading I do on this subject, the more depressed I become about the state of equal parenting. Granted, occasionally good news does occur, but surrounded by stories of activist judges, kidnapping, murder, etc... Somehow, when it appears as though there are extremely easy answers to some of these problems, certain checks are in place (and drummed into the collective conscience of the population at large) real change seems somehow impossible.

This is of course untrue, real change is possible, and at times almost appears imminent. However, I cannot deny the difficulty in staying positive. If you are looking for a way to help facilitate the real changes so desperately needed, Freedom Network is a good place to start. I will print verbatim the Freedom Network Mission: "Freedom Network, Inc. is dedicated to upholding people's inalienable rights and freedoms as set forth in the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Through its affiliate Clubs, Freedom Network helps men and women learn the arts of leadership and political activism in order to create a trained and organized army of activists to restore freedom in the United Stated through a bloodless revolution." Their platform is multi-faceted, but make no mistake, the catalyst for this group was the callous and baseless way our judiciary has come to treat fathers - and in effect, their children.

In my situation I have come across a completely different type of problem from those which I usually discuss on this board. The truth of fully sharing custody - 50/50 legal and physical. I want to qualify all of this by saying that I do firmly believe it is in my step-sons best interest to have equal access to both his father and his mother, so these gripes are only annoyances, they do not outweigh the advantages for the child.

That being said, I have read a lot of literature describing the realities of joint custody. The general consensus from the literature is that joint custody can be very beneficial and is preferential to all other arrangements except in cases where the parents cannot act like adults and work in a cooperative and civil manner. Even in most of those cases joint custody is preferential, only the most extreme parents can nullify the benefit for the child to have access to both parents.

The reality of joint custody with a moderately uncooperative party is frustrating on almost a daily basis. There has not been one week since this arrangement began (approx 4 months ago) when we have not either:
1) Had his son dropped off over an hour late
2) Had forms, medicine, clothes, shoes, homework, etc... mysteriously disappear while with his mother
3) Received a call from his school saying he was either under-dressed, not picked up before the school closed, reeked like cigarette smoke, had no lunch to eat, had started pinching other children "like my mom does", been swearing in class "but my mom says those words," had reported to his teacher that he didn't have to brush his teeth when he was at his mom's house... (I know there are more, but this is all I can recall at the moment)
4) Had to pick his son up from the babysitters when his mother just failed to show up (3 times)

And those are just the beginning. You might think that considering we should go for full custody, but unfortunately these things have been going on for years and the best we could do was stop her from being able to move and take their son and get joint legal and physical custody. Our arrangement is that he spends one week with one parent and then switches. We are grateful to have this arrangement. But each week I am amazed at how completely ambivalent she can be to anyone but herself (including her child) and how she just expects us to pick up the pieces, make the appointments, keep paperwork, insurance, registrations, etc in order. She has never even clipped his fingernails - she told one of the evaluators that was part of my husbands responsibility. Basically, on her week, we are lucky if he gets to school dressed and fed and then maybe she'll be around after work to watch him play video games on the Playstation she bought, or maybe she'll drop him off with one of her cousins so she can go out.

And then she claims that we brainwash him when he tells her he would rather just stay with us! It is so frustrating to me, but the worst is how sad he looks when he knows the week at our house is about to end. How he begs to stay and how each week we talk up his mother to him. What else can you do, we aren't going to speak negatively about her to him and he has to go to her house, but then the following week he comes back more disappointed than he was before. It feels as though we almost help set him up to be let down by her.

Nothing about divorce/custody is easy. Nothing


Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Another Mother Takes Her Children's Lives

In an another case, a mother has admitted to killing her three children. She and her husband had separated and were going through divorce proceedings. Her husband had attempted to get custody of the children citing grave danger for the children after an attempted suicide by his wife.

This is a terrible tragedy and while my heart goes out to the family, one thought keeps nagging me - Could this all have been averted if the courts were more just in their custody decisions?

Articles: First Coast News,

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Monday, May 10, 2004

Texas Man Ordered To Pay For Wife's Mental Hospital Bills - After She Killed Two Of Their Sons

A Texas man is now seeking a divorce from his wife and sole custody of their 2 year old son. His wife has been committed to a mental institution for the murder of two of her sons and the beating of the third.

The husband has been ordered to pay a portion of her institution costs. Concerning the subsequent divorce, a spokesperson from the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation said a divorce does not necessarily sever the husbands responsibility to pay.

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Alaska Self-Help Legal Stations

The Alaska Court System Family Law Self-Help Center has helped to create work stations with unlimited internet access as well as direct phone lines to the family law help line. This is a free service. The work stations are located in Kenai, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Juneau, Fairbanks and Palmer. Kenai Peninsula Online

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Is A Pool More Important Than A Dad?

This is an editorial by Jeffery M. Leving and Glenn Sacks concerning move away cases, primarily LaMusga.


NY Joint Custody Measure

New York bill A1123 will go in front of the State Assembly's Children and Families Committee tomorrow. This bill will (I believe - the reference article is quite brief) will help to create a presumption of joint custody.


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