Tuesday, June 22, 2004


This is an article discussing the benefits and costs involved with mediation versus a court battle. Specific resources for parents in New York. timesunion.com

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Dads of Michigan Petition Drive

I emailed Dads of Michigan to ask about the outcome of their May petition drive. To date, I have not received a response. If anyone knows whether it was successful, please share...

Their website is accessible here: DadsofMichigan.org


Thursday, June 17, 2004

California Senate Bill 1367 Update

I decided today was a good day for updates so I am trying to research all the past bills and initiatives that I have catalogued.

I am trying to figure out if anything has happened to this bill. I saw on one site someone said (with no support) that the bill had been withdrawn by Burton the day before the California Supreme Court ruled on LaMusga. Elsewhere I saw a reference to the bill being amended. There was no back-up support for this contention either so I am not sure if it was the resubmitted.

Here is a link to the California Senate Page for Bill 1367. This site lists the bills last amended date as 4/27/04. It further says on 4/28/04 it was withdrawn from committee and re-referred to Com. on JUD.

So I guess not much to report... If anyone knows anything about what is going on with this bill, please share...


New York Bill A1123

I discussed this bill previously and I must admit I am a little behind in getting the update available. As you can probably imagine, had the bill passed, the news would have been more forthcoming.

On May 11th, 2004 the committee agreed to "hold" the bill making it a non-issue for the remainder of this legislative session. Chairman Roger Green was integral in getting the bill held (this is not good). However, here is where it gets interesting - Roger Green resigned his position on June 1, 2004 after pleading guilty to receiving free rides from contractors that he then turned around and billed the state for. Article at NYNewsday.com

The author of the bill is David Sidikman and he can be contacted here:
New York State Assembly
146A Manetto Hill Road
Plainview, NY 11803

As well as all members of the New York State Assembly can be contacted through the state website: New York State Assembly

A good summary article is available through familylawreformnow.com.

I encourage everyone to read the article at family law reform and then to contact all the appropriate state legislatures to express your feelings on the handling of this bill and to contact David Sidikman in support of his bill and encourage him to keep fighting.


Wednesday, June 16, 2004

More Newdow

In conjunction with the post below, the latest Glenn Sacks article is about the Newdow case. The article was written with attorney Jeffery M. Leving.



Newdow v. Supreme Court

The big story in the news lately is the Supreme Court case Elk Grove Schools v. Michael Newdow. This is the case in which a divorced father (with custody standing seemingly in tandem between joint and none) sued his daughter's school over the constitutionality of the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.

The court refused to decide the case due to the father's lack of standing to sue on behalf of his daughter considering the flux in his custody arrangement. A good article is available from Newsday.com and I will reprint some of that article verbatim: (The entire article is still worth a read)

"The decision that a father lacks sufficient standing to bring such a case should be a matter of great public concern. Indeed, three justices disagreed and felt that Newdow had standing (as a lower court found) based on his status as a parent. Ironically, if he had some small financial interest in the pledge, he would have had standing. Yet, with a daughter in the school system, he lacks standing simply to ask for review of an allegedly unconstitutional policy. The decision is only the latest example of how the court pays lip service to the constitutional rights of parenting, but routinely ignores that basic right in the slightest conflicts, including a simple test of standing.

Notably, the court appears wrong even in its reading of California law. California courts have emphasized the right of both parents to bring actions to protect their rights. Indeed, the California courts are marching in the opposite direction from the Supreme Court. Recently, in an important ruling, the California Supreme Court ruled that custodial parents could not claim the absolute right to dictate changes in the lives of their children by moving out of state - and away from a non-custodial parent. The court found that the non-custodial parent has a voice in such a move and is not trumped by the mere fact that custody resides with the other parent."

In the most basic of terms, this decision struck a blow to parents across the country who do not have completely equal custody of their children. It basically says that without equal custody a parent's right to the upbringing of their child can be terminated at the discretion of the "primary" parent. In this case, the mother claimed to not have a problem with the words "under God."

I cannot imagine the Supreme Court did not consider the ramifications this would have on family courts across the country, all while doing nothing about the constitutionality of recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Surely this case will come before them again and they will not have the luxury of ducking out by some type of family law loophole. However, the ramifications for children of divorce will be long reaching.

The full case can be viewed here (This is an Adobe file so you will need Adobe Reader): FindLaw


Butler, PA Divorce/Custody Support

Borrowed from the North Bulletin Board:

Butler -- Parents Forever, a Lifesteps program, is for parents interested in learning how to minimize the effects of divorce and/or custody situations. The next session is from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. June 26 at Lifesteps' Butler Center, 383 New Castle Road. Registration fee is $45; the program is free to those who show proof of receiving cash assistance. Call 724-283-2154, ext. 333, for more information.

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Reactive Blogging

A reader commented on a previous post and cited both Troxel and the 14th amendment. For research purposes I decided to cover both here:

14th Amendment: (copied verbatim courtesy of LII)
Amendment XIV

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a state, or the members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such state.

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any state shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

The two sections that are relevant are 1 and 5. Here is where I get a little sketchy as I do not have as firm of a command of the legal issue as I feel I should. I welcome any further commentary on the application of the 14th amendment in custody law. In a nutshell, I understand the applicability to be in reference to keeping a person from having substantial and meaningful contact with their child as a direct violation of the 1st provision. Effectively - nullifying the argument for sole custody, best interest of the child (BIC) standard, etc... Again, I welcome anyone with a better grasp on the legal aspect of this argument.

However, in looking for appropriate material to provide on Troxel I stumbled upon this: (a) The Fourteenth Amendment?s Due Process Clause has a substantive component that ?provides heightened protection against government interference with certain fundamental rights and liberty interests,? Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702, 720, including parents? fundamental right to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children, see, e.g., Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U.S. 645, 651. Pp. 5?8.

And then to repeat, the information on Troxel also via LII:




No. 99?138. Argued January 12, 2000?Decided June 5, 2000


Washington Rev. Code §26.10.160(3) permits any person to petition for visitation rights at any time and authorizes state superior courts to grant such rights whenever visitation may serve a child's best interest. Petitioners Troxel petitioned for the right to visit their deceased son's daughters. Respondent Granville, the girls mother, did not oppose all visitation, but objected to the amount sought by the Troxels. The Superior Court ordered more visitation than Granville desired, and she appealed. The State Court of Appeals reversed and dismissed the Troxels petition. In affirming, the State Supreme Court held, inter alia, that §26.10.160(3) unconstitutionally infringes on parents fundamental right to rear their children. Reasoning that the Federal Constitution permits a State to interfere with this right only to prevent harm or potential harm to the child, it found that §26.10.160(3) does not require a threshold showing of harm and sweeps too broadly by permitting any person to petition at any time with the only requirement being that the visitation serve the best interest of the child.

Held: The judgment is affirmed.

137 Wash. 2d 1, 969 P.2d 21, affirmed.

Justice O'Connor, joined by The Chief Justice, Justice Ginsburg, and Justice Breyer, concluded that §26.10.160(3), as applied to Granville and her family, violates her due process right to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of her daughters. Pp. 517.

(a) The Fourteenth Amendments Due Process Clause has a substantive component that ?provides heightened protection against government interference with certain fundamental rights and liberty interests, Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702, 720, including parents fundamental right to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children, see, e.g., Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U.S. 645, 651. Pp. 58.

(b) Washingtons breathtakingly broad statute effectively permits a court to disregard and overturn any decision by a fit custodial parent concerning visitation whenever a third party affected by the decision files a visitation petition, based solely on the judge?s determination of the childs best interest. A parents estimation of the childs best interest is accorded no deference. The State Supreme Court had the opportunity, but declined, to give §26.10.160(3) a narrower reading. A combination of several factors compels the conclusion that §26.10.160(3), as applied here, exceeded the bounds of the Due Process Clause. First, the Troxels did not allege, and no court has found, that Granville was an unfit parent. There is a presumption that fit parents act in their children?s best interests, Parham v. J. R., 442 U.S. 584, 602; there is normally no reason for the State to inject itself into the private realm of the family to further question fit parents ability to make the best decisions regarding their children, see, e.g., Reno v. Flores, 507 U.S. 292, 304. The problem here is not that the Superior Court intervened, but that when it did so, it gave no special weight to Granvilles determination of her daughters best interests. More importantly, that court appears to have applied the opposite presumption, favoring grandparent visitation. In effect, it placed on Granville the burden of disproving that visitation would be in her daughters best interest and thus failed to provide any protection for her fundamental right. The court also gave no weight to Granvilles having assented to visitation even before the filing of the petition or subsequent court intervention. These factors, when considered with the Superior Courts slender findings, show that this case involves nothing more than a simple disagreement between the court and Granville concerning her childrens best interests, and that the visitation order was an unconstitutional infringement on Granvilles right to make decisions regarding the rearing of her children. Pp. 8?14.

(c) Because the instant decision rests on §26.10.160(3)s sweeping breadth and its application here, there is no need to consider the question whether the Due Process Clause requires all nonparental visitation statutes to include a showing of harm or potential harm to the child as a condition precedent to granting visitation or to decide the precise scope of the parental due process right in the visitation context. There is also no reason to remand this case for further proceedings. The visitation order clearly violated the Constitution, and the parties should not be forced into additional litigation that would further burden Granvilles parental right. Pp. 1417.

Justice Souter concluded that the Washington Supreme Courts second reason for invalidating its own state statute that it sweeps too broadly in authorizing any person at any time to request (and a judge to award) visitation rights, subject only to the State?s particular best-interests standard is consistent with this Courts prior cases. This ends the case, and there is no need to decide whether harm is required or to consider the precise scope of a parents right or its necessary protections. Pp. 15.

Justice Thomas agreed that this Courts recognition of a fundamental right of parents to direct their childrens upbringing resolves this case, but concluded that strict scrutiny is the appropriate standard of review to apply to infringements of fundamental rights. Here, the State lacks a compelling interest in second-guessing a fit parents decision regarding visitation with third parties. Pp. 12.

O?Connor, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and Ginsburg and Breyer, JJ., joined. Souter, J., and Thomas, J., filed opinions concurring in the judgment. Stevens, J., Scalia, J., and Kennedy, J., filed dissenting opinions.

Again, I don't feel confident enough in my own understanding to provide broad legal analysis, but always welcome others expertise.

A more comprehensive source on Troxel can be found at FindLaw.

So, for anyone who read the comments and was confused, hope this was marginally helpful.


Monday, June 07, 2004

Fort Wayne, IN - Father Support Group

Borrowed from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:

FATHERS UNITED FOR EQUAL RIGHTS: For fathers dealing with divorce, division of property, child custody, visitation and support issues; 7:30 p.m. June 14; Pizza Hut, Northcrest Shopping Center, 701 Coliseum Blvd. E.; 493-9788.

UPDATE: An alert reader commented on this group in the thoughts section. His email is available there as well if you require more information.

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Latest Glenn Sacks Article

This is a link to the latest article written by Glenn Sacks:
National Fatherhood Initiative's Ad Campaign Insults African-American Fathers


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