Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Group raises kid-custody issues

Family Law Reform Now is attempting to get New York to adopt a custody law allowing for joint custody. Every Friday, at least for the rest of this month, they will be collecting signatures from 11 am to 1 pm on the steps of Queens Family Court in Jamaica.

New York Daily News


Captives of Colorado

Link to the Rocky Mountain News for a ridiculously biased article on moveaway cases. Captives of Colorado? Give me a break.

Both of the mothers interviewed said they would not leave the state without their child - yet they are aghast the courts will not let the children be moved from Colorado to Arizona - effectively severing the close ties they have to their father. Can you say hypocrite?

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Let's change child custody system Declaring winners and losers in custody fights can lead to tragedy

I am going to reprint this article in it's entirety as it looks as though soon a subscription will be needed in order to access it... This is the link directly to the article and this is the link to the homepage of St Paul Pioneer Press.

It is a sad day for all of us when a parent takes the life of his or her children. We all mourn as we hear of yet another parent, John Tester, killing himself and his own child ("Woman's court statements in a bitter custody battle detailed her fears long before the murder-suicide of her ex-husband and child," Sept. 8).

This senseless and preventable tragedy sends chills down all our spines. In the past year, there have been at least three high-profile cases locally in which mothers killed their children. Contrary to popular belief, mom is not always the victim and dad is not always the monster.

But what drives parents to do this? From the point of view of an outside, general observer, it appears that mothers tend to kill their children because they can't take the pressure of raising their children (presumably alone), and men kill their children because they can't take the pressure of being deprived of the equal opportunity to raise their children; all as a result of being unmarried parents.

If men want more time with their children, and women want less time with their children, why has our society been so slow to allow fit parents a presumption of joint physical custody, which would reduce the main stressor of both parents?

At the same time, this could also reduce litigation and acrimony.

Our current laws are made to pit one parent against the other ? one parent is selected custodial parent and one parent must be labeled non-custodial parent. Federal policy has fostered a system in which mothers, predominantly, seek and win sole physical custody even though equal joint shared physical custody is clearly in the children's best interest. Joint physical custody is rare. Conflict in divorce and custody battles is only exacerbated by the win-lose mentality created when parents use the children as a continuous weapon against the other parent. When this battle escalates to hiding children, murder, and/or murder-suicide, the tragedy awakens our conscience.

We need to be thoughtful about this unfortunate disaster. Instead of the typical knee-jerk reaction to put all the blame on one person, we need to courageously look objectively at the "system" ? the government system and the family system that piled on the fear, guilt, shame, hopelessness and hurt ? that would cause such an outcome. These are complicated matters, and the answer is not to keep more dads away from their children. Was there evidence that this dad was unstable whose access to his child must be limited? Or, did the system take him over the edge? We will never know the whole story.

Currently in Minnesota, if one parent opposes joint physical custody, joint physical custody will not be allowed "because the parents can't get along." Additionally, even in cases where both parents agree to joint physical custody, judges often deny this because they are led to believe by erroneous reports and faulty research that joint physical custody is never in the best interests of children.

Judges then order the easiest most politically correct custody arrangement to the mother, often without sufficient evidence.

Citizens must pressure legislators to pass laws that would create a presumption of joint physical custody unless there is imminent danger, due to abuse, neglect or harm. Could the refusal by the judiciary to mitigate the bitterness and custody battles by allowing (or requiring) both parents to have equal time with their children be part of the problem?

A series of speakers at an August "listening session" by the Supreme Court concluded that the government officials and professionals in the family law system are completely incapable of differentiating the level of risk to determine which parents might do something tragic and which are unlikely to do so.

As a result, all non-custodial parents are limited to reduced time with their children averaging four days per month (every other weekend) and a few evenings a month.

The outcome is often tragic with a dangerous parent spending too much time with the children and a responsible healthy noncustodial parent not getting to spend enough.

Olson is volunteer executive director of the Center for Parental Responsibility in Roseville.

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Libertarian Presidential Candidate

This is a portion of the family rights platform of Libertarian candidate for president, Michael Badnarik. You can access it directly here or access his website here.

I'm not trying to sway anyone's political beliefs - BUT Mr Badnarik is one of the very few candidates considering these issues in any type of forward thinking or constitutionally correct manner. From Republicans and Democrats we get the same rhetoric and propaganda about the role of family, deadbeat dads, etc...

No issue is more sensitive -- and few issues are more troubling to Libertarians -- than the role of government in family life. On the face of things, the federal government has an even smaller role in that area than it does in most, and I favor keeping Washington out of issues like defining and licensing marriage, regulating homeschooling, mandating childhood vaccinations or using tax policy for "socially engineering" the makeup and function of the family.

However, there are some areas of family life in which the federal government arguably has a role to play. The Constitution ordains that all Americans receive the equal protection of the law, and it prohibits involuntary servitude.

In both of these areas, the federal government has failed America's families and, in particular, its parents.

Equal protection of the law pre-supposes fairness for those coming before the bar of justice. Yet in divorce proceedings, the states routinely award custody of minor children to one parent or another, relegating the other parent to the status of "second-class citizen" -- not because the latter parent has been convicted of any crime, or found unfit, but because of a prejudice in favor of father or mother as the best "single" parent.

This is a matter of federal interest under the 14th Amendment, even intra-state. Once one parent or another, possibly with a child in tow, moves to another state, any shadow of doubt is erased. It becomes an interstate matter, and by definition therefore falls under federal jurisdiction.

As president, I will direct the Justice Department's civil rights division to investigate state policies which violate the 14th Amendment rights of parents and to pursue the elimination of those policies in court. The default presumption in any divorce proceeding must be for joint custody of minor children. Failing the waiver of that presumption by one parent, or proof that one parent is unfit, to deny any parent equal access to, and equal participation in the raising of, his or her children is clearly an abuse of law and repugnant to the Constitution.

Above and beyond the matter of custody comes child support. While it is reasonable to assess support for a minor child when circumstances dictate that he or she will be living exclusively with one parent, the matter has been inflated into, literally, a federal case.

The 13th Amendment prohibits involuntary servitude. In the Slaughterhouse Cases, the Supreme Court clearly and unambiguously ruled that this prohibition applies to "peonage" -- the attachment of criminal liability to failure to pay, or work off, debt. Yet, across the nation, hundreds of thousands of non-custodial parents find themselves in court, often charged with felonies and facing prison, for their failure or inability to pay child support. Further, the federal government has intervened to the extent of maintaining a special database to track "deadbeat parents" across state lines in order to enforce these draconian and unconstitutional laws.

As president, I will direct the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice to sue states which attach criminal liability to child support obligations and, if necessary, to charge government officials who administer that unconstitutional criminal liability with violations of the civil rights of non-custodial parents.

I'm Michael Badnarik, Libertarian for President. I ask the tough questions?to give you answers that really work!


Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Nevada Group Deemed too Anti-Women

Equal Rights for Divorced Fathers, a group in Nevada started to help fathers with issues of divorce and custody, will no longer be receiving referrals from the family court.

Apparently the founder of the group has made comments like the following: "She's a mean-spirited lesbian that doesn't like me"

All I have to say is what an idiot. Look, we all have personal opinions, but this man was lucky enough to have founded an organization that was not only recognized by the family courts, but received referrals from the courts - this is something virtually no other fathers organization has been able to do. Discretion, discretion, discretion... He is a de facto member of the family court system- you simply cannot represent your organization by making these types of statements.


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