Thursday, October 28, 2004

Newdow Presentation

I went back and forth as to if I would post this because it is so long.. but I think it is worth it. Part of this is already here, but this is the presentation in its entirety.

More info on Newdow on this blog here, here and here.

I am not going to comment too much on it, some of it rings extremely true to me, other parts seem a bit sensationalized. One problem I have can be seen in the fundamental fairness section. We don't need to paint primary parents or breadwinners in this manner; it is simply playing to stereotypes of good parents and bad parents and sound frighteningly like the rhetoric we see coming out of the feminist groups, though obviously in a reversed fashion. The argument is that this is unconstitutional - and it would be unconstitutional even if the "stay at home" mom were just as wonderful as the "working mom." In my opinion, anyway. You will have to make your own decision.

I received this in an email an am copying it verbatim:

"Resolved, the current family law system is an unconstitutional system that is far more detrimental than beneficial."


For the first 150 years of our nation's existence, those in power felt confident that only men could own property. Accordingly, children - who were "property" - were "owned" by their fathers, and they were placed in their fathers' custody whenever a judicial determination was necessary.

In the early twentieth century, we "progressed" by asserting that women were far better nurturers than men, and employed the "tender years" doctrine. Those in power felt confident that women should obtain custody of young children.

Now we look at the past, and think how foolish and shortsighted were our predecessors. Those, we believe, were inappropriate approaches to family law. The proper structure - we say as confidently as those in the past - is to focus on "the best interests of the child."

It is my thesis that the "best interests of the child" (BIC) standard - although it sounds beneficent and noble - is no more advantageous or justified than those prior methodologies. What I propose is a "respect for the Constitution" standard, which somehow always seems to yield the optimal results. If we simply accord deference to due process, equal protection and the fundamental constitutional right of parenthood, we will. I believe, achieve far "better" results.

The current framework is clearly not working. The blank in "custody ____" is generally filled in with words such as "conflict," "battle" or "war." And although the current thinking is that such a situation is due to the parent litigants, I believe that assumption is as invalid as it is unproven. People generally don't fight unless they think they are being treated unfairly, or because they believe they will gain advantages. In the current family law systems, unfairness is unabashedly declared to be official policy, and remarkable incentives are held out for those who believe they will be "victorious."

The constitutional violations are legion, yet virtually never discussed. I will briefly list some of the key ones here.

(1) The Fundamental Constitutional Right (FCR) of Parenthood is not treated as a FCR

Although the Supreme Court has referred to the right of parenthood as "perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court," the fact is that it is treated as anything but a FCR. Would a judge ever abridge a parent's right to belong to the Catholic Church, an Islamic sect or the Church of Scientology by claiming that was not in "the best interests of the child?" Could we imagine a court telling a mother she can't vote for the candidate of her choice for that reason? Could a jurist prohibit a father from engaging in a peaceful protest because that wasn't in the child's "best interests?" Obviously not, because we really count the freedoms of worship, suffrage and speech as FCRs. But the FCR of parenthood is a FCR orphan, upon which we trample daily in our family courts.

Let us never lose sight of what this right entails, and the harms that follow its abrogation. There is nothing as important, meaningful and life-defining to a person as the relationship (s)he has with his or her child. Few people would give up their homes, kidneys or lives for their First Amendment freedoms, or any other enumerated FCR. But few parents would not give those up for their kids. And to tell parents that they can only see their children every other weekend - a standard "visitation" order - is nothing short of abuse. It is an incredibly cruel punishment and a horrible; life-shattering event like no other. Certainly more than some ipse dixit by an individual who happens to be wearing a black robe must be required before such an order may be imposed.

(2) Equal Protection Clause Violations

(a) Children versus Parents

The family codes specify that it is the "best interests of the child" which are to be paramount. That may certainly win votes, and most parents would agree that they would put their children's welfare before their own. Nonetheless, where in the Equal Protection Clause is government permitted to implement such a rule? We're not talking about protecting children, which government not only has the right, but the obligation to do. We're saying that - given one set of citizens (children) and another set of citizens (parents) - we're going to put the lives of the former set above the lives of the latter. And we don't even care how much worse off we make the parents or how little "better" we make the children. If we can save the child one cough, we can give the parent terminal cancer. If we can give the child an extra nickel, we can deprive the parent of his life's savings. There is no justification or legal authority for this inequity.

(b) Parents Within the Family Courts versus Parents Outside the Family Courts

It is assumed that parents who are separated are not similarly situated to parents in an intact family. But there is no evidence that - were they treated fairly by the state - those parents would be any less similarly situated than parents who are perfectly healthy versus those who have a physical disability; parents who are rich versus those who are poor; parents who are mature versus those who are teenagers; etc. To apply a completely different standard to divorced and separated parents merely on that basis violates equal protection.

(3) Due Process Violations

(a) The "best interests of the child" (BIC) standard is unconstitutionally vague

The BIC standard is unconstitutionally vague, with no safeguards whatsoever to protect the FCR of parenthood that is abrogated by its use. There are no accepted criteria, no scales to measure criteria (even if criteria were accepted), no methods for weighing the criteria against each other, and no means to integrate the criteria over time. Furthermore, the child development "science" is far too rudimentary to make any correlations between a given parenting style and the outcome in a given child for the overwhelming majority of outcomes.

There is no more a "best" for children than there is a "best" for music, political party, religion, environmental policy or anything else. And to give a judge the unbridled discretion to make such determinations - with no basis other than his or her own subjective feelings - is a due process violation that unjustly impinges upon "perhaps the oldest" - and I would argue the most important - "of the fundamental liberty interests."

The problem should be obvious by considering the quandary facing a fit parent who has been told by a judge that, "I've decided it's "best" for your child to abridge your FCR of parenthood." Then what? The judge can pull out of thin air anything (s)he chooses. "You're too rigid." "You're narcissistic." "You don't co-parent well." How does one counter those allegations? There are no elements necessary for the trial judge to reach those conclusions. There is nothing that requires the judge to consider any other characteristics of the parent that might offset those "detriments" (even if they were real). There's no remedial course of conduct the parent can count on to restore his FCRs.

The Courts of Appeal provide no safeguards either. Also lacking any accepted criteria, the Appellate justices routinely defer to the lower court's determination. What sort of due process is there when a sole government actor has unbridled discretion to severely injure a party - and deprive him of a FCR - in a setting where there is no mechanism to prevent, counteract or redress such an abuse?

(b) The application of the BIC standard is unconstitutionally arbitrary

Even if there were some "best interests of the child," the manner in which it is determined is unconstitutionally arbitrary. First, the parents are sent to mediation. What that means is that - unless both parents are willing to be fair - one parent must mediate away the most precious part of his life ? his time with his child. Where else in society do we ever ask people to mediate away their liberties?

When a parent is unwilling to allow for this, the mediation is said to be unsuccessful, and the couple deemed "highly conflicted." The "experts" are then called in. These people, however, have no proven expertise whatsoever to accomplish the stated goal: determining the BIC of a child. Rather, they mindlessly apply mantras that have somehow developed and pervaded the field. For instance, they proclaim, "Children need consistency!" as if they've actually said something. Consistency how? Certainly, a foster child who has no way of knowing where he will sleep the next night, or who will be there to nurture him needs "consistency" in care and protection. But a child with two loving parents does not need any more "consistency" than the consistent knowledge that a devoted parent will always be there for him. The contention that a new custodial arrangement cannot be implemented - especially when that arrangement would likely eliminate rather than exacerbate the interparental conflict - because that would be too difficult for the child is absurd. Parents in intact families put children in day care, send them to sleep-away camp, let the grandparents take them for extended periods of time, get them nannies, discharge those nannies, and impose a whole host of changes without the government or the experts crying "Consistency!" Children start soccer, end scouting, take up ballet, get new friends, change schools, etc. One could well argue that learning to deal with such changes and being exposed to different situations is a benefit, not a detriment.

Our mandatory school attendance laws belie this entire "consistency" notion as well. We take children who have never in their lives been away from their parents, and put them with total strangers for forty hours a week. The State never argues there that children are harmed because of a lack of "consistency." Why, then, is it maintained that putting a child with the parent she loves - but previously only saw 25% of the time - in a custodial arrangement where both parents become equals is problematic?

The answers are absurd. A favorite is to ignore the question and point, instead, to such inane statistics as the fact that only 2% of custody battles end up in trial. What does that prove? An even lower percentage of Southern slaves went to trial to end their injustices. Would that fact be used to show the propriety of slavery?

The fact is that noncustodial parents are told from the outset that they are going to be abused, and that fighting the abuse will only increase the number and degree of the injuries. Few people have the resources or fortitude to challenge a system where the agents who are supposed to protect them proclaim as some badge of honor that they will do the opposite. A parent who fights to share equally in raising his child faces years of horrific pain and financial ruin, with dismal prospects for success. The fact that few take up the challenge in such a setting means nothing.

(c) The BIC standard is unconstitutionally imposed

Absent a finding of neglect or abuse, parents have - as part of their FCR of parenthood - the right to raise their children as they see fit. That is the case from Day 1 through Day N for parents about to be brought into the family courts. On Day N+1, however - even though that parent is exactly as fit and capable as (s)he was on Day N - the standard is changed. No longer does "neglect or abuse" suffice. Rather, a BIC standard (which has no meaning and, therefore, can't be defended against) is instituted. This new standard is applied solely because a very interested party - the other parent, who is being enticed with the rewards of more custodial time, power, control, vengeance ? and, of course, money - has decided to file a piece of paper. Nowhere else would we ever even consider depriving people of FCRs by applying different standards to them solely because some other citizen finds that to be to his or her own benefit.

(d) Strict Scrutiny is required, but not followed

Imagine that Pfizer wanted to put a new drug on the market. The drug is known to have severe, life-threatening side effects. Although the Pfizer representatives say it's effective for treating some disease, there is no study to back up that claim. Without such studies, the FDA would obviously never consider approving that drug.

That approval, however, has been given in the family law system. We know that there are severe side effects, some of which are life-threatening, that stem from the use of the family law "drug." The most important interpersonal bond in the child's life is worsened. Enormous amounts of time, energy and money are wasted. The life of at least one parent is decimated. Yet - without a single study showing that this "drug" provides a benefit - we have approved its use.

With the FCR of parenthood being abridged, strict scrutiny must be applied. This means that the government has the burden of proof to show a compelling interest, that its laws serve that interest, and that the laws that serve that interest do so in the least restrictive manner possible. All three of these elements are required. Government has never provided any.

The interesting thing is that manifest evidence exists to demonstrate the folly of the current approach. Most (if not all) states have a policy for religious upbringing, stating that - absent a finding of harm - both parents have the right to instill in the child whatever religious beliefs they wish. Thus, fathers and mothers know that litigation over religious upbringing will serve no purpose. Accordingly, such litigation is exceedingly rare. Imagine, however, if the legislature were to pass a law stating that, henceforth, judges shall determine the "best religious interests of the child," and that "religion support money" shall be given to the winner. Certainly, no one can reasonably doubt that there would be a marked increase in litigation over religious upbringing were such a law in place.

The least restrictive means of abrogating parental rights is to respect both parents equally. Any honest assessment of our current system makes it clear that we have no idea of what is "best" for children, or that our BIC setup gives "better" results than simply upholding the right to 50% custody for both parents. In other words, we have two routes we can take: (1) treat people unfairly while imposing a system that gives uncertain results, or (2) treat people fairly while imposing a system that gives uncertain results. For some bizarre reason, we've chosen method (1). That makes no sense, and it is not the "least restrictive means" of implementing a family law system.

(e) Fundamental Fairness

Because gender issues often cloud these discussions, consider two lesbian parents. Parent A and Parent B have jointly adopted a child. (Neither is genetically related to the child, and neither bore the child during pregnancy.) Both are equally loved by the child, both love the child equally in return, and both are equally fit. The only difference is that Parent A has decided to spend her free time educating herself, working hard, and saving. Parent B dropped out of high school, has decided to live "the good life," and always spends whatever money she has.

The parents decide that one of them should stay home to raise the child. With Parent A capable of earning much more, Parent B - by default - becomes the "primary parent." In other words, Parent A - because she has worked hard and applied herself - sacrifices the joy of being with her child for the financial security she can bring to the family unit. Reciprocally, Parent B - because she has not worked or applied herself - gets the bonus of Parent A's financial support while she simultaneously gets increased amounts of that child-raising joy.

The child thrives under this arrangement, and she remains equally in love with both parents. During her spare time, Parent A continues to further her education. She spends virtually nothing on herself, saving for the child's education and to achieve sufficient financial security to preclude the child from having to care for her in her old age. Parent B - during her spare time - just watches TV and parties. She saves nothing.

A breakup ensues. Parent A says, "I'm no longer willing to sacrifice my parenting time. I want now for us to share custody equally. Besides, it was always my plan to spend more time with our daughter once she matured."

Parent B says, "No way. The government will maintain the unequal custody because I had more time with our child before. Additionally, because you have accumulated a lot of money, the government will let me use your savings to bankroll my quest to maintain this inequity. I know you planned on increasing the time you spend with our child, but (for me) that's only an additional reason to demand primary custody."

"That's mean and vindictive. Additionally, I don't want to the money I planned to use for our child to fund attorneys. We're both fine parents. Let's simply share fairly," says Parent A.

"Nope," says Parent B. "You have accomplished much and sacrificed much. Now you will be forced to pay for your diligence."

This is not an uncommon initial step in family law conflicts. If the judge agrees with Parent B's position - as judges often do - Parent A has two options: give up the most important thing in her life (i.e., her time with her child), or fight. There are no other choices. And, if she fights, she will lose the fruits of years of her labor (while Parent B loses nothing) simply because she (Parent A) chose to apply herself and sacrifice parenting time.

This is simply unfair. One should not be penalized for working hard and wanting to share equally, while another is rewarded for not working and being selfish. Additionally, having a court mandate that an individual must use her savings to pay attorneys to deprive her of her own fundamental constitutional rights clearly violates the First Amendment.

(4) Fourth Amendment violations

Family Court judges generally emphasize that they would be perfectly happy if the two parents would come to an extra-judicial agreement In other words, if Parent B (in the preceding example) agreed to share 50-50, Parent A would have obtained her rightful equal parenting time. Only because Parent B didn't agree is Parent A subject to infringements of her fundamental rights. The reason given is that there is a compelling state interest in doing what is "best" for the child. But how compelling can that interest be if the judge would have willingly abided by a 50-50 arrangement had Parent B agreed?

In any event, an "expert evaluation" is usually ordered by the Court at this point in time. The experts - whose skills in making "best interests" determinations are proven to no greater a degree than those of a psychic or some person off the street - are then given the power to make all manner of "searches" and "seizures." Without any probable cause, the Parents A of the world are forced to open their bedrooms, their medicine chests, their personal records, and their thoughts to some stranger. Again, this is done with none of the mandates required under "strict scrutiny."


Those who have created our family law system are undoubtedly well-meaning and convinced of their righteousness. But "[h]istory teaches us that there have been but few infringements of personal liberty by the state which have not been justified ? in the name of righteousness and the public good, and few which have not been directed ? at politically helpless minorities." No one can be more politically helpless than a party who is told by the judge before whom he appears that the court has no interest in being fair to him. That is the situation for parents who are fit parents, seeking only to uphold their most precious liberty interests.

Our current family law system is rife with conflict, and causes unequivocal harms. It is time to consider the possibility that this is not due to the parties, but that it is a "systems problem." Especially with no proven benefits, our judges and legislators must put an end to a framework that inflicts as much pain as does this one. Perfectly innocent parents - who want none of these battles, but only to enjoy their fundamental rights - have their lives shattered by their government, without any proven countervailing benefit. This is abuse, produced for no other reason than those invested in the system have refused to be rigorous and objective in considering what they are doing. This repetition of history - following in the footsteps of the "only-men-can-own-property" and the "only-women-can-care-for-children" fallacies - must end. Simply respecting the rights of parents is a methodology ready to be placed in the stead of the illusory and unconstitutional "best interests of the child" scheme now grievously injuring parents and children.


(1) The legislature finds and declares that protecting children from harm is a compelling state interest. However, determining what is "best" for a child does not protect that child. On the contrary, it often fosters interparental conflict; wastes enormous amounts of time, energy and money; and decimates the lives of parents. These are all harms to children.
(2) The legislature also finds and declares that protecting adults from harm is a compelling state interest as well. Abusing adults is a harm, and to abridge a parent's fundamental constitutional right of parenthood - absent an adequate justification - is abuse. This is not only a harm to the parent, but a harm to his children as well.
(3) In view of the foregoing, the legislature finds and declares that - absent a finding of real harm - all parents have an absolute right to equal shared custody of their children.
(4) Real harm within the family law context is defined precisely as it is outside the family law context. Parents with concerns that real harm is occurring due to the other parent's custody may contact CPS for assistance.
(5) Any parent may bring an action in court - outside of the CPS system - claiming real harm due to the other parents' custody. If real harm is not proven, the accusing parent, and his or her attorney, shall be joint and severally liable for all of the accused parent's legal fees.
(6) Absent a finding of real harm:(a) Parents have the absolute right to make whatever arrangement they can agree upon.(b) Parents who are unable to agree upon a custody arrangement shall be required to go to mediation. Unless agreed upon by the parents - or unless an equal parenting plan is not possible without real harm occurring - any custody plan shall adhere to an equal (i.e., 50-50) shared parenting arrangement.(c) If mediation fails, the case shall be handled by the Court. Unless agreed upon by the parents - or unless an equal parenting plan is not possible without real harm occurring - the Court shall adhere to an equal shared parenting arrangement.
(7) If real harm is found, the Court shall specify precisely what that harm is, and the evidence upon which its findings of harm are based. The Court shall then order a custody arrangement as near as possible to an equal shared arrangement as can be created while obviating the given harm.
(8) Expert evaluation:(a) The Court may order an "expert" evaluation only upon a significant suspicion of real harm. The suspected real harm must be detailed prior to the "expert" evaluation.(b) Absent some evidence that a given type of training results in "better" outcomes, no special training shall be required of any "expert" or mediator. (c) Every "expert" or mediator shall be required to provide to each parent his/her hourly fees, the average total cost of his/her evaluations or mediations, and the results of his/her own evaluations (see the following section (9)(a)).
(9) Evaluation of the Family Law personnel(a) Every "expert" and mediator shall be required to provide each parent with a confidential evaluation form to be filled out by each parent after that "expert" has completed rees report. The judicial council shall keep records of evaluations of all "experts" and mediators, which shall remain public information.(b) Every judge shall be required to provide each parent with a confidential evaluation form to be filled out by each parent after every judicial order. The judicial council shall keep records of evaluations of all judges, which shall remain public information.


More Non Custodial Lawsuit Info

From an email:

All State Information on Each State's Class Action Lawsuit for Non Custodial Parents Constitutional Rights

Find the information for all States at:

More info about these lawsuits can be found on this blog here for state contacts, here for ACFC analysis and here.


Custody Fights with Deployed Moms

This is an article discussing two mothers who are being deployed to Iraq, where the fathers of their children are seeking full custody because of the deployment. In truth, I think this article is pretty lame. It does not discuss the legalities around these issues, and while it attempts to look impartial, by not fully discussing the cases, it is obviously sympathetic to the moms. It includes a quote from Dads of Michigan - but either it is out of context, or this man is not such a great advocate for the cause.

There are two cases discussed - my favorite being the case of a mother of a 2 year old who remarried three weeks ago, after finalizing her divorce with the childs father a month ago. Did you get that - 1 week in between her divorce and remarriage - all occurring in the last month. She has a 50-50 custody split with her ex-husband and while she is deployed she wants her 50 - 50 situation to continue with her current husband acting for her. From the article:

"Guenther and her former husband of eight years, Charles Snitchler, have joint custody of their 2-year-old son, Jacob Snitchler. Guenther remarried last month and would prefer the arrangement continue with her new husband caring for the child during her part of the "50-50" arrangement. "

"He (Guenther's new husband) has no reason to be with him," said Snitchler, who lives in Jackson. "My arrangement is with her, not her husband of three weeks.

"I didn't agree with that. I think it would be in my son's best interests to remain with me."

"Guenther's divorce from Snitchler was finalized last month. "

Um, hello, this woman wants her new husband of THREE WEEKS to share custody with her ex-husband and THE FATHER OF THE CHILD! And no comment from the author of the article or anyone else on how simply ridiculous this request is. What happens if, god forbid, she were to not come home from Iraq - should they share custody indefinitely? Besides, there is no legal justification whatsoever for this type of arrangement. And in terms of some type of argument of past practice, the child is two and his parents have been divorced for a month - it's not as if bio dad had been missing for the past eight years and just popped up when mom is getting deployed. They share custody!!! When she gets back, they can go back to sharing, but the dad is absolutely right that his custody arrangement has nothing to do with her new husband.

How do we live in a society that consistently ignores, denigrates and completely abuses biological fathers' rights - but will stick up for the rights of the newly appointed stepdad. The more I think about this the more disgusted I get. So now we are in a society where preference for the mother transfers over to 2nd, 3rd, 4th marriages while the real Dad continues to get screwed. And how fitting, this article came from the Citizen Patriot, God Bless America.

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Letter to the Editor - Boston Globe

This is an opinion letter from the Boston Globe concerning the initiative for joint custody that will appear on many Mass ballots. Although an affirmation of joint custody will not change the legislation, it will be used by politicians as an indication of where the public stands on this issue.

Show support of shared parenting with vote
October 28, 2004

I read with interest the Globe West article, ''Impact of ballot questions debated" [Oct. 21]. Thank you for giving this issue the weight it deserves. First, joint physical custody has been proven to be a deterrent to divorce, and, where it is in place, statistics show that more people work on maintaining their marriage. This is the most important factor to maintaining one household for children.

Second, when separation or divorce does occur, there is nothing in the Constitution of the United States nor the Bill of Rights nor the Holy Bible that the love of a father is no less important than that of a mother. What is in the best interest of children is a very subjective standard. All recent studies show that children benefit when both parents are involved in their lives.

For the sake of children, for the sake of fathers and mothers, I urge all voters to demonstate their support for shared parenting and vote yes on this nonbinding ballot intiative. A yes vote is in the best interest of children and families.



Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Divorce: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

"BEING freshly divorced or newly separated boosts the risk of a road accident by 400 percent, according to a French study published today.

Three per cent of all road accidents in France occur among people who have just broken up with their partners, amounting to an annual tally of 170 dead and 3000 injured, the study in the journal Epidemiology said."

Herald Sun


Jersey Support Groups


SINGLE AGAIN: St. Mary's Ministry to the Divorced and Separated holds meetings with experienced facilitators 7-8 p.m. every Wednesday in the rectory, 747 W. Bay Ave. Call Deacon Ron Haunss at (609) 607-9447.


CHILDREN'S RIGHTS: N.J. Council for Children's Rights meets 7-9 p.m. the last Wednesday of the month at the municipal building, 31 Washington St. Those experiencing separation, divorce, child support, custody and related issues are encouraged to attend. Call (732) 505-8509.

SINGLE SUPPORT: St. Joseph's support group for newly separated and divorced people meets 7:30-9 p.m. Tuesdays. Call (732) 506-6357.

KIDS AND DIVORCE/BEREAVEMENT: Center for Kids and Family, a division of Community and Kimball medical centers, is offering free support groups for children ages 6-12 who have experienced a separation or divorce in their family from 5-6 p.m. the second and fourth Thursday. Support group for children ages 7-14 who have lost a loved one meets 5-6 p.m. the first and third Thursday of each month, Cory Building, 599 Route 37 West. Call (732) 505-5437.


DIVORCE, SEPARATION: St. Pius X Parish's support group for divorced and separated people meets once a month 7-8 p.m. at St. Pius X Ministry Building, Lacey Road, Forked River section. Call (609) 607-9447.


SINGLES GROUP: A group for singles, divorcees, widows and widowers, ages 55 and over, meets 7-11 p.m. the second and fourth Friday of the month at Pine Beach Fire Hall, Prospect Avenue. Live music, snacks, coffee and cake are planned. Fee for nonmembers is $6; members $5. Yearly dues are $10. Call (732) 269-3379 or (732) 505-0717.


PARENTS WITHOUT PARTNERS: Parents Without Partners provides activities for single parents. Call (609) 978-0403.

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Newdow Back in the News

Michael Newdow, the father made famous by taking his Pledge of Allegiance case to the Supreme Court, is back in the news. His target is now the family court system.

For those unaware Mr. Newdow is a physician and an attorney and has been representing himself to this point. An atheist, Mr Newdow contested the mandatory recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. The court ruled that Mr. Newdow lacked standing as he was not the custodial parent of his daughter and therefore deflected answering the constitutionality question completely.

He is now taking issue with the constitutionality of the "best interest of the child" standard.

You can read the article about Mr Newdow's position on family courts at - but after a period of days they require a subscription so I am going to copy the entire article below.

You can see previous posts in this blog concerning Newdow here and here.

Lawyer Who Fought Pledge Assails Courts on Custody
By LESLIE EATONPublished: October 23, 2004
He became famous this year for arguing his own case before the United States Supreme Court, in what onlookers described as a spellbinding (though ultimately unsuccessful) challenge to the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools.

Now Michael A. Newdow is taking on a new target: family law and the way it handles child custody. "It's outrageous, it's inane," he said. "It ruins lives." And, he argued, it tramples on basic constitutional rights.

Dr. Newdow, a lawyer and emergency-room physician, made his first public presentation on this topic yesterday at New York Law School. He spoke to a group of law professors and students invited by Nadine Strossen, the president of the American Civil Liberties Union.
In a passionate, rapid-fire speech that lasted more than an hour, Dr. Newdow described problems with the family-law system, which makes custody decisions based on the "best interests of the child."

But that is "a meaningless standard which you can't fight," Dr. Newdow said. Which is best for children, he asked, to teach them to be generous or to teach them to be stingy? To spend time on Shakespeare or on baseball?

"Which is better? We don't know," he said. And there are no valid studies that answer the question of what is best for children, he said. Instead, judges simply impose their own biases about what they think is best, with no checks or balances.

In addition to being unconstitutionally vague, Dr. Newdow said, the best-interests focus puts the rights of children above the rights of parents, which is inequitable.

Courts say they are not concerned with parents, only with what happens to children - but that does not square with rights to due process, he said. "Judges actually verbalize this: 'I'm not going to be fair to you.' " And the legal system does not treat parenthood as a fundamental constitutional right, even though the Supreme Court has described it as "perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests we have," Dr. Newdow said.

For many parents, he said repeatedly, being separated from their children is "worse than rape."
Dr. Newdow stressed that he believes the government has the obligation to protect children from harm. But absent abuse or harm, he argued, the government should not impose conditions on parents who are before the court that it would not impose on intact families, like telling parents where to live or how to behave.

The solution Dr. Newdow proposes for many of these problems is a presumption that parents should share custody evenly.

That proposal is popular with fathers' rights groups, which are trying to have it adopted by courts and legislatures around the country, arguing in part that it is better for children to have both parents involved in their lives.

Psychologists generally agree in cases where the parents can cooperate, but raise concerns about joint custody's effect on children where the parents are engaged in constant strife. And some experts warn that parents who insist on a strict division of custodial time are less interested in what is good for children and more interested in lowering child support payments or in controlling their former spouses.

In New York, court decisions have held that joint custody is inappropriate in so-called high-conflict cases.

But Dr. Newdow argued that the fundamental unfairness of current custody law increased the conflict.

In June, the Supreme Court ruled that because Dr. Newdow did not have legal custody of his daughter, he did not have the standing to challenge the constitutionality of the daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at her school. An atheist, Dr. Newdow had argued that the "under God" phrase in the pledge violated the separation of church and state.


Glenn Sacks Presidential Candidate of Choice

Glenn Sacks has endorsed Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik for President. Read the article and access Sacks' interview with Badnarik at

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Thursday, October 21, 2004

New Additions!

New blogs of note: Masculiste and the Angry Dad.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Joint Custody has an article from Cathy Young concerning joint custody. It is succinct, easy to read and is based on equal protections for both parents.
Equal access to children after a divorce

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Monday, October 18, 2004

State Contacts for Non Custodial Parent Lawsuits

Alabama: Dr. Richard Weiss
Alaska: Kevin Francis Ramey
Arizona: Scott Leska
Arkansas: Kinley Hardin
California: Pete Clark
Colorado: Troy Kramer
Connecticut:Chris Kennedy
Delaware: Russell P. Smith, Sr.
District of Columbia: Maurice King
Florida: Miguel Martin
Georgia: Richard Stewart
Illinois: Robert G. Lasheff
Indiana: Torm Howse
Iowa: Robert G. Lisk
Kansas: Thomas Lessman & John Schmeidler
Kentucky: Wes Collins
Louisiana: Clarence Edward "Ed" Ward, III
Maine: Eric Ericson
Maryland: Christopher Yavelow
Massachusetts: Joe Schebel
Michigan: Michael T. Ross
Minnesota: Dave Witte
Mississippi: Angel Robinson
Missouri: Jon Klement
Montana: Deanna Prouty
Nebraska: Curt Morehouse
Nevada: Alan DiCicco
New Hampshire: Rachel Forrest
New Jersey: Vincent Urbank
New Mexico: Michael J. Pettit
New York: Randall L. Dickinson & Debby Fellows
North Carolina: Lenny McAllister
North Dakota: Roland Riemers
Ohio: Scott Strohm
Oklahoma: Greg Chapman
Oregon: Susan Detlefsen
Pennsylvania: Curtis Patton
Rhode Island: Seth I. Donohue
South Carolina: Nikki Fitzgerald
South Dakota: Randy Haack
Tennessee: Tony Gottlieb
Texas: Mark Bitara
Utah: Eric Clarke
Vermont: David Donley
Virginia: Harold Leist
Washington: Perry Manley
West Virginia: Tim Fittro
Wisconsin: Dan Creed

If your state is not listed and you would like it to be, go to: Indiana CRC. If you would like to see the class action documents: click here for the Virginia version. The only differences are the individuals, individual states names. Everything else is the same for all states.


Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox

Mike Cox, the Attorney General in Michigan, started a contest several weeks ago encouraging children to draw pictures to "encourage the payment of child support." Initially, Domino's pizza and the possibility to be have the artwork posted on a billboard were the "prizes." Domino's left the campaign several days ago saying that it was not aware of how precisely the pizza coupons would be used. Detroit Free Press. Apparently, the AG's office has now decided to scrap the program all together. However, after Domino's first pulled out, Cox's office stated the campaign would continue. Wonder why they changed their tune? More info:

Detroit News
Fox News
Detroit News


Monday, October 11, 2004

ACFC Analysis of Press Coverage about Custody Lawsuits

I got this from an email and I am copying it verbatim:

ACFC ANALYSIS - Parents Seek Custody Law Reform

Thanks to the Associated Press and CNN for coverage of one
of the most critical social issues facing America today with
their story below on the nationwide class-action lawsuits
seeking a rebuttable presumption of 50-50 shared parenting.

Seeking journalistic balance on both sides of the story, the
AP included a few comments from former American Bar
Association (ABA) Family Law Section Chair Lynne Gold-
Bikin, including this little gem, to which the rest of our
analysis below is devoted:

"And why do they want 50-50 (custody)? Some people
want it because they know they can reduce the support
they pay to their wives."

Did we miss something here? We thought child support
was supposed to be for children. What's this about "pay to
their wives .."? Are they still married? If so, why are they
paying child support? And aren't "some people" married to
husbands? Is child support a one-way street that is only
paid to "wives"? Just on the surface, there appears to be
something quite bizarre about the way the former Chair of
the ABA Family Law Section conceptualizes child support.
But the more you think about it, the worse it gets.

That statement is a vicious and malicious libel of fathers
without a shred of evidence to back it up, and typical of the
blatant anti-father bias of the ABA. Isn't it just as likely that
some mothers want sole custody precisely in order to get
more child support? Why does she insidiously attack only
the motives of fathers? Why wouldn't fathers resent a legal
system that routinely extorts money from them for children
that ABA members routinely won't lift a finger to help them
even visit occasionally? Isn't it just as likely that fathers
only want to be part of their children's lives, and that some
mothers exploit the vicious anti-father gender bigotry and
ignorance of the ABA? In fact, isn't the ABA constantly
encouraging mothers to sabotage father/child relationships,
precisely in order to get more child support?

Wouldn't the best way to avoid making money the issue,
be to put the best interest of children in a continuing
relationship with both parents first, with 50-50 custody,
instead of setting children up as a pawns in a winner-
take-all struggle over money, as the ABA constantly
does by supporting sole-mother custody with the insidious
social poison of the kind of gender war propaganda that
Lynne Gold-Bikin spews above? Isn't the ABA actually
engaged in psychological child abuse by allowing its
name to be associated with the insidious social poison
of this kind of gender bigotry and ignorance?

Furthermore, why does a former ABA Family Law Chair
assume that only mothers get custody and only fathers
pay child support, when the ABA is composed of persons
who took an oath to uphold and defend a Constitution that
mandates equal protection of law for all persons? Is Gold-
Bikin here confessing to violation of her oath as a lawyer,
as well as to her vicious and malicious anti-father bias?

We report, you decide, as you read the article below.
But our feeling is that the next target for a class-action
lawsuit might be people like Lynne Gold-Bikin, who are
ripe for a class-action lawsuit by all persons viciously
and maliciously libeled by the sociopathic gender bigotry
and ignorance so evident in her comment above. This
kind of thinking is exactly why America so desperately
needs immediate reform of family law, as explained


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Friday, October 08, 2004

Nationwide Equal Custody Lawsuits

All across the countries lawsuit have been filed to compel courts to allocate custody arrangements equally. The initiative was organized by the Indiana Civil Rights Council. If you are currently a non-custodial parent in any state - you can be involved. More info:

Press Release

American Daily

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New Hampshire Co-Parenting Classes

“Co-Parenting after Separation,” taught by marital mediators Carol Allen and Tim Cunningham, will meet from 6-7:45 p.m. on Wednesdays from Oct. 13 through Nov. 10, at the Community Campus in Portsmouth. The class costs $100 for five weeks, and includes free child care for children 12 and under. Financial assistance is available.

For information, or to register, call 422-8208, option 2.

Families First provides many health and family support services to individuals and families, regardless of ability to pay. Services include group and one-on-one family support and parent education (most offered at no charge); primary, prenatal and oral health care; and mobile health care for people who are homeless. For directions, a calendar of parenting groups, or information on all Families First services, call 422-8208, or visit

Article available at the Dover Community News

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