Thursday, December 30, 2004

Judge dismisses challenge to state child support laws

This is reference to the case I discussed here.

Judge dismisses challenge to state child support laws

12/29/2004, 3:07 p.m. ET
By MICHAEL VIRTANEN The Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A judge has dismissed a Hudson Valley father's constitutional challenge to New York's child support laws, ruling federal court lacks jurisdiction to determine whether the state's income-based support guidelines violate parents' rights.

Harold Rosenberger sued Ulster Family Court and the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance in April. The Highland man claimed New York's Family Court Act and Domestic Relations Law infringe on a parent's right to determine "how much money a parent spends on the care and maintenance of his or her child."

U.S. District Judge Gary Sharpe dismissed the suit last week, concluding any challenges to the Family Court order affecting Rosenberger belong in state appellate courts. Rosenberger promptly filed for reconsideration, claiming the judge's reasoning is wrong, and that his suit intends to overturn the laws themselves on behalf of all New Yorkers.

Rosenberger was divorced June 17, 1999, from Cynthia Cashman, who filed Family Court petitions for child support and sole custody of their three children, according to court papers.

On Jan. 24, 2002, Rosenberger was ordered by Ulster Family Court to pay child support of $325.69 per week and 73 percent of all unreimbursed health expenses. On March 21, 2002, the OTDA arranged to have the money taken from his paycheck.

In federal court, he claimed the state laws infringed on his right to privacy and due process.
Sharpe ruled that while the U.S. Supreme Court may review state court judgments, the lower federal courts cannot. And while Rosenberger argued he is challenging the constitutionality of the state laws, not his own Family Court order, Sharpe found them "inextricably intertwined."

"Finally, this court would be outside the bounds of its jurisdiction in addressing subjects of domestic relations which clearly `belong to the laws of the States,'" Sharpe wrote, citing a 1990 decision from the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.

Rosenberger, a computer programmer representing himself in court, said Wednesday he has petitioned Sharpe for reconsideration and that state laws must align with federal law. If that fails, he plans to appeal to the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, where he has a separate case pending over New York's custody laws.

"The Supreme Court has said you can raise your children as you see fit," Rosenberger said. "People don't think of it as a constitutional right, which it really is."

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Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Father Still Searching For Children After Seven Years

This is a horrible story about a father falsely accused of abuse, eventually given custody of his children only to have his ex wife take off with them.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2004


This is a VERY interesting and informative look at family courts and bias against fathers. However, it is simply way too large to reprint...

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It's all about revenge, not equality

I find it so refreshing to see other women identify the feminist movement for what it truly is....

The Winnepeg Sun

It's all about revenge, not equality
By Lydia Lovric

One of the biggest lies perpetuated by modern-day feminists is the contention that feminism is about equality. Feminists aren't interested in equality. What they want is revenge.

Apparently, breaking down barriers and smashing glass ceilings is laudable only when women are the beneficiaries. Equality is not a two-way street for these feminists. It's more of a one-way street with a dead end. That's why the movement is going nowhere in the eyes of many young women, including myself.

Recently, a group of women decided to file a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. They weren't too happy about the fact that an exclusive Vancouver golf club boasts a male-only lounge. They said it was sexist. And they're right. But that doesn't mean that this lounge should be forced to accept female members.

Equality is not about getting ovaries into any and every boys' club. Women in this country have the right to form their own clubs (whether it be co-ed or just for ladies) and that's what equality is about. The law should only provide opportunity. It's up to the individual to do the rest.

So if women in Vancouver want a posh place to eat meals and chat about golf, then they have every right to create their own establishment. They also have the option to bar men or admit them. And while feminists want the right to barge into all-male establishments, it seems that what's good for the goose is not so good for the gander.

When Ralph Gordon Stopps tried to take advantage of a free 10-day membership at a local gym club, he was denied entry. The basis for this rejection? Genitalia. It appears that Mr. Stopps has the wrong "parts" to become a member of "Just Ladies Fitness."

Where are the feminists now? Why aren't they standing up for Mr. Stopps and the outrageous discrimination he has faced based purely on sex? Why is it OK to have fitness clubs for women only, but a group of male golf buddies can't sit around and talk about how Tiger Woods' game has gone downhill ever since he tied the knot?

The truth is, feminists will never defend someone like Mr. Stopps. Feminists want to eat their cake while the men in the world dine on Timbits.

Don't believe me? Brigitte LeBlanc, a 14-year-old Moncton girl, wasn't satisfied playing hockey with the boys. She wanted more. So she petitioned the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission to grant her the right to use the boys' locker room. Astonishingly, she won.

Surely, there are a few 14-year-old boys out there who wouldn't mind gaining entry to the girls' locker room. But you can bet that day will never come. We have a greater chance of hearing Carolyn Parrish praise the Bush administration.

But I digress. Time and time again, we have women demanding access to boys' teams and boys' clubs.

Remember Robyn Waite? She's the Ontario high school girl who plays quarterback on the boys' football team. Before her, there was Justine Blainey and Hayley Wickenheiser, who fought for and won the right to skate with the boys. And the LPGA wasn't good enough for Annika Sorenstam, so she decided to tee off with the men during a 2003 PGA tournament.

It seems that every time a female voice challenges a male team, the guys are eventually forced to swing open their door and welcome the newest member. But the door doesn't swing both ways.

Female athletes continue to have the luxury of maintaining girls' teams and girls' clubs. Guys no longer have that right. And that's discrimination.

When Brian Kontak realized that he couldn't earn a living playing in the PGA, he wanted to try his luck with the LPGA. The women were not amused.

Now, there's a boy in Wisconsin who wants to compete on his high school's gymnastic team. Only problem is that his school doesn't have a team for boys. So, hoping to earn a scholarship in order to attend college, Keith Michael Bukowski wants the chance to spring vault and somersault with the ladies. Kudos to the young lad for making a point, but hopefully he's not holding his breath.

The truth is, equality isn't so important for feminists when the person seeking parity is a guy. Equal treatment only applies when it benefits women. And that's why feminism just doesn't add up.


Monday, December 27, 2004

New Template

Thought it was time for a new look!

New Article on Child Support from Stephen Baskerville

Those madcap child support officials are at it again. Ever vigilant in their pursuit of the elusive deadbeat, these Wile E. Coyotes of family policy are devising ever-more outlandish schemes to snare their quarry. It is ironic that a prominent theme in today's media culture is so-called doofus dads, bumbling fools invariably defeated by the superior wisdom of their wives and children. For despite ever greater outlays of taxpayers' money for ever more intrusive incursions into civil liberties, it is not so much the fathers as their pursuers who are shooting themselves in the foot.

Their latest escapade concerns Viola Trevino, who discovered she could obtain a child support order against a man without the inconvenience of actually having a child. Steve Barreras was forced to pay $20,000 for a child that, it turns out, never existed. Barreras protested for years and produced documentation that no child could possibly exist, but he was ignored by New Mexico's Child Support Enforcement Division. "The child support system in this state is horrible," an Albuquerque woman tells a reporter. "A woman can walk into their office with a birth certificate and a 'sob' story and the man on that birth certificate is hunted down and forced to pay child support." Yet the agency - which ironically claims to be keeping an eye on other people's parental "responsibilities" - claims they were not responsible for the shakedown of Barreras, because they were "merely enforcing child support already ordered by a judge." No automatic provision requires the return of the fraudulently ordered payments, so to recover his money Barreras must hire more attorneys and sue.

Though officials try to dismiss such shenanigans as aberrations, they proceed logically from the child support system, which was created by lawyers and feminists not to provide for children but to plunder fathers and transfer their earnings to other grown-ups. In an increasingly typical decision, a Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled in November that a mother could collect full child support from two men for the same child.

But mothers are not the only ones using children to make a fast buck. Such apparently inane rulings are explicable only by the fact that child support is a moneymaker for lawyers, judges, bureaucrats, and government coffers, plus private hangers-on - all at the expense of fathers and federal taxpayers.

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox recently hailed the passage of six (!) new laws that he says will help collect child support. But Cox already has egg on his face from his ill-fated scheme to recruit the state's children as government propagandists. Cox offered free Domino's pizzas to children who designed billboards vilifying their own fathers as deadbeats. He even invited mothers to express their feelings about their former husbands through their children's artwork. But far from shaming the supposed scoundrels, it was Cox who was forced to retreat with his tail between his legs. He cancelled the campaign when first the public and then Domino's directed more anger against him than against the fathers. One political cartoonist showed Cox telling a young child that she could not see her father but she could have a pepperoni pizza.

Michigan's enforcement methods have been the subject of federal legal challenges. Attorney Michael Tindall relates in Michigan Lawyers Weekly how he was arrested without warning when his payments were current. Wayne County enforcement agents admitted under oath that they frequently increase accounts without valid court orders. A federal court ruled that Michigan violated Tindall's due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. Yet the agency defied the court and even initiated another round of enforcement using the same illegal procedures to collect the same arrearage they had admitted was erroneous. Cox's campaign came as Michigan was set to lose $208 million in federal funds if it did not meet federal guidelines for organizing its collection system. To comply, the state promised to accelerate the very measures that the federal court had ruled were in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

In just the last few months, repeated exposés of mismanagement and fraud throughout the child support system have poured forth from journalists, scholars, and even some officials themselves. These include charges of illegal and unconstitutional practices that violate basic civil liberties.

In Society, Bryce Christensen writes, "The advocates of ever-more-aggressive measures for collecting child support have moved us a dangerous step closer to a police state and have violated the rights of innocent and often impoverished fathers." In The Law and Economics of Child Support Payments, William Comanor and a team of scholars have documented horrific abuses. Ronald Henry's essay calls the system and its rationalization "an obvious sham," a "disaster," and "the most onerous form of debt collection practiced in the United States." The fraudulent and predatory nature of the child support system has been documented in peer-reviewed publications by the Independent Institute, the National Center for Policy Analysis, the American Political Science Association, and repeatedly in Society.

In 2002, a Georgia superior court ruled that the state's guidelines "bear no relationship to the constitutional standards for child support" and create "a windfall to the obligee." Characterizing the guidelines as "contrary both to public policy and common sense," the court noted that they bear no connection to any understanding of the cost of raising children. "The custodial parent does not contribute to child costs at the same rate as the non-custodial parent and, often, not at all," the court notes. "The presumptive award leaves the non-custodial parent in poverty while the custodial parent enjoys a notably higher standard of living." The court anticipated the findings of Comanor and his team: "The guidelines are so excessive as to force non-custodial parents to frequently work extra jobs for basic needs.. Obligors are frequently forced to work in a cash economy to survive."

A Wisconsin court likewise found that state's guidelines "result in a figure so far beyond the child's needs as to be irrational." When a court struck down Tennessee's guidelines on similar grounds, the state Department of Human Services (which jails fathers for violating court orders), announced they would not abide by the ruling.

One may disagree with these assessments. Yet despite admitting that the system it oversees is "way out of balance," the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has never even acknowledged these scathing allegations or made any effort to correct them.

Last summer, HHS's Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) held an invitation-only meeting for local officials and a few organizations and announced (in a perhaps unfortunate wording) a new "five-year plan" called the National Child Support Enforcement Strategic Plan.

OCSE Director Sherri Heller promised to develop fairer procedures. Yet nothing in the Plan addresses the violations of constitutional rights and civil liberties. In a peculiar example of Orwellian newspeak, the Plan promises to build a "culture of compliance," in which parents support their children "voluntarily" but also says that "severe enforcement remedies" will be used against parents who fail to volunteer.

The Plan includes nothing about the desirability of observing due process of law or respecting constitutional rights. No concern is expressed that guidelines be just and appropriate. Nowhere is the charge addressed that child support may be subsidizing family breakups, nor is the possibility raised of using federal subsidies to encourage shared parenting, which would relieve the overall enforcement load. No concrete measures or incentives are advanced for requiring or encouraging the involvement of non-custodial parents in the decision-making or raising of their children.

None of the scholars who have criticized the system's ethics and methods was invited to speak at this or any other meeting sponsored by OCSE. Instead house academic Elaine Sorensen was trotted out to reinforce the official line. Sorensen dismissed the Georgia Superior Court decision as "only one judge's opinion."

If any public official (plus millions of citizens) is alleging that federal police operations are sending innocent people to prison, one would think this at least a matter for discussion, if not investigation - especially in an agency that acknowledges its operations are "way out of balance." But OCSE have their fingers in their ears. One official acknowledged that in preparing the Plan no solicitation of public comments was ever issued and no systematic citizen input was collected.

The appointment of a new HHS secretary offers the Bush administration the opportunity to honestly confront the sprawling welfare machine in its destructive entirety. Though Mike Leavitt seems to have little experience in these matters, he may also arrive free of the ideological baggage that made his predecessor Tommy Thompson one of the most authoritarian and disliked figures in the administration.

The Associated Press reports that Indiana is losing more than $57 million a year in state and federal tax dollars to collect child support payments averaging about $54 a week. Yet in a bold leap of logic, the AP blames the boondoggle not on the legislators who are wasting taxpayers' money but on unnamed malefactors who are about as real as Viola Trevino's baby.

December 27, 2004

Stephen Baskerville is a political scientist at Howard University and president of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children.

Copyright © 2004 Stephen Baskerville

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Thursday, December 23, 2004

New Blogs

Other blogs I like The Bad Husband and ADD Attorney

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Co-parenting: A good divorce is worth the effort

Co-parenting: A good divorce is worth the effort from the Times Mail, Bedford Indiana.

By CAROL JOHNSON, Times-Mail Staff Writer

"They (the children) understand that just because we didn't get along, it wasn't their fault. They are so important to us, we're willing to put aside our feelings for their behalf." - Gina Sullivan

Divorce may end the marriage, but if children are involved, the relationship between former spouses never really ends.

Weekend visits, holidays, summer vacations medical bills and school events are on the short list of issues that come up for discussion between former spouses who share children. Vickie and Kevin Moon's marriage ended seven years ago. They were married 14 years and have two children, 12 and 11."When we divorced, we knew we wanted the kids to know we get along," said Vickie of Paoli.

It was hard in the beginning. But both were committed to getting along and avoiding petty disagreements. Kevin remarried and Vickie is in a relationship."We talk every day or every other day. If not with him, then I talk with his wife about what the kids are doing," she said. When the kids have sporting events, Vickie often joins Kevin and his wife Doris on the sidelines. Vickie and Kevin attend parent-teacher conferences together."Teachers always say, if every parent would put their differences aside like you have, it would be easier on them," Vickie said.

Visitation is shared equally. A schedule allows each parent to spend time with the children and avoid any work conflicts. Discipline, another potential pitfall, is shared."We honor each other's discipline and respect each other enough we don't say, 'That's your problem, not mine,' " Vickie said.

"It takes a tremendous amount of strength and psychological energy to have what we'd call a 'good' divorce," said Robert Billingham, an associate professor in Indiana University Bloomington's Department of Applied Health science. Billingham has been studying divorce and its aftermath since 1986. As divorce has become commonplace, divorces have become more cordial, he said.

Research since the 1990s has shown that children benefit immensely from good relationships with both parents. Courts are beginning to realize they must protect the children's relationships with their parents if they want to protect the children, he said. More and more courts are moving away from awarding custody to one parent and adopting co-parenting plans. The old system of sole custody fed the anger that was at the heart of the divorce, Billingham said."When you look at divorce, one parent gets the child and the other gets visits, it's structured so parents have to fight each other," he said.

Divorce, in its previous form, discouraged good parenting, Billingham said."Number one, one parent became a visiting parent. Two, only one parent knew what was best. And three, was the idea that one parent had supreme authority over the child's life."In that culture the mom was considered supremely important and the father was irrelevant."Co-parenting puts each parent on a level plane and sets them up to cooperate.

Indiana is moving toward co-parenting, Billingham said, in cases where abuse and violence are not factors. Vickie Moon said the effort they have put into a cordial divorce has paid off for everyone."I get along great with their stepmom," she said. "She's really a good stepmother, helps them with homework, whatever they need."

Kenny and Gina Sullivan of Greene County each had one divorce behind them when they married. Both had children from their first marriages. His are grown; hers are still at home. They have one son together. Gina's sons, now 13 and 9, struggled with the divorce in the beginning and the mixed emotions that arise when a step-parent joins the family.

She's had to reassure them it's OK to enjoy their time with Kenny and still love their dad."I've told them, 'He's not trying to take your dad's place. Your dad will always be your dad,' "she said. "It's always important to let kids know they can love their parent and be close to their step-parent."

Children are better able to love parents and step-parents if they are not pressured to choose one over the other, Billingham said. Making the children choose usually backfires."It's not the divorce that causes bad things to happen, it's the relationship kids live in that we find is so detrimental," he said. Holidays can be a flashpoint even for divorced families that get along the rest of the year. Billingham recommends working out holiday visits ahead of time, but also encourages parents to be flexible when necessary.

That's what the Sullivans do."It's not worth a huge argument," Gina said. "Because they live with me so much of the time, I let him have them on any holiday he wants them. We're not so stuck on things that if something comes up, the other won't bend."

The Sullivans have put their divorce and experience as a blended family to work for others. They lead the Divorce Care group at Crossroads Community Church."I've been there and know how it hurts," Kenny said. "We can relate to people who come through our class."Divorce Care covers several topics, including loneliness, financial issues, fear, rejection issues and avoiding putting children in the middle of disputes.

You don't have to like an ex-spouse to get along with him or her, Billingham said. But how well ex-spouses do get along is critical to children surviving divorce."It's made a world of difference," Gina said. "They understand that just because we didn't get along, it wasn't their fault. They are so important to us, we're willing to put aside our feelings for their behalf."

Times-Mail Staff Writer Carol Johnson can be reached at 277-7252 or at

Divorce Care What: 13-week course for adults who are divorced or going through a divorce. When: Tuesday nights, 7-9 p.m. Where: Crossroads Community Church, Ind. 37 and Trogden Lane. Information: Call 279-0131 to find out when the next session begins.

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Linked Articles

It has come to my attention that many of the older linked articles on this blog are no longer accessible. This is a function of the web site publishing the article and not of incorrect links. Many news entities will keep their articles active for weeks, months, indefinitely, etc... However, once the article disappears it is not very helpful to anyone wishing to access that information. As such, I have decided from here forward (particularly in the case of online newspapers) that I will reprint the entire article every time. I will always provide a link to the source and I encourage you all to try and read it there so the source will realize the interest that sort of article creates and *hopefully* continue to publish similar articles. I will continue in this fashion until I receive notice from any publishing entity that reprinting is inappropriate. At that point I will again consider the best way to continue to distribute the information without running afoul of the sources.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Article Round-Up

ALCFC Press Release

Why Can't We Love Our Children

From D-Contamination to Grim Reapers and Father Christmas parent’s group challenges domestic court practices.

Birmingham, AL (PRWEB) December 19, 2004 -- With American divorce statistics rising annually and the majority of divorces involving children who 90% of the time, end up in mother’s custody with fathers being reduced to visitors and a paycheck in their children’s lives, many father’s rights groups have emerged demanding equality in America’s domestic relations courts. One group in particular is the Alabama Coalition for Fathers and Children (ALCFC). The ALCFC has a national and international network of supporters who all claim to be victims of biased domestic relations courts.

On June 18th, 2004 the Friday before Father’s Day the ALCFC staged a D-Contamination raid on the Jefferson County Family Court in Birmingham, Alabama in a symbolic attempt to clean up Alabama Family Law. On October 29th, 2004 group leaders appeared as Grim Reapers at the Jefferson County Domestic Relations Court in Birmingham symbolizing that to fathers and children the court is a real life “House of Horrors” and that the court is responsible for the “Death of Fatherhood”. And once again on December 1st, 2004 at the same court showed up in full Santa costumes and helpers to attempt to “Save Father Christmas”.

Alan Rusmisel, Vice-President and co-founder of ALCFC remarks, “There can be no doubt about the negative effects on children caused by fatherlessness. These courts with their self-appointed social engineers, are the main perpetrator of fatherlessness in America and especially here in Alabama. Here we have a “good ole boy” justice system that is run by nothing more than child abusers. If separating a child from a fit and loving parent is not child abuse, I do not know what is. The ALCFC’s tactics of peaceful direct action is an attempt to bring these issues to the court of public opinion. The judges are not held accountable for their biased and unconstitutional actions against parents and children and the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission who is responsible for over seeing judges, is a perfect example of the fox guarding the henhouse. It is my opinion that this brotherhood structure is not an accident but, a well built money making machine for the members of Alabama Bar Association. The sad part is our innocent children are paying the price.”

The Alabama Coalition for Fathers and Children is also addressing these issues in other venues. The ALCFC provided testimony to the Alabama Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Child Support Guidelines in March 2004. This prompting the filing of a Federal Lawsuit by member and supporter James Blackston (see Blackston v. Alabama alleging that the state violated a federal court order and gerrymandered the hearings. The ALCFC is supporting the national class-action suit demanding the restoration of parental rights as mandated by the U.S. Constitution initiated by the Indiana Civil Rights Council and filed in Alabama by ALCFC member Dr. Richard Weiss. The group is also preparing equal parenting legislation to be presented to the Alabama Legislature in January 2005.

President and co-founder John Kral added, There should be no reason to have to file lawsuits in order to get permission to take our own children to get an ice crème cone or have lunch with them at their school. These are fundamental issues concerning parent’s and children’s rights and the ALCFC wants judges held accountable for denying these rights. We just want to be able to love and nurturer our children without undue state intervention.”

The Alabama Coalition for Fathers and Children are registering members of families who have been victimized by domestic relation courts at their website This in order to gain support and provide helpful information directly to victims


No Breaks for Servicemen

Over the weekend this site received the story a of recently home from Iraq soldier. While he was deployed his wife moved out of state. You can see his post here under comments.

I don't have any good answers for this - it is truly a deplorable act to try to take advantage of the fact that your spouse is out of the country FIGHTING A WAR to get the upper hand in your divorce. As always, my first advice would be to find a good attorney and retain them. can be a good starting point or contact your local chapter of the ABA and ask for a lawyer referral. In my country, if you are referred from the ABA the attorney will give you a free introductory (usually around 30 mins) session. Take advantage of these referrals to find an attorney you are truly comfortable with without having to pay just to meet them.

For currently deployed members of the military, the Servicemember's Civil Relief Act provides some relief from civil proceedings. Info here and here.

Here is a *similar* story out of Pittsburgh - except in this case the father is/was still deployed.

This case isn't the same scenario - the father lost custody prior to his deployment and because of his deployment. However, as I said in the post about deployed moms, I do think this is appropriate. Obviously the deployed soldier cannot act as primary custodial parent while deployed, the proper alternative (unless there are some mitigating circumstances that prevent this from being a safe alternative for the child) should be the other parent.

The Marines offer a support website: for families of deployed servicemembers.

This is an opinion article: Separated dads miss so much at Christmas

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Kidnapped from Canada

I received a post under comments by a Canadian father whose children have been taken somewhere into the US by their mother. There are pictures of the children and the legals of the case on his web site Wrongful Removal. If nothing else, check it out and keep your eyes open. He appears to believe they are on the west coast, possibly the LA area.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Fathers Ask For Custody, Child Support Reforms

Michigan Dads dressed up in Santa Suits to promote equal custody and their legislative agenda/plans... Fathers ask for custody, child support reforms

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Long Live The Matriarchy!

Pointing a finger at feminist hypocrisy: Long Live The Matriarchy!

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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Standard of Living After Divorce

There has been a widely circulated (though completely erroneous) statistic that says after a divorce women suffered from a 73% decrease in standard of living while men enjoyed a 43% increase in their standard of living. We all have Lenore Weitzman and her book The Divorce Revolution to thank for this nugget.

Even though years ago this discrepancy was found to be due to a computer error - efforts are still being made to debunk this assertion. For example (source info here) David Popenoe (a feminist masquerading as a impartial proponent of marriage and fatherhood - author of (among others) Life Without Father: Compelling New Evidence that Fatherhood and Marriage are Indispensable for the Good of Children and Society - sounds good, right? Think again) attempts to clarify the issue like this:

5. Myth: Following divorce, the woman's standard of living plummets by 73 percent while that of the man's improves by 42 percent.

Fact: This dramatic inequity, one of the most widely publicized statistics from the social sciences, was later found to be based on a faulty calculation. A reanalysis of the data determined that the woman's loss was 27 percent while the man's gain was 10 percent. Irrespective of the magnitude of the differences, the gender gap is real and seems not to have narrowed much in recent decades.

Unfortunately, even that information looks to be incorrect, due largely in part to using an extremely small and unrepresentative sample of people.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Lenore Weitzman takes a very comprehensive look at this entire issue. From a sample of roughly 7,500 people (compared to Weitzman's > 300 sample), "According to their data, women in the first year after divorce experience on average a 22 percent decline in family income, with professional women's family incomes declining the least (12 percent) and unskilled laborers declining the most (30 percent). Instead of the 42 percent increase reported by Weitzman or the more common 10 percent figure, the data indicated an average 10 percent decrease in income, with professional men experiencing a decline of 8 percent and less-educated workers a drop of 19 percent."

Weitzman touted this finding all over the country, all while refusing to allow anyone to inspect her data. "Her figures were cited in over 170 newspaper and magazine articles, 350 social science articles, 250 law review articles, 24 state appellate and supreme court cases, and one U.S. Supreme Court decision. The American Sociological Association awarded The Divorce Revolution its 1986 Book Award for "Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship." Weitzman repeated the statistic when she testified before the U.S. Congress, and legislatures across the nation revisited their divorce laws in response to her claims. (Weitzman herself takes credit for influencing 14 laws in California alone.) The attention culminated with the statistic's appearance in President Clinton's 1996 budget proposal."

The article goes on to highlight other "discrepancies" in Weitzman's data - very interesting read - and extremely depressing all at the same time. Most frightening that these stats were cited so widely and used as justification for increased child support.

As an aside, David Popenoe also wrote this in the article linked above:

10. Myth: It is usually men who initiate divorce proceedings.

Fact: Two-thirds of all divorces are initiated by women. One recent study found that many of the reasons for this have to do with the nature of our divorce laws. For example, in most states women have a good chance of receiving custody of their children. Because women more strongly want to keep their children with them, in states where there is a presumption of shared custody with the husband the percentage of women who initiate divorces is much lower. Also, the higher rate of women initiators is probably due to the fact that men are more likely to be "badly behaved." Husbands, for example, are more likely than wives to have problems with drinking, drug abuse, and infidelity.

Although Popenoe is presenting factual information about divorce initiation - and just for a second you think he might do the right thing by talking family courts to task - he then reverts back to the same feminist BS. What facts does Mr. Popenoe have to demonstrate that mothers "more strongly" want to keep their children with them or that fathers are more prone to "bad behavior." If he has any, he certainly did not cite it. I am not sure how you qualify "strong feelings to keep your child with you." When I read men who write about divorce in this fashion I always have the same thought- God help them if their wives ever decided to split.

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Monday, December 13, 2004

Do fathers have the edge in divorce?

Another article by Cathy Young: Do fathers have the edge in divorce?

It is a common perception that while women may face bias in some areas, men are on the receiving end of discrimination when it comes to child custody - which goes to fathers, recent data show, only 16 percent of the time. Some feminists, like former National Organization for Women President Karen DeCrow, embrace equal rights for divorced dads. Yet many others have been loath to acknowledge that there is bias favoring women in anything.

Mostly, these feminists argue, fathers don't want custody - and when they do, they have the edge: Judges frown on working women who spend less time with the kids than did traditional moms, while working men who spend more time with the kids than did traditional fathers are hailed as great dads; non-working women may be denied custody because they can't support the children.

In the 1986 book Mothers on Trial, radical feminist psychologist Phyllis Chesler claimed that 70 percent of mothers in custody battles lost. This was based on a very non-random sample of 60 women, mostly referred by feminist lawyers or women's centers. While even sympathetic reviewers commented on the sloppiness of Chesler's research, her "finding" that fathers are likely to win contested custody cases was often presented as fact.

Similar numbers have cropped up again, most recently in Karen Winner's Divorced From Justice: "Contrary to public belief, 70 percent of all litigated custody trials rule in favor of the fathers," shouts the jacket (italics in the original). A national alert on father's rights groups issued by the National Organization for Women - urging members to combat proposed laws encouraging joint custody and mediation - also states that "many judges and attorneys are still biased against women. ..."

Where do these figures come from? One respectable source is the 1989 Gender Bias Study of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which reported that when fathers seek custody, they win primary or joint physical custody 70 percent of the time. In The Divorce Revolution, Lenore Weitzman reported two-thirds of fathers asking for custody in California succeeded.

Maybe, some fathers' advocates say, men only seek custody when they have a chance because there's something wrong with mom. Explaining why few non-custodial mothers pay child support, the Gender Bias Study notes "women who lose custody often [have] mental, physical, or emotional handicaps" that impair their earning ability.

That aside, the high success rate of men in custody battles is yet another contender for the Phony Statistics Hall of Fame. The figures do not refer to contested cases. Weitzman acknowledged that when fathers got sole custody, it was typically by mutual agreement; of cases that went to trial, two-thirds were won by women. The work from which the Gender Bias Study gathered its numbers did not separate contested and uncontested custody bids, but showed that mothers filing for sole custody received it 75 percent of the time (the rest usually received joint legal/primary physical custody), while the "success rate" for fathers was 44 percent.

A Stanford study of more than 1,000 California couples divorced in the 1980s suggests conventional wisdom is right. If both parents requested sole custody when filing for divorce, it was awarded to mom in 45 percent and to dad in 11 percent of the cases, with joint physical custody for the rest. (When she asked for sole custody and he for joint custody, the odds were 2-1 in her favor.)

Most of the disputes were negotiated. Just five couples went to trial vying for sole custody - and one of these cases resulted in a victory for the father.

The answer is not to help fathers win more custody fights but to have fewer fights. In Michigan, the Legislature is considering a "shared parenting" or joint custody bill - the Senate substitution bill for House Bill 5636 - opposed by the state's NOW chapter. There's ample room for discussions of the best way to ensure children of divorce still have two parents. But disinformation shouldn't be part of the debate.

Cathy Young is vice-chair of the Women's Freedom Network.

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Karen DeCrow

More info in reference to Karen DeCrow that comes with little tracking info. Click here for site.

Here's what former N.O.W. President Karen DeCrow said nearly a decade ago. The statistics are stale, but the insight is still valid. (Ms DeCrow joined what is now the National Congress for Men and Children in 1981):

IT'S IN MEN'S NATURE TO NURTURE, TOO. -- Karen DeCrow Women must join men in defeating the myth that only women can adequately nurture the young. As a feminist I have been strongly in support of joint, or shared custody since the early Seventies. It's clear that women will never have the opportunity for full participation in the world outside the home if they are designated as those solely responsible for the care of children --during an ongoing marriage or after divorce.

Researchers at the University of Illinois spent six years studying high school valedictorians, and found that the women were much more likely than the men to lower their career goals after college in order to pay "attention to families." Although 57.5% of the valedictorians were female, the women began to lower their career aspirations by the second year of college. Only 35 percent of these women who were first in their class plan to stayin the labor force full-time, while all of the men do.

Midway through college, the women studied also had lower levels of intellectual self-esteem. Dr. Joyce Van Tassel-Baska of Northwestern University, who reviewed the findings, writes: "It's a waste of an incredible talent pool." The waste of talent comes not from a mysterious disease which strikes female valedictorians at age 20. What strikes them down is the societal expectation -- reinforced by family, friends, the media, even their teachers-- that their main job in life is to have children, and anything else they do is secondary in importance. There's no place they can turn for a different message.

Do male valedictorians plan to be parents? Of course. But 100 percent of them plan to use their intellectual and creative abilities in their other sphere of "love" also: their work. Few women will have true equal opportunity if this role definition does not change. We must do two things to save female valedictorians.

First we must stop asking them when they are going to have children. (Surely brilliant young men are not often asked this question at cocktail parties.) And secondly, we must include fathers in matters of child rearing. No parental leave plan, no custody decision, no plan for child care facilities should be addressed to mothers alone. Providing shared responsibility for children, by law, is not only fair to men and more civilized for children, it's also to women's advantage.

Until women and men share parenting, there is little possibility they'll be able to share political, intellectual, economic and social goals. Because half of all marriages end in divorce, more than five million children now live with a divorced parent. Women receive child custody in nine out of 10 uncontested divorce cases. Support is awarded in only 59 percent of these cases. A recent study shows that two-thirds of non-custodial fathers stop making support payments after the first six months. The good news, however, is the same study shows that divorced fathers who have joint custody of their children make support payments promptly.

Under joint custody -- now legal in 38 states -- couples continue to share child-raising responsibilities after a divorce. They divorce each other, but neither of them divorces the children. Under joint custody, no parent has the humiliating experience of being a visitor in his own child's life. According to Webster's dictionary,"visitation" means an official visit, as for inspection, or special dispensation of divine favor or wrath. Why reasonable people would expect decades of financial cooperation from a parent awaiting special dispensation to take his own child to the zoo boggles the mind.

Twenty years ago, in the early days of the feminist movement, it was assumed that shared parenting must be the norm. In later years, responding to conditioning which has convinced many women their chief value is as mothers-- producers and tenders of children -- many in the feminist movement have, mysteriously to me, taken the position that it's to women's advantage to fight for sole custody of children. In this misdirected approach to family living, some women have resumed the attitude of possessiveness of children, attempting to eliminate fathers from the parenting role.

Early in the feminist movement, the anthropologists instructed that historically and traditionally women have been hobbled and enfeebled by sole responsibility for children. The attempt to fight against parenting by fathers is self-defeating for women. Winning sole custody and defeating the fathers movement's efforts to establish joint custody as the norm are Pyrrhic victories indeed. If men are talented enough to be doctors, lawyers, architects and college professors, let us give them the opportunity to be talented parents.

[Karen DeCrow was president of the National Organization for Women from 1974 - 1977. She is an attorney specializing in civil rights and resides in Syracuse, New York. This text downloadable as DECROW.INF from NCMC BBS]

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Article by Cathy Young?

To see where I found this article click here. I was looking for info on Karen DeCrow, a former President of NOW, who is apparently for presumptive joint custody after divorce. The article is attributed to Cathy Young who currently writes for Reason Magazine. There was no title to the article and I will reprint it entirely below:

The often bitter debate over women, babies, and careers got a new twist last week when Michigan circuit court Judge Raymond Cashen gave custody of a 3-year-old named Maranda to her father, Steve Smith, in part because the mother, Jennifer Ireland, has placed the child in a day care center while she attends the University of Michigan. Smith also studies and works but his mother, who is not employed, is willing to help him care for the little girl at home. (Both mom and dad were 16 when Maranda was born.)

"Under the future plans of the mother, the minor child will be in essence raised and supervised a great deal of the time by strangers," Judge Cashen wrote. "Under the future plans of the father, the minor child will be raised and supervised by blood relatives."

Predictably, this has sparked an outcry from feminists who see a backlash against mothers who do not fit the 1950s mold. "A kind of Donna Reed cultural terrorism," columnist Anna Quindlen called the decision.

But others argue that 69-year-old Judge Cashen is no enemy of working women: his own wife taught at a community college most of her life and some of their children were in day care. Moreover, the decision was influenced by other factors: the judge felt that the child would generally have a more stable environment with her father. "Under the mother's plan, the child will not have a specific residence, being moved periodically between the University of Michigan and the maternal grandmother's home," he wrote. "Under the father's plan, the child will reside at the paternal grandparents' home for an indefinite period." (This reasoning should not endear him to fathers' rights groups that favor joint custody arrangements under which the child lives with each parent part of the time.)

Michigan attorney Kay Schwarzberg, who handles many divorce and custody cases, believes that concerns about the possible negative impact of day care on very young children can't be dismissed as mere backlash. But mainly, Schwarzberg is amused that there should be such outrage over Judge Cashen's reference to day care vs. home care in giving custody to the father, when for decades judges cited that issue in awarding custody to moms: "No one got excited about all the wonderful men who couldn't have custody because they were working and had to put their children in day care."

This theme is echoed by Al Lebow, founder of the Michigan- based Fathers for Equal Rights of America, one of nearly 300 fathers' rights groups across the country: "The real crux of this issue is that if the situation were reversed, there would be nobody from the media making inquiries." There are, he says, "thousands upon thousands of horror stories" of men denied not only custody but any meaningful access to their children. Though custody laws are now gender-neutral on the surface, fathers' advocates -- and most family law attorneys -- contend that a double standard lingers: a father has to show that he is a better parent (sometimes, a much better parent) to get the kids; a mother has only to show she's not a bad parent. Women are still presumed, particularly by older, traditional members of the bench such as Judge Cashen, to be naturally possessed of superior parenting skills.

Fathers' rights activists claim that just five percent of divorced dads get custody. The figure may be too low; since there is no system of tracking custody decisions, precise numbers are hard to come by. (According to the Census Bureau, 13 percent of children in single-parent families now live with their dads.) Some feminists claim that fathers win two-thirds of all contested custody cases, due to their greater resources and male bias in courts. But they apparently get that figure by counting joint- custody decisions as unilateral male victories. And some divorced fathers' advocates say that men rarely ask for custody unless they feel they have a very compelling case (and can afford huge legal fees), because they believe the deck is stack against them.

Indeed, the motives of fathers who seek sole or joint custody are often treated as suspect. Quindlen transparently insinuated, as did a New York Times editorial, that Smith had no interest in his child and started the custody fight to avoid paying Ireland $8 a week in child support -- as if anyone could think that $8 a week was worth the inconvenience of having an unwanted child in the house, not to mention the expense of raising her! (Some activists in the battered women's movement promote the even more sinister notion that most dads who fight for custody are abusers who want to use the children to continue controlling the mother.)

Those who are up in arms about Jennifer Ireland losing her child should ask themselves if they would have been as upset if Jennifer had been James. According to Lynne Hecht Schafran, an attorney with the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, "Women should not be penalized for working outside the home." True. But if taking a child away from a parent is a penalty, are good fathers who lose custody of their children penalized for being male?

"We don't understand why, in this day and age, the women's movement is not interested in equality," says Lebow. Supporters of broader custody rights for fathers include former NOW president Karen DeCrow. Yet pro-maternal custody feminists argue that the child should live with the mother because she is usually the "primary caretaker." Day care clearly seems to undermine this argument: as DeCrow once quipped, if this standard were consistently applied, the children of women lawyers would be living in the Caribbean with their nannies.

Perhaps the only way to avoid biased and arbitrary decisions, and the destructive win-lose mentality of custody battles, is to institute the presumption of joint custody as the norm. No fit parent should be penalized -- whether for his gender or for her career -- by being reduced to the status of a visitor in his or her child's life.

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Scottish Poll on Lying or 96% of women are liars, honest

There is an article in The Scotsman about a poll given to 5,000 women about lying. I am copying the most relevant parts below but you can access the article here: The Scotsman Keep in mind this is just a poll...

NINETEEN out of 20 women admit lying to their partners or husbands, a survey on attitudes to truth and relationships has found.

Eighty-three per cent owned up to telling "big, life-changing lies", with 13 per cent saying they did so frequently.

Half said that if they became pregnant by another man but wanted to stay with their partner, they would lie about the baby’s real father.

Forty-two per cent would lie about contraception in order to get pregnant, no matter the wishes of their partner. And an alarming 31 per cent said they would not tell a future partner if they had a sexual disease: this rises to 65 per cent among single women.

Nineteen per cent of women with a long-term partner said they had cheated on him, while 30 per cent of all women have had an affair with a married man. Sixty-eight per cent said they did not trust their partner.

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More Info on Non Custodial Lawsuits

The WV case appears to at least be moving - we'll have to wait and see about results...


MA Shared Custody

Just another article about presumptive shared custody in MA in light of ballot response: MetroWest Daily News

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Friday, December 10, 2004

Child Custody Case Law

This is a link to a site that lists a lot of relevant cases for fathers currently fighting custody battles, particularly if you are pro se. Please read the Editor's Note carefully...

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Wednesday, December 01, 2004

No Posting

I went out of town for the holidays and then unexpectedly was sent out of town for work. Should be back after the 10th but until posting will probably be light, if not nonexistent.

Hope everyone enjoyed their holidays!
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