Friday, January 28, 2005

Removing Legal Incentives To Lie

The latest article by Wendy McElroy is available at American and

From the article:

But the false accusations that impact most people are more commonplace. They often occur in the process of divorce, in battles over custody and child support. For years, advocates of fathers' rights have accused the family courts of being "anti-male" and of rubber-stamping women's claims. And, judging by increasing interest in concepts like shared custody, their voices are being heard.

Unfortunately, the sensational headlines along with men's disillusionment are creating something of a backlash against women who make any allegations at all -- true or false. The backlash should be directed against the legal system itself for offering incentives to lie.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Michigan Governor Granholm Vetoes Marriage Bill

Detroit Free Press

I'm not sure if I covered this already but Governor Granholm "vetoed a package of bills that would encourage premarital counseling for couples and require counseling for married couples with children who are about to divorce. She said the bills were too intrusive on private decisions."

I would like to see, in particular, divorcing couples with children go into counseling.... However, I do understand and respect the resistance to bring the government any further into family life.

"Let me be clear: Marriage preservation is a very important issue," she wrote in her veto letter. "But the decisions men and women make about marriage are private decisions. State government should not expand its role into such private matters."

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Tuesday, January 25, 2005


The ABA website has a search engine where you can come by some interesting and helpful info.

Here is a question I stumbled upon:

How many states allow divorcing parents to have joint legal custody of their children? How many states have a presumption in favor of joint legal custody?

All states permit parents to have joint legal custody of their children after a divorce. As of 1996, 43 states and the District of Columbia have statutes that specifically authorize the courts to order joint custody. (In some states, joint custody is referred to as shared custody.) In the 43 states with joint legal custody statutes, 11 states and the District of Columbia declare a presumption in favor of joint custody, which means that courts are supposed to grant joint custody unless there is proof that joint custody is not in the child's best interest. In addition, eight states declare a presumption in favor of joint custody if both parents agree to it. The remaining 24 states with joint custody statutes make joint custody an explicit option without any presumption for or against joint custody. Seven states do not have joint custody statutes, but courts in those states can use their equitable powers to order joint custody in appropriate circumstances. Joint custody usually is considered appropriate when the parents appear willing to cooperate in raising their children.

And this links to a chart by state

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Stigmatizing Fathers

Latest Cathy Young article available through

Stigmatizing fathers
By Cathy Young January 24, 2005

EVERY SO often, yet another wrenching story of a contested adoption is in the news. Television cameras capture a heartbreaking scene: a frightened, sobbing child being taken away from the adoptive parents, to be handed over to biological parents whom the child has never met. The latest such drama unfolded recently in Jacksonville, Fla., where 3-year-old Evan Parker Scott has been returned to his birth mother after the adoption was annulled because it took place without the birth father's consent.

In these cases, public sympathy is typically on the side of the adoptive parents -- while the unwed father is often assigned the role of villain. He's seen as a feckless good-for-nothing who wants the rights of a father just because he took the trouble to impregnate a woman.

Sometimes, the popular perception may be justified. (Evan Scott's biological father apparently has a history of drug abuse and violence, including toward the mother when she was pregnant.) But then there are the other cases.

Take the story of a New York City police officer identified in legal papers only as Robert O. When his ex-girlfriend found out she was pregnant shortly after their breakup, she decided not to tell Robert and arranged an adoption. Eventually, the couple got back together and married -- and one day, Robert learned that he had a 17-month-old son. His quest for paternal rights ended in defeat in 1992; the courts held that Robert had only himself to blame for not keeping in touch with his former girlfriend and not knowing about her pregnancy.

In 2000, a 19-year-old Iowa man, David Heidbreder, got quite a shock when he found out that his former girlfriend Katie Carton, who had gone to stay with her grandparents in Minnesota after their breakup, had given birth to a girl and put her up for adoption. (Carton had refused to tell Heidbreder where she was but had stayed in touch by e-mail and assured him that she would not give up the baby.)

He filed papers with the Minnesota registry which allows men to claim parental rights and block an adoption. However, he missed the registration deadline -- 30 days from the child's birth -- by one day. He sued and lost.

In recent years, some unwed fathers have been more successful in court, though not in the court of public opinion. Ottakar Kirchner, the father of "Baby Richard," was vilified in the press after he managed to regain custody of his son. The boy was born when Kirchner was away on business in his native Czech Republic; the mother, Daniela Janikova, had decided to break up with Kirchner after hearing rumors of his infidelity. She lied to him that the child had died at birth and repeatedly frustrated his attempts to track down the boy.

Biological paternity isn't everything; but it isn't nothing, either. Where is the sympathy for fathers who lose their children through no fault of theirs? Would we be more sympathetic if a woman's baby were taken away at the hospital and placed for adoption without her knowledge because the birth father signed the adoption papers?

The father in such a case faces a strong presumption of guilt. It is readily assumed that if the mother doesn't want him involved, he's either abusive or terminally irresponsible. In society's eyes, when a man doesn't want to marry his child's mother, he must be a cad; when a woman doesn't want to marry the father, he must be a creep.

People can believe that a man would wage a lengthy legal battle out of spite at his ex-girlfriend; yet many won't allow that a woman could want to deny her ex-boyfriend his child for equally base reasons. We stigmatize and prosecute men who refuse to support their children, but not women who willfully conspire to keep a father away from his child.

It's particularly bizarre to place the burden on the man to find out if the woman is pregnant, considering that she's the one with direct knowledge of her condition. Indeed, if a man took such steps after the woman had told him she wanted no further contact, he could be considered a stalker.

In the end, our society sends men quite a mixed message. If your partner gets pregnant and decides to keep the baby, you're liable for 18 years of child support, whether or not you want to be a father. If she doesn't want to be a mother, she can give your child to strangers and there isn't much you can do. Then we complain that men don't take parenthood seriously enough.

Cathy Young is a contributing editor at Reason magazine. Her column appears regularly in the Globe.

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Thursday, January 20, 2005

Relationships with both parents important

From the Tullahoma News

Relationships with both parents important
By Belinda Riddle

The number of children living only with their mother has more than tripled in the past 30 years. The number living only with their father has also increased. In some cases, one parent completely disappears from a child's life after divorce, more often the father.

There are several reasons why fathers become less involved. First, courts are still more likely to award custody to mothers. Second, some mothers discourage fathers from being involved with their children. Third, fathers may think they are not important to their children. Lastly, families are often separated by distance as one parent moves to another town or state.

According to Denise Brandon, UT Extension family relations specialist, both parents play an important role in their child's development. Mothers and fathers often parent differently and influence their child's growth and maturity in different ways.

For instance, experts say that mothers and fathers often carry their infant children differently. Often, dads carry them facing outward, so the child can see the world around them. Mothers tend to hold infants facing inward in a more protective way. Fathers help children to solve problems. Mothers tend to focus on their children's feelings. Children need what both parents provide to develop properly.

Children who have involved, loving fathers are more likely to do well in school, have a healthy self-esteem, show care for others and have better social skills. They are less likely to engage in high-risk behaviors such as drug use, skipping school and criminal activity.

When it is safe for the child, it is important for parents who divorce to do everything they can to allow their children time with both parents. This may be difficult, especially if there is a lot of conflict between parents, however children need to know that they still have two parents and a family, even though all do not live together.

Children need to be encouraged by their parents to have a loving relationship with both parents. Children are more likely to grow up as well-adjusted adults, if they've had a close relationship with both parents.

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Fathers treated as inferior parents

This is a letter to the Editor from Pittsburgh

Fathers treated as inferior parents
Thursday, January 20, 2005

Imagine being a black in the 1950s reading a newspaper column like the recent "Deadbeat dads work to avoid manhood" but instead was "Shiftless blacks duck the law."

Imagine the supporting quotes were from a lawyer beholden to a bigoted judicial system and the single statistic was from that system. You would know the report lacked credibility. Thankfully, a constitutional "clarification" forced the justice system to change.

In the huge divorce industry, fathers are treated as inferior parents and ordered to support our children plus their mom, and all the lawyers, experts and court costs involved. There is no real avenue for appeal and no fearless advocates for fathers.

The divorce process has financially ruined me and my charge cards were cancelled after being credit reported for non-payment of child support -- a real dead beat dad, right? The truth is that I have always legally had sole custody because mom is unsafe. The system meant to protect me and my children is ruining us.

Like many, I had doubted the injustice claimed by divorcing fathers. Now I can understand how an innocent, hard-working black man in the 1950s could be afraid of seeking justice.

Edward A. Gray Mt. Lebanon

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Monday, January 17, 2005

Law aids paternity fraud victims

Washington Times

Law aids paternity fraud victims
By Cheryl Wetzstein

A lawyer says she has helped seven California men escape erroneous child support orders, though another man, who has been fighting his order for almost a decade, is waiting for his day in court this month.

California "paternity fraud" victims are finding relief under a landmark 2004 court decision and a law that went into effect Jan. 1. Both offer opportunities for courts to overturn established child support obligations for men who can prove they are not the fathers.

In just the past few weeks, "I have overturned seven [men's cases]. ... They're off the hook," Santa Ana, Calif., lawyer Linda S. Ferrer told The Washington Times last week.

All seven men had been assigned child support orders by default, which means they weren't in court to defend themselves, she said. Two of the men had been close enough to the mothers to have once had a relationship with the children, but the other five "had never met the mother," Miss Ferrer said.

News has spread, and she said she has heard from fathers from "all over the state" asking for help.

Meanwhile, Taron G. James of Torrance, Calif., founder of Veterans Fighting Paternity Fraud, is eagerly awaiting his Jan. 25 court date.

"I am trying to get my name cleared as the father of this child that isn't mine and I don't even know," said Mr. James, a Navy veteran from the Gulf war.

Mr. James admits he had an affair with the mother, but it ended a year before her child was born in 1992. A DNA test obtained in 2001 excluded him as the child's father.

In addition to relief from the child support order, Mr. James wants restitution for the estimated $12,000 taken from him in child support and $38,000 he has spent fighting the system since 1996. A separate suit, filed in civil court, seeks monetary damages from the mother and Los Angeles county officials, all of whom defrauded him, said his lawyer, Marc Angelucci.

Paternity fraud cases typically languished until two pivotal events last year.

The first was a June court decision in the case of Whittier, Calif., construction worker Manuel Navarro.

Mr. Navarro's saga started in 1996, when a woman who lived in his neighborhood named "Manuel Nava" as the father of her twin boys. Child support officials assumed Mr. Navarro was the father and sent a summons to his sister's home. When Mr. Navarro didn't respond within 30 days, the court established a $247-a-month child support order for him by default.

This "default" practice is not uncommon in California. More than 70 percent of the state's child support orders were established by default — a rate that is "dramatically higher" than in other states, Urban Institute researchers said in a 2003 study of California's child support system.

In 2001, with DNA proof that he was not the father, Mr. Navarro, represented by Miss Ferrer, sued to have his child support order thrown out. A lower court refused, saying too much time
had elapsed, but Mr. Navarro won on appeal.

The county "should not enforce child support judgments it knows to be unfounded," the California Court of Appeal for the 2nd District said in its June 30 decision. "[W]hen a mistake occurs in a child support action, the county must correct it, not exploit it," it added.

Child support officials quickly moved to get the Navarro decision "depublished" or rendered moot for use in court. But in November, the California Supreme Court denied their request, and the law stands.

The second pivotal event came in September when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a paternity fraud law called AB 252, which allows men to challenge established child support orders under limited circumstances. It went into effect Jan. 1.

A spokeswoman for the California Department of Child Support Services told The Washington Times that it has been updating its officials on AB 252. Child support workers, she added, are using better tools to locate fathers, which means fewer default orders are issued.

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Saturday, January 15, 2005

Dads fight for parenting rights

Daily Camera

Dads fight for parenting rights
Fathers sue state demanding equal custody
By Christine Reid, Camera Staff Writer January 15, 2005

David Arnsberger left several successful enterprises in Texas and became a stay-at-home dad in 1998 when he and his wife moved to Colorado so she could pursue her career.

Three-and-a-half years later, Arnsberger said, their 15-year marriage crumbled and he was kicked out of his Boulder house because of a temporary restraining order. More traumatic for the man who had been the primary care-giver for his then-5-year-old son and 7-month-old daughter was the possibility he might lose the right to see them because his estranged wife wanted sole custody.

"It's like I was in Oz," said Arnsberger, 53.

In less than three years, Arnsberger said he has spent more than $100,000 for attorneys, mediators, arbitrators, special advocates and therapists and his fight to get equal joint custody continues without an attorney because he is out of cash as a substitute teacher.

Arnsberger said one Boulder County magistrate agreed his circumstances would be different if he were the kids' mother, instead of their father.

"The judge said 'If you were a woman, you'd get half the house, the car, the kids and child support,'" Arnsberger said.

Arnsberger's plight is not an anomaly. Thousands of Colorado fathers sued the state in November, demanding they get an even split in parenting duties with their childrens' mothers.

The class-action lawsuit is similar to the nearly 50 filed in other states last year, claiming men's civil and constitutional rights are being trampled when family courts grant anything less than equal parenting time in contested divorces when neither parent has done anything wrong.

"We want the problem to be recognized," said Troy Kramer, a Highlands Ranch man who is heading up the Colorado suit, which continues to collect names. "Ultimately, we want a change."

Kramer, who gets to see his daughter four nights a week, said studies have shown kids who have both parents in their lives are happier and better adjusted than those who don't. He said he doesn't understand why the courts don't get it.

"It's really, really scary," Kramer said.

Melinda Taylor, the state's judicial education coordinator, said equal parenting time and other fatherhood issues will be addressed at the next conference this spring for judges rotating into family court. She said it wasn't in response to the plethora of lawsuits, but rather because it's a "hot topic" nationally."

In reality, (judges) are making decisions in the best interest of the child, regardless," Taylor said. "Every year we try to focus on getting balance and educating them."

Robert Muchnick, who in 1998 founded the Center for Children's Justice in Denver, said children have the right to be raised by both parents, and family courts have too often stripped them of that right.The problem is extensive, he said.

Nearly two-thirds of marriages that end in divorce involve children. Even the 10 percent of divorces that end "amicably" tend to result in the father getting the kids every other weekend and one night a week, Muchnick said.

"It's the quietest catastrophe that's ever occurred in human history," Muchnick said.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Christine Reid at (303) 473-1355

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Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Introducing the Divorce and Child Custody Forum!

I have added a link (the Enter my Forum button) to the new message board for this site. I have a variety of reservations about this but I felt compelled to provide an outlet where readers can connect with each other. The following is from my forum welcome message:

After receiving more email than I can effectively answer, I decided I really needed to provide a source where readers could talk to each other. There are quite a few of you out there and many of you are dealing with the same types issues.

Though I am not tracking visitors, I retain the right to delete or alter any forum posts. I would much prefer not to do that so I hope everyone uses this respectfully and responsibly. In the event that one person becomes a problem, I also reserve the right to block specific IP addresses.

Finally, the service I am using for this forum is free - meaning that on my site you will likely run into pop up ads occasionally. I cannot gauge very well how bad they are as I run a pop up blocker. I would appreciate someone dropping me an email if the ads are extremely invasive, make it too difficult to navigate the site, etc...

The google toolbar and the yahoo toolbar both incorporate fairly effective pop up blockers - though I prefer the Google set up. If you are having pop up issues at this site or others, you might want to give one of those a try.

Anyway, we will see how this works. I truly hope this forum will be used and for those who have been sending me email, please try and post your questions here as well. I will do my best to pop in occasionally and participate in any forums where I have personal experience.

Just wanted to let everybody know that the forum is available and functioning and I hope we can make good use of it - it can be a source to ask a specific question, to vent, whatever... as long as it is somehow relevant to divorce/custody.

Fight for Fathers' Rights Proving Popular

From Human Events Online

Fight for Fathers' Rights Proving Popular
by Phyllis Schlafly

Posted Jan 11, 2005

One impressive Nov. 2 vote has been overlooked by the media. By 85 percent to 15 percent, a ballot initiative in Massachusetts approved equal legal and physical custody of children whose parents are divorced.

That ballot initiative is nonbinding, but it certainly is indicative of the will of the people and the growing recognition that children are best off under the care of both parents. The initiative came out of the grass roots following a massive signature-gathering effort during the summer.

The proposition appeared on the ballot as follows: "Shall the State Representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation requiring that in all separation and divorce proceedings involving minor children, the courts shall uphold the fundamental rights of both parents to the shared physical and legal custody of their children and the children's right to maximize their time with each parent, so far as is practical, unless one parent is found unfit or the parents agree otherwise, subject to the requirements of existing child support and abuse prevention laws?"

This initiative was sponsored by a fathers' rights group whose members believe fathers are systematically discriminated against by family courts, which nearly always award physical custody to the mother even when the father has committed no fault. Family courts typically deny faultless fathers their equal parental rights even when state law appears to require equal custody.

California Family Law, for example, states (Sec. 3010(a)): "The mother ... and the father ... are equally entitled to the custody of the child." The only specific examples the statute gives for denying custody to a parent are child abuse, false accusations of child abuse, abuse of someone else with whom the person has a domestic relationship, substance abuse, and conviction of certain felonies.

Laws about custody rights vary from state to state, and only about a dozen states specify a legal presumption in favor of equal custody. Iowa's new law says that if a court denies a request for joint physical custody, the judge must explain why it's not in the best interest of the child.

Whether or not a state law mandates equal rights to both parents, family courts appear instead to rely on a concept called "the best interest of the child." Because that notion is wholly subjective, an indefinable rule with no standards or accountability, in practice it rests on the personal whim or bias of the family court.

Family court judges find unwelcome the task of rendering a judicial decision detached from the law and from any due-process finding of fault, so they call on court-appointed psychologists to provide opinions of which parent should have custody. But the issue before the court is not psychological (except in rare cases of mental illness), and the psychologist's credentials no more qualify him to determine what is "the best interest of the child" than the judge - or the father or mother.

The social ills caused by the lack of a paternal role model and discipline dispenser in the home have been voluminously reported. We've been led to believe that the plight of fatherless children is caused by husbands walking out on their wives, fathers abandoning their children and deadbeat dads.

That might be a primary cause in the matriarchal welfare system, but no evidence supports a claim that large numbers of non-welfare fathers are voluntarily abandoning their children. Thousands, perhaps millions, of middle-class children are growing up fatherless because family courts have deprived them of fathers.

One of the best-kept secrets in American society today is that two-thirds of divorces are sought by wives, not husbands. The feminist movement has taught wives they can seek "liberation" by walking out on the marriage contract and marital duties and still reap the benefits of marriage - their children and his money.

Some 80 percent of divorces are involuntary, that is over the objections of one spouse. Very few of these divorces involve grounds such as desertion, adultery or abuse.

We urgently need a comprehensive study of how many family court decisions deprive fathers of their parental rights and deprive children of their fathers, when that awesome punishment is not based on any finding of fault. Information is difficult to gather because most of what family courts do is unavailable to public scrutiny.

How many children are separated by judicial fiat from involuntarily divorced fathers who have done nothing wrong? How many children are separated from their fathers because of questionable child abuse accusations without any evidentiary hearing or due process of law?

Fathers are starting to fight back. During 2004, federal class-action suits were filed against 46 states on behalf of an estimated 25 million non-custodial parents, primarily fathers, claiming violation of their right to equal custody of their children.

The gay-rights lobby has a national strategy based on federal "equal protection" to get their day in court to demand marriage licenses. What we really need are laws ensuring that children of broken homes have equal access to their fathers and mothers.

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Virginia Bill to Make Non Payment of Support a Felony

There is a bill in the works in Virginia to make failure to pay support a class 6 felony. The bill does not allow for any extemporaneous causes (i.e. unemployment, paper mistake, etc...)

You can see the text of the bill here.

The bill is sponsored by John Cosgrove. This is his contact information:

Telephone (757)547-3422 and (804) 698-1078 Fax: (757) 547-3372

His can also be contacted by clicking here.

Information on the non custodial lawsuit in Virginia is available at

Particularly if you are a resident of Virginia, please let Rep Cosgrove know your thoughts on such a bill.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Custody dispute ends with fine

Although I feel a *bit* guilty doubling up on stories about bad mothers - this one is definitely news worthy considering it is one of the first instances I have heard where a substantial penalty was actually levied for interfering with a court ordered custody arrangement.

Ouad City Times Newspaper

From the article:

An Arizona woman must pay her former husband $25,000 because she interfered with the court-ordered custody arrangement for the couple's now-adult daughter, the Iowa Supreme Court has ruled.

.Joan Wolf must pay Timothy Wolf because of her willful and wanton conduct, the court ruled in upholding the decision of a Scott County judge to award damages in the case. The case will return to Scott County to reconsider attorney fees in the case.

.Joan kept (the child) for nearly three years after Timothy was awarded physical care, the court stated in its opinion. During the short period Timothy did have physical care, Joan provided (the child) with the means to run away showing a disregard for Timothy's custodial rights and the emotional harm he would likely suffer.

.When Joan returned to Iowa to seek a modification of physical placement, she disobeyed direct orders from the judge and took the child back to Arizona before the proceeding ended, the court continued. She thereby showed not only a lack of concern for Timothy's custodial rights, but also displayed a complete disregard for the Iowa legal system.

While (the child) was living with Timothy for a brief time in 2000, Joan sent an airline ticket, credit card, and a cell phone battery through a friend of (the child) to facilitate her leaving Iowa, court documents state.

.During another court proceeding, the judge ordered Joan to stay in Iowa with the couple's daughter. She promised to do so, but left.

.Timothy filed suit in 2002, asking for $1 in damages. The court ordered $25,000 in damages.



Okay, generally I try to refrain from posting "mom sucks" articles because I know for as many as are available for Mom - they can also be found for Dad.

That being said I am not going to reprint this article but you can link to it here: New York Post.

Apparently this mother, who received approx 1 million dollars in cash and assets after her divorce, has successfully applied for welfare to help support her $4,000 apartment - all while her two sons pay for their own school lunches and supplies with income from after school jobs.

Also, even though the children said their mother abused them and that they wanted to live with their father during divorce proceedings, custody was still awarded to mom.

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Latest Stephen Baskerville Article

From - Homicide Takes Toll of Great Newspapers

This is a fairly long article dealing with media treatment of the death rates of expectant mothers and the media bias against fathers.

From the article:

But more seriously, it suggests we are seeing something completely different from what the Post fervently wants us to see. Apparently able to read to people's thoughts, the Post often reiterates that expectant fathers are perpetrating this mayhem to evade the responsibilities of fatherhood. "When husbands or boyfriends attack pregnant partners, it usually has to do with an unwillingness to deal with fatherhood, marriage, child support, or public scandal," we are told. "If she goes away, the problem goes away." But this makes no sense. Most perpetrators are arrested, convicted of murder, and sentenced to decades in prison. As Davis remarks, "The problem does not go away."

What the "expanded definition" indicates is that most are already fathers who are more likely trying to exercise, not evade, the responsibilities of fatherhood. What the Post is clothing in sympathy for pregnant women is much more likely to be violence over custody and children forcibly separated from their fathers. A significant moral difference separates a man who kills to avoid fatherhood from a father who kills because someone has taken away or otherwise interfered with his children. Justified or not, a completely different dynamic is at work.

It is fairly clear that what we are really seeing here is part of a much larger phenomenon of truly serious dimensions that the Post both ignores and distorts: divorce-related violence. Drexel University researchers, seeking a correlation between homicide and unemployment, found instead that "the most powerful predictor of homicide rates in the United States are the divorce rates." Most of this is directly connected with custody of children. "Judges and lawyers nationwide agree," reports the California Law Week, "that family law is the most dangerous area in which to practice." Dakota County Minnesota District Attorney James Backstrom attests that family court produces far more violence than criminal court. "We're most concerned about the people in family court – the child support and divorce cases," he says. "They pose a greater risk than the criminal defendants."

Click on the link above to read the entire article.

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Op Ed on No Fault Divorce

This opinion article is from the Salt Lake Tribune.

For the common good, repeal no-fault divorce law Utah Voices
By Paul T. Mero

My parents divorced when I was 14 years old. Their divorce came one week shy of their 25th wedding anniversary. Never did I hear them argue and only once, toward the end, did I sense that there was any trouble at home.

While I knew they loved me, the whole "divorce thing" was beyond my young boy's comprehension. I simply trusted that my parents knew what they were doing, as tough as it was to be apart as a family. Both of my parents went on to remarry, my dad twice again and my mom once. As time has rolled forward I have had a longing that my parents would one day get back together.

As a young boy when they divorced, I just knew they still loved each other. I still possess a letter written to me by my dad telling me what was about to occur and, even still, how much he loved my mother and how he expected me to love and respect her.

They divorced at a time when "no-fault" laws had swept across the country. As for my parents' situation there was no abuse, no adultery, no abandonment, no fault. My mom decided, no doubt after some long soul-searching and inherent pain with the idea, that she was no longer as happy as she wanted to be in the marriage.

It is very difficult to Monday-morning quarterback such events, let alone jump forward to Saturday-morning quarterbacking this event some 30 years later. But is it beyond the pale for a dependent child to expect that his parents stay married absent some egregious fault? Even further, should it be a matter of public policy to insist that parents stay married until the children are gone, again absent some egregious fault?

Prior to 1970 there were no such things as "irreconcilable differences." Public policy in that day required these couples to otherwise tough it out - that if marital problems existed, absent fault, they should work out their differences as long as dependent children were involved.

The "no-fault revolution" occurred for some very good personal reasons. But public policy is not about what is personal, it is about what is best for the common good, and divorce laws, like marriage laws, are not about personal relationships, they're about preserving families and protecting society from incurring unnecessary burdens.

With over 30 years of no-fault policy under our belts, social science research has made clear that our related high levels of divorce are devastating more of life than simply relationships. The financial costs to society, especially in support of fatherless homes, are dramatic.

When children are involved, why should divorce be easy? Though divorce is always messy and never pleasant, why should our laws needlessly facilitate broken homes?

Utah is a family state. We just passed a constitutional amendment defining and protecting marriage. Perhaps the time has come that we should be consistent in our defense of marriage. Having a bad, unfulfilled, or discontented day, week, month, or year is insufficient reason to tear a family apart. It is time to repeal no-fault divorce in Utah.

By the way, on Oct. 5, 2000, my parents - married 24 years, divorced and separate 28 years - were remarried in our family home. They reclaimed the love they lost to easy divorce.

Paul T. Mero is president of the Sutherland Institute, a state-based public policy group that is proposing legislation for the upcoming session of the Legislature to end no-fault divorce in Utah.

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Thursday, January 06, 2005

This is a really interesting site and a welcome reminder that not all women believe men should be consistently relegated to "visitor" in their child's life.

From the site: Individualist feminism, or ifeminism, advocates the equal treatment of men and women as individuals under just law. The core principle of individualist feminism is that all human beings have a moral and legal claim to their own persons and property. It is sometimes called libertarian feminism.


What to Do About Daddy?

The latest article from Wendy McElroy.

What to Do About Daddy?
January 6, 2005

By court order, 3-year-old Evan Parker Scott of Jacksonville, Fla., is being separated from his adoptive parents and returned to the biological mother who surrendered him at birth.
Why? Because something was missing from the adoption process: the father's consent.

In 2005, family courts will confront a question head-on: "What to do about Daddy?" In the case of Evan, the question is, "what to do about the "birth father"? — a term that properly denotes the biological and often unmarried father of an adopted child.

The media has discussed Evan's case as a tragedy caused by the court validating "father's rights" at the expense of a child's welfare. Whether the rights of Evan's biological father were in fact violated remains a point of debate in this specific case, but overall, a good argument can be made for the opposite view: By ignoring the father's rights at the outset of an adoption proceeding, courts set the stage for this kind of needless tragedy.

When custody is contested, the child's welfare should be foremost. Accordingly, commentary has centered on Evan. The children's advocacy site Hear My Voice offers poignant coverage of the transfer to his birth mother. In the Boston Globe, Jeff Jacoby writes, "Only a legal system that believes ties of blood are the truest expression of parenthood could order a boy stripped of the parents who have raised and cherished him from birth."

Jacoby misses some salient points.

One: Evan's situation did not arise because his father suddenly appeared after three years. Five months after Evan's birth he filed papers with the court and has mounted a continuous legal battle.

The tragedy occurred, at least in part, because the court transferred Evan's guardianship (with a presumption of adoption) to the Scotts before the father's claim had been resolved. In doing so, I believe the court acted inappropriately, and with tragic consequences.

Two: the court acted inappropriately because, when both parents are known, they are both responsible for the child's welfare and they possess an equal claim to parenting. If parental responsibility is to be legally binding — e.g. for child support — so, too, is the parental claim. Before an unwed woman can put a child up for adoption, the father should be given the opportunity to raise his child.

Four: saying that a child's welfare should be foremost does not negate the rights of the two parents. The appropriate action is one that preserves the rights of all involved through negotiation if at all possible. Only if a parent is a clear threat to the child should his or her rights be summarily abrogated.

Good Morning America compared Evan's case to "'Baby Richard'...a (1995) court battle that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court." In that case, a 4-year-old was taken from adoptive parents and given to his birth father.

However, the cause of birth fathers' rights might not fare well if 'Baby Evan' becomes a test case. Evan's biological father was convicted of and served a jail term for assaulting and hospitalizing his birth mother while she was pregnant. This, unfortunately, lends credibility to the image, in these types of adoption cases, of the "birth fathers" as uncaring, unstable and unfit for parenthood.

Moreover, it is a widely accepted belief that in cases where there is a history of domestic violence, fathers bid for custody as a way of harassing the mother.

These are two common objections to birth fathers' involvement in adoption: they are uncaring or unfit parents; and, they will use the courts to harass mothers. Without question, a number of birth fathers richly deserve such criticism. But it is improper to deny rights to an entire category of people because individuals within that category behave badly.

The birth father I met at a conference of the National Coalition of Free Men may very well be as "typical" as Evan's. He and his mother had driven across several states to attend the meeting in the hope of making contacts to help his case. A serious young man of about 20-years-old, he explained that his girlfriend left town without telling him she was pregnant. She put the child up for adoption after running the public notice to the birth father, which is legally required; the notice was an ad in the back of an out-of-town paper to which he did not subscribe.

By the time he discovered his fatherhood, the window for claiming parental rights had expired. Now, he and his family were desperately seeking a way to gain custody and raise the child themselves.

How can courts help to prevent heart-wrenching father-child reunions, like the one Evan is now experiencing?

They should acknowledge at the very beginning of an adoption proceeding that both responsible parents have an equal voice. Each parent must be presumed responsible until shown otherwise. And no adoption placement should occur if either parent wants custody.

Moreover, the notification process should meet a high standard of diligent effort before parental rights can be suspended.

Evan is now in the custody of his mother who filed specifically to block the father's claim; the latter has been granted liberal, but supervised, visitation.

The court's misconduct, of course, extends beyond whatever original slighting of father's rights it may have allowed to occur. To correct that "error" humanely, the court and adults involved might have arranged liberal visitation for the father with Evan's adoptive parents. But the mother's filing precluded that very possibility.

The saddest irony is also the worst indictment of the family court system. Evan was desperately wanted by the Scotts, and his father also very much wants him. The only person who didn't want him is the one who now has custody: the mother.

I retract my former statement: perhaps this would make a good test case.

Wendy McElroy

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Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Michigan Grandparent Visitation

A new law in Michigan (effective immediately) provides the opportunity to seek grandparenting time if:

the grandchilds parents are divorced, or are in the process of divorce, separation, or annulment.

the grandchilds parent is deceased and is the son/daughter of the grandparent.

the grandchilds parents have never been married, are not cohabitating, and the fathers paternity has been established.

the child is placed outside the home or legal custody of the child has been given to someone other than a parent (unless the child was adopted by someone other than a stepparent).

within the year prior to seeking grandparenting time, the grandparent provided an established custodial environment for the grandchild.

This law does provide for the parents of an unwed father to have access to visitation. However, I still find it ironic that with the difficulties fathers have in getting and enforcing visitation, laws are being written to protect grandparents. Also, shouldn't the divorce and the parents schedules with the child be hammered out BEFORE we let the grandparents petition for their visitation?


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Memphis Loves Moms

I found this on MemphisWeb. I don't know about you but it sure looks advice on how a mom could get the upper hand in a custody battle. While they never specify gender, leading with a story about a child who was "returned to her mother" seems a pretty clear indication of where their bias lies.

Anyway, I suppose it is also the number to Memphis legal aid...

A baby girl who went missing Sunday is home safe with her mother tonight. 9-month-old Branson Whitt was returned to her mother Sunday night.

Shelby County sheriff’s deputies say Branson’s father took her from her home near Raleigh early that morning. Brandon Whitt is charged with aggravated burglary for breaking into the home to get his daughter. However, deputies say he is not charged with kidnapping because he is still legally married to Branson’s mother.

This case brings up an issue many parents probably don’t think about. How do you make sure your child stays with you and how do keep parent, who may have been absent for years, from just showing up one day and taking your child away? To start the process, your first stop is the Shelby County courthouse. Tennessee law says both parents have the right to custody of their child. But there are ways you can get the upper hand while keeping your child safe. Attorney Stuart Breakstone says he sees parents playing tug of war with their children all the time. “It’s basically possession being nine-tenths of the law and you can refuse to give the child back.” It doesn’t matter of you legally separate from your spouse. Both parents have equal rights to that child.

To keep down confusion, start by filing for divorce. Once the divorce papers are filed, drop them off at the courthouse. If you are worried about what the other parent could do, you need to prove the child is at risk. Try to get a hearing; the process usually takes about a week. Then convince the judge to sign an injunction to keep the other parent away. If you can show imminent danger, that injunction can come almost immediately.

If you do not have the money to pay for legal services and advice, call Memphis Area Legal Services at (901) 523-8822. There is a sliding scale, depending on your ability to pay. If you cannot afford it, the services are free.

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Are we a republic or a democracy?

I thought this was a very interesting article, particularly when considering our current system of "family law."


Are we a republic or a democracy?
By Walter Williams

We often hear the claim that our nation is a democracy. That wasn't the vision of the founders. They saw democracy as another form of tyranny. If we've become a democracy, I guarantee you that the founders would be deeply disappointed by our betrayal of their vision. The founders intended, and laid out the ground rules, for our nation to be a republic.

The word democracy appears nowhere in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution ? two most fundamental documents of our nation. Instead of a democracy, the Constitution's Article IV, Section 4, guarantees "to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government." Moreover, let's ask ourselves: Does our pledge of allegiance to the flag say to "the democracy for which it stands," or does it say to "the republic for which it stands"? Or do we sing "The Battle Hymn of the Democracy" or "The Battle Hymn of the Republic"?

So what's the difference between republican and democratic forms of government? John Adams captured the essence of the difference when he said, "You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe." Nothing in our Constitution suggests that government is a grantor of rights. Instead, government is a protector of rights.

In recognition that it's Congress that poses the greatest threat to our liberties, the framers used negative phrases against Congress throughout the Constitution such as: shall not abridge, infringe, deny, disparage, and shall not be violated, nor be denied. In a republican form of government, there is rule of law. All citizens, including government officials, are accountable to the same laws. Government power is limited and decentralized through a system of checks and balances. Government intervenes in civil society to protect its citizens against force and fraud but does not intervene in the cases of peaceable, voluntary exchange.

Contrast the framers' vision of a republic with that of a democracy. In a democracy, the majority rules either directly or through its elected representatives. As in a monarchy, the law is whatever the government determines it to be. Laws do not represent reason. They represent power. The restraint is upon the individual instead of government. Unlike that envisioned under a republican form of government, rights are seen as privileges and permissions that are granted by government and can be rescinded by government.

How about a few quotations demonstrating the disdain our founders held for democracy?

James Madison, Federalist Paper No. 10: In a pure democracy, "there is nothing to check the inducement to sacrifice the weaker party or the obnoxious individual."

At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Edmund Randolph said, " ... that in tracing these evils to their origin every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy."

John Adams said, "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."

Chief Justice John Marshall observed, "Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos."

In a word or two, the founders knew that a democracy would lead to the same kind of tyranny the colonies suffered under King George III.

The framers gave us a Constitution that is replete with undemocratic mechanisms. One that has come in for recent criticism and calls for its elimination is the Electoral College. In their wisdom, the framers gave us the Electoral College so that in presidential elections large, heavily populated states couldn't democratically run roughshod over small, sparsely populated states.

Here's my question: Do Americans share the republican values laid out by our founders, and is it simply a matter of our being unschooled about the differences between a republic and a democracy? Or is it a matter of preference and we now want the kind of tyranny feared by the founders where Congress can do anything it can muster a majority vote to do? I fear it's the latter.

Dr. Walter E. Williams is the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

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Monday, January 03, 2005

Persistence and love bring father and daughter together


Monday, January 03, 2005

Persistence and love bring father and daughter together

After many years, Hawthorne father gets an opportunity to prove his feelings for a long-lost daughter.

By Melissa Milios Daily Breeze

For 17 years, Majid Barghi has kept his hopes and part of his heart in a big, white box.
Inside, on hundreds of legal documents, phone records and other official papers, is the disjointed story of the Hawthorne resident's quest to reunite with his daughter, Kristine, who at age 2 was whisked away by her mother to Sweden. Years of transcontinental wrangling for custody followed, complicated by questions of international jurisdiction.

Kristine is 19 now. Like many children of divorced parents, she grew up wondering why her dad didn't try harder, why he didn't call or come to see her more often.

"I felt like he didn't care about me," she said. "I felt like he didn't want to have contact with me, and then I got mad. So I didn't want to talk to him."

This holiday season, more than a decade after their last meeting in a Swedish courtroom, Kristine is in Hawthorne, visiting the father she thought never cared. And Barghi is opening up his box of documents to try to prove to her that he never stopped.

"I couldn't do anything except document," Barghi said. "I thought, 'I have to make a journal for myself, and to someday show it to my daughter.' "

The journal begins with a birth certificate, showing Kristine was once Anna Kristine, the child of Iranian-born Barghi and his young, European wife. They met in a bar in Oregon where he was attending university, and 30 days later they were married.

Though they didn't have much money, he said, they had a respectable life. After Barghi finished college, the couple moved to Southern California, so he could look for work.

But not long after Kristine was born, both parents agreed to a legal separation. Kristine celebrated her second birthday in Oregon, and her mother sent Barghi a photograph.
The next thing he received, he said, was a postcard from Europe.

Kristine's mother, Barghi alleges, took Kristine to live abroad without his permission and then divorced him in a Swedish court.

"She told the court that because I'm half-Iranian, she was afraid that I would take our daughter to Iran," said Barghi, who remarried in 1991 to Adelaida, a Peruvian woman. They have lived in the Los Angeles area ever since, and have four young children.

Barghi estimated that over the past 17 years, he's spent more than $150,000 in legal fees and travel expenses, trying to contact and get to know his daughter.

His efforts were frustrated by the fact that Swedish courts usually favor the rights of resident mothers, according to the U.S. State Department. Even if parental access is ordered, Swedish judges don't have the authority to enforce the rulings.

"I did raise hell in Sweden," Barghi said. "But the American government, American parents have no power in Sweden."

Kristine said it's taken her a long time to sort out the conflicting stories that she's heard over the years.

"Some things just didn't make sense that I heard from my mother, or that I heard from him," she said. "I thought, 'I want to go over there and check it out -- to see for myself, and make up my own opinion, make up my own story.' "

She said that during the years her dad claims to have been fighting for her, she didn't see any of it. All she knew was that her dad, like many parents of divorce, wasn't around for many of her childhood milestones -- birthdays, learning to drive, going to the prom.

"I never could say, 'I'm going to the cinema with my dad. I'm going to my grandma's on my father's side,' " she said. "It's sad. That I missed. I wanted to have it."

Since her arrival in Los Angeles on Dec. 22, Kristine and Barghi have been trying to make up for lost time. She finally met her grandmother, Barghi's mother, during a visit to the Bay Area over Christmas weekend.

And the family spent hours on a pastime that divides even the closest of fathers and daughters: shopping.

"She's catching up for the last 17 years of shopping," Barghi said.

"Some things were too tight, some things were too short, some things were -- 'Oh, that's OK, that one's ... No-no-no-no!' " Kristine said, laughing.

Kristine, who has a 14-year-old brother in Sweden, is also getting to know her four American siblings.

The eldest, 10-year-old Reza, said that while he'd never talked to or even seen Kristine before last week, he always knew her as part of the family.

"I felt bad for my dad, because he never got to see his long-lost daughter," Reza said. "He never got to see her first day of school, never saw her in middle school, never got to see her first friends. So it was really sad."

Barghi said that Reza, his brothers Kayumars, 8, and Dariush, 2, and their sister Noor, 6, "went bananas" when they finally met Kristine at the airport.

But there have also been quiet moments, awkward struggles and questions still to be answered.
"We want to put a closing to this chapter of our life," Barghi said. "It's been dragging on for a very long time. It's hurt us enough."

As part of that closure, father and daughter have started to pore over documents Barghi has been compiling for years, waiting to show Kristine. She said she's been surprised at some of the things she's seen.

"It's a puzzle: He showed me the phone list when he called me five years ago, and letters he's tried to send," Kristine said. "I was like, 'I haven't gotten any of it.' And this is proof that he has done it."

Barghi said that despite all the years of legal battles, international headaches and late-night phone calls, he's glad to get the chance to finally connect with his adult daughter.

"There are lots and lots of people having the same problem I had," Barghi said. "Some are mothers, some are fathers. But the message I want to send is: Never give up on your children."
And Kristine said that, in the end, she appreciated the persistence.

"Now when I'm here, I feel whole," she told her father. "It feels like a piece of me is getting filled up. It's really good, and I cannot have a better role model than you."

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New Truths About Real Men

From the Boston Globe. I am not going to say much about this article except that I think this information you have been presented in a MUCH BETTER fashion.

New truths about real men

By Rosalind C. Barnett and Caryl Rivers January 1, 2005

THE NEWS about men in the year just past was dismal. A high-profile court case saw a husband (Scott Peterson) convicted of murdering his pregnant wife. CEOs at Enron and Worldcom stand accused of defrauding employees and investors. NBA players waded into a crowd, fists flying. Then, to put the icing on this poisonous cake, the Department of Labor reported that the working woman spends twice as much time, on average, as the working man on household chores and care of children.

It gets worse. At home men are seen as lazy slugs and at work are viewed as old-fashioned, kick-butt bosses. In school, boys' verbal abilities lag far behind those of girls. As parents, males are thought to lack parenting abilities. Expanding paternity leave is pointless, since males are programmed to have little emotional attachment to their kids.

Males lack empathy with others. If a friend approaches them to talk about problems, they change the subject or make a joke. In relationships they don't have a clue. They are faithless wretches "hard-wired" by their genes to be promiscuous.

Is this picture accurate? Happily, new research shows that it is not. Indeed, real men manage to escape the stereotypes much of the time. For example:

The lazy slug label is unfair. In fact, in dual-earner couples -- the dominant family form in the United States -- men's housework chores and child care have increased steadily since 1977, says the 2003 National Study of the Changing Workforce. The "gender gap" in hours declined by more than 70 percent, from 2.4 hours per day in 1977 to one hour a day in 2002.

Men are also doing more child care. Between 1977 and 2003, employed fathers in dual-earner couples narrowed the gap by 57 percent.

Are men really "command-and-control" types in management style? The most effective manager, it's now believed, is "transformational," one who gains the trust of followers and empowers them to reach their full potential. Psychologist Alice Eagly of Northwestern University found that women managers were indeed more "transformational" than men. But the difference was very small: 52.5 percent of females and 47.5 percent of males.

Do boys lack the "natural" verbal skills of girls? An analysis by psychologists Janet Hyde of the University of Wisconsin and Marcia Linn of University of California at Berkeley found the difference between boys and girls was trivial. Boys overall don't suffer from an inability to speak and write.

Do men lack a natural ability to parent young children the way women do? No. And when men are the primary caretakers of young children, they "mother" in the same way women do, reports North Carolina State sociologist Barbara Risman. And for the first time, fathers now spend more time with their kids than on their own pursuits and pleasures, reported the US National Study of the Changing Workplace in 2002.

Do men duck and run when others approach them with problems? In fact, a 2004 study of "troubles talk" finds that both men and women largely provide support by giving advice and expressing sympathy.

Are men impelled by their genes to be natural rovers? Psychologists Kay Bussey of Macquarie University and Albert Bandura of Stanford found that most males mate monogamously. "If prolific, uncommitted sexuality is a male biological imperative," the researchers write, "it must be a fairly infirm one that can be easily overridden by psychosocial forces."

In terms of fidelity, men and women are quite similar. In 2002, the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago reports, 15 percent of women said they cheated, while the number for men was 22 percent. It's time to jettison the idea that males are clueless oafs who come from the planet Mars. Men, like women, are perfectly able to be people-oriented leaders, caring parents, good listeners, and true friends in time of need.

Rosalind C. Barnett is director of the Community, Families and Work program at Brandeis University. Caryl Rivers is a professor of journalism at Boston University. They are the authors of "Same Difference: How Gender Myths Are Hurting Our Relationships, Our Children, and Our Jobs."

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Parkersburg, Ohio Support Group


MAD chapter to meet in Wood County library

PARKERSBURG - Non-custodial parents and all other persons interested in restoring and protecting parental rights and the American family are invited to attend an organizational meeting for the newly-formed West Virginia Chapter of MAD (Men Against Discrimination) Men United from 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2005, in the board room at the Wood County Public Library. The status of the pending class action lawsuit in United States District Court will be discussed.

For more information: 304-295-0053.

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