Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Bill would outlaw blocking visitation - Alabama



Alabama parents who interfere with court visitation orders in child custody cases could face jail time.

The Alabama Legislature is considering making it a crime to willfully obstruct child visitation. Members of the House Judiciary Committee will meet this week to take up House Bill 683, a proposal that would make interference a Class "C" felony.

"I've gotten so many complaints through the years about the custodial parent being uncooperative with the noncustodial parent," said bill sponsor Rep. Steve McMillan, R-Gulf Shores. "When the noncustodial parent is supposed to see their children on Saturday morning, we want to make sure that they do see their children on Saturday morning.

Also on Wednesday, members of the House Judiciary Committee will consider another McMillan-sponsored bill, House Bill 650, a measure creating a shared parenting arrangement for divorcing and separating parents.

Currently, courts may order some form of joint custody without the consent of both parents. McMillan's proposal would ask for mutual formal consent.

Parents would be required to develop a comprehensive parenting plan to address such issues as the child's education, day care, health insurance and visitation, McMillan said. Either parent could submit the outline or they could present a joint plan.

"Ideally, it would be best if they could sit down and discuss it and work it out," he said.

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Monday, April 25, 2005

Legislature targets alimony, paternity legislation - Oregon



A bill that would end alimony after an ex-spouse remarries has backers in both parties, and one giving men more time to challenge paternity claims is headed to a Senate vote.

Effects could be broad-reaching. Oregon has 15,000 divorces a year, and about a quarter of challenged paternity cases show the man in question is not the father.

"At some point, you should not be able to go back to a former spouse and reconnect for support," said
Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene. Senate Bill 945 would do that.

Senate Bill 234, voted out of committee last week, would allow a married man to end his paternity obligations if blood or DNA tests prove the child is not his.

The bill would give an unmarried man two years to challenge a paternity claim. Current law allows one year.

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California Shared Parenting Bill

"AB 1307, a new Shared Parenting bill recently introduced in the California legislature, seeks to help preserve children of divorce's bonds with both parents by creating a clear presumption that parents equally share in the responsibility of joint custody of their children unless there is clear evidence that it would not be in the children's best interests. "

For more information you can visit the California Shared Parenting Alliance web site:

The California Shared Parenting Alliance (CSPA) is a group of mental health professionals, family law practitioners and concerned parents who believe that children’s need for frequent and meaningful contact with both parents after a divorce is paramount.

CSPA was organized for the purpose of passing AB 1307, a bill which will clarify California law and create a clear presumption that parents equally share in the responsibility of joint custody of their children unless there is clear evidence that it would not be in the children’s best interest.

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Thursday, April 21, 2005

New Link Addition - Nevadans For Equal Parenting

I have added a link to the site of Nevadans for Equal Parenting. This site contains various information relative to parents in Nevada, a listing of support groups in Nevada, recommended literature and they host their own blog: Nevadans For Equal Parenting Blog.

You may recall the Nevada Senate recently passed a *basically* useless bill regarding child custody. The bill, initially sponsored by Senator Maurice Washington, was pretty much gutted of its initial intent which "originally sought a legal presumption that joint custody is in the best interest of a child, even if both parents don't agree to it." You can read more about on this previous post: Nevada Senate panel OK's child custody bill.


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Bill could help avoid paying support -Florida

Tallahassee Democrat 04/19/2005 Bill could help avoid paying support

What a SICK title - as if not wanting to pay for a child that is not yours is AVOIDANCE!!


Men who get DNA tests to disprove paternity could avoid paying child support, under a bill Rep. Curtis Richardson steered through a key House panel Monday.

Some members of the House Justice Council objected that "the best interests of the child" were being trumped by belated proof that a man ordered to pay support was not the biological father of a child. But Richardson, D-Tallahassee, said his bill would not allow men to escape financial obligations if they have previously acknowledged fatherhood, adopted a child or tried to stop some other man from assuming parental responsibility.

Former state Sen. Fred Dudley, representing The Florida Bar family-law section, said it was important the bill only applies to future child-support orders "so we're not subjecting literally tens of thousands of child-support orders out there to a new rule about collateral attacks on the judgments." Dudley also said judges "always need to use the 'best-interests-of-the-child test' in making this determination" to end child support.
(Read: Let's not give men who are currently paying support for children they did not father a reprieve.)

If a man has adopted a child, or has consented to being listed on a birth certificate as a baby's father, he could not change his mind and try to get out of child support under the bill. Richardson said if a man has stopped some other man from adopting a child or asserting fatherhood, he could not later renounce paternity and stop paying.

Richardson said men would have to file an affidavit in court stating that they do not think they fathered a child and would have to pay for DNA testing. A judge could require the mother to have the child tested.

Rep. John Quinones, R-Kissimmee, objected strenuously to the bill. He said some children have bonded with men they believe are their fathers, who may have accepted responsibility for years before getting suspicious and having a DNA test.

"You have children who are essentially going to be bastardized," Quinones said. "You have sperm donors and then you have fathers, and when someone has raised a child as their own for this many years ... they should continue their obligation."

But Rep. Mark Mahon, R-Jacksonville, said as a family-law attorney, he has had to explain to men that they must continue paying child support for children they can prove are not theirs.

"The courts are supposed to be searchers for truth," Mahon said. "It's very difficult to explain to a man that DNA testing can get someone off Death Row, but DNA proving they are not the father cannot get them relieved of a support order."

A companion bill (SB 1456) by Sen. Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee, has cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee and is pending in the Children and Families Committee.

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Attorneys, therapists push for new divorce model -Indiana

News Sentinel 04/19/2005 Attorneys, therapists push for new divorce model


“Divorce is an emotionally charged process. It can be very expensive and can have horrible effects on both children and adults,” Brandt said.

But Brandt, several other attorneys, local magistrates and mental health professionals are spearheading a new program in Allen County advocating what is known elsewhere as “cooperative” and “collaborative” divorce. The new model emphasizes the attorney’s role as part of a multidisciplinary team that includes financial planners, accountants and therapists. The attorney takes on a role of “problem-solver rather than the old warrior model,” Brandt said. “In the traditional model, the attorneys are not really concerned about the clients. They’re there to win.”

In Allen County, 90 percent of divorce cases are settled out of court, but “how much threatening, how much posturing, how much animosity was generated before you reached the settlement?” In most cases, more than any attorney cares to recall, Brandt said.

The pure collaborative law model takes cooperative divorce a step further. The lawyers who enter into the shared commitment agree that if the parties cannot successfully resolve the issues in dispute, both lawyers will withdraw, and new lawyers will be hired to liti-gate the dispute.

“If things don’t turn out well, then they can go back to being the warrior.”

But that warrior approach – parent to parent, attorney to attorney – emotionally damages the child, said Allen Circuit Court Magistrate Craig Bobay.

“Parental conflict is a specific indicator of juvenile delinquency,” said Bobay, who presides over divorce and other family court cases but has handled juvenile cases in the past.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Senate Passes Shared Custody Measure - TN

NewsChannel 5 Network


A bill that could change the way judges award custody of children in divorce cases cleared the Tennessee senate Monday night.

The shared parenting bill would require judges dealing with custody cases to assume equally shared parenting is in the best interest of the child.

Senator Doug Jackson created the bill. He said often in custody cases fathers end up only getting to spend weekends and a few weeks each year with their kids.

“All it (the bill) does is say to the courts start in the middle and work your way from there,” Jackson said. “Don't start out with a bias or a prejudice against one parent just because of gender.”

Critics of the measure said it would force children to split time equally between hostile parents.

The bill will move to the house for a vote.

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Child-abuse rates remain unchanged

Child-abuse rates remain unchanged - The Washington Times: Nation/Politics - April 19, 2005

I am not going to post anything pointed here - any child abuse is terrible and this article shows that both parents are involved in abusive actions. What is interesting to me is the breakdown of the percentages...


About 63 percent of child victims suffered neglect, 19 percent were abused physically, and 10 percent were abused sexually. Infants and toddlers had the highest victimize rates.

Eighty percent of abusers were parents. Women were more likely than men to maltreat children, 58 percent to 42 percent, respectively.

The new maltreat report includes data on the most tragic consequence of maltreat: the death of a child.

At least 1,000 children have died of abuse or neglect every year since 1986, according to figures published in the House Ways and Means Committee's "Green Book."

The new maltreatment report shows that the number of child fatalities has grown from 1,100 in 1999 to 1,500 in 2003. Almost 79 percent of these deaths occurred before a child's third birthday.

Mothers acting alone were involved in 31 percent of these fatalities. Both parents were involved in 20 percent of deaths; 18 percent of deaths were caused by fathers alone.

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Saturday, April 16, 2005

Battle Over Child Custody Bill Brewing In Legislature - TN


This article is extremely brief so here is all of it:

A bill that would change the way judges award custody of children in divorce cases is making its way through the legislature.

Called the equally shared parenting bill, the legislation would require judges to start with the idea that equally shared parenting is in the best interest of the child.

Critics said the bill would force children to split time equally between hostile parents.

But Anthony Gottlieb, a divorced father of two who supports the bill, said too many fathers are denied custody of their children.

Divorce attorney Rose Palermo told NewsChannel 5, “A lot of courts do give custody to the dad if it’s in the best interest of the child, but its not always in the best interest and dads are not always thinking about that.”

The bill was due for a vote by the full Senate next week, but has been having a tougher time making its way through in the House.

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Friday, April 15, 2005

Nevada Senate panel OK's child custody bill

Las Vegas SUN

Sick, sick, sick - what the hell was the point? Basically, with the amended language this will change nothing substantive in Nevada cases - the language forcing a presumption still allows for a judge to find otherwise were there are exigent circumstances such as abuse, etc... What a god awful, tax payer funded waste of time!


CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - A bill that would alter provisions governing joint custody of children was rewritten and approved Thursday by a Nevada Senate committee.

SB109, sponsored by Sen. Maurice Washington, R-Sparks, originally sought a legal presumption that joint custody is in the best interest of a child, even if both parents don't agree to it. Current law requires both parents to agree to make that presumption valid.

As amended, the bill removes the presumption and instructs courts to consider a number of factors when determining custody. They include the level of conflict between the parents, the child's relationship with siblings and each parent, whether there has been abuse or neglect and the ability of each parent to meet the child's needs.

Washington brought the bill originally because he heard from many fathers who have become frustrated with the court system while trying to get visitation rights and joint custody.

Sen. Terry Care, D-Las Vegas, said he supports the new language because it mentions the child's best interests, and also takes into account parents and siblings.

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Case Study: Deadbeat Politics in Galesburg, Illinois


This is an extremely lengthy, resource filled article. I advise, if these issues are pertinent to you, to visit the site and read the article in full.

Excerpts below:

Politicians in Galesburg, Illinois think they have a plan to be a “demonstration county” for Illinois child support enforcement. Knox County State's Attorney Paul Mangieri and Judge Harry Bulkeley plan to lock up poor men behind on child support payments from Friday evening until Monday morning.

What a marvelous idea. Make it impossible for poor men to be fathers (so they cannot parent their children), and turn them into workaholics for the state. This is in addition to seizing any and all assets, taking away driver’s, business, and professional licenses so men cannot work or get to work, and inventing child support tables that pretend the father has no living expenses of his own.

Galesburg is a small town of 33,000, surrounded by expanses of cornfields.. Maytag, the largest union employer in the entire area, closed its plant in October, 2002 leaving over 1600 workers unemployed. The jobs were relocated to a Maytag plant in Reynosa, Mexico. The total ripple-through job loss is approximately 4,166 jobs. The impact on the area is devastating, especially because there is no other major employer in the area.

Every divorced father who lost his job in Galesburg as a result of the Maytag closure, but has been unable to find equivalent employment, or has been unable to get his child support modified downward immediately, has become a slave and guarantor to the welfare state and the global economy.

The Galesburg Register-Mail’s recent article “Lack of support” makes my major points for me (as quoted from their article in italics below). Bureaucrats know exactly what they are doing to insulate the state from the welfare problem it created via no-fault divorce, poor economic policy, and trying to end poverty by forcing chain-gang policies on the poor:

Illinois uses a private contractor to enforce child support, but does not provide any equivalent, easily accessible services to the non-custodial parent.

There also is a reluctance to reduce child support orders on the assumption that incomes will eventually improve. But in the meantime arrearages accumulate. According to U.S. census data. only 4 percent of noncustodial fathers who were paying child support under an order received downward adjustment when their earnings felt by more than 15 percent between one year and the next.

Now here is the clincher: Phyllis Schlafly recently pointed out that even our military reservists called into active duty in Iraq are being turned into deadbeat dads. Even they cannot get their child support modified! Missouri is the only state protecting reservists, in a law I conceived and got passed in 1991 when we initiated the first war in Iraq.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Groups finding ways to take fight out of custody battles - Illinois

Daily Herald Search

Excerpts below:

Several state lawmakers and legal groups aim to give children more time with both parents and prod parents to work out agreements before they ever set foot in court.

“Contested divorce and child custody proceedings in this state can be torturous, heart-wrenching experiences to parents and children, that in turn create an undue burden on the community,” said Michael Burns, executive director of the Chicago think tank Dialogue on Sustainable Community.

State Rep. Richard Myers, a Macomb Republican, offers a different system. Under his plan, people would go to court under the notion that joint custody is best. Currently, there’s no presumption on what’s best; it’s up to the two sides to fight it out.

“We talk about mothers in one corner and fathers in the other,” said Michael McCormick, executive director of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children. “We need to recognize the value of the contribution both parents make in raising children.”

Myers’ proposal calls for each parent to have equal time with and responsibility for their children and to formulate a parenting agreement on how they will carry this out.

If, for instance, a mother disagrees with joint custody, it’s up to her to convince the judge that it’s not a good idea.

The legislation was endorsed by a House committee and awaits a vote in the full House.

However, the plan faces opposition from the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The group is concerned that violent parents could get custody more easily under the law.

“One of the reasons we’re against that is in situations where there is domestic violence, lots of times when there’s someone who is violent in that relationship ... they use that joint custody as a way of continuing to control and dominate the victim,” said Cheryl Howard, the coalition’s executive director.

She’s working with Myers to include exceptions for domestic violence cases.

The Illinois State Bar Association also has other ideas of how to alter the system. While it agrees both parents should be involved in a child’s life, the association feels a more complete and detailed overhaul is needed.

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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Is child support debate about fairness, or public subsidies?- MN

St. Paul Pioneer Press 04/05/2005 Is child support debate about fairness, or public subsidies?

Excerpts below:

Proposed by Sen. Tom Neuville, SF630's key provisions would have more fairly divided the financial responsibility for children between divorcing mothers and fathers. Child support would be based on the income of both parents, not just the payee (usually the father).

Enter Sen. Linda Berglin, the powerful chair of the Finance Committee's Health and Human Services Budget Division. She introduced SF1900, which basically gutted SF630. Because of the power structure in the Senate, it was clear to Sen. Neuville early on that he would lose in a tug-of-war over competing bills.

"This is the same legislator that has stood in the way of this bill the past few times it has made it to the Senate," said Rep. Tim Mahoney, who has proposed legislation in the House to make joint physical custody the law of the land in Minnesota. "To expect her to change her habits now would be surprising."

No doubt. What was surprising — or perhaps instructive — was what came out in the debate last Thursday. Sen. Berglin's aim clearly isn't fairness, but using the child-support guidelines to make up for what she sees as shortcomings in the state's social service programs for low-income single mothers.

"The purpose of the family law system is not to subsidize the public welfare system," Sen. Neuville said. "It's to be fair to both parents."

Minnesota collected $590 million in child support last year, according to the Department of Human Services' 2004 report. About $30 million of that went to low-income mothers, according to Sen. Neuville. So Sen. Berglin is gutting a bill that would correct a decades-old, system-wide injustice in the name of 5 percent of the program's recipients. Talk about your special interest.

He and Sen. Berglin are expected to lock themselves in a room later this week with foam bats and see what they can work out. But it's clear that if it makes it to the Senate floor, SF630 will be a shadow of its former self and do little to reform the system — the bill's original intent.

More promising is HF1321, scheduled to be heard today by the House Jobs and Economic Security Committee. Sponsored by Rep. Steve Smith, with input from Rep. Mahoney and Rep. Rob Eastlund, its most important provision is for a presumption of joint physical custody. That's important because under the current system all benefits flow from the designation of "custody." That has often resulted in all-out thermonuclear war between mothers and fathers, with the most harm often done to the children. Under HF1321, joint physical custody would be the default remedy if two parents can't agree on a parenting plan or try to use "custody" as a wedge to extract more money.

"It would have a more profound effect on reducing child support than my bill," Sen. Neuville said of the House legislation. More important, if it passes, it would go to conference committee, along with SF630, and, we can hope, be melded into law.

"My goal all along has been to craft legislation that is fair to both parties and recognizes that it's important that both parents be fully involved in the lives of the children," Sen. Neuville said

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Monday, April 04, 2005

Minnesota- Child Support "Income Shares" Model Considered

KAALtv.com - 6 News First Online


Under the plan, Minnesota could move from basing support on a percentage of a non-custodial parent's income to a model that takes the income of both parents into account.

Republican Representative Steve Smith of Mound says existing child support guidelines are "unfair, outmoded and outdated."

But DFL Senator Linda Berglin of Minneapolis is now sponsoring an income-shares bill she says is less harmful than previous proposals. Her bill could lower payments of parents with one child but raise them for parents of multiple children.

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MA - Candidates for State Rep Debate

Berkshire Eagle

Just two excerpts:

A crowd of fewer than 60 people was sprinkled throughout the spacious Boland Theatre on the campus of Berkshire Community College, including a handful of protesters holding signs in favor of fathers' rights. They watched the candidates debate without a moderator, discussing subjects of their choosing in three-minute segments.

(Terry) Kinnas said he would support enforcing the votes of past referendums, including one in favor of shared parenting and another to roll back the state income tax to 5 percent.

Republican Terry Kinnas is apparently the underdog in this race. He is competing against Christopher Speranzo who previously "worked as an assistant attorney general in the civil rights division of the state attorney general's office."

Admittedly, I do not know Mr Speranzo's position on the shared parenting referendum. Considering the staggering public approval for the measure I would be hard pressed to think anyone who campaign against it - however, as an attorney, Mr Speranzo might have a vested interest in the status quo.

On Mr Speranzo's website I could find little substantive outside of a position on taxes.

This is a link to Mr Speranzo's website.

From the article it appears as though Mr Kinnas is firmly in support of the referendum. However, I am at a loss for contact info for Mr Kinnas.

The election will be held on April 12th.


What YOU Can Do With This Blog

I have gotten several emails questioning how this blog is truly useful to divorcing (or in custody battles) fathers....

I have struggled with how to answer these inquiries. One part of me wants to say "Get off your ass and stop looking for the "magic answer" on the internet. The other part wants to go into a prolonged explanation of what I am trying to do here.

Instead, I have decided to just address this on the blog and leave it at that... This keeps me from feeling compelled to answer each individual email as well as provides a forum with which I can address the "usability" of this blog for all out there looking for help.

First and foremost, this blog should be considered a resource- not a panacea to your custody battle. As I have said at numerous points, I am not an attorney and am not providing legal advice. For that matter, were I an attorney, it would still be entirely irresponsible to try and dispense legal advice in this fashion.

Here lies one of the biggest problems with using a blog- laws are different from state to state. They differ in their divorce laws (there are still a number of states who have not instituted no fault divorce), they differ in their child custody laws (some claim to have presumptive joint custody, others do not), they differ in how they calculate child support (Georgia just approved an "income shares" model that will go into effect next year - many states already look at the incomes of both parents), they differ in judicial practice and they differ in pending legislation.

There is no feasible way other than making this blog one state specific to provide detailed "advice." Even then, to give specific "ad hoc" advice without knowing the full extent of a case would be irresponsible at best.

Then what can this blog be used for?

1. I have been working on this blog since January of 2004. I am sure there are a few exceptions but for the most part there will be little repeated information from January 04 to current. I have cataloged online sites I have found useful (this info is more towards the beginning months of the blog), support groups that I have been notified of, statistics on fatherless children as well as relevant news articles about child custody, fathers rights, etc... I realize "searching" through a blog can be difficult at times and for that I apologize. To search, you can either use the search box at the very top of the page or the Google search down at the bottom. If you are using the Google search, make sure you highlight the circle to search divorceandcustody.blogspot.com and not the web.

At times the search function (using both methods) can be limited. Your search results should not be considered indicative of all the content on the blog relative to your search but may be a place to start. Also, at times when posting new blog entries related to older entries, I have provided links to the older entries within the newer one.

2. Links, in general, should be paid attention to. As my time to dedicate to this blog has diminished, so has much of my commentary regarding news articles. This is for a couple reasons - the primary being time but the secondary being that I am not here to provide you with an opinion. With all of the news articles I give you the link and (what I believe) the relevant parts of the article - you need to make up your own opinion using the facts. Certainly, my opinion can be guessed by reading older, more personal posts - and this is not something that I would remove from the blog. It is my blog and I feel like I can use it to express whatever outrage I may currently be feeling. However, with the sheer number of relevant articles lately I simply cannot comment extensively on each.

I attempt, with most articles, to provide links to the related parties. Specifically, I try and link to the legislator sponsoring bills in support of shared custody. At times, I link to other mentioned parties in the article.

So, particularly if the news is relevant to your state, you can contact the legislator to show your support for the legislation. This is so important - to let them know you support their efforts, particularly if you are from their state - general support can be helpful as well. For that matter, you can contact the adverse parties and let them know how you feel about their position. Again, this is particularly relevant if you are from that state. If there are legislators supporting bills that are harmful (for example the current Alabama bill making it easier for custodial parents to move) contact them as well with your displeasure about their bill. Again, particularly useful if you are a voter in their state.

Take note of your legislators positions on family law and vote accordingly!

If I have forgotten or omitted contact info, type their name or organization into Google to find contact info. You can do this by scrolling all the way to the bottom of the blog and using the Google web search function. I try but sometimes I forget to provide all the links. You can find this information as easily as I can.

I have recently begun to make a concerted effort to include the relevant state in the title line of postings to make info for each state easier to locate.

If (and I hope you all do) you make contact - keep it concise and courteous, get your point across without completely vilifying your ex or the courts - let the merits of your case stand on their own. If there are particularly horrible circumstances related to your case then present those - but present the facts and allow them to speak for themselves. You will not help yourself if you appear as a woman hating, child support "ducking" father. Get my drift? Child custody is so inequitable that most cases don't need superfluous explanations - if you were accustomed to seeing your children 24/7 and now you see them 4 days a month - just say that.

As always, I am willing to look over and provide constructive commentary on any correspondence. That can be sent to my email meclark_1@yahoo.com with Correspondence in the subject line.

3. As those of you who have taken the time to read over the beginnings of this blog are aware, my husband's experience in family courts was not nearly the horrific experience many fathers find themselves in. This is not to say it was not terrible (as it was and was the catalyst for this blog) but that I am getting fairly far removed from the family court system (can one year be considered removed?) and we did not have as hard of a time as other fathers. Also, child support has never entered into my husbands case - he has always had joint custody of his child with no support - so I am not particularly versed in child support.

So, presently, I cannot report on bad judges, bad parenting classes, etc... But many of you can. Use the comments area (available underneath each post) and the forum (accessible by clicking the enter my forum button on the left hand menu) to post your personal thoughts, experiences, etc... If you want to stay anonymous that is completely understandable - but POST. Tell us if you have a wonderful or terrible attorney in whatever county - if you have a good/bad judge - if you are in a helpful support group - whatever you want.

The idea of this blog was for people to have a place to share and interact with others in the same position - not for me to solely dispense advice. Many of you who email me can be far more help to each other than I can be to you personally.

Also, post your feelings on the news articles - who you have contacted, what you said- if you think the bills aren't going far enough, if they go too far. If a few people start doing this we might institute a fairly consistent dialogue of people faced with family court battles, issues, etc... I know you all are out there as you continue to email me.

4. As I have said (several times now) I will address specific questions in whatever practical (not legal) manner than I can. I would much prefer these be posted to the forum!! I continue to get emails with questions and many I have just had to ignore. I feel guilty about this and am not trying to alienate anyone but I cannot tell you how many times I get emailed extremely similar questions. For the sake of helping everyone, and so I only have to answer once, posting in the forums allows all visitors to see my thoughts (and visitors might be able to help, post ideas, opinions, advice as well).

However, inasmuch as I request you post to the forum, please post in a manner which gives enough detail about your case for one to be able to provide some practical thought on your scenario. If you look through the forum you will see at several points I have asked questions of the poster - be as succinct but thorough as you can about your case. This will help in the quality of response you may get from me or other forum visitors.

To all of you - having been through this I was disgusted at the lack of relevant information, helpful discourse and advice, and support from others in the same boat. I am doing what I can to help provide that kind of atmosphere - you have to do the rest.

Dueling child custody bills in Legislature-Alabama

Dueling child custody bills in Legislature

Excerpts below:

MONTGOMERY — Some divorced parents are upset about a Senate bill intended to clear up vague state law on when and where a custodial parent can move with a child.

In the House, authors of another bill want most divorced parents to have "shared parenting" and would prohibit most moves outside the child's current school district.

Sen. Myron Penn, D-Clayton, sponsors SB 239, which supporters say removes vague language in state law that sets conditions for divorced parents who want to move with minor children.

Supporters include family law advocates, attorneys and judges who say the current law's wording about moves, particularly out-of-state moves, is not clear. As a result, supporters say split families end up back before a judge for clarification.

Opponents include non-custodial parents who contend the bill will make it harder for them to be a part of their children's lives.

As grandparents, Allen Needham said he and his wife love and enjoy their grandchildren. When their son's former wife notified him a month ago about plans to move 1,000 miles away, Allen Needham said it saddened the family.

"I hate it for us, but I hate it more for my son," Allen Needham said. "He wants to be part of his children's lives and this move will make it much harder."

Rick Needham said the best system is one that allows both parents to be involved in their children's lives.

He said divorced parents should live close enough for children to see them on a regular basis.

Noah Funderburg, assistant dean of The University of Alabama School of Law, said the state already has good law to guide legal decisions when parents move, but one that needs minor modifications that SB 236 would make. Funderburg said parents and attorneys end up in court frequently because of the vague language that makes choices unclear.

The bill's intentions are to correct changes in the current law that "try to slant the law in favor of the non-custodial parent." Now, Funderburg said, a parent who moves even 60 miles away for a new job might lose custody under some interpretations of the law.

While parents like Needham believe the proposed changes would make it easier for one parent to move away and not notify the other, Funderburg said that is not the case.

"I am saddened that they have the mistaken idea that this would do away with the requirement to notify them of a move; it does not do that," the dean said.

In contrast, HB 650 would require most divorced parents to live in the same school district and participate in "shared parenting."

Rep. Steve McMillan, R-Bay Minette, sponsors the bill that could force parents to permanently lose custody of their children if they move outside the school district or violate other provisions of shared parenting.

He said the legislation is necessary based on appeals he has received from non-custodial parents caught in the legal process.

"While the current law is not perfect, virtually every study on custodial law that all things being equal it is better for both parents to be involved," he said.

Those provisions contain penalties that include custody loss if a parent files a domestic abuse/violence claim that proves to be false, or interferes with a custody order more than three times in three years.

For parents in the
Alabama Coalition for Fathers and Children, like the Needhams, a state law that sets strict limits on the actions of divorced parents and mandates shared custody is appealing. But there is another side to the coin.

Carol Gundlach, director of the
Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said while nobody likes to think about it, some parents are dangerous and should not be a part of an open custody arrangement. She said HB 650 would allow that too often.

"It could put children in the custody of a parent who is very dangerous for either the child or the other parent," Gundlach said. She plans to ask for a public hearing on the bill.

Funderburg called HB 650 "a very bad bill." McMillan was not available for comment.

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Nevada: Senate bill seeks to give divorced parents equal time with their children

Las Vegas City Life

Excerpts below:

That's why the 36-year-old Las Vegan and dozens of others are speaking out in support of Senate Bill 109 -- legislation proposed by Sen. Maurice Washington (R-Sparks), which would alter the state's child custody laws and seek to award parents joint custody and equal time with their children.

"Children need both parents," says Crawford. "What if the courts told you when you were growing up that you could only basically have one parent? What kind of person would you be today? We are not asking for power or millions of dollars. We just want what we set out to be: parents involved in our children's lives. This is not rocket science."

When Crawford's marriage ended, basically so did his relationship with his daughter. Visitation was difficult. And in 2003, a judge did the unthinkable, in Crawford's eyes, and allowed his ex-wife to move to Reno with his daughter, who had no family members living there. In Las Vegas, the girl was surrounded by family, enrolled in a magnet school and participated in horseback competitions, Crawford says.

Washington's bill would establish that joint custody is in the best interest of a child -- even when both parents don't agree to joint custody. The law would not be applied if a parent has been convicted of certain crimes, committed acts of domestic violence or it's determined through an investigation that the parent is dependent on alcohol or drugs and unfit to care for the child.

"This is a step in the right direction," says Alan DiCicco, president and founder of the Coalition for Family Court Reform. "These are fathers that want to be there. We want to put everyone on equal ground."

Opponents of SB109 could not be reached for comment prior to deadline.

Maureen Denman and her husband divorced after 21 years of marriage. The couple was awarded joint custody -- but their two children, then 13 and 15, lived with her husband.

Denman, like many others who testified, says one-sided custody -- whether in favor of the husband or the wife -- is wrong and hurts a child's emotional development. Studies show this to be true.

"Both parents need equal time," says Denman, explaining how being away from a child can wear on a parent. "It takes years to rebuild relationships with your children and it's time you can't replace."

Perhaps, says Juli Star-Alexander of the court monitoring group
Redress Incorporated, it's because family law attorneys are making a good living arguing child custody cases -- and making sure, she says, they linger on.

"Family court is a cash cow," Star-Alexander says. "It's not set up for conflict resolution. It's an unbalanced system because everyone has an agenda."

"We cannot allow officials to destroy our lives at random, and we will do whatever it takes to remove any and all opponents to equal parenting from office," says Crawford. "This is our country and our lives, and we want our children back."

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The Rise of Big Sister-ism

The Rise of Big Sister-ism - Roberts

The Rise of Big Sister-ism
Carey Roberts

Excerpts below:

Steve Barreras paid $20,000 to support his daughter, a girl he had never met. In fact, she didn’t even exist. His ex-wife Viola Trevino took another family’s daughter to court and claimed the child as hers. New Mexico governor Bill Richardson has now ordered an investigation.

In Michigan, Terrace Hale had $300 garnished from each paycheck for three years. The money went to support a woman he's never met to raise a child he's never fathered. Now, Marilyn Stephen, director of the Michigan Office of Child Support, refuses to give Mr. Hale’s money back.

Charge #1: Most marriages break up because fathers “have chosen to abandon their children,” as president Bill Clinton once put it.

Not true. Margaret Brinig and Douglas Allen found that women file for divorce in 70% of cases. Likewise, Arizona State University psychologist Sanford Braver reports in his book Divorced Dads that two out of three divorces are initiated by women.

Charge #2: When women do leave the marriage, it’s to escape domestic violence and abuse.

False. The number one reason cited by divorcing moms, according to Braver, is “not feeling loved or appreciated,” and not anything to do with violence.

Charge #3: Dads don't pay their child support because they don't care about their kids.

Absurd. A 1998 Rutgers and University of Texas study concluded: “many of the absent fathers who state leaders want to track down and force to pay child support are so destitute that their lives focus on finding the next job, next meal, or next night’s shelter.” The problem is not dads who are dead-beats, the problem is men who are dead-broke.

Charge #4: Kids don’t really need their dads, anyway.

Absolutely false. This is the most scurrilous myth of all, because the truth is the polar opposite, and the harmful effects on children are so great. “Virtually every major social pathology has been linked to fatherless children: violent crime, drug and alcohol abuse, truancy, unwed pregnancy, suicide, and psychological disorders,” notes Baskerville.

These myths have become so ingrained in our thinking that basic Constitutional protections are being casually tossed aside. One brief on child support from the Left-leaning National Conference of State Legislatures made this stunning recommendation: “The burden of proof may be shifted to the defendant,” which of course means, “Fathers can be assumed to be guilty until proven innocent.”

Over the past 50 years, the National Association of Women Lawyers has spearheaded the adoption of no-fault divorce legislation throughout the country, laws that made marital dissolution that much easier. The NAWL now notes with satisfaction, “the ideal of no-fault divorce became the guiding principle for reform of divorce laws in the majority of states.”

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Montco resident seeks help in bringing son back to U.S.- PA

The Times Herald

The move away case from hell...

Excerpts below:

That is because his 3-year-old son, Nicholas, is being held by his ex-wife in her native country of Belarus, a former republic of the Soviet Union located in Eastern Europe just east of Poland, according to Kratz.

The 34-year-old computer software salesman said he last saw his only child last May 20 when, while the family was vacationing in the Belarus capital of Minsk, his wife disappeared with the toddler in the city where her family resides.

Kratz in January took a leave of absence to concentrate his efforts on having his son returned to the United States, which has no treaty with Belarus concerning child custody.

He is working with his local attorney, Charles J. King Jr. of Plymouth Meeting, and a lawyer he retained in Belarus. He is also busy contacting anyone he thinks might be able to assist him in having his son returned, from local police to the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office to the federal Department of State and the office of Congresswoman Allyson Y. Schwartz, D-13th Dist.

"I just want my son back," said Kratz. "I do not want him to grow up in a country where all his rights and freedoms are abridged. I want him to have every opportunity that the United States has to offer."

Instead, Kratz said, his ex-wife has told him that when Nicholas turns 18, he can decide where he wants to live.

Fearing she would cut him off from contact with their son, Kratz petitioned the county court for custody. Typical in many custody battles, Kratz portrayed his wife as a poor and abusive mother while she claimed he was a poor and abusive father. The courts in the spring of 2003 granted each parent shared physical and legal custody of Nicholas.

The couple subsequently reconciled in the summer of 2003 and the custody petition was withdrawn.

"I truly loved my wife and wanted things to work out," said Kratz. "I told her that Nicholas should have both parents."

When Iryna expressed an interest in vacationing in Belarus and showing Nicholas off, Kratz said he agreed.

"I had never been out of the United States and it was going to be an adventure," said Kratz, adding he took his own mother along and that, while his brother was invited, he could not make it at the last minute.

Later that day, he received a call from Iryna and her family members, telling him through a friend they had sent to him to translate that he and his mother should return to the United States and that Iryna intended to remain in Belarus with Nicholas. Iryna was not happy in the United States and wanted to remain with her family, the translator told Kratz, he said.

Later, Kratz said, he discovered that Iryna, before leaving the United States, had run up bills on their charge accounts and had packed and brought with her to Belarus most of her clothing and Nicholas' clothes. At the time, he said, he had simply attributed the large amount of luggage to gifts that his wife wanted to bring to family members.

Kratz said he moved to a hotel with his mother, contacting his lawyer in the United States, obtaining a lawyer in Belarus and all the white trying over the phone to convince his wife to return to the United States.

He flew back to the United States on May 31 to appear in Montgomery County Court to seeking an emergency custody order while also filing for a divorce. He was subsequently granted temporary full custody of Nicholas, with the provision that this order could be modified if Iryna returned to the United States with Nicholas. His divorce became final on Feb. 23 of this year, according to court records.

"If she does not want to have a relationship, that's fine but I want my son back so I can be with him, so he can have his father and so he can be raised in this country," said Kratz.

Iryna filed divorce and custody petitions with the courts in Belarus but the lower court denied her request because of the similar filings in the Montgomery County Court, according to Kratz. She has since appealed that decision to a higher court in her native land and that appeal is pending, he said.

He said he also is working with federal state department officials and federal children agencies in the hope that they can convince government officials in Belarus to convince Iryna to return Nicholas to the land of his birth.

Kratz said he unsuccessfully attempted to convince local and state police to put Nicholas' picture and information on a nationwide computer system of abducted children.

One person willing to listen to his situation was county District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr., according to Kratz.

"While his wife may have deceived Mr. Kratz about her reasons for leaving the country, there was no custody court order in effect at the time," said Castor.

Rachel Leed, Schwartz' press aide, said a legislative aide has been assigned to work with Kratz "and give him whatever help we can." Leed said she did not know what assistance they can offer Kratz because the office is in the preliminary stage of researching the situation.

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Friday, April 01, 2005

Changes in child support approved - Georgia

Changes in child support approved ajc.com

Excerpts below: (anything in bold is my commentary, not the authors)

Changes in child support approved
Both parents' pay a factor

Child support payments are usually based on considering only the income of the parent who does not have custody. House Bill 221 would require judges to consider the incomes of both parents when determining child support awards.

Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) said he believes the legislation will result in less feuding between divorcing parents who view kids as "cash prizes" in contentious divorce and child custody proceedings.

"This bill will be good for all of the children of Georgia," said Julie Batson, president of Georgians for Child Support Reform.

Sen. Steen Miles (D-Decatur) railed against the bill.

"It is about money, pure and simple," Miles said. "It is about bitter dads who don't want to take the responsibility for their children. Bitter second wives who are jealous and envious of those children. We are rushing to judgment to decide that this legislation is going to solve Georgia's child support problems." Bitter dads who don't want to take responsibility? All this bill does is take both parents incomes into account when calculating support- much like many other states.

Miles' dramatics drew a roar of approval from the bill's opponents, watching the debate nearby on a closed-circuit television in the Capitol hallway. Miles and other Democrats tried unsuccessfully to amend — and gut — the bill.

The bill goes into effect July 2006. In the meantime, a commission will be formed to review economic data to come up with a formula for determining child support payments based on the "income shares" model.

Either parent will be able to go to court to have their child support agreement reviewed, if they can show it will change by 15 percent under the new formula.

You can contact Rep Ehrhart by clicking on his name above. This is a fair, common sense bill. Obviously, the incomes of both parents should be considered - both parents are charged with the care of the children, one of them should not get the equivalent of a financial pass.

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