Monday, October 31, 2005

Spousal Notification for Abortion?

I stumbled upon this discussion of whether there should be a law requiring a woman to inform her husband of her intent to get an abortion...

Interesting to say the least.

This is difficult for me as on one hand I am in full agreement that the law needs to refrain and withdraw from issues of family.

On the other, provided at least one willing parent should we not value the life of that child and the relationship with the willing caretaker? Yes, obviously, this will require that the unwilling party (in this example the woman) to also at least financially care for the child until the age of 18-24 depending on various factors but is that not exactly what women expect from men when they choose to have children irrespective of their partners wishes?

The idea of enacting a law that further legislates families is extremely frightening. However, regardless of your ultimate stance on abortion, isn't is always preferable to err on the side of life?

You can visit the thread here: Your Scalito Random Reader

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Representing Yourself in Court

It seems I have daily inquiries from fathers (or their various supporters) regarding how to proceed legally. Many of these requests come from people who appear to have very little knowledge of the legal system and are lacking the funds necessary to employ legal counsel.

To be clear before I proceed with this post - throughout our entire ordeal we always had an attorney. We tried to be proactive and informed on the course of the law, precedents, expectations, etc... But WE ALWAYS RETAINED COUNSEL. Outside of absolute necessity, I would forgo whatever I had to in order to hire an attorney for such proceedings. They are simply too complicated and too slanted for me to have any faith in my own abilities. I say this even though several members of my immediate family are lawyers (though none practice family law) and could have been excellent resources not available to most Pro Se litigants. defines Pro Se as Representing oneself. Serving as one's own lawyer. (As an aside, the entire USCourts site can be an excellent source for understanding legal terminology).

That being said, there are fathers who are representing themselves. Angry Dad has been representing himself (another interesting aside - his ex-wife retained counsel even though she herself was an attorney though she has recently dismissed her lawyer and begun representing herself as well) and you can read about his case going back to August 2004. His case is in California so if that is your state of residence you might find his insights particularly helpful.

Again, however, I have to come back to the advice of retaining counsel if at all possible. I previously made this post Retaining Custody - Step One which discusses finding an appropriate attorney as well as contacting legal aid in your area. Legal aid will inevitably come with severe income restrictions so very few people will qualify but it is worth checking into if your finances are that tight. This post is related but not necessarily relevant to self representation: Retaining Custody - Step Two.

In the forum, I recommended to one poster to contact any local law schools and inquire if they offer a legal aid program or the like. My local law school offers a monthly session where one can ask (supervised) law students legal questions. This is not the same as being assisted by legal aid but it could serve as a good sounding board for a Pro Se litigant.

Many courts are becoming more sympathetic to the needs of those who have to represent themselves and are attempting to make themselves "friendlier." Arizona, for example, has recently approved some changes to make family courts easier to maneuver for those representing themselves (most of the changes will go into effect in January). For more information on the specific changes you can visit or view my post on the article on the October 2005 archive page. Notable from the article are the following: "With 70 percent to 80 percent of litigants in family court cases representing themselves, a prime focus in writing the new rules was to make them understandable to non-lawyers, Armstrong said. Another significant change also explicitly allows lawyers to represent people for just part of a case, Armstrong said. "Many lawyers will not do that now because they believe there are ethical constraints."

If you are considering representing yourself another good source may be your local courthouse. I would contact the clerk or a related office and inquire whether there are any resources available to Pro Se litigants.

At various points in this blog I have provided resources for Pro Se litigants. I will attempt here to reproduce those as well as add any I find to be of use. I cannot provide direct advice about representing yourself because I am not an attorney nor have I ever taken this route; but I will try to highlight some places one could go for direction.

If you are considering representing yourself one of the first things you should know is exactly how divorce and custody laws and statutes are written for your particular state. There are several ways to go about this. You can link to the website for your particular state and here you will probably be able to access the most complete information. I am not from Illinois (congrats to the Sox by the way) but to find Illinois custody law I typed Illinois gov into Google and the first site was the state of Illinois site. (State sites should end in .gov or .us). From here I clicked on the government link, then the legislature link (on the right), then on the Illinois Complied Statues link and finally I scrolled down and clicked on Chapter 750 Families (located under rights and remedies) to find a list including the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act and the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act amongst many others. You may have to do a bit of digging but the information should be there. In truth, it took me far longer to write all this up with the links than it took to find the information. I had never been on the Illinois site before but I had a general idea where to go which made the info fairly easy to locate. Also, on the main page there was a search box. I elected not to use this because I did not want to find things piecemeal but you could certainly give it a try and I assume most state sites include a search function.

There are probably easier ways to find variants of this information. I prefer the state sites because the laws can be viewed in their entirety (without someone taking the liberty to paraphrase for you) but admittedly sometimes the state sites can be hard to maneuver. Typing divorce laws by state into Google provided 8,610,000 results. I'll cover the first couple results here. maintains a state list. However, while their information for Indiana took you directly to the correct page on the Indiana State site their information for Illinois was lacking. I would say use at your own risk and try to double check what you are seeing is both accurate and current. The Legal Information Institute (LII) provides an excellent list for state divorce laws.

Along with understanding the divorce statutes, if you have children you will need to understand child custody statutes as well. If you use the method of going through the state site you will easily be able to view both. While the LII does not have a custody list comparable to their divorce list, they certainly offer a lot of relevant information on child custody. The Children's Rights Council hosts a page covering Joint Custody and Shared Parenting Statutes which breaks down the legislation in each state and in many cases provides links to the related state page.

You might also want to look for a support groups or fathers advocacy group in your area. I post them on the blog when I am aware of them and you can always check your local paper. And don't be afraid to use the internet! Sometimes you may have to dig a little or refine your initial search but it can truly be an amazing source of information.

Before I delve into directed Pro Se resources I would like to talk about a couple of just generally good sites for fathers either with or without counsel. Previously I discussed two sites that offer free legal advice on general questions of divorce and custody. Read my original post and link to the sites here.

Another site I previously covered was This site is managed by an attorney licensed in Michigan which means while the advice will be credible it will only be directly applicable to Michigan residents. The site is expansive and truly a great resource.

I simply cannot say enough about the Separated Parenting Access & Resource Center (SPARC). Go there with a lot of time on your hands because the site is huge and it is all important, relevant, helpful information. SPARC should be one of your first stops on any divorce/custody question. They maintain a page for legal forms, a guide for evaluations, lists of resources by state and a bunch of other stuff like articles, message boards and chat rooms.

When we were going through our case I was extremely interested in child custody precedents. I would think this would be all the more relevant if representing yourself. LII can be a good resource for this but I always preferred lexisone. Lexisone does require registration but it is free to do so.

I have been cataloging sites that I feel to be helpful since the inception of this blog. I know it can be hard to look around on a blog but I assure you there is a lot of information on the archived pages.

Finally, go to your local library and look for books on divorce, custody, self representation, etc... The only cost you will incur through this might be late fees.

Okay, so on to resources specifically for Pro Se litigants:

American Pro Se Association: There doesn't appear to be much here unless you want to pay the $50 annual fee to be a "premium member." I tried to access a couple things but was restricted - never having been a premium member I couldn't even venture a guess if this is a worthwhile investment. Under the category Library it appears you can access some basic forms. A lot of the site was not yet operative and I couldn't access much formative regarding Family Law & Divorce without a membership.

The Pro Se Law Center has links to search for Pro Se programs as well as lists of court Pro Se services. I didn't find anything for my county but maybe you will have better luck.

PRO SE HANDBOOK - The Manual for the Litigant Filing Without Counsel. Though this was written for Idaho it may very well be a good general read to help one get familiar with court terminology and methods. appears to exist primarily to get you to purchase something. There are a couple useful links and at least one free form that I came across. There is also a search function at the bottom of the page. The site also contains the WIZARDLAW COLLECTION OF PRO-SE LINKS. The first couple I clicked were dead links but a few were active and the list is fairly large so try at your risk.

Searching for Pro Se on provides 155 results - most of which are categorized by state. When I clicked on the Minnesota results the only questions it answered were how hard it was to file for divorce, what paperwork needed to be filed and the cost of filing. This might be helpful to someone just initiating a divorce. has a forms library that includes family law, divorce and civil forms.

The New Jersey judiciary maintains the site which has specific resources and supports for Pro Se litigants. This is an excellent site if you are a New Jersey resident except very little of it deals with family law issues. There are two direct family links dealing with enforcement of an order in a family law case as well as a family part case information statement.

The Connecticut judiciary maintains a page for FAQ's on self representation.

NOLO also offers a How to Represent Yourself in Court FAQ. On the same page you can see other NOLO articles related to Pro Se litigants.

Colorado offers What You Need to Know About Representing Yourself in Court.

As do Maine, Utah, Vermont, Delaware, Wisconsin and DC in their respective forms.

What It Means To Represent Yourself In A Legal Matter is an article about self representation in Michigan.

California has SHARP (Self-Help Assistance and Referral Program) centers in Oroville and Chico in Butte County, and there are centers in Orland and Willows in Glenn County. The Tehama County SHARP center is in Red Bluff. SHARP provides self-represented litigants with assistance and instructional workshops in a variety of areas of law and helps them comply with the procedural processes of the court system. The SHARP center in Oroville is located in the old downtown courthouse, 1931 Arlin Rhine Drive. For more information, call 530-532-7015.

These were sites or programs that I had been emailed or had bookmarked. Surely there are more out there and I would be happy to post more. If you are aware of a helpful Pro Se program or resource please either email it to me or post it in the comments section.

UPDATE: I just learned MIsForMalevolent is also a father representing himself Pro Se. His case is based in New Jersey.

UPDATE 11/16/05: Larry Holland is a father going Pro Se in Michigan. His blog can be seen here. Also, link to my post Pro Se Divorce in Texas which includes a link to the Texas State Bar Association's Pro Se Handbook.

Update 12/5/05: Idaho Pro Se Representation

UPDATE 12/9/05: Additional info for going pro se in Vermont

UPDATE 2/7/06: Information about filing a complaint against the Friend of the Court (FOC) in Michigan.

UPDATE 3/8/06: Lawdragon: A site that allows evaluations be submitted of judges and lawyers.

UPDATE 3/27/06: Alabama Divorce, Custody & Support Info, Alaska

UPDATE 4/4/06: Arizona Divorce, Custody & Support Info

UPDATE 4/24/06: Uncontested Case for Divorce in California

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Monday, October 24, 2005

Breaking the Science: Misleading Stories

The American Daily

We simply couldn't go an entire day without mentioning the mess at PBS...

Breaking the Science: Misleading Stories
By Mark Rosenthal


This film seems to be the first step in a pattern that's been played out many times in the past few decades:

1. Determine what conclusions a study would need to reach in order to stampede legislators into passing the laws you want passed.

2. Conduct studies that are carefully designed ignore any inconvenient facts. Popular techniques in this step include: 1) using self-selected rather than randomized population samples, 2) taking care not to ask any questions that might elicit undesired answers, and 3) neglecting to report any results at all from any questions whose answers contradict your thesis.

3. Publicize these studies as if they were impartial research, by planting newspaper stories, publishing in journals whose referees are as biased as the studies' authors, getting corporations to fund advertising that masquerades as a "documentary", etc.

4. Use yellow journalism to scare the public into demanding that legislators pass a law to fix the nonexistent problem.

"Breaking the Silence" seems to be the publicity and hype phase of an even more insidious campaign. The goal this time appears to be stampeding legislators into passing laws that will have the effect of preventing courts from granting any form of custody (legal or physical, shared or sole) to any father over any mother's objection.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data on child abuse shows that over twice as many children are battered by their mothers (40.8%) as by their fathers (18.8%), excluding cases in which both parents are abusive (16.9%). Source

Likewise the number of children killed by their mothers without the father's involvement is double the number killed by their fathers without the mother's involvement. Yet the filmmakers mislead viewers by interviewing only children victimized by fathers and denying children victimized by their mothers the opportunity to tell their stories.


New Jersey Support Groups

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

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

DIVORCE: The Center for Kids and Family has a support group for children ages 7-12 who have experienced a separation or divorce. The group meets 5-6 p.m. the second and fourth Thursday of each month at the Cory Building, 599 Route 37 West. Call (732) 505-KIDS.

PARENTS ANONYMOUS: a support group for parents meets 5:30-6:30 p.m. every Thursday at the Center for Kids and Family, 591 Lakehurst Road. Call (800) THE-KIDS.

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

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

HOT LINES: Self-Help Clearinghouse maintains a database of more than 4,000 support groups in New Jersey, plus 200 help lines/hot lines. Call (800) 367-6274 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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

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Divorce: Equal custody wanted - NH

Portsmouth Herald


PORTSMOUTH - A bill that encourages equal custody rights for parents in divorce cases stalled in the Legislature earlier this year.
Now both fathers and mothers have launched a statewide e-mail and letter-writing campaign to get it passed in the form originally intended.

House Bill 529 contained a provision that encouraged judges to push for shared custody if possible. That provision was stripped from the almost identical HB 640, which was signed into law.

The only real difference between the two bills, said state Rep. David Bickford, R-Durham, is that HB 640 omitted wording that would have courts begin custody cases with the presumption that both parents share custody equally.

"There is already a presumption that both parents know what is in the best interest of the child, but we never came out to say it’s 50/50," said Bickford. "HB 529 starts both parents off equally, then adjusts from there.

Bickford said custody cases often pit one parent against the other. The court has set the blueprint, he said.

Bickford said passing HB 529, a bill he sponsored, does not mean that custody will be shared automatically. The judge has the leeway to make changes based on evidence of child abuse and other factors.

If the court finds that shared custody is not in the child’s best interest, the judge can rule otherwise.

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Pennsylvania Lifesteps Program

Butler -- Families Forever, a Lifesteps program, is for families interested in learning how to minimize the effects of divorce and/or custody situations. The next session is from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Family First Resource Center, 216 N. Washington St. Registration fee is $50 per family; the program is free to those who show proof of receiving cash assistance. Call 724-283-1010 for more information.

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Alabama Support Groups

Separated/Divorced Support Group, 8573 U.S. 72 West, Madison, 5-7 p.m., 895-8314 or

DivorceCare, Whitesburg Center Hearthside Room, 7600 Whitesburg Drive, 6:30 p.m., child care available, 716-1708 or 355-9502.

Divorce Recovery, Mayfair Church of Christ, 1095 Carl T. Jones Drive, 7 p.m., 880-3596.

The Beginning Experience, a support system for the divorced, separated, or widowed, free child care, Weatherly Heights Baptist Church, 1306 Cannstatt Drive, 6:30 to 9 p.m., 837-8375.

Divorce Care, Asbury United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, 980 Hughes Road, Madison, 6:30 p.m., free, child care, 837-0365 ext. 109.

DivorceCare, Pulaski Pike Church of God, Press Box Room in the gym, 3912 Pulaski Pike, 7 to 9 p.m., child care provided, 852-5580.

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Mom's Make Lousy Dads


Mom's Make Lousy Dads
by Burt Prelutsky

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Friday, October 21, 2005

Wedded to the State by Stephen Baskerville


Writing recently in National Review Online, Wade Horn, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), describes the huge social costs of family breakdown and the benefits to children and society of marriage. He also points out that his agency spends $46 billion each year on programs "the need for [which] is either created or exacerbated by the breakup of families and marriages." He rightly argues that we need to address this costly "family breakdown" problem.

Indeed, his argument demonstrates more than that the runaway growth in domestic government spending is attributable to family breakdown. It is also an acknowledgement that the federal government and its hangers-on have a clear self-interest in broken families. ACF and the half-trillion dollar HHS generally constitute a massive in-house lobby of social workers, psychotherapists, lawyers and others who are not so candid as Dr. Horn about how they depend upon a steady supply of fatherless and troubled children to justify their huge consumption of tax dollars – dollars that in turn subsidize and increase the number of such children.

The smorgasbord of programs Dr. Horn lists is more than a response to broken families; it is a major cause of broken families. Before we initiate new federal programs, we ought to remember the first rule of public policy intervention, which is to first examine the effect of existing programs to see if adjusting them may correct the problem. Could our current public programs and policies be contributing to the family breakdown problem, and, if so, how can we alter them to yield better results?

Similar political courage will be needed to address the other known public programs and policies that are undermining marriage. These include:

(1) The states have failed, since the 1960's, to treat marriage as a real contract.

(2) Paternalistic "family" courts and new laws have seriously undermined fatherhood.

(3) Federally funded state child support systems set excessive awards and penalize non-payment harshly, even when the circumstances for non-payment are clearly outside the control of the payer.

Exhorting people to marry is pointless so long as marriage is a bate-and-switch carrying financial rewards for those who break it. People will simply not invest in a worthless investment, no matter how much you preach at them. If marriage was a worthwhile investment, we would see more of it.

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Breaking the Silence: Did the CPB partially fund this disaster? - MND Blogwonks



As I viewed the film, the reasons for withdrawing government funding for PBS were affirmed to me for the first time. There hasn't been a program as biased as this since Germany's propaganda machine attacked the Jews. I sat with notebook in hand as the film began, but the lies came too fast for me to write them all down.

Ducote claims that 75% of custody cases involve domestic violence, but did not make clear whether he meant real violence, or merely accusations. I suspect the latter, knowing through personal experience and witness as a court observer that accusations of domestic violence and child abuse are commonly used by attorneys for the women in divorce as a means of gaining an advantage in the proceedings. Moreover, groups such as that sponsoring the program last night, urge women seeking any form of public assistance to file charges whether violence has occurred or not as a prerequisite for receiving services.

The courts were taken to task for allowing PAS to be used by the father to reverse custody decisions. It was claimed that courts "forbid" mothers to protect their children, as children are "most often in danger from the father. At this point, the courts were accused of granting custody to abusive fathers in two thirds of all cases", an increase of one third over the previously used statistic. Atty. Ducote reinforced his false claim by stating that the well known bias favoring mothers in court was a myth. That lie flies in the face of government statistics that show mothers being awarded sole custody in 90(+)% of all contested custody cases.

The most glaring omission in this film was the fact, derived from government and university studies, that mothers are more likely than fathers to abuse their children. Yet all the cases presented in this film centered around the father as abuser. Furthermore, not one paragraph of the film involved the prevention of violence against children.

The entire focus of this film was to prevent PAS from being used to deprive mothers of custody. At the end of the film, it was noted that one father who had been invited to respond, declined to do so. The other fathers were never mentioned, never interviewed on camera, and never offered a chance to rebut the accusations against them. A discerning viewer will be left to wonder, if the other fathers were interviewed, were their answers too damaging to the film's obvious agenda to allow them to be aired?


Thursday, October 20, 2005

PBS Response To The "Breaking the Silence" Outcry

I have yet to receive a response to my letter, but I was emailed a copy of one received by someone else. If you have yet to pen your letter (considering it airs today you are kind of running out of time) you could use this to anticipate their BS reply to our concerns.

I am copying the response verbatim here:

Dear Mr. :

Thank you for taking the time to write to PBS about your concerns regarding BREAKING THE SILENCE: CHILDREN'S STORIES. Comments from our viewers - both positive and negative - are the best guides we have to make future programming decisions.

We have forwarded your observations to the filmmakers - producer Dominique Lasseur and director Catherine Tatge - who have asked us to share their thoughts about the documentary with you.

"When we began this project over a year ago, our goal was to produce a documentary about domestic violence and children. We had no preconceived notions about the issue... no specific agenda to prove or disprove. The finished documentary is simply a result of where countless hours of extensive research and interviews took us. These are the real stories of real women who lost custody of their children when Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) was used as scientific proof in their family court cases. These were the stories we found over and over again.

There have been a number of concerns raised regarding Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) and how it is addressed in the piece. We do not make the assertion that the phenomenon of alienation does not exist, simply that PAS is wrongly used as scientific proof to justify taking children away from a protective parent. We as filmmakers are in no position to determine the scientific validity of PAS. However, the fact remains that the American Psychological Association (APA) and the American Medical Association (AMA) have not recognized PAS as legitimate science.

Some individuals have expressed concern that the documentary only features the stories of women as the victims of domestic violence. Research shows that while women are less likely than men to be victims of violent crimes overall, women are five to eight times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner. (U.S. Department of Justice, Violence by Intimates: Analysis of Data on Crimes by Current or Former Spouses, Boyfriends, and Girlfriends, March 1998). If we had featured the stories of one man and five women who had been victims of domestic abuse, statistically we would have grossly overstated the problems of men in this area. Nevertheless, we recognize that men are also victims and men are also sometimes victimized by family courts, but it is overwhelmingly women who are victims. In all cases, the children are the victims.

These are difficult and controversial issues that stir human emotions. Nothing can galvanize one's passion like the welfare of a child. We understand certain individuals will never be completely satisfied with the information presented in the documentary. All we can do is offer, in the most open and transparent manner, the reasoning and research that went into this program."

We appreciate your interest in PBS programming and hope that you will continue to enjoy and support your local PBS member station.

PBS Viewer Services


My email is out of control today but I just received the following in regard to the PBS response and I think it needs to be printed.

In reference to the claim that women are "five to eight times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner:"

This is not precisely true. Here are the REAL numbers from the REAL report:

LETHAL:"* In 1996 just over 1,800 murders were attributable to intimates; nearly 3 out of 4 of these had a female victim.

"That means that over 1 out of 4 had a male victim. Females, according to the report, therefore, had an intimate murder rate a little over 2 times that of men.

NON-LETHAL:"* ... In 1996 women experienced an estimated 840,000 rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault victimizations at the hands of an intimate ...""

* Intimate violence against men did not vary significantly from 1992 to 1996. In 1996 men were victims of about 150,000 violent crimes committed by an intimate."

That were REPORTED!

The ratio is 5.6:1 female to male non-lethal violent crimes -- NOT 8:1.

In reference to "If we had featured the stories of one man and five women who had been victims of domestic abuse, statistically we would have grossly overstated the problems of men in this area:"

How is it "grossly overstating" the problem when the ratio is FIVE TO ONE???

From the same report used by filmakers to support their positions you can also find:

"For female victims of violence, strangers and friends or acquaintances rather than intimates were responsible for the highest rates of crime."

Intimates for the NCVS include current or former spouses, boyfriends, and girlfriends.

"So-called "intimate" violence against women represented only 21% of all violence against women in 1996. That means that that 5.6:1 ratio may have just become ONE TO ONE, when adjusted for, ahem, reality.


Film gives distorted view of family law

More on the PBS Special by Glenn Sacks and Jeffery Leving


"Breaking the Silence" ignores a far more common phenomenon -- divorcing mothers' tactical use of false allegations of sexual abuse. When a father who has daughters seeks joint custody over the objections of a recalcitrant mother, it is standard legal practice to advise the father that a charge of sexual abuse may be coming. According to a study published in Social Science and Modern Society, the vast majority of accusations of child sexual abuse made during custody battles are false, unfounded or unsubstantiated.

False domestic violence allegations are an even greater problem. The filmmakers portray abused women as the victims of sexist judges who refuse to believe them, and who punish them for claiming abuse. In reality, courts are often very tolerant toward false allegations of domestic violence, and divorcing mothers frequently use domestic violence restraining orders as tactical weapons to secure custody.

Many courts grant restraining orders to practically any woman who applies, and research shows these orders often do not even involve an allegation of violence. Once the order is issued, the father is booted out of his marital home and can even be jailed if he tries to contact his children.

By the time the court decides custody, a firm precedent has already been set that mom is the primary caretaker, and she will likely get sole (or de facto sole) custody.

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State courts to use new rules for family law cases - Arizona

State courts to use new rules for family law cases


Arizona's top judge on Wednesday signed an order to implement a massive new set of statewide rules just for family law cases. Most of the rules take effect in January.

Along with divorce and child support, types of cases and issues covered by the rules include child custody, legal separation, paternity and protective orders.

With 70 percent to 80 percent of litigants in family court cases representing themselves, a prime focus in writing the new rules was to make them understandable to non-lawyers, Armstrong said.

Another significant change also explicitly allows lawyers to represent people for just part of a case, Armstrong said. "Many lawyers will not do that now because they believe there are ethical constraints."

With the change, "they can come in just for child support or just for child custody," Armstrong said. "It should allow more people to afford an attorney for the most critical issues."

In an attempt to resolve cases faster, courts now will be required to hold a "resolution management conference" early on to see if the opposing sides can be encouraged to work out their differences on key issues.

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The following come directly from an email from the ACFC (America's Shared Parenting Organization):


On another front, ACFC IS TAKING THE FAMILY COURT REFORM BATTLE DIRECTLY TO THE STREETS. Today, the first of two billboards blasting the family court was erected in Champaign, Illinois. The billboard calls directly on the local family court judge, Arnold Blockman, to reform the family court. Late tomorrow another billboard will go up and beginning next week radio spots will run for a month encouraging family court reform.

A group of concerned parents came forward and asked ACFC to assist them with this task. Those parents were afraid of retaliation if they acted on their own, so we are doing this together. They want change and are willing to band together with their time and money to make it happen. We'll keep you informed as the campaign progresses. Acting together we can get things done.


Tomorrow night PBS stations around the country will air Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories. October is national domestic violence awareness month. This documentary presents a one-sided view of domestic abuse designed specifically to prejudice the courts and public against fathers by portraying us primarily as child abusers.


The group RADAR has been actively working for change in the area of domestic abuse reporting. RADAR monitors the media and responds to inaccurate and misleading reporting with the FACTS. RADAR has issued an alert regarding this program and asks you to take specific action. Read and respond here.

ACFC is also supporting Glenn Sacks and joining with several of our affiliates and other organizations calling on PBS to provide the opportunity to respond to this misguided, prejudicial programming. Our goal is to let PBS know this type of biased reporting posing as responsible journalism should not be tolerated. Click here to read more and TAKE ACTION.

As an interesting side note, the film's producer's called ACFC in April indicating they wanted an interview in an effort to provide balance to the piece. Subsequently they backed out of the scheduled interview indicating they had enough footage and would 'get back to us' if they needed anything further. I can only assume that 'balance' was sacrificed to the political agenda of the sponsors on this one. Let us know what you think.

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New Baskerville Articles

The Fathers’ War
They serve their country and lose their children.
By Stephen Baskerville


While our country focuses on the war abroad, many of our soldiers fight personal battles here at home—or more accurately, can’t fight. They are losing their families and getting little help from an administration that claims to “support the troops” while doing nothing to protect the parental rights of the fathers it sent into combat.

Muffled by feminist orthodoxy, the Army and media are not disclosing the facts behind these divorces or publicizing the threat they pose to preparedness. The important points are these: the divorces are almost all initiated by wives, the servicemen usually lose their children—which for many is their main incentive for serving their country—and finally, they often become liable to criminal prosecution for child support that is impossible for them to pay.

Even more astounding, vicariously divorced servicemen can be criminally prosecuted for child-support arrearages that are almost impossible not to accrue while they are on duty. Reservists are hit particularly hard because their child-support burdens are based on their civilian pay and do not decrease when their income decreases. Because reservists are often mobilized with little notice, few get modifications before they leave, and modifications are almost never granted anyway. They cannot get relief when they return because federal law prohibits retroactive reductions for any reason. Once arrearages reach $5,000, the soldier becomes a felon and subject to imprisonment.

Spouses have other financial incentives to divorce military personnel. A serviceman must complete 20 years of active service to qualify for retirement pay. A woman married to the man for one day may claim a portion of the pension for life, without regard to fault or need, simply by filing for divorce. As David Usher points out in Men’s News Daily, there is no limit on how many times a woman can do this. (Men have done it too.)

The flight of men from the military strikingly parallels the flight of men from marriage, with its attendant drop in birth rates, that has come to preoccupy policymakers up to the level of president. Men are staying away from both institutions for the same reasons: for many they have become a ticket to jail.

By Professor Stephen Baskerville, Ph.D


The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), currently up for renewal, is possibly the most totalitarian measure ever passed by the Congress. Every jurisdiction has criminal statutes punishing violent assault. So why do we need a law punishing assaults specifically "against women"? Why must it be a federal law, for which no constitutional authority exists? And why is $4 billion in taxpayers’ money required to outlaw something that is already against the law? The answer, as usual, is power – power for those who promise to protect us against yet another new danger.

It is politically hazardous for politicians to question any measure marketed for women and children. But no evidence indicates any problem of violence specifically against women. A virtually unanimous body of research has demonstrated that domestic violence is perpetrated by both sexes in roughly equal measures. So what is the real agenda behind this bill?

Supporters like Senator Joseph Biden hem and haw that, despite the name, VAWA applies to both sexes. Yet they adamantly oppose explicitly gender-inclusive language. This is self-refuting, like the joke about the bad restaurant where the food is inedible and the portions are too small.

VAWA circumvents the Bill of Rights. Criminal assault charges require due process of law, but labeling something "domestic violence" allows officials to ignore constitutional protections: the presumption of innocence is cast aside; hearsay evidence is admissible; no jury trial is required; the accused cannot face their accusers; even forced confessions are permissible. These are the methods being used in the burgeoning system of feminist "domestic violence courts" that are created for no reason other than to bypass civil liberties protections and railroad men into jail.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

NEW CAMPAIGN: PBS Assaults Fathers! - Glenn Sacks

(This is copied verbatim from an email)

I want all of you to join me in our new campaign protesting PBS' national broadcast of the anti-father film Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories. The film, which airs on PBS affiliates throughout the country on Thursday, October 20, portrays fathers as batterers and child molesters who steal children from their mothers.

The film is a one-sided assault on fatherhood which presents a harmful and inaccurate view of divorce and child custody cases. We want PBS to give fatherhood and shared parenting advocates a meaningful opportunity to respond on the air.

I am launching this campaign in order to provide popular support for efforts by Fathers and Families, Help Stop PAS Inc., the American Coalition for Fathers & Children, and the Coalition of Fathers and Families NY, Inc. (FaFNY) to help PBS resolve the problem.

I want all of you to act. Our supporters--dubbed "The Sackson Horde" by one critic--have conducted numerous successful campaigns in the past. We drove "Boys are Stupid" products out of 3,500 stores worldwide--95% of their total distribution--last winter, and we made newspapers around the world doing it.

Last summer over 2,000 of our supporters bombarded Sacramento with calls and letters and helped kill SB 730, a bill which would have given custodial mothers the unlimited right to move our children whenever and wherever they want to. All the Sacramento experts said we would lose that campaign, and all the experts were wrong.

In October we helped fatherhood activists defeat an anti-father billboard campaign in Michigan.

In November, over 2,000 of our supporters called or wrote Verizon to protest its father-mocking "Homework" commercial. Our efforts made newspapers all over North America and the Verizon ad stopped running shortly afterwards.

This Spring we helped provide support for SB 1082, a bill to protect military parents, as well as AB 1307, the California Shared Parenting bill.

To join our campaign, go to our campaign page here.

Best Wishes,
Glenn Sacks

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

PBS' "Breaking the Silence" not ready for prime time

I should have suspected, Carey Roberts was all over this two days ago...

PBS' "Breaking the Silence" not ready for prime time


Propaganda pieces normally contain an indisputable kernel of truth, which is then artfully embellished with innuendo, distortions, and half-truths. By that standard, the upcoming PBS program, Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories, doesn't even qualify as good fiction.

Breaking the Silence leads off with this whopper: "One-third of mothers lose custody to abusive husbands." That outrageous statement contains two falsehoods.

First, divorced fathers win custody of their children only 15% of the time, so the one-third figure is obviously suspect.

Second, women are known to be just as abusive as men. As a recent report from the Independent Women's Forum notes, "approximately half of all couple violence is mutual...when only one partner is abusive, it is as likely to be the woman as the man." Source

Continuing its mean-spirited dissing of dads, Breaking the Silence goes on to claim that children are "most often in danger from the father." Apparently the producers never bothered to read the recent report from the US Department of Health and Human Services which reveals that the majority of perpetrators of child abuse and neglect are female. Source

So why would PBS engage in this wanton abuse of truth? The answer lies in the broader feminist crusade to overturn the Patriarchy. Get dad out of the picture, they say, and the children will grow up to be more enlightened human beings. But research proves the opposite is true. Countless studies show that kids with absent dads do far worse on a broad range of academic, social, and psychological indicators. Source

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PBS Smears Fathers Who Contest Child Custody has a wonderful synopsis of the faults in the upcoming PBS special "Breaking the Silence, Children's Stories".

Click here to link directly to the post. It includes contact information so you can let PBS know exactly how you feel about this "special."


Monday, October 17, 2005

MIsForMalevolent or Jersey Sucks

I am considering not visiting MIsForMalevolent any more because while the site is brilliant it is simultaneously so depressing.

Click here for several reasons to stay out of Jersey.


The Parental Rights and Responsibility Act (RSA 461-A) - NH

Relative to the previous post, I thought I would add some more info about RSA 461-A.

From the New Hampshire Bar Assoc site:

Effective October 1, New Hampshire divorce and custody law will undergo substantial change with the enactment of new statutory chapter, the "Parental Rights and Responsibility" act (RSA 461-A). This chapter includes a purpose clause that states: "Children do best when both parents have a stable and meaningful involvement in their lives." It says that the policy of the state is "to support frequent and continuing contact between each child and both parents" and to "encourage parents to share in the rights and responsibilities of raising their children."

The Task Force on Family Law’s
two-year study led to the conclusion that "custody," "physical custody," "legal custody," and similar terms were divisive and encouraged litigation. RSA 461-A replaces the traditional terms with "parental rights and responsibilities," "residential responsibility," and "decision-making responsibility." The goal is to promote co-parenting with both parents actively involved in their child’s life.

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Keep the kids out of the middle - NH

The Telegraph Online


We should all take a lesson from New Hampshire RSA 461-A.

As of Oct. 1, RSA 461-A rids the state of the archaic and destructive notion of child custody.

Divorcing parents are instructed instead to work within the court system to determine their respective schedules of parenting “rights and responsibilities.”

RSA 461-A moves us closer to what we healthy parents know to be true: Parenting is a privilege and a responsibility. No matter the status of the legal or emotional bond between co-parents, parenting can never be about which parent gets more.

Healthy parenting is all about cooperating to see that the child’s needs are met.

Keep the child out of the middle isn’t as difficult as it may seem. No matter if you and your co-parent are living together or apart, married, separated or divorced, the rules are the same.

• You must actively support your child’s relationship with his other caregivers. To expose your child intentionally or accidentally to your negative feelings about your co-parent is a selfish and immature act of abuse.

• You must find a way to communicate constructively with your co-parent.

• You must work toward consistency of care. Children can and will adapt to each caregiver’s unique expectations and rules and consequences, but at what cost?

When you and your co-parent are consistent, the child’s world becomes that much more secure and predictable. There are fewer opportunities for splitting (“But Mommy lets me!”) and the child will have more emotional energy for growing and exploring and learning.

• Fight fair. When your kids must be exposed to your differences, let them see that anger needn’t be destructive. How you and your co-parent cope with anger is the model your children will emulate.

• Beware that asking the children to choose between caregivers can be painful and even traumatic. Separated and divorced co-parents sometimes think they’re being generous by allowing the child to choose in which home to live, where to spend the weekend and even who they’d like to attend the school play.

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Divorcing parents should consider their kids, teen says

Dear Amy: I am a 13-year-old girl, but I think I've got some valuable advice for an adult who wrote to you recently.

I read the letter from "Good Mom but Tired of Being a Wife," who wanted a divorce because she and her husband were "drifting." My parents are going through the same thing.

It hurts worse than anything I've ever gone through. It's an awful blow, especially when my parents seemed completely happy before, and then all of a sudden my dad is moving out.

Guess what, if you are not a happy person, moving out isn't going to magically make you happy. In fact, it will make you more lonely and sad. It will make everyone sad.

This lady needs to work on the problem instead of blowing up her kids' lives. It is her job to take care of them. Their trust for her is on the line.

- Feeling Sad and Betrayed

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Group aims to ease divorce issues- MA

Daily News Tribune - Local News Coverage


The Divorce Center begins "Massachusetts Divorce in a Nutshell," a free 5-week seminar series for women and men who are separating and divorcing. Sessions will be held on Tuesdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the West Suburban Chamber of Commerce on South Street.

Local attorneys, financial experts and a probate court judge will cover the basics of divorce, alimony and child support, child custody and the division of assets. They will provide insight about lawyer's fees, separation agreements, tax implications and even what to expect when entering a courtroom.

The center will also be presenting "A Divorce Play in Four Acts" on Saturday at Newton North High School. The interactive play follows a "husband" and "wife" as they meet with their attorneys, attend court hearings and learn about financial considerations.

For more information about the "Massachusetts Divorce in a Nutshell" seminar series, visit or call 617-227-9713.

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VAWA: U.S. Senate Reauthorizes Organized Robbery and Child Abuse

Friday, October 07, 2005

Indiana Child Custody & Support Advisory Meeting

Again, this is copied verbatim from an email (with certain omissions):

There will be a meeting of the Indiana Child Custody & Support Advisory Committee (ICCSAC) this coming Wednesday, 10/12/2005, at 1:00 pm in room 431 of the Indiana State House.

Representative Phyllis Pond is going to speak on the topic of child support for post-secondary education (college students). Presently, Indiana Child Support Guidelines specify that child support is not to be calculated (paid) for the weeks that students are living away at college. It resumes when the child returns "home". This change was enacted in the latest Guidelines revision because parents were paying for housing, food, transportation and other expenses for their college children in BOTH locations: "home" and college!

Attorneys have been trying to get that changed back to something much closer to the "dark ages" since the change was approved by the Indiana Supreme Court. The Indiana Code says simply that "there shall be no duplication" of such expenses.

Another agenda item is "relocation issues in child custody matters". In recent cases, it is becoming more common for judges to permit a parent to move, but stipulate that custody will be changed to the non-moving parent if such takes place. That TENDS to reduce the move-aways as you can imagine. Why the moving parent thinks that the noncustodial parent can maintain an adequate relationship, but they could not, could be an interesting topic for discussion!

If these topics concern you, I encourage you to attend the meeting and signup to SAY SO! Let the committee members know how much you value the ongoing contact and relationship with your child.

If you would like to attend this meeting and need additional info please email me.

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Court Takes Kids from Dads, Saying Service in Iraq Is 'Abandonment' - Phyllis Schlafly

I will likely reprint most of this article but that should not stop you from visiting the source: Human Events Online - Court Takes Kids from Dads, Saying Service in Iraq Is 'Abandonment' by Phyllis Schlafly.

Also, this article mentions Michigan legislation HB 5100 which I mentioned here, more information can be found on the Michigan Legislature site as well as in the Dads of Michigan Forum.

On to the article:

Court Takes Kids from Dads, Saying Service in Iraq Is 'Abandonment'
by Phyllis Schlafly

Gallant Americans are risking life and limb in Iraq to defend home and country. But they never dreamed they might lose their children, too.

When Army National Guard Spc. Joe McNeilly of Grand Ledge, Mich., came home after 15 months in Iraq, he found that a family court "referee" had taken away his joint custody of his 10-year-old son and given full custody and control to the boy's mother.

For five years, McNeilly had had a 50-50 no-problem custody arrangement with his ex-girlfriend Holly Erb. When called up to go to Iraq, he gave her temporary full custody while he was overseas.

While he was gone, Erb persuaded a family court to make her full custody permanent. When McNeilly protested, he was told that his year-long absence constituted abandonment and produced custody "points" against him.

"You want to make a soldier cry, you take his son away," McNeilly said. "It's devastating."

Michigan State Rep. Rick Jones became interested in this injustice. When he contacted the Judge Advocate General's office, he discovered that there are 15 to 20 similar cases in Michigan and it is a common problem all over the United States.

Jones has introduced legislation (HB 5100) providing that absences for military service cannot be used against a parent and that a permanent custody arrangement cannot be established while a parent is on active duty. He is hearing from legislators in other states who want to sponsor similar bills.

Since McNeilly's case was reported in the press, Erb's lawyer and the court's representative are trying to claim that depriving him of his father's rights wasn't because he was serving in Iraq, but because of his poor parenting skills.

The proof? McNeilly sent a couple of postcards to his son that showed soldiers training with a gun. Horrors! How un-politically correct to tell a son that soldiers in Iraq carry guns.

Erb's lawyer asserted that the postcards frightened the boy and showed that McNeilly is not a fit parent. But surely the boy had a right to know about his father's career and that soldiers who use guns are pursuing an honorable vocation.

The referee's report also justified deciding for mother custody because she was the "day-to-day caretaker and decision maker in the child's life" while McNeilly was deployed. But that's what mothers have always done when their men go off to war and it's no argument for taking the child away from his father upon return.

Day-to-day caretaker is feminist jargon to promote their ideology that the mother should have full custody and control because the father is not around to change diapers and do household chores. He is merely working a job, or sometimes two jobs, to support his family.

Follow the money to explain some of the motivation. When the mother was given full custody, the court ordered McNeilly to pay her $525 a month, which she would lose if they return to joint custody.

The real problem in this case is the arrogance of family courts, which claim the right to decide child custody based on their subjective personal opinions about the "best interest of the child." Family court judges, and the psychologists and referees they hire, routinely violate the fundamental right of parents to make their own decisions about the best interest of their own children.

Family courts are subjective and arbitrary, so unlucky divorced parents could get a judge or a referee who is anti-gun, or anti-military, or anti-spanking, or anti-homeschooling, or anti-religion, or a feminist who wants to transform the middle class into a matriarchal society as has already been done to the welfare class, with tragic results.

The notion that family court judges, psychologists and referees can impose personal views about what is "the best interest of the child" rather than a child's own parents is just another way of saying "it takes a village to raise a child." Thousands of good fathers have been deprived of their fundamental rights in the care and upbringing of their children by courts that treat fathers as good for nothing more than a paycheck.

The large number of fathers who have been the victims of family-court fatherphobia is no doubt the reason that one of the most popular songs on country music stations this year is Tim McGraw's "Do You Want Fries with That?" The lyrics are the cry of a father who is working a minimum-wage second job in a fast-food restaurant, living alone in a tent, after being ordered by a judge to support his children living in his house with his ex-wife and her boyfriend.

The father laments, "You took my wife, and you took my kids, and you stole the life that I used to live; my pride, the pool, the boat, my tools, my dreams, the dog, the cat."

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Just Two More...

Goodness, this is certainly the day for new blogs!

Two more of note: MIsForMalevolent and Dissolution: Conversations from a Divorce

And Another

How have I missed Hate Male Post until now?

They will also be added under the Other Blogs heading.

Another New Blog Addition

Say hello to the Disenfranchised Father.

Military Parental Rights - Michigan

I am copying this verbatim from an email I received:

MILITARY PARENTAL RIGHTS: Military personnel serving overseas could not lose custody rights of their children under a bill that won unanimous approval Thursday by the House.

Support for HB 5100 was generated when a Grand Ledge National Guard member testified he lost custody after spending a year in Iraq despite sharing custody of his son on an equal basis for five years.

The bill, passed 108-0, prohibits a court from considering a parent's separation from his or her child due to military service when making a "best interest of the child" determination and declares that an established custodial environment with a parent could not be destroyed during that military service. It also prohibits decisions being made on permanent custody of children while a parent is deployed overseas.

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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Bad Representation in Arizona

East Valley Tribune Daily Arizona


Gary Karpin

A grand jury indictment lists 14 victims representing about $500,000 in losses, but since Karpin’s July arrest more than 100 people have called and complained about him, Thomas said.

A case summary states that Karpin, a divorce mediator who did business under various names, claimed or implied to his clients that he was a lawyer.

Karpin would claim to file paperwork that never was filed or was incorrectly prepared, the summary states.

Thomas said anyone who has done business with Karpin should check their state of affairs because there is a chance some clients might not actually be divorced or might not actually have child custody because Karpin may have completed the paperwork incorrectly or not at all.

If you believe you have been victimized by Gary Karpin, who has done business as Divorce with Dignity, Divorce Associates, Relationships with Dignity and A Dignified Divorce, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office wants you to call (602) 372-7777

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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Free family law clinic through end of month - Utah

Salt Lake Tribune - Utah

Utah Legal Services begins sponsoring a free family law clinic this month.

Staffed by University of Utah law students and attorney volunteers, the clinic will assist people who need help in the areas of divorce, protective orders and custody.

The clinics will be held between 6 and 7:30 p.m. on the first and third Tuesdays of each month in room W19 of the Matheson Courthouse, 450 S. State St. in Salt Lake City.

A presentation to address frequently asked questions will be held at the beginning of the meeting, so attendees are asked to arrive on time at 6 p.m.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Iowa Joint Custody

The Iowa Family Law Blog discusses the first case regarding the 2004 Iowa amendment on joint physical care. It is not good:

The statutes language following the 1997 amendment, as well as its language following the 2004 amendment, constitutes neither a ringing endorsement of joint physical care, nor a mandate for courts to grant joint physical care unless the best interest of the child requires a different physical care arrangement.

Click here for summary...

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New Blog Addition

Stumbled on this blog today ~ A Fresh start- A Fathers Divorce Story

Monday, October 03, 2005

An unusual decision in custody case - New York An unusual decision in custody case

Even though this mother has previously demonstrated that she could not be expected to fully comply with her custody arrangement and that the parents have joint custody - this judge decided she could move the child out of the country provided she put up a bond guaranteeing monthly visitation.

The judge said, "Visitation with a parent is not the privilege of the parent but the right of the child. Both [the father and the boy] must have this right preserved by maximizing defendant's opportunity to maintain a positive and nurturing father-son relationship.” Which can apparently be accomplished through a monthly visit. Right.

Why not leave the child in New York and provide the mother with as liberal of a visitation schedule as she desires. Then she doesn’t have to come up with huge upfront costs, can elect to pay for her own travel expenses and the child does not have to be removed from his father and community simply since Mom’s new husband works in Canada…

Move away cases drive me crazy – if one parent wants to move there is certainly no compelling reason to keep them from doing so. However, their elective choice should not be an excuse to disrupt the parent/child relationship with their ex. If you want to move – go for it – but don’t expect to be able to take your child. Part of having children is sacrifice – you may have to sacrifice your desire to go wherever in order to support your child in the most loving and stable manner possible. Eventually the child will be old enough and out of the house where you can move wherever your little heart desires. In the meantime, deal with the fact that you have already handicapped your child by divorcing their other parent and try to do the best thing for them considering.

These remarriage move away cases are the epitome of selfish.


Jodi Ann Fischtein wanted her 11-year-old son to move to Canada with her.

But she and her ex-husband had joint custody of the boy, and the father wanted him to stay in New York.

After a 28-day trial in Central Islip, State Supreme Court Justice John Bivona made a rather novel decision.

The boy could go with his mother and new stepfather, who had been commuting to New York from Toronto. But Fischtein had to put up a $60,000 bond ensuring the father's visitation at least once a month, and pay his travel and hotel expenses.

"Visitation with a parent is not the privilege of the parent but the right of the child. Both [the father and the boy] must have this right preserved by maximizing defendant's opportunity to maintain a positive and nurturing father-son relationship," Bivona wrote in the recent decision.

However, he added the mother's "past conduct does raise concern as to whether she will cooperate and abide by the order of this court." Bivona directed that Fischtein post a $60,000 bond in the escrow account of the lawyer for her ex-husband, John Andrade, until her son becomes 18.

"This is very unusual," said Friedman. "I think the judge was concerned that the relocation he was allowing was out of the country and out of U.S. jurisdiction ... and there could be problems for the father jurisdictionally if there is a proceeding for enforcement."

In requiring the bond, Bivona cited instances in which Fischtein had interfered with Andrade's access to his son since the couple's divorce last year.

"Based on past history, plaintiff has dictated terms of visitation according to her whim," the judge wrote. Despite a separation agreement and both having joint custody, "plaintiff acts unilaterally."

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