Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Until today I have handled subscriptions to this blog through bloglet and accumulated quite a few subscribers.

In the process of making my site feed easier to access I have also changed the manner in which subscriptions will be handled. I will now be processing subscriptions through FeedBlitz and have changed the subscription box to reflect this update.

FeedBlitz allowed me to import the majority of my subscribers from bloglet except for those who chose to keep their email address anonymous. For the next week I will keep the bloglet updates active - after which I will shut down bloglet and only run FeedBlitz.

If you subscribed prior to today and requested to keep your email address private/anonymous - you will need to visit the home page and resubscribe. The vast majority of subscribers should be fine except that in the next week you will notice a change in the format of your updates as well as the email address from which you receive updates.

If you were a subscriber and notice in the next couple weeks that you have stopped receiving updates please either resubscribe via the home page or shoot me an email through the link on the home page. I'll try my hardest to resolve any issues subscribers have as a result of this change.

Also, I have added a link to subscribe to my site feed. Please feel free to go this route instead of through email updates.

Finally, FeedBlitz will be made active on January 4th, the day bloglet will be disabled. This will prevent current subscribers from receiving double updates for the next week. This will also provide current subscribers a chance to contact me if they would like to be removed from the email update database in lieu of a site feed subscription. However, this also means that though the FeedBlitz subscription box is now active, site updates will not begin until the first update on January 4th. In short, if you are a new subscriber you will not begin getting updates until after the 4th. Please do not be concerned unless you fail to receive an update after this time. Site feed subscriptions should begin immediately.

Again, please feel free to contact me either through comments or email (via the home page) with any questions. Hopefully this changeover will go smoothly!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Happy Holidays!

The Divorce and Custody Blog will be on semi-hiatus for the next couple weeks. I'll be out of town Thurs the 22nd though the 27th and again from the 30th to the 3rd. Possibly I'll have a chance to post in between...

If not, however, I did not want to miss the chance to say Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to everyone.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Group getting its wish: Custody issue out in the open - Illinois

Group getting its wish: Custody issue out in the open


About 40 people turned out at a meeting Dec. 6 in Urbana to hear the executive director of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children talk about ways to get the Illinois legislature and the Champaign County judiciary to consider shared parenting.

"Courts regularly separate fit parents from children," Michael Mc-Cormick said. "We think the starting point should be equal time."

In late October, the group launched a billboard campaign in Urbana, calling upon Champaign County family court Judge Arnold Blockman to consider that concept. The billboards and radio ads have sparked a lot of discussion among users of the system and prompted the Dec. 6 meeting.

"During marriage, both parents are typically active in raising their children," McCormick said. "After divorce, children deserve equal access to both parents. But in Champaign County Circuit Court, kids rarely get that. They're caged; stuck in the old every-other-weekend-with-Dad schedule."

A Democrat elected in 1996, Blockman said he's human and can't help but be bothered by the billboards on Cunningham and East University avenues, which feature a crying child and the words: "Is four days a month with Dad really in a child's best interest?"

He's upset not because he thinks the billboard backers are right but because they don't recognize the reforms he's instituted to improve the system since he took over administration of family court.

For those unhappy about his custody rulings, Blockman said the appellate court is probably the best indicator of if his actions are appropriate.

Since taking the bench, Blockman said, 105 of his rulings have been appealed; 91 were affirmed outright; seven were partially affirmed. That means seven cases, or less than 7 percent, were overturned. Those numbers involve all kinds of cases, but for the last five years, he's done essentially nothing but family cases.

McCormick, a father of six who lives in northern Virginia and runs the coalition office out of Washington D.C., said this isn't a personal attack on Blockman but part of a nationwide campaign to get judges to do the right thing.

"I don't see Blockman as the problem. He is the solution," McCormick said. "This is not a campaign directed at him. There are a number of people heartbroken at what's left of their relationship with their children."

Blockman said it's true he doesn't grant joint custody when only one parent wants it. But it's because the law precludes him, not because he has a prejudice against a particular parent.

"Look at the criteria (outlined in the statute)," Blockman said.

He referred to the section stating a judge may enter an order of joint custody, taking into account "the ability of the parents to cooperate effectively and consistently in matters that directly affect the joint parenting of the child. 'Ability of the parents to cooperate' means the parents' capacity to substantially comply with a Joint Parenting Order."

Those who met with McCormick were asked to complete surveys asking if they'd help with cash, write to legislators, talk to reporters, monitor judges or recruit members, for example.

The group decided it wanted a town hall meeting on shared parenting in Champaign or Urbana and tentatively scheduled one for Jan. 26. McCormick also discussed the possibility of a march to the courthouse with 150 or 200 people, suggesting it could generate national TV coverage.

"I want wholesale legislative changes," he said, adding that disgruntled noncustodial parents have to work together to have their voices heard. "Judges are not hearing en masse that this doesn't work."

Read the entire article by clicking on the title - link to the American Coalition for Fathers and Children here.

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Congratulations Angry Dad

Angry Dad has finally seen his court case (at least in respect to custody) resolved - and just in time for Christmas!

From his site: The judge ordered 50-50 custody starting Jan. 23. We will alternate weeks with the kids. Alimony was terminated. Child support was slashed. My ex-wife has to get a job.

Stop in and say congratulations.

Sharing the kids can be painful this time of year

Sharing the kids can be painful this time of year
Rachel Bryant

This is an article along the lines of my post Happy or not - the Holidays are here.

1.) Don't forget that your relationship with your children will always be more important to them than where they spent the 25th of December in 2005. Long after the holidays are over, it is the loving bond between parents and their children that sustain them and provide a model for the kind of parent that they will one day want to be.

3.) Focus on what you can do, rather than what outside interference has taken away. What do you want your children to take away from this season? Is it the family time together, the joy of opening presents Christmas morning, or the spiritual message of the season that is important to give your children this time of year. All three of these can be accomplished regardless of visitation schedules. Again, it may not be your first choice, but if the message vs. having it your way is the priority for your children, than all can still be accomplished.

As for spending time together, use the time you have to make holiday moments with your children. Kids' memories of what Mom or Dad did for the holidays are not bound by a date. Special decorations, traditional songs, shopping sprees, family recipes, or new traditions are still all yours for the making.

4.) Take special care of yourself this season. While we all can get exhausted with work, family, holiday demands, etc., the parent who is struggling with the painful reality of family separation has an immeasurable additional burden. One of the best ways you can help your kids to get through this change, even if it is not the first year, is to let them see you take care of yourself. Use your family, friends, prayer, hobbies, therapy, exercise, work, a massage, a manicure, or all of the above, to bring yourself moments of comfort, sustenance, and peace. You have a right to your deep feelings and reactions to what has happened, and you need to take care of them.

And remember, it is ultimately your love, and with that love your lessons for your children, that they will take with them forever.

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PBS Propaganda Piece

PBS Propaganda Piece
by Carey Roberts

Excerpts below. Link directly to the piece to read it in its entirety and to be able to link to Mr. Roberts source material.

I’ve never heard of a Public Broadcasting Service documentary being slammed by two ombudsmen in the space of one week. But that’s exactly what happened to PBS’ ill-fated program, Breaking the Silence.

The program, billed as an exposé of divorce courts, said that custody of abused children is often awarded to the abusing parent. Government reports reveal that mothers are more likely than dads to abuse and neglect their children and that mothers in fact are awarded child custody about 85% of the time – so the documentary producers did have a point.

But the problem with Breaking the Silence is not just flawed and unethical journalism. Bode’s greater concern was the fact that the program “has been a launching pad for a very partisan effort to drive public policy and the law.”

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Insanity in Kansas

Reasons to stay out of Kansas:

Judge rules for mother in custody case where father is in Iraq


LAWRENCE, Kan. - A custody battle between a Marine stationed in Iraq and his estranged wife may have implications for all Kansas service members who are overseas, according to a lawyer involved in the case.

A Franklin County judge has twice ruled that a federal law meant to protect military personnel from civil litigation does not apply in the custody case between Marine Cpl. Levi Bradley and his estranged wife, Amber Bradley.

Levi Bradley, who has lived in Pomona and Ottawa, filed for divorce in May. When he was deployed to Iraq, he asked for a delay in the custody case over their 2-year-old son.

The Servicemember's Civil Relief Act, signed in 2003, shields military personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan or other war zones from lawsuits and evictions until they are back in the U.S. The law required judges to postpone judgment for at least 90 days if the service member applies for more time.

Court records show that Levi Bradley and his mother, Starleen Bradley, had legal custody of the child when he was deployed in July. Amber Bradley, the Marine's estranged wife, signed the agreement.

Levi Bradley asked in October - a month before the first child custody hearing was scheduled - to delay further proceedings. The application included a letter from his commanding officer in Iraq and his own testimony, as the law requires.

But on Nov. 8, Franklin County Judge James Smith ruled that the mother should get custody of the child, saying the federal law didn't apply because the temporary action affected the child, not Levi Bradley himself.

Apology to student suspended for speaking Spanish in school

The boy, a high school junior, was sent home from the Endeavor Alternative School in the Turner School District on Nov. 28 for talking in Spanish, his native language, at lunch and later in the day. Principal Jennifer Watts sent him home and suspended him through the following day.

District officials said Watts told the boy's father the suspension was a direct result of his speaking Spanish. Superintendent of Schools Bobby Allen reversed the suspension within hours of learning about it from the father, the district said.

"As soon as he found out, he contacted the parent and said that should not have happened," said Bart Swartz, the district's executive director of certified personnel.

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Michigan House Proposes Reduction in Federal Child Support Enforcement


The House bill proposes a $5 billion, 40 percent reduction in federal child support enforcement. This is a refreshing surprise, and it may finally raise awareness that child support has been a failure and should be phased out in favor of alternative types of agreements between parents. Recently, Fathers’ rights movements have sprung up all over, advocating a fairer system that doesn’t doubly punish the non-custodial parent and incite hostile relations. Handing impoverished custodial parents free money will not give them the incentive to lift themselves out of poverty, but requiring them to make it on their own will. Eliminating part of the federal bureaucracy responsible for chasing fathers down sends a much-needed message that child support is one government function that should be abolished.


It was approved by all nine Republican Michigan House members and opposed by all six Democrats as part of the sweeping Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. Differences between the House legislation and a Senate cost-cutting bill are being worked out by a conference committee this week.

The effective 24 percent cut to the budget for child support enforcement would jeopardize positions in the 2,800-member work force that processes child support cases throughout the state, she said.

The cuts would result from a gradual reduction in federal funding for child support enforcement from 66 percent to 50 percent over five years.

"Child support is the safety net for most families ... this is money for groceries, for gasoline, for heat," said Susan Thorman, president of the Friend of the Court Association and Shiawassee County Friend of the Court.

But the Atlanta, Ga.-based National Family Justice Association, which advocates for noncustodial parents, backs the cuts and calls them a move toward improving child support agencies.

"If a system or service is broken or not functioning properly, the U.S. taxpayers should not have to pay outrageous sums of their hard-earned money while the system is not held accountable for their inadequate performance," Murray Davis, who is based in Southfield and serves as group's board president, said in a written statement.

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Friday, December 09, 2005

Vermont Pro Se

Another good site if you are representing yourself in Vermont.

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Idaho Pro Se Representation

The Court Assistance Office (CAO) is a one-stop clearinghouse to access legal services and other resources for those involved in family law cases and other civil (non-criminal) court matters. There are currently court assistance offices in twenty-three courthouses around Idaho. Some of the court assistance office resources, such as an attorney roster, court forms and instructions, can be accessed directly from this site. For other services and materials you may need to call or visit the Court Assistance Office nearest you. The links below will tell you where to find and how to contact the nearest court assistance office, what services and materials are available there, and how to view or download the roster of attorneys or the court forms and instructions.

CAO Website

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Public hearings scheduled to start Monday on new child support guidelines - Georgia


Georgians will get to comment on the state's new child support guidelines at a series of public hearings across the state scheduled to start Monday evening.

The guidelines were developed because of a new state law that stipulates that judges setting child support payments must consider the incomes of both parents - not just the ones without custody.

The hearings are planned in Albany, Atlanta, Columbus and Savannah.

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Compromise reached on child custody bill - NH

Compromise reached on child custody bill
House agreement is nod to father groups


Judges would be required to explain in writing what evidence they used in making child custody decisions under a compromise bill recommended by a House panel.

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CPB Ombudsmen Report on "Breaking the Silence"

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting Ombudsmen has now weighed in on "Breaking the Silence."



The experts provided by Lasseur/Tatge debunk PAS as "junk science." At one point the film states that PAS "has been thoroughly debunked by the American Psychological Association." Contacted for verification by a number of critics and viewers, the APA's communications director stated:

"The American Psychological Association does not have an official position on parental alienation syndrome--pro or con."

In this case it appears that Lasseur/Tatge plainly got it wrong. In a statement released to their website, the producers now say something quite different than they did in the film:

"We do not make the assertion that the phenomenon of alienation does not exist, simply that PAS seems to be wrongly used as scientific proof to justify taking children away from a protective parent."

My conclusion after viewing and reviewing the program and checking various web sites cited by critics is that there is no hint of balance in Breaking the Silence. The father's point of view is ignored as are new strategies for lessening the damage to children in custody battles. There is no mention of the collaborative law movement in which parents and lawyers come to terms without involving the court, nor of the new joint custody living arrangements.

The producers apparently do not subscribe to the idea that an argument can be made more convincing by giving the other side a fair presentation. To be sure, one comes away from viewing the program with the feeling that custody fights are a special hell, legally, emotionally, psychologically. But this broadcast is so slanted as to raise suspicions that either the family courts of America have gone crazy or there must be another side to the story.

One critic who reached CPB cited reports that the Mary Kay Ash Foundation is providing a stipend so that every battered women's organization in the country can put on private screenings of this film for their local judges and legislators. If so, PBS may find it has been the launching pad for a very partisan effort to drive public policy and law.

PBS says it has received around 4,000 letters, calls and e-mails about Breaking the Silence. The National Organization for Women issued an action alert calling for mail supporting the program. Glenn Sacks used his radio show to promote mailings objecting to the broadcast. Jan McNamara the director of corporate communication at PBS says the program is now under official review. That's good. Along with the motives of its sponsor (The Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation), Breaking the Silence needs to be reviewed for accuracy, fairness and balance.

UPDATE: BloggingBaby is also talking about this...

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