Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Health of Fatherhood

The Health of Fatherhood


On the one hand, we have a vast empirical research literature showing that both children and fathers benefit on almost all conceivable outcome indices when they are involved in each others lives as the children are growing up and being guided by their fathers into adulthood and beyond.

On the other hand, we have the following widely accepted contemporary demographics: one third of children are born to women who are not married at the time of delivery (and presumably do not have a father involved in the child’s life on a continual basis); 50% of first marriages end in divorce and another 17% end in permanent separation yielding an effective two thirds marital dissolution rate for first marriages; the divorce rate for second and subsequent marriages is about 10% higher; and the cookie-cutter formula used by most states grants physical custody to mothers about 85% of the time with the father being awarded infrequent visitation along with child support and alimony obligations.

Second, a minimum of two out of three divorces are initiated by wives. In my view, this is because mothers get all of the marbles in divorce. Specifically, and with some state to state variability, mothers not only get the children (about 85% of the time) but they also get half of the marital assets (sometimes mostly the father’s assets) plus the father’s income to support her and the children often in the former marital home along with the tax benefits associated with the children. By contrast, the father gets to pay for and furnish an apartment and, if lucky, is awarded alternate weekends with his children, perhaps an evening in between, and perhaps half a summer and other holidays. Critically, when the children are with the father he must feed, shelter, clothe, and entertain them with whatever he has left over after he continues to pay child-support and alimony to his ex-wife.

Clearly, all the current legislative incentives to divorce belong to the mother and none to the father. The solution to increasing father-child relationships post-divorce -- and as a critical fringe benefit to reduce the divorce rate as the incentives to divorce disappear -- is to change existing state family law on three fronts: (a) Establish a presumption of equal shared parenting; and (b) establish equal financial responsibility for both mothers and fathers along with legally mandated financial accountability for both; and (c) change the child support models from income sharing models to child cost sharing models.

In closing, the bad news is that the health of fatherhood in 2006 is grim. The good news is that we got where we are today not through natural disasters but through woman-made disasters -- which can be reversed. Thus, we have the opportunity this Fathers Day, as we have every Fathers Day, to enhance the quality of life of America’s children and fathers through new political initiatives and public policy. However, we must act quickly, lest Fathers become yet another member of an exponentially expanding Endangered Species List.

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Foster Care System Disregards Fathers - Glenn Sacks

Foster Care System Disregards Fathers


The new report, What About the Dads? Child Welfare Agencies’ Efforts to Identify, Locate, and Involve Nonresident Fathers, examines the foster care systems of Massachusetts and three other states. The report contains a shocking finding: when fathers inform child welfare officials that they would like their children to live with them, the agencies seek to place the children with their fathers in only 8% of cases.

Research shows that fathers matter. The rates of the four major youth pathologies--juvenile crime, teen pregnancy, teen drug abuse, and school dropouts--are tightly correlated with fatherlessness. For example, one long-term study of teen pregnancy published in Child Development found that a father's impact is so large that income, race, the mother's characteristics and a host of other normally powerful factors all mattered little. What mattered was dad.

What About the Dads? makes it clear that many child welfare workers treat fathers as an afterthought. The report found that even when a caseworker had been in contact with a child’s father, the caseworker was still five times less likely to know basic information about the father than about the mother. And 20% of the fathers whose identity and location were known by the child welfare agencies from the opening of the case were never even contacted.

These policies are seriously misguided. When a mother is deemed unfit to care for her children, dad shouldn’t be just one option out of many. He should be first in line.

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Activist for divorced dads throws hat in ring- NH

Activist for divorced dads throws hat in ring


Republican Marc Snider of Merrimack accused incumbent Sen. Sheila Roberge, a Bedford Republican, of leading the charge to kill legislation (HB 529) to give fathers equal rights as parents in custody cases in the absence of evidence they should be treated differently.

Snider founded, which has fought to reform divorce laws to give fathers a better chance at getting equal and joint custody. He has videotaped hearings of House and Senate committees to expand public awareness of how the Legislature has dealt with the issue.

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Saturday, June 03, 2006

Glenn Sacks - Louisiana Bill Says One Parent is Better Than Two

Louisiana Bill Says One Parent is Better Than Two


"Current Louisiana law states 'To the extent it is feasible and in the best interest of the child, physical custody of the children should be shared equally.' This is reasonable--it presumes that as long as both parents are fit and there are no extenuating circumstances, they should both share in parenting their children. HB 315 weakens the law's wise preference for two parents instead of one. Under the bill all that children receive is a vaguely defined 'as frequent and continuing contact as is feasible with each parent.' However, research establishes that shared custody is what's best for kids."

The counterattack against shared parenting is based on allegations that fathers only want shared parenting in order to reduce their child support obligations. We wrote:

"Unfortunately, rather than putting the need to preserve children's relationships with both parents at the center of the discussion, advocates of HB 315 are instead focusing on child support. In Louisiana, like most states, how much time each parent spends with his or her children helps determine how much child support is ordered. Rep. Shirley Bowler (R-River Ridge), who authored the bill, asserts that dads seek shared custody as a way to decrease their child support obligations. She promotes HB 315 as a way to 'remove this angle' in the current law, which she claims divorced dads are exploiting.

"While it is true that there are fathers who put their pocketbooks above their children's best interests, Bowler and the bill's supporters ignore the obvious converse. If a dad may seek 50% physical time with his children simply to lower his child support obligation, doesn't it also hold that a mother may seek 85% physical time in order to increase it?

"Similarly, critics charge that the child support provisions of current law amount to paying men to spend time with their children. In reality, the provisions simply acknowledge that both moms and dads have child-related expenses."

For more information contact Louisiana Dads.

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Senator Withdraws Bill Giving Custodial Parents Free Rein to Move Away

I'm always up for some good news....


Liberal California Senator Gloria Romero has withdrawn a bill that would have created a "presumptive right" for a divorced parent who has custody to move children away from the other parent.

According to men's issues columnist Glenn Sacks, founder of the
Alliance for Children Concerned About Move-Aways, Romero received more than 4,000 phone calls, letters, and faxes opposing her measure. He says that is because "a lot of people within the mental health community, the psychological community, and the family law community recognize the value of fathers."

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New Link -

I am adding a link to They have A LOT of good information on the site including proposed legislation for a presumption favoring joint physical care. Stop by and take a look.

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