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PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2006 2:40 pm 
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Can Abolishing Sole Custody Curb Divorce?

The State of New York's Shared Parenting Bill has reached a critical point and we want to help give the bill a strong push forward.

http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=A330

New York is a battleground state for shared parenting and fatherhood. Family law has been in the spotlight there, as the New York Matrimonial Commission has held hearings on family law across the state. The Commission recently recommended no-fault divorce for New York.

In 1980, for example, they succeeded in passing a shared parenting bill similar to this one. Then-Governor Hugh Carey vetoed it.

http://www.glennsacks.com/replacing_sole_custody.htm

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"I walk a tightrope every day, just so I can stay a part of my young daughter's life," says Jerry, a 38 year-old engineer from San Diego, California. "If I have an argument with my wife, she spreads the divorce papers out on the living room table and begins to fill them out. There's no compromising with her--I either accept her decisions or she threatens to divorce me. If she does, she'll get custody of my little girl and I doubt she'll even let me see her, much less play an active role in raising her."

Research shows that Jerry's problem is a common one. According to a study of 46,000 divorces conducted by economists Margaret Brinig and Douglas Allen, most divorces are initiated by women, and their primary motive in terminating a struggling marriage is to gain sole custody of their children.

Both Jerry and his wife know the grim fate that often awaits a divorcing dad. Courts rarely grant sole custody or even joint physical custody to fathers, and standard visitation is just a few days a month.

Visitation interference is a major problem for divorced dads. According to research conducted by Joan Berlin Kelly, author of Surviving the Break-up, 50 percent of mothers "see no value in the father's continued contact with his children after a divorce." This was echoed by the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry report "Frequency of Visitation by Divorced Fathers," which noted that "40 percent of mothers reported that they had interfered with the noncustodial father's visitation on at least one occasion, to punish their ex-spouse."

Jerry knows that mothers also frequently move their children hundreds or thousands of miles away from their fathers, and that many divorced dads find themselves trapped in a vicious cycle--when their exes interfere with their visitation or move away, a divorced dad's only recourse is to go back to court. Yet many struggle under the weight of crushing child support obligations and are unable to afford legal representation.

A solution to the problem lies in the two shared parenting bills now being considered by the New York legislatures. Assembly Bill A3673, sponsored by David Sidikman (D-Nassau County), and Senate Bill S2818, sponsored by Owen Johnson (R-Suffolk County) create equality between divorcing couples by replacing the option of sole physical custody, which occurs in the vast majority of custody cases, with the presumption of joint custody. Divorcing parents would be expected to create and follow a shared parenting plan, and sole custody would be awarded to a parent only if he or she can prove that joint custody would be detrimental to the child.

Under these bills children would gain from the ongoing emotional, physical, and financial support of both parents that shared parenting allows. And once couples understand that they will be unable to drive the other parent out of their children's lives, cooperation between divorced parents rises markedly. In fact, as the Brinig/Allen research from American Law and Economics Review indicates, the presumption of joint physical custody may even serve to keep some marriages together.

"The problem is that my wife knows that the family court system puts her in complete control," Jerry says. "She feels she has nothing to lose in a divorce, so she has no incentive to work our problems out. But I'll lose the most important thing in the world to me--my little girl."

The reality is that, in most divorces, everybody loses--particularly children. Given the tremendous social cost of divorce and fatherlessness--the huge increases in juvenile crime, youth suicide, school dropouts and a wide assortment of social ills--keeping marriages together should be a national priority. Changing the way custody is determined is the first step.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2006 3:40 pm 
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By Glenn Sacks

http://www.glennsacks.com/30_years_after.htm

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On January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court eliminated a checkerboard of state laws on reproductive freedom and guaranteed American women choice throughout the country. Thirty years later, American men are still waiting for the same right.

When a woman gets pregnant she has the right to decide whether or not to carry the baby to term, and whether to raise the child herself or to give it up for adoption. In over 40 states she can even terminate all parental responsibility by returning the baby to the hospital within a few days or weeks of birth. Yet if she decides she wants the child, she can demand 18 years of child support from the father, and he has no choice in the matter. When it comes to reproduction, in America today women have rights and men merely have responsibilities.

Certainly nobody should be able to dictate to a woman what she can and cannot do with her own body, thus the feminist slogan "My Body, My Choice." Yet our current laws allow a woman to dictate to a man what to do with his body. The average American father works a 51-hour work week, one of the longest in the industrialized world. It is men, overwhelmingly, who do our society's hazardous and most strenuous jobs, and nearly 50 American workers--mostly men--are injured every minute of the 40-hour work week. Can anybody deny that the sacrifices required to pay 18 years of child support take a heavy toll on a man's body, too? Where's his choice?

Feminists are legitimately concerned that, if abortion were banned, the government would be exercising control over a very intimate and important part of a woman's life. But when a woman forces a man to be responsible for a child only she wants, and when the state child-support apparatus takes a third or more of his income and jails him if he comes up short, isn't the government exercising control over his life?

The "Choice for Men" movement seeks to give fathers the right to relinquish their parental rights and responsibilities within a month of learning of a pregnancy, just as mothers do when they choose to give their children up for adoption. These men would be obligated to provide legitimate financial compensation to cover pregnancy-related medical expenses and the mother's loss of income during pregnancy. The right would only apply to pregnancies which occurred outside of marriage, and women would still be free to exercise all of the reproductive choices they now have.

Advocates of Choice for Men note that over 1.5 million American women legally walk away from motherhood every year by either adoption, abortion, or abandonment, and demand that men, like women, be given reproductive options. They point out that, unlike women, men have no reliable contraception available to them, since the failure rate of condoms is substantial, and vasectomies are impractical for young men who plan on becoming fathers later in life.

Since there are long backlogs of stable, two-parent families looking for babies to adopt, there is no reason why any child born out of wedlock to unwilling parents would be without a good home. In addition, if women knew that they could not compel men to pay to support children they do not want, the number of unwed births (and the social problems associated with them) would be reduced.

Some of those who fought for women's reproductive choices support choice for men. Karen DeCrow, former president of the National Organization for Women, writes:

"If a woman makes a unilateral decision to bring a pregnancy to term, and the biological father does not, and cannot, share in this decision, he should not be liable for 21 years of support ... autonomous women making independent decisions about their lives should not expect men to finance their choice."

To date, courts have refused to respect men's reproductive rights even in the most extreme cases, including: when child support is demanded from men who were as young as 12 when they were statutorily raped by older women; when women have taken the semen from a used condom and inserted it in themselves, including from condoms used only in oral sex; and when a woman has concealed her pregnancy from her former partner (denying him the right to be a father) and then sued for back and current child support eight or ten years later.

The National Abortion Rights Action League (renamed "NARAL Pro-Choice America" on January 1 of this year), has been in the forefront of the struggle for choice for women for over three decades. They explain that "the essence of America is the right to determine the course of one's life, to make one's own choices and shape one's own destiny. A woman's freedom to choose is integral to that concept of liberty." Fine words, but is there one of them which does not apply equally to men? Shouldn't men have a choice, too?


Shouldn't men have a choice, too?


LOL LOL 8) LOL :twisted:

"Virginia Declares War on Deadbroke Dads" (& Moms)

By Jeffery M. Leving and Glenn Sacks

A laborer. A cashier. A carnival hired hand. A construction worker. All with children. Are they the featured men and women in a newspaper article about hard times in the state of Virginia? The hopefuls for a local job training program? The applicants for emergency relief? No—they are the “deadbeat parents” who top the list of Virginia’s “Most Wanted” for falling behind on child support. These three men and one woman together somehow owe well over a quarter of a million dollars in back child support.

Virginia’s Division of Child Support Enforcement is stepping up its campaign against low income non-custodial parents like these by publishing newspaper ads with their photos and mug-shot-like listings of their height, weight, home city, and amount owed. Officials have justified these humiliating tactics by their contention that Virginia’s unpaid child support currently totals $2.1 billion. This claim is extremely misleading.

Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement data shows that two-thirds of those who owe child support nationwide earned less than $10,000 in the previous year. According to the largest federally funded study of divorced fathers ever conducted, unemployment, not willful neglect, is the largest cause of failure to pay child support. A US Government Accounting Office survey of custodial mothers who were not receiving the support they were owed found that two-thirds of those fathers who do not pay their child support fail to do so because they are indigent.

The driving force behind child support arrearages is not bad parents, but instead rigid child support systems which are mulishly impervious to the economic realities noncustodial parents face, such as layoffs, wage cuts, and work-related injuries. According to the Urban Institute, less than one in 20 non-custodial parents who suffer substantial income drops are able to get courts to reduce their child support payments. In such cases, the amounts owed mount quickly, as do interest and penalties.

Compounding the problem is the fact that the federal Bradley amendment bars judges from retroactively forgiving child support arrearages, even when they determine that the arrearage occurred through no fault of the obligor. Bradley is so problematic that Congress will be conducting hearings on the amendment this fall.

In announcing the newspaper ads, Nick Young, Virginia's Director of Child Support Enforcement, claimed that 125,000 parents are behind on child support. Yet of the top "deadbeats" on Virginia's most wanted list, not one has a white-collar job and an education. And Virginia’s most wanted list, however ludicrous, is no aberration.

The top “wanted parents” lists put out by most states are almost exclusively comprised of poor and working class men who do low wage and often seasonal work, and who owe fantastic sums of money which they could never hope to pay off. A person with a college degree—not to mention an accountant, lawyer, businessman or banker—is a rare find on these lists. The pot of child support gold which Virginia officials profess they’ll find if they get tough on deadbeats simply does not exist.

Despite this, Virginia officials brag that last week's newspaper ad was so powerful that two of the delinquents “paid support within a day.” What’s unmentioned is how much of their support they paid and are able to pay.

It is true that, when threatened with jail, some of those behind on child support do sometimes pay some of what their arrearages. However, this is usually not because the low income dad they’ve arrested has decided to sell his Lexus and his vacation home, but instead because his senior citizen parents have dipped into their savings to keep him out of jail.

Defenders of the new lists point to the precedent of Virginia papers running similar ads with video photos of bank robbery suspects. It is illustrative of the hysteria over child support that this type of ad is reserved for two groups of people—violent criminals and low-income dads.

Another problem with these lists—and with child support in general—is the hideously unequal treatment dished out to mothers and fathers. According to Young, 70% of the delinquent child support cases regard children whose parents never married. In other words, both mom and dad were poor, they split up (or were never together for a meaningful period of time), the mother kept the children and applied for welfare. The state seeks to recoup its welfare costs by collecting child support from the purported fathers. Yet many of these fathers would have been happy to care for or raise their children if they had been allowed the chance. Low income mothers get welfare and sympathy. Low income fathers get unrealistic child support obligations, and when they fail to maintain payments, are persecuted and jailed.

While Young’s lists no doubt contain a few bad actors, the larger problem lies not with non-custodial parents, but instead with Virginia family courts and child support enforcement. Instead of public humiliation and strong arm tactics, what’s needed is an overhaul of the child support system so that low income parents aren't turned into criminals because they’ve failed to pay obligations which are beyond their reach.
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I feel so good and fair about this situation....women get Welfare and sympathy and men get public humiliation, arrearages they can never afford, & turned into criminals.....Isnt that great for this great nation??????

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2006 1:20 am 
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Here's a question for ATH: since the bills proposed seem so inoffensive (presuming a fair, joint custody arrangement) and stand to help men the most, and will be primarily be voted on by men, what's to keep it from passing? What are people saying when they oppose this bill? I'm not into family law or child psych, and can imagine some objections concerning a shuffling of kids from house to house when parents may not live in the same school zone, etc (and personally, I was not pleased with the arguing over the kids that occured after my parents divorced when i was 1 or something). But at least, from what was written, one would expect any fair minded person to expect either gender neutrality from the courts in assigning custody.

On to the second article, which was a little more suspect:

"In over 40 states she can even terminate all parental responsibility by returning the baby to the hospital within a few days or weeks of birth."

So what you're saying is, that a woman can completely opt out of raising the child, irrespective of what the man says? Because I'd be shocked to learn if in those cases, the woman is putting up for adoption a child the man insists on raising. What we have here is not women free to decide whether the child is adopted or not, but PARENTS free to give a child up or not. For fairness, if a father wants the kid the mom does not, clearly the woman should be expected to pay support if a man would be in the mirror image circumstance. But can we stop pretending that women are the sole beneficiaries of this adoption business? The truth is that men want to give up their kids a lot more often--and that tendency is not exactly one that America, especially the ruling conservative class, is going to rush to embrace.

If one parent (any gender) has no interest in a child they (usually stupidly) created, and the other parent does want to raise that child, that uninterested parent ought to be responsible for financially supporting that decision--or they should keep it zipped, no? I fail to see how the existance of adoption options should condem a parent of either gender whose valued child is not a priority of the other parent to 1) poverty 2) abortion 3) adoption.

"Yet if she decides she wants the child, she can demand 18 years of child support from the father, and he has no choice in the matter. When it comes to reproduction, in America today women have rights and men merely have responsibilities."

IF men can't demand support from mom if she's not going to raise the kid, then that's clearly wrong. The trick is, women are the primary caregivers in this society. Women raise most of the kids. Women tend most of the infirm parents. And so since the men are working, its not a shock that support payments flow from men to women on average. If men want to eliminate that gap, shouldn't we expect women to ... expect men to give up their careers with equal frequency, to raise kids? To take care of mom and dad when they're sick? This is a responsibility that's not mentioned in the article and its not one we see men clamoring to equalize.

"When a woman forces a man to be responsible for a child only she wants, and when the state child-support apparatus takes a third or more of his income and jails him if he comes up short, isn't the government exercising control over his life?"

Yeah! And doncha think that controlling their citizens into providing for the safe upbringing of children is a legitimate function of government? I mean jeezey peezey... I'm not a statist but you're advocating that a man can impregnate anyone he wants and claim no responsibility for the outcomes? Welfare moms with 5 kids get a bad rap for a reason--we don't need to encourage the abandonment of children by their promiscuous fathers--or vice versa.

"They point out that, unlike women, men have no reliable contraception available to them, since the failure rate of condoms is substantial."

When used correctly: 98% effective. A lot like the pill. And men can choose to sleep only with women on reliable hormonal contraception, too.

"There is no reason why any child born out of wedlock to unwilling parents would be without a good home."

That's the CURRENT situation: if parents agree, the kids can be given up for adoption. You can't make a mom (or dad) choose between raising a kid without any help and giving up a wanted child! ATH, seriously: would you support the right of women to give a man's kid up for adoption without his consent? I thought not. So how does it matter if adoption is always around for the abandoned single mother?

"In addition, if women knew that they could not compel men to pay to support children they do not want, the number of unwed births (and the social problems associated with them) would be reduced."

Assumption! Let's turn that around: "since men know that women can compel them to pay for a child they do not want, the number of unwed births, and the social problems associated wit them, will be reduced." Sounds like a plan to me! The only way this "logic" works is if all these kids are being born to women who know better and men who don't--then the women can rationally plan not to have them. BOTH parents have equal responsibility not to make unwanted kids, yet we've seen that foreknowledge of the consequences is not a panacea.

"when child support is demanded from men who were as young as 12 when they were statutorily raped by older women; when a woman has concealed her pregnancy from her former partner (denying him the right to be a father) and then sued for back and current child support eight or ten years later."

Those scenarios would indeed be crazy. I'd like to hear more. I find it a bit of a stretch that a 12 year old would be held responsible for being raped.

"When women have taken the semen from a used condom and inserted it in themselves, including from condoms used only in oral sex"

Now how was that proven in court? Women can and do falsely accuse men of rape; men probably can and do falsely accuse women of fanciful schemes of getting pregnant. That's probably about as often as men use condoms for oral sex in the first place. Word of advice: if your woman is sooo crazy she might do something like this, don't let her get ahold of any of your semen. Eh?

Let me ask you a parallel question, ATH. Men who have sex with a woman may become fathers despite their best efforts (more often, lack of efforts). If they are to be free of responsibility for this outcome, what would you say to a guy who gets HIV from a known HIV+ partner despite the use of a condom? Would you say he is free of responsibility, as for the baby--that the HIV he caught is the fault of the partner? Or does he bear some responsibility for what happened to him, condom or no condom, effort or no effort--because he knew the risks involved and elected to have sexual intercourse nevertheless?

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