Northern Star Online: Fathers’ rights are unfairly discriminated against in family courts

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Marriage, Non-custodial fathers, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Restraining Orders on December 1, 2009 at 12:39 am
Last updated on 11/29/2009 at 10:50 p.m.

When President Clinton signed into law the Adoption and Safe Families Act on Nov. 19, 1997, he unbalanced the scales of justice and removed the blindfold of Themis.

A change of philosophy was at hand. No longer did courts seek family preservation; instead, prompted by an extreme minority of neglectful parents, the courts now choose to terminate the parental rights’ of parents that are allegedly harmful.

On Nov. 24, 2009, I interviewed Chicago’s fathers’ rights author, activist and attorney Jeffery Leving about my perception of Themis as a sexist.

“When I started in 79, non-custodial fathers were a class of human beings badly discriminated against, and no one cared. Every once in a while I change a law, reunite a father with his child, and it inspires me and gives me hope for future changes,” Leving said.

To clarify, a non-custodial father refers to a father without physical and/or legal custody of his child by a court order. Leving discussed how in today’s society, these men are still difficult to represent due to “discrimination of our legal system.”

A precedent of sexism seems almost too obvious within our family courts.

“There has been a long history of discrimination in our legal system. Non-custodial men anger people in the position’s power. A judge told me, ‘If a father is accused of abuse, even if he did not do it, he did something else.’ Another judge said, ‘Men are biological requirements, but social accidents,’” Leving said.

The father’s right’s attorney went on to express how society’s expectation of a man’s responsibility is hypocritical. Society wants a man to be responsible while they actually believe he isn’t.

“So when a father wants to step up to the plate, they immediately think it is to get out of paying child support, to hurt the mother or for some other inappropriate reason. Fathers seem to be targeted no matter what they do.”

So, it is obvious that men are not equal in divorce and parental right cases. Due to gender stereotypes in society, women tend to have it much easier. Although the mother physically carries and gives birth to the child, the paternal father’s consent should also be held with high respect as well.

“My opinion is that the father’s consent is necessary, and it is justified to prevent the hardships and trauma that are unavoidable when a father is notified only after the adoption. Not only are men kicked to the curb, but if they appeal it could take years for them to be reunited with their child, and that is traumatizing for everyone involved.”

Besides prejudice, money is a big issue. Leving explained that children are worth a lot of money and the adoption agency is a multi-billion dollar industry. Couples unable to have children of their own will pay any cost in order to get a child. This puts the many young fathers at a disadvantage, since they hardly have the money to compete with both the adoption agency and eager couples.

When it comes to family court rulings and rights of the paternal father, the situation is plainly unfair. Sure there are circumstances to each individual situation, but the entire system is in dire need of evaluation.

Northern Star Online: Fathers’ rights are unfairly discriminated against in family courts.

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