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Fathers-4-Justice Sault Ste. Marie: Ontario Children’s Aid and Misandry

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Brainwashed Children, child abuse, Child Custody, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, custody, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Feminism, Fit Parent, Foster CAre Abuse, Foster Care Scam, Freedom, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Marriage, Michael Murphy, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders, Single Parenting on January 25, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Ontario Children’s Aid and Misandry

Many men will attest to have seen a bias by CAS Protective Workers who are, it would appear, 95% female and some stridently feminist in their ideology. I can certainly speak to it, and can also say the local Algoma CAS and its sister organization Algoma Family Services, who deal with child mental health issues, have both shown me they care little about fathers. In one case a worker completely ignored my requests for help on the telephone and declared a conflict of interest so she could get out of providing service to me. I went over her head and finally got a supervisor to do her job.MJM

By Susan Longley


Please note concerns regarding  upcoming Ontario conference. (see OACAS web site).

A frightening trend in North American child welfare practice  is the growing alliance between child welfare services and those promoting anti violence against women (i.e. VAW sector).

This alliance has resulted in an increased denigration of male parents and general deterioration in efforts to address the best interests of children. The deeply rooted gender biased ideology of the latter sector remains deeply troubling and in complete  contradiction to male parents attempts to engage with child welfare services involved with their  children. This concern needs to be urgently addressed, partly to maintain service integrity but also to maintain an ethical stance towards families in general.

Male parents are frequently already marginalized from participating in services for their children. There is now an  increased propensity to isolate men even more so from their children’s lives. There remains a blatant contradiction between child welfare services who adopt the polemic and platitudes of the VAW sector. The child welfare mandate remains to enhance family life VAW sector is completely contradictory and opposed to such values.

It has become recently popular for child welfare services and VAW services to adopt certain kinds of inter agency protocols. These protocols are an embarrassment to child welfare practice in Canada. Blatantly unprofessional and academically dishonest theses protocols reflect misandric nonsense rather than legitimate protocol. These so called protocols must be abandoned and exposed for what they are. There are least two CASs in the Toronto region (see Peel CAS protocol with VAW sector)) have adopted such protocols. These agencies are allegedly family service agencies with no endorsement to promote such anti male rhetoric.

A review of these protocols disclose an incredulous gender bias which can only be described as sexism of the worst order. These professionally distasteful protocols are  written in total sympathy with VAW expectations with no accountability to the general public or their respective agency mandates. They contradict not only good social work practice but remain contradictory  to ethical guidelines established by their governing body  OASW.

These so-called protocols allege to address issues related to inter agency service provision and cooperation between public agencies but are in fact nothing more than an ideological treatise intended to alienate men further from appropriate child welfare practice.

These protocols refuse to acknowledges domestic violence in families other than that of men against women. Women remain the perpetual victim and men always the perpetrator. Any mention of domestic violence refuses to acknowledge  women ‘s violence against men. Programmes sponsored by child welfare services for children exposed to domestic violence ultimately define the perpetrator as male.

These protocols never hold women accountable for any acts of child abuse or inter personal violence. The identification of child abuse only mentioned in regard to men.  Any child welfare programmes delivered to “children exposed to family violence” refer to men only. Women are never identified as initiators of any domestic violence even when a so-called family agency is involved.

The suggestion that women may make false complaints regarding domestic violence in order to gain an upper hand on custody and access matters is not acknowledged. That women may fabricate or even lie is considered anathema.  The fact that women account for the majority of child abuse in not even mentioned. That VAW services and child welfare services advocate becoming increasingly involved in controversial custody and access matters remains extremely repugnant. The suggestion that child welfare services become more intrusive regarding access arrangements between children and their fathers is an outright abomination.

Please find a copy of a recent letter sent to Jeanette Lewis, Director of  the provincial OACAS (see web site) outlining my concerns regarding an anticipated conference involving Provincial Child Welfare Services and Violence Against Women Services. The purported agenda is to build understanding and cooperation between the two sectors. My cynical view, as previously suggested, indicates an alternate agenda. The VAW sector is given a further opportunity to impose a particular ideological gender politic on child welfare services.

“I notice with trepidation an anticipated 2010 Toronto conference co sponsored by Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies , The Ontario Women’s Directorate and various Violence Against Women programmes. The theme of the conference being the “Intersection of Women Abuse and Child Welfare Services.”

I was immediately troubled by the tone and wording of the conference details included in the call for papers especially given the propensity for child welfare services in Ontario and in general North America, to adopt a value preference embracing the practice of a certain feminist political and ideological agenda. A social work practice that has increasingly marginalized services to men and boys and a priori assumptions regarding male perpetrators and female victims.

I have outlined a few  of my concerns.
As many researchers have pointed out gender feminist theory has its limitations and family service agencies in particular must always be ethically accountable in providing services to both men and women especially where “best interests” of children are involved. One can already anticipate the usual presenters invited to provide discourse at such matters. It would be extremely naive to expect genuine debate or rational presentation between the sectors involved.  I will assume the usual feminist rhetoric and platitudes will rule the day.

Some academic  integrity needs to be maintained  and that the conference must reject any ideological and gender biased, misandric unbalanced research which has tended to place a certain anti male spin on issues related to woman abuse, child custody and other such politically charged issues.

There has been a long term feminist advocacy in this province (highlighted in proposals of the provincial domestic violence death review  panel and its recommendations ) to have child welfare services acquiesce to the values and political ideology of the violence against women sector.

This is viewed by many as a regressive and extremely ill advised road to go down. It is appears regressive for child welfare services in general, especially since their services have already become suspect for aligning themselves with principles that reject a family orientation and men in particular. Any child welfare services must be dispensed with fairness and remain gender neutral in practice.

I am concerned that any dialogue between CAS and VAW sectors becomes a mere “smoke screen” for advocating CAS become more feminized in their social work practice at the expense of academic and social work integrity. Not that the two sectors cannot collaborate on occasion and cooperate when appropriate in providing in shared client advocacy.


It seems vital and important to acknowledge the value differences between the two sectors and reject the propensity to gloss over the obvious political and ideological conflicts. It is imperative that these conflicts be clearly acknowledged and identified. This remains especially so in reference to mutual  protocols regarding advocacy and support of woman’s issues especially those issues related to custody access and the interaction between service providers regarding male clients and families in general .  It appears to me that the mandates of  the two sectors are severely different and are grounded in often opposed ideological principals. Just a few issues regarding the two sectors come to mind.

Definitions of Abuse and Victimization:

More stringent definition of abuse and victimization in general are required by both sectors. The CAS social workers remain accountable not only to the clients, the best interest of the child but also the court system especially when wards of the court are involved. What is considered abuse in the VAW sector cannot always be validated in the CAS sector.


CAS are obliged to involve male fathers and partners regardless if they have been identified as so called perpetrators or offenders.

Validation

The feminist principle of “validating” the “stories” of violence against women and children has always been troublesome for social workers in the CAS sector. Not to deny supportive advocacy for all clients (a basic social work value)  CAS social workers have always had to depend on not only “clients narratives” but also collaboration efforts to seek alternate sources of  information. The VAW sector do not require such gender neutral language of exploration and context for service. It appears that a higher standard of accountability and transparency is required.

Gender Bias / Male Clients and Partners:

Gender biased practice has been generally the order of the day. Given the long history of feminist advocacy many would argue that CAS have acquiesced far to willingly to certain  feminist theory at the expense of gender neutral practice. This must be recognised and the matter dealt with in an honest and forthright manner. Children’s best interest require addressing issues with both parents where possible.

CAS social workers when in court regarding children’s interests must prove that they have attempted involved both parents (and even other partners as defined as parents ) Fathers and or partners in a parenting role can never be ignored in CAS social work. The issues regarding custody and access assessments during divorce remains a highly contentious one, as do the issues related to counselling of couples where violence has occurred. Protocols regarding children’s access to both parents where domestic violence is disputed also remains highly contentious. These issues must be debated within the reality of both male and female experience.

Academic Research and Domestic Violence Findings:

The academic literature regarding domestic violence has and continues to be long dominated by a certain type of feminist ideology and both the  CAS and VAW sectors have been very much influenced in their practice by certain political views. This must change. The literature is much more divergent in findings and recommendations for practice than previously acknowledged. This is particularly so when discussing woman abuse and domestic violence. The divergent literature has always been available but to many practitioners who accepted certain dissident views were quickly rejected ostracized or threatened.

A modest appeal to Richard Gelles article January 2007 Family Court Review sums up these concerns regarding academic integrity with succinct clarity. Need I mention Don Dutton’s “Rethinking Domestic Violence.”


These are some of my concerns regarding the two sectors having authentic dialogue. This can only be achieved with honesty and respect. Some would also claim an appeal to rational discourse mixed with a modicum of intellectual integrity can also help.

Regards Susan

Fathers-4-Justice Sault Ste. Marie: Ontario Children’s Aid and Misandry.

Feminist Gulag: No Prosecution Necessary

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, custody, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Feminism, Fit Parent, Foster CAre Abuse, Foster Care Scam, Non-custodial fathers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders on January 9, 2010 at 4:50 pm
Feminist Gulag: No Prosecution Necessary | Print | E-mail
Written by Stephen Baskerville
Thursday, 07 January 2010 00:00
//

proseutionLiberals rightly criticize America’s high rate of incarceration. Claiming to be the freest country on Earth, the United States incarcerates a larger percentage of its population than Iran or Syria. Over two million people, or nearly one in 50 adults, excluding the elderly, are incarcerated, the highest proportion in the world. Some seven million Americans, or 3.2 percent, are under penal supervision.

Many are likely to be innocent. In The Tyranny of Good Intentions (2000), Paul Craig Roberts and Lawrence Stratton document how due process protections are routinely ignored, grand juries are neutered, frivolous prosecutions abound, and jury trials are increasingly rare. More recently, in Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent (2009), Harvey Silverglate shows how federal prosecutors are criminalizing more and more of the population. “Innocence projects” — projects of “a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing” — attest that people are railroaded into prison. As we will see, incarcerations without trial are now routine.

The U.S. prison population has risen dramatically in the last four decades. Ideologically, the rise is invariably attributed to “law-and-order” conservatives, who indeed seldom deny their own role (or indifference). In fact, few conservatives understand what they are defending.

Conservatives who rightly decry “judicial activism” in civil law are often blind to the connected perversion of criminal justice. While a politicized judiciary does free the guilty, it also criminalizes the -innocent.

But traditionalists upholding law and order were not an innovation of the 1970s. A newer and more militant force helped create the “carceral state.” In The Prison and the Gallows (2006), feminist scholar Marie Gottschalk points out that traditional conservatives were not the prime instigators, and blames “interest groups and social movements not usually associated with penal conservatism.” Yet she names only one: “the women’s movement.”

While America’s criminalization may have a number of contributing causes, it coincides precisely with the rise of organized feminism. “The women’s movement became a vanguard of conservative law-and-order politics,” Gottschalk writes. “Women’s organizations played a central role in the consolidation of this conservative victims’ rights movement that emerged in the 1970s.”

Gottschalk then twists her counterintuitive finding to condemn “conservatives” for the influx, portraying feminists as passive victims without responsibility. “Feminists prosecuting the war on rape and domestic violence” were somehow “captured and co-opted by the law-and-order agenda of politicians, state officials, and conservative groups.” Yet nothing indicates that feminists offered the slightest resistance to this political abduction.

Feminists, despite Gottschalk’s muted admission of guilt, did lead the charge toward wholesale incarceration. Feminist ideology has radicalized criminal justice and eroded centuries-old constitutional protections: New crimes have been created; old crimes have been redefined politically; the distinction between crime and private behavior has been erased; the presumption of innocence has been eliminated; false accusations go unpunished; patently innocent people are jailed without trial. “The new feminist jurisprudence hammers away at some of the most basic foundations of our criminal law system,” Michael Weiss and Cathy Young write in a Cato Institute paper. “Chief among them is the presumption that the accused is innocent until proven guilty.”

Feminists and other sexual radicals have even managed to influence the law to target conservative groups themselves. Racketeering statutes are marshaled to punish non-violent abortion demonstrators, and “hate crimes” laws attempt to silence critics of the homosexual agenda. Both are supported by “civil liberties” groups. And these are only the most notorious; there are others.

Feminists have been the most authoritarian pressure group throughout much of American history. “It is striking what an uncritical stance earlier women reformers took toward the state,” Gottschalk observes. “They have played central roles in … uncritically pushing for more enhanced policing powers.”

What Gottschalk is describing is feminism’s version of Stalinism: the process whereby radical movements commandeer the instruments of state repression as they trade ideological purity for power.

Path to Prison
The first politicized crime was rape. Suffragettes advocated castrating rapists. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, who opposed it for everyone else, wanted rapists executed.

Aggressive feminist lobbying in the legislatures and courts since the 1970s redefined rape to make it indistinguishable from consensual sex. Over time, a woman no longer had to prove that she was forced to have non-consensual sex, but a man had to prove that sex was consensual (or prove that no sex had, in fact, happened). Non-consent was gradually eliminated as a definition, and consent became simply a mitigating factor for the defense. By 1989, the Washington State Supreme Court openly shifted the burden of proving consent to the defendant when it argued that the removal of legislative language requiring non-consent for rape “evidences legislative intent to shift the burden of proof on the issue to the defense” and approved this blatantly unconstitutional presumption of guilt. The result, write Weiss and Young, was not “to jail more violent rapists — lack of consent is easy enough for the state to prove in those cases — but to make it easier to send someone to jail for failing to get an explicit nod of consent from an apparently willing partner before engaging in sex.”

Men accused of rape today enjoy few safeguards. “People can be charged with virtually no evidence,” says Boston former sex-crimes prosecutor Rikki Klieman. “If a female comes in and says she was sexually assaulted, then on her word alone, with nothing else — and I mean nothing else, no investigation — the police will go out and arrest someone.”

Almost daily we see men released after decades in prison because DNA testing proves they were wrongly convicted. Yet the rape industry is so powerful that proof of innocence is no protection. “A defendant who can absolutely prove his innocence … can nonetheless still be convicted, based solely on the word of the accuser,” write Stuart Taylor and K.C. Johnson in Until Proven Innocent. In North Carolina, simply “naming the person accused” along with the time and place “will support a verdict of guilty.” Crime laboratories are notorious for falsifying results to obtain convictions.

The feminist dogma that “women never lie” goes largely unchallenged. “Any honest veteran sex assault investigator will tell you that rape is one of the most falsely reported crimes,” says Craig Silverman, a former Colorado prosecutor known for zealous prosecutions. Purdue University sociologist Eugene Kanin found that “41% of the total disposed rape cases were officially declared false” during a nine-year period, “that is, by the complainant’s admission that no rape had occurred.” Kanin discovered three functions of false accusations: “providing an alibi, seeking revenge, and obtaining sympathy and attention.” The Center for Military Readiness (CMR) adds that “false rape accusations also have been filed to extort money from celebrities, to gain sole custody of children in divorce cases, and even to escape military deployments to war zones.”

In the infamous Duke University lacrosse case, prosecutor Michael Nifong suppressed exculpating evidence and prosecuted men he knew to be innocent, according to Taylor and Johnson. Nifong himself was eventually disbarred, but he had willing accomplices among assistant prosecutors, police, crime lab technicians, judges, the bar, and the media. “Innocent men are arrested and even imprisoned as a result of bogus claims,” writes Linda Fairstein, former head of the sex-crimes unit for the Manhattan District Attorney, who estimates that half of all reports are unfounded.

Innocence projects are almost wholly occupied with rape cases (though they try to disguise this fact). Yet no systematic investigation has been undertaken by the media or civil libertarians into why so many innocent citizens are so easily incarcerated on fabricated allegations. The exoneration of the Duke students on obviously trumped-up charges triggered few investigations — and no official ones — to determine how widespread such rigged justice is against those unable to garner media attention.

The world of rape accusations displays features similar to other feminist gender crimes: media invective against the accused, government-paid “victim advocates” to secure convictions, intimidation of anyone who defends the accused. “Nobody dependent on the mainstream media for information about rape would have any idea how frequent false claims are,” write Taylor and Johnson. “Most journalists simply ignore evidence contradicting the feminist line.” What they observe of rape characterizes feminist justice generally: “calling a rape complainant ‘the victim’ — with no ‘alleged’.” “Unnamed complainants are labeled ‘victims’ even before legal proceedings determine that a crime has been committed,” according to CMR.

Rape hysteria, false accusations, and distorted scholarship are rampant on university campuses, which ostensibly exist to pursue truth. “If a woman did falsely accuse a man of rape,” opines one “women’s studies” graduate, “she may have had reasons to. Maybe she wasn’t raped, but he clearly violated her in some way.” This mentality pervades feminist jurisprudence, precluding innocence by obliterating the distinction between crime and hurt feelings. A Vassar College assistant dean believes false accusations foster men’s education: “I think it ideally initiates a process of self-exploration.… ‘If I didn’t violate her, could I have?’”

Conservative critics of the Duke fiasco avoided feminism’s role but instead emphasized race — a minor feature of the case but a safer one to criticize. Little evidence indicates that white people are being systematically incarcerated on fabricated accusations of non-existent crimes against blacks. This is precisely what is happening to men, both white and black, accused of rape and other “gender” crimes that feminists have turned into a political agenda.

The Kobe Bryant case demonstrates that a black man accused by a white woman is also vulnerable. Historically, this was the more common pattern. Our race-conscious society is conditioned to remember lynching as a racial atrocity, forgetting that the lynched were usually black men accused by white women. Feminist scholars spin this as “the dominant white male ideology behind lynching … that white womanhood was in need of protection against black men,” suggesting fantastically that white “patriarchy” used rape accusations to break up a progressive political romance developing between black men and white women. With false rape accusations, the races have changed, but the sexes have remained constant.

Violent Lies
“Domestic violence” is an even more purely political crime. “The battered-women’s movement turned out to be even more vulnerable to being co-opted by the state and conservative penal forces,” writes Gottschalk, again with contortion. Domestic violence groups are uniformly feminist, not “conservative,” though here too conservatives have enabled feminists to exchange principles for power.

Like rape, domestic “violence” is defined so loosely that it need not be violent. The U.S. Justice Department definition includes “extreme jealousy and possessiveness” and “name calling and constant criticizing.” For such “crimes” men are jailed with no trial. In fact, the very category of “domestic” violence was developed largely to circumvent due process requirements of conventional assault statutes. A study published in Criminology and Public Policy found that no one accused of domestic violence could be found innocent, since every arrestee received punishment.

Here, too, false accusations are rewarded. “Women lie every day,” attests Ottawa Judge Dianne Nicholas. “Every day women in court say, ‘I made it up. I’m lying. It didn’t happen’ — and they’re not charged.” Amazingly, bar associations sponsor seminars instructing women how to fabricate accusations. Thomas Kiernan, writing in the New Jersey Law Journal, expressed his astonishment at “the number of women attending the seminars who smugly — indeed boastfully — announced that they had already sworn out false or grossly exaggerated domestic violence complaints against their hapless husbands, and that the device worked!” He added, “The lawyer-lecturers invariably congratulated the self-confessed miscreants.”

Domestic violence has become “a backwater of tautological pseudo-theory,” write Donald Dutton and Kenneth Corvo in Aggression and Violent Behavior. “No other area of established social welfare, criminal justice, public health, or behavioral intervention has such weak evidence in support of mandated practice.” Scholars and practitioners have repeatedly documented how “allegations of abuse are now used for tactical advantage” in custody cases and “become part of the gamesmanship of divorce.” Domestic abuse has become “an area of law mired in intellectual dishonesty and injustice,” according to the Rutgers Law Review.

Restraining orders removing men from their homes and children are summarily issued without any evidence. Due process protections are so routinely ignored that, the New Jersey Law Journal reports, one judge told his colleagues, “Your job is not to become concerned about the constitutional rights of the man that you’re violating.” Attorney David Heleniak calls New Jersey’s statute “a due process fiasco” in the Rutgers Law Review. New Jersey court literature openly acknowledges that due process is ignored because it “perpetuates the cycle of power and control whereby the [alleged?] perpetrator remains the one with the power and the [alleged?] victim remains powerless.” Omitting “alleged” is standard even in statutes, where, the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly reports, “the mere allegation of domestic abuse … may shift the burden of proof to the defendant.”

Special “integrated domestic violence courts” presume guilt and then, says New York’s openly feminist chief judge, “make batterers and abusers take responsibility for their actions.” They can seize property, including homes, without the accused being convicted or even formally charged or present to defend himself. Lawyer Walter Fox describes these courts as “pre-fascist”: “Domestic violence courts … are designed to get around the protections of the criminal code. The burden of proof is reduced or removed, and there’s no presumption of innocence.”

Forced confessions are widespread. Pennsylvania men are incarcerated unless they sign forms stating, “I have physically and emotionally battered my partner.” The man must then describe the violence, even if he insists he committed none. “I am responsible for the violence I used,” the forms declare. “My behavior was not provoked.”

Child-support Chokehold
Equally feminist is the child-support machinery, whereby millions have their family finances plundered and their lives placed under penal supervision without having committed any legal infraction. Once they have nothing left to loot, they too are incarcerated without trial.

Contrary to government propaganda (and Common Law tradition), child support today has little to do with fathers abandoning their children, deserting their marriages, or even agreeing to a divorce. It is automatically assessed on all non-custodial parents, even those involuntarily divorced without grounds (“no-fault”). It is an entitlement for all divorcing mothers, regardless of their actions, and coerced from fathers, regardless of their fidelity. The “deadbeat dad” is far less likely to be a man who abandoned the offspring he callously sired than to be a loving father who has been, as attorney Jed Abraham writes in From Courtship to Courtroom, “forced to finance the filching of his own children.”

Federalized enforcement was rationalized to reimburse taxpayers for welfare. Under feminist pressure, taxpayers instead subsidize middle-class divorce, through federal payments to states based on the amount of child support they collect. By profiting off child support at federal taxpayer expense, state governments have a financial incentive to encourage as many single-mother homes as possible. They, in turn, encourage divorce with a guaranteed, tax-free windfall to any divorcing mother.

While child support (like divorce itself) is awarded ostensibly without reference to “fault,” nonpayment brings swift and severe punishments. “The advocates of ever-more-aggressive measures for collecting child support,” writes Bryce Christensen of Southern Utah University, “have moved us a dangerous step closer to a police state.” Abraham calls the machinery “Orwellian”: “The government commands … a veritable gulag, complete with sophisticated surveillance and compliance capabilities such as computer-based tracing, license revocation, asset confiscation, and incarceration.”

Here, too, “the burden of proof may be shifted to the defendant,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Like Kafka’s Joseph K., the “defendant” may not even know the charge against him, “if the court does not explicitly clarify the charge facing the [allegedly?] delinquent parent,” says NCSL. Further, “not all child support contempt proceedings classified as criminal are entitled to a jury trial,” and “even indigent obligors are not necessarily entitled to a lawyer.” Thus defendants must prove their innocence against unspecified accusations, without counsel, and without a jury.

Assembly-line hearings can last 30 seconds to two minutes, during which parents are sentenced to months or years in prison. Many receive no hearing but are accused in an “expedited judicial process” before a black-robed lawyer known as a “judge surrogate.” Because these officials require no legislative confirmation, they are not accountable to citizens or their representatives. Unlike true judges, they may lobby to create the same laws they adjudicate, violating the separation of powers. Often they are political activists in robes. One surrogate judge, reports the Telegraph of Hudson, New Hampshire, simultaneously worked “as a radical feminist lobbying on proposed legislation” dealing with child support.

Though governments sensationalize “roundups” of alleged “deadbeat dads,” who are jailed for months and even years without trial, no government information whatever is available on incarcerations. The Bureau of Justice Statistics is utterly silent on child-support incarcerations. Rebecca May of the Center for Family Policy and Practice found “ample testimony by low-income non-custodial parents of spending time in jail for the nonpayment of child support.” Yet she could find no documentation of their incarceration. Government literature “yields so little information on it that one might be led to believe that arrests were used rarely if at all. While May personally witnessed fathers sentenced in St. Louis, “We could find no explicit documentation of arrests in St. Louis.” In Illinois, “We observed courtrooms in which fathers appeared before the judge who were serving jail sentences for nonpayment, but little information was available on arrests in Illinois.”

We know the arrests are extensive. To relieve jail overcrowding in Georgia, a sheriff and judge proposed creating detention camps specifically for “deadbeat dads.” The Pittsburgh City Planning Commission has considered a proposal “to convert a former chemical processing plant … into a detention center” for “deadbeat dads.”

Rendered permanently in debt by incarceration, fathers are farmed out to trash companies and similar concerns, where they work 14-16 hour days with their earnings confiscated.

More Malicious Mayhem
Other incarcerations are also attributable to feminism. The vast preponderance of actual violent crime and substance abuse proceeds from single-parent homes and fatherless children more than any other factor, far surpassing race and poverty. The explosion of single parenthood is usually and resignedly blamed on paternal abandonment, with the only remedy being ever-more draconian but ineffective child-support “crackdowns.” Yet no evidence indicates that the proliferation of single-parent homes results from absconding fathers. If instead we accept that single motherhood is precisely what feminists say it is — the deliberate choice of their sexual revolution — it is then apparent that sexual liberation lies behind not only these newfangled sexual crimes, but also the larger trend of actual crime and incarceration. Feminism is driving both the criminalization of the innocent and the criminality of the guilty.

We will continue to fight a losing battle against crime, incarceration, and expansive government power until we confront the sexual ideology that is driving not only family breakdown and the ensuing social anomie, but the criminalization of the male population. Ever-more-repressive penal measures will only further erode freedom. Under a leftist regime, conservatives must rethink their approach to crime and punishment and their unwitting collusion with America’s homegrown Stalinists.

Stephen Baskerville is associate professor of government at Patrick Henry College and author of Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family.

Feminist Gulag: No Prosecution Necessary.

Does DSM-IV Have Equivalents for the Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) Diagnosis?

In adoption abuse, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, child trafficking, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, judicial corruption, MMPI, MMPI 2, mothers rights, Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy, National Parents Day, Obama, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Protective Parents, state crimes on November 7, 2009 at 6:30 pm

Does DSM-IV Have Equivalents for the Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) Diagnosis?

Richard A. Gardner. M.D.
Department of Child Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons
Columbia University, New York, New York, USA

Child custody evaluators commonly find themselves confronted with resistance when they attempt to use the term parental alienation syndrome (PAS) in courts of law. Although convinced that the patient being evaluated suffers with the disorder, they often find that the attorneys who represent alienated parents, although agreeing with the diagnosis, will discourage use of the term in the evaluators’ reports and testimony. Most often, they will request that the evaluator merely use the term parental alienation (PA). On occasion they will ask whether other DSM-IV diagnoses may be applicable. The purpose of this article is to elucidate the reasons for the reluctance to use the PAS diagnosis and the applicability of PA as well as current DSM-IV substitute diagnoses.

Mental health professionals, family law attorneys, and judges are generally in agreement that in recent years we have seen a disorder in which one parent alienates the child against the other parent. This problem is especially common in the context of child-custody disputes where such programming enables the indoctrinating parent to gain leverage in the court of law. There is significant controversy, however, regarding the term to use for this phenomenon. In 1985 I introduced the term parental alienation syndrome to describe this phenomenon (Gardner, 1985a).

The Parental Alienation Syndrome

In association with this burgeoning of child-custody litigation, we have witnessed a dramatic increase in the frequency of a disorder rarely seen previously, a disorder that I refer to as the parental alienation syndrome (PAS). In this disorder we see not only programming (“brainwashing”) of the child by one parent to denigrate the other parent, but self-created contributions by the child in support of the alienating parent’s campaign of denigration against the alienated parent. Because of the child’s contribution I did not consider the terms brainwashing, programming, or other equivalent words to be sufficient. Furthermore, I observed a cluster of symptoms that typically appear together, a cluster that warranted the designation syndrome. Accordingly, I introduced the term parental alienation syndrome to encompass the combination of these two contributing factors that contributed to the development of the syndrome (Gardner, 1985a). In accordance with this use of the term I suggest this definition of the parental alienation syndrome:

The parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a childhood disorder that arises almost exclusively in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the target parent. When true parental abuse and/or neglect is present, the child’s animosity may be justified and so the parental alienation syndrome explanation for the child’s hostility is not applicable.

It is important to note that indoctrinating a PAS into a child is a form of abuse—emotional abuse—because it can reasonably result in progressive attenuation of the psychological bond between the child and a loving parent. In many cases it can result in total destruction of that bond, with lifelong alienation. In some cases, then, it may be even worse than other forms of abuse, e.g., physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. A parent who demonstrates such reprehensible behavior has a serious parenting defect, their professions of exemplary parenting notwithstanding. Typically, they are so intent on destroying the bond between the child and the alienated parent that they blind themselves to the formidable psychological consequences on the child of their PAS indoctrinations, both at the time of the indoctrinations and in the future.

Most evaluators, family law attorneys, and judges recognize that such programming and child alienation is common in the context of child-custody disputes. They agree, also, that there are situations in which the child’s alienation is the result of parental programming. Some object to the use of the term syndrome and claim that it is not a syndrome, but that the term parental alienation (PA) should be used. The problem with the use of the term PA is that there are many reasons why a child might be alienated from parents, reasons having nothing to do with programming. A child might be alienated from a parent because of parental abuse of the child, e.g., physical, emotional, or sexual. A child might be alienated because of parental neglect. Children with conduct disorders are often alienated from their parents, and adolescents commonly go through phases of alienation. The PAS is well viewed as one subtype of parental alienation. Accordingly, substituting the term PA for PAS cannot but cause confusion.

Is the PAS a True Syndrome?

Some who prefer to use the term parental alienation (PA) claim that the PAS is not really a syndrome. This position is especially seen in courts of law in the context of child-custody disputes. A syndrome, by medical definition, is a cluster of symptoms, occurring together, that characterize a specific disease. The symptoms, although seemingly disparate, warrant being grouped together because of a common etiology or basic underlying cause. Furthermore, there is a consistency with regard to such a cluster in that most (if not all) of the symptoms appear together. The term syndrome is more specific than the related term disease. A disease is usually a more general term, because there can be many causes of a particular disease. For example, pneumonia is a disease, but there are many types of pneumonia—e.g., pneumococcal pneumonia and bronchopneumonia—each of which has more specific symptoms, and each of which could reasonably be considered a syndrome (although common usage may not utilize the term).

The syndrome has a purity because most (if not all) of the symptoms in the cluster predictably manifest themselves together as a group. Often, the symptoms appear to be unrelated, but they actually are because they usually have a common etiology. An example would be Down’s Syndrome, which includes a host of seemingly disparate symptoms that do not appear to have a common link. These include mental retardation, Mongoloid faces, drooping lips, slanting eyes, short fifth finger, and atypical creases in the palms of the hands. Down’s Syndrome patients often look very much alike and most typically exhibit all these symptoms. The common etiology of these disparate symptoms relates to a specific chromosomal abnormality. It is this genetic factor that is responsible for linking together these seemingly disparate symptoms. There is then a primary, basic cause of Down’s Syndrome: a genetic abnormality.

Similarly, the PAS is characterized by a cluster of symptoms that usually appear together in the child, especially in the moderate and severe types. These include:

     

  1. A campaign of denigration
  2. Weak, absurd, or frivolous rationalizations for the deprecation
  3. Lack of ambivalence
  4. The “independent-thinker” phenomenon
  5. Reflexive support of the alienating parent in the parental conflict
  6. Absence of guilt over cruelty to and/or exploitation of the alienated parent
  7. The presence of borrowed scenarios
  8. Spread of the animosity to the friends and/or extended family of the alienated parent
  9.  

Typically, children who suffer with PAS will exhibit most (if not all) of these symptoms. However, in the mild cases one might not see all eight symptoms. When mild cases progress to moderate or severe, it is highly likely that most (if not all) of the symptoms will be present. This consistency results in PAS children resembling one another. It is because of these considerations that the PAS is a relatively “pure” diagnosis that can easily be made. Because of this purity, the PAS lends itself well to research studies because the population to be studied can usually be easily identified. Furthermore, I am confident that this purity will be verified by future interrater reliability studies. In contrast, children subsumed under the rubric PA are not likely to lend themselves well to research studies because of the wide variety of disorders to which it can refer, e.g., physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and defective parenting. As is true of other syndromes, there is in the PAS a specific underlying cause: programming by an alienating parent in conjunction with additional contributions by the programmed child. It is for these reasons that PAS is indeed a syndrome, and it is a syndrome by the best medical definition of the term.

In contrast, PA is not a syndrome and has no specific underlying cause. Nor do the proponents of the term PA claim that it is a syndrome. Actually, PA can be viewed as a group of syndromes, which share in common the phenomenon of the child’s alienation from a parent. To refer to PA as a group of syndromes would, by necessity, lead to the conclusion that the PAS is one of the syndromes subsumed under the PA rubric and would thereby weaken the argument of those who claim that PAS is not a syndrome.

The PAS and DSM-IV

There are some, especially adversaries in child-custody disputes, who claim that there is no such entity as the PAS. This position is especially likely to be taken by legal and mental health professionals who are supporting the position of someone who is clearly a PAS programmer. The main argument given to justify this position is that the PAS does not appear in DSM-IV. To say that PAS does not exist because it is not listed in DSM-IV is like saying in 1980 that AIDS (Autoimmune Deficiency Syndrome) did not exist because it was not then listed in standard diagnostic medical textbooks. DSM-IV was published in 1994. From 1991 to 1993, when DSM committees were meeting to consider the inclusion of additional disorders, there were too few articles in the literature to warrant submission of the PAS for consideration. That is no longer the case. It is my understanding that committees will begin to meet for the next edition of the DSM (probably to be called DSM-V) in 2002 or 2003. Considering the fact that there are now at least 133 articles in peer-review journals on the PAS, it is highly likely that by that time there will be even more articles. (A list of peer-reviewed PAS articles is to be found on my website, www.rgardner.com/refs, a list that is continually being updated.)

It is important to note that DSM-IV does not frivolously accept every new proposal. Their requirements are very stringent with regard to the inclusion of newly described clinical entities. The committees require many years of research and numerous publications in peer-review scientific journals before considering the inclusion of a disorder, and justifiably so. Gille de La Tourette first described his syndrome in 1885. It was not until 1980, 95 years later, that the disorder found its way into the DSM. It is important to note that at that point, Tourette’s Syndrome became Tourette’s Disorder. Asperger first described his syndrome in 1957. It was not until 1994, 37 years later, that it was accepted into DSM-IV and Asperger’s Syndrome became Asperger’s Disorder.

DSM-IV states specifically that all disorders contained in the volume are “syndromes or patterns” (p. xxi), and they would not be there if they were not syndromes (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). Once accepted, the name syndrome is changed to disorder. However, this is not automatically the pattern for nonpsychiatric disorders. Often the term syndrome becomes locked into the name and becomes so well known that changing the word syndrome to disorder would seem awkward. For example, Down’s syndrome, although well recognized, has never become Down’s disorder. Similarly, AIDS (Autoimmune Deficiency Syndrome) is a well-recognized disease but still retains the syndrome term.

One of the most important (if not the most important) determinants as to whether a newly described disorder will be accepted into the DSM is the quantity and quality of research articles on the clinical entity, especially articles that have been published in peer-review journals. The committees are particularly interested in interrater reliability studies that will validate the relative “purity” of the disease entity being described. PAS lends itself well to such studies; PA does not. One of the first steps one must take when setting up a scientific study is to define and circumscribe the group(s) being studied. PAS lends itself well to such circumscription. PA is so diffuse and all-encompassing that no competent researcher would consider such a group to be a viable object of study. Whether one is going to study etiology, symptomatic manifestations, pathogenesis, treatment modalities, treatment efficacy, or conduct follow-up studies, one is more likely to obtain meaningful results if one starts with a discrete group (such as PAS) than if one starts with an amorphous group (such as PA). One of the major criticisms directed against many research projects is that the authors’ study group was not “pure” enough and/or well-selected enough to warrant the professed conclusions. Studies of PAS children are far less likely to justify this criticism than studies of PA children.

Whereas the PAS may ultimately be recognized in DSM-V, it is extremely unlikely that DSM committees will consider an entity referred to as parental alienation. It is too vague a term and covers such a wide variety of clinical phenomena that they could not justifiably be clumped together to warrant inclusion in DSM as a specific disorder. Because listing in the DSM ensures admissibility in courts of law, those who use the term PA instead of PAS are lessening the likelihood that PAS will be listed in DSM-V. The result will be that many PAS families will be deprived of the proper recognition they deserve in courts of law, which often depend heavily on the DSM.

Recognition of the PAS in Courts of Law

Some who hesitate to use the term PAS claim that it has not been accepted in courts of law. This is not so. Although there are certainly judges who have not recognized the PAS, there is no question that courts of law with increasing rapidity are recognizing the disorder. My website (www.rgardner.com/refs) currently cites 66 cases in which the PAS has been recognized. By the time this article is published, the number of citations will certainly be greater. Furthermore, I am certain that there are other citations that have not been brought to my attention.

It is important to note that on January 30, 2001, after a two-day hearing devoted to whether the PAS satisfied Frye Test criteria for admissibility in a court of law, a Tampa, Florida court ruled that the PAS had gained enough acceptance in the scientific community to be admissible in a court of law (Kilgore v. Boyd, 2001). This ruling was subsequently affirmed by the District Court of Appeals (February 6, 2001). In the course of my testimony, I brought to the court’s attention the more than 100 peer-reviewed articles (there are 133 at the time of this writing) by approximately 150 other authors and over 40 court rulings (there are 66 at the time of this writing) in which the PAS had been recognized. These lists of the PAS peer-reviewed articles and legal citations are frequently updated on my website (www.rgardner.com). I am certain that these publications played an important role in the judge’s decision. This case will clearly serve as a precedent and facilitate the admission of the PAS in other cases—not only in Florida, but elsewhere.

Whereas there are some courts of law that have not recognized PAS, there are far fewer courts that have not recognized PA. This is one of the important arguments given by those who prefer the term PA. They do not risk an opposing attorney claiming that PA does not exist or that courts of law have not recognized it. There are some evaluators who recognize that children are indeed suffering with a PAS, but studiously avoid using the term in their reports and courtroom, because they fear that their testimony will not be admissible. Accordingly, they use PA, which is much safer, because they are protected from the criticisms so commonly directed at those who use PAS. Later in this article I will detail the reasons why I consider this position injudicious.

Many of those who espouse PA claim not to be concerned with the fact that their more general construct will be less useful in courts of law. Their primary interest, they profess, is the expansion of knowledge about children’s alienation from parents. Considering the fact that the PAS is primarily (if not exclusively) a product of the adversary system, and considering the fact that PAS symptoms are directly proportionate to the intensity of the parental litigation, and considering the fact that the court that has more power than the therapist to alleviate and even cure the disorder, PA proponents who claim no concern for the long-term legal implications of their position are injudicious and, I suspect, their claims of unconcern are specious.

Sources of the Controversy Over the Parental Alienation Syndrome

There are some who claim that because there is such controversy swirling around the PAS, there must be something specious about the existence of the disorder. Those who discount the PAS entirely because it is “controversial” sidestep the real issues, namely, what specifically has engendered the controversy, and, more importantly, is the PAS formulation reasonable and valid? The fact that something is controversial does not invalidate it. But why do we have such controversy over the PAS? With regard to whether PAS exists, we generally do not see such controversy regarding most other clinical entities in psychiatry. Examiners may have different opinions regarding the etiology and treatment of a particular psychiatric disorder, but there is usually some consensus about its existence. And this should especially be the case for a relatively “pure” disorder such as the PAS, a disorder that is easily diagnosable because of the similarity of the children’s symptoms when one compares one family with another. Why, then, should there be such controversy over whether or not PAS exists?

The PAS and the Adversary System

The PAS is very much a product of the adversary system (Gardner, 1985a, 1986, 1987a, 1987b, 1989, 1992, 1998). Furthermore, a court of law is generally the place where clients attempt to resolve the PAS. Most newly developed scientific principles inevitably become controversial when they are dealt with in the courtroom. It behooves the attorneys — when working within the adversary system — to take an adversarial stand and create controversy where it may not exist. In that setting, it behooves one side to take just the opposite position from the other if one is to prevail. Furthermore, it behooves each attorney to attempt to discredit the experts of the opposing counsel. A good example of this phenomenon is the way in which DNA testing was dealt with in the OJ Simpson trial. DNA testing is one of the most scientifically valid procedures for identifying perpetrators. Yet the jury saw fit to question the validity of such evidence, and DNA became, for that trial, controversial. I strongly suspect that those jury members who concluded that DNA evidence was not scientifically valid for OJ Simpson would have vehemently fought for its admissibility if they themselves were being tried for a crime, which they did not commit. I am certain, as well, that any man in that jury who found himself falsely accused of paternity would be quite eager to accept DNA proof of his innocence.

The Denial of the PAS is the Primary Defense of the Alienator

A parent accused of inducing a PAS in a child is likely to engage the services of a lawyer who may invoke the argument that there is no such thing as a PAS. The reasoning goes like this: “If there is no such thing as the PAS, then there is no programmer, and therefore my client cannot be accused of brainwashing the children.” This is an extremely important point, and I cannot emphasize it strongly enough. It is a central element in the controversy over the PAS, a controversy that has been played out in courtrooms not only in the United States but in various other countries as well. And if the allegedly dubious lawyer can demonstrate that the PAS is not listed in DSM-IV, then the position is considered “proven” (I say “allegedly” because the lawyer may well recognize the PAS but is only serving his client by his deceitfulness). The only thing this proves is that in 1994 DSM-IV did not list the PAS. The lawyers hope, however, that the judge will be taken in by this specious argument and will then conclude that if there is no PAS, there is no programming, and so the client is thereby exonerated. Substituting the term PA circumvents this problem. No alienator is identified, the sources are vaguer, and the causes could lie with the mother, the father, or both. The drawback here is that the evaluator may not provide the court with proper information about the cause of the children’s alienation. It lessens the likelihood, then, that the court will have the proper data with which to make its recommendations.

Which Term to Use in the Courtroom: PA or PAS?

Many examiners, then, even those who recognize the existence of the PAS, may consciously and deliberately choose to use the term parental alienation in the courtroom. Their argument may go along these lines: “I fully recognize that there is such a disease as the PAS. I have seen many such cases and it is a widespread phenomenon. However, if I mention PAS in my report, I expose myself to criticism in the courtroom such as, ‘It doesn’t exist,’ ‘It’s not in DSM-IV’ etc. Therefore, I just use PA, and no one denies that.” I can recognize the attractiveness of this argument, but I have serious reservations about this way of dealing with the controversy—especially in a court of law.

Using PA is basically a terrible disservice to the PAS family because the cause of the children’s alienation is not properly identified. It is also a compromise in one’s obligation to the court, which is to provide accurate and useful information so that the court will be in the best position to make a proper ruling. Using PA is an abrogation of this responsibility; using PAS is in the service of fulfilling this obligation.

Furthermore, evaluators who use PA instead of PAS are losing sight of the fact that they are impeding the general acceptance of the term in the courtroom. This is a disservice to the legal system, because it deprives the legal network of the more specific PAS diagnosis that could be more helpful to courts for dealing with such families. Moreover, using the PA term is shortsighted because it lessens the likelihood that some future edition of DSM will recognize the subtype of PA that we call PAS. This not only has diagnostic implications, but even more importantly, therapeutic implications. The diagnoses included in the DSM serve as a foundation for treatment. The symptoms listed therein serve as guidelines for therapeutic interventions and goals. Insurance companies (who are always quick to look for reasons to deny coverage) strictly refrain from providing coverage for any disorder not listed in the DSM. Accordingly, PAS families cannot expect to be covered for treatment. I describe below additional diagnoses that are applicable to the PAS, diagnoses that justify requests for insurance coverage. Examiners in both the mental health and legal professions who genuinely recognize the PAS, but who refrain from using the term until it appears in DSM, are lessening the likelihood that it will ultimately be included, because widespread utilization is one of the criteria that DSM committees consider. Such restraint, therefore, is an abrogation of their responsibility to contribute to the enhancement of knowledge in their professions.

There is, however, a compromise. I use PAS in all those reports in which I consider the diagnosis justified. I also use the PAS term throughout my testimony. However, I sometimes make comments along these lines, both in my reports and in my testimony:

Although I have used the term PAS, the important questions for the court are: Are these children alienated? What is the cause of the alienation? and What can we then do about it? So if one wants to just use the term PA, one has learned something. But we haven’t really learned very much, because everyone involved in this case knows well that the children have been alienated. The question is what is the cause of the children’s alienation? In this case the alienation is caused by the mother’s (father’s) programming and something must be done about protecting the children from the programming. That is the central issue for this court in this case, and it is more important than whether one is going to call the disorder PA or PAS, even though I strongly prefer the PAS term for the reasons already given.

In addition, if the court does not wish to recognize the PAS diagnosis there are other DSM-IV diagnoses that are very much applicable in this case. For the alienating father (mother) the following diagnoses are warranted: (the examiner can select from the list provided in the next section of this article). For the PAS child the following DSM-IV diagnoses are warranted: (the examiner can select from the list provided in the next section of this article). With regard to the alienated parent, the mother (father), no DSM-IV diagnosis is warranted. (However, a DSM-IV diagnosis may be warranted, but generally it is not related to the PAS as the symptoms have not played a role in contributing to the disorder).

I wish to emphasize that I do not routinely include this compromise, because whenever I do so, I recognize that I am providing support for those who are injudiciously eschewing the term and compromising thereby their professional obligations to their clients and the court.

Warshak (1999, 2001), has also addressed the PA vs. PAS controversy. He emphasizes the point that espousers of both PA and PAS agree that in the severe cases the only hope for the victimized children is significant restriction of the programmer’s access to the children and, in many cases, custodial transfer—sometimes via a transitional site. Warshak concludes that the arguments for the utilization for PAS outweigh the arguments for the utilization of PA, although he has more sympathy for the PA position than do I. Elsewhere, I have also addressed myself to this issue (Gardner, 2002).

DSM-IV Diagnoses Related to the Parental Alienation Syndrome

Examiners writing reports for and testifying in courts of law can generally find diagnoses in DSM-IV that are immune to the argument, “It doesn’t exist because it’s not in DSM-IV.” These diagnoses are not identical to the PAS, but they have common elements that can justify their utilization. None of them, however, are identical to the PAS and cannot be used as substitutes for it. I present here those that are most applicable and potentially useful in courts of law.

Diagnoses Applicable to Both Alienating Parents and PAS Childrem

297.3 Shared Psychotic Disorder

     

  1. A delusion develops in an individual in the context of a close relationship with another person(s) who has an already-established delusion.
  2. The delusion is similar in content to that of the person who already has the established delusion.
  3.  

This DSM-IV diagnosis is warranted in some of the severe PAS cases in which the programmer is paranoid, and the child’s campaign of denigration incorporates the same paranoid ideation. In a sense, most of the moderate, and even some of the mild cases of PAS, are examples of the folie à deux phenomenon. However, one cannot justifiably consider the mild and moderate cases of PAS to warrant the label psychotic with the implication of complete break with reality. In severe cases we do see bona fide delusions of persecution that can justifiably be considered paranoid. Most often, the delusional system is circumscribed to the alienated parent. It is important to note that this single diagnosis can be applied to both the alienator and the alienated child.

V61.20 Parent-Child Relational Problem

This category should be used when the focus of clinical attention is a pattern of interaction between parent and child (e.g., impaired communication, overprotection, inadequate discipline) that is associated with clinically significant impairment in individual or family functioning or the development of clinically significant symptoms in parent or child.

This diagnosis generally applies to a dyad. Obviously, there are a wide variety of parent-child relational problems that have nothing to do with PAS. In fact, it is reasonable to state that parent-child relational problems probably began with the first families that existed. This diagnosis is an excellent example of the aforementioned principle that none of the DSM-IV diagnoses described here can be reasonably substituted for the PAS. Rather, they are best viewed as disorders that have some symptoms in common with the PAS and may therefore justify being listed as additional diagnoses.

In the PAS situation there is a pathological dyad between the alienating parent and the child and another pathological dyad between the alienated parent and the child. The pathological dyad between the alienated parent and the child is one in which the child is being programmed into a campaign of denigration against the previously loving parent. The child is being programmed to exhibit any and all of the primary symptomatic manifestations of the PAS. With regard to the relationship between the child and the alienated parent, the child exhibits inordinate hostility, denigration, and fear of the target parent to the point where that parent is viewed as noxious and loathsome. Examiners using this criterion do well to emphasize that two separate parent-child relational problems are manifested.

Diagnoses Applicable to Alienating Parents

297.71 Delusional Disorder

     

  1. Nonbizarre delusions (i.e., involving situations that occur in real life, such as being followed, poisoned, infected, loved at a distance, or deceived by spouse or lover, or having a disease) of at least 1 month’s duration.
  2.  

Of the various subtypes of delusional disorder, the one that is most applicable to the PAS:

Persecutory Type: delusions that the person (or someone to whom the person is close) is being malevolently treated in some way

This diagnosis is generally applicable to the PAS indoctrinator who may initially recognize that the complaints about the behavior of the alienated parent are conscious and deliberate fabrications. However, over time, the fabrications may become delusions, actually believed by the programming parent. And the same process may ultimately be applicable to the child. Specifically, at first the child may recognize that the professions of hatred are feigned and serve to ingratiate the child to the programmer. However, over time the child may come to actually believe what were originally conscious and deliberate fabrications. When that point is reached the delusional disorder diagnosis is applicable to the child. Generally, this diagnosis is applicable to relentless programmers who are obsessed with their hatred of the victim parent, by which time the child will have probably entered the severe level of PAS. It is to be noted that when the PAS is present, most often one observes a circumscribed delusional system, confined almost exclusively to the alienated parent. This diagnosis may also be applicable to the PAS child, especially the child who is in the severe category.

301.0 Paranoid Personality Disorder

     

  1. A pervasive distrust and suspiciousness of others such that their motives are interpreted as malevolent, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:
    1. suspects, without sufficient basis, that others are exploiting, harming, or deceiving him or her
    2. is preoccupied with unjustified doubts about the loyalty or trustworthiness of friends or associates
    3. is reluctant to confide in others because of unwarranted fear that the information will be used maliciously against him or her
    4. reads hidden demeaning or threatening meanings into benign remarks or events
    5. persistently bears grudges, i.e., is unforgiving of insults, injuries, or slights
    6. perceives attacks on his or her character or reputation that are not apparent to others and is quick to react angrily or to counterattack
    7. has recurrent suspicions, without justification, regarding fidelity of spouse or sexual partner
  2.  

PAS programmers who warrant this diagnosis would often satisfy these criteria before the marital separation. A detailed history from the victim parent as well as collaterals may be important because the programming parent is not likely to directly reveal such symptoms. They may, however, reveal them in the course of the evaluation, because they are such deep-seated traits, and are so deeply embedded in their personality structure, that they cannot be hidden. Most people involved in protracted child-custody litigation become “a little paranoid,” and this is often revealed by elevations on the paranoid scale of the MMPI. After all, there are indeed people who are speaking behind the patient’s back, are plotting against them, and are developing schemes and strategies with opposing lawyers. This reality results in an elevation of the paranoid scale in people who would not have manifested such elevations prior to the onset of the litigation. We see here how adversarial proceedings intensify psychopathology in general (Gardner, 1986), and in this case, paranoid psychopathology especially. The PAS child is less likely to warrant this diagnosis. When the severe level is reached PAS children may warrant the aforementioned Shared Psychotic Disorder diagnosis. On occasion, the diagnosis Schizophrenia, Paranoid Type (295.30) is warranted for the programming parent, but such patients generally exhibited other manifestations of schizophrenia, especially prior to the separation. It goes beyond the purposes of this paper to detail the marital symptoms of schizophrenia which should be investigated if the examiner has reason to believe that this diagnosis may be applicable.

It is important for the examiner to appreciate that there is a continuum from delusional disorder, to paranoid personality disorder, to paranoid schizophrenia. Furthermore, in the course of protracted litigation, a patient may move along the track from the milder to a more severe disorder on this continuum.

301.83 Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

     

  1. frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.
    Note:Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.
  2. a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation
  3. identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self
  4. impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating).
    Note Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.
  5. recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior
  6. affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g. intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)
  7. chronic feelings of emptiness
  8. inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)
  9. transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms
  10.  

Some alienators may exhibit some of these symptoms prior to the separation. However, as a result of the stresses of the separation, the symptoms may progress to the point where the diagnosis is applicable. Criterion (1) is likely to be exhibited soon after the separation because the marital dissolution is generally associated with real feelings of abandonment. Criterion (2) is often seen when there is a dramatic shift from idealization of the spouse to extreme devaluation. The campaign of denigration is the best example of this manifestation of BPD.

Criterion (4) may manifest itself by excessive spending, especially when such spending causes significant stress and grief to the alienated parent. Following the separation, alienating parents may satisfy Criterion (6) with affect instability, irritability, and intense episodic dysphoria. Although such reactions are common among most people involved in a divorce, especially when litigating the divorce, patients with BPD exhibit these symptoms to an even greater degree. Chronic feelings of emptiness (Criterion [7]) go beyond those that are generally felt by people following a separation. Criterion (8) is extremely common among PAS programmers. The tirades of anger against the alienated parent serve as a model for the child and contribute to the development of the campaign of denigration. The stress-related paranoia, an intensification of the usual suspiciousness exhibited by people involved in litigation, may reach the point that Criterion (9) is satisfied.

The examiner should note which of the symptoms are present and comment: “Five criteria need to be satisfied for the BPD diagnosis. Ms. X satisfies four. Although she does not qualify for the diagnosis at this point, she is at high risk for its development. Furthermore, when one lists diagnoses at the end of the report one might note the DSM-IV diagnosis and add in parenthesis “incipient.”

301.81 Narcissistic Personality Disorder

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

     

  1. has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements
  2. is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  3. believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
  4. requires excessive admiration
  5. has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  6. is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  7. lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
  8. is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
  9. shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
  10.  

My experience has been that most PAS indoctrinators do not satisfy enough criteria (five) to warrant this diagnosis. However, many do exhibit three or four of them, which is worthy of the examiner’s attention and should be noted in the report.

Criterion (5) is especially common in PAS indoctrinators. They act as if court orders have absolutely nothing to do with them, even though their names may be specifically spelled out in the ruling. Unfortunately, they often violate these orders with impunity because courts are typically lax with regard to implementing punitive measures for PAS contemnors. As mentioned in other publications of mine (Gardner, 1998; 2001), the failure of courts to take action against PAS programmers is one of the most common reasons why the symptoms become entrenched in the children.

Criterion (6) is often frequently satisfied by the programmer’s ongoing attempts to extract ever more money from the victim parent, but feels little need to allow access to the children. There is no sense of shame or guilt over this common form of exploitation. The programmer’s lack of empathy and sympathy for the victim parent is quite common and easily satisfies Criterion (7). The PAS, by definition, is a disorder in which a programmer tries to destroy the bond between the children and a good, loving parent. In order to accomplish the goal, the alienator must have a serious deficiency in the ability to empathize with the target parent. Criterion (9) is often seen in that PAS indoctrinators are often haughty and arrogant and this symptom goes along with their sense of entitlement. Again, if warranted, the diagnosis can be listed as “incipient.”

DSM-IV Diagnoses Applicable to PAS Children

312.8 Conduct Disorder

  1. A repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in which the basic rights of others or major age-appropriate societal norms or rules are violated, as manifested by the presence of three (or more) of the following criteria in the past 12 months, with at least one criterion present in the past 6 months:
  2.  

This diagnosis is often applicable to the PAS child, especially in situations when the conduct disturbances are the most salient manifestation. Under such circumstances, an examiner who is not familiar with the PAS may erroneously conclude that this is the only diagnosis. Such a conclusion necessitates selective inattention to the programming process, which is the hallmark of the PAS. Once again, we see here how a diagnosis, although in DSM-IV, cannot be used as a substitute for the PAS, but may be used as an additional diagnosis. I will not list here all 15 of the DSM-IV criteria, but only those that are most applicable to the PAS:

    Aggression to people and animals

     

  1. often bullies, threatens, or intimidates others
  2. often initiates physical fights
  3. has used a weapon that can cause serious physical harm to others (e.g., a bat, brick, broken bottle, knife, gun)
  4. has been physically cruel to animals
  5. has stolen while confronting a victim (e.g., mugging, purse snatching, extortion, armed robbery) Destruction of property
  6. has deliberately engaged in fire setting with the intention of causing serious damage
  7. has deliberately destroyed others’ property (other than by fire setting)Deceitfulness or theft
  8. often lies to obtain goods or favors or to avoid obligations (i.e., “cons” others)
  9. has stolen items of nontrivial value without confronting a victim (e.g., shoplifting, but without breaking and entering; forgery)Serious violations of rules
  10. has run away from home overnight at least twice while living in parental or parental surrogate home (or once without returning for a lengthy period
  11.  

As can be seen, most of the 15 criteria for the conduct disorder diagnosis can be satisfied by PAS children, especially those in the severe category. The target parent is very much scapegoated and victimized by PAS children. In severe cases they are screamed at, intimidated, and sometimes physically assaulted with objects such as bats, bottles, and knives. The child may perpetrate acts of sabotage in the home of the victim parent. Destruction of property in that person’s home is common and, on rare occasion, even fire setting. Deceitfulness is common, especially fabrications facilitated and supported by the alienator. Stealing things, such as legal documents and important records, and bringing them to the home of the alienator is common. Running away from the home of the target parent and returning to the home of the alienator is common, especially in moderate and severe cases.

309.21 Separation Anxiety Disorder

     

  1. Developmentally inappropriate and excessive anxiety concerning separation from home or from those to whom the individual is attached, as evidenced by three (or more) of the following:
  2.  

I reproduce here those of the eight criteria that are applicable to the PAS:

1) recurrent excessive distress when separation from home or major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated

4) persistent reluctance or refusal to go to school or elsewhere because of fear of separation

8) repeated complaints of physical symptoms (such as headaches, stomachaches, nausea, or vomiting) when separation from major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated

It is important for the reader to appreciate that the original diagnosis for separation anxiety disorder was school phobia. The term separation anxiety disorder is a relatively recent development emerging from the recognition that the child’s fear was less that of the school per se and much more related to the fear of separation from a parent, commonly an overprotective mother (Gardner, 1985b). DSM-IV recognizes this and doesn’t necessarily require the school to be the object of fear, but rather separation from the home, especially from someone with whom the child is pathologically attached.

It is important to note that the PAS child’s hatred of the victim parent has less to do with actual dislike of that parent and has much more to do with fear that if affection is displayed toward the target parent, the alienating parent will be angry at and rejecting of the child. At the prospect of going with the victim parent, the child may exhibit a wide variety of psychosomatic symptoms, all manifestations of the tension associated with the visit. The distress may be especially apparent when the alienating parent is at the site of the transfer. The child recognizes that expression of willingness or happiness to go off with the alienated parent might result in rejection by the alienator. The separation anxiety disorder diagnosis is most often applicable to the mild and moderate cases of PAS. In the severe cases, the anxiety element is less operative than the anger element.

When applying these criteria to the PAS child, one does well to substitute the PAS indoctrinating parent for the parent with whom the child is pathologically attached. At the same time one should substitute the alienated parent for the school or other place outside the child’s home. When one does this, one can see how most of the aforementioned criteria apply. When the child with a separation anxiety disorder is fearful of leaving the home to go to many destinations, the school is the destination the child most fears. It is there that the child feels imprisoned. In contrast, PAS children generally fear only the target parent and are not afraid to leave the programming parent and go elsewhere, such as to the homes of friends and relatives. In short, the PAS child’s fear is focused on the alienated parent. In contrast, the child with a separation anxiety disorder has fears that focus on school but which have spread to many other situations and destinations.

300.15 Dissociative Disorder
Not Otherwise Specified

This category is included for disorders in which the predominant feature is a dissociative symptom (i.e., a disruption in the usually integrated functions of consciousness, memory, identity, or perception of the environment) that does not meet the criteria for any specific Dissociative Disorder. Examples include:

     

  1. States of dissociation that occur in individuals who have been subjected to periods of prolonged and coercive persuasion (e.g., brainwashing, thought reform, or indoctrination while captive).
  2.  

Of the four categories of dissociative disorder (NOS), only Category 3 is applicable to the PAS. This criterion was designed for people who have been subjected to cult indoctrinations or for military prisoners subjected to brainwashing designed to convert their loyalty from their homeland to the enemy that has imprisoned them. It is very applicable to PAS children, especially those in the severe category. Such children have been programmed to convert their loyalty from a loving parent to the brainwashing parent exclusively. Cult victims and those subjected to prisoner indoctrinations often appear to be in a trance-like state in which they profess their indoctrinations in litany-like fashion. PAS children as well (especially those in the severe category) are often like robots or automatons in the way in which they profess the campaign of denigration in litany-like fashion. They seem to be in an altered state of consciousness when doing so.

Adjustment Disorders

The following subtypes of adjustment disorders are sometimes applicable to PAS children:

309.0 With Depressed Mood.

309.24 With Anxiety.

309.28 With Mixed Anxiety and Depressed Mood.

309.3 With Disturbance of Conduct.

309.4 With Mixed Disturbance of Emotions and Conduct

Each of these types of adjustment disorders may be applicable to the PAS child. The child is indeed adjusting to a situation in which one parent is trying to convince the youngster that a previously loving, dedicated, and loyal parent has really been noxious, loathsome, and dangerous. The programmed data does not seem to coincide with what the child has experienced. This produces confusion. The child fears that any expression of affection for the target parent will result in rejection by the alienator. Under such circumstances, the child may respond with anxiety, depression, and disturbances of conduct.

313.9 Disorder of Infancy, Childhood or Adolescence Not Otherwise Specified

This category is a residual category for disorders with onset in infancy, childhood, or adolescence that do not meet criteria for any specific order in the Classification.

This would be a “last resort” diagnosis for the PAS child, the child who, although suffering with a PAS, does not have symptoms that warrant other DSM-IV childhood diagnoses. However, if one still feels the need to use a DSM-IV diagnosis, especially if the report will be compromised without one, then this last-resort diagnosis can justifiably be utilized. However, it is so vague that it says absolutely nothing other than that the person who is suffering with this disorder is a child. I do not recommend its utilization because of its weakness and because it provides practically no new information to the court.

DSM-IV Diagnoses Applicable to Alienated Parents

In most PAS cases, a diagnosis is not warranted for the alienated parent. On occasion that parent does warrant a DSM-IV diagnosis, but its applicability usually antedated the separation and usually has not played a role in the PAS development or promulgation. As mentioned elsewhere (Gardner, 2001), the primary problem I have seen with alienated parents is their passivity. They are afraid to implement traditional disciplinary and punitive measures with their children, lest they alienate them even further. And they are afraid to criticize the alienator because of the risk that such criticism will be reported to the court and compromise even further their position in the child-custody litigation. Generally, their passivity is not so deep-seated that they would warrant DSM-IV diagnoses such as avoidant personality disorder (301.82) or dependent personality disorder (301.6), because such passivity does not extend into other areas of life and did not antedate the marital separation. One could argue that they have an adjustment disorder, but there is no DSM diagnosis called “adjustment disorder, with passivity.” Accordingly, I will often state for alienated parents, “No Axis 1 diagnosis.”

If, indeed, the alienated parent did suffer with a psychiatric disorder that contributed to the alienation, then this should be noted. Certainly, there are situations in which the alienated parent’s psychiatric disorder is so profound that it is the primary cause of the children’s alienation. In such cases, the PAS diagnosis is not warranted. Under such circumstances, this disorder should be described instead as the cause of the children’s alienation.

Final Comments About Alternative DSM-IV Diagnoses for the PAS

As mentioned, the primary reason for using these diagnoses is that the PAS, at this point, is not recognized in some courts of law. They cannot be used as substitute diagnoses for the PAS, but sometimes share in common some of the symptoms. Accordingly, they can be used as additional diagnoses. It is too early to expect widespread recognition because it was not feasible for the PAS to have been placed in the 1994 edition, so few were the publications on the disorder when the preparatory committees were meeting. This will certainly not be the case when the committees meet in the next few years for the preparation of DSM-V, which is scheduled for publication in 2010. None of the aforementioned substitute diagnoses are fully applicable to the PAS; however, as mentioned, each one has certain characteristics which overlap the PAS diagnosis. Because no combination of these alternative diagnoses can properly replace the PAS, they should be used in addition to rather than instead of the PAS. There is hardly a diagnosis in DSM-IV that does not share symptoms in common with other diagnoses. There is significant overlap and often fluidity in DSM diagnoses. None are “pure,” but some are purer than others, and the PAS is one of the purer ones.

At this point, examiners who conclude that PAS is an applicable diagnosis do well to list it in the appropriate place(s) in their reports (especially at the end). At the same time, they do well to list any DSM-IV diagnoses that are applicable for the alienator, the alienated child, and (if warranted) for the alienated parent. Accordingly, even if the court will not recognize the PAS diagnosis, it will have a more difficult time ignoring these alternative DSM diagnoses.

Conclusions

Controversies are likely when a new disorder is first described. This is predictable. The PAS, however, has probably generated more controversy than most new diagnostic contributions. The primary reason for this is that the PAS is very much a product of the adversary legal system that adjudicates child-custody disputes. Under such circumstances, it behooves opposing attorneys to discredit the contribution and to find every argument possible for obstructing its admission into courts of law. And this is what happened with the PAS. The purpose of this article has been to help evaluators involved in such disputes understand better the nature of the controversy and to deal with it in the context of the present legal situation. Like all compromises, the solution is not perfect. None of the additional diagnoses are identical to the PAS, but they do serve a purpose in a court of law in that they are established psychiatric diagnoses that are applicable to PAS alienators, PAS children, and (on occasion) the alienated parent. Ultimately, if PAS is admitted into DSM-V, the main argument for its inadmissibility in courts of law will no longer be applicable and the need for listing these additional diagnoses in courts of law will be reduced.

References

American Psychiatric Association (1994), Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition, Revised (DSM-IV). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.

Boyd v. Kilgore, 773 So. 2d 546 (Fla. 3d DCA 2000) (Prohibition Denied)

Kilgore v. Boyd, 13th Circuit Court, Hillsborough County, FL., Case No. 94-7573, 733 So. 2d 546 (Fla. 2d DCA 2000) Jan 30, 2001

Gardner, R. A. (1985a), Recent trends in divorce and custody litigation. The Academy Forum, 29(2):3-7.

_______ (1985b), Separation Anxiety Disorder: Psychodynamics and Psychotherapy. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

_______ (1986), Child Custody Litigation: A Guide for Parents and Mental Health Professionals. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

_______ (1987), The Parental Alienation Syndrome and the Differentiation Between Fabricated and Genuine Child Sex Abuse. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

_______ (1987), Child Custody. In Basic Handbook of Child Psychiatry, ed. J. Noshpitz, Vol. V, pp. 637-646. New York: Basic Books, Inc.

_______ (1989), Family Evaluation in Child Custody Mediation, Arbitration, and Litigation. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

_______ (1992), The Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Guide for Mental Health and Legal Professionals. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

_______ (1998), The Parental Alienation Syndrome, Second Edition. Cresskill, New Jersey: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

________ (2001), Therapeutic Interventions for Children with Parental Alienation Syndrome. Cresskill, New Jersey: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

_______ (2002), Parental alienation syndrome vs. parental alienation: Which diagnosis should be used in child-custody litigation? The American Journal of Family Therapy, 30(2):101-123.

rgardner.com, Articles in Peer-reviewed journals and Published Books on the Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). www.rgardner.com/refs

_______, Testimony Concerning the Parental Alienation Syndrome Has Been Admitted in Courts of Law in Many States and Countries. www.rgardner.com/refs

Warshak, R. A. (1999), Psychological syndromes: Parental alienation syndrome. Expert Witness Manual, Chapter 3-32. Dallas, TX:State Bar of Texas, Family Law Section.

_______ (2001), Current controversies regarding parental alienation syndrome. The American Journal of Forensic Psychology, 19(3):29-59.

©2002 Richard A. Gardner, M.D.

Has the American Family Court System Become Totalitarian?

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, child abuse, Child Custody, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Foster Care, Foster CAre Abuse, Foster Care Scam, Marriage, Non-custodial fathers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine on October 29, 2009 at 7:11 pm

by

A Promise to Ourselves:
A Journey Through Fatherhood and Divorce

Alec Baldwin
St. Martin’s Press, 2008; 240 pages, $24.95

Taken into Custody:
The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family

Stephen Baskerville
Cumberland House, 2007; 368 pages, $24.95

IN 2007, THE MEDIA HAD A FEEDING FRENZY around a voice-mail message actor Alec Baldwin left his daughter. He screamed at her for not answering her phone. The public was shocked: many assumed that he was yet another self-absorbed celebrity, with neither control over himself nor regard for his daughter. But in fact, Baldwin had been caught in the web of the totalitarian nightmare known as the American family court system. His book, A Promise to Ourselves, tells his particular story, while Stephen Baskerville’s book, Taken Into Custody, presents the general problem of which Baldwin’s story is a particular case.

Alec Baldwin is a divorced father, who had been fighting for six years to have some semblance of a normal relationship with his child. Baldwin’s estranged wife, actress Kim Basinger, had been using the family court system to prevent him from doing what most fathers take for granted: seeing his child, talking with his child, and watching her grow up. A Promise to Ourselves chronicles in sickening detail how the court system serves the most vindictive and ruthless parent.

Even without the book, astute observers of this case realized that something was slightly strange about the claims that Baldwin should be denied access to his child. For instance, who released the tape of the call to the public? None other than Basinger and her attorney, in an attempt to smear Baldwin. What kind of mother would use her daughter as a pawn in a spiteful power game with the child’s father? And, what was the “back story” to this particular phone call? Despite having court authorization for phone contact with his daughter, her cell phone would be turned off for long periods of time. On this particular occasion, she was on spring break with her mother and her phone had been turned off for ten days. Moreover, isn’t this odd all by itself that a father who has committed no crime has to have court permission to speak to his own child?

Now, what the media made Baldwin out to be is conceivable: an abusive, out-of-control father who has inflicted irreparable harm on his daughter through verbal abuse. Yet even if the worst about Baldwin were true (by the way, he offers no excuses for yelling at his daughter), his portrait of the Los Angeles County Family Court remains imminently valuable, as it reveals the extent of power that family courts wield over ordinary citizens. His account cannot be easily dismissed, given the extent of detail that he provides and the fact that it accords with too many other reports of family courts. As he tells his story, the leading character and the true villain is the Los Angeles Family Court system, Lady Macbeth, Iago, and Shylock all rolled into one. Even from the viewpoint of a wealthy and famous man, Baldwin generates plenty of sympathy for the obscure and the less wealthy of both sexes who are caught in the grip of the family court.

He first noticed the financial intrusion. During “financial settlement conferences,” both husbands and wives must reveal all their assets. While Baldwin accepts the necessity of preventing people from hiding their true net worth, he noticed this side effect: “The lawyers on both sides now know, inarguably, how much money you have and, therefore, how deeply into this hole you can go. And they do not hesitate to throw you down as deeply as they possibly can.” Throughout the rest of the story, the lawyers extract as much money as possible from him.

But money isn’t the half of it. Baldwin had to continually look over his shoulder at the court and its representatives to ensure that he did not run afoul of their requirements. He tells of the menagerie of minions appointed by the court to manage the divorcing process and the inevitable post-divorce conflict: forensic accountants, custody evaluators, therapists, visitation supervisors, parenting class instructors, anger management instructors. These are all professionals that most people normally never see, but who have abnormally large impacts on the lives of divorcing families. Think of this: the courts and their appointees are controlling the day-to-day lives of a man innocent of any wrongdoing. A negative report from any one of these professionals can jeopardize a father’s chances of having more time with his own child.

Baldwin does not discuss the ease of divorce ushered by the no-fault divorce revolution. Like most Americans, Baldwin has probably made peace with no-fault divorce, believing easy divorce to be an enhancement of individual liberty. But Baldwin’s story of his life after Basinger decided she had no use for him illustrates that the opposite is more true. Easy divorce opens the door for an unprecedented amount of government intrusion into ordinary people’s lives. This unacknowledged reality is the subject of Taken Into Custody, by Stephen Baskerville. With penetrating insight, the political scientist exposes the truly breathtaking consequences of no-fault divorce for the expansion of state power and the decline of personal autonomy.

First, no-fault divorce frequently means unilateral divorce: one party wants a divorce against the wishes of the other, who wants to stay married. Kim Basinger dumped Baldwin for no particular reason, unleashed the power of the Los Angeles Family Court system to inflict pain on him and, in the process, inflicted untold damage on their child. Second, the fact that one party wants to remain married means that the divorce has to be enforced. Baldwin wanted to stay married and to continue to be a husband and father. Yet, the coercive and intrusive machinery of the state must be wheeled into action to separate the reluctantly divorced party from the joint assets of the marriage, typically the home and the children.

Third, enforcing the divorce means an unprecedented blurring of the boundaries between public and private life. People under the jurisdiction of family courts can have virtually all of their private lives subject to its scrutiny. If the courts are influenced by feminist ideology, that ideology can extend its reach into every bedroom and kitchen in America. Baldwin ran the gauntlet of divorce industry professionals who have been deeply influenced by the feminist presumptions that the man is always at fault and the woman is always a victim. Thus, the social experiment of no-fault divorce, which most Americans thought was supposed to increase personal liberty, has had the consequence of empowering the state.

Some might think the legacy of no-fault divorce is an example of the law of unintended consequences in operation. That assumes its architects did not intend for unilateral divorce to result in the expansion of the state. But Baskerville makes the case in this book—as well as his 2008 monograph, “The Dangerous Rise of Sexual Politics,” in The Family In America—that at least some of the advocates of changes in family law certainly have intended to expand the power of the state over the private lives of law-abiding citizens.

Who are these people? They are the Marxists, who call themselves advocates of women: the feminists. Unbeknownst to the general public, the Marxists have had marriage in their cross-hairs from the very beginning. Frederick Engels, Karl Marx’s closest collaborator, dreams of the mythic, pre-historical, pre-capitalist time in The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State (1884). Not only was there primitive communism in which property was owned in common, but there was also group marriage, in which the collective raised the children. Men and women lived together in harmony in groups, having sex without becoming possessive and without caring about the biological relationship between parents and children. Sin entered this Garden of Eden, not through a serpent and an apple, but through the rise of private property and capitalism, monogamous marriage, and patriarchy.

This background ideology explains why the Left—whether the Bolsheviks in Russia in 1917 or the Socialist government of Spain in 2005, both of which placed the liberalization of divorce law among their first items of business—has spent so much effort attacking the family in general and marriage in particular. The goal is to return women into “social production” outside the home, where they can be completely independent of the oppression of men. This of course, requires the collective rearing of children. It also requires the obliteration of the distinction between the private sphere of the home and the public reach of the law. Many conservatives, who otherwise are very alert to Leftist ideology, have no idea about this entire effort at centralizing power and insinuating the control of the state into the lives of ordinary people.

Baldwin closes his book with an interview with Jeannie Suk, author of an important 2006 Yale Law Journal article, entitled, “Criminal Law Comes Home.” In this article, Suk expresses second thoughts about some consequences of feminist jurisprudence. For this reason, Baldwin thought the young Harvard law professor would have some sympathy for his situation. Nonetheless, even this relatively sensible law professor has drunk deeply from the feminist fountains. As Baldwin comments after his discussion with her family law class of eighty students:

I was surprised to hear a number of women and men—many more than I would have expected—say that women generally are at risk of male violence. A few students, male and female, even thought the law should view the sex act as subordinating of someone and should assume that sex is rape unless women explicitly and verbally give their consent.

Note the Marxist undercurrent here: the sexual act is a special case of class conflict, with the man as the presumed oppressor and the woman the presumed victim.

More troubling is what Professor Suk admits in her interview with Baldwin:

  • Governance feminism is the idea that feminism, which once criticized the law from the outside, is today actually in charge in many places in the law—among police, prosecutors, lawmakers, judges and other legal actors. The feminism that often ‘governs’ today is that strand developed by legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon and that focuses on the subordination of women by men, particularly in intimate and sexual relationships. Her influence on our legal system’s understandings of men and women cannot be overstated.
  • The overwhelming majority of domestic violence arrests are for misdemeanor crimes, which, by definition, do not involve serious injury . . . . The definition of violence itself has expanded to include a lot of conduct that is not physical violence.
  • Family law is an area where we’ve seen feminist developments that prefer wives over husbands and mothers over fathers . . . . The legal vision of the home has increasingly become that of a man being violent toward his wife.
  • The legal system has little means to distinguish (protective) orders that actually protect endangered women from those sought for strategic reasons.
  • Suk doesn’t seem to realize how indicting these statements sound to someone outside the Feminist Legal Theory Game Preserve. In fact, her Yale Law Journal article reveals that feminists specifically attack the lines between public and private in the interests of protecting women from domestic violence.

    She at least recognizes that the law has gone too far. But her principle complaint is that women’s autonomy interests are compromised. Once the Domestic Violence Machinery has been set into motion, even the victim herself cannot stop it. She reports that approximately 80 percent of domestic violence victims recant or refuse to cooperate after initially filing criminal charges. But she can’t bring herself to point out the injustice to men of being excluded from their own homes, often with minimal evidence. She has absolutely nothing to say about the harms done to children from being pawns in their parents’ quarrels with each other and with the state. The inertia of forty years worthy of Marxism posing as champions of women is so strong that even someone like Professor Suk cannot bear to distance herself from the term “feminism.”

    Likewise, despite the explicit ideological position of the Harvard law students, Baldwin cannot bring himself to be angry:

    I was fascinated to hear some of these law students talk about the world as though men inevitably have the upper hand in relationships and women’s fear of sexual violence is prevalent and normal, not unusual. This picture was so interesting and so foreign to me. In my own experience, women have lots of power of various kinds, and sexual power works both ways.

    Baldwin seems reluctant to conclude that the feminist worldview is not based upon verifiable facts or empirical evidence. The strongest description Baldwin can conjure against the law students is “fascination” and “interesting.” So mesmerized by the terminology of “feminism” that he cannot see that the attitudes of Suk’s students are the very toxins that poisoned his life.

    Fortunately, we have Professor Baskerville as the great theorist of the feminist influence within the divorce-industrial complex. He sees Marxist feminism for what it is: a totalitarian movement that seeks power and control over every aspect of people’s personal lives. The claim of its foot soldiers to be the sole authentic advocates for women has been questionable for some time. But until Americans see that the goal of modern feminism is raw power, even its victims like Alec Baldwin will have trouble freeing themselves from its iron hand.

    Dr. Morse, a former professor of economics at Yale and George Mason University, is founder and president of the Ruth Institute, a project of the National Organization for Marriage, in San Marcos, California.

     


     

     

    Even without the book, astute observers of this case realized that something was slightly strange about the claims that Baldwin should be denied access to his child. For instance, who released the tape of the call to the public? None other than Basinger and her attorney, in an attempt to smear Baldwin. What kind of mother would use her daughter as a pawn in a spiteful power game with the child’s father? And, what was the “back story” to this particular phone call? Despite having court authorization for phone contact with his daughter, her cell phone would be turned off for long periods of time. On this particular occasion, she was on spring break with her mother and her phone had been turned off for ten days. Moreover, isn’t this odd all by itself that a father who has committed no crime has to have court permission to speak to his own child?

    Now, what the media made Baldwin out to be is conceivable: an abusive, out-of-control father who has inflicted irreparable harm on his daughter through verbal abuse. Yet even if the worst about Baldwin were true (by the way, he offers no excuses for yelling at his daughter), his portrait of the Los Angeles County Family Court remains imminently valuable, as it reveals the extent of power that family courts wield over ordinary citizens. His account cannot be easily dismissed, given the extent of detail that he provides and the fact that it accords with too many other reports of family courts. As he tells his story, the leading character and the true villain is the Los Angeles Family Court system, Lady Macbeth, Iago, and Shylock all rolled into one. Even from the viewpoint of a wealthy and famous man, Baldwin generates plenty of sympathy for the obscure and the less wealthy of both sexes who are caught in the grip of the family court.

    He first noticed the financial intrusion. During “financial settlement conferences,” both husbands and wives must reveal all their assets. While Baldwin accepts the necessity of preventing people from hiding their true net worth, he noticed this side effect: “The lawyers on both sides now know, inarguably, how much money you have and, therefore, how deeply into this hole you can go. And they do not hesitate to throw you down as deeply as they possibly can.” Throughout the rest of the story, the lawyers extract as much money as possible from him.

    But money isn’t the half of it. Baldwin had to continually look over his shoulder at the court and its representatives to ensure that he did not run afoul of their requirements. He tells of the menagerie of minions appointed by the court to manage the divorcing process and the inevitable post-divorce conflict: forensic accountants, custody evaluators, therapists, visitation supervisors, parenting class instructors, anger management instructors. These are all professionals that most people normally never see, but who have abnormally large impacts on the lives of divorcing families. Think of this: the courts and their appointees are controlling the day-to-day lives of a man innocent of any wrongdoing. A negative report from any one of these professionals can jeopardize a father’s chances of having more time with his own child.

    Baldwin does not discuss the ease of divorce ushered by the no-fault divorce revolution. Like most Americans, Baldwin has probably made peace with no-fault divorce, believing easy divorce to be an enhancement of individual liberty. But Baldwin’s story of his life after Basinger decided she had no use for him illustrates that the opposite is more true. Easy divorce opens the door for an unprecedented amount of government intrusion into ordinary people’s lives. This unacknowledged reality is the subject of Taken Into Custody, by Stephen Baskerville. With penetrating insight, the political scientist exposes the truly breathtaking consequences of no-fault divorce for the expansion of state power and the decline of personal autonomy.

    First, no-fault divorce frequently means unilateral divorce: one party wants a divorce against the wishes of the other, who wants to stay married. Kim Basinger dumped Baldwin for no particular reason, unleashed the power of the Los Angeles Family Court system to inflict pain on him and, in the process, inflicted untold damage on their child. Second, the fact that one party wants to remain married means that the divorce has to be enforced. Baldwin wanted to stay married and to continue to be a husband and father. Yet, the coercive and intrusive machinery of the state must be wheeled into action to separate the reluctantly divorced party from the joint assets of the marriage, typically the home and the children.

    Third, enforcing the divorce means an unprecedented blurring of the boundaries between public and private life. People under the jurisdiction of family courts can have virtually all of their private lives subject to its scrutiny. If the courts are influenced by feminist ideology, that ideology can extend its reach into every bedroom and kitchen in America. Baldwin ran the gauntlet of divorce industry professionals who have been deeply influenced by the feminist presumptions that the man is always at fault and the woman is always a victim. Thus, the social experiment of no-fault divorce, which most Americans thought was supposed to increase personal liberty, has had the consequence of empowering the state.

    Some might think the legacy of no-fault divorce is an example of the law of unintended consequences in operation. That assumes its architects did not intend for unilateral divorce to result in the expansion of the state. But Baskerville makes the case in this book—as well as his 2008 monograph, “The Dangerous Rise of Sexual Politics,” in The Family In America—that at least some of the advocates of changes in family law certainly have intended to expand the power of the state over the private lives of law-abiding citizens.

    Who are these people? They are the Marxists, who call themselves advocates of women: the feminists. Unbeknownst to the general public, the Marxists have had marriage in their cross-hairs from the very beginning. Frederick Engels, Karl Marx’s closest collaborator, dreams of the mythic, pre-historical, pre-capitalist time in The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State (1884). Not only was there primitive communism in which property was owned in common, but there was also group marriage, in which the collective raised the children. Men and women lived together in harmony in groups, having sex without becoming possessive and without caring about the biological relationship between parents and children. Sin entered this Garden of Eden, not through a serpent and an apple, but through the rise of private property and capitalism, monogamous marriage, and patriarchy.

    This background ideology explains why the Left—whether the Bolsheviks in Russia in 1917 or the Socialist government of Spain in 2005, both of which placed the liberalization of divorce law among their first items of business—has spent so much effort attacking the family in general and marriage in particular. The goal is to return women into “social production” outside the home, where they can be completely independent of the oppression of men. This of course, requires the collective rearing of children. It also requires the obliteration of the distinction between the private sphere of the home and the public reach of the law. Many conservatives, who otherwise are very alert to Leftist ideology, have no idea about this entire effort at centralizing power and insinuating the control of the state into the lives of ordinary people.

    Baldwin closes his book with an interview with Jeannie Suk, author of an important 2006 Yale Law Journal article, entitled, “Criminal Law Comes Home.” In this article, Suk expresses second thoughts about some consequences of feminist jurisprudence. For this reason, Baldwin thought the young Harvard law professor would have some sympathy for his situation. Nonetheless, even this relatively sensible law professor has drunk deeply from the feminist fountains. As Baldwin comments after his discussion with her family law class of eighty students:

    I was surprised to hear a number of women and men—many more than I would have expected—say that women generally are at risk of male violence. A few students, male and female, even thought the law should view the sex act as subordinating of someone and should assume that sex is rape unless women explicitly and verbally give their consent.

    Note the Marxist undercurrent here: the sexual act is a special case of class conflict, with the man as the presumed oppressor and the woman the presumed victim.

    More troubling is what Professor Suk admits in her interview with Baldwin:

  • Governance feminism is the idea that feminism, which once criticized the law from the outside, is today actually in charge in many places in the law—among police, prosecutors, lawmakers, judges and other legal actors. The feminism that often ‘governs’ today is that strand developed by legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon and that focuses on the subordination of women by men, particularly in intimate and sexual relationships. Her influence on our legal system’s understandings of men and women cannot be overstated.
  • The overwhelming majority of domestic violence arrests are for misdemeanor crimes, which, by definition, do not involve serious injury . . . . The definition of violence itself has expanded to include a lot of conduct that is not physical violence.
  • Family law is an area where we’ve seen feminist developments that prefer wives over husbands and mothers over fathers . . . . The legal vision of the home has increasingly become that of a man being violent toward his wife.
  • The legal system has little means to distinguish (protective) orders that actually protect endangered women from those sought for strategic reasons.
  • Suk doesn’t seem to realize how indicting these statements sound to someone outside the Feminist Legal Theory Game Preserve. In fact, her Yale Law Journal article reveals that feminists specifically attack the lines between public and private in the interests of protecting women from domestic violence.

    She at least recognizes that the law has gone too far. But her principle complaint is that women’s autonomy interests are compromised. Once the Domestic Violence Machinery has been set into motion, even the victim herself cannot stop it. She reports that approximately 80 percent of domestic violence victims recant or refuse to cooperate after initially filing criminal charges. But she can’t bring herself to point out the injustice to men of being excluded from their own homes, often with minimal evidence. She has absolutely nothing to say about the harms done to children from being pawns in their parents’ quarrels with each other and with the state. The inertia of forty years worthy of Marxism posing as champions of women is so strong that even someone like Professor Suk cannot bear to distance herself from the term “feminism.”

    Likewise, despite the explicit ideological position of the Harvard law students, Baldwin cannot bring himself to be angry:

    I was fascinated to hear some of these law students talk about the world as though men inevitably have the upper hand in relationships and women’s fear of sexual violence is prevalent and normal, not unusual. This picture was so interesting and so foreign to me. In my own experience, women have lots of power of various kinds, and sexual power works both ways.

    Baldwin seems reluctant to conclude that the feminist worldview is not based upon verifiable facts or empirical evidence. The strongest description Baldwin can conjure against the law students is “fascination” and “interesting.” So mesmerized by the terminology of “feminism” that he cannot see that the attitudes of Suk’s students are the very toxins that poisoned his life.

    Fortunately, we have Professor Baskerville as the great theorist of the feminist influence within the divorce-industrial complex. He sees Marxist feminism for what it is: a totalitarian movement that seeks power and control over every aspect of people’s personal lives. The claim of its foot soldiers to be the sole authentic advocates for women has been questionable for some time. But until Americans see that the goal of modern feminism is raw power, even its victims like Alec Baldwin will have trouble freeing themselves from its iron hand.

    Dr. Morse, a former professor of economics at Yale and George Mason University, is founder and president of the Ruth Institute, a project of the National Organization for Marriage, in San Marcos, California.

    The Family in America:
    Retrospective and Prospective
    Allan C. Carlson

    The Deconstruction of Marriage,
    Part 1:

    The Law and Economics of Unilateral
    No-Fault Divorce

    George Steven Swan

    The Message in the Meltdown:
    How the Downturn Reveals Forgotten
    Family Assets

    Bryce J. Christensen

    Counting the Cost of Divorce:
    What Those Who Know Better Rarely
    Acknowledge

    David G. Schramm

    BOOK REVIEWS
    The Striking Contradiction of a
    Sociologist Under the Spell of
    Feminism

    The Marriage-Go-Round
    by Andrew J. Cherlin
    Reviewed by Kay S. Hymowitz

    Has the American Family Court
    System Become Totalitarian?

    A Promise to Ourselves
    by Alec Baldwin
    Taken into Custody
    by Stephen Baskerville
    Reviewed by Jennifer Roback Morse

    Reason to Quiver?
    Quiverfull
    by Kathryn Joyce
    Reviewed by William R. Mattox Jr.

    The Marriage Tango
    Bad Girls Go Everywhere
    by Jennifer Scanlon
    Beside Every Successful Man
    by Megan Basham
    Reviewed by Janice Shaw Crouse

    NEW RESEARCH
    Bryce J. Christensen and
    Robert W. Patterson

    The Family in America
    A Journal of Public Policy

    Volume 23 Number 3 Fall 2009

    Founding Editor and Publisher
    Allan C. Carlson

    Editor
    Robert W. Patterson

    Editor-at-Large
    Bryce J. Christensen

    Editorial Board of Advisors
    Stephen Baskerville
    Allan R. Crippen II
    William A. Donohue
    Rod Dreher
    William C. Duncan
    Patrick F. Fagan
    Bruce P. Frohnen
    Kay S. Hymowitz
    Bill Kauffman
    Peter Augustine Lawler
    Phillip J. Longman
    William R. Mattox Jr.
    Paul T. Mero
    Mark T. Mitchell
    Douglas C. Minson
    Jennifer Roback Morse
    John D. Mueller
    Brian C. Robertson
    Lynn D. Wardle
    W. Bradford Wilcox
    Richard G. Wilkins
    Charmaine Crouse Yoest

    The Family in America.

    Spread the Word: Domestic Violence Laws Violate Civil Liberties

    In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fathers rights, Foster Care, Foster CAre Abuse, Foster Care Scam, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Marriage, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Protective Parents on October 13, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    At her recent keynote address at the annual conference of the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Amanda McCormick, an employee of Praxis International, showed overt disdain for male victims of domestic violence. As reported by Trudy Schuett, McCormick announced, I think I know a lot of men who deserve to be beaten.”1

    Praxis International, according to their website, “is a nonprofit research and training organization that works toward the elimination of violence in the lives of women and children…. Since 1996, [they] have worked with advocacy organizations, intervention agencies, and inter-agency collaborations to create a clear and cooperative agenda for social change in their communities.”2

    Over the last fifteen years, in the name of combating domestic violence, an entire area of law has been carved out in which those rights and liberties guaranteed under the Bill of Rights no longer apply. Discrimination against male victims is just one of the many ways domestic violence laws violate civil liberties.

    RADAR has identified that the laws:

    1. Fund education and training programs that stereotype all men as abusers;
    2. Expand the definition of “domestic violence” to include minor verbal disagreements, thus inviting heavy-handed state intervention into private family matters;
    3. Short-circuit due process protections and remove the presumption of innocence;
    4. Provide incentives to file false allegations;
    5. Encourage the issuance of restraining orders, even in the absence of physical violence;
    6. Promote mandatory arrest policies, even for minor violations of civil restraining orders;
    7. Fund “predominant aggressor” policies that profile men as abusers;
    8. Support mandatory prosecution policies;
    9. Refuse legal assistance to persons falsely accused of domestic violence; and
    10. Discriminate against male victims.

    RADAR has prepared a flyer for distribution to help you inform the public. See http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/RADARflyer-DVAM2009-issues.pdf

    Commenting on the flyer, vlogger Bernard Chapin points out that the mainstream media will not cover this story.3 It’s up to all of us who know the truth to spread the word as best we can. Let’s get to it!



    Date of RADAR Release: October 13, 2009

    R.A.D.A.R. – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of men and women working to improve the effectiveness of our nation’s approach to solving domestic violence. http://www.mediaradar.org

    Reforming Family Law: What You Can Do Right Now – Reform Family Law Now

    In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, federal crimes, Foster Care, Foster CAre Abuse, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, Marriage, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders on September 14, 2009 at 1:00 am

    Reforming Family Law: What You Can Do Right Now

    by Andrew J Thompson

    I began my weekly broadcast this past Tuesday through Talkshoe.com on the Get Your Justice Live network with Lary Holland.  For the rest of this week my office has been overwhelmed with the question: so what do we do now?

    I’ve been receiving calls and emails from every corner of the the country from people in tragic situations of their own, shaped by the misuse of the family law system and lack of access to true justice.  This isn’t a problem easily attacked on a case-by-case basis.  If it was, we would have had reform a long time ago.  It’s a problem that demands people bring their cases and make themselves heard in a set of unified voices.

    In the past, the system has worked against families systematically and – at least in terms of acting in a destructive manner – efficiently.  Meanwhile, we have been fighting it one-by-one and ineffectively.  It’s time for us to become systematic and efficient in attacking a whole system that has been trampling families’ rights for too long.

    I’m creating a new vehicle to enable the system we need to accomplish these ends.  Essentially we need to gather key bits of information from every person within our constituency, to begin sorting out the potential classes of litigants and joinder of claims.

    The information we need is straightforward and pretty simple:

    • Basic personal information: name, home address, email and phone;
    • A very succinct description of the facts giving rise to your own claim;
    • The specific Constitutional rights you would assert to be violated;
    • A very brief statement of the remedy you believe would resolve your own issues.

    As we learn where the commonality become individual situations can be clearly defined, we can then proceed to put together a class petition, and other claims, primarily in family court.

    This is the beginning.  We also need considerable help carrying out the tasks we must in order to succeed.  So we need people to self-identify skills or abilities they have, i.e. legal research, IT skill, administrative support, database management and administration, etc.  With a number of us working together, we will be able to attack the problem more quickly, in essence, to create a rapid response team and legal coalition of activists who will help move our mission forward at “all deliberate speed” – that’s a quote from the United States Supreme Court, by the way.

    We also must keep in mind that reform won’t be achieved without costs.  We need help with funding!  If every person will contribute just what they can, we will reach our destiny sooner.  If most of us will trade in a small fraction of what we would have to pay for other legal representation and chip in a few hundred dollars toward the costs, we will move ahead very far and very fast.  If everyone of us contributes at least a few dollars, we will show the tribunals we face that we are committed, serious and irrepressible as a unit.  If just a few people are able to step forward and fund the largest share of the costs, we will show those who would deprive us of our rights that we are entirely capable of taking them on step-by-step throughout intense litigation.

    We can bring about the change we need through the civil rights litigation that may be the only avenue of hope for real change in the time we need.  All of our children are growing up fast.  As each day passes, we lose one day in their tender young lives to play the roles we should in helping them be the people we want them to be, and keeping the relationships with their parents in tact in the way they should be able.

    Forms will be added to the site very soon.  In the meantime, please do not hesitate to reach our office via email at: info@reformfamilynow.org.  Tomorrow’s a new day with much hope and expectation!  We hope to hear from you soon.

    Reforming Family Law: What You Can Do Right Now – Reform Family Law Now.

    Vigil promotes shared parent visitation rights :: The SouthtownStar :: News

    In Activism, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Custody for Mothers, Children and Domestic Violence, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, custody, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Foster Care, Foster CAre Abuse, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Marriage, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders on September 13, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Vigil promotes shared parent visitation rights

    September 13, 2009

    Richard Thomas had sole custody of his two teenage sons for two years until the day in 2007 when they visited their mother and never returned.

    Today, Thomas’ sons are in foster care while he fights to regain custody. His battle began when his boys were visiting their mother and she decided to drop them off at a police station with instructions to say they had run away from home. The police believed their story and contacted the Department of Children and Family Services, Thomas said.

    “This was a trick to steal custody from me,” Thomas said Thursday night during a candlelight vigil at the Markham courthouse. “She gets to see them every week. I don’t.”

    Thomas was one of several individuals at the vigil, which was designed to promote shared parenting after divorce.

    Participants held candles, glow sticks, posters and banners and encouraged drivers on Kedzie Avenue to honk their horns in support of parental rights.

    “We would love not to be here tonight,” said Kerry Sandusky, of Kankakee. “We would love to be with our kids tonight.”

    Sandusky hasn’t seen his son in more than a year.

    “The day (his mother) told me she was pregnant, she walked out,” Sandusky said. “I just want to see him – equal time.”

    The protesters’ anger was directed in several directions, including family court officials, who they say discriminates against fathers, state agencies that divide families and lawyers who are motivated by money rather than successful outcomes for their clients.

    Specifically, participants lashed out at various state agencies for intentionally alienating one parent – often the father – from his children. They added that prolonged custody battles not only harm the children involved, but provide job security to government workers and enhance the government collections business.

    State governments receive federal reimbursement based on the amount of child support they collect, so it’s to their advantage to keep families apart, protesters said.

    “Everyone has a story. Everyone has something in common,” said vigil organizer Carrie Adams, of Palos Heights.

    Adams divorced in 1999 after 19 years of marriage. She had full visitation rights while living Downstate, but was prevented from seeing her children when she moved to the Southland.

    “I got close and that’s when the separation began,” she said. “There’s no fairness.”

    Vigil promotes shared parent visitation rights :: The SouthtownStar :: News.

    De Facto Parents

    In Activism, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Children and Domestic Violence, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, Feminism, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, Homosexual Agenda, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Marriage, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parentectomy, Parents rights on September 12, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    De Facto Parents

    Now children can have multiple legal parents without biology, adoption, or marriage.

    By William C. Duncan
    In Revolution, Herbert Jacob described how one of the most significant changes to family law in the 20th century, no-fault divorce, began in California and spread through the states with very little public debate or controversy. This remarkable transformation was presented, and largely accepted, as routine policymaking in the domain of legal experts.

    Similarly, a revolution in the legal understanding of parenthood seems to have quietly begun with little or no public debate or discussion. This dramatically transformative development is the statutory recognition of “de facto” parenthood — the notion that an unrelated individual (usually the unmarried partner of a biological parent, but potentially any adult) can be designated as the legal “parent” of a child by virtue of an agreement with a biological or adoptive parent, or even just a relationship with the child. In some cases, three or more people may be designated “parents” of the same child. While a handful of state courts have endorsed the idea in the context of disputes between same-sex couples jointly raising children, not until very recently has a legislature endorsed it.

    This year, the District of Columbia Council passed a law allowing biological parents’ registered domestic partners to be presumed parents, and to be listed as such on the children’s birth certificates. The law also allows a person to be legally designated a parent if he consents in writing to the artificial insemination of his partner, or if he “hold[s] out” the child as his own—that is, presents the child as his to others. (D.C. already had a law allowing people to sue for child custody if they could show they had acted as “de facto” parents (D.C. Code 16-831.01).)

    Then, last month, the Delaware legislature went even farther when it enacted legislation giving state courts the ability to designate a non-parent as a “de facto” parent (with all the legal ramifications of parenthood) as long as the biological parent of a child “fosters” a “parent-like relationship” between the non-parent and the child, and as long as the “de facto” parent has acted like a parent and bonded with the child in a way that is “parental in nature.”

    The Delaware law completely untethers legal parentage from biology, marriage, adoption, and even the relationship between the adults who are the child’s legal “parents.” It also abandons the binary nature of legal parenthood by allowing three or more adults to be designated “parents” of a child at the same time.

    Like the no-fault revolution, de facto parenthood has its boosters, and they seem to be increasingly influential. Prof. Nancy Polikoff, who advocates the erasure of legal distinctions between households based on marriage and those based on other arrangements, has written extensively and approvingly of these developments and suggests that they ought to be more widely adopted. The prestigious American Law Institute has also endorsed the “de facto” parent idea in the context of the law regarding family breakups.

    These changes, however, are radical. The default rules for establishing legal parenthood — which were nearly universally recognized until now — recognize individuals as parents based on (1) biological parenthood, (2) marriage to a parent, or (3) adoption. These clear laws advance the interests of children to know and be raised by their biological parents whenever possible. The one significant exception, adoption, largely imitates the biological mother-father model, thus allowing a child who cannot be raised by his own parents to at least be raised by a mother and father. By limiting the number of people who can claim parental authority, the default rules promote stability and consistency for children.

    Existing law also ensures that when natural parents transfer their legal rights, there are “bright lines” governing the process. Thus, parental rights are only terminated when there is clear evidence of unfitness, or when a parent voluntarily relinquishes them through a formal procedure like adoption (including adoption by stepparents).

    These rules also enhance children’s best interests because a biological tie between parents and children “increase[s] the likelihood that the parents would identify with the child and be willing to sacrifice for that child, and it would reduce the likelihood that either parent would abuse the child,” as Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur wrote in Growing Up with a Single Parent. It is clear that living with a cohabiting couple increases risks of abuse and maltreatment for children, and that unrelated males living with children are more likely to abuse those children.

    It is also not hard to imagine the chaos likely to result when the relationship between three or more “de facto” parents breaks up and courts are called upon to dole out parental rights and responsibilities to each person. Children have a hard enough time navigating between two worlds after divorce. Imagine the difficulty of being shuttled between the homes of a mother, her former partner, a sperm donor, his partner, etc.

    Perhaps most fundamentally, these trends treat children as acquisitions, ignoring their needs for relationships with their parents and for substitute arrangements when those relationships are disrupted. The idea of de facto parenthood legally facilitates the creation of motherless or fatherless homes, based not on children’s needs but on adult desires. In adopting these laws, states are saying that parentage can be created by a bargain between two or more adults.

    Needless to say, these developments and their philosophical underpinnings should be met with stiff opposition. That is likely only if people are aware such developments are taking place. That has not been the case to this point. As the promoters of “de facto” parenthood begin to take their arguments to other legislatures, there must be a more robust debate and response. Our children deserve at least that much.

    — William C. Duncan is director of the Marriage Law Foundation.

    De Facto Parents by William C. Duncan on National Review Online.

    Children’s Rights Challenges Tennessee Law Unconstitutionally Interfering with Children’s Juvenile Court Hearings — Children’s Rights

    In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, child abuse, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, Foster Care, Foster CAre Abuse, Foster Care Scam, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, kidnapped children, Marriage, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parentectomy, Parents rights on September 11, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    NASHVILLE, TN — Challenging the constitutionality of a new Tennessee law aimed at pressuring local judges to reduce the number of children they commit to foster care — and asserting that the law endangers the safety of abused and neglected kids — the national advocacy organization Children’s Rights today asked a federal judge to issue a temporary restraining order blocking the law’s implementation.

    The law, which was proposed by the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS), passed as an amendment to the omnibus budget bill that took effect in July. It establishes fiscal penalties for counties whose judges commit more than a prescribed number of children to state custody (300 percent of the state average commitment rate) — and fails to take into account the local circumstances influencing foster care placements in each county and the unique facts of each child’s case.

    In a motion (PDF) filed today with the U.S. District Court in Nashville, lawyers at Children’s Rights and their co-counsel in Tennessee asserted that the clear intent of the law was to save state funds by influencing judges’ commitment decisions with the threat of fiscal penalties to their counties. At hearings about the legislation, DCS officials have stated publicly that the goal was never to collect money from the counties, but to reduce the number of children placed in foster care.

    “This law is unconstitutional and very dangerous to children who have already suffered abuse or neglect,” said Children’s Rights Associate Director Ira Lustbader. “These children have the right to have their cases heard by judges who will decide how best to keep them safe based only on the facts of their individual cases, not whether their counties are in danger of getting fined for exceeding an arbitrary limit on foster care commitments.”

    Before the law was passed, the executive committee of the Tennessee Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges unanimously passed a resolution opposing it, and, after it was enacted, “expressed great concern about the Legislative Branch telling the Judicial Branch how many kids they can or cannot commit to state custody.”

    The new law violates the 2001 settlement of a federal class action brought by Children’s Rights and co-counsel to reform the Tennessee child welfare system, which requires that judges make safety decisions based on the facts before them and that children’s constitutional rights are protected at all hearings in juvenile courts. Furthermore, say attorneys, the law violates children’s constitutional rights to due process and equal protection by preventing those who live in counties with high foster care placement rates from receiving fair hearings.

    “The express purpose of this law is to make judges think about the number of commitments in their counties each time they decide whether to place a child in state custody,” said David L. Raybin, an attorney with Hollins, Wagster, Weatherly & Raybin in Nashville serving as co-counsel on the case. “If you’re a child facing abuse or neglect at home, and you happen to live in a county where foster care placements are running high, this law ensures that you’ll be treated differently than you would if your county’s placements were low. That’s a clear violation of children’s constitutional rights.”

    Today’s challenge to the new law notes that Anderson County, an undisputed target of the law, leads the state in both the number of methamphetamine lab seizures and the number of children committed to state custody due to parental substance abuse. In measuring individual counties’ foster care placements against a statewide average without considering such unique local circumstances, the law “is completely disconnected from these realities,” the motion says.

    Additionally, lawyers at Children’s Rights assert that the state has other, lawful means of reducing foster care placements, including appealing individual judges’ decisions it believes to be unfounded and, most important, increasing family preservation services where necessary to keep vulnerable families together.

    “Tennessee could achieve its goal of minimizing foster care commitments by enhancing the support and services it provides to help families stay together, which would be absolutely the right thing to do,” Lustbader said. “Instead, this law seeks to influence judges’ decisions in individual children’s cases, which is unfair and dangerous.”

    Children’s Rights and a team of Tennessee attorneys have represented all children in Tennessee foster care since 2000, when they filed a class action against the state seeking the comprehensive reform of the state-run child welfare system. Agreements negotiated by attorneys at Children’s Rights to settle the case established court-enforceable reform plans that have produced major improvements — including increases in the number of children moved out of foster care and into permanent homes and reductions in the number of foster children housed in institutions, separated from their siblings, and placed in foster homes far away from their own communities.

    Today’s motion — and a complete archive of documents related to Children’s Rights’ efforts to reform Tennessee child welfare — can be found at www.childrensrights.org/tennessee.

    Related Press

    Child advocacy group wants Tennessee’s new foster-care law blocked (Tennessean, Sept. 10, 2009)

    Advocates Ask Judge To Block Limits On Foster Care (AP, via NewsChannel 5 Nashville)

    //

    Children’s Rights Challenges Tennessee Law Unconstitutionally Interfering with Children’s Juvenile Court Hearings — Children’s Rights.

    Federal Government Freezes County Title IV-E Funds – News Story – WJAC Johnstown

    In children legal status, Childrens Rights, CPS, cps fraud, Department of Social Servies, Foster Care, Foster CAre Abuse, Foster Care Scam on August 30, 2009 at 1:23 am

    Blair County Commissioners announced Tuesday that they will have to figure out how to survive without $571,000 from the federal government.

    The commissioners were hoping the money would carry them through the next few months, especially since there’s no state budget.Officials have frozen the Federal Title IV-E Funds that allow states to apply for and receive federal matching funds to aid with juvenile probation and child welfare activities.

    Those activities include adoption assistance, foster care maintenance payments, training and administrative expenses.”They’re alleging that our Pennsylvania state government isn’t managing those funds properly,” Commissioner Terry Tomasetti said. “It has to do with record keeping.”

    Blair County is not the only county being affected. Every county in the state has had their funding deferred.Bedford County may lose $348,000. Elk County is looking at a loss of $55,860.Tomasetti added not only will the county lose the federal funding, they may even have to pay back funds if there was indeed problems with state records.

    Copyright 2009 by WJACTV.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    Federal Government Freezes County Title IV-E Funds – News Story – WJAC Johnstown.

    NCCPR Child Welfare Blog: The myth of the underpaid foster parent

    In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Family Rights, Foster Care, Foster CAre Abuse, Foster Care Scam, kidnapped children, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment on August 6, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    Wednesday, August 5, 2009

    The myth of the underpaid foster parent

    The photo dominated the front page of The Arizona Republic Tuesday. Mom, Dad, their two kids sitting around the table saying a prayer before family dinner. The only nonwhite person at the table (seen from the back): One of the family’s foster children.

    The huge headline above the photo: “Slashed foster payments make it HARDER TO HELP”

    All the usual clichés followed – swipes at birth parents, the incredible nobility of the foster parents who rescued the children – and how it all might be in jeopardy because Arizona’s budget deficit prompted legislators to impose a 20 percent cut in payments to foster parents.

    Then, the story officially certifies this a “crisis,” the reporter declaring that “Foster care advocates worry that the crisis has erased years of improvements to the foster care system.”

    They can stop worrying. First of all, with one tiny, recent exception, unrelated to foster parent pay, there haven’t been any improvements to the foster care system in Arizona. On the contrary, it’s one of the nation’s most regressive. NCCPR issued a report on Arizona child welfare two years ago and, if anything, it’s only gotten worse.

    But also, no great harm is done by cutting payment rates that were, in fact, the second highest in the entire country – rates vastly above the national average. Even with the cuts, Arizona still is paying foster parents far more than most states.

    According to the story, before the cuts, the average monthly payment to an Arizona foster parent was $910 per child. That’s not including special allowances for clothing books education and other expenses. Now, with the cuts, it’s a mere $728 per month per child. The extra allowances have been cut back, but they’re still on top of that $728.

    That was in the story. Not in the story: The money is tax free. And foster children’s health insurance is covered by Medicaid.

    The story did mention Arizona’s second-highest-in-the-nation status, but the reporter got spun, big time, thanks to a study by guess who? Yep – the group that so arrogantly calls itself Children’s Rights. (And yes, it is depressing that over and over this once progressive group reveals itself to have become one of the most regressive forces in American child welfare.)

    Their “study” portrayed the exceptionally-high payments in Arizona and Washington DC as the bare minimum needed to care for a foster child – everybody else, the study said, was falling terribly short. Even a glance at the study methodology shows this is nonsense. But glancing at the methodology requires looking at a separate document called a Technical Report. Labeling something a “technical report” is like putting a great big sign on it that says HEY REPORTERS: DON’T BOTHER TO READ THIS!

    And in this case, it seems to have worked like a charm. Because of all the stories written about this report, I’ve seen none that included the following information:

    CR’s calculation of “minimum” requirements includes far more than food, clothing and shelter.

    It includes the full cost of day care for foster children – even those who were taken from their own parents on “lack of supervision” charges because those birth parents couldn’t afford day care.

    The so-called minimum also includes the increase in the foster family’s electric bill caused by foster children leaving the lights on and opening and closing the refrigerator a lot – even when the children were taken from their birth parents because those birth parents couldn’t afford a decent place to live.

    The so-called minimum even includes every penny spent on movie tickets, amusement parks, games and toys.

    But who in the world would want to place a child with foster parents who demanded government reimbursement every time they bought a foster child a teddy bear?

    These are only some of the bizarre assumptions that make up CR’s definition of “minimum.” More are discussed in NCCPR’s report on Virginia child welfare in which we argued, unsuccessfully, against a big raise for the state’s foster parents.

    I am among those who believe that the overwhelming majority of foster parents are not in it for the money. I’m sure the family in the Republic story, which is continuing to foster children in spite of the cut, deserves the praise it received. But you can’t have it both ways: You can’t say, as some others apparently do, “I’m not in it for the money, but I’ll quit if I stop getting the second highest rates in the nation and have to use my own money the next time I take my foster child to the movies.”

    Similarly, you can’t say, as many foster parents do, “we can’t be in it for the money because there’s not enough money” – and then keep demanding more money. Indeed, paying too much creates the risk that the wrong people will go into fostering.

    And, in fact, precisely because most foster parents do care so much about the children they take in, when they are polled on reasons for quitting, pay actually ranks quite low. (Lack of respect from child welfare agencies – in other words, being treated the same way agencies treat birth parents – ranks much higher.) And that helps explain why, even with the second highest pay rates in the nation, Arizona still claims to have a so-called shortage of foster parents.

    In fact, Arizona doesn’t have a shortage of foster parents. Thanks to a take-the-child-and-run mentality that has left Arizona in a state of perennial foster care panic, Arizona has a surplus of foster children. Stop taking so many children needlessly, and the so-called shortage would disappear.

    That’s also why we shouldn’t be fooled by claims that if Arizona pays foster parents at rates that are merely above average instead of second highest-in-the-nation that would force the state to throw even more children into group homes and institutions.

    All these problems arise before we even reach the fundamental issue of taking so many children largely because they are poor
    and then giving vastly more financial help to the strangers who take those children in.

    All that said, I’m not suggesting that the cuts in pay for Arizona foster parents are a good idea. They would be a good idea if the money was going to bolster prevention and family preservation programs. But those are being cut, too. The cuts are just making one of the stingier states in the nation when it comes to helping children even stingier.

    This whole issue touches on something that doesn’t get nearly as much discussion as it should: What is our “social contract” with foster parents? If foster parenting is an act of compassion, like volunteer work, done for the psychic satisfaction, is it unreasonable to ask that foster parents dip just a little into their own pockets – and shouldn’t we be concerned about those who won’t? I’ve raised that issue on this blog before, but there is a better discussion, by Maine foster and adoptive parent Mary Callahan, in this op ed column from the Los Angeles Times.

    As for the one piece of good news from Arizona, that involves federal, not state money. As this story from Phoenix New Times explains, the state child welfare agency and local housing authorities in Phoenix, Tucson and Yuma, did an outstanding job in securing vouchers to help families in which children may be taken from their parents because of housing problems, or housing problems are preventing reunification. The vouchers also can be used for young people “aging out” of foster care. The federal program was restored, after an eight-year absence, thanks largely to the work of the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare (the executive director of which is a member of NCCPR’s Board of Directors). You can find out how your state and locality did by checking the NCHCW website.

    NCCPR Child Welfare Blog: The myth of the underpaid foster parent.

    Too poor to parent? – Parental Rights v. Poverty

    In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, Childrens Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Family Rights, Foster CAre Abuse, Marriage, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Relocation, Parents rights on August 5, 2009 at 10:35 pm
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    Too poor to parent?
    DHS and the courts terminated her rights as a parent. Critics say in cases like hers the real problem is poverty.

    MT Photo: Bruce Giffin.
    Melanie Morgan and the boys she lost to the state.
    Vivek S. Sankaran
    Richard Wexler
    SEE ALSO
    More Government Stories

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    When Bing talks bankrupcy, is it bull?

    Mixed-up priorities (6/17/2009)
    Why should the state fund preventative care when it can pay for emergencies instead?

    Safety nets (4/15/2009)
    A quick primer on using social programs

    More from Curt Guyette

    Mayor’s race? What mayor’s race? (7/22/2009)
    Why there’s so little attention in a city with so much on the line

    No direction known (6/24/2009)
    Recycling? Incineration? Detroit still hasn’t decided.

    Taking a toll (6/10/2009)
    Matty Moroun and the bridge brawl in southwest Detroit

    Melanie Morgan sits at the kitchen table of a mobile home in Lansing, nervously smoking a hand-rolled cigarette.

    She’s nervous because she’s talking to a reporter with a photographer snapping pictures as she answers sometimes deeply personal questions about her four-year ordeal with the Michigan Department of Human Services and the Clinton County Prosecutor’s Office, which successfully petitioned the court to have her three sons taken from her.

    Permanently.

    She’s smoking cigarettes she rolls herself because they’re a lot cheaper that way.

    Melanie Morgan, you see, is poor. And if her supporters are to be believed, that is a primary reason she had her parental rights terminated, a procedure so drastic it has been described as the civil equivalent of the death penalty.

    The mobile home park on the north side of town isn’t far from a landfill. The two-bedroom home itself cost $9,000 and won’t be paid off for another three years. The front porch sags in places and feels as if it might give way when stepped on. With paneled walls, the inside is cozy but cramped.

    The lack of room is one of the reasons authorities cited in taking Morgan’s three boys — ages 14, 6 and almost 3 at the time they were removed from the home — and placed in foster care.

    There are two justifications for the state to take a person’s children. One is abuse, either physical or sexual. The other is neglect, the definition of which in Michigan includes “… the failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical care.”

    Drug and alcohol abuse were also an issue. Morgan’s husband, from whom she is separated, had problems with booze and pot, according to court documents. Instead of fighting to keep custody of his kids, he voluntarily took himself out of the picture. “He didn’t have a strong will to keep them like I did, I guess,” is the way she describes his withdrawal.

    Which left Melanie to carry on without him, often without a job, dealing with depression and a Vicodin habit precipitated by chronic pain. But she had help — from her father and her stepmother and an uncle. There’s also her 78-year-old grandmother, who lives in the trailer with Melanie.

    Sharing a small home with extended family is another reason the state used to bolster its contention that the boys would be better off without their mom in their life. She never stopped disputing that claim, taking her case all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court.

    The story of Melanie Morgan and her three boys is a cautionary tale, say experts, who fear that what is already a problem will only get worse as the state’s economic situation grows more dire, and already-stressed programs designed to help keep families like hers together are cut back or eliminated while the hardships that accompany job loss expand.

    As lawyers from the Children’s Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan wrote in an amicus curiae brief submitted to the state Supreme Court in support of Morgan:

    “At a time when our state ranks near the top with the highest unemployment and foreclosure rates in the country, we must avoid setting a trend that condones termination of parental rights as legally appropriate remedy based on poverty-related concerns alone. Nor can we impose unreasonable requirements, such as total financial independence and independent home ownership, as prerequisites for maintaining parental rights. With 20 percent of Michigan’s children under five years of age living at the poverty level, it is highly unlikely that their parents are able to provide for them without some form of assistance — whether provided by the government or family members.”

    In that same brief, the court was urged to reaffirm that neither “complete financial independence” nor “perfection” should be required “for our citizens to preserve their parental rights.”

    As Morgan’s story shows, such cases are rarely, if ever, clear-cut. Poverty — along with issues of class and race — are frequently crucial factors. However, other issues, such as alcohol and drug abuse, or mental illness, complicate them.

    In that sense, too, the Morgan case is in many ways typical of what social workers and judges across the state deal with every day.

    Tough breaks

    “I do battle with depression,” says Morgan, pausing to take a deep drag on her cigarette before adding, “It runs really deep on my mom’s side of the family.”

    “I lost my mother when I was 7, going on 8,” she says. “And when I was 14 I found her death certificate. It said the cause of death was an overdose of barbiturates. No one knows for sure what happened. But she would drink and take pills.

    “So that hurt and confused me. Yeah. And I was depressed. Life had no meaning, no purpose.”

    Morgan feared that she would end up like her mom, who was just 25 when she died.

    Then she became pregnant with her oldest son, Ryan, when she was almost 16. In her words, “That turned everything around. After that, I had something to live for, and I’ve never thought about it since.”

    “It” being suicide.

    “I’d never leave my kids like that,” says Morgan, now 34. “There’s just no way.”

    Given that, it’s hard not to see a brutal irony in the turn of events, with the kids that wiped away thoughts of suicide and gave her a reason to live being taken away from her.

    “Yeah,” she says. “It’s been really hard.”

    But even one of the lawyers who has fought to help Morgan regain custody of her kids points out that, in the beginning at least, it was appropriate for family services to step in.

    That was in September 2005.

    Ryan was 14 by then. And he had two half brothers, Dennis, who was 6 at the time, and Jordan, who was one month shy of his third birthday.

    According to court records, the family’s home was “in deplorable condition.” Dirty dishes and “old food” filled the kitchen counter, piles of clothes were scattered throughout the house, and “floors were littered with small items that posed a risk to the two-year-old …”

    Along with her husband, several other people were living in the home, which had beer and vodka bottles scattered about, according to a caseworker. Morgan had failed to pick up Dennis twice during his first week of school, and the oldest child had “anger and aggression issues.”

    And Morgan tested positive for opiates. She was diagnosed with, among other things, “anxiety disorder, opioid dependence and antisocial personality features.

    “Her prognosis was poor due to the chronic component of her substance abuse and her depression as well as individual personality related issues,” according to court documents filed by the Clinton County Prosecutor’s Office.

    Because of bad teeth and back problems, she continued to use Vicodin. Other adults, contrary to a court order, kept living in the home. As a result, her boys were placed in a foster care home. All three required extensive dental work “due to extreme decay. …” The oldest boy needed a hearing implant in one ear.

    By July of 2006, Morgan and her husband had separated, and she was living in the mobile home with her grandmother. Already, the size of the home was becoming an issue. As one of her caseworkers wrote: “I have some concerns about the reunification plan … because of how tiny the house is …”

    Morgan wasn’t working, getting by on state cash assistance and Medicaid.

    As it turned out though, placing the boys in foster care wasn’t a panacea.

    That comes as no surprise to Richard Wexler.

    Fierce critic

    According to the biography posted on the website for the nonprofit National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, its executive director learned about the issue of child abuse by covering it as a journalist: “Richard Wexler’s interest in the child welfare system grew out of 19 years of work as a reporter for newspapers, public radio and public television.”

    Now, as head of the nonprofit based in Alexandria, Va., he authors frequently scathing reports such as “Cycle of Failure: How Michigan Keeps ‘Throwing the Fight’ for Children — And How to Make the State a Contender Again.”

    Released earlier this year, the report is a broadside fired at what Wexler calls the “foster care-industrial complex.”

    Wexler contends that, even though foster care is more expensive than the “intervention” available through such programs as Michigan’s Family First — which provides “intensive family preservation services” like help finding day care, job training and housing aid — the way federal funding is structured makes it easier for states to pay for removing children from their homes.

    He writes: “For every dollar the federal government spends on safe, proven alternatives to foster care, it spends at least nine dollars on foster care and at least three dollars more on adoption.”

    Factor in expenses such as court-ordered counseling and medical treatment and the cost differences become even more extreme: $10 a day per family for intervention, compared to $57 a day per person for foster care and a host of associated services, such as counseling and medical care.

    The problem, says Wexler, is that foster care is an “entitlement” — like, say, Social Security or Medicare. “For every eligible child, states get back anywhere from 50 cents to 74 cents on the dollar. In Michigan it’s 60 cents and may soon rise to 63 cents.”

    That translates to about $100 million a year flowing into the state — a huge pot of money that can be used only for foster care.

    “In contrast,“ he continues, “far less is available for prevention and family preservation — and it’s not an entitlement. In American child welfare, children are deemed ‘entitled’ to be trapped in foster care but not to remain safely in their own homes.

    “It’s no wonder that the National Commission on Children, one of the most distinguished groups ever to study child welfare, found that children often are removed from their families ‘prematurely or unnecessarily’ because federal aid formulas give states ‘a strong financial incentive’ to keep doing so rather than provide services to keep families together.”

    He cites two Michigan studies that spoke to the effectiveness of the Families First program. In one, he writes, “judges actually gave permission to researchers to ‘take back’ some children they had just ordered into foster care and place them in Families First instead. So we know that 100 percent of these children would have been placed in foster care. One year later, after being diverted to Families First, 93 percent of these children were still in their own homes.”

    He also cites a study done by the state auditor, who found that “Families First could serve an entire family for just over one-third the cost of placing one child in foster care — and less than one-tenth the cost of placing one child in an institution.”

    Despite that, Wexler reports, funding for Families First has gone from $23 million a year in 1995 to less than $17 million now. Adjusted for inflation, that represents a decrease of more than 40 percent.

    Foster care is inherently traumatic, Wexler argues, because it involves “separation of a child from everyone she or he knows and loves. Sometimes that separation must take place anyway, because leaving the child in the home is even more harmful. But often separation is unnecessary.

    “The trauma is compounded, however, by impermanence. The moment a child finally gets used to new substitute parents, new friends, a new school, he may be uprooted again. Do that to a child often enough, and a child learns not to love or trust anyone.”

    Wexler is a contentious figure.

    “Our position is that Mr. Wexler’s reports contain inaccurate, inflammatory information about Michigan’s efforts to protect children while ignoring the strides taken to protect their safety,” contends Colleen Steinman, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Human Services.

    However, the department, when asked specifically about budget numbers reported by Wexler, didn’t directly dispute any of his reporting.

    As far as being inflammatory, Wexler, in an interview with Metro Times when he was in Detroit earlier this summer, didn’t shy away from being described as provocative. The way he sees it, for more moderate reformers to make headway, “they need someone to kick down the door.”

    Think of his reports as a battering ram.

    And though he has his critics, he’s not without his fans.

    Vivek S. Sankaran, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Michigan Law School’s Child Advocacy Law Clinic, and the lawyer who represented Morgan in front of the Michigan Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, called “Cycle of Failure” a “long overdue wakeup call.”

    The report, Sankaran said at the time of its release, “paints a system that needlessly wastes money by favoring the most expensive and least effective options for children and details the ways in which the system routinely frustrates, humiliates and overwhelms the very families it seeks to heal. Not surprisingly, less than 40 percent of foster children in Michigan are reunified with their parents, a frighteningly low number.”

    It is, he said, a system that “often focuses on how to keep children in foster care, rather than explores how to keep kids out.”

    “The Department spends more than $200 million a year in payments to foster care providers while allocating less than $70 million for prevention and family preservation programs,” noted Sakaran in a press release.

    For the Morgan family, the foster care experience was anything but smooth.

    In April 2006, a DHS caseworker testified before a Clinton County judge that the “children had a difficult time adjusting to foster care and that Ryan [the oldest boy], in particular, had a very difficult time rationalizing why he was placed into care.” Subsequent testimony revealed that Dennis, the middle child, “frequently inquires as to when he can go home with his mother, and being in foster care is clearly stressful to him.”

    Unable to get along with his first foster parents, the oldest boy left his brothers behind and landed in three other homes before turning 18 and returning home to live with his mother.

    According to court documents, the two younger boys were spanked in that first home. It eventually had its license suspended, and the boys were moved to another home.

    “I have a pretty serious issue with having kids removed from one home for neglect, going into another and then being physically hit,” a caseworker testified.

    That’s another bitter irony for Morgan, to have her children taken from her, only to have them mistreated.

    “We never laid a hand on our kids,” she says. “We were time-out people.”

    The way Wexler sees it, the Morgan case bolsters a contention that lies at the heart of “Cycle of Failure”: “Family preservation is the best choice for most children most of the time.”

    Dragging on

    From the time the Department of Human Services became involved in the lives of the Morgan family in September 2005 — and especially after Melanie’s husband relinquished his parental rights — the court forced her to deal with her problems. For her part, although Melanie Morgan tested positive for opiates, she told the court that she had only taken the painkiller Vicodin, and that it had been prescribed by a doctor.

    Months after the first inspection, a caseworker told the court that the home, though cluttered, was being kept clean, and that even though other adults were also living there, they “interacted appropriately with the children” and there was no evidence that the kids faced any physical risk.

    Nonetheless, the judge handling the case ordered the children placed in foster care. That was in January 2006.

    With her husband now out of the picture, the children were allowed to have supervised visits with their mom every week. Although she once tested positive for cocaine — she claims it was a false positive — she continued to attend a substance abuse treatment program as well as AA and NA meetings weekly.

    By September 2006, her therapist was reporting that Morgan was “doing really well” in her sessions and was “really addressing the issues and kind of delving deep into those right now. … She truly wants the best for her kids.”

    The small size of the mobile home that had been purchased, however, continued to be a concern.

    With her grandmother living in one bedroom, that would mean the three boys would have to share a second small bedroom while Morgan slept on the couch.

    “But what’s the matter with that?” she asks. “I don’t mind.”

    For a year after that, Morgan continued attending AA and substance abuse classes. She also found a job.

    Then, in September 2007, a hearing was held to consider the issue of terminating Morgan’s parental rights. A caseworker testified that her drug tests had been coming up clean, and that she had provided a prescription for the positive test that resulted earlier in the year after she had had eight teeth pulled.

    There was also testimony that her therapist believed Morgan’s had reached the point where she could regain custody of her children. Although a separate therapist seeing the boys felt that they would “have an opportunity to be successful long term in an adoptive placement,” it was also noted that the “boys clearly have a bond with mom and termination would be harmful.”

    It was pointed out that Morgan had quit her job at a construction company. Her caseworker, however, had verified she did so because she wasn’t being paid.

    As a result, finances continued to be a problem. “She knows she’s really on her last legs here,” the caseworker testified.

    What made this hearing different from others was that Morgan wasn’t present to hear what was being said. She didn’t show up because notice of the procedure had been sent to her previous address.

    “I guess the only thing that I can say is — her not showing up here to court today speaks volumes about, I guess, where we need to go with this case,” the caseworker told the judge. “And I think it’s tragic, I think it’s sad because she clearly loves these kids”

    Saying that this was “about the children … it is their safety and well-being I have to look out for …” the judge authorized the state to file a petition with the court that would set the stage for termination of Morgan’s parental rights.

    Two months later, with Morgan present, a termination hearing was held.

    Four different caseworkers who had been involved with Morgan and her boys testified at that November 2007 proceeding. One noted that “the family continued to struggle financially,” and that Morgan had occasionally tested positive for opiates, and that she had “struggled with depression and was in counseling.”

    Another talked about her “dependent personality,” lack of housing, and her failure to divorce the husband from whom she was separated. It was that caseworker’s opinion that Morgan couldn’t meet the emotional and physical needs of her children.”

    After first taking note of the circumstances that were originally present — and mistakenly saying that problems such as a dirty home and substance abuse had not been addressed — the judge made note of the fact that Morgan remained unemployed, and that the only housing available to her was being provided by her grandmother and father.

    “It’s concerning to me — her father’s testimony was concerning to me that she’s never lived on her own, she’s never supported herself and the children, and that he even agrees she can’t support herself right now. And there’s no likelihood within a reasonable period of time that, considering the children’s ages, that she’ll be able to care for them.”

    Adding that there was no evidence that it would be “contrary to any of the children’s best interest,” the judge ordered that Melanie Morgan’s right to be a parent to her children would be terminated.

    Her oldest son returned home when he turned 18. The two younger boys, now 10 and 7, however, haven’t seen their mother in the 20 months that have passed since Morgan’s rights were terminated in November 2007.

    What has Jack Kresnak worried is the number of similar stories that may be in the offing as Michigan’s economy continues to deteriorate.

    From reporter to activist

    Like Richard Wexler, Kresnak initially made his mark as an award-winning reporter covering child welfare issues. After a 38-year career with the Detroit Free Press, he became president and CEO of the nonprofit group Michigan’s Children last year.

    The combination of an economic tsunami that’s overwhelming the state in terms of job losses and a budget crisis that has its roots in a tax-reduction policy that stretches back 20 years has resulted in a situation where the state is “severely cutting or outright eliminating programs designed to help keep families together.”

    Unlike Wexler, Kresnak doesn’t see the shadowy hand of some foster care-industrial complex at work, but rather shortsighted politicians who won’t look beyond their own term-limited time in office.

    Cut housing subsidies and you have homeless kids, reduce aid to poor families and you have water and heat and electricity being shut off and food being taken off the table.

    Lose that on the front end, he says, and you end up “spending a whole lot of money paying strangers to take care of other people’s kids.”

    As of June, a total of 16,545 kids were part of the state’s foster care programs, according to the DHS.

    It’s a problem that Maureen Taylor, state chair of the group Michigan Welfare Rights, has seen growing for the past several years.

    When a family can’t afford food, or can’t wash their clothes because the water is turned off, the official reason children are removed from those homes is because of neglect, she says. But the real reason is poverty.

    Add to that the stigma faced by poor people — the perception that middle-class people can raise your children better than you can.

    It’s not just activists who see things this way. Maxine Thome, executive director of Michigan Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, agrees that there is a “strong correlation between children in foster care and poverty.”

    The Morgan case provides some insight: The court requires a parent to attend counseling and perhaps AA meetings, but how do you do those things and still hold down a job or maybe two jobs if you can’t afford a car?

    “What we do know is that, as poverty increases, people are trying to do their best just to survive,” says Thome. “You get issues like poor nutrition, lack of clothing, children without housing, children walking the street because no one is home.”

    Overburdened caseworkers are a factor too.

    “What I’m hearing from people in the field, folks who are dong the frontline work, is that they have such phenomenal caseloads, and so little time to do thorough assessments, that, because the ultimate goal is to protect the child, the first reaction oftentimes is to remove the child from their homes.”

    A professor at Eastern Michigan University, she also acknowledges that issues of class and color also play a role — even though significant efforts are made to teach aspiring social workers how to overcome innate prejudices.

    Far more significant, though, are the cuts to essential programs.

    That view is echoed in a needs assessment complied by the Child Welfare Resource Center at Michigan State University’s School of Social Work and submitted to the Michigan Department of Human Services.

    The assessment was brought about as part of a settlement to a class action suit launched by the nonprofit group Children’s Rights.

    Insufficient staff, insufficient resources and “limited geographical locations” result in people having less access to needed services, the report points out. It also recognizes that “there is strong connection between the challenges that exist when a family experiences poverty and the barriers that often must be overcome before reunification can occur, even when those barriers are not related to the original reason a child was placed. Issues such as housing, transportation, employment and financial assistance.”

    However, the state is moving in the opposite direction, observes Kresnak.

    “Despite increasing child poverty rates, investments to ameliorate the effects of high unemployment and low opportunity have faltered. Funding for Michigan’s Family Independence Program monthly grants has remained largely unchanged since 1993, causing the purchasing power of the grant to decline by over one-third.”

    Likewise, as Kresnak reports in an analysis of the state’s budget, “since the fiscal year 2000, funding for most of the major child abuse and neglect prevention programs has been cut, even as the number of substantiated child abuse and neglect victims has grown.”

    Richard Wexler’s analysis of an executive order signed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm earlier this year says it led to the cutting of “$19.8 million from prevention programs and basic support for impoverished families. … Also, the proposed FY 2010 budget calls for at least $38 million more in such cuts.”

    And the DHS’ response when asked about further cuts being made to these programs?

    “We agree that these are very painful cuts, but these are unprecedented times in Michigan,” wrote the department’s spokeswoman Steinman. “We will continue to work proactively with our community partners, including the Children’s Trust Fund, to find alternative ways to fund child abuse prevention programs across the state.”
    Courting disaster

    Vivek S. Sankaran, of the U-M Child Advocacy Law Clinic, began his career as an advocate for children. That’s still his primary focus, but after witnessing the child welfare system in action, he came to realize that the best way to protect the interests of kids was to help keep parents from losing custody.

    As he and others interviewed for this story point out, even in homes where there are problems, studies consistently show that, in general, removing children is far more harmful than allowing them to stay with their parents.

    Which is why he took up the case of Melanie Morgan after her parental rights were terminated. What he found was, from the first day Morgan and her husband stepped into that Clinton County courtroom, a miscarriage of justice.

    At the outset of their original hearing, the judge advised both parents that they had a right to be represented by an attorney, and if they could not afford one, then the county would provide one.

    Both parents said they did want to be represented by a lawyer. According to Sankaran, everything should have stopped right then so that counsel could be appointed. But that’s not what happened. Instead, Melanie Morgan continued to go to hearings for more than two years without having the benefit of a lawyer’s advice.

    Not until two weeks before her rights as a parent were terminated was the asked-for attorney made available. At the start, says Morgan, she believed the judge was trying to help keep the family together. There’s a reason she thought that.

    “If I take jurisdiction, that doesn’t mean the kids leave the house,” the judge told the couple. “Sometimes it’s — I have to remove the kids but there are times that I don’t have to remove kids. We can still provide services and work with you, but the kids don’t have to be put in foster care or with a relative. So if you look at this and say, you know, we can admit certain things here — and I take jurisdiction, we don’t have to remove the children just because that happens.”

    In other words, show me you are honest, admit to your mistakes, and we can work things out. And so they did just that.

    They admitted that, six years earlier, that there had been previous neglect charges — evidence of marijuana use was found in their home, says Morgan — but that the case was eventually dropped.

    They also conceded that conditions of the house were deplorable, that an alcoholic relative had been staying in the home, that there’d twice been a failure to pick up their middle son after school, and that the oldest boy had anger and aggression issues.

    In addition, her husband admitted to twice testing positive for marijuana a year earlier, and that he had a few previous run-ins with the law.

    What they didn’t realize, argued Sankaran in court filings, was that these admissions could be used against them in termination proceedings. What they were told was, that by waiving their right to a trial and putting their fate in the hands of the judge, they and their children would begin to get “services.”

    As the lawyers from the Children’s Law Section of the State Bar pointed out, “The entire process was characterized by the trial court as purely benevolent.”

    For the next two years, no challenges were posed to the witnesses testifying against them, and no questions were raised about any of the proceedings.

    The lack of an attorney was one reason to overturn the decision to terminate parental rights, Sankaran argued. Among the other grounds for challenging the decision was the fact that, according to Sankaran, Melanie Morgan essentially did everything the court and DHS asked of her. She underwent counseling, attended drug programs, kept a tidier house, found employment, and began paying off debts.

    But the judge, when terminating Morgan’s parental rights, failed to recognize the progress she’d made and the goals she accomplished.

    Sankaran agrees that termination cases such as these should be treated with all the care of a death penalty case.

    After the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Morgan, deciding that the trial court had improperly terminated her parental rights, DHS and the county Prosecutor’s Office appealed to the state Supreme Court.

    Their argument was that, if the appellate court ruling was allowed to stand, the children would be “detrimentally harmed if they were suddenly sent back” to Morgan.

    “The result of the termination did not cause substantial injustice, the reversal wreaked havoc in the lives of the children. The two younger children were stable and ready for adoption.”

    The high court disagreed, ruling that Morgan has been denied her constitutional right to counsel, and noting that the “interest of parents in the care, custody and control of their children” is “perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court.”

    The ruling was handed down in April. But Melanie Morgan still hasn’t been allowed to see her two youngest boys. In essence, she’s back at Square 1, forced to prove to a new trial court judge that she is a fit parent.

    And there’s a new hurdle in her way, according to attorney Elizabeth Warner, who is now representing Morgan: The state is arguing that the boys, who have been told they were going to be adopted, would be traumatized to learn that instead they would have to be returned to their mother.

    “They say I’m being selfish by wanting them back now,” says Morgan.

    But the way she sees it, the boys need to know that their mother didn’t abandon them.

    “They don’t know that I’ve been fighting all this time to get them back,” says Morgan, brushing away a tear.

    Appointed by Gov. Granholm to the Court of Appeals in 2007, Judge Elizabeth Gleicher says she’s been shocked by the number of parental termination cases she and her fellow judges are being asked to rule in. Looking over a docket for June, she counts off 13 such cases one three-member panel reviewed.

    “Parental rights are being terminated at an astonishing rate,” she says.

    It is the number of cases involving accusations of neglect — not physical or sexual abuse — that has her concerned.

    “We are often not confronting issues of poverty, and to some extent issues of race,” she says.

    Part of the problem, she adds, is the overall capability of lawyers assigned by courts to represent these poor parents.

    “The quality of advocacy is all too often not as effective as it should be,” she says during an interview at her office in Detroit’s New Center area. “They are not well-paid, and they get beaten up by the system.

    “Our resources as a state, and as a system of justice, need to be targeted toward keeping families together. Something needs to be done to rescue this system.”

    And from what she’s seen, many of the cases she’s being asked to review share a lot of similarities with what Melanie Morgan has gone through, and that we as a society should be paying attention to.

    “What more important issue could there be than protecting the makeup of a family?” she asks.

    As for Morgan, what keeps her going, she says, is the belief that she’s going to be reunited with her boys. She can’t allow herself to think that day might not come.

    What she’s not sure about is the way her sons will react.

    “I can’t wait for that day, but I wonder what will happen,” she says. “Will they run up and hug me, or will they stand there looking at me thinking, ‘Who is this woman?’”

    Curt Guyette is Metro Times news editor. Contact him at 313-202-804 or cguyette@metrotimes.com.

    Metro Times – News+Views: Too poor to parent?.

    The War Against Family

    In Activism, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, children criminals, Childrens Rights, Christian, Civil Rights, CPS, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Feminism, Foster CAre Abuse, Homosexual Agenda, Liberty, Marriage, motherlessness, mothers rights, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders on August 1, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Why to fight it—how to win it! By Joel Hilliker and Stephen Flurry

    We are at war.

    The very foundation of stability and strength in the United States and Britain, the traditional family, is being formidably attacked from every direction.

    Just look at the carnage. Fewer people are marrying. Those who do marry are more prone to split up. Roles within marriage and family are reversed. Adultery is increasingly common. Same-sex “marriage” is being written into law. Clearly, marriage is on the ropes.

    Four in 10 American children are born to unwed parents. Children are likelier than ever to grow up without one of their biological parents. They live in households where rebellion and disrespect are tolerated, even encouraged. Fornication is nearly universal. Pornography has gone mainstream. Unwed pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases are at all-time highs. A million American babies are aborted every year. Family is in full retreat.

    Yes, there is a war raging in households across America and throughout the once-mighty United Kingdom. After decades of surrendering ground to a violent and fanatical enemy, what once was a solid family structure is now struggling for survival.

    If you don’t rigorously engage the fight, you and your family will be among its casualties. You have already suffered from it more than you probably realize.

    To successfully resist this dangerous trend, you need to see it clearly—and recognize the unseen force motivating it! Who is behind this war, and why? You must also understand just why it is so deadly.

    Can it be stopped? You need specific strategies for combating it.

    Families Upside-Down

    In his book Democracy in America, published in the 1800s, Alexis de Tocqueville heaped praise on the 19th-century American family. “There is certainly no country in the world where the tie of marriage is more respected than in America,” Tocqueville wrote, “or where conjugal happiness is more highly or worthily appreciated.”

    Today, society-wide immorality, upside-down families and no-fault divorce laws have turned the marriage institution into an almost laughably inconsequential arrangement. Sixty-two percent of Americans view divorce as a “morally acceptable” way to escape an inconvenient union.

    We’ve not only accepted the plague of divorce. Many now see it as the morally right thing to do in most circumstances.

    Those marriages that remain intact often suffer from other curses, like sexual dissatisfaction, financial woes and role confusion.

    Tocqueville lauded the 19th-century American family for accentuating the “diverse” roles men and women undertook in marriage. “They have carefully separated the functions of man and of woman so that the great work of society may be better performed,” he said. The roles of husband and wife, he explained, perfectly complemented one another. “You will never find American women,” Tocqueville wrote, “in charge of the external relations of the family, managing a business or interfering in politics; but they are also never obliged to undertake rough laborer’s work or any task requiring hard physical exertion. No family is so poor that it makes an exception to this rule.”

    Of course, the way marriage and family was arranged back then was much closer to the way God designed it from the very beginning. In Genesis 2, God organized mankind’s first family by making the man first and then creating the woman out of his rib. In verse 18, He called the woman a “help meet,” meaning opposite or counterpart.

    According to Tocqueville, Americans understood that while men and women were made to fulfill different roles within the family hierarchy, each role was equal in importance.

    Today, these unique roles have been reversed. Men have forsaken their responsibilities in the home as the family’s primary leader, provider, protector and educator. A growing number of wives (and children) simply miss out on the positive impact an involved father has on the family.

    Making matters worse, a deafening chorus of politicians, activists, psychologists and entertainers maintain that husbands and fathers are unnecessary for the overall health and well-being of society.

    Wives, meanwhile, have largely abandoned their most important duties at home—being a supportive helpmeet and loving mother. In 1950, for example, one in four married women between the ages of 25 and 44 were employed outside the home. Today, three in four are. While the hours that men and single women work are roughly the same as they were 50 years ago, married women’s hours working outside the home have tripled. Caring for children while Dad is at work is no longer the primary responsibility for most mothers.

    As a consequence, children are largely left to themselves—growing up without proper, godly direction or a clear code of ethics upon which they can build their future families.

    Targeting Children

    Without a strong parental influence at home, children have become easy targets for evil forces—particularly regarding sex. Most Americans and Britons have now accepted premarital sex as inevitable for teens, which is why the primary focus for government-sponsored sex education is on teaching young people to be “safe” once they become sexually active. This approach, of course, encourages sexual activity among teens, which in turn increases the frequency of illegitimate births, sexually transmitted diseases and abortion.

    In July, the level of sexual depravity reached a new low in Britain when the National Health Service produced a sex education pamphlet for schoolchildren. According to the Daily Mail, the publication complained that when it comes to sex, sociologists pay too much attention to “safe sex” and “loving relationships” and not enough to the subject of sensual pleasure. Teenagers, says the pamphlet’s author, have as much right to a good sex life as do adults.

    Britain, it should be noted, has the highest teen pregnancy rate in Europe and second highest in the developed world, trailing only the United States. Of the 40,000 British girls who will be impregnated this year, half will opt for abortion (article, page 37).

    The Homosexual Agenda

    Sociologists aren’t the only ones working overtime to undermine the traditional family in Britain—political leaders are too. This past summer, British Conservative Party leader David Cameron issued an apology on behalf of his party for legislation passed in 1988 banning the promotion of homosexuality in schools. Known as “Section 28,” the law was introduced by then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and was repealed by Tony Blair in 2003. For 15 years, the bill banned local councils from using taxpayer money to fund anything that showed homosexual relationships as normal, and made promoting “the teaching … of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship” illegal in schools.

    Conservative mp Dame Jill Knight, one of the main supporters of Section 28 back in the ’80s, spoke in 1999 about why the law had been introduced: “Parents certainly came to me and told me what was going on. They gave me some of the books with which little children as young as 5 and 6 were being taught. There was The Playbook for Kids About Sex in which brightly colored pictures of little stick men showed all about homosexuality and how it was done.”

    Britain’s leading “conservative” politician has now apologized for his nation having ever banned such perversity.

    Not to be outdone, the Labor Party is also working diligently to woo homosexual voters. Prime Minister Gordon Brown recently hosted leading homosexual advocates at his house on Downing Street. “I’m very proud of all that this government has achieved on lgbt [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] rights these last 12 years—often in the face of fierce opposition,” Mr. Brown said.

    In America, President Barack Obama also played host to a large gathering of homosexuals at the White House on June 29. He had proclaimed June as “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month” to commemorate the 40-year anniversary of the lgbt rights movement in America. This struggle, Obama told more than 250 homosexuals at the White House reception, is “incredibly difficult.”

    “There are unjust laws to overturn and unfair practices to stop,” he continued. “And though we’ve made progress, there are still fellow citizens, perhaps neighbors or even family members and loved ones, who still hold fast to worn arguments and old attitudes; who fail to see your families like their families; and who would deny you the rights that most Americans take for granted” (emphasis ours throughout).

    He thinks we still have a long way to go. But just imagine what defenders of more traditional family values from generations ago would think about where we are today!

    According to the New York Times, the first time homosexual leaders were even invited to the White House was in 1977. And in that instance, President Carter skipped the meeting and sent a mid-level aide instead.

    What a difference 30 years makes. Today, Britain’s National Health Service, of all institutions, encourages teenagers to enjoy promiscuous sex. The leading “conservative” in Britain is apologizing for a 1988 law that prevented homosexual propaganda from being poured into the super-absorbent minds of 5-year-olds. The White House is hosting celebrations for homosexuals, bisexuals and transgenders. And we have a U.S. president who sees it as his duty to change the minds of Americans who still have “old attitudes” about homosexuality.

    Truly, the most basic building block of a strong and stable civilization—the traditional family structure—is suffering attack from every direction. And sadly, as traditional family life crumbles, movies, television and popular songs glorify the dysfunction.

    Sign of the Times

    Herbert W. Armstrong recognized this war on the institution of family decades ago—and accurately predicted where it would lead. The threat, he wrote in 1976, was twofold. First, there is the prophesied breakdown of traditional marriage and family relationships. Added to that, he continued, “there is a widespread and aggressive conspiracy to destroy the institution of marriage” (Plain Truth, July 1976).

    As alarmist as that might have seemed in 1976, who can deny it today?

    “This is a war which is being vigorously and fanatically waged,” Mr. Armstrong wrote. “Every subtle method is being employed to capture the minds of those of pre-marriage age.” Clearly, those minds were captured. Now they are 33 years older and, trapped in their own ignorance and error, have raised another generation even more deceived about marriage and family.

    Most people have followed blindly along with the trend. But even among those who recognize it as a destructive drift that should be resisted, few understand just why it is happening and what is so wrong with it!

    Why such a vicious assault on marriage and family? Why is the downward trend so rapid?

    There is an unseen spiritual reason!

    True, as Mr. Armstrong said, the breakdown of traditional marriage and family relationships was prophesied. In fact, it was a sign the biblical prophets gave of the last days—the days right before Jesus Christ’s Second Coming.

    Everything about our modern-day dysfunctional society is exactly as the Prophet Isaiah said it would be: with women ruling the homes, children oppressing society and behaving arrogantly against their elders, and people parading the most heinous of their sins with pride (Isaiah 3:12, 5, 9). The Apostle Paul prophesied of our epidemic selfishness, preoccupation with material things, disobedient children, loss of natural familial affection (such as is manifest in the appalling abortion rate), and other rampant problems (2 Timothy 3:1-5). Christ Himself foretold that just before His return to this Earth in power and glory, our sophisticated, ultra-modern, anti-God society would revert back to the way it was in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah (Luke 17:28-30).

    Compelling evidence that we are indeed living in the very last days!

    Civilization, as Mr. Armstrong wrote in The Missing Dimension in Sex, is on the way down and out—except that God prophesied to intervene with a mighty hand to save us from utter destruction!

    But the question yet remains: Why is mankind following this destructive course? Who is behind it? How did God know this is the road we would travel? And how can we resist this trend and win this war in our own homes?

    The answers have everything to do with why God created marriage and family in the first place.

    God Created Man

    Did you realize that marriage and family are institutions unique to human beings among all of God’s creation?

    That’s right. No other animal on Earth—in fact, not even any of the angelic beings that God created—was meant to enjoy the blessings of family life! Marriage and family relationships are utterly unique to us. Do you know why?

    In the first chapter of the Bible, you see God adorning the Earth with all manner of plant and animal life, creating conditions ideal for human beings. It then informs us, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness …. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:26-27). There is much to note in these pivotal verses.

    First, who is this “us”? Scripture shows that there were in fact two Beings here, members of the one Godhead (see, for example, John 1:1, 14). These two later became a Family—when the Most High God begat Jesus Christ in the womb of the virgin Mary. At that point they became Father and Son.

    What does it mean that mankind was created after God’s likeness, in God’s image? It means that we look like God, and that we are meant to be fashioned after His very own perfect character. That is because He has implanted within us an incredible potential far greater than that given to anything else He has created!

    Finally, why did God create male and female? Clearly, He made the conscious decision to divide us into these two groups. In His design, family begins with the joining of a man and woman—though science is working to eliminate this inevitability. Sex is not an accident of evolution, nor an arbitrary ornament on creation, but a conscious, deliberate choice with design and intent made by a super-intelligent Creator!

    The relentless drive over the past half century in particular to equalize the sexes has completely obscured and destroyed the very deep and important reasons for God’s creative implementation of sex differences. Homosexuality, in effect, treats this essential component of creation as if it were mere decoration—even a mistake on God’s part. But are you willing to consider the reasoning, the logic, in His decision? This God who reveals Himself in the Bible claims that His thoughts are higher than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).

    Why Marriage and Family?

    In the next chapter in Genesis comes the truth that God created Eve as a “help meet” for Adam, and bound these two for life within the unique institution of marriage.

    Again, why? Look at the animals and you can see that marriage is not necessary for procreation. Animals may exhibit a certain loyalty to certain other animals, but only humans have the multifaceted emotional and legal relationships associated with marriage and family.

    Until a few generations ago, the concept of marriage and family was taken for granted—generally accepted as desirable—a means of rearing responsible children and producing a stable society. However, even then the deep understanding of why marriage was widely unknown.

    Why? Because this is fundamentally spiritual knowledge!

    Marriage is not a mere tradition. It is actually a sacred institution, established by God at the creation of humankind! It was created for specific purposes and designed to function according to definite laws. God also created our anatomies so that this two-person relationship is what generates children. He designed human development to occur slowly in order to make family life necessary: Children are completely dependent upon their parents, and parents must love, nurture, protect, educate and discipline their children.

    God intended these covenant relationships to bring stability into our lives, to teach us faithfulness and loyalty, and to give us the opportunity to learn to live unselfishly with others as a harmonious team.

    God could have made us all alike, never established marriage, provided some other means of reproduction, had us born with fully developed bodies and minds. He could have done things any number of other ways. But He did it this way for a reason.

    Why? To one who doesn’t understand God’s purpose for mankind, it might seem somewhat arbitrary. Why male and female? Why marriage? Why do we reproduce through sex? Why children? Why family?

    But the answer is clear to anyone who understands the truth revealed in the Bible but not generally understood—that of the incredible human potential.

    The way God designed male, female, marriage and children, the family unit naturally creates a government structure patterned after the God Family pattern.

    God designed all of these things the way He did to prepare us for eternal life in His Family!

    The truth of this reality far surpasses the insipid view of an afterlife spent sitting on a cloud strumming a harp. God is about to establish a Kingdom, here on Earth, ruling all nations, with literal positions of king-priesthood to be filled by human beings transformed into Spirit-born members of the God Family! (Request our book The Incredible Human Potential for a thorough biblical explanation of this truth.)

    This is why the human family is so critical in God’s mind. We need family, as God designed it, in order to really prepare for positions in God’s Family! Done right, marriage is intended to teach spiritual lessons about the God Family (e.g. Ephesians 5:31-33). A child growing up in a godly family learns spiritual lessons. In other words, if a family is run as God intended it, there are God-plane dynamics at work—living lessons in God’s government and family love!

    Behind the Anti-Family Front

    It is true that not being in such a family does not in any way disqualify someone from God’s Kingdom. However, they still must learn deeply about why marriage and why family.

    To take it upon ourselves to redefine what a family is, to spurn God’s standard and set up our own, to presume that our ideas which are totally contrary to God’s are in fact superior in design and in the results they produce—this is the height of both arrogance and folly!

    Yes, there is a war being waged over marriage and family. On one side are those trying to preserve God’s design; on the other are those trying to destroy God’s design!

    Marriage and family have everything to do with the gospel of God—which is the good news of the coming Family of God. This is why it is so important to God. “Adultery, fornication, masturbation, homosexuality are so colossally sinful because they violate, pollute, profane and destroy something so holy and so monumentally righteous in God’s sight!” (Herbert W. Armstrong, The Missing Dimension in Sex).

    The true force motivating the anti-family front is a spirit being, revealed in Scripture, who was never offered the opportunity to be in God’s Family (our free book Mystery of the Ages explains this truth). He was never given the creative power to reproduce himself. He hates family and wants to blot it out forever! This is the adversary—Satan the devil—who first deceived Eve into turning against God (Genesis 3:1-6) and has since deceived the whole world (Revelation 12:9). He is bent on nothing less than the destruction of humanity.

    Satan seeks the complete destruction of family. He knows that by destroying families, he can destroy nations and can blind people to the simple, hope-filled truth of God—so he is doing everything he can to devastate that God-plane relationship!

    Truly, we are witnessing a titanic war over marriage and family. But God is not going to lose this war!

    God’s Solution

    God created humankind in His own image and likeness—to be productive, noble and free—to grow in godly character through the rich experiences and responsibilities of family life—to, ultimately, gain entrance into His own Family.

    The anti-family agenda breaks down character, tramples on that potential, and destroys the family vision of God. But in our sophistication, that is considered good! What God esteems, men scorn—and what men exalt, God calls an abomination!

    Thus, God thunders this message to our modern world: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:20-21).

    Yes—woe! Track the prophecies of our family breakdown—of our upside-down marriages, of our lust-filled, adulterous culture, of our failure to govern our children, of our return to the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah—and you will see that God also promises to forcibly correct those problems!

    Peter, the chief apostle, spoke of the anti-family history of Sodom and Gomorrah as a prophecy. God turned those cities “into ashes,” and in so doing He made them “an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly” (2 Peter 2:6). The epistle of Jude speaks of these two cities as suffering the “vengeance of eternal fire.” Jude wrote that God set them forth as an example for our day!

    These men were warning that any people getting caught up in those sins should expect the same end! When you live in cities polluted like Sodom and Gomorrah, look out—they are about to be destroyed by fire!—this time, likely in the form of nuclear bombs and other modern means. It is probably the strongest warning example in the Bible!

    This is not an outdated Old Testament story—it is New Testament doctrine. Christ Himself prophesied that in the last days, evil conditions would again warrant the cataclysmic destruction that Sodom faced (Luke 17:28-30). He warned about destruction so thorough that unless He personally intervened, no flesh would be saved alive (Matthew 24:22).

    Jesus also reminded us of Noah’s day, saying, “And as it was in the days of [Noah], so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that [Noah] entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:26-27). Obviously God doesn’t condemn eating or drinking; nor does He condemn marrying and giving in marriage. This is a prophecy of a society whose behavior in these areas has careened completely offtrack! It is speaking of the horrific effects of today’s war on family!

    And God says that, just as He left Sodom and Gomorrah in ashes, and just as He inflicted worldwide destruction in Noah’s time, He is about to destroy today’s sin-sick world.

    But the prophecies do not end in that destruction. They end in hope! And it is there that we find the solutions we seek—solid answers on how to win this war on family in our own homes, even today.

    The Answer Is Family

    Once God brings a swift, decisive end to the anti-family trends, He will begin to set things right. And do you know how He will do so?

    By educating mankind in and implementing the same family law that He put in place from the beginning!

    When He establishes His Kingdom after Jesus Christ’s return, family will be restored to its rightful place at the heart of civilization. Christ will marry His bride, the Church (Revelation 19:7). That blissfully perfect marriage will set the example for marriages throughout the Earth. “Thus saith the Lord; Again there shall be heard … in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, that are desolate … The voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall say, Praise the Lord of hosts: for the Lord is good; for his mercy endureth for ever …” (Jeremiah 33:10-11).

    Children will no longer oppress their elders. They will be taught respect, and everyone will be the happier for it. “Thus saith the Lord of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof” (Zechariah 8:4-5).

    These are the wonderful effects that implementing God’s law will produce. Among these laws are those governing the marital roles (e.g. Ephesians 5:29-33; 1 Timothy 5:8), the safeguarding of sex within the marital relationship (e.g. Exodus 20:14, 17), and the lifelong nature of the arrangement (Luke 16:18; 1 Corinthians 7:39). Also among them are the laws and principles governing the parent-child relationship (e.g. Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 6:6-7) and establishing godly government and order in the home.

    Those laws are as absolute as the physical laws governing the universe. When they are broken, unhappiness and dissatisfaction result—as our sick society amply proves.

    But when they are kept—when they are taught, cherished and obeyed—everyone benefits!

    This is how—even today—you can successfully fight the war on family. Study and obey God’s basic spiritual laws governing the family! Even if one lacks the spiritual understanding of their spiritual purposes, keeping those laws—set in inexorable motion by the Creator of marriage, family and all that exists—will bring stability, harmony, happiness and peace into your own home.

    God is a Family! He created the physical family as a means to introduce us into His Family! What is more beautiful than a strong, godly family? We must learn the beauty of family. That is where the excitement is. Once you understand God’s purpose, it is clear that real hope comes through the family—as God designed it! What it leads into boggles the mind!

    We can be thankful to God that His supernatural intervention in the affairs of mankind, as prophesied in hundreds of biblical passages, is now just ahead of us. In the not-too-distant future, the world-ruling Family of God will vigorously teach all of mankind the just and holy laws He always intended to govern the sacred institutions of marriage and family!

    Our free booklet Why Marriage!—Soon Obsolete? gives a stirring explanation of the reasons for marriage and family. The Missing Dimension in Sex goes further into the God-ordained purposes for sex. The Incredible Human Potential explains in hope-filled detail the inspiring future these institutions are intended to prepare us for. You need this knowledge! You need the genuine hope that comes from a deep understanding of this beautiful, inspiring subject.

    The War Against Family | theTrumpet.com.

    Men are often silent victims of domestic violence – Family/Relationships – San Luis Obispo

    In Child Custody, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Feminism, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, Liberty, Marriage, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine on July 31, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    Thursday, Jul. 30, 2009

    Men are often silent victims of domestic violence

    | divorce360.com

    On July 4, former NFL star Steve McNair was shot dead by a girlfriend. McNair, 36, a married man, was shot four times in his sleep on the Fourth of July by a girlfriend that was 16 years his junior. The girlfiend, Sahel Kazemi, then killed herself. According to the police, Kazemi was upset about financial problems and believed that McNair was seeing someone else.

    According to the Department of Justice report on the National Violence Against Women Survey, nearly 900,000 men are victims of physical violence by a domestic partner. That roughly translates to a man being beaten every 38 seconds. The government counts both heterosexual and homosexual male victims of abuse in the study.

    In general, the gender breakdown of callers to the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) is 85 percent women to 15 percent men. From 2003 to present, male victims calling the hotline represent a mere 2.41 percent of all calls. Even so, NDVH have recorded calls for help from 19,046 men in that five-year period.

    “Many male victims/survivors do not report or discuss the abuse against them,” says Emily Toothman, a spokesperson for the NDVH. “In light of this, these numbers should not be used as an extensive study of male domestic violence victims in our country. However, I hope these numbers offer some insight into this relatively unidentified population.”

    Of the men living with abusive women, most do not report incidents of abuse to police unless the injury is significant enough to result in emergency medical care. The primary reason for non-reporting is shame. Because of this trend, scientific studies by a number of renowned universities and social agencies, and governmental departments such as the Department of Justice, uncover a better picture of this victim group than police and court records.

    Studies show that men are more likely to be hit with an object or stabbed while women are more likely to be hit with a fist, kicked or shot. While abused men remain in the relationship for many reasons, the top three reasons, according to the Department of Justice report are:

    1. Protecting their children.

    Fearing the courts will automatically give custody to the mother, the father worries that his children will be abused if they leave the family home.

    2. Assuming blame.

    In this situation, men buy into the woman’s reasons for delivering abuse rather than recognizing the abuse is unreasonable. This trait is common among both women and men.

    3. Dependency.

    The man is dependent on the woman for financial, social, or emotional support and fears the loss of such if he leaves the relationship. This trait, too, is shared between women and men suffering abuse.

    “The good news is that organizations like the NDVH help both men and women. We can even direct men to support groups and help lines in their own communities,” says Patty Perez, spokesperson for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

    The toll free number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), and the web site address for more information is http://www.ndvh.org/.

    Visit divorce360.com for help before, during and after divorce.

    Men are often silent victims of domestic violence – Family/Relationships – San Luis Obispo.

    When will we have hated men enough? – Parental Alienation (Canada)

    In Activism, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children legal status, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, custody, deadbeat dads, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, Marriage, motherlessness, mothers rights, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders, Sociopath on July 22, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Tuesday, July 21, 2009

    When will we have hated men enough?


    I left this comment on site in response to a man hater, see below, spouting the most infamous of the Victim Feminist Stats.

    Not a Hater: You destroy your credibility by pulling out all these Victim Feminist factoids that aren’t supported by peer reviewed studies. Most of them originated in the Liz Library the propaganda warehouse of victomology’s specious arguments. Given single parent females are by far the largest predatory killers of their children and perpetrators of child abuse one could then turn your argument around and state those who would abuse and kill children will also do so to their intimate partners. That argument is as fallacious as yours. The current DV industry is a self feeding female centric operation that requires a steady supply of reported victims to keep getting its funding. If the problem was finding a solution think of all the unemployment and loss of income for its parasitic apologists and hangers on. Its a human problem involving both genders and will not get resolved without changing paradigms. I use sugar free cool aid – keeps me from getting hyper. 🙂MJM

    July 20, 10:22 AM · Trudy Schuett – Domestic Violence Examiner

    These are very strange times we live in. On one hand, we have the murder of a high-profile sports figure virtually ignored by mainstream media, since the apparent perpetrator was a woman; on the other, we have somebody like Cathy Young speaking out in the Boston Globe on behalf of the large – and growing – number of domestic violence victims who are male.

    While a nominee for the Supreme Court gets away with expressing an obvious bigotry against white males, in San Diego County efforts are being made to correct the damage done to its citizens by that same kind of bigotry.

    In the comments section here, I’ve seen readers (both male and female) express a surprising degree of hatred against men I haven’t personally witnessed in years. One man even expressed a notion I’d thought had long ago been debunked – that anyone showing any sympathy for male victims of DV must secretly be supporting the patriarchy in their efforts to systematically beat women down. Talk about old-hat conspiracy theories! I figure the guy has an org to support and needs the attention.

    Another commenter (a girl this time) suggested I only need to read some feminist blog to see the evidence of the evil men do. Sorry, dear, but 57 years of living with and around actual men, (three of those years spent around Marines) tells a quite different story. Many different stories, in fact; when the feminist blog has only one, repeated time after time, often with facts altered to suit the running narrative.

    At some point the idea of causing as much damage as possible to half the members of society on ideological grounds must be recognized as damaging for society as a whole. The troubles in Ireland, Protestants vs Catholics, were certainly not progressive or healing, neither were the clashes between Serbs and Croats in eastern Europe. While the current war against men has not resulted in open conflict, with bombs and active combat, there are still casualties, with deaths, physical injuries and unlawful imprisonment among them.

    Dragging people with serious troubles in their relationships into a war not of their making, forcing them to become supporters of a political cause, is not only dishonest but immoral.

    If you believe that the current DV industry has any kind of mandate to provide realistic help for battered women or anyone else, you need to read and comprehend this statement made by Barbara Hart, professional victim and divorce lawyer, whose lucrative legal practice was for many years run on referrals from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, until somebody noticed that might be inappropriate.

    She says:

    As long as we as a culture accept the principle and privilege of male dominance, men will continue to be abusive. As long as we as a culture accept and tolerate violence against women, men will continue to be abusive.

    All men benefit from the violence of batterers. There is no man who has not enjoyed the male privilege resulting from male domination reinforced by the use of physical violence . . . All women suffer as a consequence of men’s violence. Battering by individual men keeps all women in line. While not every woman has experienced violence, there is no woman in this society who has not feared it, restricting her activities and her freedom to avoid it. Women are always watchful knowing that they may be the arbitrary victims of male violence.

    This outrageous and entirely unsupportable statement was featured on many state coalition’s websites, including that of my home state of Arizona for some time. Almost any woman can negate or disprove this statement from her own experience, yet this is the basis on which most of today’s DV programs were founded, and continue to operate, using your tax dollars to do so. It is little more than a conspiracy theory, with more than a dash of hate in the mix.

    Try this alternate statement:

    As long as we as a culture accept the principle and privilege of female dominance, women will continue to be abusive. As long as we as a culture accept and tolerate violence against men, women will continue to be abusive.

    All women benefit from the violence of batterers. There is no woman who has not enjoyed the female privilege resulting from female domination reinforced by the use of physical violence . . . All men suffer as a consequence of women’s violence. Battering by individual women keeps all men in line. While not every man has experienced violence, there is no man in this society who has not feared it, restricting his activities and his freedom to avoid it. Men are always watchful knowing that they may be the arbitrary victims of female violence.

    In 2009, the second statement makes somewhat more sense, as in a way it depicts the direction things are headed, but it is still divisive and does not actually address the issue as experienced by the vast majority of today’s couples.

    Those currently running the DV industry benefit directly from keeping the status quo. Many whose jobs are in the industry only have degrees in women’s studies, which are virtually useless in the job market, and therefore would not have jobs otherwise. Others have spent years building careers on the feminist philosophy of DV and would not last long in an industry based on DV as a human, non-gender-related, apolitical issue. Still others have simply become addicted to the power and control their positions give them over women and their families.

    Consequently, they will continue to misrepresent the issue, even when that misrepresentation directly violates concepts such as gender equality and peace they claim to support.

    It is true that partner abuse is an uncomfortable, complicated, subject. However, to continue to allow those claiming expertise, while only operating out of self-interest and bigotry, to manipulate and control the fates of thousands of families every year is something we cannot allow to continue. It is up to those of us who do not directly benefit from the industry-implemented war against men to point out the many weaknesses in the industry, among them the fact of little or no return on investment, or the fact that no appreciable change or progress has been made in this industry in decades, while nearly all other human services have evolved and advanced.

    We owe it to ourselves and our neighbors: we need to stop hating men, as it will never be enough for those who live on our hatred, and benefit from the misery it causes. We need to realize only those with an agenda say we should hate and despise half our world, while ignoring the needs of the other half.

    Copyright 2009 Examiner.com. All rights reserved.

    Author

    Trudy Schuett is an Examiner from the National Edition. You can see Trudy’s articles at: “http://www.Examiner.com/x-12866-Domestic-Violence-Examiner”

    http://www.examiner.com/x-12866-Domestic-Violence-Examiner~y2009m7d20-When-will-we-have-hated-men-enough

    Mike Murphy says:

    Not a Hater: You destroy your credibility by pulling out all these Victim Feminist factoids that aren’t supported by peer reviewed studies. Most of them originated in the Liz Library the propaganda warehouse of victomology’s specious arguments. Given single parent females are by far the largest predatory killers of their children and perpetrators of child abuse one could then turn your argument around and state those who would abuse and kill children will also do so to their intimate partners. That argument is as fallacious as yours. The current DV industry is a self feeding female centric operation that requires an steady supply of reported victims to keep getting its funding. If the problem was finding a solution think of all the unemployment and loss of income for its parasitic apologists and hangers on. Its a human problem involving both genders and will not get resolved without changing paradigms. I use sugar free cool aid – keeps me from getting hyper. 🙂 July 21, 11:16 AM

    Parental Alienation (Canada): When will we have hated men enough?.

    California Appeals Court Reverses Termination of Mother’s Rights

    In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children legal status, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, Department of Social Servies, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, Family Court Reform, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, kidnapped children, Marriage, motherlessness, mothers rights, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights on July 21, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    In re T.M., No. C059898

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    Juvenile court order terminating parental rights is reversed where no opportunity to reunify was ever afforded to the child’s mother, nor did she have an opportunity to challenge a request to deny her services.

    Read In re T.M., No. C059898 in PDF

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    In re T. M. (2009) , Cal.App.4th

    [No. C059898. Third Dist. Jul. 17, 2009.]

    In re T. M., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law.

    SACRAMENTO COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. C. M., Defendant and Appellant.

    (Superior Court of Sacramento County, No. JD226226, Dean L. Petersen, Juvenile Court Referee., Judge.)

    (Opinion by Cantil-Sakauye, J., with Blease, Acting P. J., and Robie, J., concurring.)

    COUNSEL

    Elaine Forrester, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.

    Robert A. Ryan, Jr. County Counsel, Lilly C. Frawley, Deputy County Counsel, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

    OPINION

    CANTIL-SAKAUYE, J.-

    C.M., mother of the minor, appeals from orders of the juvenile court terminating her parental rights. (Welf. & Inst. {Slip Opn. Page 2} Code, §§ 366.26, 395.) fn. 1 Appellant contends the court could not terminate her parental rights because it found that no reunification services were provided to her. We reverse.

    FACTS

    The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) removed the newborn minor from appellant’s custody in August 2007 following appellant’s detention on a psychiatric hold pursuant to section 5150. The social worker was unable to contact appellant at the mental health facility and appellant did not contact the social worker prior to the detention hearing in the juvenile court.

    According to the jurisdiction/disposition report, appellant called the social worker several times but did not leave any contact information and appellant’s whereabouts were unknown. Appellant had ongoing mental health problems and it became apparent during the social worker’s investigation that appellant was also abusing drugs. DHHS recommended denial of services to appellant pursuant to section 361.5, subdivision (b)(1), because her whereabouts were unknown and she had failed to come forward to be assessed for services. If appellant did come forward during the next six months, the social worker intended to assess her needs and develop a plan at that time. A declaration of due {Slip Opn. Page 3} diligence in the search for appellant was attached to the report.

    At the jurisdiction/disposition hearing, there was discussion about whether to make the findings to support denial of services pursuant to section 361.5, subdivision (b)(1) because the DHHS intended to offer appellant services if she contacted the social worker. However, the court did adopt the previously recommended findings which supported denial of services pursuant to section 361.5, subdivision (b)(1) and no case plan was developed. The court set a six-month review hearing.

    The report for the six-month review hearing stated that a therapist from a psychiatric facility in Fresno contacted the social worker in October 2007 and told the social worker appellant had been a patient there but had been discharged. The therapist was unable to provide contact information for appellant. In November 2007, a public defender from Fresno called and told the social worker appellant was in a locked psychiatric facility. A conservator had been appointed for appellant because she was unable to care for her own basic needs. Prior to establishment of the conservatorship, appellant was placed on multiple psychiatric holds during September and October of 2007.

    Because appellant was receiving a broad range of services in the psychiatric facility, no case plan was developed and the {Slip Opn. Page 4} social worker simply instructed appellant to comply with her treatment goals. Appellant’s counselor reported that appellant had made no progress in treatment since she refused to participate and address her treatment goals. Appellant had been approved for a year of treatment in the locked facility. Appellant also called the social worker and provided the name of her conservator. The six-month review hearing report recommended termination of services.

    Counsel was appointed to represent appellant. At the six-month review hearing, appellant’s counsel observed that services were not offered to appellant pursuant to section 361.5, subdivision (b)(1) because appellant’s whereabouts were initially unknown. Counsel further stated that no plan was developed when appellant was located because she resided in a facility which provided appropriate services to her. According to counsel, appellant’s conservator’s assessment was that appellant could not meaningfully participate in services and counsel requested the court to amend the recommended findings and orders to reflect that no services were previously ordered. The court granted the request and made the appropriate changes to eliminate any findings to the contrary. fn. 2 The court set a {Slip Opn. Page 5} section 366.26 hearing over appellant’s objection. Notice of her right to review the order by writ was mailed to appellant, her conservator, and her guardian ad litem. fn. 3

    The report for the selection and implementation hearing stated there had been no contact between appellant and the minor since the minor was placed in protective custody. Appellant had a new conservator who told the social worker appellant was diagnosed with a psychotic disorder, visitation with the minor would not be constructive and appellant’s anger issues might make visits harmful for the minor.

    At the hearing, appellant’s counsel entered a general objection to termination of parental rights. The court adopted the recommended findings and orders, terminated parental rights, and freed the minor for adoption.

    DISCUSSION

    Appellant argues the order terminating parental rights must be reversed because it violated the provisions of section {Slip Opn. Page 6} 366.26, subdivision (c)(2)(A). (See also Cal. Rules of Court, rule 5.725(f).) fn. 4 We agree.

    Section 366.26, subdivision (c)(2)(A) provides: “The court shall not terminate parental rights if . . . [a]t each hearing at which the court was required to consider reasonable efforts or services, the court has found that reasonable efforts were not made or that reasonable services were not offered or provided.” fn. 5 The juvenile court is required to consider whether the agency has made reasonable efforts at each six-month status review hearing. (§ 366.)

    The only such hearing in this case was the six-month review hearing following disposition. At that hearing, “[i]f the child is not returned to his or her parent . . . the court shall determine whether reasonable services that were designed to aid the parent . . . in overcoming the problems that led to the initial removal and the continued custody of the child have been provided or offered to the parent . . . .” (§§ 366.21, subd. (e); see also 366.21, subd. (g)(1)(c); 366.22, subd. (a).) {Slip Opn. Page 7} Here, reasonable services were not offered because no services were offered pursuant to section 361.5, subdivision (b)(1). Appellant’s counsel expressly requested the juvenile court correct the record to so reflect. We view counsel’s request and the juvenile court’s response as justified and appropriate within the context of the record as a whole. This factual setting does not, however, end the inquiry.

    As we have said, section 366.26, subdivision (c)(2)(A) applies when “reasonable services were not offered or provided.” On the other hand, dependency law permits the juvenile court to decline to order reunification services under the specific circumstances detailed in section 361.5, subdivisions (b) and (e). The circumstances, with the exception of subdivision (b)(1), describe situations where provision of services is futile or detrimental to the minor, generally where the parent is unable or unwilling to participate in services or where offering services would place the minor at risk of harm or other detriment. The question is whether the Legislature intended to prevent adoption when any of those circumstances were found to exist and services were not offered. (See Mark N. v. Superior Court (1998) 60 Cal.App.4th 996, 1018.) To fully understand the interplay of these two statutes, it is necessary to review the legislative history of section 366.26, subdivision (c)(2)(A).

    As originally enacted, section 366.26 did not include the language now found in subdivision (c)(2)(A). (Stats. 1987, {Slip Opn. Page 8} ch. 1485, § 47.) The language was added in 1991 as part of a bill making various technical changes to the dependency statutes and adding new provisions regarding services for incarcerated women. (Sen. Bill No. 475 (1991 Reg. Sess.); Stats. 1991, ch. 820, § 5.) At that time, section 366.22, which describes the procedures for 18-month review hearings, included a provision that required the juvenile court to determine that reasonable services were provided to the parent before the court developed a permanent plan for the minor. (Stats. 1989, ch. 913, § 14.) The 1991 amendments deleted that provision of section 366.22 and added subdivision (c)(2)(A) to section 366.26, which barred termination of parental rights, but not other permanent plans, when reasonable efforts were not made or reasonable services were not offered. (Stats. 1991, ch. 820, § 5.)

    Section 361.5, which permits denial of services under subdivisions (b) and (e), states that “[i]f the court, pursuant to paragraph (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), (7), (8), (9), (10), (11), (12), (13), (14), or (15) of subdivision (b) or paragraph (1) of subdivision (e) does not order reunification services, it shall . . . determine if a hearing under Section 366.26 shall be set in order to determine whether adoption, guardianship, or long-term foster care is the most appropriate plan for the child . . . .” (§ 361.5, subd. (f).) This subdivision of section 361.5 has not significantly changed (see Stats 1990, {Slip Opn. Page 9} ch. 1530, § 6) since before subdivision (c)(2)(A) was added to section 366.26, and the Legislature is presumed to have been aware of it when amending section 366.26, subdivision (c)(2)(A). (Estate of McDill (1975) 14 Cal.3d 831, 837-838.) In interpreting the dependency scheme as a whole (DuBois v. Worker’s Comp. Appeals Bd. (1993) 5 Cal.4th 382, 388), and reading the parts to avoid an absurdity (People v. King (1993) 5 Cal.4th 59, 69), section 366.26, subdivision (c)(2)(A) cannot be read to bar adoption when services are denied pursuant to the subdivisions specified in section 361.5, subdivision (f). The Legislature could not have intended to abrogate the earlier provisions in section 361.5 which contemplated adoption of a minor when services were not offered to the parent as either being futile or detrimental to the minor.

    However, section 361.5, subdivision (b)(1), the basis for the denial of services to appellant, is not listed in section 361.5, subdivision (f) as one of the circumstances which can directly lead to setting a section 366.26 hearing at which adoption may be considered. This does not mean the minor must remain in limbo. Even if reunification is not to occur, permanency is an important consideration for a dependent child. (In re Marilyn H. (1993) 5 Cal.4th 295, 309.) Subdivision (c)(2)(A) of section 366.26 simply bars termination of parental rights when the parent has never been offered services because the parent’s whereabouts were unknown or when the agency has not {Slip Opn. Page 10} developed a plan or offered reasonable services even though the parent was available. Before termination of parental rights can occur, the law requires the court to find either that services would have been futile or detrimental to the minor under any of the relevant subdivisions of section 361.5, with the obvious exception of subdivision (b)(1), or that the agency at least tried to reunite the family by making reasonable efforts or offering services to the parents. (§§ 366.21, subds. (e) and (f); 366.22.)

    Here, appellant’s counsel insisted the record reflect the true state of affairs, i.e., that services were not offered pursuant to section 361.5, subdivision (b)(1). When appellant’s whereabouts became known, three months after the minor’s out-of-home placement, the fact should have been brought to the juvenile court’s attention so that services could be ordered. (§ 361.5, subd. (d).) This did not occur. The posture of the case at the six-month review hearing was that no services were ordered or offered and no plan was developed. DHHS, in possession of information which might have justified denial of services under several subdivisions of section 361.5, did not raise the issue or seek an order denying services. fn. 6 Because the {Slip Opn. Page 11} court neither terminated services, after finding reasonable services had been provided, nor denied them pursuant to a subdivision of section 361.5 which would permit termination of parental rights, it should have limited the scope of the section 366.26 hearing to consideration of only guardianship or long-term foster care. It did not. The error in proceeding to terminate parental rights in the circumstances of this case is not harmless. No opportunity to reunify was ever afforded appellant nor did she have an opportunity to challenge a request to deny her services under any subdivision of section 361.5 which would have supported termination of parental rights. Reversal is required.

    DISPOSITION

    The order terminating parental rights is reversed. The case is remanded for a new selection and implementation hearing.

    Blease, Acting P. J., and Robie, J., concurred.

    ­FN 1. Hereafter, undesignated statutory references are to the Welfare and Institutions Code.

    ­FN 2. There is some lack of clarity in the record. The recommended findings attached to the report show the sections relating to efforts by DHHS to provide services and appellant’s efforts to comply with services were stricken because services were not ordered and the report itself was corrected to show there was no case plan for the same reason. However, the findings attached to the minute orders show only a modification to the proposed order to show that services were not ordered at the disposition hearing. The court’s specific statements in the reporter’s transcript make it clear that the efforts findings should also have been stricken in the attachment to the minute order. (People v. Smith (1983) 33 Cal.3d 596, 599.)

    ­FN 3. No petition for extraordinary writ was filed by the guardian ad litem or conservator. Accordingly, the orders entered at the six-month review hearing are final and cannot be challenged in this appeal. (John F. v. Superior Court (1996) 43 Cal.App.4th 400, 404-405.)

    ­FN 4. Respondent, apparently in an abundance of caution, views appellant’s claim, in part, as one of error at the review hearing. It is not. Thus, we need not address respondent’s arguments regarding writ review, petitions for modification, or substantial evidence to support denial of services.

    ­FN 5. The subdivision was formerly designated as (c)(2) (Stats. 1991, ch. 820, § 5), however, recent amendments have renamed it (c)(2)(A) (Stats. 2006, ch. 838, § 52). We use the current formulation for clarity.

    ­FN 6. Respondent’s contention that such findings and orders could be inferred from the information made available in the report and from appellant’s counsel at the hearing fails since the issues were not properly before the court or considered by it.

    In re T. M. (2009) [ Cal.App.4th ].

    Families – The True Strength of America

    In Child Custody, Child Support, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Feminism, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Marriage, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping on July 20, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Families – The True Strength of America
    Copyright © by Ron Ewart
    July 2009

    The glue that binds us all together is the bond forged in families – husband, wife and children. It is a powerful bond, held together by love, mutual respect and a large dose of pre-programmed genetics.

    The saying that “blood is thicker than water” gets its’ roots from the bond of family. Families are the natural order of life on this planet, at least for most mammals, but it is especially true for the human mammal.

    The character of family for we humans is several orders of magnitude above our other earthly creatures and considerably more complex. Being complex, it leads to more complex problems that require resolution.

    Sure, family life is more complicated now than it was before, with both parents working to maintain their lifestyle and a schedule for children with education and ancillary activities that has gone way beyond what we used to do in the 1940’s and 50’s with sand-lot baseball and kick-the-can, sans television.

    And yes, our adopted contemporary lifestyle has weakened the bond of family a little and increased the complexity of daily life, but still our families survive and thrive, in spite of that lifestyle. Yes, our new lifestyle has fractured the family some and divorce rates are up, but even with the added strain, over 50% of families still stay together.

    We need to work a little harder on getting the number of stay-together families higher and we will. But all things tend to run in cycles and it takes time to adapt to rapidly changing technology and the rapid pace of our lives.

    We fully expect the divorce rates will go down some in the future, as our adaptation increases.

    Raising children in this environment is not easy, but when has raising children ever been easy?

    Still, the joy that children bring adults, or each other, is incalculable. The birth of newborns, babies first step or first word, joy during the holidays, the elation and pride that comes from achievements in school or sports, the first date, marriage and its promise ….. all difficult sometimes, but all very worthwhile in the cycle of life.

    In spite of these conditions that shake the very fibers of the nuclear family, those fibers and that bond are the true strength of America.

    Responsible families produce the current and next generation of thinkers, intellectuals, hard workers, producers, consumers and pray-ers. Some lose and some win, but most who lose pick themselves up again and get back in the game …. sometimes all by themselves, sometimes with the help of family and sometimes in spite of family.

    That bond of family is even stronger under the umbrella of freedom and it is that bond that will allow Americans to hold onto their freedom. The job of preserving freedom must start at the family level. It must start with teaching our kids about the foundations of freedom and liberty in America.

    Our children are not being taught the great history of America in our schools and why we have become the most powerful nation on Earth, but also the wealthiest, the most creative, industrious, ingenious and the most generous.

    Many adults who grew up in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and now in the first decade of the 21st Century, haven’t learned and aren’t learning it either.

    The fact is, America is a “Constitutional Republic”, (see definitions below) which means that the minority is protected from the majority (mob rule) by the rule of law under the Supreme Law of the Land, our Constitution.

    Because of the current massive attempts by all levels of our government (especially the federal government) to rule every aspect of our lives, our constitution is being torn asunder by the day and yet it is the only document that stands between us and socialism, communism, fascism, a dictator, or outright anarchy.

    It is the ultimate responsibility of the parents in the family to pass on the heritage of freedom and liberty to their children, even if our public school system isn’t doing it. It is the family’s responsibility to teach their children about the documents that established that freedom and how important it is to preserve, protect and defend those documents.

    In the end, the preservation of freedom lies with each individual but each individual’s drive to preserve freedom is best nourished in the safe environment of a loving family. It is up to the parents of the family to initiate the conversations about freedom and our founding documents. It is up to the parents to show their children the rich heritage of this great nation and learn about those who sacrificed so much that we might live free.

    With most families having one or more computers and access to the Internet, the information about America is literally at the family’s finger tips. Talk about these issues when you gather together for holidays. But the most effective environment to discuss America, is right at the dinner table when all are gathered to share the evening meal.

    President Reagan stated that “freedom is only one generation away from extinction.”

    If Americans care about the preservation of our liberty and American sovereignty, they must teach their children about freedom, so that it is carried on from generation to generation, or freedom will die and our culture of liberty and our very sovereignty will be absorbed into the one-world-order without a shot being fired. America will become but a footnote in some history book that will improperly paint America as some strange anomaly that could have never lasted very long anyway.

    Americans need to do everything in their power to see that that footnote is never written.

    Losing is not an option.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Constitutional Republic: “….. is a state where the head of state and other officials are elected as representatives of the people, and must govern according to existing constitutional law that limits the government’s power over citizens. In a constitutional republic, executive, legislative, and judicial powers are separated into distinct branches and the will of the majority of the population is tempered by protections for individual rights so that no individual or group has absolute power. The fact that a constitution exists that limits the government’s power makes the state constitutional. That the head(s) of state and other officials are chosen by election, rather than inheriting their positions, and that their decisions are subject to judicial review makes a state republican.”

    A True Democracy: “….. where the majority has the ultimate say in all things ….. essentially mob rule.”

    Ron Ewart, President
    NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF RURAL LANDOWNERS
    P. O. Box 1031, Issaquah, WA 98027
    425 222-4742 or 1 800 682-7848
    (Fax No. 425 222-4743)
    Website: www.narlo.org

    Families – The True Strength of America.

    MICHIGAN: State Supreme Court OKs Removing Child From Native American Mother (2009-07-15)

    In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children legal status, children's behaviour, Civil Rights, cps fraud, custody, deadbeat dads, Divorce, Domestic Relations, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, Indians, kidnapped children, Marriage, motherlessness, mothers rights, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parents rights, Restraining Orders, state crimes, Title Iv-D on July 20, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    Idiot state court workers followed the rules, but the rules broke the ICWA which protect Indian Children.

    To terminate an Indian child parent relationship takes evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt”  not clear and convincing evidence.

    The Michican Supreme Court justices apparently cannot read or understand federal law is the supreme law of the land.  – Parental Rights

    25 U.S.C. § 1912 (d), (e), (f).

    Reasonable Doubt Standard for Termination of Parental Rights

    Section 1912(f), supra, specifies a beyond a reasonable doubt standard of proof for termination of parental rights proceedings. A number of other jurisdictions use a dual standard of proof in ICWA cases in which a clear and convincing standard is applied to the state law requirements for termination of parental rights and the reasonable doubt standard is applied only to the requirement in 25 U.S.C. § 1912(f) that continued custody by the parent is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child. E.g., In re H.A.M., 961 P.2d 716, 719 (Kan. App. 1998). The prevailing practice in Oklahoma trial courts has been to use the reasonable doubt standard for both the state law requirements for termination of parental rights and the requirements in 25 U.S.C. § 1912(f), however. In addition, in In the Matter of T.L., 2003 OK CIV APP 49, ¶ 15, 71 P.3d 43, the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals applied the reasonable doubt standard to both the requirements in 25 U.S.C. § 1912(f) and the Oklahoma state law requirements that the parent failed to correct conditions leading to adjudication and that the child had been in foster care for 15 of the 22 months preceding the filing of the termination proceedings. Using the reasonable doubt standard for both the state law requirements and the requirements in 25 U.S.C. § 1912(f) avoids the difficulty of explaining different standards of proof to the jury, and is therefore less confusing to the jury. Applying the higher reasonable doubt standard also gives greatest effect to the ICWA, and it is therefore less likely to result in reversal of a termination of parental rights decision than applying the lower clear and convincing evidence standard. Accordingly, the reasonable doubt standard is used in these instructions for both the state law requirements and the requirements in 25 U.S.C. § 1912(f).

    ———————————————————————————-

    MICHIGAN: State Supreme Court OKs Removing Child From Native American Mother (2009-07-15)

    (2009-07-15)

    (MPRN)

    The Michigan Supreme Court says state welfare workers followed the rules when they removed an American Indian child from her mother’s home, and asked a court to terminate her parental rights.

    The issue here is whether state Department of Human Services employees complied with a court rule. It says the state has to make a special effort to avoid breaking up American Indian families. The mother is a member of the Sault Sainte Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

    Five justices of the Supreme Court said there was clear and convincing evidence that removing the boy was necessary to rescue from further emotional or physical harm. The mother had already had already lost custody of her other children. And the majority said the fact that she was convicted of drunk driving showed substance abuse counseling was not helping her.

    Two justices dissented. Justices Michael Cavanagh and Marilyn Kelly said child welfare workers should have done more to show how the mother’s current circumstances, and not just her history, required authorities to remove the child. © Copyright 2009, MPRN

    MICHIGAN: State Supreme Court OKs Removing Child From Native American Mother (2009-07-15).

    Child Finally ReUnited with His Family – Parental Rights Fought for and Won

    In adoption abuse, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, custody, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Marriage, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders, Sociopath on July 4, 2009 at 5:30 am

    This child was taken in an attempted unethical adoption . Man married and just recently divorced, never gave up his rights, woman signed away and then reneged. This man was a divorced dad, no couple has a right to just come along snaatch up his baby. This time they even did it to a married Dad. I guess because he is a man he should have no rights.It seems the couple that took the child thought “well, you’re married and this is your son whom you visit, but because of the divorce we can just steal your child and you should have no rights because your a man.” After 5 years of unconstitutional wranglings against his parents and $225, 000 in legal fees– parents finally get him back.

    All over the United States, and indeed the world, perfectly good parents are having their children stolen through unethical adoption practices. These stories often do not get the media attention they deserve because attorneys often threaten to sue news stations and papers for doing stories about these cases. This is unethical, but it often journalistic publications are worried about bottom line cost and do not want to spend the attorney fees that would be required to fight these crooked baby stealing lawyers in court. Regardless this needs to stop and the world needs to know that these things are going on, and on what scale they are going on. Part of the confusion is terms. Attorneys that steal babies exploit this. For example when people hear the term unethical adoption they think “an adoption where paper work wasn’t filled out right.” An unethical adoption was an adoption that couldn’t ethically be done and that means a child was taken from their parent even though they should have never been, and given to someone else. That means that it is a KIDNAPPING, and that’s what the attorneys that do this don’t want the public to know.

    Fathers wanted, fathers needed

    In Alienation of Affection, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, custody, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Feminism, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, kidnapped children, Liberty, Marriage, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders on July 3, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Fathers wanted, fathers needed

    By Jesse Muhammad
    Staff Writer | Last updated: Jul 3, 2009 – 8:55:36 AM

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    Father’s Day, with its annual commercialized corporate advertisements and gift giving, has come and gone, but one group of men in America must continue year-round work to break the stereotype that they are irresponsible, no-good and indifferent towards parenting—the group of men is Black fathers.

    fathers_gr1.jpg


    ‘I don’t have time to make excuses, because I have a baby on the way. Also, I have linked up with a few older men who are positive role models in my neighborhood because we as young males need guidance. I don’t want to be a ‘baby daddy.’ I want to be a father.’
    —Robert Jackson, 18


    Black children living in fatherless homes exceed 50 percent; single Black mothers are increasingly at the helm of households, not to mention the number of Black children having to talk to incarcerated fathers through a double pane of glass.While analysts and the media often focus on the problem, Dr. Rozario Slack and other advocates seek to counter the negative image with examples of Black men who are successful husbands, fathers and role models.

    “We can’t just continue to point out the statistics. We already know them. But who is offering assistance to the men and being the example is the question. Where are those stories?” asked Dr. Slack.

    Dr. Slack is the founder of Rozario Slack Enterprises in Chattanooga, Tenn. He travels across the country conducting seminars about marriage, fathering and other issues that impact children and families. He challenges Black men to develop healthy, wholesome family, and marital relationships. He has also published several books that offer real life tools.

    “We help young men with pre-birth preparation, ways to avoid infidelity, financial management, and other means by which to save their families,” said Dr. Slack. He has been married over 16 years and has three children ages 13, 10, and 6.

    “I am blessed to have an example in my parents who have been married for 58 years,” said Dr. Slack, who is also the head pastor of Temple of Faith Deliverance Church of God in Christ. “Divorce is far from my mind. We have to show that President Obama is only an example of other great Black husbands and fathers that exist. With all due respect, he is not the only one. Let’s push them out front.”

    Strengthening relationships, providing services

    To groups such as M3 Math & Science Academy in Berkeley, Calif., Black boys are the most important issue facing the Black community today. With one-third of all Black men in the country connected to the penal system and a more than 50 percent high school dropout rate, the situation is serious but the group hasn’t given up.

    Since its inception, a central part of M3’s strategy has been getting more Black fathers involved in their sons’ lives, explained K.G. Charles-Harris, M3’s executive director. “Fathers are necessary for boys and the value of a father’s emotional support is irreplaceable,” said Mr. Charles-Harris.

    “While the effort is still nascent, M3’s initial success bodes well for the future of the program,” said Prentice Parr, M3’s program manager. “The amount of involved fathers or male guardians has more than doubled over the past year. This is having a significant effect on the boy’s behavior and self-perception.”

    In a study published in the Journal of Family Psychology, researchers found Black adolescent boys in households without a father are more at risk for developing low self-esteem compared with other Black adolescents. Further statistics noted that 69 percent of Black births are to unmarried women, compared to 25 percent for Whites.

    According to the group Fathers Who Care, children from fatherless homes represent 71 percent of pregnant teenagers; 90 percent of all homeless and runaway children; 63 percent of youth suicides; 75 percent of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers; 70 percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions; 85 percent of all youth sitting in prison; and 85 percent of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders.

    Fathers Who Care is a comprehensive,father friendly community social service initiative based in Chicago. It was created to help indigent custodial and non-custodial fathers. The group provides services designed to empower fathers to build positive relationships with their children, strengthen parental involvementskills and promote responsible fatherhood.

    “Picking up your child, holding him or her and giving them a kiss and saying I love you, means more than money or a new toy. No man has a greater gift than to give of himself,” said Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), who co-sponsored a Black males expo led by Fathers Who Care on June 6 in Chicago.

    “One fact that continues to appear is that our children are in crisis, big time. And part of the reason for this crisis, I believe, is due to fathers not being regularly involved in the lives of their children,” said Congressman Davis.

    ‘I don’t want to be a ‘baby daddy,’ I want to be a father’

    A good example of a father is what 18-year-old Robert Jackson of Dallas did not have growing up in the projects. “My mother has been the only father I knew and the drug dealers in the streets became my uncles at a young age. I was always getting in trouble. But now that I am about to have a child, I had to have a change in my lifestyle,” he told The Final Call.

    His girlfriend is eight months pregnant. They just graduated from high school with no plans of attending college. “I did not expect this to happen so now I am looking for a job because I do not want to hustle out in these streets. But the economic times are so hard that young people such as me are finding it hard to get a job,” he said.

    According to the U.S. Department of Labor statistics, the unemployment rate among Black teens is six times the national rate. That means over 295,000 Black teenagers are actively seeking employment.

    “I think the surge in young males becoming fathers has contributed to the ongoing stereotypes of Black fatherhood because many of these young people are unprepared,” said Dr. Felicia Wilson, a psychologist based in Las Vegas. She mentors teenage girls who become pregnant in high school.

    “Yes, the economic times are hard but we have to teach our youth responsibility when it comes to sex. Teen pregnancy is prevalent so it creates situations where young men are running off. But all of the boys are not running despite the media coverage,” said Dr. Wilson.

    “I don’t have time to make excuses because I have a baby on the way. Also I have linked up with a few older men who are positive role models in my neighborhood because we as young males need guidance. I don’t want to be a ‘baby daddy.’ I want to be a father,” said Mr. Jackson.

    Dr. Wilson pointed out that many Black males get imprisoned for not paying child support and struggle to have relationships with the mothers of their children.

    “Many young girls listen to their peers. So even when the young man is doing the best he can, she may still file child support out of spite,” said Dr. Wilson. “Then the relationship between them begins to take a downward spiral and the child suffers. It’s a dismal cycle which can cause a Black male with a clean prison record to now have a warrant for his arrest for child support.”

    Victor Jackson, of Houston, was 17-years-old when his baby girl Ashyri was born. Out of immaturity he says he allowed the mother of his child to make all of the decisions, which he regrets.

    “I wish I would have taken charge of the situation but I did not know how,” Mr. Jackson, 26, told The Final Call. “She promised she would never file child support on me but once we separated she did otherwise.”

    In 2004, Mr. Jackson had child support documents delivered at his doorstep saying he owed more than $17,000. Being without work due to having a dishonorable discharge from the military, he avoided an arrest warrant by staying with friends.

    “When I filed my taxes this year, they took the entire $2,300 from me. It’s rough,” said Mr. Jackson. “But whenever I get any kind of money, I give it directly to her mother because I want to do for my child.”

    New York-based hip hop artist and father NYOIL launched two initiatives to strengthen the presence of Black fathers in the lives of their children and help them find jobs. The programs are called Where is My Dad? and the EMP Initiative.

    “The purpose of Where is My Dad? is to assist Black fathers by providing information to help in the re-imaging of the world’s view of us,” said NYOIL, a father of three children.

    The EMP (Empathy, Employment & Powerment) is a partnership with Distinctive Personnel, which is one of the largest Latino staffing agencies in the county. Through EMP, Black fathers can get assistance with job searches, resumé writing, interviewing skills, career counseling and green jobs preparation.

    “People who are employed are empowered. This is not about talk, but action,” said NYOIL. He also volunteers with the Tsunami Track Club based in Staten Island.

    Houston-based hip hop artist Zin travels frequently to Fort Worth, Texas, to visit his eight-year-old daughter born from a previous marriage. “Even though her mother and I are divorced, we have worked to build a friendship because it’s all about what is best for our daughter. It’s still a struggle but just because you are not with the mother doesn’t mean you should abandon your children,” he said.

    Although his parents are no longer a couple, 18-year-old college bound student Keith J. Davis Jr. has a model relationship with his father who instilled in him a desire to be an entrepreneur.

    “My father taught me early on the skills of negotiating, marketing, accounting and sales. I have been doing this since the age of 10 when he was selling wholesale clothes out of his trunk,” said the young Mr. Davis. “Without my father in my life I would not be where I am. Both of my parents are my support system.”

    His father, Keith Davis Sr., sits at the helm of a marketing firm that has been in existence for over 10 years. “I have always tried to lead by example, instead of telling Keith Jr. how to do something, I would show him. The best teacher is a good example. We have to take care of our children,” he said.

    Fathers wanted, fathers needed.