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Archive for the ‘Foster Care’ Category

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.

    Advertisements

    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

    Parental Rights – An Enduring Imperative: Sacrifice for Children – Kansas City Star

    In Alienation of Affection, 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, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Foster Care, Freedom, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress on October 6, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    An enduring imperative: sacrifice for children

    The American Conservative » Married to the State

    In Activism, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, child abuse, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Support, child trafficking, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, custody, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, Family Rights, Feminism, Foster Care, Foster Care Scam, Freedom, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, Marriage, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, parental rights, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine on September 27, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Married to the State

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    How government colonizes the family

    By Stephen Baskerville

    In 1947, with the baby boom in its infancy and few disposed to hearing of family crisis, Harvard sociologist Carle Zimmerman saw the long-term reality: the family had been deteriorating since the Renaissance and was nearing the point of no return. Whenever the family shows signs of dysfunction, Zimmerman observed, “the state helps to break it up.” During the 19th century, “law piled on law, and government agency upon government agency” until by 1900 “the state had become master of the family.” The result, he wrote in Family and Civilization, was that “the family is now truly the agent, the slave, the handmaiden of the state.”

    Today we might regard 1947 as a golden age for the family. Without perceiving it, each generation has become acculturated to family deterioration and added to it. We now accept as normal what would have shocked our grandparents: cohabitation, illegitimacy, divorce, same-sex marriage, daycare, fast-food dinners. Indeed, shocking the previous generation is part of the thrill of filial rebellion.

    What should shock even the liberal and the young—but today does not much disturb even the conservative and the old—are destruction of constitutional protections and invasions of personal freedom and privacy by the government’s family machinery. Some four decades ago, the Western world embarked on the boldest social experiment in its history. With no public discussion, laws were enacted in virtually every jurisdiction that ended marriage as an enforceable contract. Today it is not possible to form a binding agreement to create a family.

    Few stopped to consider the implications of laws that shifted the breakup of private households from a voluntary to an involuntary process. Unilateral divorce involves government agents forcibly removing legally innocent people from their homes and seizing their property. It inherently abrogates not only the inviolability of marriage but the very concept of private life.

    The most serious consequences involve children. Through involuntary divorce, a legally unimpeachable parent can be arrested for seeing his own children without government authorization. He can be charged with domestic violence or child abuse, without evidence that he has committed either crime. He can be hauled before a judge for not paying child support without proof that he actually owes it. He can even be arrested for not paying an attorney or psychotherapist whom he has not hired. No formal charge, no jury, no trial required.

    To justify this repression, the divorce machinery has generated hysterias against fathers so inflammatory that few dare question them: child abuse, wife-beating, nonpayment of child support. The accused parent simply loses his family and finds himself abandoned, with everyone terrified to be associated with an accused “pedophile,” “batterer,” or “deadbeat dad.”

    Our passivity before repression this serious is stunning and the starkest example yet of the erosion of that civic virtue that has been integral to American political thought since before the founding of the Republic.

    Conservatives have labored this idea into a cliché. We preach that people must be more virtuous, less selfish, and more devoted to the public good. But these exhortations earn us nothing but contempt when we remain silent in the face of real tyranny, which, as usual, has appeared where we least expected it and are least equipped to resist it. Instead of resisting, we lament a decline in “culture” and declare there is very little we can do.

    But as Linda McClain writes, families are “seedbeds of civic virtue” and “have a place in the project of forming persons into capable, responsible, self-governing citizens.” The family is where parents and children learn to love sacrificially, to put others’ needs before their own desires, to sacrifice for the welfare and protection of the whole. If this does not begin with one’s own home and loved ones it, does not begin at all. People unwilling to sacrifice for their own flesh and blood will not do so for the strangers who comprise their country. In the family, children learn to obey authorities other than the state—God, parents, clergy, teachers, coaches, neighbors. By accepting these, some of whom they love, children learn that government is not the only authority and is one that can and must be limited.

    Conservatives have recently been eager to declare marriage and the family to be “public” institutions, largely in response to homosexual insistence that families are purely private and therefore may be defined according to the whims of individuals. But it is more precise to say that the family mediates between the public and the private, ensuring each its proper sphere. In the family children learn to distinguish and defend private life from encroachment by public power. Involvement in public affairs, which is important, begins as an extension of private responsibilities as parents, homeowners, neighbors, and parishioners. Citizens participate in public life as amateurs with a stake in their families, homes, and communities, not as professionals with a stake in a government program or ideology.

    Children raised without intact families do not as readily absorb concepts such as family privacy, sacrificial love, parental authority, limited government, or civic virtue. For their rules and values come not from parents but from government officials, who have ultimate sovereignty over their lives: courts, lawyers, social workers, forensic therapists, public-school bureaucrats, and police. These are the figures they must obey rather than their parents. Thus children whose authority figures are government officials cannot distinguish the private from the public and come to see the public sphere as a realm not of civic duty and community leadership but of abstract ideology, government funding, professional employment, career advancement, and state power, in whose growth they acquire a vested interest.

    It is no accident that the traditional family is described as patriarchal and that civic virtue traditionally suggested masculinity. It is also no coincidence that fathers are the ones marginalized by family decline.

    Enormous attention has been devoted to the crisis of 24 million fatherless children, a phenomenon directly linked to every major social pathology from violent crime to substance abuse and truancy. Because these ills justify almost all domestic government spending, fatherlessness has resulted in a huge expansion of state power. The Obama administration aims to promote virtue with programs preaching “responsible fatherhood” and nagging men to practice “good fathering.” The Bush administration used similar schemes to argue for the importance of marriage. The result is the same: bewailing other people’s moral failings at taxpayer expense.

    There is certainly truth in the connection between fatherhood and civil society. “Fathers play a key role in developing and sustaining the kind of personal character on which democracy depends,” writes Don Eberly of the National Fatherhood Initiative. Government therapy, on the other hand, cannot create virtue because it requires no sacrifice. Federal funding only gives officials incentives to perpetuate problems, so it is hardly surprising that not only have these programs done nothing to improve either fatherhood or marriage, they have exacerbated the breakdown of both.

    Eberly’s point connecting fathers and freedom contains a larger truth. While families require sacrifice from all members, it is fathers whose sacrifice may extend to their very lives. Children deprived of their fathers by state officials therefore lose more than a parent. They lose the parent who connects them with the civic order. When the father protects and provides for his family, he will resist the state’s efforts to assume those roles. Under his leadership, the family is a force for limiting state power.

    The single mother does not resist the state’s encroachment. On the contrary, she is our society’s principal claimant on a vast array of state services, without which she cannot manage her children. When the state usurps the roles of protector and provider and disciplinarian, the state becomes the father.

    This is the story of modern politics: increasingly centralized police, plus the regulatory and welfare states that also promise various forms of protection. These paternal—and increasingly maternal—substitutes brought massive bureaucracies, fulfilling Tocqueville’s prophecy that democracy would lead to increasingly bureaucratic intrusion into private life. These agencies expanded by creating problems to solve. As police functionaries, they had to create criminals and newfangled, nonviolent crimes that most people (such as juries) could not understand and required “experts” to adjudicate—crimes that were safe for female police, crimes that could be committed only by men.

    Fathers whose children are taken away by state officials do not heroically rescue them or organize opposition to the divorce machinery because the enervating power of the bureaucratic behemoth makes resistance pointless. Men are thus politically neutered and, as a result, often despised by their own children and the rest of us.

    That most people do not regard these practices as tyrannical may be the most alarming aspect of all. Government agents seize control of children and property of vast numbers of law-abiding citizens through literally “no fault” of their own, and we accept it because of jargon that makes it all appear banal: “custody battle” and “division of property.” Fidelity to one’s word—let alone one’s spouse—is disdained. Basic civilities become irrelevant because family members can be made to obey through court orders. Family wealth—traditionally used to leverage both obedience from children and limits on government—is useless for both purposes. In divorce it is simply confiscated.

    So vast numbers of children now grow up believing from the earliest age that it is normal for government officials to assume control over their family life, to order their parents about as if they were naughty children. This is causing more than social chaos. It is destroying our freedom and our will to defend it.

    Stephen Baskerville is associate professor of government at Patrick Henry College and author of Taken into Custody: The War Against Fatherhood, Marriage, and the Family. A longer version of this essay will appear in The Family in America: A Journal of Public Policy.

    <!– –>

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    The American Conservative » Married to the State.

    Ain’t It Beautiful: How to Sue a Judge

    In Activism, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Custody for Mothers, Child Support, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Foster Care, Freedom, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Protective Dads, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes on September 23, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    Tuesday, September 22, 2009

    How to Sue a Judge

    How to Sue a Judge

    By David C. Grossack, Constitutional Attorney
    Common Law Copyright © 1994 All Rights Reserved

    Has a judge violated your constitutional rights? Have you been discriminated against by being treated differently than other people in similar situations by reason of race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual preference or political opinion? Have you lost certain rights without a meaningful hearing or even an opportunity to be heard?

    Have you been deprived of any other constitutional protection? Have you been subject to Court action for the purpose of intimidating you from exercising an opinion, or practicing your faith? Don’t let them get away with it.

    Although it is almost impossible to recover monetary damages from a judge (unless you can prove he or she acted ultra-vires beyond his or her legal jurisdiction) it is in fact possible to obtain relief in equity against a judge through civil rights actions. Equitable relief includes:

    • declaratory relief – (rulings by another judge in the form of opinions establishing the constitutionality or lack of constitutionality of another judges actions.)
    • injunctive relief – a command or order to do something or refrain from doing so.

    As a general rule, however, judges cannot be held liable for money damages for acts done in the exercise of his judicial function, within the limits of his jurisdiction, no matter how erroneous, illegal or malicious his acts may be. (48A Corpus Juris Secundum §86) A minority of decisions have held that if an inferior judge acts maliciously or corruptly he may incur liability. Kalb v. Luce, 291 N.W. 841, 234, WISC 509.

    Federal Civil Rights statutes, and possibly Bivens actions, appear to offer the best path for redressing constitutional grievances with state and federal judges, respectively, in Federal Court. As a practical matter, such cases will usually be brought by pro se litigants. Neither the politics nor economics of law practice permits lawyers to pursue such cases nor makes them affordable except to a small elite of citizens.

    However, lawyers who do successfully sue state judges in federal court in Title 42 U.S. Code § 1983 cases can recover attorney’s fees from judicial defendants provided they can show time sheets kept contemporaneously with their work.

    The most important step you have to take in beginning your lawsuit is in writing the complaint that will be conforming to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (available in every Government Bookstore or from the Government Printing Office in Washington, DC.)

    Properly drafted complaints need not be prepared by a lawyer. All that is required is a very fundamental understanding of a few basic constitutional principles and a typewriter and paper. Handwritten complaints can also be filed in court.

    Each federal court publishes its own local rules which can impose some additional requirements, but essentially there are only a handful of things you need to know. 1. Each complaint has a caption reading “United States District Court, District of (name the jurisdiction e.g. Southern New York or Eastern California.) 2. Each complaint includes a caption indicating the name of the plaintiff, and the name of the defendant. The words “individually and in his official capacity” should appear after the name of the defendant judge. The words “Verified Complaint” should appear on the right side of the caption. Your caption should appear like this:

    United States District Court
    District of (State)
    Civil Docket No. _______

    John Doe,
    Plaintiff
    vs. VERIFIED COMPLAINT
    Bobby Roe,
    individually and in his/her official capacity as Justice of the Superior Court ) of [*****] County,
    Defendant

    A couple of spaces below, you must begin to spell out your reasons for bringing your complaint to Court. Make an outline of your case. First, state your “Jurisdictional Basis” in Paragraph I. I usually write as follows:

    JURISDICTIONAL BASIS

    I. Plaintiff claims federal jurisdiction pursuant to Article III § 2 which extends the jurisdiction to cases arising under the U.S. Constitution. Next you should write Paragraph II stating the precise Statutory Authority why you brought the case. If you are suing a state judge, you will state:

    II. Plaintiff brings this suit pursuant to Title 42 U.S. Code § 1983 for violations of certain protections guaranteed to him by the First, Fifth, Eighth, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments (select which apply) of the federal Constitution, by the defendant under color of law in his/her capacity as a judge in the Superior Court of (****) County.

    If you are suing a federal judge, state:

    “Plaintiff brings this action against (name), a federal judicial officer, pursuant to Title 28 U.S. Code § 1331, in claims arising from violations of federal constitutional rights guaranteed in the (fill in) amendments to the U.S. Constitution and redressable pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Narcotics Agents 403 U.S. 388 (1971).”

    Be aware that the issue of whether federal judicial officers can in fact be sued under this authority is unresolved, but my opinion is that there is a strong implication in the affirmative based on the language in many cases.

    Your complaint should then have a section entitled “Parties”. The next two paragraphs would read:

    III. Plaintiff (Your name) is a natural person residing at (Your address), (County), (State).

    IV. Defendant is a Judge presiding at (fill in.)

    Following this you must now describe your claim in detail, giving legal and factual basis for your case. This portion of the case is entitled “Statement of Case”

    What kind of factual pattern would give rise to a successful claim under the federal civil rights law? Title 42 U.S. Code § 1983 reads as follows:

    Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress.

    The burden of proof is upon the plaintiff to show that the defendant judge acted unconstitutionally or outside of his/her jurisdiction. If the judge engaged in an egregious discrimination against males in a divorce court, minorities in state criminal cases, members of an unpopular religious group in confrontation with government authorities and treated suspiciously in court or members of a “fringe” political group, these situations can give rise to a claim of denial of equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.

    If a judge permits an ex parte attachment, i.e. seizure of real estate without giving you notice of a hearing in a state court proceeding, this is a deprivation of property without due process, violating the Fifth Amendment as well as the Fourteenth Amendment.

    Ex parte restraining orders forcing men or women out of their homes based on abuse allegations in state courts are a primary and rampant example of violations of constitutional rights today, and certainly actionable in federal court.

    The first ten amendments of the Bill of Rights are self explanatory. Violations of any of the rights described in these amendments give rise to causes of action, both against state judges under Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and arguably against federal judges in Bivens actions.

    Pro se litigants should give a clear and concise description of what happened in chronological order, identifying the judge, the date, time, and place of his or her action, and specifying which acts violated which constitutional amendments.

    The complaint finishes with a section entitled “Prayer for Relief.” In such a case you can ask for an injunction ordering another judge to so something, or to refrain from doing something. Successful use of these suits has been made to nullify attachments, end incarcerations, declare laws or court practices unconstitutional and scare the heck out of black robed tyrants with gavels. See Pulliam v. Allen, 466 U.S. 522 (1983).

    I often phrase my prayers for relief as follows:

    Wherefore plaintiff prays this Court issue equitable relief as follows:

    1. Issue injunctive relief commanding defendant to . . .

    2. Issue declaratory relief as this Court deems appropriate just.

    3. Issue other relief as this Court deems appropriate and just.

    4. Award plaintiff his costs of litigation.

    Respectfully submitted,

    (Your signature)

    Your name printed
    Your address
    City, State, Zip Code
    Telephone No.

    Statement of Verification

    I have read the above complaint and it is correct to the best of my knowledge.

    Your signature

    Complaints are filed in the Civil Clerk’s Office in the United States District Court for your district.

    Federal rules now allow for service of process by certified mail. You will be required to serve the defendant judge and also your state attorney general if you are suing a state judge.

    The pro se road will be easier if you study the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, obtain a Black’s Law Dictionary and familiarize yourself with legal research methods. You must also read the Local Rules of the Federal Court where you are suing, and learn Constitutional law fast.

    Using a lawyer as a coach is helpful. Bear in mind that your lawsuit is disfavored because it is against a judge. Nevertheless, our system of “justice” is in such tough shape that suits against judges are a socio-political necessity.

    Complaints should be photocopied, disseminated to the legislature, the media and political action groups.

    Perhaps the cumulative impact of these suits will bring a healthy radical change for the American people.

    The author is an attorney in private practice in Boston.

    Constitutional Business
    Post Office Box 90
    Hull, Massachusetts 02045
    Tel. 617-925-5253
    Fax 617-925-3906
    Copyright ©1994 All Rights Reserved

    Limited License:
    The right to publish this article off-line in print, or via CD-ROM, floppy diskette, tape, laser disk, or any other media, electronic or otherwise, can only be granted by the author and must be in writing. Online usage is unrestricted as long as this article, including the byline, copyright notice, publisher’s address, and limited license, is published in its entirety.

    How the Government Creates Child Abuse

    In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, child abuse, Child Custody, Children and Domestic Violence, Childrens Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, Foster Care, Freedom, Parents rights, Restraining Orders on September 14, 2009 at 1:00 am
    How the Government Creates Child Abuse
    04/13/2006

    Just in time for “Child Abuse Prevention Month,” the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) publishes its annual contribution to obfuscating the causes of child abuse.

    Operatives of the child abuse industry often wax righteous about the “scandal” of child abuse. “We cannot tolerate the abuse of even one child,” says an HHS press release. But the real scandal is the armies of officials who have been allowed to acquire — using taxpayers’ dollars — a vested interest in abused children.

    Devising child abuse programs makes us all feel good, but there is no evidence they make the slightest difference. In fact, they probably make the problem worse. Child abuse is largely a product of the feminist-dominated family law and social work industries. It is a textbook example of the government creating a problem for itself to solve.

    Child abuse is entirely preventable. A few decades ago, there was no child abuse epidemic; it grew up with the welfare system and the divorce revolution. It continues because of entrenched interests who are employed pretending to combat it.

    A few undisputed facts will establish this — facts that are passed over and even distorted year after year by HHS and others whose budgets depend on abused children.

    Almost all child abuse takes places in single parent homes. A British study found children are up to 33 times more likely to be abused when a live-in boyfriend or stepfather is present than in an intact family. HHS has its own figures demonstrating that children in single-parent households are at much higher risk for physical violence and sexual molestation than those living in two-parent homes. Yet this basic fact is consistently omitted from its annual report.

    Shorn of euphemism, what this means is that the principal impediment to child abuse is a father. “The presence of the father … placed the child at lesser risk for child sexual abuse,” conclude scholars in the journal Adolescent and Family Health. “The protective effect from the father’s presence in most households was sufficiently strong to offset the risk incurred by the few paternal perpetrators.”

    In fact, the risk of “paternal perpetrators” is miniscule. Contrary to the innuendo of child abuse “advocates,” it is not married fathers but single mothers who are by far the most likely to injure and kill their children. “Contrary to public perception,” write Patrick Fagan and Dorothy Hanks of the Heritage Foundation, “research shows that the most likely physical abuser of a young child will be that child’s mother, not a male in the household.”


    Mothers accounted for 55% of child murders, according to a Justice Department report (1,100 out of 2,000, with fathers committing 130). Here again, HHS itself has figures that women aged 20 to 49 are almost twice as likely as men to be perpetrators of child maltreatment: “almost two-thirds were females.”
    Given that “male” perpetrators are not usually fathers but much more likely to be boyfriends and stepfathers, fathers emerge as by far the least likely child abusers.

    While men are thought more likely to commit sexual as opposed to physical abuse, sexual abuse is much less common than severe physical abuse and much more likely to be perpetrated by boyfriends and stepfathers. “Children are seven times more likely to be badly beaten by their parents than they are to be sexually abused by them,” according to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

    The NSPCC found that father-daughter incest is “rare, occurring in less than 4 in 1,000 children,” and that three-fourths of incest perpetrators are brothers and stepbrothers rather than fathers. HHS’s own figures show that reported sexual abuse is a tiny minority of reported child abuse, and of this little is committed by real fathers. The Journal of Ethnology and Sociobiology reports that a preschooler not living with both biological parents is forty times more likely to be sexually abused.

    Yet feminists would have us believe that father-daughter incest is rampant, and conservatives credulously swallow their propaganda. A recent PBS documentary, “Breaking the Silence: Children’s Stories,” asserts without evidence and contrary to known scientific data that “Children are most often in danger from the father.”

    Feminist child protection agents implement this propaganda as policy. “One scholarly study concluded that “An anti-male attitude is often found in documents, statements, and in the writings of those claiming to be experts in cases of child sexual abuse.” Social service agencies systematically teach children to hate their fathers and inculcate in the children a message that the father has sexually molested them. “The professionals use techniques that teach children a negative and critical view of men in general and fathers in particular,” the authors write. “The child is repeatedly reinforced for fantasizing throwing Daddy in jail and is trained to hate and fear him.” A San Diego grand jury investigative report found that false accusations during divorce were positively encouraged by government officials. “The system appears to reward a parent who initiates such a complaint,” it states. “Some of these involve allegations which are so incredible that authorities should have been deeply concerned for the protection of the child.” Such behavior by officials is driven by federal financial incentives. “The social workers and therapists played pivotal roles in condoning this,” charged the grand jury. “They were helped by judges and referees.”

    Seldom does public policy stand in such direct defiance of undisputed truths, to the point where the cause of the problem — separating children from their fathers — is presented as the solution, and the solution — allowing children to grow up with their fathers — is depicted as the problem. If you want to encourage child abuse, remove the fathers.

    That is precisely what officials do — not only social workers but also family court judges. It is difficult to believe that judges are not aware that the most dangerous environment for children is precisely the single-parent homes they themselves create when they remove fathers in custody proceedings. Yet they have no hesitation in removing them, secure in the knowledge that they will never be held accountable for any harm that comes to the children. On the contrary, if they do not they may be punished by the bar associations, feminist groups, and social work bureaucracies whose earnings and funding depend on a constant supply of abused children. It is a commonplace of political science that bureaucracies relentlessly expand, often by creating the problem they exist to address. Appalling as it sounds, the conclusion is inescapable that we have created a huge army of officials with a vested interest in child abuse.

    <!–

    –>


    Stephen Baskerville, Ph.D., is assistant professor of government at Patrick Henry College and Earhart Fellow at the Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society. His most recent book, Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family, has just been published by Cumberland House Publishing.

    – HUMAN EVENTS.

    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.

    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.

    The Evolution of Divorce

    In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Children and Domestic Violence, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Feminism, Foster Care, Homosexual Agenda, 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, Single Moms, Single Parenting on September 11, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    The Evolution of Divorce

    W. BRADFORD WILCOX

    In 1969, Governor Ronald Reagan of California made what he later admitted was one of the biggest mistakes of his political life. Seeking to eliminate the strife and deception often associated with the legal regime of fault-based divorce, Reagan signed the nation’s first no-fault divorce bill. The new law eliminated the need for couples to fabricate spousal wrongdoing in pursuit of a divorce; indeed, one likely reason for Reagan’s decision to sign the bill was that his first wife, Jane Wyman, had unfairly accused him of “mental cruelty” to obtain a divorce in 1948. But no-fault divorce also gutted marriage of its legal power to bind husband and wife, allowing one spouse to dissolve a marriage for any reason — or for no reason at all.

    In the decade and a half that followed, virtually every state in the Union followed California’s lead and enacted a no-fault divorce law of its own. This legal transformation was only one of the more visible signs of the divorce revolution then sweeping the United States: From 1960 to 1980, the divorce rate more than doubled — from 9.2 divorces per 1,000 married women to 22.6 divorces per 1,000 married women. This meant that while less than 20% of couples who married in 1950 ended up divorced, about 50% of couples who married in 1970 did. And approximately half of the children born to married parents in the 1970s saw their parents part, compared to only about 11% of those born in the 1950s.

    In the years since 1980, however, these trends have not continued on straight upward paths, and the story of divorce has grown increasingly complicated. In the case of divorce, as in so many others, the worst consequences of the social revolution of the 1960s and ’70s are now felt disproportionately by the poor and less educated, while the wealthy elites who set off these transformations in the first place have managed to reclaim somewhat healthier and more stable habits of married life. This imbalance leaves our cultural and political elites less well attuned to the magnitude of social dysfunction in much of American society, and leaves the most vulnerable Americans — especially children living in poor and working-class communities — even worse off than they would otherwise be.

    THE RISE OF DIVORCE

    The divorce revolution of the 1960s and ’70s was over-determined. The nearly universal introduction of no-fault divorce helped to open the floodgates, especially because these laws facilitated unilateral divorce and lent moral legitimacy to the dissolution of marriages. The sexual revolution, too, fueled the marital tumult of the times: Spouses found it easier in the Swinging Seventies to find extramarital partners, and came to have higher, and often unrealistic, expectations of their marital relationships. Increases in women’s employment as well as feminist consciousness-raising also did their part to drive up the divorce rate, as wives felt freer in the late ’60s and ’70s to leave marriages that were abusive or that they found unsatisfying.

    The anti-institutional tenor of the age also meant that churches lost much of their moral authority to reinforce the marital vow. It didn’t help that many mainline Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish leaders were caught up in the zeitgeist, and lent explicit or implicit support to the divorce revolution sweeping across American society. This accomodationist mentality was evident in a 1976 pronouncement issued by the United Methodist Church, the largest mainline Protestant denomination in America. The statement read in part:

    In marriages where the partners are, even after thoughtful reconsideration and counsel, estranged beyond reconciliation, we recognize divorce and the right of divorced persons to remarry, and express our concern for the needs of the children of such unions. To this end we encourage an active, accepting, and enabling commitment of the Church and our society to minister to the needs of divorced persons.

    Most important, the psychological revolution of the late ’60s and ’70s, which was itself fueled by a post-war prosperity that allowed people to give greater attention to non-material concerns, played a key role in reconfiguring men and women’s views of marriage and family life. Prior to the late 1960s, Americans were more likely to look at marriage and family through the prisms of duty, obligation, and sacrifice. A successful, happy home was one in which intimacy was an important good, but by no means the only one in view. A decent job, a well-maintained home, mutual spousal aid, child-rearing, and shared religious faith were seen almost universally as the goods that marriage and family life were intended to advance.

    But the psychological revolution’s focus on individual fulfillment and personal growth changed all that. Increasingly, marriage was seen as a vehicle for a self-oriented ethic of romance, intimacy, and fulfillment. In this new psychological approach to married life, one’s primary obligation was not to one’s family but to one’s self; hence, marital success was defined not by successfully meeting obligations to one’s spouse and children but by a strong sense of subjective happiness in marriage — usually to be found in and through an intense, emotional relationship with one’s spouse. The 1970s marked the period when, for many Americans, a more institutional model of marriage gave way to the “soul-mate model” of marriage.

    Of course, the soul-mate model was much more likely to lead couples to divorce court than was the earlier institutional model of marriage. Now, those who felt they were in unfulfilling marriages also felt obligated to divorce in order to honor the newly widespread ethic of expressive individualism. As social historian Barbara Dafoe Whitehead has observed of this period, “divorce was not only an individual right but also a psychological resource. The dissolution of marriage offered the chance to make oneself over from the inside out, to refurbish and express the inner self, and to acquire certain valuable psychological assets and competencies, such as initiative, assertiveness, and a stronger and better self-image.”

    But what about the children? In the older, institutional model of marriage, parents were supposed to stick together for their sake. The view was that divorce could leave an indelible emotional scar on children, and would also harm their social and economic future. Yet under the new soul-mate model of marriage, divorce could be an opportunity for growth not only for adults but also for their offspring. The view was that divorce could protect the emotional welfare of children by allowing their parents to leave marriages in which they felt unhappy. In 1962, as Whitehead points out in her book The Divorce Culture, about half of American women agreed with the idea that “when there are children in the family parents should stay together even if they don’t get along.” By 1977, only 20% of American women held this view.

    At the height of the divorce revolution in the 1970s, many scholars, therapists, and journalists served as enablers of this kind of thinking. These elites argued that children were resilient in the face of divorce; that children could easily find male role models to replace absent fathers; and that children would be happier if their parents were able to leave unhappy marriages. In 1979, one prominent scholar wrote in the Journal of Divorce that divorce even held “growth potential” for mothers, as they could enjoy “increased personal autonomy, a new sense of competence and control, [and the] development of better relationships with [their] children.” And in 1974’s The Courage to Divorce, social workers Susan Gettleman and Janet Markowitz argued that boys need not be harmed by the absence of their fathers: “When fathers are not available, friends, relatives, teachers and counselors can provide ample opportunity for youngsters to model themselves after a like-sexed adult.”

    Thus, by the time the 1970s came to a close, many Americans — rich and poor alike — had jettisoned the institutional model of married life that prioritized the welfare of children, and which sought to discourage divorce in all but the most dire of circumstances. Instead, they embraced the soul-mate model of married life, which prioritized the emotional welfare of adults and gave moral permission to divorce for virtually any reason.

    THE MORNING AFTER

    Thirty years later, the myth of the good divorce has not stood up well in the face of sustained social scientific inquiry — especially when one considers the welfare of children exposed to their parents’ divorces.

    Since 1974, about 1 million children per year have seen their parents divorce — and children who are exposed to divorce are two to three times more likely than their peers in intact marriages to suffer from serious social or psychological pathologies. In their book Growing Up with a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps, sociologists Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur found that 31% of adolescents with divorced parents dropped out of high school, compared to 13% of children from intact families. They also concluded that 33% of adolescent girls whose parents divorced became teen mothers, compared to 11% of girls from continuously married families. And McLanahan and her colleagues have found that 11% of boys who come from divorced families end up spending time in prison before the age of 32, compared to 5% of boys who come from intact homes.

    Research also indicates that remarriage is no salve for children wounded by divorce. Indeed, as sociologist Andrew Cherlin notes in his important new book, The Marriage-Go-Round, “children whose parents have remarried do not have higher levels of well-being than children in lone-parent families.” The reason? Often, the establishment of a step-family results in yet another move for a child, requiring adjustment to a new caretaker and new step-siblings — all of which can be difficult for children, who tend to thrive on stability.

    The divorce revolution’s collective consequences for children are striking. Taking into account both divorce and non-marital childbearing, sociologist Paul Amato estimates that if the United States enjoyed the same level of family stability today as it did in 1960, the nation would have 750,000 fewer children repeating grades, 1.2 million fewer school suspensions, approximately 500,000 fewer acts of teenage delinquency, about 600,000 fewer kids receiving therapy, and approximately 70,000 fewer suicides every year. As Amato concludes, turning back the family-­stability clock just a few decades could significantly improve the lives of many children.

    Skeptics confronted with this kind of research often argue that it is unfair to compare children of divorce to children from intact, married households. They contend that it is the conflict that precedes the divorce, rather than the divorce itself, that is likely to be particularly traumatic for children. Amato’s work suggests that the skeptics have a point: In cases where children are exposed to high levels of conflict — like domestic violence or screaming matches between parents — they do seem to do better if their parents part.

    But more than two-thirds of all parental divorces do not involve such highly conflicted marriages. And “unfortunately, these are the very divorces that are most likely to be stressful for children,” as Amato and Alan Booth, his colleague at Penn State University, point out. When children see their parents divorce because they have simply drifted apart — or because one or both parents have become unhappy or left to pursue another ­partner — the kids’ faith in love, commitment, and marriage is often shattered. In the wake of their parents’ divorce, children are also likely to experience a family move, marked declines in their family income, a stressed-out single mother, and substantial periods of paternal absence — all factors that put them at risk. In other words, the clear majority of divorces involving children in America are not in the best interests of the children.

    Not surprisingly, the effects of divorce on adults are more ambiguous. From an emotional and social perspective, about 20% of divorced adults find their lives enhanced and another 50% seem to suffer no long-term ill effects, according to research by psychologist Mavis Hetherington. Adults who initiated a divorce are especially likely to report that they are flourishing afterward, or are at least doing just fine.

    Spouses who were unwilling parties to a unilateral divorce, however, tend to do less well. And the ill effects of divorce for adults tend to fall disproportionately on the shoulders of fathers. Since approximately two-thirds of divorces are legally initiated by women, men are more likely than women to be divorced against their will. In many cases, these men have not engaged in egregious marital misconduct such as abuse, adultery, or substance abuse. They feel mistreated by their ex-wives and by state courts that no longer take into account marital “fault” when making determinations about child custody, child support, and the division of marital property. Yet in the wake of a divorce, these men will nevertheless often lose their homes, a substantial share of their monthly incomes, and regular contact with their children. For these men, and for women caught in similar circumstances, the sting of an unjust divorce can lead to downward emotional spirals, difficulties at work, and serious deteriorations in the quality of their relationships with their children.

    Looking beyond the direct effects of divorce on adults and children, it is also important to note the ways in which widespread divorce has eroded the institution of marriage — particularly, its assault on the quality, prevalence, and stability of marriage in American life.

    In the 1970s, proponents of easy divorce argued that the ready availability of divorce would boost the quality of married life, as abused, unfulfilled, or otherwise unhappy spouses were allowed to leave their marriages. Had they been correct, we would expect to see that Americans’ reports of marital quality had improved during and after the 1970s. Instead, marital quality fell during the ’70s and early ’80s. In the early 1970s, 70% of married men and 67% of married women reported being very happy in their marriages; by the early ’80s, these figures had fallen to 63% for men and 62% for women. So marital quality dropped even as divorce rates were reaching record highs.

    What happened? It appears that average marriages suffered during this time, as widespread divorce undermined ordinary couples’ faith in marital permanency and their ability to invest financially and emotionally in their marriages — ultimately casting clouds of doubt over their relationships. For instance, one study by economist Betsey Stevenson found that investments in marital partnerships declined in the wake of no-fault divorce laws. Specifically, she found that newlywed couples in states that passed no-fault divorce were about 10% less likely to support a spouse through college or graduate school and were 6% less likely to have a child together. Ironically, then, the widespread availability of easy divorce not only enabled “bad” marriages to be weeded out, but also made it more difficult for “good” marriages to take root and flourish.

    Second, marriage rates have fallen and cohabitation rates have surged in the wake of the divorce revolution, as men and women’s faith in marriage has been shaken. From 1960 to 2007, the percentage of American women who were married fell from 66% to 51%, and the percentage of men who were married fell from 69% to 55%. Yet at the same time, the number of cohabiting couples increased fourteen-fold — from 439,000 to more than 6.4 million. Because of these increases in cohabitation, about 40% of American children will spend some time in a cohabiting union; 20% of babies are now born to cohabiting couples. And because cohabiting unions are much less stable than marriages, the vast majority of the children born to cohabiting couples will see their parents break up by the time they turn 15.

    A recent Bowling Green State University study of the motives for cohabitation found that young men and women who choose to cohabit are seeking alternatives to marriage and ways of testing a relationship to see if it might be safely transformed into a marriage — with both rationales clearly shaped by a fear of divorce. One young man told the researchers that living together allows you to “get to know the person and their habits before you get married. So that way, you won’t have to get divorced.” Another said that an advantage of cohabitation is that you “don’t have to go through the divorce process if you do want to break up, you don’t have to pay lawyers and have to deal with splitting everything and all that jazz.”

    My own research confirms the connection between divorce and cohabitation in America. Specifically, data from the General Social Survey indicate that adult children of divorce are 61% more likely than adult children from married families to endorse the notion that it is a “good idea for a couple who intend to get married to live together first.” Likewise, adult children of divorce are 47% more likely to be currently cohabiting, compared to those who were raised in intact, married families. Thus divorce has played a key role in reducing marriage and increasing cohabitation, which now exists as a viable competitor to marriage in the organization of sex, intimacy, childbearing, and even child-rearing.

    Third, the divorce revolution has contributed to an intergenerational cycle of divorce. Work by demographer Nicholas Wolfinger indicates that the adult children of divorce are now 89% more likely to divorce themselves, compared to adults who were raised in intact, married families. Children of divorce who marry other children of divorce are especially likely to end up divorced, according to Wolfinger’s work. Of course, the reason children of divorce — especially children of low-conflict divorce — are more likely to end their marriages is precisely that they have often learned all the wrong lessons about trust, commitment, mutual sacrifice, and fidelity from their parents.

    THE DIVORCE DIVIDE

    Clearly, the divorce revolution of the 1960s and ’70s left a poisonous legacy. But what has happened since? Where do we stand today on the question of marriage and divorce? A survey of the landscape presents a decidedly mixed portrait of contemporary married life in America.

    The good news is that, on the whole, divorce has declined since 1980 and marital happiness has largely stabilized. The divorce rate fell from a historic high of 22.6 divorces per 1,000 married women in 1980 to 17.5 in 2007. In real terms, this means that slightly more than 40% of contemporary first marriages are likely to end in divorce, down from approximately 50% in 1980. Perhaps even more important, recent declines in divorce suggest that a clear majority of children who are now born to married couples will grow up with their married mothers and fathers.

    Similarly, the decline in marital happiness associated with the tidal wave of divorce in the 1960s and ’70s essentially stopped more than two decades ago. Men’s marital happiness hovered around 63% from the early 1980s to the mid-2000s, while women’s marital happiness fell just a bit, from 62% in the early 1980s to 60% in the mid-2000s.

    This good news can be explained largely by three key factors. First, the age at first marriage has risen. In 1970, the median age of marriage was 20.8 for women and 23.2 for men; in 2007, it was 25.6 for women and 27.5 for men. This means that fewer Americans are marrying when they are too immature to forge successful marriages. (It is true that some of the increase in age at first marriage is linked to cohabitation, but not the bulk of it.)

    Second, the views of academic and professional experts about divorce and family breakdown have changed significantly in recent decades. Social-science data about the consequences of divorce have moved many scholars across the political spectrum to warn against continuing the divorce revolution, and to argue that intact families are essential, especially to the well-being of children. Here is a characteristic example, from a recent publication by a group of scholars at the Brookings Institution and Princeton University:

    Marriage provides benefits both to children and to society. Although it was once possible to believe that the nation’s high rates of divorce, cohabitation, and nonmarital childbearing represented little more than lifestyle alternatives brought about by the freedom to pursue individual self-fulfillment, many analysts now believe that these individual choices can be damaging to the children who have no say in them and to the society that enables them.

    Although certainly not all scholars, therapists, policymakers, and journalists would agree that contemporary levels of divorce and family breakdown are cause for worry, a much larger share of them expresses concern about the health of marriage in America — and about America’s high level of divorce — than did so in the 1970s. These views seep into the popular consciousness and influence behavior — just as they did in the 1960s and ’70s, when academic and professional experts carried the banner of the divorce revolution.

    A third reason for the stabilization in divorce rates and marital happiness is not so heartening. Put simply, marriage is increasingly the preserve of the highly educated and the middle and upper classes. Fewer working-class and poor Americans are marrying nowadays in part because marriage is seen increasingly as a sort of status symbol: a sign that a couple has arrived both emotionally and financially, or is at least within range of the American Dream. This means that those who do marry today are more likely to start out enjoying the money, education, job security, and social skills that increase the probability of long-term marital success.

    And this is where the bad news comes in. When it comes to divorce and marriage, America is increasingly divided along class and educational lines. Even as divorce in general has declined since the 1970s, what sociologist Steven Martin calls a “divorce divide” has also been growing between those with college degrees and those without (a distinction that also often translates to differences in income). The figures are quite striking: College-educated Americans have seen their divorce rates drop by about 30% since the early 1980s, whereas Americans without college degrees have seen their divorce rates increase by about 6%. Just under a quarter of college-educated couples who married in the early 1970s divorced in their first ten years of marriage, compared to 34% of their less-educated peers. Twenty years later, only 17% of college-­educated couples who married in the early 1990s divorced in their first ten years of marriage; 36% of less-educated couples who married in the early 1990s, however, divorced sometime in their first decade of marriage.

    This growing divorce divide means that college-educated married couples are now about half as likely to divorce as their less-educated peers. Well-educated spouses who come from intact families, who enjoy annual incomes over $60,000, and who conceive their first child in ­wedlock — as many college-educated couples do — have exceedingly low rates of divorce.

    Similar trends can be observed in measures of marital quality. For instance, if we look at married couples aged 18-60, 72% of spouses who were both college-educated and 65% of spouses who were both less-educated reported that they were “very happy” in their marriages in the 1970s, according to the General Social Survey. In the 2000s, marital happiness remained high among college-educated spouses, as 70% continued to report that they were “very happy” in their marriages. But marital happiness fell among less-educated spouses: Only 56% reported that they were “very happy” in their marriages in the 2000s.

    Wilcox Figure

    These trends are mirrored in American illegitimacy statistics. Although one would never guess as much from the regular New York Times features on successful single women having children, non-marital childbearing is quite rare among college-educated women. According to a 2007 Child Trends study, only 7% of mothers with a college degree had a child outside of marriage, compared to more than 50% of mothers who had not gone to college.

    So why are marriage and traditional child-rearing making a modest comeback in the upper reaches of society while they continue to unravel among those with less money and less education? Both cultural and economic forces are at work, each helping to widen the divorce and marriage divide in America.

    First, while it was once the case that working-class and poor Americans held more conservative views of divorce than their middle- and upper-class peers, this is no longer so. For instance, a 2004 National Fatherhood Initiative poll of American adults aged 18-60 found that 52% of college-­educated Americans endorsed the norm that in the “absence of violence and extreme conflict, parents who have an unsatisfactory marriage should stay together until their children are grown.” But only 35% of less-educated Americans surveyed endorsed the same viewpoint.

    Likewise, according to my analysis of the General Social Survey, in the 1970s only 36% of college-educated Americans thought divorce should be “more difficult to obtain than it is now,” compared to 46% of less-educated Americans. By the 2000s, 49% of college-educated Americans thought divorce laws should be tightened, compared to 48% of less-­educated ­Americans. Views of marriage have been growing more conservative among elites, but not among the poor and the less educated.

    Second, the changing cultural meaning of marriage has also made it less necessary and less attractive to working-class and poor Americans. Prior to the 1960s, when the older, institutional model of marriage dominated popular consciousness, marriage was the only legitimate venue for having sex, bearing and raising children, and enjoying an intimate relationship. Moreover, Americans generally saw marriage as an institution that was about many more goods than a high-quality emotional relationship. Therefore, it made sense for all men and women — regardless of socioeconomic status — to get and stay married.

    Yet now that the institutional model has lost its hold over the lives of American adults, sex, children, and intimacy can be had outside of ­marriage. All that remains unique to marriage today is the prospect of that high-quality emotional bond — the soul-mate model. As a result, marriage is now disproportionately appealing to wealthier, better-­educated couples, because less-educated, less-wealthy couples often do not have the emotional, social, and financial resources to enjoy a high-quality soul-mate marriage.

    The qualitative research of sociologists Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas, for instance, shows that lower-income couples are much more likely to struggle with conflict, infidelity, and substance abuse than their higher-income peers, especially as the economic position of working-class men has grown more precarious since the 1970s. Because of shifts away from industrial employment and toward service occupations, real wages and employment rates have dropped markedly for working-class men, but not for college-educated men. For instance, from 1973 to 2007, real wages of men with a college degree rose 18%; by contrast, the wages of high-school-educated men fell 11%. Likewise, in 1970, 96% of men aged 25-64 with high-school degrees or with college degrees were employed. By 2003, employment had fallen only to 93% for college-­educated men of working age. But for working-aged men with only high-school degrees, labor-force participation had fallen to 84%, according to research by economist Francine Blau. These trends indicate that less-educated men have, in economic terms, become much less attractive as providers for their female peers than have college-educated men.

    In other words, the soul-mate model of marriage does not extend equal marital opportunities. It therefore makes sense that fewer poor Americans would take on the responsibilities of modern married life, knowing that they are unlikely to reap its rewards.

    The emergence of the divorce and marriage divide in America exacerbates a host of other social problems. The breakdown of marriage in ­working-class and poor communities has played a major role in fueling poverty and inequality, for instance. Isabel Sawhill at the Brookings Institution has concluded that virtually all of the increase in child poverty in the United States since the 1970s can be attributed to family breakdown. Meanwhile, the dissolution of marriage in working-class and poor communities has also fueled the growth of government, as federal, state, and local governments spend more money on police, prisons, welfare, and court costs, trying to pick up the pieces of broken families. Economist Ben Scafidi recently found that the public costs of family breakdown exceed $112 billion a year.

    Moreover, children in single-parent homes are more likely to be exposed to Hollywood’s warped vision of sex, relationships, and family life. For instance, a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that children in single-parent homes devote almost 45 minutes more per day to watching television than children in two-parent homes. Given the distorted nature of the popular culture’s family-related messages, and the unorthodox family relationships of celebrity role models, this means that children in single-parent families are even less likely to develop a healthy understanding of marriage and family life — and are therefore less likely to have a positive vision of their own marital future.

    Thus, the fallout of America’s retreat from marriage has hit poor and working-class communities especially hard, with children on the lower end of the economic spectrum doubly disadvantaged by the material and marital circumstances of their parents.

    STRENGHTENING MARRIAGE

    There are no magic cures for the growing divorce divide in America. But a few modest policy measures could offer some much-needed help.

    First, the states should reform their divorce laws. A return to fault-based divorce is almost certainly out of the question as a political matter, but some plausible common-sense reforms could nonetheless inject a measure of sanity into our nation’s divorce laws. States should combine a one-year waiting period for married parents seeking a divorce with programs that educate those parents about the likely social and emotional consequences of their actions for their children. State divorce laws should also allow courts to factor in spousal conduct when making decisions about alimony, child support, custody, and property division. In particular, spouses who are being divorced against their will, and who have not engaged in egregious misbehavior such as abuse, adultery, or abandonment, should be given preferential treatment by family courts. Such consideration would add a measure of justice to the current divorce process; it would also discourage some divorces, as spouses who would otherwise seek an easy exit might avoid a divorce that would harm them financially or limit their access to their children.

    Second, Congress should extend the federal Healthy Marriage Initiative. In 2006, as part of President George W. Bush’s marriage initiative, Congress passed legislation allocating $100 million a year for five years to more than 100 programs designed to strengthen marriage and ­family ­relationships in America — especially among low-income couples. As Kathryn Edin of Harvard has noted, many of these programs are equipping poor and working-class couples with the relational skills that their better-educated peers rely upon to sustain their marriages. In the next year or two, many of these programs will be evaluated; the most successful programs serving poor and working-class communities should receive additional funding, and should be used as models for new programs to serve these communities. New ideas — like additional social-marketing campaigns on behalf of marriage, on the model of those undertaken to discourage smoking — should also be explored through the initiative.

    Third, the federal government should expand the child tax credit. Raising children is expensive, and has become increasingly so, given rising college and health-care costs. Yet the real value of federal tax deductions for children has fallen considerably since the 1960s. To remedy this state of affairs, Ramesh Ponnuru and Robert Stein have proposed expanding the current child tax credit from $1,000 to $5,000 and making it fully refundable against both income and payroll taxes. A reform along those lines would provide a significant measure of financial relief to working-class and middle-class families, and would likely strengthen their increasingly fragile marriages.

    Of course, none of these reforms of law and policy alone is likely to exercise a transformative influence on the quality and stability of marriage in America. Such fixes must be accompanied by changes in the wider culture. Parents, churches, schools, public officials, and the entertainment industry will have to do a better job of stressing the merits of a more institutional model of marriage. This will be particularly important for poor and working-class young adults, who are drifting away from marriage the fastest.

    This is a tall order, to say the least. But if our society is genuinely interested in protecting and improving the welfare of children — especially children in our nation’s most vulnerable communities — we must strengthen marriage and reduce the incidence of divorce in America. The unthinkable alternative is a nation divided more and more by class and marital ­status, and children doubly disadvantaged by poverty and single parenthood. Surely no one believes that such a state of affairs is in the national interest.

    W. Bradford Wilcox is the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and a senior fellow at the Institute for American Values.

    The Evolution of Divorce > Publications > National Affairs.

    Straight From The U.S. Department of Health & Human Service’s Mouth: Children are More at Risk With MOTHERS – 2007 Report, Not the 1996 NIS-3

    In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Children and Domestic Violence, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Feminism, Foster Care, Freedom, Glenn Sacks, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Liberty, Marriage, Non-custodial fathers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parentectomy, Parents rights on September 11, 2009 at 12:39 am

    Another mad mom blogger NANCY CARROLL, aka, rightsformothers.com, aka, car-woman? that always get it WRONG, posted: http://justice4mothers.wordpress.com/2009/09/10/straight-from-the-u-s-department-of-health-human-services-mouth-children-are-more-at-risk-with-fathers/

    “Straight From The U.S. Department of Health & Human Service’s Mouth: Children are More at Risk With Fathers
    as if it were JUST RELEASED..???…. but got I got news:
    That statistic is from a 1996 report, NANCY CARROLL…. Try the newest HHS report, moron. Below is from the 2007 report.

    Moms are dangerous, especially single moms.

    Perpetrator Relationship

    Victim data were analyzed by relationship to their perpetrators. Nearly 39 percent (38.7%) of victims were maltreated by their mother acting alone (figure 3–6). Nearly 18 percent (17.9%) of victims were maltreated by their father acting alone. Nearly 17 percent (16.8%) were maltreated by both parents.19 ”

    Instead, I think I will right a story on this one instead…on my blog site and send it to Glenn Sacks, et.al..

    http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/pubs/cm07/chapter3.htm#factors

    The 40th Anniversary of “No-Fault” Divorce | Catholic Exchange

    In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Feminism, Foster Care, Freedom, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, Marriage, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation on September 7, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    The 40th Anniversary of “No-Fault” Divorce

    September 5th, 2009 by Judy Parejko Print This Article Print This Article ·// ShareThis

    On September 5, 1969, Governor Ronald Reagan signed the Family Law Act, launching California as the first state in the nation with ‘no-fault’ divorce.

    The law quickly took hold elsewhere, including Iowa, which followed California’s lead six months later.

    By 1971, Colorado, Florida, Michigan and Oregon had no-fault divorce laws and within fifteen years the law had spread nationwide.

    Most policy analysts agree that no-fault divorce has weakened the “traditional family since one person could now end the marriage unilaterally.” Some say it threw open the door to “marriages” of same-sex partners, since adultery – which has a particular definition – was taken off the law books. Same-sex partners are not capable of adultery and hence, could now qualify for divorce on the basis of “breakdown” of the relationship.

    Who were the key players in this family policy revolution? Who were the ‘villains’ and were there any ‘heroes’?

    Some might name Governor Reagan as the biggest villain since he could have blocked the bill by vetoing it. He himself had been divorced-against-his-will by his first wife, actress Jane Wyman and he considered himself a family man. Although his name will be forever linked with no-fault divorce, it turns out that he may be the only who has expressed regret about his role.

    Late in life, Reagan confessed to his oldest son, Michael that, signing the bill was one of the worst mistakes he ever made in public office. Michael tells the story about his father in Twice Adopted .

    While Reagan had a prominent visible role, the man who was probably the most responsible for this bill worked behind the scenes and his story is not well-known.

    Assemblyman James A. Hayes from southern California was self-described as the bill’s author. By the time he attained the role of Assembly Judiciary Chairman, his wife had already filed for divorce on the ground of ‘cruelty.’ Hayes’ new role on the Judiciary Committee provided him with an opportunity that he used to his personal advantage.

    With the implementation of no-fault divorce on January 1, 1970, the rules of the game abruptly changed, turning the tables on all pending cases, including that of Hayes’ wife. As a result, Hayes was able to reduce his ‘damages’ in the final settlement. The newspapers later reported that his wife and four children did not fare so well and turned to food stamps.

    Hayes claims he coined the term “irreconcilable differences” because he didn’t like the proposed term, “breakdown” — it sounded too negative.

    Hayes had to convince Reagan to sign the bill, and during their one-hour meeting Hayes found the job challenging. Reagan wanted to veto the bill, but Hayes pressed him to sign it by ticking off the names of those who were ‘on board.’ In fact, in Hayes reflections on that period, he made it sound like everyone was on board.

    Hayes even claimed that he worked with representatives of the Catholic Church and that the Archdiocese of Sacramento was particularly supportive.

    In 1969, Republicans controlled the political scene in California, with Reagan just having defeated Pat Brown, a Democrat. Republicans also controlled the senate and assembly. The Republican Party would later take on the title of the “Party of Family Values.”

    Iowa, which was the next state to enact no-fault, was also Republican-controlled with its own popular Republican governor, Robert Ray, signing the bill.

    By all accounts, there were few if any heroes. Most policymakers were ‘sold’ on the bill, but when looking at previous accounts, it’s not clear whether they really understood what it the bill would do. Most accounts portray it as a “mutual consent” type of measure, but in reality, it was not. Only one party needed to bring a divorce action knowing that the “State” would assure them of the outcome.

    Looking back at what we now know, is this fortieth anniversary begging some questions?

    One question might be whether there was deception in the process. Would a similar law be possible today if the story got out that the main player had such a strong personal vested interest? At the time, the media did not report on the divorce lawsuit filed by Hayes’ wife.

    Secondly, would Catholic Church officials have endorsed this bill if they’d known the full truth about it — that it would quickly turn into “unilateral divorce-on-demand” with the state doing a yeoman’s job for the one filing for divorce, leaving the other party defenseless in such a lawsuit?

    In Iowa, some legislators labeled the bill an “attorneys’ bill” because they could see the benefit to members of the bar but no benefit to families.

    One of the bigger questions that Catholics and other Christians might consider is this: How did the State obtain such sweeping jurisdiction over this God-ordained institution? Is marriage merely a civil institution? Does pre-marital instruction, along with promises to live up to church teachings mean anything?

    For Catholics, where does the Church’s canon law fit into the picture? And, where are the “church courts” that could hear cases falling within the her jurisdiction?

    Do the Canons and teachings in Catechism apply only “after the fact” –- once the divorce is finalized? Or, are these elements meant to be a strong buffer, bringing couples back to their vows and to the teachings of the Church?

    “Jurisdiction” is loaded with implications. Under whose jurisdiction do we place ourselves? Canon law is written for “The People of God.”

    Most people who are intent on filing for divorce will seek the jurisdiction of the civil court. The first step is usually hiring an attorney to prepare the paperwork. But, what if it didn’t work that way?

    Maybe Church officials should be prepared to assert jurisdiction when approached. Why should we be limited to only one jurisdiction? We are asked to make a commitment to church teachings at the front end of marriage. Why shouldn’t we ask church leaders to provide a forum like the one Paul talks about in 1 Cor. 6:1?

    St. Paul admonishes us about bringing lawsuits against our brothers. We are supposed to be able to settle things amongst ourselves, using a fair and just process.

    We could learn how to set up church governance in such a way that those who stray to the civil arena could be called back. They could present their complaints and have them heard amongst those who are properly trained. In the beginning, very few would know how to hear a case and provide a fair and just process. But, we could learn.

    Instead, too many members of the flock now find themselves disillusioned after receiving a summons for divorce from the civil court, turning to ask for help from the Church, and then being turned away. Just because we don’t know how to do it now, doesn’t mean we can’t learn. There’s an opportunity here. Will we respond?

    Most churches have so many committees doing various things. Why not one more committee: the Complaints and Adjudication Committee?

    Judy Parejko is the author of Stolen Vows: The Illusion of No-Fault Divorce and the Rise of the American Divorce Industry and is now compiling, A Concise History of No-Fault Divorce in the United States. Her research is primarily focused on the intrinsic policy implications of laws that have been drafted by an organization of lawyers operating as the A.B.A.’s drafting arm: the Uniform Law Commissioners.

    The 40th Anniversary of “No-Fault” Divorce | Catholic Exchange.

    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.

    Adult children carry the burden of divorce too – The Globe and Mail

    In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, custody, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Foster Care, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, 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, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Restraining Orders on August 11, 2009 at 1:00 am

    Adult children carry the burden of divorce too

    Waiting until they’ve left the nest won’t spare kids the trauma of Splitsville

    Sarah Hampson

    Sarah Hampson

    shampson@globeandmail.com

    When one of Silvio Berlusconi’s daughters expressed dismay earlier this week about the reported links between her 72-year-old father and Noemi Letizia, an aspiring actress and model whose 18th birthday party the Italian Prime Minister attended, she inadvertently illuminated an issue that’s often overlooked in divorce.

    Contrary to what many assume, the emotional upheaval for adult children is just as intense and painful as it can be for younger children who endure a family break-up. The realization flies in the face of the popular belief that if parents endure an unhappy marriage while their children are still young and living at home, they can spare them trauma by divorcing later on. It’s the old “for the sake of the children” argument for staying together until the nest empties.

    But the assumption is a misconception.

    “People think that because the children are adults, it shouldn’t affect them; they should be able to handle it,” says Debra Rodrigues, a counsellor and mediator of separation and divorce issues with Peel Counselling & Consulting Services. “But no matter how old you are, the child within you is still going to react to something traumatic like that.”

    It is not uncommon to hear of parents who drop a child off at university and announce the news that they are separating. They have reached a parenting goal: Their child is mature and independent. They reason that their child will be so happily distracted with the activities of her own life, she won’t have the time or inclination to worry about changes going on at home.

    Some parents may privately congratulate themselves for having sacrificed their own short-term happiness to protect their children until they are old enough to handle the news.

    “I knew 10 years ago that I would leave my husband when our daughter went off to university. I was biding my time,” says one woman in her 50s who left her spouse after a marriage of more than 20 years.

    But the age of mature children can make them more vulnerable to the effects of a split. For one thing, “parents often think that they can tell them everything that’s going on about the divorce and also sometimes pull them into the middle and expect them to take a side,” observes Ms. Rodrigues, who counsels many children of divorce in their late teens, 20s and even 30s.

    The children are also forced to reconsider their childhood. “They may have felt that they’re one of the lucky ones in the world, in this case by having an intact family, and suddenly that view of their family and the stability of their life changes,” she says. “They look back and think, ‘What did I miss?’ And they may wonder what was real and what was put on for the sake of the children.”

    In her comments to the Italian edition of Vanity Fair, Barbara Berlusconi, who is 25 and the eldest child from her father’s second marriage, to Veronica Lario, explained that “my story is of a girl who lived her youth in a normal and tranquil fashion.” Now she is dealing with a father up to his dyed-black hair in scandal. The most recent embarrassment is tape recordings, allegedly of her father’s voice, said to have been made by an escort who was partying at one of his houses.

    When asked if she thought her parents’ breakup was the end of a great love affair, she replied, “I am sure that it was for mamma.”

    Worrying about the more vulnerable parent is a common burden for adult children, experts say. Roles often become reversed, as adult children assume responsibility for one or both parents.

    A few years ago, I was talking to an adult child of divorced parents who remarked that their family story proved that a deadbeat father, as theirs had been, did not affect their livelihood or their happiness. “He wasn’t around, but we didn’t need him,” she said, referring to herself, her mother and three siblings.

    But she neglected to point out that the eldest sibling, a graduate student at the time of the divorce, and, soon after, a successful businessman, essentially stepped in to become a provider.Such a sense of responsibility, while generous, can interfere with the adult child’s own stage of life, one in which he shouldn’t have to think about supporting or advising his parent. Children whose parents divorce as they enter university often react in an unexpected, self-sabotaging way. Rather than diminish their worry about their parents’ decision, the distance from home accentuates it, as they fear the unknown and the uncertainty.

    The involvement of new partners is also problematic. When they visit their parent, they often discover a completely different person to the one they knew growing up. “Enough talk about sex,” a friend of mine announced at a recent dinner gathering, hushing her guests when her 19-year-old son, who was over from his dad’s house, emerged from the basement. She had been regaling her girlfriends with talk of her raucous sex life in the aftermath of her fresh divorce. She straightened her blouse, stubbed out her cigarette and waved demurely at her son. “Got enough pop down there?” she said sweetly.

    And it goes without saying that a parent who is interested in a much younger person runs the risk of alienating the adult child, who may, as in Ms. Berlusconi’s case, be the elder. “I was amazed. I never frequented old men,” she said of her father’s friendship with the dewy Ms. Letizia. “These are psychological links of which I have no experience.”

    The new relationships can make the adult children feel displaced. As they try to adjust to the new people in their parents’ lives, they can feel that they don’t matter as much as the new love interest does. Or, as their parents rejoin the dating carousel, children can find themselves having to continually play the role of confidant for mom and dad’s love woes.

    But the biggest problem is that adult children often feel they should just suck it up. They should just cope with the pain of their parents’ divorce. And unfortunately there are few resources for them, Ms. Rodrigues notes, because the focus is usually on younger children of divorce.

    Finding people to talk to is important – and not necessarily a reporter with Vanity Fair.

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    Adult children carry the burden of divorce too – The Globe and Mail.

    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.