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Archive for the ‘Homeschool’ Category

GOP Must Make School Vouchers a Civil Rights Issue

In Best Interest of the Child, children legal status, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Domestic Relations, education, Freedom, Homeschool, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment on September 3, 2009 at 5:58 pm

Parents should have the first and last choice of where their children go to school.   It is time to make sure the school teacher’s union, who have one interest only: keeping their jobs.  They need to back off.  Parents need to urge their congressman to support H.J.R. 42 The Parental Rights Amendment in Congress to make Parental Rights a constitutional protected right. – Parental Rights

When one-off events catch public officials flat-footed, the public often shows some understanding.

The start of the school year, however, and the need to schedule classes for students, are as predictable as August.  To have this annual exercise result in chaos and delay for 8,000 high school students in Prince George’s County, Maryland is a scandal and disgrace.

As reported at length by the Washington Post, the year began for 8,000 of the county’s 41,000 high school students without schedules.  Five days, later, 1,300 were still in limbo. It really is difficult to comprehend the scale of this ineptitude.  As one student explained on a Facebook page devoted to the matter:

We basically are going 2 school 4 no point wut so ever…we are wasting time going 2 are fake teachers and fake classes, doing fake work or nothing at all, for nothing at all.

When 20 percent of the county’s high school students are herded into cafeterias and gymnasiums, with teachers engaged in crowd control because students have no classes to attend, the essential functions of local government have broken down.

The greater scandal here is that this failure has almost certainly had an adverse impact on black students.  Prince George’s County may be home to the largest black middle class in the country, but among those high school students who had the start of their high school year ruined by administrative ineptitude, many were minority students who needed those extra few days of instruction and could ill afford thumb twiddling and busy work.

A collapse of governing responsibility, one with civil rights implications, just miles from the nation’s capitol — but will anyone at the federal level propose to do much about it?  We know that Democrats won’t cross the teachers’ unions.  What about Republicans?  Would they use this as an opportunity to promote vouchers for any of these students, betrayed by their school system?

Republicans are supporters of school vouchers as an economic concept. By enhancing parental choice and challenging the unions, they bring competition to the public school monopoly and improve outputs for the parent and child consumers.  And Republicans support state reforms and federal reform in the District of Columbia.

But where are the conservative conviction politicians in Washington who will use this situation to loudly demand justice, and promote school vouchers, for the poor kids in P.G. County?  As many have noted, the lack of access to a quality education is a civil rights issue, one that calls out for vouchers as an emergency measure for kids stuck in failing schools.  For any who doubt this, consider the account of Jessica Pinkney, a Prince George’s County high school junior, who told a Post reporter that two days after the school year began, she was finally moved to the cafeteria from the gym, because the cafeteria had air conditioning.  And then she was given an index card with the number 195 on it — her place in line to receive an academic schedule.  This should not happen in America, and when it does, the citizens under the thumb of the authorities responsible should be liberated from their dependence.

Unfortunately, it is unlikely that Republicans in Congress will take an aggressive stand for these helpless students and against a corrupt and wasteful bureaucracy incapable of executing even the most basic tasks with which it is charged.  Republican commitments to federalism and local authority caution against such a full-throttle embrace of federally funded school vouchers.  Republican orthodoxy on limited government doubts the legitimacy of involvement by Washington in these essentially local matters.  And the Republican understanding of the original Constitution demands a restrictive understanding of fundamental rights.

But as demonstrated in Maryland, vouchers can be an imperative of justice — one consistent with the GOP’s, and the nation’s, historic constitutional commitment to civil rights.

Next week Congress returns from its August recess.  We will hear a great deal from legislators on both sides of the aisle about their admiration for their friend Senator Ted Kennedy.  While not embracing his politics, Republicans should consider the man’s tactics and take on the Prince George’s debacle.  Kennedy spoke loudly and often in the pursuit of justice.  He rarely let an opportunity pass to remind Americans of those in danger of being left behind.  And over time, his moral arguments won adherents and drove the center of the debate in his direction.

Democrats should be ashamed that in the fights over school choice, they take the side of the unions over the little guy — the minority student in a failing school.  And if Republicans spoke on this issue with the frequency and passion that their late colleague devoted to his causes, they might find in a few years that they have achieved some legislative successes on school vouchers, begun to reestablish some trust with the black community, and rebranded the party as one committed to justice and civil rights.

Recent Posts by Henry Clay

GOP Must Make School Vouchers a Civil Rights Issue.

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Duncan: Do parents have right to educate? » Knoxville News Sentinel

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, Childrens Rights, Christian, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Freedom, Homeschool, Liberty, Marriage, National Parents Day, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment on July 28, 2009 at 5:36 pm

* Heather Duncan, community@knoxnews.com

* Posted July 28, 2009 at midnight

A crucial question will soon face parents if present United Nations initiatives gain acceptance in the United States: Who inherently has the right to educate your child, the state or the parent?

Barring a consti-tutional amendment, America could soon follow the path of several member nations that have already abdicated to the state the right of parents to choose the direction of their children’s educations.

How might our country’s founders have weighed in on this question? Could they have envisioned a time when the rights of parents to raise and educate their children would need protection under the law?

Dr. Erich Potter, Tennessee director of parentalrights.org, says no. “Parental rights are assumed but not implicit in the Constitution. It would not have occurred to anyone (at that time) to ask, ‘Should parents have the right to raise their children?’ ”

However, what might seem like a fundamental right is quickly losing ground around the world, and organizations such as parentalrights.org are trying to sound the alarm that the United States may be following suit.

Currently every state in the U.S. allows parents to homeschool, with differing guidelines; not so in other nations. Countries such as Germany have outlawed home education altogether and other countries have begun to limit these freedoms. Some U.S. lawmakers are worried that there is a growing threat to homeschooling in the U.S. because of preference for international law.

“There are even State Department lawyers who believe that international law trumps American law,” says Potter.

Then consider the recent announcement by U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice that our federal government will consider ratifying the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. This convention guarantees various rights for minor children, including “freedom of information” which includes the “freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds … through any other media of the child’s choice.”

In speaking for the U.N., Geraldine Van Bueren at The University of London writes, “The Children’s Convention potentially protects the rights of the child who philosophically disagrees with the parents’ educational goals.”

Just last month, the Children’s Secretary of Great Britain accepted a report which referred to this article as justification for the forced registering of all 80,000 homeschoolers in the U.K. and the authority of government officials to enter the home of these families at any time to question the child alone regarding his or her education.

Because Article VI of the U.S. Constitution binds us to any international treaty we make, a Parental Rights Amendment to the Constitution is being introduced in Congress that will cancel out any treaty that would attempt to infringe upon the rights of parents to direct the upbringing and the education of their children.

For more information, go to www.parentalrights.

Heather Duncan is a homeschooling mother and freelance contributor to the News Sentinel.

via Duncan: Do parents have right to educate? » Knoxville News Sentinel.

Parental Rights Amendment Reaches 110 Co-Sponsors

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Child Support, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Freedom, HIPAA Law, Homeschool, kidnapped children, Liberty, Marriage, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment on July 28, 2009 at 5:16 pm

New CoSponsors in the House – and Senate!

This morning, in conjunction with Representative Hoekstra’s office, we proudly sent out the following press release:

Parental Rights Amendment Reaches 110 Co-Sponsors

Grassroots Movement behind Effort to Ensure Parents’ Rights to Raise their Children

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE / July 27, 2009 / Washington, D.C. – A Constitutional Amendment to protect the parent-child relationship introduced by U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Michigan, has reached 110 co-sponsors in the House.

“More and more members of Congress are recognizing the threat from government and foreign interference into the parent-child relationship,” Hoekstra said. “I encourage my colleagues to support the initiative by co-sponsoring the Parents’ Rights Amendment.”

The Parental Rights Amendment (H.J.Res.42) would state explicitly in the U.S. Constitution that parents have a fundamental right to raise their children as they see fit, while protecting against abuse and neglect. Threats to the parent-child relationship include potential Senate ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and the erosion of fundamental parental rights in our federal courts.

“Just about every member of Congress agrees with the legal principle that parents have the fundamental right to make decisions for the upbringing of their children,” said Michael Farris, J.D., president of Parentalrights.org. “Because of international law and shifting judicial philosophies, the right is being steadily undermined. We now have 110 members of Congress with the foresight to say that we need to protect this long-standing right before the erosion goes too far. We appreciate the leadership of Pete Hoekstra and the 109 other members of Congress who believe that it is important to secure the rights of American families for generations to come.”

More information on the Parental Rights Amendment can be viewed at http://www.parentalrights.org.

More Good News

In addition, we also received word that Senator Coburn of Oklahoma has signed on as a cosponsor of S.J. Res. 16, the Parental Rights Amendment in the Senate. This brings our total in the Senate to three (3) – a slow but important start.

While there is no way to track the direct effects of your calls and emails and our visits last week, it is safe to assume that at least some of these cosponsors would not have signed on before the summer break without this contact. When we visited Congress last week, everyone we spoke to was already aware of the Amendment – a major change from just four months ago! Our thanks and congratulations to you for your efforts to bring this vital issue to the attention of your Senators and Congressmen. With help like yours, we will win!

Jill Brooke: Do Men Become Better or Worse Fathers After Divorce?

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Support, child trafficking, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Homeschool, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Marriage, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine on July 21, 2009 at 5:04 pm

Do Men Become Better or Worse Fathers After Divorce?

If divorce is the future of duplicitous two-timers Gov. Mark Sanford to reality TV’s Jon Gosselin, these men will have to navigate co-parenting. However, a growing trend shows that many men become better parents post-divorce, to the surprise of ex-wives who find it difficult to grasp that a man who wasn’t a good husband can indeed be a good father.

Take the example of Peter Giles.

When Peter Giles’ three daughters were toddlers, work consumed him at the expense of family life. The New York businessman would justify the absences as doing the right thing for his family since he was providing the financial womb while his wife was taking care of their other needs.

What finally made him a better father? Getting a divorce.

“The divorce was such a shock and forced me to take stock of who I was and what success should look like,” said Giles, whose ex-wife Nancy Claus sought a divorce in 2001. “I came to realize that I had been providing for my children but needed to be more to them. ”

Like the majority of divorcing men today, Giles sought joint legal custody, which courts are more willing to grant since a federal study shows that men paid child support 90 percent of the time in comparison to less than 45 percent when the mother had sole custody.

When his daughters visited, Giles morphed into a multi-tasker taking on chores previously done by his wife including cooking, buying cosmetics and remembering to buy eggs and bacon at the market.

“I wish he would have been as involved and helpful when we were married,” said Claus. “But he has definitely become a much better Dad after our divorce.”

He is not alone.

“When a father is away from the stress of a failed marriage, he can be more relaxed and more reflective and as a result enjoy being more fully involved with his children,” said Don Gordon, professor emeritus of psychology at Ohio University and the director of the Center for Divorce Education.

David Gestl, the divorced father of four in Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, agrees, adding how it’s a relief not to argue about parenting styles which allows the father to develop his own.

“In my marriage, I was always walking on eggshells and getting criticized,” he said. “Recently after I made dinner, my son shook his chocolate milk and it went flying everywhere. I could say, just relax it’s nothing a paper towel won’t pick up. It’s okay to make a mistake and fix it. ”

One benefit to divorce is that with scheduled rationed time, each parent doesn’t take it for granted and can have more single minded focus with their kids.

CNBC anchor Dennis Kneale says divorce has made him “vastly closer ” to his 9-year-old daughter Jing-Jing. “In many families, mom is the center of everything and the husband is the supporting player,” he observed. “But with divorce, I have had more one on one time with her in ways I never did before.”

In a study on non-residential fathers, researcher Paul Amato from Pennsylvania State University found that the percentage of non-residential fathers being involved with their children more than tripled from 8 percent in the 1970’s to 26 percent in 2000’s.

A recent study by Kathleen Gerson, professor of sociology at New York University and author of ” The Unfinished Revolution:How a New Generation is Reshaping Family, Work,
and Gender in America” found the number to be 27 percent.

“Large numbers of contemporary fathers are doing their best to fulfill their responsibilities as parents despite the limitations of not residing with their children,” said Amato. “It’s time to recognize, value and support the commitment of these men to their children.”

Experts say that the rise of more involved fathers post-divorce is based on several factors that collectively aligned like shooting stars and is preventing what one organization calls, “a parentdectomy.”

A kid-focus culture for starters has helped cement ties.

Dr. Warren Farrell points out that pop culture’s parenting focus expanded the definition of a man’s identity. In one study tracking data from 1965-1998, married men had doubled their direct child care involvement. “More men put in the effort early which created deeper attachments that fathers didn’t want to lose,” said Farrell, who is also the author of “Father and Child Reunion.” Hence, more requests for joint custody.

Technology has also helped prevent or reduce what is called parental alienation where in the past the residential parent may – consciously or unconsciously – block contact either out of her resentment towards the father or because she has remarried and is protecting the stepfather relationship. A study by J. Annette Vanini and Edward Nichols found that 77 percent of noncustodial fathers faced some form of visitation interference.

But now fathers can give their kids pre-paid cell phones to insure contact. Divorce contracts are also often written to permit contact through email accounts.

Ted Rubin, a Huntington Long Island divorced dad to two girls, admits to using Facebook to keep in contact with his kids. “Sometimes when we speak on the phone I can tell if Mom is standing there and then later my daughter will contact me on Facebook,” he said. “A lot of Dads complain that moms could stand in the way of communication but now it’s almost impossible because kids are so tech savvy.”

In fact, Rubin, who has a contentious divorce with his ex-wife, says that email helps divorced parents diminish “the nastiness is our dialogues” which the kids would overhear on the phone. Now he can email what time he’s picking up the kids and delivering them without any verbal warfare.

Another big boost for continued contact has been videoconferencing. In 2002, Utah resident Michael Gough worried that his ex-wife’s relocation to Wisconsin would wipe out his parental involvement. Considering that less than 10 percent of divorces go to trial, he fought to have the right to videoconference with his daughter. Utah was the first state to pass legislation for virtual visitation in 2004.

“It costs me thousands of extra dollars to go to court but as a result there is now a statute for videoconferencing that other judges and attorneys can refer to and follow,” said Gough, who now runs a website called internetvisitation.org. Because of his efforts, Wisconsin, Florida and Texas all passed similar legislation and North Carolina did this month.

“With videoconferencing, I was able to read bedtime stories, help her with her homework and even watch her open up a present,” said Gough, with genuine sentimentality.

Schools are also helping divorced parents co-parent on neutral ground. While some wives would raise their eyebrows like thunderbolts when an ex-husband would arrive at the sports field, schools are not playing favorites.

“My ex-wife interpreted the divorce agreement that if I arrived at my son’s soccer game that it should only be when I had him for an overnight,” said Eric Ryerson, a nurse in Eugene, Oregon and father to an 11-year-old son. “But I want to see him more than my custody arrangement and by coming to sports events and volunteering at school, I can see him more.”

Ryerson went to the school and volunteered to be a chaperone for class trips, signed his name to contact forms and also spoke to coaches to provide information on his son’s soccer and baseball games.

“I asserted myself to be present and got rewarded for it,” said Ryerson. “I also got to meet his classmates and interacted with them.” Ryerson recalls fondly how in second grade he was nicknamed Mr. Pushy because he eagerly pushed his son’s friends on the swings. “My son told me he liked it when I came to school.”

In fact, research shows that the kids do like it when both parents are present.

“They have fewer behavior and emotional problems, higher self-esteem and better school performance than children in sole custody arrangements,” said Glenn Sacks, the National Executive Director of Fathers & Families. “When researchers have examined children of divorce, and studied and queried adult children of divorce, they’ve found that most prefer joint custody and shared parenting.”

For example, in one Arizona State University study of college students who experienced their parents’ divorces while they were children, over two-thirds believe that living equal times with each parent is the best arrangement. A Harvard University study also confirmed that children in joint custody settings fared much better than kids living in sole custody households.

While many men acknowledge progress, some still complain that the system treats fathers as second-class citizens when asking for more time with their children.

As Gary Nicholson, the president of the American Association of Marital Attorneys, explains, part of the problem is that various state laws tie child support payments to the amount of time a father is with their child. Payments can be adjusted if the father spends as much as 100 nights with his child so many mothers resist giving 50-50 splits and are angered by the request.

Said Nicholson, “Are there folks who look at this economically and think if I have equal time I won’t have to pay as much child support? Yes. But the majority of dads want to be involved in their kid’s lives. They feel they should be equal partners.”

As the nation sees more divorced families, more parents have learned that even though the marriage is over, they are forever linked as co-parents. Cultural cues also encourage that they should love their children more than they hate their spouse. Over time, many hard feelings thaw and enhanced appreciation can ensue.

Deb Rabino, a New York based make-up artist, learned to admire her ex-husband’s parenting of their two sons so much that when he lost his job in the financial industry, she voluntarily reduced his alimony and child support payments.

“He definitely became a better father after our divorce,” she said. “He honored his support of us and now it was our turn to help him out.”

The increased connection between children and fathers also results in other sacrifices as well. Michael Gough says videoconferencing helped get him more involved with his daughter. “My participation reminded me I have a daughter who needed me otherwise it could have been out of sight, out of mind.” Because his wife later relocated to Austin, Texas, Gough now found a new job to be near his daughter.

“Videoconferencing really helped us stay closer,” said Gough. “But it still can’t replace seeing my daughter and getting a hug.”

Like many men, he is getting remarried and may start a new family.

As Stephanie Coontz, the Director of Research and Public Education at the Council on Contemporary Families, observes, men have for more than 150 years tended to think of the responsibility of kids as a package deal. When the relationship split up, they’d walk away and start new families. “But we’re seeing a growing number of men separting from their wives but not their children,” she said.

Do you have any doubt that recent divorced dads including Dylan McDermott, Robin Williams, Russell Simmons or Guy Ritchie won’t enjoy time with their kids? All have said how much it means to them.

Still, it can be very painful for ex-wives to see that their families are living lives without them – especially when spouses repartner. However, in time, this divorce therapist has seen many women realize that a break from 24/7 parenting can benefit everyone. And love is far more elastic and flexible than we think.

(This story will also be discussed on CBS’ “Early Show”)

Jill Brooke: Do Men Become Better or Worse Fathers After Divorce?.

The Fatherless Family

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, custody, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Feminism, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, Homeschool, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Marriage, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders on July 1, 2009 at 12:42 am

Experiments in Living: The Fatherless Family

The Experiment

  • Fewer children live with both their mother and their father
  • Routes into the fatherless family
    • Divorce
    • Births outside marriage
    • Changes in marriage and cohabitation
  • Is the married two-parent family a thing of the past?
    • Most people still believe in the ideal of marriage and do, in fact, get married

The Results: How does the Fatherless Family Affect Adults, Children and Society?

  • Lone mothers
    • Are poorer
    • Are more likely to suffer from stress, depression, and other emotional and psychological problems
    • Have more health problems
    • May have more problems interacting with their children
  • Non-resident biological fathers
    • Are at risk of losing contact with their children
    • Are more likely to have health problems and engage in high-risk behaviour
  • Children living without their biological fathers
    • Are more likely to live in poverty and deprivation
    • Have more trouble in school
    • Tend to have more trouble getting along with others
    • Have higher risk of health problems
    • Are at greater risk of suffering physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.
    • Are more likely to run away from home
  • Teenagers living without their biological fathers
    • Are more likely to experience problems with sexual health
    • Are more likely to become teenage parents
    • Are more likely to offend
    • Are more likely to smoke
    • Are more likely to drink alcohol
    • Are more likely to take drugs
    • Are more likely to play truant from school
    • Are more likely to be excluded from school
    • Are more likely to leave school at 16
    • Are more likely to have adjustment problems
  • Young adults who grew up not living with their biological fathers
    • Are less likely to attain qualifications
    • Are more likely to experience unemployment
    • Are more likely to have low incomes
    • Are more likely be on income support
    • Are more likely to experience homelessness
    • Are more likely to be caught offending and go to jail
    • Are more likely to suffer from long term emotional and psychological problems
    • Are more likely to develop health problems
    • Tend to enter partnerships earlier and more often as a cohabitation
    • Are more likely to divorce or dissolve their cohabiting unions
    • Are more likely to have children outside marriage or outside any partnership

Effects on the Social Fabric

  • Increased crime and violence
  • Decreased community ties
  • A growing ‘divorce culture’
  • Cycle of fatherlessness
  • Dependence on state welfare

Why all these Effects?

Evaluating the Results

The weight of evidence indicates that the traditional family based upon a married father and mother is still the best environment for raising children, and it forms the soundest basis for the wider society.


Experiments in Living:
The Fatherless Family
John Stuart Mill famously called for ‘experiments in living’ so that we might learn from one another. For about 30 years we have been conducting such an experiment with the family. The time has now come to appraise the results.

‘As it is useful that while mankind are imperfect there should be different opinions, so is it that there should be different experiments of living; that free scope should be given to varieties of character, short of injury to others; and that the worth of different modes of life should be proved practically, when any one thinks fit to try them.’

In this passage from On Liberty (1859) the nineteenth-century champion of freedom, J.S. Mill, argued that there could be a public benefit in permitting lifestyle experimentation. His reasoning was that, just as we distinguish truth from falsehood by the clash of opinion, so we might learn how to improve human lives by permitting a contest in lifestyles. However, Mill did not expect such experiments to go on for ever. ‘It would be absurd,’ he said:

‘to pretend that people ought to live as if nothing whatever had been known in the world before they came into it; as if experience had as yet done nothing towards showing that one mode of existence, or of conduct, is preferable to another.’

In the 1970s and 1980s many people argued that the traditional family – based upon a married biological father and mother and their children – was outdated. Under the guise of ‘freedom of choice’, ‘self-fulfilment’, and ‘equal respect for all kinds of families’, feminists and social rebels led a campaign to experiment with different family structures. Sometimes it was claimed that women and children did not need men, and were, in fact, often better off without them. On occasion it was said that families were not breaking down, they were just changing; that the most important thing for children was their parents’ happiness and self-fulfilment; and that children were resilient and would suffer few negative effects of divorce and family disruption. The idea of ‘staying together for the children’s sake’ was often derided. Some parents embraced the new thinking, but not all of those who took part in the ‘fatherless family experiment’ were willing subjects. As the idea that mothers and children did not need fathers took hold, many social and legal supports for marriage weakened. Some mothers and children were simply abandoned. Some fathers were pushed away.

Mill’s argument formed part of his wider case for avoiding social control unless the interests of other people were harmed. People were entitled to act on their own opinions ‘without hindrance, either physical or moral, from their fellow-men’ so long as it was ‘at their own risk and peril’. This last proviso, he said, was ‘of course indispensable’. He insisted that:

‘When … a person is led to violate a distinct and assignable obligation to any other person or persons, the case is taken out of the self-regarding class, and becomes amenable to moral disapprobation in the proper sense of the term.’

He specifically mentions the responsibility of a father for his children:

‘If, for example, a man, through intemperance or extravagance, becomes unable to pay his debts, or, having undertaken the moral responsibility of a family, becomes from the same cause incapable of supporting or educating them, he is deservedly reprobated, and might be justly punished; but it is for the breach of duty to his family or creditors, not for the extravagance.’

After three decades of experimenting with the fatherless family, we are now in a position to evaluate the results.


The Experiment

Fewer children live with both their mother and their father
The proportion of all households comprising a mother and father with dependent children fell from 38% in 1961 to 23% in 2001, while the percentage of lone-parent households tripled over the same period, from 2% to 6%.1

  • From the child’s viewpoint: 80% of dependent children live in two-parent families (including 6% who live in step-families). Another 18% live with lone mothers, and 2% with lone fathers. In 1972, 92% of children lived in two-parent families.2
  • According to analysis of British Household Panel Survey data, 40% of all mothers will spend some time as a lone parent.3
  • More people are living alone. Between 1961 and 2001, the proportion of one-person households doubled from 14% to 30%. This figure is estimated to increase to 35% by 2021.4

Routes into the fatherless family
The increase in the number and proportion of loneparent households occurred in part due to increased divorce. At the same time, other social changes were occurring. Fewer people married, and more chose to cohabit before or instead of marrying. More children were born outside marriage. These changes created several routes into fatherless households.
Divorce
The Divorce Reform Act of 1969 was followed by a spike of divorces, representing a backlog of several thousand couples who possibly had already decided to divorce. However, from 1974, the number of divorces began a gradual increase and peaked in 1993 at 180,000 in the UK. Although the actual number of divorces annually has dropped to 142,000 in 2000, this is mainly due to decreasing marriage. The annual rate of divorce has hovered around 13 per thousand married population throughout the 1990s.5

From the child’s viewpoint: Throughout the 1990s, about 55% of divorces involved a child under age 16.6 Twenty-five percent of children whose parents divorced in 2000 were under age five. Seventy percent were ten years old or younger.7 Overall, 36% of children born to married parents are likely to experience their parents’ divorce by the time they reach age 16.8
Births outside marriage
For most of the twentieth century, the percentage of births outside marriage hovered around 5%. Starting in the 1960s, the proportion began to increase gradually, reaching 10% in 1975, after which it began to increase more quickly. By 2000, the proportion of births outside marriage had quadrupled to 40%.9

Changes in Marriage and Cohabitation
Numbers and rates of first marriages have fallen drastically. The number of first marriages fell from 300,000 in 1961 to 180,000 in 2000. The rate of first marriages has fallen from 83 per thousand single women in 1961 to 33 per thousand in 2000. For men, the rate has fallen from 75 per thousand in 1961 to 26 per thousand in 2000.

Although the number of re-marriages has increased from 19,000 for men in 1961 to 75,000 in 2000 and from 18,000 to 36,000 for women, the rates have fallen sharply over the same period from 163 per thousand divorced population to 42 per thousand for men and from 97 per thousand to 36 per thousand for women.10

Marriage and re-marriage are increasingly being preceded or replaced by cohabiting unions. The proportion of single women in cohabiting relationships doubled from 13% in 1986 to 25% in 1999.11 Cohabiting unions currently make up 70% of first partnerships.12 Although cohabiting recently has become more socially acceptable, these types of unions tend to be fragile. Cohabitations last an average of two years before dissolving or being converted to marriage. Of cohabiting couples who do not marry, only about 18% survive at least ten years (compared to 75% of couples who marry).13

It is true that the percentage of children born to unpartnered mothers has remained about the same. In 2001, 7.3% of all births were registered solely to the mother (this represents 19% of all non-marital births). Another 7.3% of all births were jointly registered by the mother and the father, but the parents did not share the same address (this represents 19% of all non-marital births). Finally, 25.3% of all births were jointly registered with the mother and the father sharing the same address (these births to cohabiting couples represent 63% of all non-marital births)14 [see Figure 3]. So, many non-marital births actually occur within cohabiting partnerships. However, cohabiting unions are at much greater risk of dissolution, especially if they produce children.

So, when talking about cohabiting parents, the two important statistics to keep in mind are the following:

  • Cohabitation is one of the main routes into lone parenthood. Between 15% and 25% of all lone-parent families are created through the break-up of cohabitating unions.15
  • Children born into married unions are estimated to be twice as likely as those born into cohabiting unions to spend their entire childhood with both natural parents (70% versus 36%)[see Figure 4].16

Cohabiting step-families are also on the increase. One in fourteen children is likely to live in an informal step-family at some time before their seventeenth birthday. The cohabiting man in these cases has neither a biological nor a legal tie to the lone mother’s child.17

Is the married two-parent family a thing of the past?

Most people still believe in the ideal of marriage and do, in fact, get married

  • Over 50% of the adult population are married currently.18
  • According to the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), nearly 75% of childless cohabiting couples under the age of 35 expect to marry each other at some point in the future.19
  • It is estimated that nearly 90% of women born in the 1960s will marry by the time they reach the age of 45.20
  • Nine out of ten teenagers under age 16 want to get married. In a survey of over 2,000 students aged 13–15, only 4% agreed with the statement that ‘marriage is old-fashioned and no longer relevant’.21 Adults throughout Europe share this view. Surveys by the Economic Commission for Europe found that 85%–90% of adults rejected the notion that marriage is old-fashioned.22


The Results: How does the Fatherless Family Affect Adults, Children and Society?

NB: Indirect Effects, Selection Effects and Policy Implications

It has long been recognised that children growing up in lone-mother households are more likely to have emotional, academic, and financial problems and are more likely to engage in behaviour associated with social exclusion, such as offending, teenage pregnancy, alcohol and drug abuse or worklessness.

It can be difficult to disentangle the many factors and processes that contribute to these increased risks. For example, children from lone-mother households tend to experience more poverty than children from two-parent families. Observers might therefore ask whether poor outcomes are more the result of living in lone-mother households per se, or whether they are more the result of other factors, such as living in poverty, which may have been caused or worsened by living in a lone-mother family. In this case, some of the effects of loneparenthood operate indirectly through a kind of chain reaction causing poverty, which in turn causes other problems. These factors contribute to what are known as indirect effects.

It has also been pointed out that some of the factors which tend to coincide with living in a lone-mother household, such as poverty, may have existed prior to the break up of the parents’ marriage or cohabiting union or, in the case of unpartnered mothers, prior to the birth of the child. In other words, some of the negative outcomes experienced by children and adults who live in lone-mother households might have occurred even if the parents had maintained an intact family household. It also has been argued that lone-mother households might have been formed due to negative situations such as domestic violence or other forms of conflict.

In these cases, some of the poor outcomes experienced by those who live in lone-parent households might be the result of having lived with conflict before the family dissolution. Families with existing problems and disadvantages might be ‘selected into’ lone-parent families. On the other hand, people who have had many advantages such as a stable and loving family background, economic security, and good education may be more likely to marry and maintain a parental partnership than those who had fewer advantages. Observers might ask whether positive outcomes in these cases are due more to the pre-existing advantages which were selected into stable two-parent families or more to benefits conferred by marriage itself. These factors contribute to what are known as selection effects.

Social scientists use special study designs and statistical methods to measure indirect and selection effects. Both types of effect are real, and they do play important roles in many outcomes. However, in most cases, they do not explain all of the increased risks associated with living in lone-mother households. This has important policy implications, because, even if all lone-mother households were brought above the poverty line, they would still have increased risks of some problems.

So, comparing the proportion of people from different family structures who experience various problems does provide a good picture of how people are really living. By exploring and controlling for the role of indirect effects and selection effects, social scientists can help explain how problems occur and perhaps help to devise solutions to problems. In this factsheet, we have tried to include both types of data, whenever they are available.


Lone mothers

Are poorer

  • Lone mothers are twice as likely as two-parent families to live in poverty at any one time (69% of lone mothers are in the bottom 40% of household income versus 34% of couples with children).23
  • Lone parents have twice as much risk of experiencing persistent low income (spending three out of four years in the bottom 30% of household income) as couples with children – 50% versus 22%.24
  • Lone parents are more than twice as likely as couples with children to have no savings (68% versus 28%).25
  • Lone parents are eight times as likely to live in a workless household as couples with children (45% versus 5.4%).26
  • Lone parent households are over twelve times as likely to be receiving income support as couples with dependent children (51% versus 4%). They are 2.5 times as likely to be receiving working families tax credit (24% versus 9%).27

Are more likely to suffer from stress, depression, and other emotional and psychological problems

  • At the age of 33, divorced and never-married mothers were 2.5 times more likely than married mothers to experience high levels of psychological distress. Even after accounting for financial hardship, prior psychological distress, and other demographic factors, lone mothers were still 1.4 times more likely to have psychological distress.28
  • Lone mothers are seven times as likely to report problems with their ‘nerves’, even after controlling for other demographic factors.29

Have more health problems

  • Results from the British General Household Survey show that, even after controlling for demographic and socioeconomic circumstances, lone mothers still have significantly poorer health than partnered mothers for four out of five health variables.30
  • Divorced women have death rates which are 21% higher on average than those of married women. Death rates for divorced women aged 25 and older range from 35%-58% higher than those of married women of the same age.31

May have more problems interacting with their children

  • Young people in lone-parent families were 30% more likely than those in two-parent families to report that their parents rarely or never knew where they were.32
  • After controlling for other demographic factors, lone parents were
  • 2.25 times more likely to report their child’s behaviour was upsetting to them.
  • 30% more likely to report significant arguments with their children.
  • 60% more likely to expect too much or have too high expectations of their child.33

Non-resident biological fathers

Are at risk of losing contact with their children

  • Twenty to thirty percent of non-resident fathers have not seen their children in the last year. Another 20%–40% see their children less than once per week.34

Are more likely to have health problems and engage in high-risk behaviour

  • Divorced men aged 20 to 60 have 70%–100% higher rates of death than married men.35
  • In a population of young adults, divorced men and women were twice as likely to increase their drinking compared to those who remained married. In this case, there was virtually no selection effect. In other words, heavy drinking did not lead to divorce. Rather, divorce led to heavy drinking.36
  • Divorced non-residential fathers were significantly more likely to smoke marijuana and to drive a car after drinking alcohol.37
  • Divorced men reported the highest rates of unsafe sex, with 15.7% reporting both multiple partners and lack of condom use in the previous year, compared with 3% of married men, 10.4% of cohabiting men, and 9.6% of single men.38

Children living without their biological fathers

Are more likely to live in poverty and deprivation

  • Children living in lone-parent households are twice as likely to be in the bottom 40% of household income distribution compared with children living in two-parent households (75% versus 40%).39
  • Even after controlling for low incomes, children growing up with never-married lone mothers are especially disadvantaged according to standard scales of deprivation.40
  • After controlling for other demographic factors, children in lone-parent households are still 2.8 times as likely to forego family outings.41

Are more likely to have emotional or mental problems

  • After controlling for other demographic factors, children in lone-parent households are 2.5 times as likely to be sometimes or often unhappy. They are 3.3 times as likely to score poorly on measures of self-esteem.42
  • Among children aged five to fifteen years in Great Britain, those from lone-parent families were twice as likely to have a mental health problem as those from intact two-parent families (16% versus 8%).43
  • A major longitudinal study of 1,400 American families found that 20%–25% of children of divorce showed lasting signs of depression, impulsivity (risk-taking), irresponsibility, or antisocial behaviour compared with 10% of children in intact two-parent families.44

Have more trouble in school

  • Children from lone-parent families are more likely to score poorly on tests of reading, mathematics, and thinking skills.45
  • After controlling for other demographic factors, children from lone-parent households were
  • 3.3 times more likely to report problems with their academic work, and
  • 50% more likely to report difficulties with teachers.46

Tend to have more trouble getting along with others

  • After controlling for other demographic factors, children from lone-parent households are three times as likely to report problems with friendships.47
  • Children from lone-parent households are more likely to have behaviour problems or engage in antisocial behaviour.48
  • Boys from lone-parent households are more likely to show hostility to adults and other children, and be destructive of belongings.49

Have higher risk of health problems

  • It has been estimated that parental divorce increases children’s risk of developing health problems by 50%.50
  • In England and Wales during 2000, the sudden infant death rate for babies jointly registered by unmarried parents living at different addresses was over three times greater than for babies born to a married mother and father (0.66 per 1,000 live births as compared with 0.18). Where the birth was registered in the sole name of the mother, the rate of sudden infant death was seven times greater than for those born within marriage (1.27 per 1,000 live births as compared with 0.18).51
  • After controlling for other demographic factors, children living in lone-parent households were 1.8 times as likely to have psychosomatic health symptoms and illness such as pains, headaches, stomach aches, and feeling sick.52

Are at greater risk of suffering physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.

  • According to data from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), young people are five times more likely to have experienced physical abuse and emotional maltreatment if they grew up in a lone-parent family, compared with children in two-birth-parent families.53
  • All studies of child-abuse victims which look at family type identify the step-family as representing the highest risk to children54 – with the risk of fatal abuse being 100 times higher than in twobiological- parent families according to international from 1976.55 However, the use of the term step-father has become problematic, as, whilst it used to refer to men who were married to women with children by other men, it is now used to describe any man in the household, whether married to the mother or not. An NSPCC study of 1988 which separated married step-fathers from unmarried cohabiting men found that married step-fathers were less likely to abuse: ‘for nonnatal fathers marriage appears to be associated with a greater commitment to the father role’.56
  • Analysis of 35 cases of fatal abuse which were the subject of public inquiries between 1968 and 1987 showed a risk for children living with their mother and an unrelated man which was over 70 times higher than it would have been for a child with two married biological parents.57

Are more likely to run away from home

  • Children from lone-parent families are twice as likely to run away from home as those from two-birth-parent families (14% compared to 7%).58

Teenagers living without their biological fathers

Are more likely to experience problems with sexual health

  • According to the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles, children from lone-parent households were more likely to have had intercourse before the age of 16 when compared with children from two-natural-parent households. Boys were 1.8 times as likely (42.3% versus 23%) and girls were 1.5 times as likely (36.5% versus 23.6%). After controlling for socio-economic status, level of communication with parents, educational levels and age at menarche for girls, the comparative odds of underage sex actually increased to 2.29 for boys and 1.65 for girls.
  • Compared to young adults from two-naturalparent households, young men from lone-parent households were 1.8 times as likely to have foregone contraception at first intercourse (13.6% versus 7.5%) and young women were 1.75 times as likely (16.1% versus 9.2%). After controlling for other factors, these comparative odds were reduced to 1.11 for men and 1.23 for women.
  • Girls from lone-parent households were 1.6 times as likely to become mothers before the age of 18 (11% versus 6.8%). Controlling for other factors did not reduce the comparative odds.59

Are more likely to become teenage parents

  • Analysis of data from the National Child Development Study (NCDS) indicated that women whose parents had divorced were twice as likely to become teenage mothers as those from intact families (25% versus 14%). Men from divorced families were 1.8 times more likely to become fathers by the age of 22 than men from intact families (23% versus 13%). After controlling for childhood poverty and behavioural and educational problems, the odds for teenage motherhood and early fatherhood were reduced to 1.4. This means that children of divorce were still 40% more likely to become parents early, even after considering other family background factors.60

Are more likely to offend

  • Children aged 11 to 16 years were 25% more likely to have offended in the last year if they lived in lone-parent families.61
  • Young men from lone-parent families were 1.6 times as likely to be persistent offenders as those from two-natural-parent families. The effects of living in lone-parent families seem to operate indirectly, through reduced levels of parental supervision.62
  • In focus group discussions, young people in prisons spoke frequently about disruption in their family lives and about their fathers’ absence.

    One discussion went as follows:

    Interviewer: ‘I’ve just realised we’ve spent the whole time and nobody’s talked about dads.’
    Teenager 1: ‘That’s because there’s no dads to talk about!’
    Teenager 2: ‘We don’t need dads, at the end of the day a child needs its mum.’ 63

    Another young woman said: ‘…where I used to live…it’s like a rough, nasty area and you just see mums with six children, three kids, their boyfriend, not a dad. Kids grow up and they grudge other families…’ 64

Are more likely to smoke

  • In a sample of teenagers living in the West of Scotland, 15-year-olds from lone-parent households were twice as likely to be smokers as those from two-birth-parent homes (29% compared to 15%). After controlling for poverty, they were still 50% more likely to smoke.65
  • In a sample of British 16-year-olds, those living in lone-parent households were 1.5 times as likely to smoke. Controlling for sex, household income, time spent with family, and relationship with parents actually increased the odds that a teenager from a lone-parent family would smoke (to 1.8 times as likely).66

Are more likely to drink alcohol

  • In the West of Scotland, 18-year-old girls from lone-parent households were twice as likely to drink heavily as those from intact two-birthparent homes (17.6% compared to 9.2%). This finding holds even after controlling for poverty.67
  • British 16-year-olds from lone-parent households are no more likely to drink than those from intact households. This is mainly because higher levels of teenage drinking actually are associated with higher family incomes. After controlling for household income and sex, teenagers from lone-parent families were 40% more likely to drink.68

Are more likely to take drugs

  • At age 15, boys from lone-parent households were twice as likely as those from intact two-birthparent households to have taken any drugs (22.4% compared with 10.8%). Girls from lone-parent homes were 25% more likely to have taken drugs by the age of 15 (8.2% compared with 6.5%) and 70% more likely to have taken drugs by age 18 (33.3% compared with 19.6%). After controlling for poverty, teenagers from lone-parent homes were still 50% more likely to take drugs.69

Are more likely to play truant from school

  • After controlling for social class, level of parental supervision, attachment to family, whether peers and siblings were in trouble with the police and standard of work at school, boys in lone-parent households were still 2.7 times more likely to truant than those from two-natural-parent households.70

Are more likely to be excluded from school

  • Children living with a lone mother are three times more likely than those in two-parent families to be excluded from school (15.6% versus 4.8%).71

Are more likely to leave school at 16

  • Sixteen-year-olds from lone-parent households are twice as likely to leave school with no qualifications as those from intact families. Most studies have found that most or all of this increased risk occurs because lone-parent families generally are poorer, which in itself has a strong association with poor educational outcomes.72

Are more likely to have adjustment problems

  • In one American study, adolescents whose parents divorced tended to have increased levels of externalising problems (aggressive and delinquent behaviour) and internalising problems (emotional distress, such as depression). In most cases, this was due to a reduction in the quality of the mother’s parenting. In addition, reductions in the level of father’s involvement were associated with increases in boys’ aggression and delinquent behaviour. Girls’ increased anti-social behaviour was explained in large part by post-divorce conflict between parents. For boys, parental divorce was associated with an increase in likelihood of depression, even accounting for other factors. The authors conclude that it might be that ‘parental divorce tends to be inherently depressing for boys.’73

Young adults who grew up not living with their biological fathers

Are less likely to attain qualifications

  • Analysis of the National Child Development Study (NCDS) found that children from disrupted families were twice as likely to have no qualifications by the time they were 33 years old (20% versus 11% from intact families). Some of the differences in these results are due to the strong association of divorce with higher levels of poverty and behavioural problems for children. However, parental divorce during childhood also seems to have an impact in some areas which is not fully explained by those types of childhood problems. For example, after controlling for financial hardship, behaviour problems, social class and educational tests during childhood, women whose parents divorced were still 11% more likely to have no qualifications. For men, controlling for the effects of childhood problems had little effect on their reduced chances of attaining high levels of qualifications. The interactions of parental divorce and other childhood problems and how they affect the education of young adults are quite complicated. The author of this study summarised the results this way: ‘poverty and behavioural problems are important factors in reducing educational success and parental divorce can amplify both.’74 Analyses of other studies have shown that most or all of the differences in educational attainment are significantly associated with poverty.75

Are more likely to experience unemployment

  • At age 33, men from disrupted family backgrounds were twice as likely to be unemployed (14% compared with 7%), and 1.6 times as likely to have experienced more than one bout of unemployment since leaving school (23% compared with 14%). Again, the reasons for the differences in these risk levels are complicated. Some of the difference seems to be due to poverty and behaviour problems that existed before the divorce and persisted or deepened afterward. However, even after controlling for these factors, men whose parents divorced were still 1.4 times as likely to be unemployed and 1.3 times as likely to have experienced more than one bout of unemployment during adulthood.76

Are more likely to have low incomes

  • For women, the effects of parental divorce on income are complicated by the fact that parental divorce tends to increase the odds of early childbearing, which in turn reduces the likelihood that women will be employed. Women from disrupted families had median incomes that were 20% lower than those who grew up in two-parent families (£86 per week compared with £104). They were 30% more likely to be in the lowest quartile of net family incomes (32% compared with 25%). After controlling for early childbearing (which itself seems to be linked to parental divorce), women from disrupted families were still 13% less likely to be in the upper quartile of individual earnings and 20% more likely to be in the lowest quartile of family incomes.77

Are more likely be on income support

  • Women from disrupted families were 1.3 times as likely to be on income support at age 33 (11% compared with 8%).78

Are more likely to experience homelessness

  • Young adults from disrupted families are 1.7 times more likely to have experienced homelessness (6.2% compared with 3.6%). For women, all of this effect is due to the fact that children from divorced households have a higher likelihood of experiencing poverty in childhood, which is also related to homelessness in adulthood. However, for men, all the difference in level of risk may be attributable to the divorce during early childhood, rather than poverty or other problems experienced in childhood.79

Are more likely to be caught offending and go to jail

  • Although 20% of all dependent children live in lone-parent families, 70% of young offenders identified by Youth Offending Teams come from lone-parent families.80
  • American studies have shown that boys from one-parent homes were twice as likely as those from two-birth-parent families to be incarcerated by the time they reached their early 30s.81

Are more likely to suffer from long term emotional and psychological problems

  • In one American study, 20%-25% of children of divorce experienced long-term emotional or behavioural problems compared to 10% of children whose parents remained married.82
  • Another study found that 11% of young adults whose parents had divorced had seven or more symptoms of emotional distress; only 8% who grew up in intact two-parent families did.83
  • One study, which followed 100 children of divorce through 25 years, found that, while the divorced parents may have felt liberated, many of their children suffered emotionally.84

Are more likely to develop health problems

  • A Swedish study found that children of singleparent families were 30% more likely to die over the 16-year study period. After controlling for poverty, children from single-parent families were: 70% more likely to have circulatory problems, 56% more likely to show signs of mental illness, 27% more likely to report chronic aches and pains, and 26% more likely to rate their health as poor.85
  • NCDS data indicate that parental divorce during childhood increased the odds of young adults engaging in heavy and/or problem drinking. The link was weak when measured at age 23, but was strong by age 33. Controlling for possible mediating factors such as marital status or socio-economic circumstances did not substantially reduce the effects.86
  • In a sample of young women who had had intercourse before age 18, those from lone-parent households were 1.4 times as likely to have had a sexually transmitted infection by age 24 (14.3% versus 10.2%). Controlling for other factors slightly increased the comparative odds to 1.53.87 Children of divorce lived an average of four years less in one sample of white middle-class Americans.88

Tend to enter partnerships earlier and more often as a cohabitation

  • NCDS data indicate that men from disrupted families were 1.7 times as likely and women 2.2 times as likely to enter their first union (marriage or cohabitation) as teenagers. Controlling for poverty and other problems in childhood reduced these odds to 1.6 and 1.66 respectively. For women, it is likely that the influence of parental divorce on early partnering operates mainly through increased risks of earlier sexual activity.89
  • Women were 1.7 times as likely to cohabit before or instead of marrying in their first partnership if they came from a disrupted family. Men were 1.7 times as likely to cohabit before marrying and twice as likely to cohabit instead of marrying. Controlling for poverty and other childhood problems did not reduce the effects that parental divorce had on children’s preference for cohabiting.90

Are more likely to divorce or dissolve their cohabiting unions

  • The risk of partnership dissolution (including break-up of cohabiting unions as well as divorce) for men from disrupted families was 1.9 times higher and for women was 1.5 times higher than for those who had intact family backgrounds. These effects did not seem to operate through the experiences of childhood problems, but rather through the propensity of adults – especially women – who experienced parental divorce in childhood to enter partnerships earlier, which in turn increased the likelihood of partnership dissolution. However, even after controlling for early age at first partnership, men from disrupted families were still 30% more likely to have dissolved their first partnership.91

Are more likely to have children outside marriage or outside any partnership

  • Men and women from disrupted families were twice as likely to have their first child outside marriage or a cohabiting union than those who grew up in intact two-parent families (12.6% versus 6.6% for women and 7.1% versus 4% for men). The increased risk of having children outside any union operates in large part because children from disrupted families are more likely to have their first child at an earlier age, which in turn increases the risk of having children outside a partnership. Some of the risk also occurs through the increased risk of childhood problems, especially for women.92


Effects on the Social Fabric
Disruptions in family life certainly have had an impact upon the men, women and children directly involved. However, it is increasingly the case that changes in patterns of family structure also have an effect on the larger society. It is difficult to disentangle which are causes and which are effects, but it is possible to explore some of the social changes associated with changes in family life that have occurred over recent decades.

Increased crime and violence

Over the past several decades, rates of crime have increased at the same time as rates of divorce, nonmarital childbearing, and lone parenthood have increased. The relationship between crime and family environment is complicated, especially when the role of poverty is also considered. To say that one has caused the others would be too simplistic. However, many scholars and policy makers who study crime have identified family breakdown as one among a cluster of disadvantages which are associated with criminal activity and with chronic reoffending.93

  • An American study found that juvenile offending was affected not just by whether a particular child’s parents were married, but also by the prevalent family structures in his neighbourhood. It has been suggested that this might be the case because two-parent families are better able to monitor anti-social behaviour which often leads to more serious crime.94
  • A review of 17 developed nations indicated that nations with higher rates of births outside marriage, teenage parenthood, and divorce also had higher rates of child homicide.95
  • Many prisoners lack strong family ties, which makes rehabilitation and re-integration into the community more difficult. For example, prisoners have twice the proportion of divorce as the general population (9% versus 4%). And, although only 9% of all women in the general population are lone mothers, more than twice that proportion of women prisoners were lone mothers when they were imprisoned.96

Decreased community ties

Recent research has identified community involvement as a good measure of social capital, a term which encompasses the many resources available to people through their social networks.

  • Analysis of General Household Survey data shows that two-parent families are more likely to be involved with their local communities than lone-parent families. Even after controlling for education, socio-economic group and employment status, two-parent families are 25% more likely to be neighbourly, and 50% more likely to have people willing to help them if they are ill, need a lift or need to borrow money compared with lone-parent families. This relative lack of reciprocal care in lone-parent households occurs despite the finding that they actually are likely to have more friends and relatives living close by compared to two-parent families.97

A growing divorce culture

There is disagreement as to whether liberalisation of divorce laws caused increased rates of divorce, or whether legal reform was a response to increased demand for divorce. The truth probably is some combination of these hypotheses. However, the fact that divorce has been firmly established as an option for married couples can actually have an impact on people’s behaviour.

  • American studies have indicated that married couples who adopt favourable attitudes toward divorce end up experiencing reductions in the quality of their marriage (which can then lead to divorce). This means that, more often, the acceptance of divorce as an option precedes erosion of marital quality, rather than following it as a response.98
  • The increase in rates of cohabitation, both for first-time partnerships and for re-partnerships, has been linked in part to a desire to avoid divorce by having a ‘trial’ marriage or by avoiding legal ties altogether.99

Cycle of fatherlessness

There have been many historical periods in which children lived part or all of their lives without their fathers. These fathers were absent due to work or military obligations or died before their children reached adulthood.

A more recent trend involves more fathers deserting or being pushed out of their families, or their influence being reduced due to non-residence. In some families, this pattern has reproduced itself over several generations and has become the norm. Often, these families also live in areas of economic deprivation, high crime rates and low expectations. Within this environment, it has become easier and more acceptable to avoid integrating fathers into family life. These families have been described by some as ‘the underclass’ and by others as the ‘socially excluded’.100

Dependence on state welfare

The trend toward increasing numbers of lone-parent families has co-existed with increasing levels of dependence on state welfare. Several analysts of these two trends have argued that the changes in family structure have driven the increases in welfare dependence. Others have argued that they are mutually reinforcing.101

In 1971, 7% of the adult population of Great Britain was dependent upon welfare. That percentage increased gradually to peak at 13% in 1992. Since 1996, the percentage has dropped off slightly and is now at 10%. These changes occurred as the proportion of lone-parent households increased from 3% in 1971 to 6% in 2001.102



Why all these Effects?

Poverty

Many of the poor outcomes associated with disrupted family backgrounds can be explained in part by the poverty or reduced income levels that occur around divorce, separation, and lone parenthood. In some cases, up to 50% of the observed differences between children from different backgrounds can be thus explained. Poverty tends to explain more of the risks associated with educational and employment outcomes than those related to partnering and parenting behaviour.

Poverty generally is defined by household income level, but there usually is much more involved than just low income. Low income can be a proxy for a number of other factors that cluster together such as poor health, high levels of unemployment, high crime rates, unsafe neighbourhoods, low quality schools and other community resources, and low expectations. Moreover, many studies that measure and control for poverty do not measure other important factors such as the quality of parenting or the level of conflict in the home. Poverty is a serious problem, but it does not explain everything. Recent research has shown that, for many outcomes, except in cases of severe poverty, the amount of money parents have is less important than how they spend it.103

Reduced parental and paternal attention

Many of the problems associated with fatherlessness seem to be related to reduced parental attention and social resources.104 Certainly, a child living without his or her father will receive less attention than a child living with both parents. This difference in amount of attention is key, but differences in the type of parental attention are also important.

Recent scholarship has emphasised the important role played by fathers.

  • Social psychologists have found that fathers influence their children’s short and long-term development through several routes:
  • financial capital (using income to provide food, clothing, and shelter as well as resources that contribute to learning),
  • human capital (sharing the benefits of and providing a model of their education, skills, and work ethic), and
  • social capital (sharing the benefits of relationships). 105
    More specifically,

    • The co-parental relationship of mother and father provides children with a model of adults working together, communicating, negotiating, and compromising. This dyadic resource also helps parents present a united authority, which appears much less arbitrary to children than one authority figure.
    • The parent/child relationship: Studies indicate that a father can contribute uniquely to the development of his children independently of the mother’s contribution. In other words, in areas such as emotional intelligence, self-esteem, competence, and confidence, the father’s influence cannot be duplicated or replaced easily by the mother, no matter how good a mother she is (note that mothers wield similar unique and independent influence in other areas, such as some behaviour problems).106 Other studies indicate that fathers can be especially important in cases where families are experiencing difficulties, such as poverty, frequent moving, or where children have learning disorders.107

Conditions before, during and after divorce

Parental divorce or separation can be thought of in terms of an ‘event’, important in its own right and because it leads to many changes. Separation can also be thought of as part of a ‘process’ which begins before separation and should be considered within that context. A consensus is developing that all of these aspects are important.108 However, divorce and separation are experienced differently by adults and children. What can seem like a ‘good divorce’ to adults can feel very different for children. In the absence of high levels of conflict, children are often not aware that their parents are experiencing difficulties. For these children, the divorce or separation itself can be problematic. It is even possible that children will be more affected by conflict created by the separation and continuing afterwards than they were when their parents were together.109

There are two categories of children most at risk for future psychological problems:

  1. those who grow up with parents who stay married, but remain conflicted and hostile, and
  2. those whose parents are in a low conflict marriage and divorce anyway.110
  • More than half of divorces occur in low-conflict marriages – what can be called ‘good enough’ marriages – which have a high potential for being salvaged (in one study, 64% of the couples who said they were unhappy, but stayed together and worked on their relationship, reported being happy five years later).111 Divorces in these low-conflict marriages can be very damaging to children.112


Evaluating the Results
The weight of evidence indicates that the traditional family based upon a married father and mother is still the best environment for raising children, and it forms the soundest basis for the wider society.

For many mothers, fathers and children, the ‘fatherless family’ has meant poverty, emotional heartache, ill health, lost opportunities, and a lack of stability. The social fabric – once considered flexible enough to incorporate all types of lifestyles – has been stretched and strained. Although a good society should tolerate people’s right to live as they wish, it must also hold adults responsible for the consequences of their actions. To do this, society must not shrink from evaluating the results of these actions. As J.S. Mill argued, a good society must share the lessons learnt from its experience and hold up ideals to which all can aspire.

‘Human beings owe to each other help to distinguish the better from the worse, and encouragement to choose the former and avoid the latter. They should be forever stimulating each other to increased exercise of their higher faculties and increased direction of their feelings and aims towards wise instead of foolish, elevating instead of degrading, objects and contemplations.’

-John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859


References

1 Social Trends 32 (2002), Office for National Statistics, London: The Stationery Office, p. 40.

2 Social Trends 32 (2002), Office for National Statistics, p. 48.

3 Ermisch, J. and Francesconi, M. (2000), ‘The increasing complexity of family relationships: Lifetime experience of lone motherhood and stepfamilies in Great Britain’, European Journal of Population 16, pp. 235–249.

4 King D., Hayden J. and Jackson R. (2000), ‘Population of households in England to 2001’, Population Trends 99, pp.13–19; and Social Trends 32 (2002), Office for National Statistics, p. 40.

5 Social Trends 32 (2002), Office for National Statistics, Table 2.8, pp. 43; and Social Trends 31 (2001), Office for National Statistics, London: The Stationery Office, Table 2.8, p. 44.

6 Marriage, Divorce and Adoption Statistics: Review of the Registrar General on marriages, divorces and adoptions in England and Wales (2002), Series FM2 28, Office for National Statistics, London: The Stationery Office.

7 Social Trends 32 (2002),Office for National Statistics, p. 49.

8 Ermisch, J. and Francesconi, M. (2000), ‘Patterns of household and family formation’, in Berthoud, R. and Gershuny, J. (eds.), Seven Years in the Lives of British Families, Bristol: The Policy Press, p. 39.

9 Social Trends 32 (2002), Office for National Statistics, p. 47.

10 Population Trends 108 (2002), Office for National Statistics, London: The Stationery Office, Tables 9.1–9.2, pp. 85–86.

11 Social Trends 32 (2002), Office for National Statistics, p. 42.

12 Ermisch and Francesconi (2000), ‘Patterns of household and family formation’, pp. 38–40.

13 Kiernan, K. (1999), ‘Cohabitation in Western Europe’, Population Trends 96, Office for National Statistics, London: The Stationery Office.

14 Population Trends 108 (2002), Office for National Statistics, Tables 3.1–3.3, pp. 74–76.

15 Ermisch, J. (2001), ‘Premarital cohabitation, childbearing and the creation of one-parent families’, ESRC Research Centre on Micro-Social Change, Paper Number 95–17, 1995, from British Household Panel Study; and Marsh A., McKay S., Smith A., and Stephenson A. (2001), ‘Low income families in Britain: work, welfare and social security in 1999’, DSS Research Report 138, London: The Stationery Office.

16 Ermisch and Francesconi (2000), ‘Patterns of household and family formation’, pp. 38–40.

17 Haskey, J. (1994), ‘Stepfamilies and stepchildren in Great Britain’, Population Trends 76, Office for National Statistics, London: The Stationery Office.

18 Social Trends 32 (2002), Office for National Statistics, p. 42.

19 Social Trends 32 (2002), Office for National Statistics, p. 43. Figures are for 1998.

20 Ermisch and Francesconi (2000), ‘Patterns of household and family formation’, p. 30.

21 Hill, C. (2000), Sex Under Sixteen?, London: Family Education Trust.

22 UN Economic Commission for Europe, Fertility and Family Surveys carried out annually 1992–1999.

23 Households Below Average Income 1994/95-2000/01, Department for Work and Pensions, London: The Stationery Office (2002), pp. 81. These figures are for Before Housing Costs. After Housing Costs figures retain the same ratio, 72% versus 36%.

24 Households Below Average Income 1994/95-2000/01, Department for Work and Pensions, p. 141.

25 Social Trends 32 (2002), Office for National Statistics, from Family Resources Survey, Table 5.25, p. 103.

26 Work and Worklessness among Households, Office for National Statistics, London: The Stationery Office (Autumn 2001).

27 Family Resources Survey, Great Britain, 2000–01, Office for National Statistics, London: The Stationery Office (May 2002).

28 Hope, S., Power, C., Rodgers, B. (1999), ‘Does financial hardship account for elevated psychological distress in lone mothers?’, Social Science and Medicine 49 (12), pp.1637–1649.

29 Cockett, M. and Tripp, J. (1994), The Exeter Family Study: Family Breakdown and Its Impact on Children, Exeter: University of Exeter Press, pp. 14–15.

30 Benzeval, M. (1998), ‘The self-reported health status of lone parents’, Social Science and Medicine 46 (10), pp. 1337–1353.

31 Mortality Statistics: General, Review of the Registrar General on Deaths in England and Wales, 1999, Series DH1 32, Office for National Statistics, London: The Stationery Office (2001).

32 Flood-Page, C., Campbell, S., Harrington, V., and Miller, J. (2000), Youth Crime: Findings from the 1998/99 Youth Lifestyles Survey, London: Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate.

33 Cockett and Tripp (1994), The Exeter Family Study: Family Breakdown and Its Impact on Children, p. 28.

34 Burghes, L., Clarke, L., and Cronin, N. (1997), Fathers and Fatherhood in Britain, London: Family Policy Studies Centre, pp. 65–67.

35 Mortality Statistics: General, Review of the Registrar General on Deaths in England and Wales, 1999, Series DH1 32, Office for National Statistics (2001).

36 Power, C., Rodgers, B., and Hope, S. (1999), ‘Heavy alcohol consumption and marital status: disentangling the relationship in a national study of young adults’, Addiction 94 (10), pp. 1477–1487.

37 Umberson, D. (1987), ‘Family status and health behaviors: Social control as a dimension of social integration’, Journal of Health and Social Behavior 28, pp. 306–319.

38 Wellings, K., Field, J., Johnson, A. M., Wadsworth, J. (1994), Sexual Behaviour in Britain, London: Penguin, p. 363.

39 Households Below Average Income 1994/95-2000/01, Department for Work and Pensions (2002), p. 50.

40 Gaulthier, A. H. (1999), ‘Inequalities in children’s environment: The case of Britain’, Childhood 6 (2), pp. 243–260.

41 Cockett and Tripp (1994), The Exeter Family Study: Family Breakdown and Its Impact on Children, p. 31.

42 Cockett and Tripp (1994), The Exeter Family Study: Family Breakdown and Its Impact on Children, p. 19.

43 Meltzer, H., et al. (2000), Mental Health of Children and Adolescents in Great Britain, London: The Stationery Office.

44 Hetherington, M. (2002), For Better or Worse: Divorce Reconsidered, New York: W. W. Norton.

45 Elliott, J. and Richards, M. (1985), ‘Parental divorce and the life chances of children’, Family Law, 1991, pp. 481–484; and Wadsworth, J., Burnell, I., Taylor, B., and Butler, N. (1985), ‘The influence of family type on children’s behaviour and development at five years’, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 26, pp. 245–254.

46 Cockett and Tripp (1994), The Exeter Family Study: Family Breakdown and Its Impact on Children, pp 24–25.

47 Cockett and Tripp (1994), The Exeter Family Study: Family Breakdown and Its Impact on Children, p. 27.

48 Ferri, E. (1984), Step Children: A National Study, Windsor: NFER-Nelson; and Wadsworth, Burnell, Taylor and Butler (1985) ‘The influence of family type on children’s behaviour and development at five years’, pp. 245–254.

49 Whitehead, L.(1979), ‘Sex differences in children’s responses to family stress: A re-evaluation’ Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 20, pp. 247–254.

50 Mauldon, J. (1990), ‘The effects of marital disruption on children’s health’, Demography 27, pp. 431–46.

51 Mortality Statistics: Childhood, Infant and Perinatal, Review of the Registrar General on Deaths in England and Wales, 2000, Series DH3 33, Office for National Statistics (2002).

52 Cockett and Tripp (1994), The Exeter Family Study: Family Breakdown and Its Impact on Children, p. 21.

53 Cawson, P. (2002), Child Maltreatment in the Family, London: NSPCC.

54 For example, see Strang, H. (1996), ‘Children as victims of homicide’, Trends and Issues in Criminal Justice 53, Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology.

55 Daly, M. and Wilson, M. (1988), Homicide, New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

56Gordon, M. and Creighton, S. (1988), ‘Natal and nonnatal fathers as sexual abusers in the United Kingdom: A Comparative Analysis’, Journal of Marriage and the Family 50, pp. 99–105.

57 Whelan, R. (1994), Broken Homes and Battered Children, Oxford: Family Education Trust.

58 Rees, G. and Rutherford, C. (2001), Home Run: Families and Young Runaways, London: The Children’s Society.

59 Wellings, K., Nanchanahal, K., MacDowall, W., et al. (2001), ‘Sexual behaviour in Britain: Early heterosexual experience’, The Lancet 358, pp. 1843–50. Analysis of first intercourse before age 16 included all respondents aged 16–24 years. Analysis of incidence of STIs included respondents aged 16–24 years who had had heterosexual intercourse before age 18. All other analyses included respondents aged 16–24 years who had had heterosexual intercourse by age 24.

60 Kiernan, K. (September 1997), ‘The legacy of parental divorce: Social, economic and family experiences in adulthood’, London: Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, London School of Economics, pp 26–27.

61 Youth Survey 2001: Research Study Conducted for the Youth Justice Board (January–March 2001), http://www.youth-justice-board.gov.uk/policy/YJBREP _published_report_2001.pdf, p. 9.

62 Flood-Page, Campbell, Harrington and Miller (2000), Youth Crime: Findings from the 1998/99 Youth Lifestyles Survey.

63 Lyon, J., Dennison, C., and Wilson, A. (2000), ‘Tell Them So They Listen’: Messages from Young People in Custody, London: Home Office, p. 8.

64 Lyon, Dennison and Wilson (2000), ‘Tell Them So They Listen’: Messages from Young People in Custody, p. 10.

65 Sweeting, H., West, P., and Richards, M. (1998), ‘Teenage family life, lifestyles and life chances: Associations with family structure, conflict with parents and joint family activity’, International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family 12, pp. 15–46.

66 Ely, M., West, P., Sweeting, H., and Richards, M. (2000), ‘Teenage family life, life chances, lifestyles and health: A comparison of two contemporary cohorts’, International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family 14, pp. 1–30.

67 Sweeting, West and Richards (1998), ‘Teenage Family life, lifestyles and life chances’, pp. 15–46.

68 Ely, West, Sweeting and Richards (2000), ‘Teenage Family Life, Life chances, lifestyles and health’, pp. 1–30.

69 Sweeting, West and Richards (1998), ‘Teenage Family life, lifestyles and life chances’, pp. 15–46.

70 Graham, J. and Bowling, B. (1995), Young People and Crime, London: Home Office, p. 120.

71 Youth Survey 2001: Research Study Conducted for the Youth Justice Board (January–March 2001), http://www.youth-justice-board.gov.uk/policy/YJBREP _published_report_2001.pdf, p. 7.

72 Ely, West, Sweeting and Richards (2000), ‘Teenage Family Life, Life chances, lifestyles and health’, pp. 1–30.

73 Simons, R.L, Lin, K., Gordon, L.C., Conger, R.D., and Lorenz, F.O. (1999), ‘Explaining the higher incidence of adjustment problems among children of divorce compared with those in two-parent families’, Journal of Marriage and Family 61, pp. 1020–1033.

74 Kiernan (September 1997), ‘The legacy of parental divorce: social, economic and family experiences in adulthood’, p. 11.

75 Ely, West, Sweeting and Richards (2000), ‘Teenage Family Life, Life chances, lifestyles and health’, pp. 1–30; and Ely, M., Richards, M.P.M., Wadsworth, M.E.J., and Elliott, B.J. (1999), ‘Secular changes in the association of parental divorce and children’s educational attainment – evidence from three British birth cohorts’, Journal of Social Policy 28 (3), pp. 437–455.

76 Kiernan (September 1997), ‘The legacy of parental divorce: social, economic and family experiences in adulthood’, p. 16. It is possible that depressed local economic conditions could simultaneously increase the likelihood of lone parenthood as well as the unemployment rate. On a national level, this would establish a statistical association between being brought up in a lone parent household and being subsequently unemployed. To determine whether this is a causal association, it would be necessary to control for local economic conditions.

77 Kiernan (September 1997), ‘The legacy of parental divorce: social, economic and family experiences in adulthood’, pp. 18–19.

78 Kiernan (September 1997), ‘The legacy of parental divorce: social, economic and family experiences in adulthood’, p. 16.

79 Kiernan (September 1997), ‘The legacy of parental divorce: social, economic and family experiences in adulthood’, p. 21.

80 Review 2001/2002: Building on Success, Youth Justice Board, London: The Stationery Office (July 2002).

81 Harper, C. and McLanahan, S. (August 1998), ‘Father absence and youth incarceration’, San Francisco: paper presented at the annual meetings of the American Sociological Association.

82 Hetherington (2002), For Better Or Worse: Divorce Reconsidered.

83 Chase-Lansdale, P. L., Cherlin, A. J., and Kiernan, K. (1995), ‘The long-term effects of parental divorce on the mental health of young adults: A developmental perspective,’ Child Development 66, pp. 1614–34.

84 Wallerstein, J. S. and Blakeslee, S. (1990), Second Chances: Men, Women and Children a Decade After Divorce, New York: Ticknor and Fields; and Wallerstein, J., Lewis, J. and Blakeslee, S. (2002), The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study, London: Fusion Press.

85 Lundbert, O. (1993), ‘The impact of childhood living conditions on illness and mortality in adulthood’, Social Science and Medicine 36, pp. 1047–52.

86 Hope, S., Power, C., and Rodgers, B. (1998), ‘The relationship between parental separation in childhood and problem drinking in adulthood’, Addiction 93 (4), pp. 505–514.

87 Wellings, K., Nanchanahal, K., MacDowall, W., et al. (2001), ‘Sexual behaviour in Britain: Early heterosexual experience’, pp. 1843–50.

88 Tucker, J. S., Friedman, H. S., Schwartz, J. E., and Criqui, M. H., et al. (1997), ‘Parental divorce: Effects on individual behavior and longevity’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 73, pp. 381–91.

89 Kiernan (September 1997), ‘The legacy of parental divorce: social, economic and family experiences in adulthood’, p. 23. Note that, according to the 1990/91 National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles, the tendency to early partnership occurs indirectly, mainly through the tendency of children of divorce to engage in sexual activity earlier. See Kiernan, K. and Hobcraft, J. (1997), ‘Parental divorce during childhood: Age at first intercourse, partnership and parenthood’, Population Studies 51, pp. 41–55.

90 Kiernan (September 1997), ‘The legacy of parental divorce: social, economic and family experiences in adulthood’, p. 25.

91 Kiernan (September 1997), ‘The legacy of parental divorce: social, economic and family experiences in adulthood’, p. 33.

92 Kiernan (September 1997), ‘The legacy of parental divorce: social, economic and family experiences in adulthood’, pp. 28–30.

93 Reducing Re-Offending by Ex-Prisoners, Social Exclusion Unit (2002).

94 Sampson, R. J. (1987), ‘Urban black violence: The effect of male joblessness and family disruption’, American Journal of Sociology 93, pp. 348–82; and Kellam, S. G., Adams, R. G., Brown, C. H., and Ensminger, M. E. (1982), ‘The long-term evolution of the family structure of teens and older mothers’, Journal of Marriage and the Family 44, pp. 539–54.

95 Gartner, R. (1991), ‘Family structure, welfare spending, and child homicide in developed democracies’, Journal of Marriage and the Family 53, pp. 321–340.

96 Reducing Re-Offending by Ex-Prisoners, Social Exclusion Unit (2002).

97 People’s Perceptions of Their Neighbourhood and Community Involvement: Results from the Social Capital Module of the General Household Survey 2000, Office for National Statistics, London: The Stationery Office (2002).

98 Amato, P. and Rogers, S. (1999), ‘Do attitudes toward divorce affect marital quality?’, Journal of Family Issues 20 (1), pp. 69–86.

99 Haskey, J. (2001), ‘Cohabitation in Great Britain: Past, present and future trends – and attitudes’, Population Trends 103, pp. 4–25.

100 Murray, C. (1990), The Emerging British Underclass, London: The IEA Health and Welfare Unit; Preventing Social Exclusion, London: Social Exclusion Unit (March 2001).

101 Green, D. (1998) Benefit Dependency, London: IEA Health and Welfare Unit; Murray, C. (1996) Charles Murray and the Underclass: The Developing Debate, London: IEA Health and Welfare Unit.

102 Social Trends 32, Office for National Statistics (2002), p. 41, and Green (1998), Benefit Dependency. Dependency here is defined as being in receipt of national assistance, supplementary benefit, income support, unemployment benefit (income-based) or jobseekers allowance (noncontributory). Figures for years beyond 1996 provided by the Department for Work and Pensions, Analytical Services Division correspondence dated 5 August 2002.

103 Mayer, S. (1997), What Money Can’t Buy: Family Income and Children’s Life Chances, Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

104 McLanahan S. and Sandefur G. D. (1994), Growing Up With a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps, London: Harvard University Press, pp. 167–68.

105 Amato, P. (1998), ‘More than money? Men’s contributions to their children’s lives’, in Booth, A., and Crouter, A. (eds.), Men in Families: When Do They Get Involved? What Difference Does It Make?, Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., pp. 241–278.

106 Gottman, J.M., Katz, L.F., and Hooven, C. (1996), Meta-Emotion: How Families Communicate Emotionally, Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum Associates, Inc.; Parke, R.D., and Brott, A.A. (1999), Throwaway Dads: The Myths and Barriers That Keep Men from Being the Fathers They Want to Be, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, pp. 6–7; Koestner, R.S., Franz, C.E., and Weinberger, J. (1990), ‘The family origins of empathic concern: A 26-year longitudinal study’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 61, pp. 586–595; Belsky, J. (1998), ‘Paternal influence and children’s well-being: Limits of, and new directions for, understanding’, in Booth and Crouter (eds.) Men in Families, pp. 279–293.

107 Amato (1998), ‘More than Money? Men’s contributions to their children’s lives’, pp. 241–278.

108 Furstenberg, F. and Kiernan, K. (2001), ‘Delayed parental divorce: How much do children benefit?’, Journal of Marriage and Family 63, pp. 446–457.

109 Cockett and Tripp (1994), The Exeter Family Study: Family Breakdown and Its Impact on Children, pp. 55–58.

110 Booth A. and Amato P. (2001), ‘Parental predivorce relations and offspring postdivorce well-being’, Journal of Marriage and Family 63 (1), pp. 197–212.

111 Waite, L. and Gallagher, M. (2000), The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier, and Better off Financially, New York: Doubleday.

112 Booth and Amato (2001), ‘Parental predivorce relations and offspring postdivorce well-being’, pp. 197–212.


Further copies of this factsheet can be obtained from CIVITAS. It can also be downloaded free of charge from this link.

via Experiments in Living: The Fatherless Family

The Sleeper Effect – The Price Children Pay for Divorce

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, deadbeat dads, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, family court, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Feminism, Freedom, Homeschool, kidnapped children, Liberty, Marriage, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes on June 30, 2009 at 12:30 am

Newsweek 10/2/00 By John Leo

The sleeper effect:  A new book ups the price that children pay for divorce

A startling thought is occurring to the folks who study the impact of divorce on children: A good divorce may be much worse than a bad marriage.

The conventional wisdom that followed the rapid spread of divorce in the 1970s and 1980sthat children are resilient and usually overcome the shock of divorcehas been mugged by a brutal gang of facts. Some children cope well and thrive. But taken as a group, the children of divorce are at serious risk.

For a decade now, the evidence has piled up. Children of divorce are more depressed and aggressive toward parents and teachers than are youngsters from intact families. They are much more likely to develop mental and emotional disorders later in life. They start sexual activity earlier, have more children out of wedlock, are less likely to marry, and if they do marry, are more likely to divorce. They are likelier to abuse drugs, turn to crime, and commit suicide. One study shows that the children of divorce, when they grow up, are significantly less likely than adults from intact families to think they ought to help support their parents in old age. This is an indication that resentments do not fade and that the divorce boom could create disruption between generations. A report in June from the Heritage Foundation began: “American society may have erased the stigma that once accompanied divorce, but it can no longer ignore its massive effects.”

Now this discussion among researchers and policy experts is becoming part of the national conversation thanks to Judith Wallerstein and her important new book, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce. The “unexpected” part is that divorce produces “sleeper effects,” deep and long-term emotional problems that arise only when the children enter early adulthood and begin to confront issues of romance and marriage. The “powerful ghosts” of their parents’ experience rise only in later life, Wallerstein told a seminar in New York City last week.

Sense of dread.

Wallerstein is a psychologist who has been studying 131 children of divorce since 1971, interviewing them intensively at different stages of life. Now these children are ages 28 through 43, and the news about them is not good. Their parents’ divorce hangs like a cloud over their lives. Compared with similar grown children from intact families in the same neighborhood, the children of divorce were more erratic and self-defeating.  Some sought out unreliable partners or dull ones who at least would never leave. Others ran from conflict or avoided relationships entirely. Expecting disaster, they often worked to create it. Some grew up to achieve success in work and romance, Wallerstein says, but even they are filled with a sense of dread and foreboding that it could all col- lapse at any moment, like the intact home they once had.

Wallerstein’s work undercuts the notion that divorce saves children by eliminating the open conflict of parents. She finds that kids generally tune out their parents’ bitter quarrels and aren’t much bothered by them. They don’t much care whether their parents like each other or sleep in different beds. A cordial divorce doesn’t help. The children just need parents to stay together. Wallerstein says that the loss of the powerful mental image of the intact family inflicts the crucial harm. The damage is compounded by the loss of attention from frazzled parents trying to rebuild their lives.

She has her critics. Her sample is small and not necessarily representative, drawn entirely from an upscale neighborhood in Marin County, Calif. But she has reached deeper into the psyche of children of divorce over a longer period of time than any other psychologist, and her fellow researchers seem to be leaning her way. Her most strident critic, sociologist Andrew Cherlin of Johns Hopkins University, now acknowledges that divorce has significant long-term negative effects on children. David Blankenhorn, head of the Institute for American Values, calls this a sign of “the shift”a major turnaround in thinking about divorce.

Part of the shift is the growing realization that divorce is more widespread than it needs to be. In their book, A Generation at Risk, researchers Paul Amato and Alan Booth report that 70 percent of American divorces are occurring in “low-conflict” marriages. In the study of some 2,000 married people, just 30 percent of divorcing spouses reported more than two serious quarrels in a month, and only 25 percent said they disagreed “often” or “very often.” So three quarters of divorcing couples don’t say they quarrel often or even disagree much.

Even bad marriages are likely to improve, according to sociologist Linda Waite of the University of Chicago. Analyzing data from the National Survey of Families and Households, Waite found that 86 percent of people who said they were in bad marriages, but who decided to stick it out, said five years later that their marriages had turned around and were now happier. Sixty percent said their marriages were “very happy.” “Bad marriage is nowhere near as permanent a condition as we sometimes assume,” Waite says in her new book, The Case for Marriage. Considering what we now know about the impact of divorce on children, that should give many divorce-minded couples some second thoughts.

Sleeper Effect of Divorce.

Decisions of the United States Supreme Court Upholding Parental Rights as “Fundamental”

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, custody, deadbeat dads, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, HIPAA Law, Homeschool, Indians, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, Marriage, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, Sociopath on June 29, 2009 at 8:24 pm

by Christopher J. Klicka, Esq.

The Supreme Court of the United States has traditionally and continuously upheld the principle that parents have the fundamental right to direct the education and upbringing of their children. A review of cases taking up the issue shows that the Supreme Court has unwaveringly given parental rights the highest respect and protection possible. What follows are some of the examples of the Court’s past protection of parental rights.

In Meyer v. Nebraska,1 the Court invalidated a state law which prohibited foreign language instruction for school children because the law did not “promote” education but rather “arbitrarily and unreasonably” interfered with “the natural duty of the parent to give his children education suitable to their station in life…” 2 The court chastened the legislature for attempting “materially to interfere… with the power of parents to control the education of their own.” 3 This decision clearly affirmed that the Constitution protects the preferences of the parent in education over those of the State. In the same decision, the Supreme Court also recognized that the right of the parents to delegate their authority to a teacher in order to instruct their children was protected within the liberty of the Fourteenth Amendment. 4

Furthermore, the Court emphasized, “The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees the right of the individual … to establish a home and bring up children, to worship God according to his own conscience.”5

In 1925, the Supreme Court decided the Pierce v. Society of Sisters6 case, thereby supporting Meyer’s recognition of the parents’ right to direct the religious upbringing of their children and to control the process of their education. In Pierce, the Supreme Court struck down an Oregon compulsory education law which, in effect, required attendance of all children between ages eight and sixteen at public schools. The Court declared,

Under the doctrine of Meyer v. Nebraska, we think it entirely plain that the Act of 1922 unreasonably interferes with the liberty of parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of children.7 [emphasis supplied]


In addition to upholding the right of parents to direct the upbringing and the education of their children, Pierce also asserts the parents’ fundamental right to keep their children free from government standardization.

The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excluded any general power of the state to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right and the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.8 [emphasis supplied]

The Supreme Court uses strong language in asserting that children are not “the mere creature of the State.” The holding in Pierce, therefore, preserves diversity of process of education by forbidding the State to standardize the education of children through forcing them to only accept instruction from public schools.

In Farrington v. Tokushige, the Court again upheld parental liberty by striking down legislation which the Court admitted would have destroyed most, if not all private schools. 9 The Court noted that the parent has the right to direct the education of his own child without unreasonable restrictions.10 In support of this assertion the Court explained,

The capacity to impart instruction to others is given by the Almighty for beneficent purposes and its use may not be forbidden or interfered with by government — certainly not, unless such instruction is, in its nature, harmful to the public morals or imperils the public safety. 11


The parents’ right to instruct their children clearly takes precedence over the state’s regulatory interest unless the public safety is endangered.

Similarly, in Prince v. Massachusetts,12 the Supreme Court admitted the high responsibility and right of parents to control the upbringing of their children against that of the State.

It is cardinal with us that the custody, care, and nurture of the child reside first in the parents, whose primary function and freedom include preparation for obligations the State can neither supply nor hinder.13 [emphasis supplied]


Twenty-one years later, the Supreme Court, in Griswold v. Connecticut, emphasized that the state cannot interfere with the right of a parent to control his child’s education. 14 The Court stated that the right to educate one’s child as one chooses is guaranteed in the Bill of Rights and applicable to the States by the First and Fourteenth Amendments.15

Forty-eight years after Pierce, the U.S. Supreme Court once again upheld Pierce as “the charter of the rights of parents to direct the upbringing of their children.” 16 In agreement with Pierce, Chief Justice Burger stated in the opinion of Wisconsin v. Yoder in 1972:

This case involves the fundamental interest of parents, as contrasted with that of the state, to guide the religious future and education of their children. The history and culture of Western civilization reflect a strong tradition of parental concern for the nurture and upbringing of their children. This primary role of the parents in the upbringing of their children is now established beyond debate as an enduring tradition. 17 [emphasis supplied]

This case involved a family of the Amish religion who wanted to be exempt after eighth grade from the public schools to be instructed at home. In its opinion the U.S. Supreme Court further emphasized that:

Thus a state’s interest in universal education, however highly we rank it, is not totally free from a balancing process when it impinges on fundamental rights and interests, such as those specifically protected by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, and the traditional interest of parents with respect to the religious upbringing of their children . . . This case involves the fundamental and religious future and education of their children. 18 [emphasis supplied]

Consequently, it is clear the constitutional right of a parent to direct the upbringing and education of his child is firmly entrenched in the U.S. Supreme Court case history. Furthermore, a higher standard of review applies to fundamental rights such as parental liberty than to other rights. When confronted with a conflict between parents’ rights and state regulation, the court must apply the “compelling interest test.” Under this test, the state must prove that its infringement on the parents’ liberty is essential to fulfill a compelling interest and is the least restrictive means of fulfilling this state interest. Simply proving the regulation is reasonable is not sufficient.

Below are excerpts from over a dozen United States Supreme Court cases where, primarily in dicta, the Court has declared parental rights to be fundamental rights which require a higher standard of review (i.e. the “compelling interest test”).

1. Paris Adult Theater v. Slaton, 413 US 49, 65 (1973)

In this case, the Court includes the right of parents to rear children among rights “deemed fundamental.”

Our prior decisions recognizing a right to privacy guaranteed by the 14th Amendment included only personal rights that can be deemed fundamental or implicit in the concept of ordered liberty . . . This privacy right encompasses and protects the personal intimacies of the home, the family, marriage, motherhood, procreation, and child rearing . . . cf . . . Pierce v. Society of Sisters; Meyer v. Nebraska . . . nothing, however, in this Court’s decisions intimates that there is any fundamental privacy right implicit in the concept of ordered liberty to watch obscene movies and places of public accommodation. [emphasis supplied]

2. Carey v. Population Services International, 431 US 678, 684-686 (1977)

Once again, the Court includes the right of parents in the area of “child rearing and education” to be a liberty interest protected by the Fourteenth Amendment, requiring an application of the “compelling interest test.”

Although the Constitution does not explicitly mention any right of privacy, the Court has recognized that one aspect of the liberty protected by the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment is a “right of personal privacy or a guarantee of certain areas or zones of privacy . . . This right of personal privacy includes the interest and independence in making certain kinds of important decisions . . . While the outer limits of this aspect of privacy have not been marked by the Court, it is clear that among the decisions that an individual may make without unjustified government interference are personal decisions relating to marriage . . . family relationships, Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 US 158 (1944); and child rearing and education, Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 US 510 (1925); Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 US 390 (1923).’ [emphasis supplied]


The Court continued by explaining that these rights are not absolute and,

certain state interests . . . may at some point become sufficiently compelling to sustain regulation of the factors that govern the abortion decision . . . Compelling is, of course, the key word; where decisions as fundamental as whether to bear or beget a child is involved, regulations imposing a burden on it may be justified only by a compelling state interest, and must be narrowly drawn to express only those interests. [emphasis supplied]


3. Maher v. Roe, 432 US 464, 476-479 (1977)

We conclude that the Connecticut regulation does not impinge on the fundamental right recognized in Roe
There is a basic difference between direct state interference with a protected activity and state encouragement of an alternative activity consonant with legislative policy …

This distinction is implicit in two cases cited in Roe in support of the pregnant woman’s right under the 14th Amendment. In Meyer v. Nebraska. . . the Court held that the teacher’s right thus to teach and the right of parents to engage in so to instruct their children were within the liberty of the 14th Amendment . . . In Pierce v. Society of Sisters . . . the Court relied on Meyer . . . reasoning that the 14th Amendment’s concept of liberty excludes any general power of the state to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The Court held that the law unreasonably interfered with the liberty of parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of the children under their control

Both cases invalidated substantial restrictions of constitutionally protected liberty interests: in Meyer, the parent’s right to have his child taught a particular foreign language; in Pierce, the parent’s right to choose private rather than public school education. But neither case denied to a state the policy choice of encouraging the preferred course of action … Pierce casts no shadow over a state’s power to favor public education by funding it — a policy choice pursued in some States for more than a century … Indeed in Norwood v. Harrison, 413 US 455, 462, (1973), we explicitly rejected the argument that Pierce established a “right of private or parochial schools to share with the public schools in state largesse,” noting that “It is one thing to say that a state may not prohibit the maintenance of private schools and quite another to say that such schools must as a matter of equal protection receive state aid” … We think it abundantly clear that a state is not required to show a compelling interest for its policy choice to favor a normal childbirth anymore than a state must so justify its election to fund public, but not private education. [emphasis supplied]

Although the Maher decision unquestionably recognizes parents’ rights as fundamental rights, the Court has clearly indicated that private schools do not have a fundamental right to state aid, nor must a state satisfy the compelling interest test if it chooses not to give private schools state aid. The Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act simply reaffirms the right of parents to choose private education as fundamental, but it does not make the right to receive public funds a fundamental right. The PRRA, therefore, does not in any way promote or strengthen the concept of educational vouchers.

4. Parham v. J.R., 442 US 584, 602-606 (1979).

This case involves parent’s rights to make medical decisions regarding their children’s mental health. The lower Court had ruled that Georgia’s statutory scheme of allowing children to be subject to treatment in the state’s mental health facilities violated the Constitution because it did not adequately protect children’s due process rights. The Supreme Court reversed this decision upholding the legal presumption that parents act in their children’s best interest. The Court ruled:

Our jurisprudence historically has reflected Western civilization concepts of the family as a unit with broad parental authority over minor children. Our cases have consistently followed that course; our constitutional system long ago rejected any notion that a child is “the mere creature of the State” and, on the contrary, asserted that parents generally “have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare [their children] for additional obligations.” Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 535 (1925) … [other citations omitted] . . . The law’s concept of the family rests on a presumption that parents possess what a child lacks in maturity, experience, and capacity for judgment required for making life’s difficult decisions. More important, historically it has been recognized that natural bonds of affection lead parents to act in the best interests of their children. 1 W. Blackstone, Commentaries 447; 2 J. Kent, Commentaries on American Law 190.
As with so many other legal presumptions, experience and reality may rebut what the law accepts as a starting point; the incidence of child neglect and abuse cases attests to this. That some parents “may at times be acting against the interests of their children” … creates a basis for caution, but it is hardly a reason to discard wholesale those pages of human experience that teach that parents generally do act in the child’s best interest … The statist notion that governmental power should supersede parental authority in all cases because some parents abuse and neglect children is repugnant to American tradition.” [emphasis supplied]

Parental rights are clearly upheld in this decision recognizing the rights of parents to make health decisions for their children. The Court continues by explaining the balancing that must take place:

Nonetheless, we have recognized that a state is not without constitutional control over parental discretion in dealing with children when their physical or mental health is jeopardized (See Wisconsin v. Yoder; Prince v. Massachusetts). Moreover, the Court recently declared unconstitutional a state statute that granted parents an absolute veto over a minor child’s decisions to have an abortion, Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danforth, 428 US 52 (1976), Appellees urged that these precedents limiting the traditional rights of parents, if viewed in the context of a liberty interest of the child and the likelihood of parental abuse, require us to hold that parent’s decision to have a child admitted to a mental hospital must be subjected to an exacting constitutional scrutiny, including a formal, adversary, pre-admission hearing.
Appellees’ argument, however, sweeps too broadly. Simply because the decision of a parent is not agreeable to a child, or because it involves risks does not automatically transfer power to make that decision from the parents to some agency or officer of the state. The same characterizations can be made for a tonsillectomy, appendectomy, or other medical procedure. Most children, even in adolescence, simply are not able to make sound judgements concerning many decisions, including their need for medical care or treatment. Parents can and must make those judgements … we cannot assume that the result in Meyer v. Nebraska, supra, and Pierce v. Society of Sisters, supra, would have been different if the children there had announced a preference to learn only English or preference to go to a public, rather that a church school. The fact that a child may balk at hospitalization or complain about a parental refusal to provide cosmetic surgery does not diminish the parent’s authority to decide what is best for the child (See generally Goldstein, Medical Case for the Child at Risk: on State Supervention of Parental Autonomy, 86 Yale LJ 645, 664-668 (1977); Bennett, Allocation of Child Medical Care Decision — Making Authority: A Suggested Interest Analyses, 62 Va LR ev 285, 308 (1976). Neither state officials nor federal Courts are equipped to review such parental decisions. [emphasis supplied]

Therefore, it is clear that the Court is recognizing parents as having the right to make judgments concerning their children who are not able to make sound decisions, includingtheir need for medical care. A parent’s authority to decide what is best for the child in the areas of medical treatment cannot be diminished simply because a child disagrees. A parent’s right must be protected and not simply transferred to some state agency.

5. Santosky v. Kramer, 455 US 745, 753 (1982)

This case involved the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court affirming the application of the preponderance of the evidence standard as proper and constitutional in ruling that the parent’s rights are permanently terminated. The U.S. Supreme Court, however, vacated the lower Court decision, holding that due process as required under the 14th Amendment in this case required proof by clear and convincing evidence rather than merely a preponderance of the evidence.

The Court, in reaching their decision, made it clear that parents’ rights as outlined in Pierce and Meyer are fundamental and specially protected under the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court began by quoting another Supreme Court case:

In Lassiter [Lassiter v. Department of Social Services, 452 US 18, 37 (1981)], it was “not disputed that state intervention to terminate the relationship between a parent and a child must be accomplished by procedures meeting the requisites of the Due Process Clause”. . . The absence of dispute reflected this Court’s historical recognition that freedom of personal choice in matters of family life is a fundamental liberty interest protected by the 14th Amendment … Pierce v. Society of Sisters … Meyer v. Nebraska.
The fundamental liberty interest of natural parents in the care, custody, and management of their child does not evaporate simply because they have not been model parents or have lost temporary custody of their child to the state … When the state moves to destroy weakened familial bonds, it must provide the parents with fundamentally fair procedures. [emphasis supplied]

6. City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health Inc., 462 US 416, 461 (1983)

This case includes, in a long list of protected liberties and fundamental rights, the parental rights guaranteed under Pierce and Meyer. The Court indicated a compelling interest test must be applied.

Central among these protected liberties is an individual’s freedom of personal choice in matters of marriage and family life … RoeGriswoldPierce v. Society of SistersMeyer v. Nebraska … But restrictive state regulation of the right to choose abortion as with other fundamental rights subject to searching judicial examination, must be supported by a compelling state interest. [emphasis supplied]

7. Lehr v. Robertson, 463 US 248, 257-258 (1983)

In this case, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a decision against a natural father’s rights under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses since he did not have any significant custodial, personal, or financial relationship with the child. The natural father was challenging an adoption. The Supreme Court stated:

In some cases, however, this Court has held that the federal constitution supersedes state law and provides even greater protection for certain formal family relationships. In those cases … the Court has emphasized the paramount interest in the welfare of children and has noted that the rights of the parents are a counterpart of the responsibilities they have assumed. Thus, the liberty of parents to control the education of their children that was vindicated in Meyer v. Nebraska … and Pierce v. Society of Sisters … was described as a “right coupled with the high duty to recognize and prepare the child for additional obligations” … The linkage between parental duty and parental right was stressed again in Prince v. Massachusetts … The Court declared it a cardinal principle “that the custody, care and nurture of the child reside first in the parents whose primary function and freedom include preparation for obligations the state can neither supply nor hinder.” In these cases, the Court has found that the relationship of love and duty in a recognized family unit is an interest in liberty entitled to Constitutional protection … “State intervention to terminate such a relationship … must be accomplished by procedures meeting the requisites of the Due Process Clause” Santosky v. Kramer … [emphasis supplied]

It is clear by the above case that parental rights are to be treated as fundamental and cannot be taken away without meeting the constitutional requirement of due process.

8. Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 476 US 747 (1986)

The U.S. Supreme Court declared, “Our cases long have recognized that the Constitution embodies a promise that a certain private sphere of individual liberty will be kept largely beyond the reach of governmentGriswold v. ConnecticutPierce v. Society of SistersMeyer v. Nebraska.”

By citing Pierce, the Court included parental liberty in that protected sphere.

9. Board of Directors of Rotary International v. Rotary Club of Duarte, 481 US 537 (1987)

In this case, a Californian civil rights statute was held not to violate the First Amendment by requiring an all male non-profit club to admit women to membership. The Court concluded that parents’ rights in child rearing and education are included as fundamental elements of liberty protected by the Bill of Rights.

The Court has recognized that the freedom to enter into and carry on certain intimate or private relationships is a fundamental element of liberty protected by the Bill of Rights … the intimate relationships to which we have accorded Constitutional protection include marriage … the begetting and bearing of children, child rearing and education. Pierce v. Society of Sisters … [emphasis supplied]

10. Michael H. v. Gerald, 491 U.S. 110 (1989)

In a paternity suit, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled:

It is an established part of our constitution jurisprudence that the term liberty in the Due Process Clause extends beyond freedom from physical restraint. See, e.g. Pierce v. Society of SistersMeyer v. Nebraska … In an attempt to limit and guide interpretation of the Clause, we have insisted not merely that the interest denominated as a “liberty” be “fundamental” (a concept that, in isolation, is hard to objectify), but also that it be an interest traditionally protected by our society. As we have put it, the Due Process Clause affords only those protections “so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamentalSnyder v. Massachusetts, 291 US 97, 105 (1934). [emphasis supplied]

The Court explicitly included the parental rights under Pierce and Meyer as “fundamental” and interests “traditionally protected by our society.”

11. Employment Division of Oregon v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990)

One of the more recent decisions which upholds the right of parents is Employment Division of Oregon v. Smith, which involved two Indians who were fired from a private drug rehabilitation organization because they ingested “peyote,” a hallucinogenic drug as part of their religious beliefs. When they sought unemployment compensation, they were denied because they were discharged for “misconduct.”

The Indians appealed to the Oregon Court of Appeals who reversed on the grounds that they had the right to freely exercise their religious beliefs by taking drugs. Of course, as expected, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the case and found that the First Amendment did not protect drug use. So what does the case have to do with parental rights?

After the Court ruled against the Indians, it then analyzed the application of the Free Exercise Clause generally. The Court wrongly decided to throw out the Free Exercise Clause as a defense to any “neutral” law that might violate an individual’s religious convictions. In the process of destroying religious freedom, the Court went out of its way to say that the parents’ rights to control the education of their children is still a fundamental right. The Court declared that the “compelling interest test” is still applicable, not to the Free Exercise Clause alone:

[B]ut the Free Exercise Clause in conjunction with other constitutional protections such as … the right of parents, acknowledged in Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 (1925), to direct the education of their children, see Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S.205 (1972) invalidating compulsory-attendance laws as applied to Amish parents who refused on religious grounds to send their children to school.19 [emphasis supplied]

In other words, under this precedent, parents’ rights to control the education of their children is considered a “constitutionally protected right” which requires the application of the compelling interest test. The Court in Smith quoted its previous case of Wisconsin v. Yoder:

Yoder said that “The Court’s holding in Pierce stands as a charter for the rights of parents to direct the religious upbringing of their children. And when the interests of parenthood are combined with a free exercise claim … more than merely a reasonable relationship to some purpose within the competency of the State is required to sustain the validity of the State’s requirement under the First Amendment.” 406 U.S., at 233.20 [emphasis supplied]


Instead of merely showing that a regulation conflicting with parents’ rights is reasonable, the state must, therefore, reach the higher standard of the “compelling interest test,” which requires the state to prove its regulation to be the least restrictive means.

12. Hodgson v. Minnesota, 497 U.S. 417 (1990)

In Hodgson the Court found that parental rights not only are protected under the First and Fourteenth Amendments as fundamental and more important than property rights, but that they are “deemed essential.”

The family has a privacy interest in the upbringing and education of children and the intimacies of the marital relationship which is protected by the Constitution against undue state interference. See Wisconsin v Yoder, 7 406 US 205 …
The statist notion that governmental power should supersede parental authority in all cases because some parents abuse and neglect children is repugnant to American tradition.” Parham, 442 US, at 603, [other citations omitted]. We have long held that there exists a “private realm of family life which the state cannot enter.” Prince v Massachusetts

A natural parent who has demonstrated sufficient commitment to his or her children is thereafter entitled to raise the children free from undue state interference. As Justice White explained in his opinion of the Court in Stanley v Illinois, 405 US 645 (1972) [other cites omitted]:

“The court has frequently emphasized the importance of the family. The rights to conceive and to raise one’s children have been deemed ‘essential,’ Meyer v Nebraska, … ‘basic civil rights of man,’ Skinner v Oklahoma, 316 US 535, 541 (1942), and ‘[r]ights far more precious … than property rights,’ May v Anderson, 345 US 528, 533 (1953) … The integrity of the family unit has found protection in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, Meyer v Nebraska, supra.” [emphasis supplied]

The Court leaves no room for doubt as to the importance and protection of the rights of parents.

13. H.L. v. Matheson, 450 US 398, 410 (1991)

In this case, the Supreme Court recognized the parents’ right to know about their child seeking an abortion. The Court stated:

In addition, constitutional interpretation has consistently recognized that the parents’ claim to authority in their own household to direct the rearing of their children is basic in the structure of our society.
Ginsberg v. New York, 390 US 629 (1968) … We have recognized on numerous occasions that the relationship between the parent and the child is Constitutionally protected (Wisconsin v. Yoder, Stanley v. Illinois, Meyer v. Nebraska) … “It is cardinal with us that the custody, care, and nurture of the child reside first in the parents, whose primary function and freedom includes preparation for obligations the state can neither supply, nor hinder.” [Quoting Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 US 158, 166, (1944)]. See also Parham v. J.R.; Pierce v. Society of Sisters … We have recognized that parents have an important “guiding role” to play in the upbringing of their children, Bellotti II, 443 US 633-639 … which presumptively includes counseling them on important decisions.


This Court clearly upholds the parent’s right to know in the area of minor children making medical decisions.

14. Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton, 132 L.Ed.2d 564, 115 S.Ct. 2386 (1995)

In Vernonia the Court strengthened parental rights by approaching the issue from a different point of view. They reasoned that children do not have many of the rights accorded citizens, and in lack thereof, parents and guardians possess and exercise those rights and authorities in the child’s best interest:

Traditionally at common law, and still today, unemancipated minors lack some of the most fundamental rights of self-determination—including even the right of liberty in its narrow sense, i.e., the right to come and go at will. They are subject, even as to their physical freedom, to the control of their parents or guardians. See Am Jur 2d, Parent and Child § 10 (1987).


15. Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000)

In this case the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark opinion on parental liberty. The case involved a Washington State statute which provided that a “court may order visitation rights for any person when visitation may serve the best interests of the child, whether or not there has been any change of circumstances.” Wash. Rev. Code § 26.10.160(3). The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Washington statute “unconstitutionally interferes with the fundamental right of parents to rear their children.” The Court went on to examine its treatment of parental rights in previous cases:

In subsequent cases also, we have recognized the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children…Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205, 232, 32 L. Ed. 2d 15, 92 S. Ct. 1526 (1972) (“The history and culture of Western civilization reflect a strong tradition of parental concern for the nurture and upbringing of their children. This primary role of the parents in the upbringing of their children is now established beyond debate as an enduring American tradition”); Quilloin v. Walcott, 434 U.S. 246, 255, 54 L. Ed. 2d 511, 98 S. Ct. 549 (1978) (“We have recognized on numerous occasions that the relationship between parent and child is constitutionally protected”); Parham v. J. R., 442 U.S. 584, 602, 61 L. Ed. 2d 101, 99 S. Ct. 2493 (1979) (“Our jurisprudence historically has reflected Western civilization concepts of the family as a unit with broad parental authority over minor children. Our cases have consistently followed that course”); Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, 753, 71 L. Ed. 2d 599, 102 S. Ct. 1388 (1982) (discussing “the fundamental liberty interest of natural parents in the care, custody, and management of their child”); Glucksberg, supra, at 720 (“In a long line of cases, we have held that, in addition to the specific freedoms protected by the Bill of Rights, the ‘liberty’ specially protected by the Due Process Clause includes the right … to direct the education and upbringing of one’s children” (citing Meyer and Pierce)). In light of this extensive precedent, it cannot now be doubted that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children. [emphasis supplied]


This case clearly upholds parental rights. In essence, this decision means that the government may not infringe parents’ right to direct the education and upbringing of their children unless it can show that it is using the least restrictive means to achieve a compelling governmental interest.

Conclusion

The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently protected parental rights, including it among those rights deemed fundamental. As a fundamental right, parental liberty is to be protected by the highest standard of review: the compelling interest test.

As can be seen from the cases described above, parental rights have reached their highest level of protection in over 75 years. The Court decisively confirmed these rights in the recent case of Troxel v. Granville, which should serve to maintain and protect parental rights for many years to come.

Copyright 2003 Home School Legal Defense Association. Reprint permission granted.



Footnotes

1. 262 U.S. 390 (1923).

2. Id., at 402.

3. Id., at 401. Also see Bartles v. Iowa, 262 U.S. 404 (1923) where the Court reached a similar conclusion.

4. Meyer, 262 U.S. 390 at 400.

5. Id., at 403.

6. Pierce, 268 U.S. 510 (1925)

7. Ibid at 534.

8. Pierce, 268 U.S. 510 at 535.

9. Farrington v. Tokushige, 273 U.S. 284 (1927) at 298.

10. Id., at 298.

11. Farrington v. Tokushige, (9 cir.) 11 F.2d 710 at 713 (1926), quoting Harlan, J., in Berea College v. Kentucky 211 U.S. 45, 29 S. Ct. 33, 53 L. Ed. 81.

12. Prince v. Massachussetts, 321 U.S. 158 (1944).

13. Ibid at 166.

14. Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, (1965) at 486.

15. Ibid.

16. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 at 233.

17. Ibid at 232. Burger further admonishes, “and when the interests of parenthood are combined with a free exercise claim of the nature revealed by this record, more than merely a ‘reasonable relation to some purpose within the competency of the State’ is required to sustain the validity of the State’s requirement under the First Amendment.” (Yoder, at 233).

18. Id., at 214.

19. Id., 881.

20. Id., 881, ftn. 1.

Decisions of the United States Supreme Court Upholding Parental Rights as “Fundamental”HSLDA | National Center Special Report.

Review of Judith Wallerstein’s The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce : The 25 Year Landmark Study – BrothersJudd.com

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, custody, deadbeat dads, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Feminism, Freedom, Homeschool, 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, Parents rights, Restraining Orders on June 28, 2009 at 12:14 am

The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce : The 25 Year Landmark Study (2000)

If we give them the benefit of the doubt, we can assume that the folks who reformed divorce laws, beginning about forty years ago, honestly believed that children would benefit from having happier parents more than they would suffer from the process itself.  But we are four decades along in this social experiment and, as Judith Wallerstein and her colleagues capably demonstrate, it’s time to acknowledge that the reformers were catastrophically wrong and that their error has dire and continuing consequences for our society.  It’s important to note that the authors are not saying that divorce is bad per se, they well understand that some family situations are so unhealthy that it is better for all concerned that the marriage end, but they do provide important insights into the long term effects that even relatively amicable divorces have on the children of divorce, effects which endure into adulthood.

One of the most important contributions of their study is a point that should be obvious : children don’t particularly care that their parents might be happier if they could get out of their marriages, they want them to stay together.  This is a simple function of the fact that children are even more monstrously selfish than the rest of us.  Less obvious, but still commonsensical, is the idea that the divorce of one’s parents is likely to permanently shape your own personality, your emotional well being, and your capacity and willingness to trust and love others.  Progressives may not like it, but it is nonetheless true that the nuclear family is the most ancient, powerful, and important social arrangement of humankind.  To imagine that children, the most vulnerable and impressionable members of that unit, would be able to just shrug of its breakdown is absurd on its face.  Divorce quite naturally terrifies children, calling into question the general stability of family and love.  Little wonder then that adult children of divorce experience great anxiety and difficulty when they try to establish relationships and form families of their own.

The authors illustrate these points and many others with examples from actual cases they have studied.  This is very effective as a way of personalizing their arguments, but has left them open to legitimate criticism that their work does not meet rigorous scientific standards.  In the end, you are likely to judge their work by whether it confirms or contradicts your own political viewpoint.  But it’s awfully hard to just dismiss their findings.

In the conclusion to the book, they offer some very moderate and tentative proposals for policy changes that would reduce the negative impact of divorce on children.  As they note, we have created a culture of divorce, one in which 45% of all first marriages end in divorce, and 65% of second marriages.  This should be intolerable to us, because it essentially defeats the purposes for which the institution was created and calls into the question the benefits that we extend to married couples.  Personally, I would incorporate some of the authors’ suggestions but add several, much harsher ones, of my own :

(1)    As they suggest, children should be given a strong voice in custody and visitation matters.  It should be less important to us as a society what the divorcing parents desire and more important what their children wish.

(2)    Instructing school age kids in good marriage and parenting skills seems harmless enough, though unlikely to do much good.

(3)    Likewise, encouraging businesses to adopt more family-friendly policies–flextime and the like–is certainly worthwhile, but doesn’t seem likely to have a major impact.

(4)    Mandatory counseling prior to divorce is also unobjectionable.  Though I’d have it done through churches, rather than under government auspices.

(5)    In addition, just as we extend tax and other benefits to married couples, there should be tax penalties associated with divorce, particularly in cases where children are involved.  The authors note that people like the current ease of divorce because it provides them with great freedom.  But freedom must carry with it certain responsibilities and obligations.

(6)    Similarly, you should only be allowed one bite at the apple.  Divorced persons should, if they are allowed to remarry, not be granted the same benefits as they were the first time.  In law, they should be treated as singles.

(7)    Tax benefits, student loan provisions, school vouchers, mortgage breaks, etc. should all be greatly expanded for married couples.  A society has no more important task than the raising of its next generation, and anything government can do to make parents task easier should be done.  The best way to do this is not through new programs but by making it more affordable to have and to raise children.

(8)    All of these provisions should be waived in cases where there has been physical or sexual abuse of either spouse or children or where one spouse has committed adultery.  Divorce should be made an unattractive option for couples who are merely unhappy, but must remain a viable option where people are genuinely endangered or are sinned against.  At the same time courts should punish such behaviors, including adultery, much more severely than they historically have.

These reforms, and given time we can probably come up with more, will raise obvious objections.  People don’t much care to be forced to accept responsibilities; they much prefer being given freedoms.  Tough.  Marriage is not a right; it is a privilege.  Marriage is a civic institution which exists to fulfill certain set purposes–chief among them are procreation and child-rearing.  It would be great if all married couples were happy, but as a society this is only a secondary concern.  The stability of the institution is more important than the happiness of the participants and their happiness is actually unimportant when it has a negative impact on their children.

Of course, I’m a child of divorced parents, so all of the forgoing may just be sour grapes and the product of my own damaged psyche…

(Reviewed:17-Oct-01)

Parents Rights’ Amendment Reaches Milestone

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Child Support, children legal status, children's behaviour, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, custody, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Feminism, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, HIPAA Law, Homeschool, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Marriage, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine on June 26, 2009 at 6:57 pm

American Family Rights Association :: The Voice of America’s Families©.

Parents Rights’ Amendment Reaches Milestone

100 Members of Congress Cosponsor Grassroots Movement to Ensure Parents’ Freedom to Raise their Children

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A Constitutional Amendment introduced by U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Holland, to protect the parent-child relationship has reached more than 100 co-sponsors in the House.

“More and more members of Congress and their constituents are recognizing the slow erosion of individual rights posed by the courts, government and international organizations and the threat presented to the parent-child relationship,” Hoekstra said. “This is a grassroots movement fueled by increased awareness about sovereignty and the need to protect rights against government intrusion and international law. It is as simple as preserving parents’ freedom to parent.”

The Parents’ Rights Amendment (H.J.Res.42) would state explicitly in the U.S. Constitution that parents have a fundamental right to raise their children as they see fit while protecting against abuse and neglect.  Threats to the parent-child relationship include potential Senate ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“A review of federal appellate decisions from 2008 demonstrates that our lower courts are turning away from the traditional Supreme Court standards on parental rights,” said Michael Farris, J.D., president of Parentalrights.org. “We need to act now to protect parental rights before this erosion results in a wholesale repudiation of our traditional American principles.”

More information on the Parents’ Rights Amendment and the list of co-sponsors can be viewed at www.parentsrights.us.

Divorce rate statistics – marriage problems – a lasting marriage

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, Childrens Rights, Christian, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, Homeschool, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Liberty, Marriage, motherlessness, mothers rights, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine on June 24, 2009 at 12:27 am

Divorce rate statistics – marriage problems – a lasting marriage.

The following relationship advice will help you minimize marriage problems and avoid being a divorce statistic.

By Dennis Rainey

A woman once shared with me her view of marriage:

“It’s as though I’m scanning a desert with a pair of binoculars. Everywhere I look I see bodies strewn about in various stages of death and dying — divorce, isolation, abusive and decayed relationships, all types of devastation. After viewing this I ask myself, Why would I want to begin that journey?”

Many students today are asking the same question. Although they deeply desire the security and joy of a lifelong relationship, they fear marriage. One new bride said in a Newsweek article: “I had watched my parents’ marriage fall apart, and I didn’t know if I could keep one together.”1

Results of High Divorce Rate Statistics

No generation reaching the age to marry has ever brought with it more baggage related to family breakdown. In the United States more than one million children each year experience the breakup of their families.2

A large number of students remember experiences like this:

Mary: One afternoon she came home from school and met her father coming out the door with a suitcase. He was leaving the family. “I’ll be back to see you, Honey,” he said. Mary’s father kissed her on top of the head and left. She hasn’t seen him since.

Robert: His parents divorced when he was five. He has lived with his mother who married three other men and drinks way too much. His first stepfather beat him up one time when Robert spilled a Coke in the car.

Carrie: Her parents are still married but heavily focused on their lucrative careers. Her dad and mom seldom attended her orchestra concerts during high school, and now that she’s away at college, she rarely speaks to either of them. When the family communicates, usually it’s by email or messages on their answering machines.

Philip: During junior high Philip was awakened one night by the sounds of his parents arguing. He heard a crash and a scream. Philip found his mother in the kitchen bleeding from a knife wound. Philip called the police and they arrested his father. Philip, his mom, and two younger sisters went to live in a shelter. He doesn’t know where his dad lives.

You probably know people like Mary, Robert, Carrie, and Philip. Your own experiences may be similar to theirs or even worse. Maybe your home boiled with conflict, disharmony, and unrest. As a result, you’ve thought a lot about whether you should get married — you don’t want to end up in a relationship filled with pain and disappointment, and cause an emotional earthquake in your own children. You like the idea of sharing your life with someone who loves you, but if you’re honest, marriage is pretty scary. You may ask yourself, “Will I ever be able to get beyond the damage my family did to me? Will I be able to experience a happy and healthy marriage and family?”

The answer is unequivocally yes.

Since 1976 I have worked with an organization that helps families and have seen thousands of marriages succeed that looked hopeless. God has a way for broken people to experience whole relationships. More on that later.

Marriage–Worth the Problems

With all the problems and pain, why do people still want to get married? Even though marriage receives so much bad press these days, walking the aisle is still very popular exercise. A recent Louis Harris survey found that 96% of college students want to marry or already are married. Ninety-seven per cent agreed with this statement — “Having close family relationships is a key to happiness.”3

So even though about one in four of American adults age eighteen and older are divorced,4 the possibility of having a good, lasting marriage makes nearly everyone willing to give it a try. Just why is marriage so appealing?

The truth is that no one wants to be alone. Although we make a big deal out of “doing our own thing” and insisting on individual rights, we all long for the security and warmth of an intimate relationship with someone who is crazy about us. We may say we “want to be alone” and desire “some space,” but our stronger desire is to share some space with someone who loves us.

And although sexual attraction is an important part of our desire for intimacy, these longings to connect deeply with another person are not just about sex. This fervent desire to be known and appreciated by someone else is how we were designed in the first place.

Causes of Divorce Rate Statistics

Why is it then that so many people, who want and need to be close to someone, end up divorced, often filled with anger and disappointment? Many who marry attempt to achieve a strong, enduring bond based primarily on emotions. In most relationships the love and acceptance continue as long as the other person is meeting a certain level of expectation. If the feelings are warm, a husband and wife can enjoy one another’s company, overlook a partner’s troubling or annoying traits, communicate adequately, and still express affection.

But when the feelings cool, one or both find they have no reserves or capability to love an obviously imperfect person. Now needs are not met, which causes hurt, which promotes defensiveness, which reduces positive communication, which heightens misunderstanding, which provokes conflict, which fuels anger and bitterness. If forgiveness and reconciliation do not break this downward spiral, the ability to love one another is paralyzed.

This pattern in nearly all relationships may be avoided for awhile as long as the tough issues that provoke selfishness do not exist or are obscured. But sooner or later reality hits. In spite of a couple’s best intentions, they eventually realize that two independent people cannot both have all of their needs met all of the time.

Relationship Advice–How to Avoid Marriage Problems

For a relationship to succeed, teamwork is required and both persons need to deny many of their personal wishes. Self-sacrifice must replace selfishness. Sometimes one person in the marriage can do this reasonably well, but eventually patience runs out. Self-sacrifice is not natural; selfishness is. Why is this so?

If we lived in a world where people were perfect, then their marriages would hum along in total harmony, just the way God wanted marriage to work in the first place. But we don’t live in a perfect world. Quite honestly all of us are affected by our tendency toward selfishness and “sin.” What is sin? We often choose to do the wrong things not the right things. We can be selfish, mean, hurtful, bitter, arrogant, unwilling to forgive, and so on. It’s no wonder husbands and wives struggle to get along.

An I-want-my-needs-met attitude in relationships breaks down a necessary spirit of cooperation. The negative cycle begins and continues until intimacy is lost and a marriage begins to crumble.

Let’s face it, we all need help — some inner strength that enables us to love another person the way we must if a marriage is going to have a chance.

Our selfish, sinful behavior not only separates a husband and a wife, but it also separates us from God — our greatest source of help. As the Originator and Designer of marriage, He knows how relationships work. He wants us to first have a relationship with Him, and then look to Him for direction.

Not only does God help us with problems and challenges we face on a daily basis, but He also offers healing for scars and wounds we have collected from the past. For instance, He provides complete forgiveness and cleansing from wrong choices we may have made as teenagers in a relationship with the opposite sex. God loves us and wants us to enjoy the benefits of being His child, which include His help in our marriage.

I would like to illustrate this with two scenarios involving a typical husband and wife. In the first example, our couple (I’ll call them Jon and Lisa) do not acknowledge any dynamic involvement of God in their lives. In Scenario B, Jon and Lisa have more than a relationship with each other, they also have a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Possible Marriage Problems–Scenario A:

It’s Saturday morning and Jon wants to play golf with his buddies. He rolls out of bed and tells Lisa that he’s leaving and won’t be back until about 4 p.m. Lisa complains, “You promised we could go on a picnic today!”

“I never said that,” Jon says, his voice on edge. “Anyway, I haven’t played golf in two weeks. It’s a beautiful day. I’m out of here.” Jon slams the door on the way out.

Lisa feels snubbed and after shedding some tears, she stomps angrily through the apartment and throws the pillows on the couch across the room.

“I’ll show you, Jerk,” she yells. She calls a girlfriend and makes a date to go out for lunch and some shopping. At the mall Lisa buys $300 worth of new clothes — she needed a new outfit, but by buying a few “extra” things she knows Jon will hit the roof. Their credit card is now nearly maxed out.

Meanwhile, Jon is finishing his golf round. He stops with his buddies for a drink at the golf club bar. One drink soon leads to two. Jon notices how attractive the waitress is. As the young woman is giving Jon his third drink, he whispers a flattering remark in her ear. The woman acts insulted, but her smile indicates that Jon has scored some points. The next time she returns, he notices her phone number on the napkin placed under his drink. Jon tucks the paper in his pocket.

Jon arrives home at 5 p.m., walking with a bit of a wobble. Lisa is watching TV with the volume turned high. He notices a pile of packages on the couch. Angrily he switches off the TV and points at the packages. Lisa swears at him and walks to the bedroom, slamming the door behind her. They argue far into the night. Jon ends up sleeping in the guest bedroom.

Possible Marriage Problems–Scenario B:

It’s Saturday morning and Jon wants to play golf with his buddies. He rolls out of bed and tells Lisa that he’s leaving and won’t be back until about 4 p.m. Lisa acts surprised and says, “I thought we were going on a picnic today!”

“Oh, can’t we do that tomorrow?” Jon says, his voice on edge. “Anyway, I haven’t played golf in two weeks. It’s such a beautiful day. I’m out of here!” Jon shuts the door hard on the way out.

Lisa feels snubbed and after shedding some tears, she stomps angrily through the apartment and throws the pillows on the couch across the room.

“You jerk!” she yells, wishing she could tell Jon to his face just how angry she feels.

Lisa decides to go for a walk, and by the time she passes through a park, her hurt and anger are subsiding. On her way back home she’s able to pray, “Dear Jesus, I’m really mad at Jon and think he’s being selfish. Please help me not to be selfish, too, and let my anger get out of control.”

Lisa decides to call a girlfriend and they make a date for an early lunch and some shopping. While at the mall, Lisa buys a new outfit.

Meanwhile, Jon is finishing the front nine of his golf round. He and his buddies stop for a sandwich and drink at the club snack bar. Jon notices how pretty the girl behind the counter is, but he just gives her a friendly smile and walks to join his friends. Earlier this morning Jon had thought Lisa was pretty whiney and clutching on to him — unfairly wanting to keep him from a good time with his buddies. But now Jon feels guilty for how he treated her. He’s not enjoying himself.

“Hey guys,” Jon announces, “I’m going to quit for today and go home. I need to spend some time with Lisa.” Two of his friends tease him, but Jon sticks with his decision.

When Lisa gets home at 1 p.m., she’s surprised to find Jon sitting at the kitchen table. She notices the picnic basket is out and half-filled with food and drinks.

“Why are you home so early?” she asks, the hurt still evident in her voice.

“I’m sorry for the way I acted this morning,” Jon says. “I wanted to play golf and didn’t care about your needs. I guess I was being kind of selfish. Will you forgive me?”

Lisa bites her lip. She’s still hurt, but Jon looks like he’s really sorry. And it’s pretty incredible that he quit his golf round early. “Yes, I forgive you,” Lisa says quietly.

As they hug, Jon says, “Could we kind of start this day over? I came home early thinking we might still have time for that picnic? Do you want to go?”

Lisa resists the temptation to pout and make Jon “pay.” Instead she smiles and nods her head.

The day turns around for both Jon and Lisa. The anger has been cleansed from both of them. Their relationship feels as fresh as the earth after a spring shower. In both of their lives Jesus has been at work, first showing them how to live and then giving them the strength to deny themselves and forgive — two actions essential to love but very difficult to do consistently and authentically without help.

Of course these two scenarios offer just a surface view of a complicated interpersonal situation, but they do illustrate why God’s involvement individually in the lives of a husband, wife, and their marriage makes such a difference. The Christian faith is not simply a collection of principles and rules — it’s a living, moment-to-moment interaction with God through which we receive guidance and power to live life the way it was designed to be lived.

To Avoid Being a Divorce Statistic–Listen to God’s Word

God is very clear in the Bible about the destruction of divorce, about the need to humbly consider the other person’s needs above our own, about being truthful with each other, about avoiding sexual immorality, and much more. But being told what to do does not necessarily mean we will want to do it. His guidance is often different from what we would feel like doing (for example, telling your spouse the truth at a time when lying would appear very useful). But repeatedly couples have found how wise God is, and how smart it is to trust and follow His blueprints for building relationships.

For example, God still says that marriage needs to come before sexual intimacy. Yet in our culture 64% of college students in a poll agreed with this statement — “Living together as a couple before getting married is a good idea.”5 Many of these students watched their parents’ marriages fall apart and reason that “trying out” the relationship seems like a good idea.

So why does God put marriage before sexual involvement? Because He wants us to experience lasting, fulfilling intimacy. How can two people feel secure enough to be totally vulnerable — a requirement for deep intimacy — in an environment where either person can bail out at any time? Research shows that the divorce rate is actually higher among those who live together before marrying later.6 God’s wisdom is unerring, it’s always right. And always God’s directions come from His caring, protective love for us.

But God does not merely want to be a marriage counselor, dispensing advice into our lives. He wants us to know Him, to be in relationship with Him, and to trust Him.

But God does not merely want to be a marriage counselor, dispensing advice into our lives. He wants us to know Him, to be in relationship with Him, and to trust Him. In order to faithfully love someone else, He says we first need to experience His unconditional, faithful love for us.

Prompted by His love for us, God did something remarkable on our behalf. We’ve talked about how our selfishness separates us from one another, and it especially separates us from God who is holy and perfect. The Bible says “your sin has made a separation between you and your God.”7 No amount of good deeds or effort on our part can erase our sin before God’s eyes. Worse, there is a penalty for our sin…death. It means eternal separation from God, even after our earthly life. And there is nothing we can do to fix it. His standards require perfection, and we don’t measure up. However, God’s justice is accompanied by His tremendous love for us — demonstrated by the solution He provided.

Jesus Christ, who is God in human form, came to pay the penalty of death for our sins. Jesus also came to teach us God’s ways and to give us a meaningful life. But primarily He said His purpose for coming as a man was to die in our place. He fully paid for all of our sins — my sins, yours, the whole world’s — when hanging on a cross (a Roman form of execution), so we may be forgiven. After being buried for three days, Jesus physically came back to life. Many eyewitnesses went on to tell the world about Him and the life God offers us.

To Overcome Marriage Problems–First, Start a Relationship with God

It is not up to us to work for God’s acceptance. He offers us a relationship with Him as a free gift. It is our choice whether we want to receive His forgiveness and enter into a relationship with Him. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.”8 He wants to come into our lives, but again, it’s an individual decision we need to make. If marriage is a significant decision, this is even more so. Do you want to have an eternal relationship with God and allow Him influence in your life? Do you want to be guided by His wisdom and supported by His strength?

If so, you can ask Him into your life right now. Just as a couple are not married until they actually make that public commitment of “I will,” beginning a relationship with God is also a knowledgeable act of the will. Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door [of your heart] and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in.”9 The Bible says, “But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God.”10

Would you like to know God’s love for you and ask Him into your heart? This might be a way you can express that to Him: “Lord Jesus, I want you in my life. I want you to guide me, and forgive me for all of my sins. Thank you for paying for my sins on the cross. I now ask you to come into my life. Thank you for your promise that you would come into my life, if I opened the door, which I am now doing. Thank you that now I can begin to really know you. Amen.”

If you sincerely prayed this, you have begun a relationship with God. What effect can this have on your marriage problems? You can have a love-filled marriage. Like all husbands and wives, you will make many mistakes and sometimes you will need to exert strenuous effort to have a great marriage. But, as you rely on Him, God will give you the strength and vision needed to love your mate in a selfless, forgiving manner and experience a lasting marriage.

I just asked Jesus into my life (some helpful information follows)…

I may want to ask Jesus into my life, please explain this more fully…

I have a question or comment…

Dennis Rainey is director of FamilyLife, a division of Campus Crusade for Christ. He is also an author and is host of the radio program “FamilyLife Today.” He and his wife, Barbara, have six children.

(1) Kendall Hamilton and Pat Wingert, “Down the Aisle,” Newsweek, 20 July 1998, p. 54.
(2) John J. DiIulio, Jr., “Deadly Divorce,” National Review, 7 April 97.
(3) “Generation 2001: A Survey of the First College Graduating Class of the New Millennium,” conducted in 1997-1998 by Louis Harris and Associates for Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, 720 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53202, pp. 8, 11.
(4) DiIulio, Jr., “Deadly Divorce.”
(5) Generation 2001: A Survey, p. 11.
(6) Shervert H. Frazier, Psychotrends (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994), p. 106
(7) Isaiah 59:2
(8) John 14:6
(9) Revelation 3:20
(10) John 1:12

Copyright 1999 Campus Crusade for Christ

Writers’ Representatives, LLC: The Marriage Problem

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, Homeschool, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine on June 23, 2009 at 11:19 pm

Writers’ Representatives, LLC: The Marriage Problem.

The Marriage Problem

How Our Culture Has Weakened Families

James Q. Wilson (View Bio)
HarperPerennial, 2003
HarperCollins, 2002

The Marriage Problem

“Once again, James Q. Wilson illuminates a vexing contemporary problem with his formidable intellect and the resources of modern social science. Without hand-wringing or polemics, he shows why a society that prizes freedom and self-government cannot afford to ignore what is happening to the institution of marriage — and points the way toward its rehabilitation.” — Mary Ann Glendon

“Our smartest social scientist has attacked our most important social problem.” — David Blankenhorn

“The finest social scientist of his generation answers the most vexing question of the day about American culture; why has marriage, the foundation of healthy society, been so weakened? He identifies two fundamental causes. One is an American sin — slavery. The other is, up to a point, an American virtue — individualism. And on the basis of this convincing diagnosis, Wilson recommends remedial measures — the unity of theory and practices — in a slender volume.” — George F. Will

“Justly renowned for his gift for converting opaque sociology into lucid arguments, Wilson here ponders the cultural dynamics of America’s remarkable retreat from wedlock. Though some have blamed the nation’s epidemics of divorce and illegitimacy on the tumultuous 1960s, Wilson probes much deeper. His careful scholarship uncovers the subtle ways in which ancient African kinship patterns still affect social life in the inner city and illuminates the legal traditions that turned eighteenth-century philosophizing into twentieth-century divorce statutes. But Wilson aims to explain not only how marriage has lost strength in modern America but also why that loss matters. With a raft of recent studies, he shows that once a society loses the anchorage of wedlock, riptides begin to pull entire communities into alienation and despair. Wilson particularly laments the suffering of children exposed to poverty and emotional confusion by the disintegration of their families. And it is precisely because the toll of family dissolution has run so high that Wilson challenges his readers to join the search for ways to renew wedlock. That renewal, he makes clear, will require more than legislative finesse by shrewd lawmakers; it will require a profound shift in the entire culture. Wilson’s sobering analysis will help spark the kind of discussions that often presage such a shift.” — Booklist (starred review)

“James Q. Wilson [is] one of the most influential conservative thinkers around.” — The New York Times Book Review

“In THE MARRIAGE PROBLEM: How Our Culture Has Weakened Families, the eminent social scientist James Q. Wilson sets out to offer an explanation deeper than ‘The Sixties’ for the destabilization of marriage in recent years. The resulting short book is a fine multidisciplinary survey of the history of marriage and the forces conspiring to weaken it…. We need to find — for exactly the reasons James Q. Wilson so clearly shows — a way back from the ‘illusory emancipation’ that has damaged us so deeply.” — The Weekly Standard

“One of our most distinguished social scientists…Wilson has turned his attention to [an] area in which he sees deterioration — marriage and the family. He brings the most reliable empirical evidence to bear to make his case.” — Washington Post Book World

Divorced from Reality

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, Homeschool, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, kidnapped children, motherlessness, mothers rights, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, Stehpen Baskerville on June 23, 2009 at 5:39 pm

Touchstone Archives: Divorced from Reality.
Divorced from Reality
“We’re from the Government, and We’re Here to End Your Marriage.”

by Stephen Baskerville

The decline of the family has now reached critical and truly dangerous proportions. Family breakdown touches virtually every family and every American. It is not only the major source of social instability in the Western world today but also seriously threatens civic freedom and constitutional government.

G. K. Chesterton once observed that the family serves as the principal check on government power, and he suggested that someday the family and the state would confront one another. That day has arrived.

Chesterton was writing about divorce, and despite extensive public attention to almost every other threat to the family, divorce remains the most direct and serious. Michael McManus of Marriage Savers writes that “divorce is a far more grievous blow to marriage than today’s challenge by gays.”

Most Americans would be deeply shocked if they knew what goes on today under the name of divorce. Indeed, many are devastated to discover that they can be forced into divorce by procedures entirely beyond their control. Divorce licenses unprecedented government intrusion into family life, including the power to sunder families, seize children, loot family wealth, and incarcerate parents without trial. Comprised of family courts and vast, federally funded social services bureaucracies that wield what amount to police powers, the divorce machinery has become the most predatory and repressive sector of government ever created in the United States and is today’s greatest threat to constitutional freedom.

Unilateral Divorce

Some four decades ago, while few were paying attention, the Western world embarked on the boldest social experiment in its history. With no public discussion of the possible consequences, laws were enacted in virtually every jurisdiction that effectively ended marriage as a legal contract. Today it is not possible to form a binding agreement to create a family. The government can now, at the request of one spouse, simply dissolve a marriage over the objection of the other. Maggie Gallagher aptly titled her 1996 book The Abolition of Marriage.

This startling fact has been ignored by politicians, journalists, academics, and even family advocates. “Opposing gay marriage or gays in the military is for Republicans an easy, juicy, risk-free issue,” wrote Gallagher. “The message [is] that at all costs we should keep divorce off the political agenda.” No American politician of national stature has ever challenged involuntary divorce. “Democrats did not want to anger their large constituency among women who saw easy divorce as a hard-won freedom and prerogative,” observes Barbara Whitehead in The Divorce Culture. “Republicans did not want to alienate their upscale constituents or their libertarian wing, both of whom tended to favor easy divorce, nor did they want to call attention to the divorces among their own leadership.”

In his famous denunciation of single parenthood, Vice President Dan Quayle was careful to make clear, “I am not talking about a situation where there is a divorce.” The exception proves the rule. When Pope John Paul II criticized divorce in 2002, he was roundly attacked from the right as well as the left.

The full implications of the “no-fault” revolution have never been publicly debated. “The divorce laws . . . were reformed by unrepresentative groups with very particular agendas of their own and which were not in step with public opinion,” writes Melanie Phillips in The Sex-Change Society. “Public attitudes were gradually dragged along behind laws that were generally understood at the time to mean something very different from what they subsequently came to represent.”

Today’s disputes over marriage in fact have their origin in this one. Demands to redefine marriage to include homosexual couples are inconceivable apart from the redefinition of marriage already effected by heterosexuals through divorce. Though gays cite the very desire to marry as evidence that their lifestyle is not inherently promiscuous, activist Andrew Sullivan acknowledges that that desire has arisen only because of the promiscuity permitted in modern marriage. “The world of no-strings heterosexual hookups and 50 percent divorce rates preceded gay marriage,” he points out. “All homosexuals are saying . . . is that, under the current definition, there’s no reason to exclude us. If you want to return straight marriage to the 1950s, go ahead. But until you do, the exclusion of gays is . . . a denial of basic civil equality” (emphasis added). Gays do not want traditional monogamous marriage, only the version debased by divorce.

Contrary to common assumptions, divorce today seldom involves two people mutually deciding to part ways. According to Frank Furstenberg and Andrew Cherlin in Divided Families, 80 percent of divorces are unilateral, that is, over the objection of one spouse. Patricia Morgan of London’s Civitas think tank reports that in over half of divorces, there was no recollection of major conflict before the separation.

Under “no-fault,” or what some call “unilateral,” divorce—a legal regime that expunged all considerations of justice from the procedure—divorce becomes a sudden power grab by one spouse, assisted by an army of judicial hangers-on who reward belligerence and profit from the ensuing litigation: judges, lawyers, psychotherapists, counselors, mediators, custody evaluators, social workers, and more.

If marriage is not wholly a private affair, as today’s marriage advocates insist, involuntary divorce by its nature requires constant government supervision over family life. Far more than marriage, divorce mobilizes and expands government power. Marriage creates a private household, which may or may not necessitate signing some legal documents. Divorce dissolves a private household, usually against the wishes of one spouse. It inevitably involves state functionaries—including police and jails—to enforce the divorce and the post-marriage order.

Almost invariably, the involuntarily divorced spouse will want and expect to continue enjoying the protections and prerogatives of private life: the right to live in the common home, to possess the common property, or—most vexing of all—to parent the common children. These claims must be terminated, using the penal system if necessary.

Onerous Implications

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

By far the most serious consequences involve children, who have become the principal weapons of the divorce machinery. Invariably the first action of a divorce court, once a divorce is filed, is to separate the children from one of their parents, usually the father. Until this happens, no one in the machinery acquires any power or earnings. The first principle and first action of divorce court therefore: Remove the father.

This happens even if the father is innocent of any legal wrongdoing and is simply sitting in his own home minding his own business. The state seizes control of his children with no burden of proof to justify why. The burden of proof (and the financial burden) falls on the father to demonstrate why they should be returned.

Though obfuscated with legal jargon (losing “custody”), what this means is that a legally unimpeachable parent can suddenly be arrested for seeing his own children without government authorization. Following from this, he can be arrested for failure or inability to conform to a variety of additional judicial directives that apply to no one but him. He can be arrested for domestic violence or child abuse, even if no evidence is presented that he has committed any. He can be arrested for not paying child support, even if the amount exceeds his means (and which may amount to most of his salary). He can even be arrested for not paying an attorney or a psychotherapist he has not hired.

The New York Times has reported on how easily “the divorce court leads to a jail cell.” Take the case of Marvin Singer, who was jailed without trial for not paying an attorney he never hired $100,000—only half of what the court claimed he “owes.” In Virginia, one father was ordered to pay two years’ worth of his salary to a lawyer he also did not hire for a divorce he did not request. Once arrested, the father is summarily jailed. There is no formal charge, no jury, and no trial.

Family court judges’ contempt for both fathers and constitutional rights was openly expressed by New Jersey municipal court judge Richard Russell: “Your job is not to become concerned about the constitutional rights of the man that you’re violating,” he told his colleagues at a judges’ training seminar in 1994. “Throw him out on the street. . . . We don’t have to worry about the rights.”

Generated Hysteria

Why do we hear almost nothing about this? Aside from media that sympathize with the divorce revolution, the multi-billion-dollar divorce industry also commands a huge government-funded propaganda machine that has distorted our view of what is happening.

The growth of the divorce machinery during the 1970s and 1980s did not follow but preceded (in other words, it generated) a series of hysterias against parents—especially fathers—so hideous and inflammatory that no one, left or right, dared question them or defend those accused: child abuse and molestation, wife-beating, and nonpayment of “child support.” Each of these hysterias has been propagated largely by feminists, bar associations, and social work bureaucracies, whose federal funding is generously shared with state and local law-enforcement officials.

The parent on the receiving end of such accusations—even in the absence of any formal charge, evidence, or conviction—not only loses his children summarily and often permanently; he also finds himself abandoned by friends and family members, parishioners and pastors, co-workers and employers (and he may well lose his job)—all terrified to be associated with an accused “pedophile,” “batterer,” or “deadbeat dad.”

It is not clear that these nefarious figures are other than bogeymen created by divorce interests, well aware that not only the public generally but conservatives and family advocates in particular are a soft touch when it comes to anything concerning irresponsible behavior or sexual perversion.

Christians are especially vulnerable to credulity about such accusations, because they are disposed to see moral breakdown behind social ills. Moral breakdown certainly does lie behind the divorce epidemic (of which more shortly), but it is far deeper than anything addressed by cheap witch-hunts against government-designated malefactors.

It is also largely credulity and fear that leads Congress by overwhelming majorities to appropriate billions for anti-family programs in response to these hysterias. The massive federal funds devoted to domestic violence, child abuse, and child-support enforcement are little more than what Phyllis Schlafly calls “feminist pork,” taxpayer subsidies on family dissolution that also trample due process protections. Family law may technically be the purview of states, but it is driven by federal policies and funded by a Congress fearful of accusations that it is not doing enough against pedophiles, batterers, and deadbeats.

In fact, each of these figures is largely a hoax, a creation of feminist ideology disseminated at taxpayers’ expense and unchallenged by journalists, academics, civil libertarians, and family advocates who are either unaware of the reality or cowed into silence. Indeed, so diabolical are these hysterias that some family advocates simply accept them as additional evidence of the family crisis.

But while sensational examples can be found of anything, there is simply no evidence that the family and fatherhood crisis is caused primarily or even significantly by fathers abandoning their families, beating their wives, and molesting their children. Irrefutable evidence indicates that it is driven almost entirely by divorce courts forcibly separating parents from their children and using these false accusations as a rationalization.

Divorce Gamesmanship

During the 1980s and 1990s, waves of child abuse hysteria swept America and other countries. Sensational cases in Washington state, California, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Ontario, Saskatchewan, the north of England, and more recently France resulted in torn-apart families, blatantly unjust prison sentences, and ruined lives, while the media and civil libertarians looked the other way.

Today it is not clear that we have learned anything from these miscarriages of justice. If anything, the hysteria has been institutionalized in the divorce courts, where false allegations have become routine.

What is ironic about these witch-hunts is the fact that it is easily demonstrable that the child abuse epidemic—which is very real—is almost entirely the creation of feminism and the welfare bureaucracies themselves. It is well established by scholars that an intact family is the safest place for women and children and that very little abuse takes place in married families. Child abuse overwhelmingly occurs in single-parent homes, homes from which the father has been removed. Domestic violence, too, is far more likely during or after the breakup of a marriage than among married couples.

Yet patently false accusations of both child abuse and domestic violence are rampant in divorce courts, almost always for purposes of breaking up families, securing child custody, and eliminating fathers. “With child abuse and spouse abuse you don’t have to prove anything,” the leader of a legal seminar tells divorcing mothers, according to the Chicago Tribune. “You just have to accuse.”

Among scholars and legal practitioners it is common knowledge that patently trumped-up accusations are routinely used, and virtually never punished, in divorce and custody proceedings. Elaine Epstein, president of the Massachusetts Women’s Bar Association, writes that “allegations of abuse are now used for tactical advantage” in custody cases. The Illinois Bar Journal describes how abuse accusations readily “become part of the gamesmanship of divorce.” The UMKC Law Review reports on a survey of judges and attorneys revealing that disregard for due process and allegations of domestic violence are used as a “litigation strategy.” In the Yale Law Review, Jeannie Suk calls domestic violence accusations a system of “state-imposed de facto divorce” and documents how courts use unsupported accusations to justify evicting Americans from their homes and children.

The multi-billion dollar abuse industry has become “an area of law mired in intellectual dishonesty and injustice” writes David Heleniak in the Rutgers Law Review. Domestic violence has become “a backwater of tautological pseudo-theory,” write Donald Dutton and Kenneth Corvo in the scholarly journal Aggression and Violent Behavior. “No other area of established social welfare, criminal justice, public health, or behavioral intervention has such weak evidence in support of mandated practice.”

Feminists confess as much in their vociferous opposition to divorce reform. A special issue of the feminist magazine Mother Jones in 2005 ostensibly devoted to domestic violence focuses largely on securing child custody.

Both child abuse and domestic violence have no precise definitions. Legally they are not adjudicated as violent assault, and accused parents do not enjoy the constitutional protections of criminal defendants. Allegations are “confirmed” not by jury trials but by judges or social workers. Domestic violence is any conflict within an “intimate relationship” and need not be actually violent or even physical. Official definitions include “extreme jealousy and possessiveness,” “name calling and constant criticizing,” and “ignoring, dismissing, or ridiculing the victim’s needs.”

For such “crimes” fathers lose their children and can be jailed. “Protective orders” separating parents from their children are readily issued during divorce proceedings, usually without any evidence of wrongdoing. “Restraining orders and orders to vacate are granted to virtually all who apply,” and “the facts have become irrelevant,” writes Epstein. “In virtually all cases, no notice, meaningful hearing, or impartial weighing of evidence is to be had.”

Cycle of Abuse

Trumped-up accusations are thus used to create precisely the single-parent homes in which actual abuse is most likely to occur. According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), “Children of single parents had a 77% greater risk of being harmed by physical abuse, an 87% greater risk of being harmed by physical neglect, and an 80% greater risk of suffering serious injury or harm from abuse or neglect than children living with both parents.” Britain’s Family Education Trust reports that children are up to 33 times more likely to be abused in a single-parent home than in an intact family.

The principal impediment to child abuse is thus precisely the figure whom the welfare and divorce bureaucracies are intent on removing: the father. “The presence of the father . . . placed the child at lesser risk for child sexual abuse,” concludes a 2000 study published in 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, since a tiny proportion of sexual abuse (which is far less common than physical abuse) is committed by natural fathers, though government statistics lump them in with boyfriends and stepfathers to make it appear that incest is widespread.

Despite the innuendos of child abuse advocates, it is not married fathers but single mothers who are most likely to injure or 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 percent of all child murders according to a Justice Department report. HHS itself found 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 boyfriends or stepfathers, fathers emerge as by far the least likely child abusers.

Yet government logic is marvelously self-justifying and self-perpetuating, since by eliminating the father, officials can present themselves as the solution to the problem they have created. The more child abuse there is—whether by single mothers, boyfriends, or even (as is often the case) by social workers and bureaucrats themselves—the more the proffered solution is to further expand the child abuse bureaucracy.

Waxing indignant about a string of child deaths at the hands of social workers in the District of Columbia, federal judges and the Washington Post found solace in the D.C. government’s solution: to hire more social workers (and lawyers too, for some unspecified reason). “Olivia Golden, the Child and Family Services’ latest director . . . will use her increased budget to recruit more social workers and double the number of lawyers.” Children die at the hands of social workers, so we must hire more social workers.

Likewise, 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 may come to the children. On the contrary, if they do not remove the fathers, they may be punished by the bar associations and social work bureaucracies whose funding depends on a constant supply of abused children.

A commonplace of political science is that bureaucracies relentlessly expand, often by creating the very problem they exist to address. Appalling as it sounds, the conclusion is inescapable that we have created a massive army of officials with a vested interest in child abuse.

Trafficking in Children

The child abuse industry also demonstrates how one threat to the family creates another. Just as the divorce revolution eventually led to the demand for same-sex “marriage,” the child abuse deception has led to demands for parenting by same-sex couples.

Most discussion of homosexual parenting has centered on questions of children’s welfare versus the rights of homosexuals. Few have questioned the politics whereby prospective homosexual parents obtain the children they wish to parent. Granting same-sex couples the right to raise children means, by definition, giving at least one of the partners the right to raise someone else’s children, and the question arises whether the original parent or parents ever agreed to part with them or did something to warrant losing them.

Current laws governing divorce, domestic violence, and child abuse render this question open. The explosion in foster care based on the assumed but unexamined need to find permanent homes for allegedly abused children has provided perhaps the strongest argument in favor of same-sex “marriage” and homosexual parenting. Yet the politics of child abuse and divorce indicate that this assumption is not necessarily valid.

The government-generated child abuse epidemic and the mushrooming foster care business that it feeds have allowed government agencies to operate what amounts to trafficking in children. A San Diego grand jury reports “a widely held perception within the community and even within some areas of the Department [of Social Services] that the Department is in the ‘baby brokering’ business.”

Introducing same-sex “marriage” and adoption into this political dynamic could dramatically increase the demand for children to adopt, thus intensifying pressure on social service agencies and biological parents to supply such children. While sperm donors and surrogate mothers supply some children for homosexual parents, most have been taken from their natural parents because of divorce, unwed parenting, child abuse accusations, or connected reasons.

Massachusetts Senator Therese Murray, claiming that 40 percent of the state’s adoptions have gone to gay and lesbian couples, rationalizes the practice by invoking “children who have been neglected, abandoned, abused by their own families.” But it is far from evident that these children are in fact victims of their own parents. What seems inescapable is that homosexual parenting has arisen as the direct and perhaps inevitable consequence of government officials getting into the business—which began largely with divorce—of distributing other people’s children.

Child-Support Racket

The “deadbeat dad” is another figure largely manufactured by the divorce machinery. He is far less likely to have deliberately abandoned offspring he callously sired than to be an involuntarily divorced father who has been, as attorney Jed Abraham writes in From Courtship to Courtroom, “forced to finance the filching of his own children.”

Child support is plagued by the same contradictions as child custody. Like custody, it is awarded ostensibly without reference to “fault,” and yet nonpayment brings swift and severe punishments. Contrary to popular belief, child support today has nothing to do with fathers abandoning their children, reneging on their marital vows, or even agreeing to divorce. It is automatically assessed on all non-custodial parents, even those divorced against their will who lose their children through no legal fault or agreement of their own. It is an entitlement for all single mothers, in other words, regardless of their behavior.

Originally justified as a method of recovering welfare costs, child support has been transformed into a massive federal subsidy on middle-class divorce. No-fault divorce allowed a mother to divorce her husband for any reason or no reason and to take the children with her. Child support took the process a step further by allowing the divorcing mother to use the now-fatherless children to claim her husband’s income—also regardless of any fault on her part (or lack of fault on his) in abrogating the marriage agreement.

By glancing at a child-support schedule, a mother can determine exactly how large a tax-free windfall she can force her husband to pay her simply by divorcing, money she may spend however she wishes with no accounting requirement. It is collected at gunpoint if necessary, and nonpayment means incarceration without trial.

Like the welfare it was supposed to replace, child support finances family dissolution by paying mothers to divorce. Economist Robert Willis calculates that child-support levels vastly exceeding the cost of raising children create “an incentive for divorce by the custodial mother.” His analysis indicates that only one-fifth to one-third of child-support payments are actually used for the children; the rest is profit for the custodial parent. Kimberly Folse and Hugo Varela-Alvarez write in the Journal of Socio-Economics that child support serves as an “economic incentive for middle-class women to seek divorce.”

Mothers are not the only ones who can profit by creating fatherless children. Governments also generate revenue from child support. State governments receive federal funds for every child-support dollar collected—money they can add to their general funds and use for any purpose they choose. This gives states a financial incentive to create as many single-parent households as possible by encouraging middle-class divorce. While very little child support—or government revenue—is generated from the impecunious young unmarried fathers for whom the program was ostensibly created, involuntarily divorced middle-class fathers have deeper pockets to loot.

This is why state governments set child support at onerous levels. Not only does it immediately maximize their own revenues; by encouraging middle-class women to divorce, governments increase the number of fathers sending dollars through their systems, thus generating more revenue. Federal taxpayers (who were supposed to save money) subsidize this family destruction scheme with about $3 billion annually. “Child support guidelines currently in use typically generate awards that are much higher than would be the case if based on economically sound cost concepts,” writes Mark Rogers, an economist who served on the Georgia Commission on Child Support. Rogers charges that guidelines result in “excessive burdens” based on a “flawed economic foundation.” The Urban Institute reports that arrearages accrue because “orders are set too high relative to ability to pay.” Federal officials have admitted that the more than $90 billion in arrearages they claimed as of 2004 were based on awards that were beyond the parents’ ability to pay.

All this marks a new stage in the evolution of the welfare state: from distributing largesse to raising revenue and, from there, to law enforcement. The result is a self-financing machine, generating profits and expanding the size and scope of government—all by generating single-parent homes and fatherless children. Government has created a perpetual growth machine for destroying families, seizing children from legally blameless parents, and incarcerating parents without trial.

Responsibility of Churches

While many factors have contributed to this truly diabolical, bureaucratic onslaught against the family, we might begin by looking within. The churches’ failure or refusal to intervene in the marriages they consecrated and to exert moral pressure on misbehaving spouses (perhaps out of fear of appearing “judgmental”) left a vacuum that has been filled by the state. Clergy, parishioners, and extended families have been replaced by lawyers, judges, forensic psychotherapists, social workers, and plainclothes police.

Family integrity will be restored only when families are de-politicized and protected from government invasion. This will demand morally vigorous congregations that are willing to take marriage out of the hands of the state by intervening in the marriages they are called upon to witness and consecrate and by resisting the power of the state to move in. This is the logic behind the group Marriage Savers, and it can restore the churches’ authority even among those who previously viewed a church’s role in their marriage as largely ceremonial.

No greater challenge confronts the churches—nor any greater opportunity to reverse the mass exodus—than to defend their own marriage ordinance against this attack from the government. Churches readily and rightly mobilize politically against moral evils like abortion and same-sex “marriage,” in which they are not required to participate. Even more are they primary stakeholders in involuntary divorce, which allows the state to desecrate and nullify their own ministry.

As an Anglican, I am acutely aware of how far modernity was ushered in not only through divorce, but through divorce processes that served the all-encompassing claims of the emerging state leviathan. Politically, this might be seen as the “original sin” of modern man. We all need to atone.

Stephen Baskerville is Associate Professor of Government at Patrick Henry College and the author of Taken into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family (Cumberland House, 2007).

From Welfare State to Police State

In adoption abuse, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, Homeschool, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D on June 9, 2009 at 7:14 pm

May 4, 2008
by Stephen Baskerville

Family fragmentation costs taxpayers at least $112 billion annually in antipoverty programs, justice and education systems, and lost revenue, according to a report released last week. Astonishingly, the report’s publisher, Institute for American Values, is using these findings to advocate even higher costs, through more federal programs.

As welfare and child support enforcement programs show, there is zero proof that further government intervention into families would be a good investment for taxpayers.

After more than a decade of welfare reform, out-of-wedlock births remain at record highs, and married couples now comprise less than half the nation’s households. “The impact of welfare reform is now virtually zero,” says Robert Rector of Heritage Foundation.

Welfare reform, as currently conceived, cannot possibly make a difference. Out-of-wedlock births no longer proceed only from low-income teenagers. Increasingly, middle-class, middle-aged women are bearing the fatherless children. This excludes children of divorce, which almost doubles the 1.5 million out-of-wedlock births.

The problem is driven not only by culture, but by federal programs not addressed by welfare reform—such as child support enforcement, domestic violence, and child abuse prevention—which subsidize single-parent homes through their quasi-welfare entitlements for the affluent.

It’s not called the welfare “state” for nothing. Even more serious than the economic effects has been the quiet metamorphosis of welfare from a system of public assistance into a miniature penal apparatus, replete with its own tribunals, prosecutors, police, and jails.

The subsidy on single-mother homes was never really curtailed. Reformers largely replaced welfare with child support. The consequences were profound: this change transformed welfare from public assistance into law enforcement, creating yet another federal plainclothes police force without constitutional justification.

Like any bureaucracy, this one found rationalizations to expand. During the 1980s and 1990s—without explanation or public debate—enforcement machinery created for children in poverty was dramatically expanded to cover all child-support cases, including those not receiving welfare.

This vastly expanded the program by bringing in millions of middle-class divorce cases. The system was intended for welfare—but other cases now account for 83% of its cases and 92% of the money collected.

Contrary to what was promised, the cost to taxpayers increased sharply. By padding their rolls with millions of middle-class parents, state governments could collect a windfall of federal incentive payments. State officials may spend this revenue however they wish. Federal taxpayers subsidize state government operations through child support. They also subsidize family dissolution, for every fatherless child is another source of revenue for states.

To collect, states must channel not just delinquent but current payments through their criminal enforcement machinery, subjecting law-abiding parents to criminal measures. While officials claim their crackdowns on “deadbeat dads” increase collections, the “increase” is achieved not by collecting arrearages of low-income fathers already in the system, but simply by pulling in more middle-class fathers—and creating more fatherless children.

These fathers haven’t abandoned their children. Most were actively involved, and, following what is usually involuntary divorce, desire more time with them. Yet for the state to collect funding, fathers willing to care for them must be designated as “absent.” Divorce courts are pressured to cut children off from their fathers to conform to the welfare model of “custodial” and “noncustodial.” These perverse incentives further criminalize fathers, by impelling states to make child-support levels as onerous as possible and to squeeze every dollar from every parent available.

Beyond the subsidy expense are costs of diverting the criminal justice system from protecting society to criminalizing parents and keeping them from their children. The entitlement state must then devise additional programs—far more expensive—to deal with the social costs of fatherless children. Former Assistant Health and Human Services Secretary Wade Horn contends that most of the $47 billion spent by his department is necessitated by broken homes and fatherless children. One might extend his point to most of the half-trillion dollar HHS budget. Given the social ills attributed to fatherless homes—crime, truancy, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, suicide—it is reasonable to see a huge proportion of domestic spending among the costs.

These developments offer a preview of where our entire system of welfare taxation is headed: expropriating citizens to pay for destructive programs that create the need for more spending and taxation. It cannot end anywhere but in the criminalization of more and more of the population.

Stephen Baskerville is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, Associate Professor of Government at Patrick Henry College, and author of Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family (Cumberland House, 2007).

The original article can be found here: http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=2184

Does Family Preservation Work? – Parental Rights

In adoption abuse, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, HIPAA Law, Homeschool, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, Maternal Deprivation, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Orphan Trains, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, Sociopath, state crimes, Title Iv-D, Torts on June 9, 2009 at 12:00 pm

From the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform / 53 Skyhill Road (Suite 202) / Alexandria, Va., 22314 / info@nccpr.org / www.nccpr.org

Family preservation is one of the most intensively-scrutinized programs in all of child welfare. Several studies — and real world experience — show that family preservation programs that follow the Homebuilders model safely prevent placement in foster care.

Michigan’s Families First program sticks rigorously to the Homebuilders model. The Michigan program was evaluated by comparing children who received family preservation services to a “control group” that did not. After one year, among children who were referred because of abuse or neglect, the control group children were nearly twice as likely to be placed in foster care, as the Families First children. Thirty-six percent of children in the control group were placed, compared to only 19.4 percent of the Families First children. [1]

Another Michigan study went further. In this study, judges actually gave permission to researchers to “take back” some children they had just ordered into foster care and place them in Families First instead. One year later, 93 percent of these children still were in their own homes. [2] And Michigan’s State Auditor concluded that the Families First program “has generally been effective in providing a safe alternative to the out-of-home placement of children who are at imminent risk of being removed from the home The program places a high priority on the safety of children.” [3]

An experiment in Utah and Washington State also used a comparison group. After one year, 85.2 percent of the children in the comparison group were placed in foster care, compared to only 44.4 percent of the children who received intensive family preservation services.[4]

A study in California found that 55 percent of the control group children were placed, compared to only 26 percent of the children who received intensive family preservation services. [5]

A North Carolina study comparing 1,254 families receiving Intensive Family Preservation Services to more than 100,000 families who didn’t found that “IFPS consistently resulted in fewer placements…”[6]

And still another study, in Minnesota, found that, in dealing with troubled adolescents, fully 90 percent of the control group children were placed, compared to only 56 percent of those who received intensive family preservation services.[7]

Some agencies are now using IFPS to help make sure children are safe when they are returned home after foster care. Here again, researchers are beginning to see impressive results. In a Utah study, 77.2 percent of children whose families received IFPS help after reunification were still safely with their birth parents after one year, compared with 49.1 percent in a control group.[8]

Critics ignore all of this evidence, preferring to cite a study done for the federal government which purports to find that IFPS is no better than conventional services. But though critics of family preservation claim that this study evaluated programs that followed the Homebuilders model, that’s not true. In a rigorous critique of the study, Prof. Ray Kirk of the University of North Carolina School of Social Work notes that the so-called IFPS programs in this study actually diluted the Homebuilders model, providing service that was less intensive and less timely. At the same time, the “conventional” services sometimes were better than average. In at least one case, they may well have been just as intensive as the IFPS program – so it’s hardly surprising that the researchers would find little difference between the two.

Furthermore, efforts to truly assign families at random to experimental and control groups sometimes were thwarted by workers in the field who felt this was unethical. Workers resisted assigning what they considered to be “high risk” families to control groups that would not receive help from IFPS programs. In addition, the study failed to target children who actually were at imminent risk of placement.

Given all these problems, writes Prof. Kirk, “a finding of ‘no difference between treatment and experimental groups’ is simply a non-finding from a failed study.”[9]

Prof. Kirk’s findings mirror those of an evaluation of earlier studies purporting to show that IFPS was ineffective. The evaluation found that these studies “did not adhere to rigorous methodological criteria.”[10]

In contrast, according to Prof. Kirk, “there is a growing body of evidence that IFPS works, in that it is more effective than traditional services in preventing out-of-home placements of children in high-risk families.”[11]

Prof. Kirk’s assessment was confirmed by a detailed review of IFPS studies conducted by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy. According to this review:

“IFPS programs that adhere closely to the Homebuilders model significantly reduce out-of-home placements and subsequent abuse and neglect. We estimate that such programs produce $2.54 of benefits for each dollar of cost. Non-Homebuilders programs produce no significant effect on either outcome.”[12]

Some critics argue that evaluations of family preservation programs are inherently flawed because they allegedly focus on placement prevention instead of child safety. But a placement can only be prevented if a child is believed to be safe. Placement prevention is a measure of safety.

Of course, the key words here are “believed to be.” Children who have been through intensive family preservation programs are generally among the most closely monitored. But there are cases in which children are reabused and nobody finds out. And there are cases — like Joseph Wallace — in which the warnings of family preservation workers are ignored. No one can be absolutely certain that the child left at home is safe — but no one can be absolutely certain that the child placed in foster care is safe either — and family preservation has the better track record.

And, as discussed in Issue Paper 1, with safe, proven strategies to keep families together now widely used in Alabama, Pittsburgh, and elsewhere, the result is fewer foster care placements and safer children.

Indeed, the whole idea that family preservation — and only family preservation — should be required to prove itself over and over again reflects a double standard. After more than a century of experience, isn’t it time that the advocates of foster care be held to account for the failure of their program?

Updated, April 24, 2006

1. Carol Berquist, et. al., Evaluation of Michigan’s Families First Program (Lansing Mich: University Associates, March, 1993). Back to Text.

2. Betty J. Blythe, Ph.D., Srinika Jayaratne, Ph.D, Michigan Families First Effectiveness Study: A Summary of Findings, Sept. 28, 1999, p.18. Back to Text.

3. State of Michigan, Office of the Auditor General, Performance Audit of the Families First of Michigan Program, July, 1998, pp. 2-4. Back to Text.

4. Mark W. Fraser, et. al., Families in Crisis: The Impact of Intensive Family Preservation Services (New York: Aldine De Gruyter, 1991), p.168. Back to Text.

5. S. Wood, S., K. Barton, C. Schroeder, “In-Home Treatment of Abusive Families: Cost and Placement at One Year.” Psychotherapy Vol. 25 (1988) pp. 409-14, cited in Howard Bath and David Haapala, “Family Preservation Services: What Does the Outcome Research Really Tell Us,” Social Services Review, September, 1994, Table A1, p.400. Back to Text.

6. R.S. Kirk, Tailoring Intensive Family Preservation Services for Family Reunification Cases: Research, Evaluation and Assessment, (www.nfpn.org/resourcess/articles/tailoring.html). Back to Text.

7. I.M. Schwartz, et. al., “Family Preservation Services as an Alternative to Out-of-Home Placement of Adolescents,” in K. Wells and D.E. Biegel, eds., Family Preservation Services: Research and Evaluation (Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1991) pp.33-46, cited in Bath and Happala, note 3, supra.Back to Text.

8. R.E. Lewis, et. al., “Examining family reunification services: A process analysis of a successful experiment,” Research on Social Work Practice, 5, (3), 259-282, cited in Kirk, note 6, supra.Back to Text.

9. R.S. Kirk, A Critique of the “Evaluation of Family Preservation and Reunification Programs: Interim Report,” May, 2001. Back to Text.

10. A. Heneghan, et. al., Evaluating intensive family preservation services: A methodological review. Pediatrics, 97(4), 535-542, cited in Kirk, note 6, supra.Back to Text.

11. Kirk, note 6, supra.Back to Text.

12. Washington State Institute for Public Policy, Intensive Family Preservation Programs: Program Fidelity Influences Effectiveness. February, 2006, available online at http://www.wsipp.wa.gov/rptfiles/06-02-3901.pdf

The original article can be found here: http://www.nccpr.org/newissues/11.html

Parental Mediation Does Not Work, Wake Up U.S. Courts

In adoption abuse, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, Homeschool, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, Maternal Deprivation, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, Sociopath, state crimes, Title Iv-D, Torts on June 8, 2009 at 11:16 pm

Introduction

One of the government’s most exhaustive research reports ever commissioned called ‘Monitoring Publicly Funded Family Mediation’ found that ‘mediation‘ in this country did not ‘meet the objectives of saving marriages or helping divorcing couples to resolve problems with a minimum of acrimony’ and as a result was forced to scrap the idea of making mediation compulsory – see the statement from the former Lord Chancellor Lord Irvine, 16th.January 2000. However it is is still used as a method for deflecting fathers from receiving reasonable contact with their child or children. This section is intended to help fathers by highlighting some of the pitfalls of mediation with reference to the government’s own research report. If you have a query regarding any aspect of the mediation process, for example, Section 10, ‘The Parties Attitudes to Negotiation’, you can consult the government’s own research by clicking alongside!

“The government is committed to supporting marriage and to supporting families when relationships fail, especially when there are children involved. But this very comprehensive research, together with other recent valuable research in the field, has shown that Part II of the Family Law Act (i.e. Mediation) is not the best way of achieving those aims. The government is not therefore satisfied that it would be right to proceed with the implementation of Part II and proposes to ask Parliament to repeal it once suitable legislative opportunity occurs.”

Former Lord Chancellor Lord Irvine,
16th.January 2000

NB For all legal aid certificates ‘mediation’ has to take place before the certificate (or funding) can be issued. However it can be deemed unnecessary if the mother makes an allegation of domestic abuse.

The original article can be found here: http://www.eventoddlersneedfathers.com/

Maternal Deprivation? Monkeys, Yes; Mommies, No…

In adoption abuse, Alienation of Affection, Autism, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Christian, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, HIPAA Law, Homeschool, Indians, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, Maternal Deprivation, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Orphan Trains, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, Sociopath, state crimes, Torts on June 7, 2009 at 5:00 am

Do children do best with one parent over another? Or does biology determine who is the better parent?

If you ask the feminists of the 70s who wanted to be free of restrictive child-rearing and assume an equal station in the workplace and politics, the answer to the first question would be no. Why would feminists give up their biologically superior position of motherhood, in which a mother is the primary caregiver, in favor of a job? What narcissists mother would do that?

And yet, today, if you ask the very self-same feminists who are leading the charge to narrow sole-custody of children in divorce proceedings to a woman based on some “biological advantage” the answer to the second question would be yes.

Upon this, you have the creation of a legally untenable position given to women based on gender. To get around “having your cake and eating it, too,” state family law has created the “imaginary world” of the “primary parent” dictum, which guides family law today, which is just a primary rehashing of “tender years doctrine”, both of which do not have the legal merit whatsover, nor the empirical research to support either.

But if you go back to the Maternal Deprivation nonsense, you quickly find the empirical research that throws this theory back into the area of “junk science” where it belongs. Maternal Deprivation is both empirically wrong and a sexist theory.

The junk science theory and refutation can be found here:
http://www.simplypsychology.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/bowlby.html

“Although Bowlby may not dispute that young children form multiple attachments, he still contends that the attachment to the mother is unique in that it is the first to appear and remains the strongest of all. However, on both of these counts, the evidence seems to suggest otherwise.

* Schaffer & Emerson (1964) noted that specific attachments started at about 8 months and, very shortly thereafter, the infants became attached to other people. By 18 months very few (13%) were attached to only one person; some had five or more attachments.

* Rutter (1981) points out that several indicators of attachment (such as protest or distress when attached person leaves) has been shown for a variety of attachment figures – fathers, siblings, peers and even inanimate objects.

Critics such as Rutter have also accused Bowlby of not distinguishing between deprivation and privation – the complete lack of an attachment bond, rather than its loss. Rutter stresses that the quality of the attachment bond is the most important factor, rather than just deprivation in the critical period.

Another criticism of 44 Thieves Study as that it concluded that affectionless psychopathy was caused by maternal deprivation. This is correlational data and as such only shows a relationship between these two variables. Indeed, other external variables, such as diet, parental income, education etc. may have affected the behaviour of the 44 thieves, and not, as concluded, the disruption of the attachment bond.”

There are implications arising from Bowlby’s work. As he believed the mother to be the most central care giver and that this care should be given on a continuous basis an obvious implication is that mothers should not go out to work. There have been many attacks on this claim:

* Mothers are the exclusive carers in only a very small percentage of human societies; often there are a number of people involved in the care of children, such as relations and friends (Weisner & Gallimore, 1977).

* Ijzendoorn & Tavecchio (1987) argue that a stable network of adults can provide adequate care and that this care may even have advantages over a system where a mother has to meet all a child’s needs.

* There is evidence that children develop better with a mother who is happy in her work, than a mother who is frustrated by staying at home (Schaffer, 1990).

There are many articles relating to this nonsense, and how it has been refuted. The original theory was promulgated by John Bowlby. Bowlby grew up mother-fixated because he did not have a relationship with his father. See why here.

Psychological research includes a shocking history and continuation of maternal deprivation experiments on animals. While maternal deprivation experiments have been conducted far more frequently on rhesus macaques and other monkeys, chimpanzees were not spared as victims of this unnecessary research.
Maternal Deprivation applies to monkeys only.

Custody Relocation: A Negative Effect on Children – In LaMusga

In adoption abuse, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, HIPAA Law, Homeschool, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D, Torts on June 5, 2009 at 4:00 pm

© 2004 National Legal Research Group, Inc.

A custodial parent’s proposed relocation will almost always have a negative impact on the relationship of the noncustodial parent and the children. The California Supreme Court recently clarified the standard to be used in relocation cases in that state, holding that this impact should be considered as a factor in determining whether the custodial parent’s proposed relocation will result in detriment to the children sufficient to warrant a modification of custody.

In In re Marriage of LaMusga, Cal. 4th 12 Cal. Rptr. 3d 356 (2004), after a contentious custody battle, the parties were awarded joint custody of their two children with the mother being awarded primary physical custody. Several years later, the mother again sought to relocate to Ohio with the children. A child custody evaluation was performed that established that the father’s relationship with the children would deteriorate after the relocation and that, based on the mother’s previous behavior, there was no indication that she would be supportive of the father’s continued relationship with the children despite her claims to the contrary. The trial court found that the mother’s proposed relocation was not made in bad faith but concluded that the effect of the move would be detrimental to the welfare of the children because it would hinder frequent and continuing contact between the children and the father. The trial court held that if the mother chose to relocate, primary physical custody of the children would be transferred to the father.

The trial court’s decision was reversed by the California Court of Appeal. The court of appeal held that the trial court had failed to properly consider the mother’s presumptive right as custodial parent to change the residence of the children or the children’s need for continuity and stability in the existing custodial arrangement. 12 Cal. Rptr. 3d at 371. The court of appeal also found that the trial court had “placed undue emphasis on the detriment that would be caused by the children’s relationship with Father if they moved.” Id.

The court of appeal relied on an earlier California Supreme Court decision, In re Marriage of Burgess, 13 Cal. 4th 25, 51 Cal. Rptr. 2d 444 (1996). In Burgess, the Supreme Court of California held that in relocation cases there was no requirement that the custodial parent demonstrate that the proposed relocation was “necessary.” LaMusga, 12 Cal. Rptr. 3d at 367 (quoting Burgess, 51 Cal. Rptr. 2d at 452). Instead, the burden is on the noncustodial parent to prove that a change of circumstances exists warranting a change in the custody arrangement. LaMusga, 12 Cal. Rptr. 3d at 367. The supreme court also held that “paramount needs for continuity and stability in custody arrangements . . . weigh heavily in favor of maintaining ongoing custody arrangements.” Id. at 371 (quoting Burgess, 51 Cal. Rptr. 2d at 449-50).

The supreme court rejected the court of appeal’s position that undue emphasis was placed on the detrimental effect of the proposed relocation on the father’s relationship with the children. The court of appeal concluded that all relocations result in “a significant detriment to the relationship between the child and the noncustodial parent” and, therefore, no custodial parent would ever be permitted to relocate with the children as long as any detriment could be established. Id. at 373. The supreme court accepted the validity of the court of appeal’s position but noted that the court of appeal’s fears were unfounded. The supreme court stated that “a showing that a proposed move will cause detriment to the relationship between the children and the noncustodial parent” will not mandate a change in custody. Id. Instead, a trial court has discretion to order such a change in custody based on the showing of such a detriment if such a change is in the best interests of the child. Id. The supreme court explained its holding as follows:

The likely consequences of a proposed change in the residence of a child, when considered in the light of all the relevant factors, may constitute a change of circumstances that warrants a change in custody, and the detriment to the child’s relationship with the noncustodial parent that will be caused by the proposed move, when considered in light of all the relevant factors, may warrant denying a request to change the child’s residence or changing custody. The extent to which a proposed move will detrimentally impact a child varies greatly depending upon the circumstances. We will generally leave it to the superior court to assess that impact in light of the other relevant factors in determining what is in the best interests of the child.

Id. at 374-75.

The Supreme Court of California in LaMusga has seemingly retreated from its much broader decision in Burgess. In Burgess, the court essentially established a presumption in favor of maintaining a custody arrangement in the interests of a child’s paramount need for continuity and stability. In LaMusga, however, the court stepped away from this presumption and found that the child’s need for continuity and stability was just one factor in determining whether to modify a custody award. The court found that other factors, such as the detrimental effect of the proposed relocation on the relationship between a child and the noncustodial parent, could also control the outcome of a custody case depending on the unique facts of each case. The supreme court’s decision in LaMusga seems to subscribe to the principle that due to the fact-intensive nature of relocation cases a comprehensive review of all possible factors impacting on a child’s best interest will yield the most equitable results.

LA County Puts the “Fix” on Parents Rights

In adoption abuse, Alienation of Affection, Autism, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Christian, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, HIPAA Law, Homeschool, Indians, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Jayne Major, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Orphan Trains, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D, Torts on June 4, 2009 at 7:13 pm

Your rights to retain physical and legal custody of your children during divorce proceeding is compromised by California’s new ex post facto law recently passed by the California Senate. As a matter of fact, in Los Angeles County, it already is.

In California counties divorce proceedings in the past 12 years may have been “fixed” in counties where counties supplemented Judges salaries with benefits above the state mandated salary. (Under California Law, only the state may compensate judges for performance of their work. The California Constitution (Sec. 17, 19, 20) states that Judges may not receive money from other parties than their employer, the State of California, and the Legislature has the sole responsibility for setting compensation and retirement benefits.)

However California, like all 50 states and territories, receive hundreds of Billions of $$ from the federal government to run its state courts and welfare programs, including Social Security Act Title Iv-D, Child Support Iv-E, Foster Care and VAWA prevention and intimidation programs against family law litigants. The federal block grants are then given to the counties applying for the monies.

If counties have been paying judges money above state legislated salaries, then counties have been fixing cases for years by maintaining de facto judicial officers to rule in their favor. How does this affect parent’s rights? The money received in block grants is applied for by the counties based on the divorce and custody proceeding awards. For example, the more sole custody or foster home proceedings existing in the county, the more money the county is qualified to receive.

Both the US Constitution, and the California Constitution. California’s wording is even stronger than the US Constitution. Here are the direct quotes:

United States Constitution, Section 9, Article 3
“No bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed.”

Constitution of the State of California – Article I, Section 9
“A bill of attainder ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts may not be passed.”

The law in question is SBX2 11 which retroactively pardons, just about everyone involved in official activity including judges who received money for benefits from the county.

“The California Constitution requires the Legislature to prescribe compensation for judges of courts of record. Existing law authorizes a county to deem judges and court employees as county employees for purposes of providing employment benefits. These provisions were held unconstitutional as an impermissible delegation of the obligation of the Legislature to prescribe the compensation of judges of courts of record. This bill would provide that judges who received supplemental judicial benefits provided by a county or court, or both, as of July 1, 2008, shall continue to receive supplemental benefits from the county or court then paying the benefits on the same terms and conditions as were in effect on that date.”

The law also goes on to state:

“This bill would provide that no governmental entity, or officer or employee of a governmental entity, shall incur any liability or be subject to prosecution or disciplinary action because of benefits provided to a judge under the official action of a governmental entity prior to the effective date of the bill on the ground that those benefits were not authorized under law.”

Is this why attorney Richard I Fine is in a LA County Jail? For more on his story see:

Attorney Richard Fine files suit against judges http://www.dailynews.com/ci_8113733

Richard Fine, a brave and talented California attorney and United States Department of Justice Attorney http://www.ahrc.se/new/index.php/src/tools/sub/yp/action/display/id/2652

Metropolitan News-Enterprise http://www.metnews.com/articles/2009/stur021809.htm

The Full Disclosure Network: http://www.fulldisclosure.net/Programs/538.php and http://www.fulldisclosure.net/Programs/539.php

JUDICIAL BENEFITS & COURT CORRUPTION (Part 3-4) http://www.fulldisclosure.net/Programs/540.php

FISCAL CRISIS: Illegal Payments Create Law For Judicial Criminal & Liability Immunity: Nominees For U S Supreme Court To Be Impacted? See: http://www.fulldisclosure.net/news/labels/SBX2%2011.html

The Bill as passed by the Senate: http://info.sen.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/sen/sb_0001-0050/sbx2_11_bill_20090214_amended_sen_v98.html

The Primary Parent Presumption: Primarily Meaningless

In adoption abuse, Alienation of Affection, Autism, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, HIPAA Law, Homeschool, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, MMPI, MMPI 2, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Orphan Trains, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D, Torts on June 4, 2009 at 11:00 am

By Dr. Richard A. Warshak, Ph.D.
16970 Dallas Parkway, #202, Dallas, TX 75248

Nineteen ninety-three marked the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of The Feminine Mystique, the book that spearheaded the drive to unlace the cultural straitjacket of rigid sex-role prescriptions. As we expanded the conventional image of women to include roles beyond those of wife, housekeeper, and mother, we encouraged men to think of themselves as more than just husbands and bread-winners. We invited them to become active partners in the delivery room . . . and they accepted. We required their participation in Indian Guides . . . and they complied. We extolled the importance of father-child bonding, trumpeted statistics linking a father’s absence to juvenile delinquency. . . and they listened.

The problem, for some divorcing women, is that their husbands listened too well, and took seriously the call to parenthood. They became emotionally attached to their offspring, and, when the marriage ended, they were unwilling to be demoted to the second string; unwilling to sit on the sidelines of their children’s lives. Although lacking in hard data to prove the point, we have at least the perception that more men are seeking and gaining custody of their children after divorce.

Why is this a problem? Because women do not enjoy living apart from their children any more than do men. Also, most women do not want to relinquish the power that goes with custody. This has led to the ironic situation in which some of the same feminists who, in the early 70s, denounced motherhood as “enslavement” now lead a campaign to protect motherhood from divorced fathers who want more involvement with their children. But they face a crucial dilemma: They need to resurrect the belief that women are uniquely suited to rear children and therefore the natural choice for sole custody without appearing to endorse the notions that biology is destiny and that the sexes merit unequal treatment before the law.

The solution to this dilemma is the linguistic sleight of hand known as the “primary parent presumption.” This guideline would give preference to the parent who is designated “primary” in the child’s life, variously defined as the parent who spends the most time with the child, is more responsible for the child’s day-to-day care, or performs more of the daily repetitive maintenance tasks such as chauffeuring, shopping for clothes, preparing meals, and bathing. Although touted as a gender-neutral standard, everyone agrees that the primary parent presumption would give mothers the same advantage that they enjoyed with the tender years presumption. In fact, law professor Mary Becker advocates dropping the pretense of gender-neutrality and renaming the primary parent presumption the “maternal deference standard.”

Briefly, the argument goes that since women are more involved in primary caregiving, they deserve custody.
Fathers’-rights advocates respond that it is unfair to penalize men for reduced involvement with their children, since they are only fulfilling society’s notions of the man’s role as the family’s breadwinner. Neither side’s arguments are compelling. Both are blinded by the pre-19th century premise that children are property to be “awarded” to the rightful owner. Both sides miss the point that a custody decision should be guided by the needs of the child not the parents’ sense of entitlement.

Some of my colleagues offer arguments in support of the primary parent presumption. They point out that a
woman who has been most involved in her children’s daily care already possesses the requisite skills. She has less to learn than the father and, by virtue of her experience, is probably more competent to assume the duties of sole custody. Also, because the primary parent standard appears less ambiguous than the best interests standard, parents would be less likely to litigate over custody — a distinct advantage to the family. But that may be its only advantage. Under critical appraisal, this proposal suffers many serious drawbacks.

Unless we regard custody as a reward for past deeds, the decision about the children’s living arrangements should reflect a judgment about what situation will best meet their needs now and in the future. Differences in past performance are relevant only if they predict future parental competence and child adjustment. But they do not.

The primary parent presumption overlooks the fact that being a single parent is a very different challenge than being one of two parents in the same home. A consensus of research reveals a predictable deterioration in the single mother’s relationship with her children. After divorce, the average mother has less time and energy for her children and more problems managing their behavior, particularly that of her sons. Research has also demonstrated that despite mother’s greater experience in daily child care, fathers who would not be considered primary caretakers during the marriage are as capable as divorced mothers in managing the responsibilities of custody.

And, most important, their children fare as well as children do in mother-custody homes.

A more basic problem with the proposed standard: How do we determine who is the primary parent? Before divorce parents think of themselves as partners in rearing their children. Whether or not they spend equal time with the children, both parents are important, and mountains of psychological research support this.

Before divorce, we do not rank order parents. Only in the heat of a custody battle do Mom and Dad begin vying for the designation “primary parent.”

On what basis do we award this coveted title? We cannot simply measure the amount of time each parent
spends with the child. Research has established that, beyond a certain minimum, the amount of time a parent spends with a child is a poor index of that parent’s importance to the child, of the quality of their
relationship, or of the parent’s competence in childrearing.
In fact, we all know of parents who are too involved with their children, so-called “smothering” parents who squelch any signs of independence.

If more extensive contact does not make a primary parent, what does? Most definitions provide a list of responsibilities: The primary parent shops for food and clothes, prepares meals, changes diapers, bathes and dresses the child, takes the child to the doctor, and drives the child to school and recreational activities. Such criteria, though, ignore the overriding importance of the quality of parent-child relationships.

Furthermore, critics have argued that this list reflects gender bias. Shopping for food and clothes is included, but not earning the money which funds the shopping trips. Also conspicuously absent are responsibilities typically shared by fathers and in which fathers often predominate, activities such as playing, discipline, moral guidance, encouragement and assistance with school work, gender socialization, coaching team sports, and — something whose significance to children is often overlooked — providing a sense of physical protection and security.

Is the primary caretaker the one who does the most to foster the child’s sense of emotional security, the person to whom the child turns in times of stress — the role we most often associate with mothers? Or is it the parent who does the most to promote the child’s ability to meet the demands of the world outside the family — the role we most often associate with fathers? We really have no basis for preferring one contribution over the other. Both are necessary for healthy psychological functioning.

We can say that both parents contribute distinctively to their child’s welfare. And during different
developmental stages a child may relate better to one parent than the other, or rely on one parent more than
the other. But most children form strong attachments to both parents in the first year of life and maintain important ties to both parents throughout their lives. By rank ordering the importance of parents, we dismiss children’s own experiences of their parents’ value, reinforce gender stereotypes, and perhaps discourage fathers from assuming more parenting responsibilities.

In sum, the primary parent presumption is misinformed, misguided, misleading, and primarily meaningless.

Copyright © 1996 by Richard A. Warshak, Ph.D.
16970 Dallas Parkway, #202, Dallas, TX 75248 Dr. Richard A. Warshak is a clinical, research, and
consulting psychologist, clinical professor of psychology at the University of Texas Southwestern
Medical Center at Dallas, and author of The Custody Revolution and Divorce Poison: Protecting the
Parent-Child Bond From a Vindictive Ex. He has published extensively in the area of divorce and
custody and consults with attorneys, mental health professionals, and families. Additional custody
resources, including material on relocation, overnight access, and parental alienation syndrome,
can be found at http://www.warshak.com.

[A version of this essay was published as Chapter 28 (pages 101-103) in 101+ Practical Solutions for the
Family Lawyer, Gregg M. Herman, Editor, American Bar Association (1996).]

The original article can be found here.

Parental Rights – Analysis by Article of the UNCRC – Part 9 of 9

In adoption abuse, Alienation of Affection, Autism, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Christian, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, HIPAA Law, Homeschool, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Jayne Major, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, MMPI, MMPI 2, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Obama, Orphan Trains, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D, Torts on June 4, 2009 at 12:30 am

Last year the Parental Rights.org group analyzed article by article the impact of ratification of the
United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child (UNCRC) would have on Parental Rights and Children’s Rights in the United States.

Here is that continuing analysis:

Giving the State a Grasp on Your Kids

Part II of an in-depth look at Article 18 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

When Kevin and Peggy Lewis volunteered their child for special education services, they never dreamed they would need a lawyer if they wanted to change their minds. After their son developed several learning issues, including an inability to focus in class and difficulty processing and understanding oral and written communication, the Lewis’s turned to the Cohasset Middle School in Massachusetts for help.1 But after a year in the school’s special education program, their son was not improving academically, and felt harassed by school officials who were closely monitoring and reporting on his behavior – everything from chewing gum in class to forgetting his pencil.2

Initially, the Lewis’s requested that the school pay for private tutoring, but as their relationship with the administration continued to decline, the exasperated parents finally decided to withdraw their son from the school’s program and to pay for private tutoring out of their own pockets.3

Apparently, that option wasn’t good enough for the school.

In December 2007, Cohasset hauled Kevin and Peggy into court, claiming that the parents were interfering with their son’s “constitutional right to a free and appropriate education.”4

After a day-and-a-half of argument, the judge sided with the school in an unwritten opinion.5

“This is truly devastating to all parents who have children on an IEP,” Peggy said, referring to the individual education plans for special education students. “What it means in fact when you sign an IEP for your child, you sign away your parental rights. . . . Now Cohasset has their grasp on my kid.”6

“Help” for Parents

At first glance, it seems odd that a school would take parents to court to compel them to accept state services. After all, as observers of the case commented, schools usually objects when parents demand more aid for their children, not when the parents try to withdraw their child from the program.7

But according to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, once parents have asked the state for assistance in raising their children, the state has both the responsibility and the authority to see the job through – even if the parents no longer support the state’s solution.

In addition to imposing legally-enforceable “responsibilities” on parents, Article 18 of the Convention also requires states to “render appropriate assistance to parents and legal guardians in the performance of their child-rearing responsibilities,” and to establish “institutions, facilities and services for the care of children.”8

At first glance, the offer of “assistance” to parents may appear harmless, and even generous, but appearances are often deceiving. While the government may claim to offer services to parents on a purely “voluntary” basis, parents soon discover that government “assistance” isn’t always free.

When “voluntary” doesn’t mean “voluntary”

For examples of this dangerous trend, one need look no further than the nation of Sweden, the first western nation to ratify the Convention.

In addition to mandatory sex-education, free child care for working parents, and a national ban on corporal punishment, Sweden’s local municipalities are also required by law to offer parents a broad array of “voluntary” services that promote “the favourable development of children and young persons.”9 Unfortunately, according to Swedish attorney and activist Ruby Harrold-Claesson, voluntary care “in no way is voluntary since the social workers threaten the parents to either give up their child voluntarily or the child will be taken into compulsory care.”10

If the state determines at a later date that the “voluntary” services are not helping, the municipality has both the responsibility and the authority to physically “take a child into care and place him in a foster home, a children’s home or another suitable institution.”11 According to Harrold-Claesson, since the emergence of such programs, “children are being taken from their parents on a more routine basis.”12

Unfortunately, these disturbing trends are not confined to Sweden. Even here in the United States, “voluntary” services for parents are often the first step toward state control of families.

Holding Children Hostage

As a young mother of three, “Katianne H.” faced tremendous difficulties in making ends meet.13 Although she was never unemployed, Katianne had difficulty putting her job ahead of the needs of her young family. So when her three-month-old son Xavier developed severe allergies to milk and soy protein, her pediatrician recommended that she relieve some of the pressure placed upon her by requesting that her son be placed in “temporary out-of-home care.”14 Thinking such a placement was truly “voluntary,” Katianne agreed.

Within a few months, Xavier was weaned from the feeding tube to a bottle, but when Katianne sought to bring him home, the state refused. It would take more than two-and-a-half years – and a decision from the Nebraska Supreme Court – before Katianne would win her baby boy back. 15

In a unanimous ruling, the court said the child should have been returned to his mother as soon as his medical condition was resolved. Instead, state authorities drew up a detailed plan requiring the mother to maintain steady employment, attend therapy and parenting classes, pay her bills on time, keep her house clean, improve her time management, and be cooperative with social workers. When she failed to fully comply with all these obligations within fifteen months, her parental rights were terminated.16

The Court condemned the state for keeping Xavier “out of the home once the reasons for his removal had been resolved,” and warned that a child should never be “held hostage to compel a parent’s compliance with a case plan” when the child could safely be returned home.17

A familiar pattern

According to studies, scholars, lawyers, and advocates, voluntary placement in the United States – like “voluntary” placement in Sweden – is often the first step toward the state getting a grasp on children. Here are just a few examples from within our own borders:

· A 1994 study in New Jersey found that “parents often report signing placement agreements under the threat that court action against them will be taken if they do not sign,” particularly parents who have “language or other barriers making it difficult or impossible for them to read and understand the agreement they were signing.”18 There are also no “clear legal standards to protect a family once it has entered the system,” even if it enters voluntarily: “existing legislation grants judges and caseworkers virtually unrestricted dispositional authority.”19

· In 1998, Melville D. Miller, President and General Counsel of Legal Services of New Jersey, warned that when parents sign voluntary placement agreements, parents give the state “custody of their children without any decision by the court that they have abused or neglected them.”20 In addition, voluntary placement often waives a family’s opportunity for free legal representation in court, leaving families – particularly poor families – with “no assistance in advocating for what they need” when disputes with the state arise.21

· In 1999, Dr. Frank J. Dyer, author and member of the American Board of Professional Psychology, warned that parents can be “intimidated into “voluntarily” signing placement agreements out of a fear that they will lose their children,” and that in his professional counseling experience, birth parents frequently complain that “if they had known from the outset that the document that they were signing for temporary placement of their children into foster care gave the state such enormous power over them, they would have refused to sign and would have sought to resist the placement legally.”22

· The Child Welfare League of America, in its 2004 Family’s Guide to the Child Welfare System, reassures parents that the state “do[es] not have to pursue termination of parental rights,” as long as the state feels that “there is a compelling reason why terminating parental rights would not be in the best interest of the child.”23 If parents and social workers disagree about the fate of a child in “voluntary placement,” the CWLA simply states that “if you decide to bring your child home, and the agency believes that this would interfere with your child’s safety, it has the right to ask the court to intervene. You also have the right to explain to the court why your child’s safety would not be in jeopardy if he came home.”24

· The National Crittenton Foundation, in a web booklet published for young, expectant mothers who are currently in the foster care system, warns in large, bold print that by signing a voluntary placement agreement, “you will most likely lose all custody of your baby, even if you want to regain custody of your baby after you turn 18.”25

Never Too Late

If one can learn anything from the stories of the Lewises, Katianne, and the plight of Swedish parents, it is that the government wields incredible power over parents who have “voluntarily” accepted its aid when caring for their children. These parents are often poor, struggling, and searching for the means to keep their families together, but instead of helping them, the open hand of the state can easily become a clenched fist, either bullying parents into submission or forcibly taking their children from them.

Thankfully, it is not too late to protect children and their families by protecting the fundamental right of parents to raise their children, and to reject government programs that are unneeded or unwanted. The state should only interfere with the family for the most compelling reasons – not because loving parents were misled about the true nature of “voluntary” care.

Please consider sending this message to your friends and urging them to sign the Petition to Protect Parental Rights.

This article was written for ParentalRights.org by Peter Kamakawiwoole, Jan. 29, 2009.

Notes

1. James Vazniz, “Cohasset schools win case v. parents,” The Boston Herald (December 15, 2007) (accessed January 28, 2009).
2. James Vazniz, “Parents want son out of special ed,” The Boston Herald (December 13, 2007) (accessed January 28, 2009).

3. Vazniz, “Cohasset schools win case v. parents.”

4. Vazniz, “Parents want son out of special ed.”

5. Vazniz, “Cohasset schools win case v. parents.”

6. Vazniz, “Cohasset schools win case v. parents.”

7. Vazniz, “Cohasset schools win case v. parents.”

8. UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 18.2.

9. Ruby Harrold-Claesson, “Confiscating Children: When Parents Become Victims,” The Nordic Committee on Human Rights (2005) (accessed January 17, 2009)

10. Harrold-Claesson, “Confiscating Children: When Parents Become Victims”

11. Harrold-Claesson, “Confiscating Children: When Parents Become Victims”

12. Harrold-Claesson, “Confiscating Children: When Parents Become Victims”

13. “Katianne” is the name given to the mother by the Nebraska Supreme Court, which decided her case in In Re Xavier H., 740 N.W.2d 13 (Neb. 2007).

14. In re Xavier H., 740 N.W.2d at 21.

15. “Nebraska Supreme Court returns boy to mother,” Omaha World Herald (October 19, 2007) (accessed January 29, 2009).

16. “Nebraska Supreme Court returns boy to mother.”

17. In re Xavier H., 740 N.W.2d at 26.

18. Emerich Thoma, “If you lived here, you’d be home now: The business of foster care,” Issues in Child Abuse Accusations, Vol. 10 (1998) (accessed January 27, 2009).

19. Thoma, “If you lived here, you’d be home now.”

20. Melville D. Miller, “You and the Law in New Jersey ” (Rutgers University Press, 1998): 200.

21. Miller, You and the Law in New Jersey,” 200.

22. Frank J. Dyer, “Psychological Consultation in Parental Rights Cases” (The Guilford Press, 1999): 26.

23. Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), “Placements to Obtain Treatment and Services for Children,” A Family’s Guide to the Child Welfare System (2004): 5 (accessed January 27, 2009).

24. CWLA, “Placements to Obtain Treatment and Services for Children,” p. 5.

25. The National Crittenton Foundation, “Crittenton Booklet for Web,” pp. 11-12. (accessed January 28, 2009)