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Archive for the ‘Title Iv-D’ Category

The Mysterious Marriage Advantage – Politically Correct Scientists Try to Explain Away

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, 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, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Orphan Trains, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D on June 2, 2009 at 2:33 pm

Children living with married parents do better than children living with single or cohabiting parents. Virtually all sociologists acknowledge this simple truth. However, under the ubiquitous campus pressures to be politically correct, many social scientists try very hard to explain away this marital advantage as an artifact of socioeconomic characteristics other than marital status per se.

Both the advantage children experience by living with married parents and the urge progressive scholars feel to explain away that advantage are on full display in a study of children’s economic well-being recently published in the Journal of Marriage and Family by sociologists at Bowling Green State University.

Scrutinizing nationally representative data collected in 1999 from 42,000 households, the Bowling Green researchers outline a familiar and predictable pattern of marital advantage: Children living with married biological parents enjoy a decided economic advantage over those living with cohabiting biological parents, with single mothers, with married-couple stepfamilies, and with cohabiting stepfamilies. The official poverty level for children living with married biological parents runs less than 8%, compared with 23% for children living with cohabiting biological parents, 43% for those living with single mothers, 10% for those living with married stepfamilies, and 19% for those living with cohabiting stepfamilies. A similar pattern emerges in data for food and housing insecurity.

By using multivariable statistical analyses, the authors of the new study establish that for their overall sample “child and parent characteristics account for at least 70% of the difference in the well-being of children living in married and cohabiting two biological parent families.” The researchers consequently use such analyses to assert that “the benefits of marriage may be a result of parents’ education and race and ethnic group rather than marriage per se.” This assertion no doubt serves the authors’ ideological interests, since the political correctness of the modern university militates against belief in the social benefits of “marriage per se.”

But the data compel the authors to admit that “marriage per se” apparently confers some benefits that even multivariable analyses cannot account for. For instance, when looking at the data for black children, the authors concede that “the marital status gap in housing insecurity is not explained by the covariates in the [statistical] model.” Similarly, in multivariable analyses of the data of white children, the researchers find that “the marital advantage persists when considering a reduction in food and housing security.” Such findings force the researchers to concede that “among white children, there sometimes is a marriage advantage that cannot be accounted for by their parents’ socioeconomic characteristics.” For politically correct academics, such concessions can be quite painful.

(Source: Wendy D. Manning and Susan Brown, “Children’s Economic Well-Being in Married and Cohabiting Parent Families,” Journal of Marriage and Family 68 [2006]: 345-362.)

The original article can be found here: http://www.profam.org/pub/nr/nr.2103.htm#The_Mysterious_Marriage_Advantage

Parental Rights – Analysis by Article of the UNCRC – Part 8 of 9

In adoption abuse, Autism, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, 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, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D on June 1, 2009 at 2:27 pm

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:

Article 18, Part 1: Government-Supervised Parenting

During our series on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, most of the articles we have considered have focused on the relationship between the state and the child. Article 18 is therefore unique in its emphasis on the responsibilities of parents, and the supervised relationship that these parents have with the state.

Article 18 is also one of the more complex articles in the Convention, divided into three sections that address distinct facets of the relationship between parents and the state. This week, we will focus on the first section, which says that “States Parties shall use their best efforts to ensure recognition of the principle that both parents have common responsibilities for the upbringing and development of the child,” and that parents are primarily responsible for their children. As parents, “the best interests of the child will be their basic concern.”

The danger of Article 18 is that it places an enforceable responsibility upon parents to make child-rearing decisions based on the “best interests of the child,” subjecting parental decisions to second-guessing at the discretion of government agents.

Obligations on Parents?

Article 18 stands out because it affects not only the relationship between the UN and the nation that ratifies the Convention, but also the relationship between private individuals and their government: a relationship that is usually changed through legislation at a local level. In fact, the UN’s Implementation Handbook for the CRC explains that “when article 18 was being drafted, the delegate from the United States of America commented that it was rather strange to set down responsibilities for private individuals, since the Convention could only be binding on ratifying governments.”

But instead of paying heed to this objection, the drafters of the CRC rejected it, making the Convention enforceable against private individuals and requiring that “parental rights be translated into principles of parental responsibilities.” The Handbook itself notes that if the actions of parents could be shown to impair the child’s physical, psychological, or intellectual development, “the parents” – not the state – “can be found to be failing in their responsibilities.” (emphasis added).

The end result is parental involvement under state supervision. According to Chris Revaz, Article 18 “recognizes that parents and legal guardians have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of the child, with the best interest of the child as their basic concern,” but also invests in the state “a secondary responsibility to provide appropriate assistance to parents and legal guardians in meeting their responsibilities.” Roger Levesque opines that such supervision attempts to “regulate the relationship between child and state,” essentially relegating the role of parental and familial involvement to a position of “secondary importance.”

Enforcing the “Best Interest” Standard

As a previous article in our series has already discussed, the “best interests of the child” is a significant theme in the Convention, providing “decision and policy makers with the authority to substitute their own decisions for either the child’s or the parents’.”

The inevitable result, according to Levesque, is that “by placing the burden on the State to take affirmative steps toward ensuring the fulfillment of children’s rights, the Convention assumes responsibility and invokes the State as the ensurer and protector of rights.” This point is echoed by Law Professor Bruce Hafen, who warns that the Convention’s emphasis on the “best interests of the child” creates “an arguably new standard for state intervention in intact families.” According to Hafen, legal authors in Australia have already suggested that “under the CRC, parental childrearing rights are ’subject to external scrutiny’ and ‘may be overridden’ when ‘the parents are not acting in the best interests of the child.’”

Hafen warns that this conclusion – though in opposite to America’s cultural and legal heritage – is “consistent with the CRC’s apparent intent to place children and parents on the same plane as co-autonomous persons in their relationship with the state.” This is a far cry from America’s legal heritage, which has long held that parents have a fundamental right to oversee the upbringing and education of their children, free from government control. Article 18 makes it plain, however, that under the Convention, it is the state that is ultimately responsible for the fate of its children, and has authority to supervise its parents.

Article written for ParentalRights.org by Peter Kamakawiwoole, June 24, 2008.

Sources

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/k2crc.htm

Cris Revaz, “An Introduction to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child,” in The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child: An Analysis of Treaty Provisions and Implications on U.S. Ratification (2006): 10-11.

Roger Levesque, International Children’s Rights Grow Up: Implications for American Jurisprudence and Domestic Policy (1994): 214.

Bruce and Jonathan Hafen, Abandoning Children to their Autonomy (1996): 461-462, 464.

United Nations Children’s Fund, Impl

The Constitutionality of Child Support Guidelines

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, children legal status, children's behaviour, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, judicial corruption, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D on May 31, 2009 at 9:00 pm

© 2003 National Legal Research Group, Inc.

This article updates a previous article dealing with the same subject. Laura W. Morgan, The Constitutionality of Child Support Guidelines, 14 Divorce Litigation 117 (2002).

I. New Decisions

On April 29, 2003, the Supreme Court of Georgia decided Georgia Department of Human Resources v. Sweat, 2003 WL 1960012 (Ga. 2003). This case reviewed a trial court’s decision declaring the Georgia child support guidelines unconstitutional as a violation of the guarantees of due process, equal protection, and privacy, and as an unconstitutional taking of property. The Georgia Supreme Court concluded that the trial court employed “incorrect constitutional standards” and “unsound constitutional analyses,” and reversed.

The Georgia Supreme Court first concluded that the guidelines do not violate the Georgia and United States Constitutions’ guarantees of due process for two reasons. First, the statute need only meet the rational basis test, i.e., it is reasonably related to the public health, safety, or general welfare, and not a more exacting constitutional standard, because the statute does not infringe on a fundamental right and the complaining party is not a member of a suspect class. The trial court thus erred by applying an intermediate scrutiny analysis. Second, the statute meets the rational basis test as it furthers the important and reasonable objective of ensuring adequate support for Georgia’s children whose parents have divorced. The distinction between custodial and non-custodial parents is required to ensure that each parent contributes his or her fair share.

The court next concluded that the guidelines do not violate the Georgia and United States Constitutions’ guarantee of equal protection. Again, because no fundamental right or suspect class is involved, the statute need only meet the rational basis test. Custodial and non-custodial parents are not, by definition, similarly situated, and it is not true that only non-custodial parents are affected by support orders. The guidelines thus draw permissible distinctions without discriminating.

The court further concluded that the guidelines do not violate the constitutional right of privacy. The state has a sufficient interest in ensuring adequate support for its children, and child support has never been a private function.

Finally, the guidelines do not effect an illegal taking. The guidelines are not a governmental taking of money for a public purpose, but are an effort to ensure payment of support from one parent to another.

On May 2, 2003, the Tennessee Supreme Court decided Gallaher v. Elam, 2003 WL 2010731 (Tenn. 2003). This decision reviewed a Tennessee Court of Appeals’ decision that held that Tennessee Child Support Guidelines ch. 1240-2-4-.03(4) violated the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Tennessee and United States Constitutions. This provision of the guidelines states: “Children of the obligor who are not included in a decree of child support shall not be considered for the purposes of reducing the obligor’s net income or in calculating the guideline amount. In addition, these children should not be considered by the court as a reason for deviation unless they meet the requirements of rule 1240-2-4-.04(4).” The court of appeals also held that Tennessee’s guidelines, by taking into consideration only the obligor’s income, also violated equal protection and due process.

The Tennessee Supreme Court began its analysis with the appropriate level of constitutional scrutiny and concluded that the guidelines need only meet the rational basis test. The lower court thus erred by applying heightened scrutiny.

Next, the court stated that the guidelines treat obligors who have children for whom there are no orders of support differently from obligors who have children subject to court-ordered support. This distinction meets the rational basis test because children who are subject to court orders and those who are not enjoy different benefits from the obligor.

The court then held that the state’s formula for computing child support, which is based solely on a percentage of the obligor’s income, does not result in any constitutional violation per se. This is because the guidelines presume (and it is true) that the obligee will be expending at least an equal percentage of net income as that of the obligor for the support of the children for whom support is sought. Moreover, the guidelines permit a deviation from the amount calculated if the presumptions underlying the guidelines are not present in the particular case. Thus, a parent can present evidence to the court regarding his or her case that will result in the fairest possible award.

Finally, the court concluded that there was no violation of separation of powers for the Department of Human Services to enact child support guidelines. The Department was clearly carrying out the legislature’s intent embodied in Tenn. Code Ann. 71-1-132(a)(1), which directed the Department to enact guidelines consistent with the federal mandate at 45 C.F.R. 302.56. The delegation of power was thus constitutional.

II. Analysis

The law is clear that child support guidelines need only meet the rational basis test in order to pass constitutional scrutiny. In case after case, the courts have held that child support guidelines must meet this test. Yet, non-custodial parents continue to press in state after state the same arguments: that child support guidelines violate due process, equal protection, the right of privacy, the separation of powers, First Amendment rights, etc. Why?

There is a persistent view that child support guidelines treat non-custodial parents unfairly, that the amount they pay is simply too much. This view persists even though study after study has shown that (a) non-custodial parents’ standard of living goes up after divorce, while custodial parents’ standard of living goes down; and (b) child support does not reach even the basic levels of expenditures on children in intact families as determined by the United States Department of Agriculture.

One reason for this persistent view may be the percentage of income model itself. Both of these recent challenges came from states, Georgia and Tennessee, that use the percentage of income model. Although this model presumes that the custodial parent is contributing to the support of the child(ren) in the same percentage as the non-custodial parent, this presumption is not as explicit in the method of calculating support as it is in income shares model states. Where the perception of fairness is as important as fairness itself, it may be a good idea for percentage of income model states to switch to the income shares model.

Another reason may be non-custodial parents’ frustration with an inability to obtain custody/visitation in an amount they desire. When a parent does not see a child as much as he or she wishes, that parent is less likely to pay support or view support as fair.

There should be no battle on this topic. All parents should agree that children are entitled to a “fair” amount of support, and all parents should agree that both parents, in the absence of domestic violence or other vitiating factors, should have as much access to the child as is in the best interests of the child. Fairness can be ensured by a child support guideline model that takes into consideration as many factors as possible, including both parents’ incomes, and access to the child should be a priority with the courts. If both these goals are realized, the constitutional challenges will diminish.

The Macabre Dance of Family Law Court, Abnormal Psychology, and Parental Alienation Syndrome – Summary

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Child Support, child trafficking, 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, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Jayne Major, judicial corruption, Liberty, MMPI, MMPI 2, motherlessness, mothers rights, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D, Torts on May 31, 2009 at 5:15 pm

by Jayne A. Major, Ph.D. http://www.breakthroughparentingservices.org/index.htm
Copyright 2009: Jayne Major. All rights reserved.

Dr. Major attended the latests Symposium For Parental Alienation Syndrome during March 27-29, 2009 in Toronto, Canada and gave this speech reprinted here:

“Our litigation system is too costly, too painful, too destructive,
and too inefficient for civilized people.”
~ Justice Warren Burger

If we accept that Family Law courts have a moral imperative to seek truth and to do as little harm as
possible, our Family Court system is failing miserably. Too often what prevails in court is not the truth, but the illusion of truth. The current litigation system is not capable of protecting children from the horrendous damage inflicted by those parents who are disturbed. Children lose critical thinking ability, incur the devastating loss of one-half of their heritage and a lifetime doomed for failed social relationships and
psychiatric disorders.

Few lawyers, judges, nor laypersons are able to recognize seriously disturbed people who look and often act
“normal.” Yet, their numbers are large and the damage they do to other parents, their children, and society is
staggering. Sociopaths are cruel—without moral conscience, empathy, sympathy, or compassion. Their purpose is to win by domination. Harvard psychologist Martha Stout, in her book The Sociopath Next Door, states that one in twenty-five people is a sociopath. Furthermore, there is an estimated 20% of the general population with personality disorders. Those individuals who are the most dangerous are described in the DSM IV, Axis II Cluster B. The descriptive labels of these disorders are borderline, narcissistic, histrionic, and anti-social.

We can assume that a much higher percentage of these disturbed people can be found in Family Law courts
because they are unable to compromise or to work out family solutions without conflict. They lack insight, are unable to realize how they contribute to the problem, want their way, blame others, can’t self-correct, have difficulty forming trusting relationships, are unreasonable and demanding, create upset and distress with people around them, and justify inappropriate behavior. They have a “my way or the highway” mindset. Their behavior is not episodic but a pervasive character flaw that has always been present.

Therapy is of little help to these individuals, as their disorder is not fixable. The reason is that you can’t have a conversation about a problem when the problem is answering the question. Thus, the cure-all of sending such people to therapy is of little value. In fact, because sociopaths have no moral conscience, therapy gives them the language and skills to manipulate others more effectively; it helps them become better at being sociopaths. And they often get the upper hand in court by diverting attention off of themselves and onto the targeted parent by making numerous false allegations.

Often judges order a psychological evaluation to help them decide what would be the best orders for a
family. The evaluation is intended to curb the dysfunctional parent from doing more damage; however, this
is often not the outcome. When only one professional evaluates a family, the chance for error is high.
Personal bias is one problem.

Psychologists are not immune to being unduly influenced by a cunning and persuasive sociopath. Another problem is a policy followed by most evaluators to routinely offer a middleof-the-road recommendation rather than address the psychiatric problems directly. A third problem is that evaluators are unwilling to use labels that would identify these disorders. While there are many valid reasons to not label people, the end result is that the psychologists’ report does not provide a clear and accurate picture of the underlying dynamics of the family and causes of the dysfunction.

Imagine a parent who has to deal with the other parent’s crazy-making behavior day in and day out as they watch his or her child deteriorate under the disturbed parent’s care. They do not understand why the alienating person is so difficult and irrational. Most of all, the targeted parent wants to know what they can do to make the situation better. Without clarity, truth is hard to distinguish. The unfortunate outcome of too many psychological evaluations is that hard decisions to protect a child are not made early, which necessitates more litigation and future evaluations… in the mean time, more damage is done.

Furthermore, in litigation, lawyers are supposed to advocate for their clients, not for their clients’ children or
the well-being of the family. It is very easy for a lawyer to manipulate situations to make the healthier parent
look disturbed and their own disturbed client appear superior. For those lawyers who hold litigation as a
sport of winning and losing combatants, the principle of “the best interest of the child” is used as a slogan to
justify what is not in a child’s best interest. The result is often disastrous. The parent who will do the most damage to a child ends up with substantial legal and physical custody. In terms of preserving the mental health of all concerned, litigation of these cases causes profound and permanent damage, a loss of family assets, and untold suffering. The dance between Family Law courts and those who are psychologically abnormal is macabre indeed.

Do we really want to continue to let mentally unstable people get the upper hand and create mayhem? We are the professionals, the leaders, the creative thinkers who have the responsibility to implement a better way of handling family reorganization. The destruction of our families, our children, our wealth, has a horrific ripple effect into all of society.

Following is a paradigm that will not only stop parental alienation syndrome but preserve the well-being of
all members of separating families. The plan relies on mediation, education, and prompt legal intervention.
Highly trained professionals who understand family systems and are able to recognize mentally disturbed
parents work as a team. Families are tracked by a Case Manager.

A 6-week Divorce Education course provides a foundation of knowledge that creates understanding and enhances positive adjustment in the reorganizing family. Financial issues are worked out by professionals who also educate parents about how to manage their money. Parents pay for the services they receive according to their ability to pay. Most of all, parents always have a place to go when they see that the family plan is not working. The cost of this method of resolving family dissolution is minimal compared to the cost of maintaining an elaborate Family Law court system. High-conflict disputes are minimized or eliminated. The result of using this method would have a healthy impact on society as we would not be passing on from one generation to the next abusive practices that carry mental instability to the next generation.

To read more of the article see: http://www.breakthroughparentingservices.org/3-09_Summary_of_Presentation.pdf

Best Interests of the Child

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, 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, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Freedom, Homeschool, Indians, 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 Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D on May 30, 2009 at 3:00 pm

“The best interests of the child,” a venerable phrase familiar from divorce proceedings, is a proper and feasible criterion for making the decision as to which of two parents will be accorded custody. But it is not traditionally the sole criterion-much less the sole constitutional criterion-for other, less narrowly channeled judgments involving children, where their interests conflict in varying degrees with the interests of others.

“The best interests of the child” is not the legal standard that governs parents’ or guardians’ exercise of their custody: So long as certain minimum requirements of child care are met, the interests of the child may be subordinated to the interests of other children, or indeed even to the interests of the parents or guardians themselves.
– Reno v. Flores, 507 U.S. 292 (1993) – United States Supreme Court

It is time we remove this nonsense from state legislatures and codify parental rights and do away with “best interest of the child” in the same way, “tender year’s doctrine” was done away. It is time to make a stand on civil rights of parents and children.

Parental Rights – Analysis by Article of the UNCRC – Part 6 of 9

In adoption abuse, Autism, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, 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, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D on May 30, 2009 at 5:00 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:

Article 14: Religion Is Child Abuse?

This week, we continue our series on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child with Article 14, which says that the government shall “respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion,” and shall also “respect the rights and duties of the parents and, when applicable, legal guardians, to provide direction to the child in the exercise of his or her right in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child.”

Proponents of the CRC, such as law professor Jonathan Todres, has commented that Article 14 “provides for the role of parents in teaching religion to their children, while ensuring that the government does not impose restrictions on any child’s right to freedom of religion.” Nevertheless, a deeper understanding of this provision reveals that the purportedly “pro-parent” language is really another avenue for government power, not a shield to protect parental rights.

How much “direction” is too much direction?

On its face, this article may seem to support the role of parents, but such a position is merely wishful thinking. The Convention merely recognizes the parents’ primary role to “provide direction” to the child, and there is considerable disagreement on what this “direction” should entail. For example, according to Faulkner University law professor John Garman, Article 14 is one of the few clauses in the CRC that “actually brings the parents into play to ‘provide direction to the child.’”

But another CRC proponent, law professor Cynthia Price Cohen, disagrees. According to Cohen, one of the earliest drafts of Article 14 included “two paragraphs that protected the right of parents to guide the exercise of this right and to ‘respect the liberty of the child and his parents’ with regard to the child’s religious education.” When the final text was adopted, however, all language protecting the rights of parents to “ensure the religious and moral education of the child” was omitted. This omission makes no sense if the purpose of Article 14 was to protect the rights of parents to instruct their children.

Religious “indoctrination” as abuse?

The danger to parents is compounded by a growing movement among American and international academics to prevent parents from “indoctrinating” their children with religious beliefs. For example, British scientist and bestselling author Richard Dawkins recently described religious “indoctrination” of young children as a form of child abuse. “Odious as the physical abuse of children by priests undoubtedly is,” Dawkins writes, “I suspect that it may do them less lasting damage than the mental abuse of bringing them up Catholic in the first place.”

Dawkins is not alone in his analysis. In 1998, bestselling author and professor of psychology Nicholas Humphrey, teaching at New York University at the time, argued for “censorship” of parents, who have “no right to limit the horizons of their children’s knowledge, to bring them up in an atmosphere of dogma and superstition, or to insist they follow the straight and narrow paths of their own faith.”

Both authors advocate an outside solution to “protect” children from indoctrination: intervention by the government. In The God Delusion, Dawkins quotes from Humphrey, who writes that “children have a right not to have their minds addled by nonsense, and we as a society have a duty to protect them from it.” Humphrey bluntly adds that “parents’ rights have no status in ethics and should have none in law” – parenting is a “privilege” that operates within parameters set by society to protect the child’s “fundamental rights to self determination.” If parents step beyond these boundaries by indoctrinating their children, “the contract lapses – and it is then the duty of those who granted the privilege to intervene.” (emphasis added)

Some have called for international talks on whether children should be involved in religion. Innaiah Narisetti of the Center for Inquiry (a U.N. NGO) said, “The time has come to debate the participation of children in religious institutions,” continues Narisetti. “While some might see it as a matter better left to parents, the negative influence of religion and its subsequent contribution to child abuse from religious beliefs and practices requires us to ask whether organized religion is an institution that needs limits set on how early it should have access to children.” Narisetti also said that “The UN must then take a clear stand on the issue of the forced involvement of children in religious practices; it must speak up for the rights of children and not the automatic right of parents and societies to pass on religious beliefs, and it must reexamine whether an organization like the Vatican should belong to the UN”

The “fundamental interest of parents”

This aggressive censorship of parents captures the true spirit of Article 14. According to law professor Bruce Hafen, the language of Article 14 views “parents as trustees of the state who have only such authority and discretion as the state may grant in order to protect the child’s independent rights,” and is consistent with what the state deems as the child’s “evolving capacities.” Such a calloused view of parents stands in stark contrast to our own legal tradition, which has long upheld “the fundamental interest of parents, as contrasted with that of the State, to guide the religious future and education of their children.”

America’s legal heritage has consistently held that parents have a fundamental right to teach their children about religion, shielded from well-intentioned but intrusive interference from the state. The danger of Article 14 is that it disrupts this crucial balance, tipping the scales in favor of the government and those who claim to “know better” in our society. If we wish to secure these freedoms, we must act now to place parental rights into the text of our Constitution.

Please forward this message onto your friends and urge them to sign the Petition to Protect Parental Rights.

Article written by Peter Kamakawiwoole, May 5, 2008.

Sources

Jonathan Todres, “Analyzing the Opposition to the U.S. Ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child,” in The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (2006): 24.

Cynthia Price Cohen, “Role of the United States in Drafting the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” Loyola Poverty Law Journal (1998): 30-31.

Bruce Hafen, “Abandoning Children to their Autonomy,” Harvard International Law Journal (1996): 470.

Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205, 232 (1972).

INTERSPOUSAL TORT CLAIMS – JURY TRIAL

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Support, child trafficking, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, 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, 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 Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D, Torts on May 29, 2009 at 6:00 pm

© 1996 National Legal Research Group, Inc.

NEW JERSEY: Brennan v. Orban, 145 N.J. 282, 678 A.2d 667 (1996).

Family courts have discretion to decide whether or not the victim of a marital tort will receive a jury trial on her tort claim that is joined with a divorce action.

In New Jersey, a spouse who files for divorce must bring a tort action arising out of the marital relationship as part of the divorce complaint. Tevis v. Tevis, 79 N.J. 422, 400 A.2d 1189 (1979). In Brennan v. Orban, the state’s high court addressed the question whether the tort claimant in a divorce action is entitled to a jury trial. The court did not answer with a definitive “yes” or “no” for all cases, but instead declared that “when vindication of the public policy against domestic violence outweighs in its significance to the family the other matters awaiting disposition, the tort claim should, at the request of a victim, be tried by a civil jury.” 678 A.2d at 669. The dissent criticized the majority for leaving the question up to the family courts and not adopting a straightforward rule requiring jury trials for domestic violence victims who are seeking a divorce.

After reviewing the scope of the domestic violence problem and the legislative reaction to it by the United States Congress and the New Jersey Legislature, the court noted that in every family court action involving children, a paramount concern of the courts remains the best interests of the children, who may be affected by the outcome or by a delay in the resolution of the controversy. “Hence, we believe that a major factor deciding the question whether jury trials will be given for a marital tort action should be the divisibility of the tort claim from the other matters in controversy between the parties.” Id. at 677. When issues of child welfare, child support, and child parenting are intertwined with the dissolution of the marriage and the resolution of the marital tort, the family court may conclude that the marital tort should be resolved as part of the overall dispute between the parties. In such a case, the family court should retain jurisdiction over the marital tort and try that cause of action without a jury in the same proceedings.

On the other hand, the court held, when the family court is convinced that society’s interest in vindicating a marital tort through the jury process is the dominant part of the matter, it may order that the marital tort be tried by a jury. Where the jury trial takes place is a matter within the discretion of the family court judge, the court decided. It acknowledged, however, the difficulty of empaneling juries in family court to decide the marital tort. Consequently, the court ruled that when family court judges exercise their discretion to have marital torts tried separately, they may order that the marital tort action be severed and that the tort claims be transferred to a law court for trial in accordance with the regular procedures for civil cases.

The court raised but did not decide the question whether, in divorce cases where a tort claim is severed, the remaining marital issues should be deferred or resolved subject to reopening. A recent report recommended that the tort claims should be tried prior to the dissolution action, so as to enable the family court to consider the tort award when rendering its decision concerning equitable distribution, child support, spousal support, and the parties’ method of payment, the court noted. According to the report, resolving the divorce action first might lead to an increase in postdivorce applications for relief because parties against whom a tort judgment is entered would seek to reopen their economic divorce settlements based on a change of circumstances. Jury Trial Subcommittee on Family Practice, Report Concerning Jury Trial When a Marital Tort Is Joined in a Dissolution Action at 40 (1996).

On the other hand, the court noted, the report acknowledged that the delay in resolving the divorce proceeding might have a negative psychological impact on spouses by prolonging the uncertainty of their marital status. Moreover, another commentator observed that a jury hearing the tort action cannot assess a defendant’s assets properly to determine punitive damages without knowledge of the tortfeasor’s net worth, which is an open question until after equitable distribution. Wildstein, “The Application of the Entire Controversy Doctrine to Family Part Actions,” 16 N.J. Fam. Law. 69, 77 (1996).

In any event, the court said, most matters will benefit from single-case management by the family court judge. All issues, including the marital tort, should be submitted to the available processes of mediation and nonbinding arbitration. Failing resolution of all issues, the family court should decide whether, on balance, the interests in vindicating the marital tort outweigh the interests of a unitary disposition of the family dispute and thus warrant a jury trial.

Summarizing, the court stated that, consistent with the state Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, courts should strive to afford abused people the maximum protection from abuse that the law can provide. In some cases, the maximum protection will be in the form of a jury trial; in other cases, where other legal interests converge, the maximum protection of the law will be in the form of a nonjury trial. “We invest the Family Part with discretion to make an appropriate judgment concerning the type of trial to be afforded, with special emphasis placed on the severability of the tort claim from the other matters in controversy between the parties.” Brennan v. Orban, supra, 678 A.2d at 679. The court decided that in the case before it, which involved a short marriage and no children, a sufficient divisibility among the claims existed to warrant a jury trial on the tort claim.

Dissent. The dissent found unacceptable the broad discretion that the majority conferred on family court judges to decide whether or not the victim of a marital tort is entitled to a jury trial on the tort claim. Under the majority opinion, the dissent contended, family court judges may deny a jury trial in nearly every marital tort claim on the basis that the potential monetary award by a jury necessarily is intertwined with issues of alimony, child support, and equitable distribution. Courts should provide the fullest measure of vindication authorized by law to compensate victims of domestic violence, the dissent declared. Accordingly, all victims of marital torts who seek a jury trial should be entitled to one, whether or not the marital tort claim is joined with a claim for divorce. There should be only a narrow exception for cases where the marital tort action involves an obviously insignificant claim that has been asserted primarily for strategic reasons and is designed to influence the outcome of the divorce action, the dissent said.

Parental Rights – Analysis by Article of the UNCRC – Part 4 of 9

In adoption abuse, Autism, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, 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, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, Homeschool, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D on May 28, 2009 at 4:00 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:

Article 13, part 1: Homeschooling Illegal?

This week, we continue our series on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child by considering Article 13, which states that “the child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice.”

The crux of this article is the child’s “right to information.” Children access information through what they are taught and what they discover on their own. This week, we will consider the Convention’s implications on what children are taught.

Homeschooling

Article 13 is far more sweeping than any right articulated by our Constitution or Supreme Court, guaranteeing all children the right to seek information of all kinds. International author and commentator Marian Koren explains that although the state should generally refrain from interfering in the family, “the State also has a positive obligation in supporting the possibilities for children to seek information or to express their views.” Ultimately, “it is the duty of the State to respect the rights of the child and his freedom to thought, conscience, belief, expression and opinion.” (emphasis in original)

Although the United States has not yet ratified the CRC, there is a growing sentiment that the state should bear the responsibility for ensuring that children are “properly educated,” instead of parents. A striking example occurred this past February, when a California court declared in In Re Rachel L. that “parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children,” unless they are certified by the state to teach. In so ruling, the court declined to follow the Supreme Court’s 1972 decision in Wisconsin v. Yoder and its 2000 ruling in Troxel v. Granville, which guarantee parents the fundamental right to direct the upbringing and education of their children.

Whose Responsibility?

Rachel L., like Article 13, presumes that it is ultimately the state’s duty to ensure that the child’s right to information is respected. The California court quoted repeatedly from an earlier California decision in 1952, which concluded that children must be educated in traditional public or private schools, subject to state standards and regulations: anything less would “take from the state all-efficient authority to regulate the education of the prospective voting population.” (emphasis added)

The language of “all-efficient authority” is not the language of liberty. According to Dr. Martin Guggenheim, Professor of Law at New York University, “our future as a democracy depends on nurturing diversity of minds. The legal system’s insistence on private ordering of familial life ultimately guards against state control of its citizens.” There may be questions over the “best way” to educate children, but according to Guggenheim, the American answer is that “unless the answers are so clear that there is no room to disagree, parents are free to decide for themselves what they believe will best serve their children.”

Thankfully, the public outcry to this decision led California courts to decide to rehear the Rachel L. decision this summer, allowing parents – at least for the moment – to continue teaching their children at home. But only time will tell whether the California courts will have a change of heart, or whether the damaging decision will simply be repeated. The strong words of the first Rachel L. decision suggest that this is a real possibility.

America’s legal heritage has consistently held that parents, not the state, have the right to decide whether their children would best benefit from public schooling, a private school, or even learning at home, but this recent decision from California highlights just how tenuous this freedom can be. If we wish to secure these freedoms, we must act now to place parental rights beyond the reach of judges</U? by protecting them within the Constitution.

Article written for ParentalRights.org by Peter Kamakawiwoole, April 21, 2008.

Sources

Marian Koren, “The Right to Information: Too Vague to Be True?” in Monitoring Children’s Rights, Eugeen Verhellen, ed. (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1996): 675.

In Re Rachel L., 73 Cal.Rptr.3d 77 (Ca.App. 2008)(VACATED)

Martin Guggenheim, What’s Wrong with Children’s Rights (2005): 24-27, 43.

Parental Rights – Analysis by Article of the UNCRC – Part 3 of 9

In Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, 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, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Foster CAre Abuse, Freedom, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D on May 27, 2009 at 12:00 pm

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:

Article 12: Suing Mom and Dad?

Last week, we looked at how Article 9 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child gives the government authority to intervene in the decisions of parents simply by appealing to the child’s “best interests.” This week, we continue our in-depth analysis of the CRC by examining Article 12, which says: “States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.”

Which Children?

At the outset, three key observations are readily apparent. First, this right protects a child who is “capable of forming his or her own view,” which must be given “due weight,” in accordance with his or her age and maturity. Second, our government (“States Parties”) would be responsible for ensuring that this right is respected, both in public places and in private realms, such as the home. Finally, this responsibility extends to “all matters affecting the child.” These three tenets place incredible discretion in the hands of the government to challenge – and even reverse – the decisions of parents.

Although the Convention claims to protect children who are “capable of forming their own views,” this phrase is incredibly ambiguous. Indeed, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child recognized this ambiguity in 2006, when it asked for input from all UN member-states on the meaning of Article 12. A report by India’s Committee for Legal Aid to Poor suggested that the right to be heard extends to “the decision of the families and should not be restricted to Judicial and administrative proceedings only.” That same year, the Canadian Child Care Federation asserted that “Children need to be ‘heard’ during all stages of development, beginning in infanthood.” (emphasis in original)

“Suing” Your Parents?

In addition, Article 12 applies not only to legal and judicial proceedings involving a child, but also to decisions made within the privacy of a family. According to Dr. Geraldine van Bueren, Professor of International Law at the University of London and a lead-drafter of the CRC, “the duty on the State Party is to assure the right to freedom of expression in ‘all matters affecting the child’ and as a result places duties on the state in relation to matters traditionally relegated to the private sphere.” By referencing “all matters affecting the child,” van Bueren writes, “there is no longer a traditional area of exclusive parental or family decision-making.”

Although the CRC has not been ratified by the United States, our own courts have nevertheless begun to allow children to actively assert their “right to be heard.” The Florida State Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that a fifteen-year-old boy in foster care was entitled to a judicial hearing and a lawyer to contest his placement in a mental health institution. It makes sense to grant such a right to a fifteen-year-old who does not have parents and is in the custody of the state, but in 2003, the Florida court extended its ruling to say that children in foster care were entitled to legal hearings and appointment of a lawyer, in order to give the child a “meaningful opportunity to be heard.” Although the court did not say “all children,” it seems reasonable to infer that this legal standard could be applied to children well under fifteen years old.

The result of this and similar rulings has been children – some far younger than fifteen – who are successfully suing their own parents under the direction of a relative or government worker. As recently as June 2007, a nine-year-old boy in Minnesota sued both his parents through a government-appointed guardian ad litem and won $100,000 from their insurance company for injuries due to the “faulty installation” of his car seat. Children and even infants in states like Kansas, Florida, and New Hampshire have also successfully sued their parents for being involved in automobile accidents, being hit by a car in a parking lot, and even for prenatal injuries suffered when the mother was hit by an oncoming vehicle because she did not use a crosswalk.

Children in Harm’s Way

These cases illustrate the danger that “right to be heard” poses to children, especially to infants and young children, who are often completely unaware of what they are doing when they “sue” a parent. According to Dr. Martin Guggenheim, Professor of Law at New York University and President of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform (NCCPR), the modern “children’s rights movement” encourages litigation to enforce children’s rights, but fails to recognize that such litigation is “used more often than not as an opportunity to ‘take it to the judge,’” rather than to protect children. Thus, “more children are enmeshed in legal proceedings than would have been imaginable a generation ago,” as adults seek to invoke their children’s rights to “gain the upper hand” against an ex-wife, corporation, or auto insurance company.

The danger of Article 12 is that it grants the government broad, discretionary legal authority, to protect the child’s nebulous “right to be heard” at all times when the child’s interests are involved.
Thankfully, our courts have not yet adopted this philosophy in “all matters affecting the child,” but if the CRC is ratified or imposed on the United States through customary international law, that will change.

America’s experience has opened parents up to extensive litigation, while often using the child’s “interests” as a way to claim a sort of “moral high ground” in disputes that are really between adults. When the bonds between children and their families are tried in the fires of litigation, they are often scorched in the process. Whenever we empower the government to be the arbiter, we are risking the welfare of our children and families.

Please forward this message to your friends and urge them to sign the Petition to Protect Parental Rights at http://www.parentalrights.org/join-the-fight.

Article written for ParentalRights.org by Peter Kamakawiwoole, March 5, 2008.

The original article can be found here: http://www.parentalrights.org/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC={29FA17E8-B22C-461E-9B69-DEAA49DA0B9D}

Sources

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/k2crc.htm

Florida Supreme Court gives “silenced” children the right to be heard

http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/pre2004/bin/sc00-2044.pdf

Committee for Legal Aid to Poor, “The Right of the Child to be Heard” (India)
http://www.crin.org/docs/GDD_2006_CLAP.doc

Canadian Child Care Federation, “To Speak, Participate and Decide” (Canada)
http://www.cccf-fcsge.ca/pdf/Right_to_be_Heard.pdf

Geraldine van Bueren, The International Law of Children’s Rights (1995): 137.

Harrison v. Harrison, 733 N.W.2d 451 (Minn. S.C. 2007); for additional cases involving children suing parents, see Nocktonick v. Nocktonick, 227 Kan. 758 (Kan. S.C. 1980) and Bonte for Bonte v. Bonte, 616 A.2d 464 (New Hamp. S.C. 1992).

Martin Guggenheim, What’s Wrong with Children’s Rights (2005): 245.

Deadbeat Social Scientists – Child Support Myths Debunked

In Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, 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, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D on May 27, 2009 at 12:30 am

By Robert Locke
Monday, July 02, 2001

EVERYBODY HATES DEADBEAT DADS. They are excoriated from the feminist Left to the familyvalues Right. This has resulted in a national frenzy of efforts to tighten up childsupport enforcement, beginning with the Child Support Enforcement Act of 1975 (amended in 1984) and including numerous state statutes. Unfortunately, as a new book persuasively argues, they are largely a myth. In fact, they are frequently victims in their own right. Dr. Braver began his research intending only to refine the received wisdom, but his empirical findings changed his own mind. The prevalence of the myths he has exploded raises serious questions about the entire structure of liberal social science, on which our nation’s public policies are based, and the susceptibility of statistics to manipulation by liberal academics.

Dr. Braver refutes six key antifather myths one by one. He writes:

“1. Divorced dads are not overwhelmingly deadbeats in terms of child support compliance. They actually pay far better than assumed, especially if they remain fully employed.”

The horrifying figures for nonpayment of child support that are usually quoted are wrong for a number of reasons. First, they are based solely on maternal reporting. Second, they are based on lumping together divorcees with nevermarrieds, who pay at a lower rate. Third, some studies of the problem record only payments made through court clerks, not all payments. Fourth, most of the remaining deadbeats are in jail, unemployed, in poverty, or otherwise unable to pay for understandable reasons.

“2. Divorced dads are not overwhelmingly disappearing or runaway dads. Most continue a surprisingly high amount of contact with their children, and much of whatever disconnection does occur can be attributed directly to mothers impeding or interfering with visitation.”

Myth holds that divorced men are generally uninterested in their children, a view that derives mainly from a single inaccurate study and from the popculture stereotype of the divorced father with sports car and girlfriend in tow. But, in reality, roughly threequarters of divorced fathers who live in the same town as their children see them regularly, according to Dr. Braver’s own research. And they would frequently see them even more often if it were not illegal for them to do so under the visitation rules to which they are legally subject. Not to mention maternal denial of these visitation privileges, which is a serious and underappreciated issue in its own right.

“3. Divorced fathers do not end up noticeably more economically advantaged by divorce than mothers… in the long run, many divorced mothers will surpass divorced fathers in economic well being. Divorced mothers and children do not disproportionately end up in poverty, and those few who do almost without exception would continue to be in that state whether or not their ex-husbands paid full child support.”

An entire feminist obsession, which many nonfeminists have been taken in by, has been erected upon the so-called “feminization of poverty.” This turns out to be a statistical mirage generated by biased studies. Those divorced mothers who end up in longterm poverty turn out to be (surprise, surprise) those who were from poor backgrounds in the first place, even when they were married. In only 2% of divorces would full payment of alimony and child support lift a poor mother out of poverty who is now in it.

“4. Divorced fathers are not far better satisfied or advantaged in the negotiations leading to their divorce settlements. In fact, fathers are significantly disadvantaged and dissatisfied compared to mothers, who feel more in control of the settlement process than fathers.”

A substantial feminist inspired mythology claims that because the judicial system is run mainly by men, it favors fathers at every step in the divorce process. Despite the fact that every major feminist demand (starting with abortion and running right down the list) has been passed by maledominated legislatures and courts, this men vs. women mythology is emotionally satisfying and therefore believed in. But in fact, the court system has a demonstrable maternalist bias in custody awards and other issues which can be traced in the history of legislation and court decisions.

“5. Divorced fathers are not more content and better emotionally adjusted after divorce than mothers. In fact, overwhelming evidence suggests that they are far more emotionally devastated by divorce than mothers. Only with respect to calming their anger more quickly than their exspouse do fathers have an emotional advantage over mothers.”

The myth holds that divorced dads don’t have a care in the world, with the possible exception of their new, younger, girlfriends. In fact, they tend to be less well adjusted emotionally than their exwives by standard measures of psychological well being. According to a 1985 USA Today poll believed to be valid, 85% of divorced women claim to be happier postdivorce, compared to only 58% of men. Divorced women still usually have their children; divorced men often end up with nothing, relationshipwise.

“6. Fathers do not generally trigger the marriage’s demise by abandoning their wives and families.”

The myth holds that women are devotedly maternal while contemporary American men are too immature to “commit” enough to make their marriages work and are therefore responsible for most divorces. In fact, 2/3 of all divorces are initiated by the woman. And women tend to initiate divorces not because they are abused or otherwise objectively illtreated, but for emotional reasons like “my husband doesn’t communicate with me.”

Not only does Dr. Braver exonerate deadbeat dads, but he documents a number of ways in which postdivorce custodial mothers misbehave. The big thing mothers do is deprive fathers of their lawful visitation rights. The courts are set up to take very seriously the enforcement of childsupport payments by fathers, but they assign little seriousness to the issue of visitation rights. Mothers in most jurisdictions can arbitrarily deny courtordered visitation rights without fear of sanction from police or the judicial system. It would seem that one appropriate reform is to enable fathers to withhold childsupport payments when visitation rights have not been honored.

Mothers routinely practice more subtle forms of aggression. Because they have custody of the children most of the time, they are well placed to poison their minds against their fathers. They are particularly prone to do this if they remarry and wish to “reprogram” the kids to accept their new spouse as their father. They also have a tendency to do it simply out of spite at their ex-husband. Some mothers cynically exploit the police to falsely claim harassment or domestic violence to keep their ex-husband away, a tactic that the law stupidly encourages in a number of ways. It seems that the maternal instinct may not always be the good thing it is usually depicted as, if it drives women to behave like enraged shebears and clutch their children at the expense of their fathers’ legitimate rights.

So where did these myths come from, if untrue? Basically, our society developed a massive emotional desire to believe the worst of divorced fathers. Then social scientists, despite their pretensions to objectivity and hard statistics, lamely translated these biases into research findings. The negative stereotyping of divorced fathers that routinely appears would get people arrested by the PC police if it were applied to minorities, women, or any other category of person. Dr. Braver suggests that our society is experiencing a great deal of stress over the ongoing decay of the traditional family and needed to find a scapegoat. Deadbeat dads conveniently appealed as villains to both feminists and family values types, guaranteeing political support and ideological cover on both sides of the aisle. Conservatives also sought to cultivate respectability with the liberal bestowers of moral respectability by endorsing the liberal line (a classic case of the negative consequences of allowing the Left the moral high ground.) There was also an appeal to a pseudoscientific version of sociobiology, which claimed that it is the nature of males to seek polygamous or serialmonogamous relationships because of an evolutionary incentive to spread their DNA around. This has been called the “Darwin made me do it” defense and raises obvious questions on its own that this is not the place for. Once again, truth was intimidated out of people by the sheer selfassertion of liberals who arrogated to themselves the right to decide which ideas are “offensive.” We have got to learn to simply ignore them, and to use their mistakes on issues like this one as a battering ram to destroy their credibility. Fortunately, and partly due to Dr. Braver’s research, which was expressed in a Presidential commission in 1996, the political system is starting to recognize the necessity of fathers again. For example, more states are establishing joint custody as the norm.

But the most disturbing thing Dr. Braver shows has nothing to do with divorced families per se, but pertains to the shabby standards of social science research. This research, which forms the picture of society on which government policy is based, is conducted almost entirely by liberal academics, and yet is taken by legislatures and courts, not to mention the general public, as being simply objective truth. He documents in devastating detail the degree to which sloppy research standards have opened the door to liberal bias. Properly disciplined research has epistemological safeguards built in to protect it from the biases of the researchers. Naturally, this makes one wonder what other received truths of our society are myths generated by biased research.

Liberal social scientists have mangled their research on divorce in a number of ways. Here are a few:

1. Almost all studies have been based on what people report to be true, not on verified tax returns or bank statements.

2. This reporting hasn’t even included the father most of the time.

3. One notorious study that claimed to show a 73% decrease in maternal incomes after divorce used incomeadjustment figures based on Labor Department raw data gathered in… 1961!

4. This same study also measured pretax income, not aftertax, ignoring the fact that childsupport is taxfree. (There is also a tax credit for child care.) Headofhousehold mothers are taxed at a lower rate than nowsingle divorced fathers, and can claim their children as exemptions.

5. Divorced fathers spend substantial amounts of money on their children beyond simple child support. They spend significant undocumented amounts on visitation and buying necessities and other items for their children. They must maintain larger residences than they would without children visiting now and then. They bear most visitational transportation costs.

6. Divorced fathers are often ordered to pay for their children’s medical insurance over and above child support. Not only do most studies not count this, some even falsely assume the mother is paying.

7. Divorced fathers and nevermarried fathers behave very differently, the nevermarrieds being consistently worse in almost every way. Studies tend to lump them together.

8. Studies of the decline in maternal standardofliving tend to ignore the fact that after divorce, mothers tend to upgrade their job skills and otherwise move up the economic ladder, as is the general pattern over time of the whole population.

9. In the reams of studies being done about divorced fathers, almost none of the studies ever asked these fathers why they were abandoning their children, which the received wisdom claimed they were doing. Naturally, if they had, they might have found there was no reason, because they weren’t.

No one on the peer review committees that oversee the publication of this research in academic journals, or the giving of grants to fund it, ever blew the whistle on these errors. The system failed.

But it gets worse. Many of the bad figures and illogical analyses are from the Census Bureau reinforcing the view that, like the National Endowment for the Arts, the Census Bureau and its budget should be ruthlessly gutted as soon as possible to restrict it to the narrow duty prescribed to it by the Constitution and keep it from spouting liberal nonsense by collecting figures the Constitution does not authorize it to.

The second great intellectual villain of divorce mythology is one Prof. Lenore Weitzman of Harvard University. She was the author of an immensely influential 1985 study that claimed that after divorce, mothers experience a 73% drop in their standard of living and fathers a 42% rise. This study was the basis for several pieces of legislation. It turns out that her finding was based on a simple misprogramming of the computer analyzing the data which reveal that mothers end up with 73% of their former standard of living, (a 27% drop) not 73% less.

This was not an innocent “computer error.” The computer did what it was supposed to do; the investigator mangled the result. The idea that vast policy changes can come from such incompetence is nothing less than mind boggling. This incident needs to be treated as the My Lai of academic social science, which needs to be dethroned from its privileged position in policy disputes. Dr. Braver, who investigated this error and gave Prof. Weitzman a chance to respond, documents her mendacity and evasive behavior throughout this episode, which ended in her admitting the charges against her, for which she has never been disciplined.

The Left has chased conservative social scientists who could have blown the whistle on these shenanigans out of the academy. When will people learn that having a conservative presence in academia really does matter? If there had been an adequate number of conservative sociologists in the academy, someone could have critiqued these figures when they came out and before they had the chance to mislead the public and influence policy. Frankly, it is time to start pruning government funding for sociological research, which always seems to just prove we need more government spending, and to start cutting back sociology departments at the universities.

Dr. Braver’s Deadbeat Dads is thus probably the most important work of conservative social science in a decade, easily in a class with Charles Murray’s “Losing Ground”

The original article can be found on Frontpage Magazine: http://www.frontpagemag.com/Printable.aspx?ArtId=24190

Parental Rights – Involuntary Divorce and Child Support

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Support, child trafficking, 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, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D on May 26, 2009 at 6:18 pm

Fueling the Machinery: The Role of Child Support
By Stephen Baskerville
The Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society
May/June 2006

The other dilemma raised by involuntary divorce — also now manifest in today’s marriage controversies — was how to finance the increased costs it inevitably brought. The solution was child support, which provides financial incentives to weaken marriage and sever the ties between children and parents, particularly fathers.

Like most of the government machinery now used to administer divorce, child support grew directly out of welfare. It was designed not for middle-class divorced families, but for welfare families that had never been formed through marriage in the first place. Its justification was to recover welfare costs and save public revenue. (In fact, it has consistently lost money, with a current annual deficit approaching $3 billion.)[113] In fact, the subsequent experience might well be seen as a vindication of prophecies that a quasi-socialistic welfare state would inevitably create a “road to serfdom.”

Though the social consequences of mass fatherlessness have been apparent for decades in welfare-dependent communities, thanks to the 1965 Moynihan Report, the political implications for freedom were not as apparent as they are now becoming with middle-class divorce. Because most low-income parents were not living together (which welfare discouraged), there was seldom a need to forcibly evict the father. Employing law-enforcement methods to coerce him to provide for the family was also readily justified, both because his children were receiving welfare and because he was not residing in the home where he could provide for his children as he saw fit. The fact that often he had not made a formal lifetime commitment to the family through marriage no doubt also contributed to the moral case for coercive action against him. No distinction was recognized between fathers who shirked their responsibilities and those who accepted them. Similar to the status later afforded to involuntarily divorced spouses, the unmarried father was treated as “guilty” of paternity and subject to the penal system.

Having erected this machinery to coerce relatively small sums from low-income fathers, where marriage had not taken place, the welfare agencies then extended their jurisdiction to middle-class fathers, whose marriages had to be — and because of no-fault divorce, now could be — forcibly dissolved by court action and where much more substantial sums were available. As with no-fault divorce, no public debate preceded a massive expansion in the scope of state power over family finances and private family life.[114]

It was already known that welfare payments to low-income mothers result in increased divorce (before it led them to forego marriage altogether).[115] Child support added a dimension of law enforcement and forced the middle-class father, as Jed Abraham puts it, “to finance the filching of his own children.”[116] Child support thus became an “unintended economic incentive for middle-class women to seek divorce”: “Strong enforcement…may, in fact, lead to…the unintended consequence of increasing the likelihood of divorce.”[117]

“Deadbeat dads” are another of those public malefactors whose crimes are so repugnant that innocence is no excuse. Yet no government agency has ever produced any scientific evidence that there is, or ever has been, a problem of parents not supporting their children other than that created by the government. Psychologist Sanford Braver, in the largest federally funded study ever undertaken on the subject, conclusively demonstrated that the “deadbeat dad” is largely a government creation. Described by FrontPageMagazine as “the most important work of conservative social science in a decade,”[118] Braver’s study showed that the child support “crisis” consists of little more than the government separating children from their fathers, imposing patently impossible debts on fathers who have done nothing to incur those debts, and then arresting those who, quite predictably, cannot pay. His research undermined every justification for the multi-billion dollar criminal enforcement machinery. Yet eight years after Braver’s book, no enforcement agency has responded to his findings.

Others have confirmed them. William Comanor and a team of scholars have documented the faulty economics. Ronald Henry calls the system and its rationalization “an obvious sham,” “the most onerous form of debt collection practiced in the United States,” and one “that is matched nowhere else in [the] legal system.”[119]

The consequences are corrosive of not only family stability, but constitutional protections. Bryce Christensen argues for a “linkage between aggressive child-support policies and the erosion of wedlock” and writes, “the advocates of ever-more-aggressive measures for collecting child support have trampled on the prerogatives of local government, have moved us a dangerous step closer to a police state, and have violated the rights of innocent and often impoverished fathers.”[120] Abraham writes that “the government commands an extensive enforcement apparatus, a veritable gulag, complete with sophisticated surveillance and compliance capabilities such as computer-based tracing, license revocation, asset confiscation, and incarceration. The face of this regime is decidedly Orwellian.”[121]

Like domestic violence and child abuse measures, child support enforcement is governed by an explicit presumption of guilt, wherein the accused must prove his innocence. “The burden of proof may be shifted to the defendant,” according to an approving legal analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Further, “not all child support contempt proceedings classified as criminal are entitled to a jury trial,” and “even indigent obligors are not necessarily entitled to a lawyer.”[122] A father who has lost his children through literally “no fault” of his own must prove his innocence without a formal charge, without counsel, and without facing a jury of his peers.

Child support enforcement further blurs the distinction between guilt and innocence, since officials monitor parents with arrearages, those whose payments are current, and even citizens who are not under an order. The presumption of guilt against those obeying the law was revealed by one official who boasted that “we don’t give them an opportunity to become deadbeats” and by former Attorney General Janet Reno, who referred to current payments “collected from deadbeat parents,” branding as criminals parents who do pay.[123] The presumption that not only all parents under child support orders are already quasi-criminals, but all citizens are potential criminals against whom pre-emptive enforcement measures must be initiated now in anticipation of their future criminality, is revealed by NCSL, which justifies collecting names from the general population by saying, “At one point or another, many people will either be obligated to pay or eligible to receive child support.”[124]

The role of child support in undermining marriage also explains why the fatherhood and marriage promotion measures of the last two administrations have achieved little and why they may be exacerbating the problem.

During the 1990s, the Clinton administration and other governments initiated programs to “promote fatherhood.” Despite the professed (and possibly quite sincere) aim of extolling the importance of fathers and the need to reconnect them with their children, in practice these programs themselves often ended up serving as justifications for collecting child support. The result, therefore, was somewhat opposite of what was advertised, since the federal government was promoting fatherhood with one hand while subsidizing divorce and fatherless homes financially with the other.

Under the Bush administration, the emphasis shifted from fatherhood to marriage. Yet the substance remained similar. While the initiative seems likewise to have proceeded from a genuine desire to redirect priorities toward programs that enhance marriage, with funds devoted to marriage counseling, in practice it has also been compromised by political pressure to continue the essentially punitive approach to family dissolution dominated by the child support system. Since January 2003, some substantial grants announced by HHS under the Healthy Marriage initiative have gone to child support enforcement agencies and private groups involved in collection.[125]

In short, the debate about the desirability of the government promoting marriage and fatherhood may be rendered irrelevant by the fact that the programs are not always what they appear. Whatever the merits of programs encouraging marriage formation, it is not clear that these disbursements even can achieve the desired goal. It is more likely that by expanding programs that are predicated on the removal of the father from the home, the federal funds are undermining marriage rather than encouraging it. Whatever one’s sympathies, on both sides the public debate over government marriage programs has been somewhat beside the point.

113 Child Support Enforcement (CSE) FY 2002 Preliminary Data Report, 29 April 2003, figures 1 and 2 (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cse/pubs/2003/reports/prelim_datareport/).

114 See “Statement of Leslie L. Frye, Chief, Office of Child Support California Department of Social Services Testimony…on the Administration’s Child Support Enforcement Incentive Payment Proposal, March 20, 1997” (http://waysandmeans.house.gov/legacy/humres/105cong/3-20-97/3-20frye.htm), 1-2.

115 Saul Hoffman and Greg Duncan, “The Effects of Incomes, Wages, and AFDC Benefits on Marital Disruption,” Journal of Human Resources 30 (1995), 19-41.

116 Jed Abraham, From Courtship to Courtroom: What Divorce Law Is Doing to Marriage (New York: Bloch, 1999), 151.

117 Kimberly Folse and Hugo Varela-Alvarez, “Long-Run Economic Consequences of Child Support Enforcement,” Journal of Socio-Economics, vol. 31, issue 3 (2002), 274, 283, 284.

118 Sanford L. Braver, Divorced Dads: Shattering the Myths (New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 1998); Robert Locke, “Deadbeat Social Scientists,” FrontPageMagazine.com, 2 July 2001 (http://frontpagemag.com/columnists/ locke/2001/locke06-29-01.htm).

119 Ronald Henry, “Child Support Policy and the Unintended Consequences of Good Intentions,” in W.S. Comanor (ed.), The Law and Economics of Child Support Payments (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2004), 130, 135, 139.

120 Bryce Christensen, “The Strange Politics of Child Support,” Society, vol. 39, no. 1 (Nov.-Dec. 2001), p. 63.

121 Jed Abraham, From Courtship to Courtroom: What Divorce Law Is Doing to Marriage (New York: Bloch, 1999), pp. 154-155.

122 NCSL Internet site: http://www.ncsl.org/programs/cyf/Criminalnon.htm (accessed 28 August 2001).

123 Robert O’Harrow, “Uncle Sam Has All Your Numbers,” Washington Post, 27 June 1999, A1; “Attorney General Reno Announces Plan to Crack Down on Dead-Beat Parents Who Fail to Pay Child Support,” Department of Justice press release, 22 December 1994.

124 NCSL Internet site: http://www.ncsl.org/programs/cyf/csissue.htm (accessed 24 January 2000).

125 “ACF Approves Child Support Demonstrations in Four States,” Administration for Children and Families press release, 29 April 2004.

The original article can be found here: The Real Danger of Same-Sex Marriage http://www.profam.org/pub/fia/fia.2005.6.htm#Fueling_the_Machinery:_The_Role_of_Child_Support

Parental Rights – Analysis by Article of the UNCRC – Part 2 of 9

In Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, 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, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, Homeschool, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D on May 26, 2009 at 5:00 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:

Article 9: A Child’s Right to a Family — Almost

Last week, we began our series on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) by looking at the Convention’s central focus on the “best interests of the child,” which allows the government to substitute its will for that of the parents. This principle is significant as we turn our attention to one of the first rights that the CRC grants to children: the right to remain in their family.

THE RIGHT TO A FAMILY… ALMOST

At first glance, Article 9 of the CRC may appear harmless and even idyllic: “a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child.” But despite references to “competent authorities” and “judicial review,” a closer examination quickly reveals that the emphasis on the child’s “best interests” grants the government broad latitude to intervene in the family.

There are many broad and diverse opinions when it comes to what makes a “good parent.” Parents may read a popular parenting book, attend a parenting class, or turn to their own parents or a trusted mentor for advice. Likewise, there is also a broad range of opinions when it comes to when a child should be removed from the home. Clearly a child who is being sexually or physically abused should be saved from that circumstance, but what about more complex issues? Should children be separated from their parents if they are spanked? What about parents who are disabled or have a physical handicap? What about families who are too poor to provide the best quality of living for their children? There are many answers that could be given about what is in the “best interests of the child,” depending on the person who is being asked.

This is why the Supreme Court ruled in 1993 that the “best interests” test could only be applied when a family is broken, such as in divorce proceedings when the dispute is between two parents. When the family is intact, however, courts are required to prove that a parent is “unfit” to raise the children, which requires a state to satisfy a much higher burden of proof. Article 9 destroys this distinction and uses the same test for families that are broken and families that are intact. By analogy, the “best interests” standard treats the government as if it were the other parent in a divorce-proceeding, placed on the same footing as the child’s natural parents in a battle for custody of the child.

TRAMPLING ON PARENTAL RIGHTS

In 1980, the Supreme Court of Washington heard the case of a fifteen-year-old girl who had enlisted state social workers in her quest to live separately from her parents. The girl had resisted her parents’ efforts to discipline her through grounding, and claimed that there was “conflict within her home,” though when asked by a judge about the nature of this conflict, the girl simply replied: “I just feel that there’s a communication gap there.” In an imposing display of judicial power, the court ruled that the conflict between the parents and the child was so severe that it justified the child being placed under the custody of the state, even though the parents were fit and their behavioral standards were not unreasonable.

Twenty-eight years later, families in the United States are still at risk of losing their children if the government believes it can do a better job. In 2004, a social worker hastily accused the parents of one-year-old Julia of child abuse after learning that she had suffered fifteen bone fractures in a period of five months. The parents had no previous record of abuse, the government never presented evidence that they had ever harmed their daughter, and several medical experts testified that the little girl had a brittle bone disease that was responsible for the fractures. But despite the evidence, the family court took little Julia away from her family and placed her in a foster home, citing her “best interests.” Julia remained in foster care until this past December, when her family finally won her back. She is now four-years-old, and has spent the last three years living with strangers in a foster home, but her family is overjoyed to finally welcome her home.

More recently an autistic boy was forcibly removed from his home despite the evidence being “clear that the parents have always stood by and tried to help their son.” Read about this tragic story on our blog here.

WHO DECIDES?

Julia’s happy ending was three long years in the coming – all because of government officials who claimed to act in the “best interests of the child,” without bothering to prove that Julia’s parents were unfit to raise her. Her story is a warning of the insidious sub-plot that runs through Article 9 of the CRC, which grants the government a dangerous power over the lives of its citizens.

But Julila’s story is more than just a warning. It is also a reminder that the battle for parental rights is more than just a battle to change the Constitution: it is a battle to protect real people, to save young lives that are in no danger, except from the government that claims to protect them. Innocent children and loving parents deserve far better than justice that comes three years too late.

Please forward this message onto your friends and urge them to sign the Petition to Protect Parental Rights.

Article written by Peter Kamakawiwoole, Feb.25, 2008.

The original article can be found here: http://www.parentalrights.org/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC={2169B234-8F84-4613-92AE-579B56A0BE77}
Sources


In Re Sumey, 94 Wash. 2d 757 (Wash. S.C. 1980)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/k2crc.htm

Family wins custody battle in court

http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=647184&category=REGION&newsdate=12/14/2007

Autistic Boy Removed from his Home Because the Government Disagreed with the Parents

Indentured Families – Social conservatives and the GOP: Can this marriage be saved?

In Best Interest of the Child, 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, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Freedom, Homeschool, judicial corruption, kidnapped children, Liberty, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes, Title Iv-D on May 24, 2009 at 12:30 am

by Allan Carlson
03/27/2006, Volume 011, Issue 26

IN THE INTERNAL POLITICS OF the Republican coalition, some members are consistently more equal than others. In particular, where the interests of the proverbial “Sam’s Club Republicans” collide with the interests of the great banks, the Sam’s Club set might as well pile into the family car and go home.

Consider, to take one recent instance, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, enacted last year, after a long delay, with support from congressional Republicans. A controversial clause that would have prevented abortion protesters from filing for bankruptcy to avoid paying court-ordered fines had stalled the measure. After the Senate rejected this provision, GOP leaders drove the bill through both houses of Congress and gained an enthusiastic signature from President George W. Bush.

In a nutshell, the new law makes a “clean start” after filing for bankruptcy much more difficult for families with at least one wage earner. Instead, most affected households will find themselves essentially indentured to a bank or credit card bureau, paying off their debt for years to come. “A new form of feudalism,” one critic calls it.

In truth, some had abused the old law, turning repeated bankruptcy filings into a kind of circus. A tightening on this side probably made sense. Significantly, though, the new law made no real changes on the lenders’ side, measures that might have reined in an increasingly predatory credit industry. It is common knowledge, for example, that credit card companies intentionally urge financially troubled families to borrow still more money, because they can charge these households exorbitant interest rates. As one Citibank executive has candidly observed, “They are the ones who provide most of our profit.” Late payment fees, another favored industry device, reportedly deliver over 30 percent of credit card financing revenue. Assurances by lawmakers that the new law will bring credit card interest rates down fly in the face of these more fundamental corporate strategies.

True, in the context of America’s new debt-driven economy, this treatment of financially troubled families may constitute “good business” (even if under older ethical standards it’s the equivalent of offering a barrel of whiskey to an alcoholic). More fundamentally, though, the GOP’s opting for an outcome that’s good for Citibank’s profits while disregarding the effects on families should cause no surprise.

SOME HISTORY may help here. The modern “family issues” are actually about a century old. The first openly “pro-family” president was a Republican, Theodore Roosevelt. Between 1900 and about 1912, he wrote and spoke often, and eloquently, about the dangers of a rising divorce rate and a falling birth rate. He celebrated motherhood and fatherhood as the most important human tasks, and described the true marriage as “a partnership of the soul, the spirit and the mind, no less than of the body.” He blasted as “foes of our household” the birth control movement, equity feminism, eugenics, and liberal Christianity.

However, the Rough Rider was the only prominent Republican of his time to think and talk this way. The dominant wing of the GOP tilted in favor of the banks, the great industries, and–perhaps more surprisingly–the feminist movement. Indeed, as early as 1904, the National Association of Manufacturers had formed an alliance with the feminists, for they shared an interest in moving women out of their homes and into the paid labor market. When the feminists reorganized as the National Woman’s party in 1917, the manufacturers’ association apparently provided secret financial support. More openly, Republican leaders embraced the feminists’ proposed Equal Rights Amendment, first advanced in Congress in 1923. The GOP was also the first major party to endorse the ERA in its platform.

Meanwhile, the Democrats consolidated their 19th-century legacy of “Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion”: that is, as the party favoring beer halls, the new immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe, southern agrarians, northern Catholics, small property, the trade unions, and–importantly–the “family wage” for male workers. This cultural and legal device sought to deliver a single wage to fathers sufficient to support a wife and children at home. The Democrats also welcomed the “Maternalists” into their ranks, female activists who–while believing strongly in equal legal and political rights for women–also emphasized the natural differences between the sexes when it came to childbirth and child care. They favored federal programs for the training of girls in home economics and for “baby saving,” meaning efforts to reduce infant and maternal mortality. They fiercely opposed working mothers and day care. Under this Maternalist influence, every New Deal domestic program openly assumed or quietly reinforced the goal of a “family wage” and the model American family of a breadwinning father, a homemaking mother, and an average of three or four children.

In short, from 1912 until 1964, the Democrats were–on balance–the pro-family party. The Republicans, on balance, were the party of business interests and the feminists.

All this changed between 1964 and 1980 with the emergence of the “Reagan Democrats.” This radical reorientation of American domestic politics began with debate about adding “sex” to the list of prohibited discriminations under Title VII (employment issues) of the proposed Civil Rights Act of 1964, a fascinating event that ended with the addition of “sex” and the ensuing legal destruction of the “family wage” regime. The broad transformation continued with the rise of the “pro-family movement” during the 1970s, behind early leaders such as Phyllis Schlafly and Paul Weyrich. It ended in 1980 with the solid movement of northern Catholics and southern evangelicals into the Republican party, and the counter-movement of feminists and the new sexual revolutionaries into the Democratic fold. Ronald Reagan, a proud four-time voter for Franklin D. Roosevelt and a lifelong admirer of the New Deal, explained his 1980 victory to a group of Catholic voters this way:

The secret is that when the left took over the Democratic party we [former Democrats] took over the Republican party. We made the Republican party into the party of the working people, the family, the neighborhood, the defense of freedom. And yes, the American Flag and the Pledge of Allegiance to One Nation Under God. So, you see, the party that so many of us grew up with still exists except that today it’s called the Republican party.

In fact, this was only partly true. For the Republican party as reshaped by Reagan now saw pro-family social conservatives in political alliance with the interests of the banks and the large corporations. Main Street and Wall Street were under the same tent, which was a very new development.

SO, HOW WELL has the Republican party performed as the party of the traditional family? At the level of the party platform, it has done fairly well. Since 1980, pro-family activists have successfully shaped Republican platforms that oppose ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, endorse a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe v. Wade and protect pre-born infant life, and call for pro-family tax measures.

And there have been concrete wins. Regarding taxation, for example, the Tax Reform Act of 1986 doubled the value of the child-friendly personal exemption and indexed it to inflation. Ten years later, another tax bill created a new Child Tax Credit. George Bush’s 2001 tax cut raised this credit to $1,000 per child and began to eliminate the tax code’s notorious marriage penalty.

There have been other gains. Congress approved and President Bush signed a ban on partial-birth abortion. The welfare reform of 1996 eliminated perverse incentives to out-of-wedlock births. Under the current President Bush, the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families and the Office of Population Affairs, important branches of the Department of Health and Human Services, are in pro-family hands. As of last month, so is the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. Judges with pro-family records have won presidential appointment to federal courts, most recently Samuel Alito. Especially with the current administration, social conservatives have sometimes felt that they actually hold a true seat at the table.

Even so, all is not well within the existing Republican coalition. Indeed, there are other indicators that the Republican party has done relatively little to help traditional families, and may in fact be contributing to their new indentured status. Certainly at the level of net incomes, the one-earner family today is worse off than it was thirty years ago, when the GOP began to claim the pro-family banner. Specifically, the median income of married-couple families, with the wife not in the paid labor force, was $40,100 in 2002, less than it had been in 1970 ($40,785) when inflation is taken into account. In contrast, the real earnings of two-income married couple families rose by 35 percent over the same years (to nearly $73,000). Put another way, families have been able to get ahead only by becoming “nontraditional” and sending mother to work or forgoing children altogether. As the Maternalists had warned, eliminating America’s “family wage” system would drive male wages down and severely handicap the one-income home. So it has happened.

Despite the economic pressures, though, such families are not extinct. They still form core social conservative constituencies such as home schooling families and families with four or more children. But again, they have little to show from the years of the Republican alliance. Indeed, the GOP has done absolutely nothing to curb the egalitarian frenzy and the gender-role engineering set off by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and enshrined at the Pentagon. Equity feminism still rules these roosts.

Or consider child care. A timely veto by Richard Nixon stopped the government’s day care juggernaut in 1971, but only for a few months. The same year, Nixon signed a Republican-designed measure also backed by the National Organization for Women (heir to the GOP-favored National Woman’s party). This law allowed families to deduct day care costs from their income tax, cleverly labeling them “business expenses.” This has since grown into a credit worth between $1,500 and $2,100 in reduced taxes for households using day care. Even the wealthiest qualify.

Meanwhile, families that sacrifice a second income to keep a mother or father at home receive nothing except a higher net tax. Bills to correct this gross inequity have been regularly introduced in Congress since 1996, most recently the Parents’ Tax Relief Act of 2006 (H.R. 3080). However, the Republican leadership has ignored them. To underscore the lost opportunity here, note that conservatives in Canada rode to victory just a few weeks ago by embracing a plan to extend that nation’s day care benefit to stay-at-home parents; not a whiff of this, though, in the recent State of the Union address.

Add to these examples the bankruptcy reform measure discussed earlier, and ask: What do these issues have in common? All three are matters where the interests of big business and the interests of traditional, one-breadwinner families have collided, and in each case the Republican party has sided in the end with business. Concerning one-income families, the great corporations continue to view them as a waste of human resources, artificially raising labor costs by holding adults at home. Judging by its inaction and results, the GOP agrees. For the same reason, large businesses generally favor federally subsidized day care, for it creates incentives for mothers to work rather than care for their children. Existing Republican policy strongly favors this social parenting. And the credit industry has every interest in creating a new, indentured debtor class annually sending 20 percent of its income to the banks. The Republicans concur.

OTHER DEBT-DRIVEN FAMILY ISSUES are looming, with little indication of a Republican willingness to tackle them in a pro-family way. Consider the Federal Student Loan program, launched in the mid-1960s as a modest supplement to means-tested federal education grants. The system has since morphed into a massive debt machine, lending out $58 billion in 2005 alone and fueling a huge increase in college and university costs. The average bachelor’s degree recipient currently graduates with $20,000 in debt; students having attended graduate school report another $50,000 to $100,000 in debt, creating in one commentator’s words “the most indebted generation of young Americans ever.”

Here we find another newly indentured class of Americans, also paying about 20 percent of their incomes to the banks for decades to come. Disturbingly, over 20 percent of these borrowers report that they have delayed having children because of their debt, while 15 percent say they have delayed marriage. These are not pro-family outcomes. The most recent Republican response to the borrowers’ plight–undertaken in early February in the name of fiscal responsibility–was to pass a measure whose net effect will be to raise the long-term debt facing young adults.

Another troubling new issue is Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, the federal government’s child support collection and enforcement program. Originally designed to track down the welfare fathers of illegitimate children, the measure has increasingly targeted middle income households affected by divorce. There is mounting evidence that the system now encourages marital breakup and exacerbates fatherlessness by creating a winner-take-all game, where the losing parent–commonly a father wanting to save the marriage–is unfairly penalized by the loss of his children and by a federally enforced child support obligation. Here we find objectively false feminist views–the assumption that men are always the abusers and women are always the victims–driving public policy. And here we find still another newly indentured class of citizens–noncustodial parents–being squeezed financially by the state. If you think this an exaggeration,

I refer you to no less an authority than Phyllis Schlafly, who calls this runaway federal law the most serious danger facing American families today.

Democrats often dream of wooing the “Reagan Democrats” back into the fold. Bill Clinton, who could speak “evangelical” and who embraced pro-family tax and welfare reforms, succeeded to some degree. Democratic strategist Stanley Greenberg, who actually coined the phrase “Reagan Democrats,” argues that “a new, family-centered politics can define and revitalize the Democratic party.” Its message should highlight “family integrity and parental responsibility” and offer a “progressive vision of family support.” Greenberg even theorizes that “Roman Catholics would [again] rally to a Democratic party respectful of family and committed to defending government’s unique role in supporting it.”

If the Democratic party remains the party of the sexual revolution, as its open yearning for same-sex marriage suggests it may, such dreams will remain just that. However, if a Democratic leader can ever shake that monkey off his–or her–back, and if this occurs in conjunction with an economic downturn, the prospects for another broad political realignment are fairly high. A new economic populism, delivering child-sensitive benefits and skewering predatory banks and bureaucrats, could work politically for a clever Democrat.

Moreover, when push comes to shove, social conservatives remain second class citizens under the Republican tent. During the 2004 Republican convention, they were virtually confined to the party’s attic, kept off the main stage, treated like slightly lunatic children. Republican lobbyist Michael Scanlon’s infamous candid comment–“The wackos get their information [from] the Christian right [and] Christian radio”–suggests a common opinion among the dominant “K Street” Republicans toward their coalition allies.

Contemporary Republican leaders need to do better–much better–toward social conservatives. They must creatively address pressing new family issues centered on debt burden. And they must learn to say “no” sometimes to Wall Street, lest they squander the revolutionary political legacy of Ronald Reagan.

Allan Carlson is president of the Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society in Rockford, Illinois.
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