|A Major Announcement from Fathers & Families
In a move that will change the course of the family court reform movement, Fathers & Families has just hired two experienced, accomplished legislative representatives. Soon we will be launching campaigns in support of our family court reform legislation—to get involved, please click here.
Readers of GlennSacks.com are familiar with Michael Robinson's work in Sacramento on family court reform legislation, and Robinson and I have often worked together. In 2004 and again in 2006, we helped scuttle two bills (SB 730 and SB 1482) that would have led to unrestricted post-divorce move-aways. This was an important victory for California's children of divorce, and one that surprised many Sacramento insiders, including Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters.
Robinson and I also worked together to pass family law legislation to help military parents (SB 1082) and on shared parenting and domestic violence reform bills. In 2007 and again this year, Robinson helped build a professional coalition to scuttle AB 612, a bill that would have banned target parents of Parental Alienation from raising PA as an issue in their cases.
Robinson has also been instrumental in passing legislation on paternity fraud (AB 252 and SB 1333), Collaborative Law (AB 402, AB 189, AB 3051), and protection for disabled veterans with child support obligations (SB 285). He helped create the COAP program, which allows mothers and fathers who are unfairly saddled with inflated, unpayable child support arrearages to settle them for modest cash payments when the arrears are owed to the state. In 2007, he led the effort to defeat an amendment in AB 164 which would have prevented fit noncustodial parents from gaining access to school and other records.
Michael Robinson is now Fathers & Families' full-time legislative representative in Sacramento, and we will be introducing several family court reform bills into the California legislature in February. Starting soon, Fathers & Families activists will be meeting with legislators throughout the state. We want your participation—to get involved, please click here.
Enzo Pastore, our new deputy director, has worked on health care reform legislation in Washington DC, Albany, NY, and Boston, MA for 15 years. Pastore designed and promoted model prescription drug legislation that was introduced in 27 states in 2001. He led a successful legislative campaign in New York in 2007 to fund special housing for senior citizens and the disabled. In 2005, he helped defeat a federal Bush initiative that would have drastically cut Medicaid funding and services.
In January, we will launch our campaign to pass HB 1400, the Massachusetts Shared Parenting bill, and Pastore will be spearheading our campaign.
Through Fathers & Families' efforts, over one-quarter of the Massachusetts Legislature has expressed clear, public support for our Shared Parenting Bill, many of them signing on as co-sponsors. We gathered thousands of signatures to place shared parenting on the 2004 Massachusetts ballot and led a successful campaign for its passage, winning 86% of the vote. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick told the Legislature that if they pass Fathers & Families' Shared Parenting, he will sign it, and F & F recently met with Governor Patrick.
We need volunteers to meet with legislators, do media work, and help build our campaign—to volunteer, please click here.
Federal Legislation, Plus Legislation in Texas & Many Other States
Robinson has worked with legislators and staffers in many other states on military parent legislation, and many states have passed bills modeled in part on SB 1082, the military parents bill we passed in California in 2005. These include: Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, Ohio, Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah, Mississippi, Alaska, Missouri, and others.
Robinson worked with Texas Senator Jane Nelson to pass SB 279, a bill to protect military parents' custody rights, which was signed by Texas Governor Rick Perry earlier this year.
Robinson worked with Mark Sullivan, Committee Chair of the Family Law Section of the American Bar Association's Military Committee, on the National Defense Reauthorization Act (HR 2647), which was signed by President Obama last month. The bill mandates that the Secretary of Defense produce a report on child custody litigation involving members of the Armed Forces, as well as international intrafamilial abductions of servicemembers' children.
The Secretary of Defense will submit its report to the Armed Services Committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives by the end of March. Robinson says:
"Fathers & Families can play a major role in the implementation of this legislation. We need to make sure that the impact isn't watered down, that it's powerful, not sugar-coated."
This problem affects both fathers and mothers who serve. If you are a military mother or father whose custody rights have been adversely affected due to your service, we want to make sure your story is included in the Secretary of Defense's report. To submit your story for inclusion, please fill out our form here.
Prominent Biotechnology Executive Mark Benedyk, PhD Joins Our Board of Directors
Dr. Benedyk is the head of The Pfizer Incubator, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pfizer, Inc., the world's largest research-based pharmaceutical company. The Pfizer Incubator was initiated by Pfizer to support life science start-ups and to explore novel approaches to discovering new medicines.
Dr. Benedyk has over 15 years experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, where he has been involved in business development, product management, and corporate fundraising. His business strategy and fundraising skills will be invaluable for Fathers & Families, and we welcome him as our newest national board member.
What You Can Do
Experienced legislative experts like Robinson and Pastore cost money, as does the organizational work we do surrounding their efforts—please make a tax-deductible gift to support our important work by clicking here.
One very affordable way to help build Fathers & Families is to make a monthly gift—to do so, click here and enter an amount under "monthly contribution."
The Family Court Reform Movement will not progress unless we engage in the political process on a professional level, as our opponents do.
Fathers & Families has the largest membership base, the highest media profile, the most funding, and now the best legislative advocates of any family court reform organization. The time to take this movement to a higher level is now, and it takes money to do it—please give generously by clicking here.
To volunteer to help, please click here.
Together with you in the love of our children,
Glenn Sacks, MA
Executive Director, Fathers & Families
Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S.
Founder, Chairman of the Board, Fathers & Families
Mothers Who Share Parenting
|'It's simply co-parenting — putting the needs of your children front and center'
Longtime Fathers & Families supporter Lisa S. Ebert, JD, Director of Sponsored Programs and Research at the City University of New York, is a mother who shares parenting. Below, she tells her story.
Shared Parenting—It Should be the Norm
By Lisa S. Ebert, JD
My marriage ended almost five years ago. And of course we share the parenting of our two children equally. I say "of course" because I can't imagine it any other way. I am often astounded at the parenting arrangements I see that are anything but shared.
My children, like so many others in society, have had to face the pain of parents who decided to divorce. Ours wasn't a marriage where there were loud fights or infidelity or issues of drug or alcohol use, the kinds of issues where the children, while upset at the ending of the marriage, might also welcome the respite from some of those issues.
Rather, ours was a quiet ending to a good marriage that went bad. Our marriage was mired in painful and confusing issues which, from our 20 years together, seemed to both of us insurmountable. After it ended though, I never thought of us as a broken family. I thought of us as a family in which the parents were no longer married to each other.
We divided up the assets quietly and fairly among ourselves, and we share the custody of our children 50/50. Each month requires the two of us sitting down to coordinate calendars (he travels for work, I also travel occasionally) with the following rules in mind: the kids must have 3 nights in a row in one home, and we each have an equal amount of time with them. We split costs like tutors, clothes, summer camps, birthday parties and sporting events. For vacations, splurges, and other non-necessities, we are on our own.
Is it blissful? No, of course not. We sometimes have disagreements involving money, and parenting, as most parents do. Is it painful sometimes? Yes. My ex-husband and I were best friends for 20 years. Today, we hover between good acquaintances and captive co-parents...
Granted, this is unusual. But it works for us. And my children seem to be thriving. I think my kids have learned, through this gradual process of replacing old traditions with new ones, that they are loved and secure and have two parents who are equally devoted to them.
Anyway, it's not heroic. It shouldn't be newsworthy. It's simply co-parenting—putting the needs of your children front and center, over your own, to help them recover as best they can from the trauma of divorce. I hope to see it become the norm. I have every confidence that it will.
Read more here.
Kids & Dads
|'When I arrived home that day, I told my dad what happened…he was so proud of me for having the courage to face my fear…'
Patience Gbedema, an immigrant girl from Ghana, learned an important lesson from her father when students made fun of her and her accent. She recounts her story in The Courage of Boston's Children, as part of the Max Warburg Courage Curriculum's "Courage in My Life" sixth grade language arts and character development curriculum used in Boston schools.
To have the courage is to have the spirit that enables you to face danger or fear. Courage is also a sudden or unexpected change or shift that one might encounter in one's life. Read more here.
One day, in my English Language Arts class, we were reading a book entitled, Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs. My English teacher asked a student to read two paragraphs from the first chapter on the first page. After the student read, the teacher pointed at me to read aloud to the class.
All eyes were on me when the teacher asked me to read because, as a new student from Ghana, my Ghanaian accent is fairly strong. Some students laughed at me. I began to cry, and then the teacher asked me to stop crying and I did.
When I arrived home from school, I explained to my dad what had happened...