New Column: NOW's Opposition to Shared Parenting Contradicts Its Goal of Gender Equality

August 1, 2006

 

New Column: NOW at 40: Group's Opposition to Shared Parenting Contradicts Its Goal of Gender Equality

My latest co-authored column, NOW at 40: Group's Opposition to Shared Parenting Contradicts Its Goal of Gender Equality (New York Daily News, 7/27/06, Louisville Courier-Journal, 7/12/06, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/7/06), criticizes the National Organization for Women's hard stance against shared parenting. In the column Mike McCormick, Executive Director of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children, and I wrote:

"NOW and its co-thinkers, to their credit, once encouraged fathers, fathering and shared parenting. In 1971 Gloria Steinem wrote that children suffer from having 'too little father' in their lives, and that a more equal balance of parenting was needed. Karen DeCrow, president of NOW from 1974 to 1977, says 'it was clear from the feminist writings and ideas of the '60s and '70s that joint custody was what we supported after a divorce.'
 

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"Fathers have embraced the call for more father involvement. Despite an ever-expanding work week, children today benefit from receiving more hands-on fathering than ever before. The Families and Work Institute found that fathers now provide three-fourths as much child care as mothers do - 50 percent more than 30 years ago.

"Paradoxically, while fathers are more directly involved in their children's lives than ever, their bonds with their children are also more fragile. In the late 1970s NOW reversed itself and began promoting sole custody in divorce cases. In most divorces mothers are awarded sole (or de facto sole) custody of the children, and most post-divorce parenting time schedules offer fathers and children less than 20 percent physical time together.

"Along with divorce attorneys, NOW is the largest organized group fighting shared parenting legislation. It has issued numerous warnings, including one that says fathers' groups seeking joint custody laws are 'using the abuse of power in order to control in the same fashion as do batterers.' In their statements the words 'husband' and 'father' are generally preceded by the word 'abusive.'

"Using these scare tactics, NOW has blocked shared parenting bills in several states this year, including New York and Michigan. Yet as even feminist firebrand Martha Burk notes, 'With close to half of all marriages ending in divorce, it's impossible to believe that the majority of divorcing fathers are violent, and it would be wrong to base public policy on the notion that they are.'

To write a Letter to the Editor of the New York Daily News, the 7th largest newspaper in the United States, regarding "Devoted dads need support NOW" (7/27/06), click here.
 
The American Coalition for Fathers and Children
The American Coalition for Fathers and Children is dedicated to creating a family law system which promotes equal rights for all parties affected by divorce. Contact the ACFC at 1-800-978-3237 or visit them on the web at www.acfc.org.

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The Second Wives Club
The Second Wives Club is what women in blended families are looking for: Remarriage, divorce, child custody, and step parenting discussed in a solution-oriented, mature, and intelligent way; articles and news written by thought-provoking experts and journalists; personal accounts and advice from some of life's most interesting women. www.SecondWivesClub.com


Feminist Columnist Slams Glenn, ACFC Over North Dakota Shared Parenting Initiative

Two weeks ago Mike McCormick, Executive Director of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children, and I co-authored North Dakota Shared Parenting Initiative Will Help Children of Divorce (Grand Forks Herald, 7/18/06) in defense of the North Dakota Shared Parenting Initiative. The Initiative is sponsored by the local ACFC affiliate.

On Sunday the opposition fired back with Don't force 'shared parenting' on children (Grand Forks Herald, 7/30/06). The column was penned by feminist blogger Trish Wilson, a longtime opponent of the shared parenting movement.

Wilson's principal argument is that shared parenting "should not be forced on parents."

What Wilson really means is that, after a divorce, mothers should not have to share custody of their children with the children's fathers if the don't want to. This presupposes that the kids really only belong to mom, and courts are unfairly "forcing" mom to share the kids with dad. However, moms and dads should appear before the court as absolute equals.

If one switches the genders and looks at families where the father is the primary caregiver (and thus the one to presumably gain sole custody), this feminist presumption looks pretty ugly. I switched the genders in my column California NOW Takes Stand Against Working Mothers (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 2/23/04). Two years later, I still have never heard a reasonable feminist rejoinder to the argument I laid out in that column.

Wilson writes that "ninety percent of parents settle without the need for court intervention in deciding what form of custody is best for them and for their children." This statement is very misleading, because it implies genuine agreement between parents. Yet such accords aren't made in a vacuum--they're bargained in the shadow of the law.  What happens in most cases is that fathers must agree to having a very limited role in their children's lives because they don't have the tens of thousands of dollars (or more) necessary to fight for shared parenting in family law proceedings which are heavily stacked against them.

Wilson surprised me a bit by writing "When dads make an issue of custody, they get some form of it more than half the time...The Massachusetts (gender bias) task force, for example, reported that fathers get primary or joint custody in more than 70 percent of contested cases." This has been discredited for a long time, and I'm surprised that Wilson, who does have some knowledge (albeit twisted) of family law, would cite it. In my co-authored column PBS Declares War on Dads (World Net Daily, 10/20/05) family law attorney Jeff Leving and I wrote:

"Misguided women's advocates often claim that fathers usually win custody when they pursue it, and that the reason few fathers have custody is because few of them want it. Boston Globe columnist Cathy Young examined the research upon which these claims are based and concluded that they belong in the 'Phony Statistics Hall of Fame.'

"For example, feminist psychologist Phyllis Chesler claimed in her book Mothers on Trial that fathers win 70% of custody battles. However, this widely cited factoid was based on a biased, pre-selected sample of 60 women who had been referred by feminist lawyers or women's aid groups because they had custody issues.

"Other claims are based on the 1989 Gender Bias Study of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which reported that when fathers seek custody, they win primary or joint physical custody 70 percent of the time. Yet this figure does not separate contested from uncontested custody bids, and showed that in bids for sole custody mothers were still far more successful than fathers. The study also notes that 'women who lose custody often [have] mental, physical, or emotional handicaps'--in other words, when fathers win it's usually only because the mother has obvious problems...

"mothers rarely lose custody of their children to anyone, ever. For example, a Stanford study of 1,000 divorced couples selected at random found that divorcing mothers were awarded sole custody four times as often as divorcing fathers in contested custody cases. An Ohio study published in Family Advocate found that fathers seeking sole custody obtain it in less than 10% of cases, and a Utah study conducted over 23 years found similar results. According to researcher Robert Seidenberg, a study of all divorce-custody decrees in Arlington County, Virginia over an 18 month period failed to find even one father who was given sole or even joint custody of his children unless the mother agreed to it.

"In the study 'Child custody arrangements: a study of two New Jersey counties' published in the Journal of Psychiatry & Law, New Jersey mental health experts  researched hundreds of custody cases in two New Jersey counties, Bergen (one of the wealthiest) and Essex (one of the poorest).  Rich man or poor man, for these New Jersey fathers it didn't matter--in either county they won custody in only one out of every 20 cases."

Wilson lists various reasons why she thinks children fare poorly under shared parenting. In the original column we cited research showing that kids do best in shared parenting arrangements.

Wilson does generously allow that in some cases shared parenting is best. She writes:

"In the cases where shared parenting has worked, the families had these qualities in common: The parents had an amicable relationship, their divorce was amicable with little or no conflict, they had higher-than-average incomes, they had only one child, neither parent (especially the father) had remarried, they lived within close proximity of each other, they had flexible job schedules, the child could handle the shared parenting arrangement, the parents chose freely between themselves to try shared parenting - and they chose to make it work."

This would throw the gate wide open for shared parenting for all of about 2% of divorcing couples. Thanks, Trish!

To join the debate over shared parenting in the Grand Forks Herald, write a Letter to the Editor concerning our Initiative helps children of divorce (7/18/06) or Wilson's Don't force 'shared parenting' on children by clicking on tdennis@gfherald.com

Observant readers will note that while I have linked to Wilson's column above and here, on Wilson's site she has her column posted but no link to mine. Wilson and I have clashed on many occasions and, as far as I can tell, she has never linked to my work, while I have always linked to her work so my readers can read and consider for themselves our opponents' arguments.

Leving's Divorce Magazine
Leving's Divorce Magazine is the new magazine for the modern divorced man. It's available online, with articles focusing on issues such as men's reproductive rights (or lack thereof), Parental Alienation Syndrome and child support. Visit now and get a free subscription. 

Help, Resources for Dads
The National Fathers' Resource Center is a division of Fathers For Equal Rights, Inc. (FER), located in Dallas, Texas, with offices in both Dallas and Houston. In existence for over three decades, it has services and resources for dads nationwide and is one of the largest and most active fathers' rights organizations in the U.S. www.fathers4kids.org

Help for Michigan Dads
Michigan family law attorney Mindy L. Hitchcock has experience fighting for noncustodial parents against Michigan's abusive FOC. Her holistic approach to divorce gets results for her clients while avoiding the scorched earth approach to law that leaves families emotionally and financially devastated. www.Lady4Justice.com

Boy Mistakenly Threatened With Jail For Being Deadbeat Dad

Child support enforcement is notorious for its bureaucratic mix-ups and its inability to fix them, but even by their standards this Orlando, Florida story--Boy Mistakenly Threatened With Jail For Being Deadbeat Dad (Local6.com, FL) is extreme:

"A childless teenager in Orange County, Fla., was threatened with jail for not paying thousands of dollars in child support despite efforts by his mother to clear up the identity mistake.

"The report featured Timothy Williams, who received letters asking that he pay child support for several children.

"'At first I thought it was funny but it just kept coming and coming and coming,' Williams said.

"The first letter came in April.

"'It was from the Department of Revenue stating that my son was past due in child support payment,' mother Arnell Williams said. 'I was like, 'Wow.'

"The woman said she took the letters to the child support enforcement office in downtown Orlando.

"'I spoke to the young lady at the window who said she will make sure it will get taken care of,' Williams said.

"'But the letters kept coming,' Local 6 reporter Nancy Alvarez said. 'So did a payment booklet and court orders, all of it for money owed to three different women for several children, including some who were older than Timothy. But the state still thought the teen was their dad.'

"With the documents threatening arrest if Timothy did not pay up, Williams called the Department of Revenue in Tallahassee.

"However, the letters continued to come to Williams. She then called the Problem Solvers.

"Local 6 News discovered that the real Timothy Williams is a man with a long criminal record.

"Last month, Jennifer Wilson called the Problem Solvers after the state sent three of her child support payments to the wrong address.

"The Department of Revenue blamed the mix up on a new computer system."

I love it--here we have an outrageous error, and the woman can't get it solved through the department, and it takes the media to get the injustice fixed. I wish I could say I was surprised.

I've written about child support errors on numerous occasions. In my co-authored column Memphis Commercial Appeal, Chest-Thumping Sheriff Humiliate Hard Luck Noncustodial Parents (Tennessee Tribune, 4/27/06) we provided some examples of the way "innocent people have been vilified and subjected to public ridicule" when child support enforcement agencies publicize "most wanted deadbeat parent" lists. We wrote:

"...when the Louisville Courier-Journal published the names and addresses of 1,000 alleged child support scofflaws in July of last year on behalf of Jefferson County Attorney Irv Maze, they listed James H. Frazier as a deadbeat who owes $57,000. Unfortunately, they listed his name above the home address of James R. Frazier.

"WAVE 3 TV in Louisville reported that James R. Frazier and his wife Bertha--both of whom seethed at being publicly humiliated--had been erroneously targeted by Maze before, and had spent years fighting to straighten out the error. Maze's office had previously acknowledged its mistake--and then went ahead and published the erroneous information anyway. In fact, as of October 1--over two months later--Maze still had not corrected the error on his list of 1,000 'deadbeats' on the County Attorney's website.

"ABC 7 KGO News in San Francisco, California has followed the saga of Alex Mendez, a childless man who has been mistakenly targeted for alleged overdue child support five times in the past three years by two different counties. After embarrassing media coverage, local enforcement officials repeatedly pledged to fix the error but have failed to do so.

"The list published by the Commercial Appeal appears to have similar problems. Memphis' News Channel 3 WREG quotes a juvenile court source as saying that some of those on the list may have already paid their child support. Nicholas Burchett of WREG was shocked and angered to find his father listed as a 'deadbeat'--the man has been dead for 14 years.

"Eyewitness News-WPTY reports that the Department of Human Services lost thousands of dollars of child support paid by Hugh Jones of Memphis, leaving Jones with a $10,000 child support arrearage. According to WPTY, DHS cashed Jones' checks six times but, despite Jones' detailed documentation, has failed to credit his account. WPTY reports that Jones 'has to continue paying his child support if he wants to remain a free man' and avoid jail, even though his 'debt' consists of money he has already paid."

In the case of Herbert L. Chalmers, a St. Louis, Missouri child support obligor, the state's wage garnishment to pay child support for his adult children left him only $400 a month to live on. Chalmers asserted that he was being vastly overcharged, and that he was unable to get the error fixed. In April Chalmers exploded, going on a murderous rampage before committing suicide. In the ensuing investigation the Missouri Department of Social Services admitted that for the past several years Chalmers was being garnisheed five times more in support than he actually owed. The DSS blamed a clerical error.

To learn more about the Chalmers case, see I Couldn't Be Less Surprised

If you're a California child support obligor with this type of problem, write to me about it by clicking here.

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Women's Advocate Criticizes Me on PAS in the Providence Journal

In early July I sparred with feminist Anne Grant over Parental Alienation Syndrome in the Providence Journal--see my co-authored column Protect Children from Alienation (7/8/06) and Grant's The discredited 'Parental Alienation Syndrome' (6/27/06). PAS occurs when one parent has turned his or her children against the other parent, destroying the loving bonds the children and the target parent once enjoyed.

Last week Grant fired back at me and my co-author, family law attorney Jeff Leving, in her extended letter Alienation smacks of Stockholm Syndrome (Providence Journal, 7/21/06). Grant opens by writing that I "have rushed here from California to rally the troops in support of the so-called Parental Alienation Syndrome," to which I thought "so what?"

Grant criticizes my short narration of the Amy Neustein case, one of the most highly-publicized PAS cases. In Protect Children from Alienation we wrote:

"Neustein's now adult daughter, Sherry Orbach, publicly refuted her mother's claims last year, writing that when she was a child her mother 'would begin by telling me a sordid--and false--story about my father...She then instructed me to repeat the story word for word until she was satisfied with my rendition.' According to Orbach:

"'My father never sexually abused me...I...owe my existence as a normal young adult to the family judges...who helped me reunite with my father in the face of considerable opposition in the media.'"

Grant counters:

"Photographs suggest another story. The smiling 6-year-old became a different child after the Brooklyn, N.Y. Family Court kept concerned experts from testifying, and awarded her father sole custody. By the age of 8, Sherry appeared dazed and emaciated, and lurid in scarlet lipstick and nail polish."

I've seen the picture Grant refers to, and don't find it particularly convincing. The girl could be emaciated, or she could just be a normal girl. My daughter is also 8 years old, and there are several kids in her second grade class who look just as thin as Sherry did in the picture. And Grant's comment that Orbach looks "lurid in scarlet lipstick and nail polish" is the product of an overactive imagination. My daughter and her friends sometimes play with lipstick, and my wife and my daughter often get manicures and pedicures together--is my little girl "lurid," too?

Grant writes that "People held hostage at any age soon identify with their abusers; like Sherry Orbach, they will say or do whatever is required. Yes, they are being alienated, but not by 'Parental Alienation Syndrome.' Their scientifically predictable behavior is called the Stockholm Syndrome."

Sherry Orbach wrote the refutation of her mother's claims at age 24--hardly a "hostage" of her father or anybody else.

To read Grant's full criticism of our article, click here. To join the debate on PAS in the Providence Journal, write a Letter to the Editor by clicking here.

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Accurate Paternity Testing

There are many important reasons why people choose to have a paternity test done. A child is entitled to the sense of belonging and identity that comes from knowing his/her parents. An alleged father also has the right to know if a child is biologically his. Paternity fraud in the United States is unfortunately a fairly common occurrence, affecting perhaps millions of men. Now you can get the accurate, fast and affordable answers to your paternity questions. Visit www.accuratepaternity.com or call 877-434-0292 to talk to a DNA testing expert or to order a confidential test today.

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Second Marriage Struggles: Alec Baldwin and Long Time Girlfriend Separate, Blame Pressure from Basinger Custody Battle

According to the Baldwin Splits From Girlfriend (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/25/06):

"Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin has split from his long-term girlfriend Nicole Seidel after four years together.

"Friends of actor and leading lawyer Seidel have blamed the pressure of Baldwin's bitter and protracted custody battle with his ex-wife Kim Basinger for the break-up.

"A pal tells Page Six, 'The stress of the custody hearings took its toll. They're still friends, and Alec thinks Nicole's great.'"

I have no idea to what degree the above reflects the real reasons for the Baldwin-Seidel separation, but I do know that the mistreatment of fathers in family court often puts tremendous strain on second marriages. In my co-authored column Tennessee Appellate Court Sends Message: Second Families Count (Memphis Commercial Appeal, 8/23/02) we wrote:

"[anti-father family court bias] often makes it impossible for men to be fathers to the children of their first marriages, and also necessitates costly legal battles which can drain second families' financial resources. Second families are often left feeling that they must always maintain a permanent defensive posture, and that they have lost control over their own lives."

I've discussed Baldwin's custody battle on several occasions--see Kim Basinger's Mom: Kim is 'Alienating' Her Daughter from Alec Baldwin  and Alec Baldwin Defamed.


Stop Feeling Like a Wicked Step-Parent

On the subject of second families and step-parents, the Second Wives Club, which has a lot of good material on divorce-related issues, recently had an interesting article called Stop feeling like a wicked step-parent. In the article Linda Lewis Griffith, a marriage and family therapist, writes:

"Why are inherited children so difficult? The answers are varied and complex. First off, new step-parents have had no input into their inherited children's lives. The kids may exhibit behaviors that cause their step-parents to gasp. But the same people must warmly accept these juvenile charges into their lives.

"To make matters even worse, the new step-parents have little control over their inherited kids. Because they are not the biological parents, they have minimal authority over the children's discipline, schoolwork or chores...

"Inherited children have often had compromised upbringings because of disruptions in their lives. They may have experienced unstable living arrangements, intense arguing between their parents, multiple step-parents or drug or alcohol abuse. As a result, they can be needier and even more challenging to parent.

"Inherited children might also be unplanned. For example, a woman may marry a husband whose children only visit during the summer. But two years into their marriage his 15-year-old daughter decides to live with him full-time. Now the wife's life is suddenly upended as she's entrusted with the care of a rebellious teen."

Second marriages have a high failure rate, and issues like these are some of the reasons. Griffith provides interesting solutions--read the full article here.
 

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Help for Seattle Fathers
The Law Offices of O. Yale Lewis III is a one-person law firm that focuses on customer care. Mr. Lewis can help you identify and focus on the outcome that you want and implement the steps necessary to get there. www.yalelewislaw.com.

Remember, Women Never Lie About Rape...

According to Dana Point woman recants rapes (Orange County Register, 7/25/06):

"A woman who accused six men of kidnapping and raping her at gunpoint two years ago admitted she made it up, the Orange County District Attorney's Office reported Monday.

"Tamara Anne Moonier, 29, is charged with grand theft, perjury, presenting a false claim to the state and making a false report to an officer. She is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 22.

"Prosecutors said Moonier made the false accusations on June 6, 2004. The accused men were never charged or convicted in the case, authorities said.

"Fullerton Police Department Investigators discovered she had lied after one of the accused provided a 40-minute tape, which showed Moonier actively participating and orchestrating the encounters, prosecutors reported.

"The Orange County Grand Jury indicted Moonier for grand theft for receiving money from the states designated for victims of crime."

Interesting that the crimes for which Moonier is charged (to which she'll probably plea bargain and get away without jail time) are "grand theft, perjury, presenting a false claim to the state and making a false report to an officer." Nothing which reflects the terrible thing she did to the young men she falsely accused. I prefer the ancient Chinese method of dealing with false claims--if you made a false claim against someone, the law gives you the penalty that they would have received had they been found guilty.

Make no mistake--this recantation only happened because there was a tape of the incident. In fact, previous articles show that Moonier--incredibly--actually kept insisting that she had been raped even after the tape surfaced. The tapes also showed Moonier mocking one of the less well-endowed men in the room. Nice girl...


Remember, Liars Aren't the Problem, Glenn Sacks Is

One of the issues I get pounded on the most from feminist blogs is the problem of false accusations of rape. For some of the milder examples, see Glenn Sacks = David Duke and California Feminist Leader Slams Glenn. I guess I could speculate as to why this is, but it's not my problem. Anyway, I've covered the issue of false rape accusations on numerous occasions--to learn more, see:

1) My debate on the Kobe Bryant case with two leaders of the National Organization for Women in the San Francisco Chronicle--my column was Kobe Bryant Ruling a Step Towards Equity in Rape Trials, NOW's Terry O'Neill and Melanie Stafford column was Survivors must not be twice victimized (8/1/04).

2) My co-authored column criticizing a California spousal rape bill which passed the legislature unanimously and was signed into law in June--Kuehl's Spousal Rape Bill Will Harm Innocent Men (Sacramento News & Review, 6/15/06).

3) My radio interview on His Side with Glenn Sacks with former Colorado prosecutor Craig Silverman, who was known for his zealous prosecution of rapists, and Fox News Columnist Wendy McElroy--to listen, go to  Kobe Bryant, Rape Shield Laws, and the False Accusations Problem (3/21/04).

4) My rather bizarre radio interview on His Side with Glenn Sacks with Katherine Baker, who proposes a new crime called "Reckless Sex," under which a "defendant would be guilty of reckless sexual conduct if, in a first sexual encounter with another particular person, the defendant had sexual intercourse without using a condom." To listen, go to Criminalizing 'Reckless Sex'--Safeguard for Women or  New Way to Herd Men Into Jail? (3/6/05).

5) My co-authored column Research Shows False Accusations of Rape Common (Los Angeles Daily Journal, San Francisco Daily Journal, 9/15/04, World Net Daily, 9/18/04)

6) Various enewsletter entries, including here and here.

Has Your Career Been Impacted by Custody Issues?
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Concerned about Financial Issues in Your Divorce?
If you're concerned about financial issues in your divorce, contact Jim DiGabriele of DiGabriele, McNulty & Co by email here or at 973-243-2600.

Letters From a Deadbeat Dad
Have you ever been framed as a "deadbeat dad" while you were just trying to be a father? Have you ever been forced to pay child support while being denied your basic rights? Have you ever had to explain Parental Alienation Syndrome to your own child? Have you ever heard about fighting family law battles outside the law by following principles of non-violence--and winning? Read Letters From a Deadbeat Dad by Cosmo Monkhouse.

The Guns of August

This week marks the 92nd anniversary of one of the greatest tragedies in human history--World War I. Some of you may recall that I defended World War I veterans against criticism from feminist Helen Caldicott in my piece Dr. Helen Caldicott Spits on My Grandfather (Cybercast News Service, 3/28/03).

Caldicott is certainly correct that the war was one of the most senseless slaughters in human history, and Lenin was correct that it was an imperialist war. But unlike Caldicott, I believe that men go to war out of a sense of duty and obligation, not bloodlust, as Caldicott maintains. In the column I wrote:

"I have my grandfather's war medals in a small wooden chest, along with two pictures--one of him as a young man in military uniform, and another of him as a grandfather. Also in the box is a poem about the war which he wrote to the woman who would become my grandmother. The poem is simple and about as good as one can expect from an immigrant with an elementary school education and a future as a milkman.

"When the United States entered World War I my grandfather lied about his age so he could join the army, wanting to show his gratitude to the country which had allowed him to escape foreign tyranny. Wounded in the decisive Battle of the Argonne Forest in 1918, he was awarded the Purple Heart and the French Croix de Guerre.

"Last week Dr. Helen Caldicott, renowned feminist and antiwar activist, spat on him.

"In a speech released under the title 'Men: Natural Born Killers' Caldicott told feminist antiwar demonstrators that the male of the human species has unbridled bloodlust, explaining that 'young men rushed off to battle in the first World War. So eager were they to participate in the noble act of killing that they lied about their age.'

"In other words, grandpa didn't enlist out of duty, loyalty or honor, but instead because he wanted the chance to kill.

"Welcome to the world of modern feminism, where everything men do is either privilege or pathology and all events and actions are seen through a sharply focused, anti-male lens."

Read the full column here.

Expose False Allegations with Technology
Don't let the anti-male bias in criminal law victimize you. If you could be falsely accused by an angry woman, be prepared! Use technology to expose the real aggressor. DontMakeHerMad.com

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New Jersey Divorce and Family Law
New Jersey family law attorney David Perry Davis, Esq. can help you through your divorce. In Pasqua v. Council (2006) Davis successfully challenged New Jersey's unconstitutional practice of failing to appoint attorneys for indigent child support obligors at enforcement hearings where they face incarceration. As a result of this suit, trial courts must apply the same standard used when a defendant requests a public defender in a criminal matter. www.dpdlaw.com


Silicon Valley Weekly Does Cover Story on Default Paternity Judgments

The new cover story Who's Your Daddy? (Metro Silicon Valley, 7/19/06) provides an extended and needed discussion of default paternity judgments. Metro Silicon Valley has a circulation of 200,000 and is one of the largest weekly publications in California. The article has quotes from numerous people involved in the struggle against paternity fraud, including: longtime paternity fraud crusader Carnell Smith; Taron James, the founder of Veterans Fighting Paternity Fraud; Santa Ana family law attorney Linda Ferrer, winner of the Navarro case; myself; and others.

The story centers around the story of "Jim Jones" of Redwood City, who has paid child support for nine years for a child he has never met. According to the article:

"Financial responsibility began when Ethan's mother named Jones as Ethan's father on welfare paperwork. The 1996 Welfare Reform Act requires women to name their child's fathers in order to receive public assistance--a law designed to recoup government welfare costs by garnishing the wages of 'deadbeat dads.'

"Under California law, Jones had six months from the time he learned about Ethan to contest paternity. Unaware of this deadline, and unable to afford an attorney, Jones missed his chance. To this day, Jones does not have any proof that he is Ethan's father...

"Jones' story began 12 years ago in Sacramento when he met a pretty blonde girl named Michelle at a coffee bar. The couple struck up a relationship, hanging out at coffee shops and shopping at the mall. After four months, Jones decided Michelle wasn't the one and ended the relationship.

"Four months later, Jones learned secondhand that Michelle was pregnant--and claiming that he was the father. Jones contacted Michelle, offered to help and began preparing for fatherhood. Several months later the couple had an argument that escalated to the point where Michelle told Jones that the baby was not his. She told him to leave, and he did.

"Two and a half years later, living in Santa Cruz, Jones was visited by a process server bearing a hefty bill--Jones recalls $20,000--for child support in arrears. The bill compelled Jones to begin paying, and ordered his appearance in court to sign or contest the declaration of paternity.

"'I was completely surprised because she told me it wasn't my kid,' said Jones. 'I thought I'd just call Michelle and straighten things out.'

"Jones hunted for Michelle, and did not attend his court hearing--a decision he regrets to this day. By not appearing for his hearing, the court registered Jones, by default judgment, as Ethan's father in the California child support services database. A few months later, Jones' six-month window to contest paternity closed.

"Unaware of the severity of these occurrences, Jones continued to search on his own for Michelle and his alleged son. He called old friends and acquaintances. He took trips to Sacramento to scour old hangouts and neighborhoods where she had lived. At other times, exacerbated and angry, he simply ignored the situation, as it continued to worsen. The government started to garnish wages from his paychecks."

Nice.

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Tom Ellis Rides Against the Wind
Congratulations to Thomas Ellis on selling 1,000 copies of his self-published The Rantings of a Single Male: Losing Patience with Feminism, Political Correctness... and Basically Everything. It's quite an accomplishment, given that the publishing industry gives vastly more attention to Women's Studies books than Men's Studies. Rantings describes the rise of feminism from the mid '70s to the present, through Ellis' personal experiences, and is loaded with outrageous stories. Available at Amazon and in Bulk.


AB 252

The article also discusses AB 252, a paternity fraud law passed by the California legislature in 2004. The article notes:

"[AB 252] is a short-lived law that allows men named as fathers in default judgments two years from the law's enactment to contest paternity via a DNA test."

"...The window for A.B. 252 expires on Jan. 1, 2007...Glenn Sacks...who writes men's rights newspaper columns, says A.B. 252 is better than nothing, but not good enough.

"'The problem is that time is running out,' Sacks said. 'A certain amount of men have been going to court and getting the paternity test and are getting let off the hook. But a lot of guys don't know about this. What should be happening is child enforcement people should be sending notices to everyone saying there is this new law.'

"Child support services don't disseminate this information, say critics, because doing so could mean losing paying fathers, and hence federal funding.

"Indeed, states must name fathers in 90 percent of their child support welfare cases, or risk losing federal money. To comply, states have taken liberally to the use of 'default judgments' when the alleged father cannot be located.

"In Los Angeles County, nearly 80 percent of paternity establishments (in 2000-01) came from default judgments. In California as a whole, a whopping 70 percent were default judgments, according to midyear reports from the California Department of Child Support Services...

"Says Sacks about fathers named in default judgments, 'It might be the right name, it might be the wrong name, it might be someone she thinks is the father but is not sure. Also, it might be Juan Gomez and there are 11,000 Juan Gomezes, and then the correct person is not properly served, and then a default judgment is entered against him for 18 years of child support for a kid he's never met, and in many cases, may not even be his.'"

As an aside, one can see an example of my assertion that there has not been enough outreach on AB 252 from this article, which mentions in passing that "Jones learned of A.B. 252 while being interviewed for this article."

To send a Letter to the Editor about Who's Your Daddy?, click here.

Michael Robinson and the California Alliance for Families and Children worked on AB 252 and also helped prevent the possible depublication of the 2004 Navarro decision. They have done great work on the paternity fraud issue in California.

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Lisa Scott Launches RealFamilyLaw.com
Shared Parenting Advocate/Family Law Attorney Lisa Scott has launched www.RealFamilyLaw.com to expose the truth about what is happening in our family law system. Lisa, the all-time leader in appearances on His Side with Glenn Sacks, says that she was "tired of having her stuff rejected by elitist bar publications and politically-correct newspapers" and decided to start her own website. www.RealFamilyLaw.com

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The Taron James Case

The Metro Silicon Valley article also discusses the Taron James case, a horrible injustice. In my co-authored column Defrauded Veterans Have Mixed Emotions on Veterans Day (Daily Breeze [Los Angeles], 11/11/03), family law attorney Jeff Leving and I wrote:

"For Torrance photographer Taron James, a decorated veteran of Operation Northern Watch, Veterans Day always brings mixed emotions.

"James enlisted in the Navy at age 20 in the days leading up to the first Persian Gulf War, and carried out hazardous reconnaissance missions behind Iraqi lines in the war's aftermath.

"He earned four service medals and three ribbons before his honorable discharge in 1994. Yet his reward for his service has been nine years of unremitting government harassment, financial deprivation, and a constant struggle to stay out of jail."

According to the Metro Silicon Valley article, "Taron James first discovered that the state considered him a father in 1996 when the DMV notified him they would be suspending his driver's license for failure to pay child support.

"By this point, the six-month window to contest paternity had passed. James could not locate his ex-girlfriend to request a DNA test directly, and the courts offered no alternative recourse. For the next four years, James watched money leak out of his paychecks, while the state intercepted his income taxes. In 1999, with his checks cut almost in half, James declared bankruptcy.

"In 2000, James finally made contact with his ex-girlfriend. 'I approached her friends and family and I said, 'Make me the bad guy; prove me wrong,' James tells about his quest for a DNA test. Finally she acquiesced; the test exonerated James.

"But his battle was far from over. Even armed with this evidence, it took James five years to have a court disestablish paternity. The remedy was bittersweet. 'The judge said I was a clear victim of fraud but he also said that child support services was a victim of fraud too, so they shouldn't have to pay the money back.'"

My view is that since the state helped perpetrate the fraud, probably knowingly in this case, they should be liable for the costs of the fraud.

I've also covered the paternity fraud issue in several articles, including my co-authored Preserving Paternity Fraud (Orange County Register,(10/3/02). To listen to Linda Ferrer and Taron James on His Side with Glenn Sacks, see Appeal Court to LA County: 'We Won't Sully our Hands' Enforcing False Paternity Judgments.

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Controversy Over Judge's Treatment of Illegal Immigrant Who Sought Protection Order Misses Important Point

From the Los Angeles Times story It Wasn't the Court Order She Sought
Illegal immigrant seeks order against husband. The judge tells her to get out or be deported
(7/20/06):

"A substitute judge hearing the case of an illegal immigrant seeking a restraining order against her husband threatened to turn her over to immigration officials if she didn't leave his courtroom.

"Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Pro Tem Bruce R. Fink told Aurora Gonzalez during last week's hearing that he was going to count to 20 and that if she was still in his courtroom when he finished, he would have her arrested and deported to Mexico.

"In an interview Wednesday, Fink said that the woman had admitted in court that she was in the country illegally and that he didn't want her to get in trouble with immigration officials.

"'We have a federal law that says that this status is not allowed,' Fink said. 'You can't just ignore it. What I really wanted was to not give this woman any problems.'

"He said he thought the couple 'obviously wanted to get back together' and that he was trying to avoid granting a restraining order that would keep them apart for at least a year. He said he also thought the court order might lead to Gonzalez's deportation, because her husband would not be able to continue helping her get legal residency...

"In her initial court petition, Gonzalez alleged that Francisco Salgado, 51, her husband of six years, was 'verbally and emotionally abusive' to her and their two young boys. Gonzalez, who moved into a domestic violence shelter last month, accused Salgado of referring to her with a derogatory term and threatening to call immigration authorities.

"In last Friday's hearing in Pomona, Fink asked Gonzalez if she was in fact an illegal immigrant.

"I'm illegal," she said.

"'I hate the immigration laws that we have,' the judge responded, according to the court transcript, 'but I think the bailiff could take you to the immigration services and send you to Mexico. Is that what you guys want?'

"'Fink then asked Salgado if he wanted his wife deported. Salgado replied he was helping his wife get her legal papers, according to the transcript....At that point, Fink warned Gonzalez to either leave his courtroom or risk arrest.

"'I'm going to count to 20, and if you people have left this courtroom and disappeared, she isn't going to Mexico forthwith,' Fink said, according to the court transcript. 'One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. When I get to 20, she gets arrested and goes to Mexico.'

"After Gonzalez left the courtroom, Fink asked Salgado if he wanted to stay, and he said yes.

"Fink then dismissed the case: 'Well, she brought the proceedings, and if she's not here to go forward, I guess all of the requests are denied.'

"On Wednesday, Fink, who has been a family law attorney for 35 years, insisted he was seeking what he thought was an agreeable solution for both parties.

"'What I saw was nothing more than some yelling and screaming between a husband and wife,' he said.

"'I also saw that they really didn't want to not be together anymore.'

"If he had issued the restraining order, Fink said, 'we'd wind up with exactly the opposite of what these people wanted.'

"'The cure could be far worse than the illness,' he said."

Naturally the controversy is over the way the judge treated the woman based on her immigration status. But what interests me about the case is that it's one of the all too rare examples of when a judge actually stands up to a woman who's employing  spurious charges of domestic violence against her husband for personal advantage. In my co-authored column Letterman Case Shows Problems with Restraining Orders (Albuquerque Tribune, 1/17/06) I wrote:

"...it is far too easy to get a restraining order based on a false allegation...in the rush to protect the abused, the rights of the accused are being violated on an arguably unprecedented scale. Many if not most domestic violence restraining orders are simply tactical maneuvers designed to gain advantage in high stakes family law proceedings. The Illinois Bar Journal calls the orders 'part of the gamesmanship of divorce.'

"A recent article in the Family Law News, the official publication of the State Bar of California Family Law Section, explains that the bar is concerned that 'protective orders are increasingly being used in family law cases to help one side jockey for an advantage in child custody.' The authors note that protective orders are 'almost routinely issued by the court in family law proceedings even when there is relatively meager evidence and usually without notice to the restrained person....it is troubling that they appear to be sought more and more frequently for retaliation and litigation purposes'...

"Despite these grave effects, many courts grant restraining orders to practically any woman who applies. District Judge Daniel Sanchez, who issued the restraining order against Letterman, explained 'If [applicants] make a proper pleading, then I grant it'...

"A restrained person does have the opportunity to contest the orders at a hearing a couple of weeks later. However, these proceedings are often just a formality for which no more than 15 minutes are generally allotted. In fact, the State of California's website gives the following advice for men who are contesting restraining orders:

"Practice saying why you disagree with the charges. Do not take more than three minutes to say what you disagree with. You can bring witnesses or documents that support your case, but the judge may not have enough time to talk to the witnesses."


Immigration/DV Case and VAWA

It's interesting too, that women's advocates are now saying--correctly--that Gonzalez would not have been deported because the federal Violence Against Women Act offers a stay of any deportation proceeding for abused women. In a subsequent article here, one immigration attorney noted that the restraining order "could help her on her VAWA case."

This VAWA provision is probably well-intended, but it also serves as a tremendous incentive to make false charges of abuse. For example, an immigrant woman employed these types of charges against Edgar P., one of the hero fathers I've written about.

Late Note--According to this article, the woman got her (dubious) restraining order granted, and the judge was dismissed. What a surprise....
 
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Philadelphia Daily News Disses Dads

The Philadelphia Daily News disses dads in the Jail Threat Springs $$ (7/20/06):

"The deadbeat who slouched in front of Judge Leonard A. Ivanoski looked like a thousand others.

"In shabby clothes and a hangdog expression, the man reeled off a list of reasons why he had failed to pay almost $16,000 he owed in child support.

"But Ivanoski, a diminutive, silver-haired Common Pleas senior judge with deceptively friendly looks, wanted to hear no more.

"'You're just giving me a song and a dance,' he barked. 'You had the ability to pay when you should have and could have. There's willful, civil contempt here.'

"Two months in prison, Ivanoski sternly decreed. A uniformed deputy slapped handcuffs on the flabbergasted father.

"With a pleased nod, prosecutor Maria McLaughlin stood, left the courtroom and chalked up another victory for Philadelphia Family Court and the Child Support Enforcement Unit, a branch of District Attorney Lynne Abraham's office that McLaughlin supervises.

"'Incarceration absolutely helps us get the money,' said McLaughlin, an assistant district attorney for 14 years and mother of two. 'Otherwise these defendants don't take you seriously. They come down here with the expectation: 'Oh, I'll never go to jail for child-support violations.' Then they find themselves in our holding cells'...

"'Ninety-nine times out of 100, the dads romp around with a woman, she gets pregnant, and that's the last she sees of him. It's the 'free-ride club,' Abraham said. 'Since we don't have the ability to make a father love his children, we at least have the legal authority to make them support their unloved, unwanted children. It's a shame we have to order people to do that.'

"Defendants claiming they can't afford to pay could find their finances shrinking anyway...

"'There are so many innovative ways to collect money,' McLaughlin said.

"Those who ignore orders to come to court are hauled before a judge on an arrest warrant to explain their noncompliance.

"An unswayed judge can toss the offender in prison for up to six months per case.

"But McLaughlin emphasizes that she's not out to fill the jails.

"'All of our defendants hold the key to the jailhouse door,' she said, explaining that judges give every jail-bound deadbeat a 'purge factor'--typically a fraction of the arrears they can pay to walk free from prison. For example, Ivanoski set a purge factor of $1,200 for the deadbeat dad who owed $16,000 to avoid his two-month sentence.

"Even with the threat of jail, Philadelphia is full of child-support violators. Family Court has 121,937 active cases of deadbeat parents, representing $576 million in arrears, McLaughlin said...

"More than half of the defendants sentenced to prison never reach the jail because they 'miraculously' come up with the money' for the purge factor, McLaughlin said."

I'm sure that at times McLaughlin does deal with some irresponsible men, but her description of some of these cases--including the Ivanoski case--seems a little suspicious to me. The guy would rather spend two months in jail than come up with a lousy $1,200? He's either dead broke or he has a strange set of priorities. I suspect it's the former.

Though not as extreme, the Ivanoski case reminds me a little of the Francis Borgia case. In a radio commentary on His Side with Glenn Sacks on the Borgia case I said:

"Here's another story about those evil deadbeat dads from the Chicago Tribune--'Man sneaks razor blade into court, slashes self'

"An Illinois man carried a razor blade through metal detectors and slit his throat after being sentenced to two years in prison for failing to pay child support.

"Francis Borgia, 38, of Metropolis, Ill., was treated at a hospital and then taken to the McCracken County Regional Jail on Thursday.

"Borgia had been sentenced for not paying $7,000 in child support. (Two years in prison for $7,000?)

"'Don't put me in jail; I'm going to kill myself,' Borgia pleaded as he leaned forward and reached into his pocket.

"McCracken County Administrator Steve Doolittle said security at the courthouse will be reviewed to see if another such incident can be avoided.

"Security at the courthouse will be reviewed to see if another such incident can be avoided? Why don't you review this judge and his decisions to see if another such incident can be avoided? Why don't you review the state's laws and family court policies to see if another such incident can be avoided?

"The man is either mentally ill or he doesn't have the money. If he's willing to slit his own throat to avoid jail don't you think if he had the money he'd pay it? Don't you think he'd crack open the moneybags, and hand over the Krugerrands and sell the Porsche and the Beemer? This man is so afraid of jail he'd commit suicide rather than go, and he's going to jail because he can't pay a lousy $7,000. Isn't this evidence that he never had the money to begin with?"

To listen to my commentary, click on Deadbeat Dad or Deadbroke Dad?

I also discussed the Borgia case in my co-authored column Persecuting Low Income Parents (Cincinnati Post, Kentucky Post, 8/26/05). Family law attorney Jeff Leving and I wrote:

"In one McCracken County, Kentucky case, Francis Borgia, a carpet cleaner in Paducah, slit his throat in the courtroom after being sentenced to two years in jail for being $7,000 behind on child support. According to newspaper accounts, Borgia had become a 'deadbeat' after he lost a good paying job working in a casino and could not get a downward modification on his support...Borgia, who survived his courtroom suicide attempt, noted:

"My only 'crime' was my failure to make as much money as the state demanded...I couldn't quite understand why I was treated so harshly. I'm not a deadbeat dad. I'm a broke dad."

To read a letter from Borgia, click on "Child Support Injustice: Francis Borgia Speaks"

As for McLaughlin's comment that "More than half of the defendants sentenced to prison never reach the jail because they 'miraculously' come up with the money," what she can't or won't see is that usually this is not the child support debtor's money. It's grandma's money, it's mom and dad's retirement money, it's the brother's money. The man isn't digging up a fortune in gold coins from his backyard to pay--his parents, friends and relatives are paying the money for him so he doesn't go to jail. I often hear from elderly men and women who tell me they've lost their retirement money in their son's divorces, sometimes because of their child support situations.

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Our Side Takes an Unfair Swipe at Custodial Mothers

DiFillippo does make some effort to balance out her story with comments from a fathers' rights activist. The quotes do not represent our side particularly well:

"To some men's-rights activists, mothers are a sneaky lot, using the children to siphon away their exes' hard-earned dough and then forgetting the offspring the minute they cash the check.

"'There is no accountability for how the money is used. They [mothers] use it on hairdressers, fingernails, the new boyfriend,' said Philip Lutz, a Center City father of one who heads Philadelphia's chapter of Fathers' and Children's Equality, which lobbies for equal custody and offers support groups for noncustodial parents."

This is a poor argument. Most divorced or separated mothers aren't wasting child support on luxuries. They have a right to enjoy life, and shouldn't have to account to their ex-husbands or anybody else for every dime they spend. There certainly are exceptions, of course, when the mothers really are wasting the money and the children's needs are not being met. In such cases courts can and should intervene. But the average divorced mother getting $1,000 a month in child support is not living high on the hog any more than the average divorced dad is living it up with his Porsche and trophy wife.

DiFillippo doesn't attribute her paraphrase about mothers "forgetting the offspring the minute they cash the check" but this is also ill-advised. Are we supposed to believe that custodial mothers don't love their children, only dads do?

I don't necessarily blame Lutz--he may not have been quoted particularly well, or DiFillippo might be portraying minor points made by Lutz instead of the major ones. It's happened to me with reporters many times. (For one example, click here).

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Matt Dubay's 'Roe v. Wade for Men' Suit Dismissed

In my co-authored column Women Have a Choice--Men Should Too (Saginaw News, 4/2/06) I defended Matt Dubay's "Roe v. Wade for Men" lawsuit. Family law attorney Jeff Leving and I wrote:

"A 25-year-old computer programmer has done what has long been thought impossible--he has united the pro-choice feminist left and the pro-life right. Matt Dubay of Saginaw, Michigan is the plaintiff in a new lawsuit in which he seeks to wipe out the child support payments he is obligated to make to an ex-girlfriend. He says he had made it clear to her that he didn't want to be a father at this time, and that she got pregnant after she had repeatedly assured him that a physical condition rendered her sterile.

"National Organization for Women president Kim Gandy, conservative TV host Bill O'Reilly and numerous commentators from all sides have criticized Dubay's 'Roe v. Wade for Men' lawsuit. Yet when commentators make the arguments against choice for men--'if a man doesn't want to father a child he should have used birth control,' 'men need to take responsibility whether they wanted to have the child or not'--one can often detect a little confusion in their eyes, as if a part of them is whispering 'uh, wait a minute, but couldn't you say the same thing about women?'

"One and a half million American women legally walk away from motherhood every year by adoption, abortion or abandonment, yet somehow nobody labels them 'deadbeats' or 'deserters.' In over 40 states a mother can return the baby to the hospital within a few weeks of birth--completely opting out of motherhood with less hassle than it takes to return a DVD to Best Buy. Yet if the mother decides she wants to keep the child, she can demand 18 (or in some states 21 or 23) years of child support from the father, and he has no choice in the matter. 

"Feminists have long based their support for Roe v. Wade around the slogan 'My Body, My Choice.' Women's rights legal advocate Jennifer Brown denounced Dubay's suit, explaining that 'Roe is based on an extreme intrusion by the government...There's nothing equivalent for men.'

"However, 100,000 men each year are jailed for alleged non-payment of child support, and federal Office of Child Support Enforcement data reveal that 70% of those behind on payments earn poverty level wages. When states force a man to be financially responsible for a child he never wanted, and jail him if he comes up short, isn't that a terrible state intrusion too? Don't the sacrifices required to pay tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in child support over two decades take a heavy toll on a man, too?...

"Under choice for men, unmarried fathers would have a one-time right to relinquish their parental rights and responsibilities within a month of learning of a pregnancy, just as mothers do when they choose to give their children up for adoption. Women would still be free to exercise all of the reproductive choices they now have.

"Gandy, O'Reilly, Brown and others claim that the current system is necessary because it protects children. In reality, over time choice for men would greatly benefit American children--if women knew that they could not compel unmarried men to pay to support children they did not agree to have, the number of unwed births (and the huge social problems associated with them) would be reduced. Choice for men means better parenting because more men will be able to become fathers when they're married, willing, and stable--a huge benefit for children.

"Women's advocates correctly note that pregnant women often have legitimate reasons for not wanting to be mothers, including youth, finances and the lack of a suitable relationship or marriage. Yet all of these apply equally to men. Women have a choice--men should, too."

Last week the United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, dismissed Dubay's suit, calling it "frivolous, unreasonable, and without foundation and seeks to advance a theory that is foreign to the legal principles on which it is ostensibly based." To learn more, click here.

I don't consider Dubay's conduct particularly admirable, and he ain't father of the year; however, he does have a good point. And it is also appropriate to question the conduct of his child's mother, Lauren Wells. Everyone is angry at Dubay for not wanting to pay child support, but why is it that nobody chastises Wells for bringing a child into such an unenviable situation?


The Real Solution for Choice for Men--the Male Birth Control Pill

Like most people, I didn't expect Dubay's suit to go anywhere. The lawsuit was essentially a publicity stunt, and a good one. As I've noted before, the real solution for Choice for Men is the Male Birth Control Pill. I discussed the issue last year in my column Do Women Really Want a Male Birth Control Pill? (Newsday, 4/11/05).

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Mike Cox Rejoices Over Dubay's Defeat

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, who has clashed with fatherhood advocates on several occasions over the past few years, predictably rejoiced over Dubay's defeat. In his press release Cox Announces Victory for Michigan's Children in "Roe v Wade for Men" Case  he said:

"This is an important victory for the children of this state. Both parents have a clear responsibility for the support of their child, no matter the circumstances surrounding conception. The Court upheld that time-honored understanding today. Michigan will not become the state where parents can opt out of personal responsibility."

In early 2004 Cox launched a billboard campaign which featured a large pair of handcuffs, and boasted of jail time for fathers struggling with child support obligations. We did two His Side with Glenn Sacks shows on it--to listen, go to Michigan Fathers Under Siege (3/7/04) and Showdown in Motown: Michigan Dads vs. Leader of ACES (4/18/04).

That fall Cox announced an even more misguided and asinine billboard campaign--a contest wherein children would draw billboard designs critical of noncustodial fathers who have allegedly not paid child support. Fox News quoted me on the subject as follows:

"Custodial mothers are encouraged to coach their children to make designs critical of noncustodial parents behind on child support. And it doesn't take much imagination to figure out which noncustodial father many mothers will be encouraging their children to denounce."

I and others launched a Campaign to Help Michigan Activists Defeat Anti-Father Billboard Contest, and the Michigan activists did an excellent job protesting Cox's campaign. Cox pulled the contest in response to the protests. To listen to my radio call to action on the issue, click here To read it, click here.

I did two His Side with Glenn Sacks shows on the issue--see Michigan's Top Cop Tells Kids: Denounce Your Daddy (10/3/04) and Fathers Targeted by Cox Speak Out (10/10/04).

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Find out the underlying flaws in the DNA paternity testing system and learn how a man with results in the 90%, 95% or even 99% positive range may not be the father. Learn what most lawyers and judges don't know about paternity testing. www.paternitytestflaw.com.

Congressional Candidate Takes Strong Stand for Noncustodial Parents' Rights
In 2004 Libertarian presidential candidate Michael Badnarik had a strong noncustodial parents' rights platform. Badnarik is clearly aware of and sensitive to the basic problems fathers today face, particularly the sole custody norm and the denigration of noncustodial parents to "second class parent" status. Badnarik is running for Congress in 2006--to learn more, go to www.badnarik.org.


PBS Campaign Update

PBS broadcast the anti-father documentary Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories on many of its affiliates last October. The film accused family courts of anti-mother bias, attacked Parental Alienation Syndrome, and portrayed divorced dads seeking shared custody as batterers and child molesters aiming to steal children from their mothers. The film was extremely one-sided, and presented a harmful and inaccurate view of divorce and child custody cases.

Working with Fathers and Families, the American Coalition for Fathers & Children and others, we organized a campaign against the film, and over 10,000 of you called or wrote PBS to protest. Our  demand was that "PBS provide fatherhood and shared parenting advocates a meaningful opportunity to present our side."

The campaign generated considerable media attention and controversy, and both PBS's ombudsman and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's ombudsman expressed sympathy with many of our aims.

In November we made the bombshell announcement that one of the women profiled as a heroic mom in the film had been found culpable of multiple acts of child abuse by a California Juvenile court. While the film claims that the mother lost custody of the daughter because of the father's legal machinations, in reality the Juvenile court transferred custody to the father to protect the girl.

In December PBS issued a statement saying they would commission an hour-long documentary to examine the issues raised in the film and by our campaign. PBS said that "plans call for the documentary to be produced and broadcast in Spring 2006" and that the "hour-long treatment of the subject will allow ample opportunity" for those of differing views to "have their perspectives shared, challenged and debated."  We commended PBS for understanding our concerns and taking action to address the situation.

I know little about filmmaking but I was skeptical that PBS could put together a quality film between December 20, 2005, when they made their announcement, and the Spring of 2006. In April PBS spent two days filming Fathers & Families' meetings and lobbying efforts, and informed us that the new film will air nationwide in the fall, in a primetime slot on a Sunday evening.

I will keep you informed as we learn more. To learn more about our campaign, click here.

Thanks again to all of those who participated.

File Taxes Online with  Professional Help
MENstax.com allows you to file your taxes, check your refund status, and have your return reviewed by an experienced tax professional--all online.

Legal Help for Fathers
If you live in Los Angeles, Riverside or Orange counties and you're facing a divorce, separation, or a child custody issue, the law firm of Oddenino & Gaule can help.


Domestic Violence Accusations Can End Military Careers

According to Domestic violence can end your career from the military-oriented publication Black Hills Bandit (7/10/06):

"An Airman and his girlfriend return from a bar -- both have had a few drinks. As the conversation turns sour it leads to an argument, which becomes a scuffle.

"Police come, charges are pressed and the Airman goes to court. Feeling ashamed and apologetic he pleads guilty to simple assault -- a misdemeanor.

"He may have just unintentionally ended his military career.

"An extreme result? Perhaps.

"Something to be aware of? Absolutely.

"Due to the Lautenberg Amendment -- a 1996 change to the Gun Control Act (18 U.S.C. ß 992) -- it is a felony to possess a firearm if convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor. This law affects not only members who may carry a weapon, but supervisors who issue those weapons.

"If you're a military member, convicted of a domestic violence offense, you're prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition, no longer eligible to train with any firearms, or go on any deployments requiring possession of small arms. If your AFSC requires that you qualify to bear a firearm, your AFSC will be withdrawn and you will be discharged or may be reassigned to a non-firearm bearing position...If you are being charged with an act of domestic violence, understand the potential ramifications to your military career of a plea of guilty or no contest. Always talk to the Area Defense Counsel or civilian attorney before you make a decision that could sink your career."

This is a major problem for police officers and military servicemen. In my column VAWA Renewal Provides Opportunity to Stop Destruction of Innocent Cops' Careers (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, 7/19/05) I discussed the case of police officers caught in this trap. I wrote:

"Shot in the line of duty. Twice awarded the Medal of Honor. Named Essex County, New Jersey Police Officer of the Year. A highly decorated officer with an impeccable record. For 22 years police officer Eric Washington battled criminals on the streets of East Orange, New Jersey. On January 21, 2001 Washington was ambushed and brought down--not by an ex-convict bent on revenge or a shadowy gunman, but instead by a false accusation of domestic violence...

"Former Torrance, California police officer John Brumbaugh recently won a seven-year legal battle after an ex-girlfriend falsely accused him of battery. Though Brumbaugh's conviction was overturned and his name finally cleared, the false charges cost him his career as a police officer and several hundred thousand dollars in legal expenses and lost wages and benefits."

Best Wishes,
Glenn Sacks
GlennSacks.com
 

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