Protest Lifetime TV’s New Reality Show Deadbeat Dads

Apr. 27, 2009–May. 12, 2009


Our campaign gained widespread and sympathetic media coverage and Lifetime TV never aired Deadbeat Dads.

Lifetime TV announced the launch of a new, father-bashing reality show called Deadbeat Dads. Working with Fathers and Families, our supporters bombarded Lifetime TV with thousands of protest letters, calls and faxes.

Why This Campaign

According to The Hollywood Reporter, "Deadbeat Dads, originally developed at Fox, follows National Child Support founder Jim Durham as he tracks down and confronts dads who don’t pay child support." According to Reuters, Durham "functions as a sort of ‘Dog the Bounty Hunter’ for tracking deadbeats…It’s ambush reality TV." Durham will target fathers who are behind on their child support by "making their lives miserable—foreclosing on their house, repossessing their car. He will squeeze them."

In 2008 we led a highly-publicized campaign against the Fox show (originally called "Bad Dads") and got Fox to drop it. Lifetime TV, which reaches nearly 100 million households, then picked up Deadbeat Dads, which unfairly depicts divorced fathers as uncaring and selfish. Research clearly shows that most divorced dads pay their child support and remain a part of their children’s lives, often under difficult circumstances. In fact, federal government data shows that the overwhelming majority of "deadbeat dads" earn poverty level wages—only 4% earn even $40,000 a year.

Deadbeat Dads kicks fathers while they’re down. Media reports show the majority of those losing their jobs in this recession are men, and child support orders are notoriously difficult to modify downward. As the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and other papers have documented, these hard luck dads sometimes end up in jail.

The worst part about Deadbeat Dads is the way it publicly humiliates children in single parent families by depicting their fathers as not loving or caring for them. How is a child to feel when he or she sees their dad being vilified on TV because he allegedly doesn’t love or provide for them? How is the child to feel when he or she is reminded of this by friends or teased about it on the schoolyard?

Yes, reality shows do sometimes intrude on people’s privacy, but rarely do they cast aspersions on something as intimate and emotional as parents’ love for their children. Also, most reality show participants are volunteers. These children did not volunteer to be humiliated on national television.

Media Coverage

Our campaign against Lifetime's Deadbeat Dads gained coverage in numerous media outlets, including coverage by U.S. News & World Report, syndicated advice columnist Amy Alkon, former Fox News Columnist Wendy McElroy, PJ TV Host/Psychologist Helen Smith, the Detroit News, the Philadelphia Daily News, the Washington Times, the Newark Star-Ledger, and many others.


Quotes about Lifetime TV's Deadbeat Dads

"The producers of this show, which is supposed to center the welfare of children, think nothing about turning kids into collateral damage."—syndicated advice columnist Amy Alkon

"Neither accurate nor fair."—Syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker, Washington Post Writers Group

"Information about child support debts that is fed to such agencies is often incorrect…both feminist and men’s groups have protested the unethical, thug-like methods used by agencies…"—Author, former Fox News Columnist Wendy McElroy

"Disturbing…they are heaping abuse on men in the name of ‘justice’"—TV Host/Psychologist Helen Smith, on

"[T]oxic programming"—Fatimah Ali of the Philadelphia Daily News editorial board, 5/26/09

"[I]gnores the numbers…most so-called deadbeat dads actually are dead broke."—Washington Times

"[Lead] kids to form negative opinions of divorced fathers—opinions which could damage their relationships with their own dads."—Dr. Linda Nielsen, Professor of Women’s Studies & Education, Wake Forest University

"Perpetuates the stereotype that men are irresponsible when it comes to child rearing."—Adam Voiland, U.S. News & World Report

"Promotes stereotypes against fathers."—Southern California radio host Maria Sanchez

"A show that does no one any good."—Author Joel Schwartzberg, Newark Star-Ledger


Mental Health Professionals, Doctors, Educators, Family Law Professionals & Prominent Citizens Oppose Lifetime’s Deadbeat Dads

"The undersigned believe that Lifetime’s Deadbeat Dads provides a distorted and counterproductive view of divorced and separated fathers. Moreover, it is harmful to children to humiliate them publicly by depicting their fathers as not loving or caring for them. We respectfully request that Lifetime cancel this ill-conceived show."

Darrin Albert
MS Psychology
Fargo, ND

Mariano Amador, MD
Houston, TX

Tod Asmussen
Financial Analyst
San Jose, CA

Guillermo Auad, PhD
San Diego, California

Professor Nathan Alexander
Troy University
Troy, AL

Howie Altholtz, Esq.
Attorney at Law
Boston, Massachusetts

Marc E. Angelucci, Esq.
Men’s Legal Center
San Diego, CA

Lloyd Axelrod, M.D.
Mass. General Hospital
Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA

Elizabeth Barton, AM, PhD
University of California at Irvine
Irvine, CA

Maury D. Beaulier
Attorney At Law
St. Louis Park, MN

Mark J. Benedyk, Ph.D.
Biotechnology Executive
San Diego, California

Dr. Stephen Blake
San Diego, CA.

Thomas C. Bleser, MA
New York, NY

J. Michael Bone, PhD, President
JMB Consulting, PA
Winter Park, FL

Dawn Bowie
Attorney at law
Rockville, MD

Clifford Brockmyre
Business Owner
Milton, MA

Sally Broessel, LPCC
Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor
Campbellsville, KY

Jan Brown
Founder and Executive
Director Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women
Harmony, Maine

Lynne Brush, ACSW-R
Mental Health Therapist (Retired)
Woodstock, NY

Pedro A. Caetano, PhD, PharmD, MPH
Genzyme Corporation
International Regulatory Affairs Manager
Cambridge, MA 02142

Anthony C. Campagna, MD
Senior Staff Physician
Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Lahey Clinic
Burlington, Massachusetts
Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School
Boston, Massachusetts

Steven Carlson, The Custody Coach
Child Custody Coach
Orange County, CA

James D. Carmine PH.D.
Professor of Philosophy
Carlow University
Pittsburgh, PA

Michael Carolla, LMFT
Co-Parenting Mediator
Pleasant Hill, CA

Rafael M Cespedes, M.D.
Baltimore, Maryland

Edward R. Civello, CPA
Brooklyn, NY

Jose David Cohen
Doctor of Clinical Psychology
North Hollywood, CA

Victor Clark Cohen
Attorney, Divorce Mediator
Board Member, Breakthrough
Parenting Services, Inc.
Los Angeles, CA

Gene C. Colman
Attorney at Law
Ontario, Canada

Anthony J. Comparetto, Esq.
Attorney At Law
St. Petersburg, FL

Susan Connolly, Esq.
Child Advocate/Attorney
New London, CT

J. Christian Conrad
Attorney at Law
Laguna Hills, CA

Robert Anthony Cornejo, J.D.
School Principal, Attorney At Law
Montebello, CA

Terrence J. Cullen, Esq.
Attorney at Law
Bedford, MA

David Perry Davis, Esq.
Family Law Attorney
Pennington, NJ

Mark T. Davis, Esq.
Family Law Attorney
El Paso, TX

Charles H. DeBevoise, Esq.
Boston, MA

Frank DeGregorio, MD
Associate Clinical Professor
Departement of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
UCLA School of Medicine

Claudia Dias, MSC
Attorney at Law
Family Law Mediator
Domestic Violence Intervention Facilitator
Sacramento, California

Peter J Dimatteo MD,
Duxbury, MA

David Dodson, MD
Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine
Tufts University School of Medicine
Wellesley, MA

Brian C. Downs, Esq.
Candidate for Judge of the 17th Circuit Court
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Charlene Dryer, Esq.
Family Law Attorney
Newport Beach, California

Jonathan Dugan, PhD
CEO, Matson Systems, Inc.
San Francisco, CA

Dr. Charles C. Dull
Solon, Ohio

Dr. Donald Dutton
Professor of Psychology
Univeristy of British Columbia,
Vancouver BC.

Philip Dyk
Partner, private infrastructure
investment firm
New York, NY

Christian A. Eades, Esq.
Family Law Attorney
Washington, D.C.

Lisa S. Ebert, JD
Administrator, Diversity Officer
City University of New York
Summit, NJ

Jay Essif, M.S.
Licensed Psychologist
Lancaster, PA

Stephen D. Finstein, LCSW,
Mental Health Consultant
Dallas, TX

Michael Friedman, M.D.
Berkeley, California

Sheara Friend, Esq.
Attorney at Law
Boxboro, MA

Guy Garcia
Author, The Decline of Men
New York, NY

Shawn Gliklich, M.D.
Emergency Physician
Methuen, MA

Matthew D. Gold, M.D.
Associate Clinical Professor
Tufts Medical School
Everett, MA

Stephen A. Gershman, CFLS
Certified Specialist in Family Law
Board of Legal Specialization
Sherman Oaks, CA

Bruce J. Gibson, Esq.
Beverly Hills, CA

James Gibson III, L.C.S.W.
Private Practitioner
Hacienda Heights, CA

Richard M. Green, MD
Beverly Hills, CA

Nick Gregoratos, Esq.
San Francisco, CA

Thomas D. Hathaway, Esq.
Family Law Attorney
Brentwood, CA

Benny Hau, MD
Family Medical Doctor and professor
Loma Linda, CA

Roland Heidenhofer MD
Emergency Medicine
Irving, TX

Glenn D. Herlihy, Esq.
Attorney at Law
Haverhill, MA

Larry Herren, LMSW
Family Therapist
Farmington, MI

Mindy L. Hitchcock, Esq.
Family Law Attorney
Southfield, MI

Phillip J. Holman, Esq.
Family Law Attorney
Detroit, MI

Edwin C. Holstein, MD, MS
Clinical Assistant Professor
Mt. Sinai School of Medicine
New York, NY

Chris Hough, MBA
Ashburn, VA

Hector T. Hoyos
Chairman, President & CEO
The Hoyos Group
New York, NY

Donald C. Hubin, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
Department of Philosophy
Ohio State University
Columbus, Ohio

Robert J. Hundertmark
Attorney At Law
Woburn MA

J. Pearce Hurley, M.D.
Diplomate, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
Berkeley, CA

Charles Hussey
Manufacturing Engineer
Seattle, WA

Stephen J. Johnson, Ph.D.,
Director, The Men’s Center
Los Angeles
Woodland Hills, CA

Karen Jones
Author, Relationship Coach
South Lawrence, MA

Barbara Kay
Columnist, Canadian National Post
Montreal, Canada

Michael Kennedy, JD
Child Support Liberation, Inc.
Upland, CA

Daniel J. King, Esq.
Woodland Hills, CA

Gregory T. Kotonias, M.D.
Assist. Professor of
Clinical Psychiatry
Boston University
School of Medicine
Boston, MA

John A. Koulouris,Esq.
Planetary Cartographer/Writer
Laval, Canada

Arthur J. Kranz, MD
Diplomate, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
Dallas, TX

Kimberly W. Lague
Guardian Ad Litem
Palm Beach County, FL

Neil Leavitt
Attorney at Law
Hollywood, Florida 33021

David T. LeBaron, LCSW
Las Vegas, NV

Edward H. Lee
Family Law Attorney
Springfield, NJ

Robert Leverant
Marriage & Family Therapist
Sebastopol, CA

Stephen Levine, Esq.
Certified Specialist by
the State Bar of California
Criminal Law
San Bernardino, CA.

Wayne M. Levine, M.A.
Agoura Hills, CA

Mel Lurie, M.D.
Bosrton, MA

Kevin P. Maguire DO
Anchorage, AK

Jayne A. Major, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Breakthrough Parenting

Gennady Malin, PhD
Pharmaceutical Research & Development
Newton, MA

Anthony Mancini, J.D.
Peabody, MA

Jacqueline R Mark, Esq.
Family Law Attorney
Reading, PA

Brett W. Martin, Esq.
Attorney at Law
Westminster, CO

Tina McDermott, M.A.
Professor of Communication Studies
Los Angeles, CA

Wendy McElroy
Ontario, Canada

David Menchell, M.D.
New York Hospital Queens
Flushing, New York

Christoph Michel D.M.D
Somers Point, NJ

Lee Miller, Ph.D.
Professor, Political Science
San Mateo, CA

Linda G. Mills, B.A., M.S.W., Ph.D., J.D.
Author, Violent Partners
New York University
New York, NY

Harold C. Morris, PhD, JD
Des Moines, Washington

Norman Moline, CPA, CFP, MBA
Arcadia, CA

Enrique A. Monteagudo, J.D
Child Advocate
San Diego Family Law Council for
San Diego, CA

Trey Monroe, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Certified Expert Witness in Child and Family Psychology
Nashville, Tennessee

Virginia J. Morrow, Esq.
Family Law Attorney
Saranac Lake, NY

Timothy Murray
Attorney, Co-Author Corbin on Contracts Supplements
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Ron Nerding, LLB, retired
USN, legal officer
Indianapolis, Indiana

Steven W. Newell, M.D.
Children’s Voices of Colorado, Inc.
Lone Tree, Colorado

Tracy Nightingale
Attorney at Law
St. Louis Park, MN

Michael L. Oddenino
Family Law Attorney
Arcadia, CA

Bernal P. Ojeda, Esq.
Calabasas, CA

Robert Ouriel, Esq.
Los Angeles, CA

Patricia Overberg, MSW
Former Director, Valley Oasis
Domestic Violence Shelter
Lancaster, CA

Nicholas Palermo, Esq.
Family Law Attorney
Boston, MA

Mohammed Parvez, M.D.
Springfield, IL

Curtis J. Patton
Family Attorney
Pittsburgh, PA

Pat Piper, PhD
Child and Family Therapist
Wellesley, MA

David T. Pisarra, Esq.
Family Law Attorney
Santa Monica, CA

Kevin Polis
Family Law Attorney
San Diego, CA

Dr. George Popovich
Collegiate Theater Director
Howell, MI

Jay Portnow, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Clinical Professor, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation,
Tufts Medical School
Boston, MA

Lara M. Proffit, MM, HRM
Surprise, AZ

Larry D. Pyeatt, PhD
Texas Tech University
Lubbock, TX

Hon. Milton H. Raphaelson, Esq.
Retired Massachusetts District Court Judge

Peter A. Rapoza, MD
Harvard Medical School
Tufts Medical School
Boston, MA

Al Rava, Esq.
Civil Rights Attorney
San Diego, CA

Don Ray
Don Ray Media

John Reilly LCSW, BCD
Chicago, IL

Terence A. Robinson, CPA
Katy, TX

Dr. Paul C. Robbins
Lakewood, CO

Michael F. Roe, Esq.
Illinois Family Attorney and Mediator
Chicago, Illinois

Dr. Steven Mark Sachs, Ed.D.
College Counselor
Valley Glen, California

Adam M. Sacks, Esq.
Family Law Attorney
Beverly Hills, CA.

Ranganath Saraswati, Ph.D.
Chula Vista, California

Shari Schreiber, M.A.
Los Angeles, CA

Dr. David M. Schwartz, DPM, RPh
Rockwall, TX

Frederic H. Schwartz, MD
Worcester, MA

Lisa Scott, Esq.
Family Law Attorney
Seattle, WA

Kenneth Senkel, Esq.
Burleson, TX

Ashish Sharma MD
Clinical instructor Harvard medical school
Therapeutic endoscopist and gastroenterologist
Boston VA health care system.
Boston, MA

Wendy Sheppard, MSW
Parenting Coach and Therapist
Ambler, PA

Kevin G. Shortt, M.D.
Attending Cardiac Surgeon
Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery, Columbia University
Medical Director Special Care Unit
Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital
Cooperstown, NY

Deborah Sirotkin Butler, Esq.
Family Law Attorney
Arlington, Massachusetts

Douglas Slain, Esq.
Criminal Defense
Oakland, CA

Richard Smith, Esq.
Family Law Attorney
Plymouth, MA

Steve S Sommer, MD, PhD
Personalized Medicine & Neuropsychiatric Genetics
Duarte, CA.

Bill Stephney
Media consultant
Member, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights–NJ
Summit, NJ

David C. Stone, Esq.
Family Law Attorney
Anaheim, CA

John R. Stoutimore, Esq.
Family Law Attorney
Fort Worth, TX

Paul Stuckle
Attorney at Law
Plano, TX

Lisa Taylor-Austin, NCC, LPC, LMHC, CFMHE, LLC
Board Certified Forensic Mental Health Evaluator
Milford, CT

Donald M. Thea, M.D., MSc.
Professor of International Health
Center for International Health
Boston University School of Public Health
Boston, MA

Henry A. Tenenbaum, PH.D.
Sarasota, FL

David D. Vandenberg, Ph.D., M.Ac.
Arlington, Virginia

Michelle Ventimiglia, MA
Early Childhood Educator
Northridge, CA

Les Veskrna, MD
Family Medicine Physician
Lincoln, Nebraska

Karen Wagner, MA
Parenting Coordinator
Marietta, Georgia

Coreen R. Walson, Esq.
Family Law Attorney
Anaheim Hills, CA

Richard Wax, Ph.D.
Waterford, CT

Susan Wax, M.S.
Social Worker
Waterford, CT

Curtis Wright
Radio Host
WNTB FM 106.3
Wilmington, NC

William D. Wurzel, MHA, MD
Captain, Medical Corps
U.S. Navy (Ret.)
Silver Spring, Maryland

Dr. Marlene Wust-Smith, MD
Port Allegany, PA

George Zadorozny
New Port Richey, Florida