First Lady Laura Bush visited the National Center for Fathering in Kansas City to see how they engage and equip dads to be more involved in their children’s education. I hope Ken (Ken R. Canfield, Ph.D, Founder and President, email@example.com) had a chance to speak to her about the shambles called the family court system.
When Judy Sheindlin was on Larry King Live last week, (October 4, 2005), the issue of joint custody came up. An excerpt from the interview:
- KING: I had a judge who became a federal judge told me once that the hardest thing to decide was custody cases…
SHEINDLIN: Yes. Sometimes it’s relatively easy because the choices are clear but I’ve always thought in this country we do a terrible disservice to fathers. You know there was a time many years ago when we had what we called the Tender Years Doctrine, which meant children of tender years, young children, always went to their mother.
And then all of the courts in this country said that’s not fair. We have to be equal. So, on the books there is a law that says no one parent is favored over the other, now that’s honored more in the breach than it is honored in actuality. And, I have been a proponent for many years of there being a presumption in this country for joint custody of children. That’s where courts should start.
KING: That’s where you begin?
SHEINDLIN: That’s where you begin and if you’re going to deviate from that, you have to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that there is some valid reason why you’re going to deviate from that because one parent is crazy, one parent has a drug problem, an alcohol problem, something’s wrong.
But that should be the standard joint custody because children are entitled to be raised by two parents even if the parents don’t get along anymore. I mean I think it’s horrendous when one parent picks up and moves out of the state or moves 250 miles away and some judge in the family court, the domestic relations court usually if it’s the mother who has moved away says, “Well, we’ll have a hearing to determine whether it was the right thing.”
No, no, no, no, no. You can’t say to people who you’ve lulled into this sense of I’m equal, you’re an equal father. You can take off paternity leave. We expect you to participate in the rearing of your children, to go to open school night, to be out there to play with them. Very often there are two people working in the household. They divide authority and you’re equal except when there’s a divorce.
And then, how often, Larry, I ask you the question, do you hear it quoted in the paper “He lost custody of his children”? You don’t hear that. You hear “She lost custody. There must be something wrong with her.”
Well I think that that has to change in this country because it was my experience in the family court, and I left the family court ten years ago, but even my experience on the television courtroom suggests to me that there are as wonderful a group of fathers out there as a group of mothers and it’s about time that this country recognize that in not only the letter of the law but the spirit of the law as well.
The following is my letter to Pat Mitchell, President of PBS, regarding the planned showing of a film on domestic violence and child custody.
I was shocked, then disappointed to hear, “My dad doesn’t love me”, right at the beginning of the promo for Breaking The Silence, the Children’s Stories.
You say Breaking The Silence, the Children’s Stories is about Domestic Violence. That includes child abuse. Since mothers commit most child abuse, are any of the stories about mothers? Many cases of domestic violence involve co-combatants, but men are prosecuted far more than women. I fear every case you expose in this film will be of a man who abuses his wife and kids. I wonder, do you even mention female abusers?
It is not right to air this film without telling the whole story.
PBS meant HONESTY to me. It has always meant TRUTH. Guess what, not anymore.
You owe it to your viewers to tell the whole truth.
This film is likely political propaganda to counter the swelling family rights movement that is championing the cause of joint custody. Research has shown that co-parenting is good for children, 85% of the population supports equal shared parenting, and those who are in power now don’t want to give it up. What better way to protect their place than to put fear in the hearts of voters? Representatives of N.O.W. and the domestic violence industry used false statistics when they testified against AB 1307 in Sacramento recently. It worked that day, why not keep misleading people?
As far as PAS, I don’t care what you call it, the truth is many noncustodial parents, usually fathers but sometimes mothers, are alienated by the custodial parent and the family court system. I’m sure everyone reading this knows of someone this has happened to. Come to think of it, maybe they don’t realize how common it is. Men don’t usually speak of heartache. THIS is the world’s dirty little secret.
Even if this film was made with the best of intentions, it still shouldn’t be shown.
You owe it to your viewers to tell the WHOLE truth.
- “Fathers are often the missing link in policy debates about how better outcomes for children and greater gender equality can be delivered,” states Daddy Dearest?: Public Policy and Active Fatherhood, a book by the Institute of Public Policy Research, to be launched next week by Beverley Hughes, children’s minister.
The government will also announce that fathers should have the right to six months’ unpaid paternity leave independent of the decision of the female partner to take leave.
(Too bad they have to do it to “make fathers feel more responsible”, instead of just doing it because it’s the right thing to do). The text of the complete Guardian article can be found here.
Georgia Governor Gives Fathers Hope
Over a dozen members of Fathers Are Parents Too (FAPT) attended the GOP breakfast on October 8th in Lawrenceville with Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue. The governor commented that when he was a legislator he “…got more letters related to custody issues than anything else…I understand the need for your concern…People should be able to expect judges to follow the laws legislators make.”
Big Brother Protesters Vow To Continue Fight For Rights (Oct 7 2005)
- Jason Hatch, 33, and David Pyke, 49, were fined [Oct. 6] for their part in a failed protest at the Celebrity Big Brother house January 14. They were both fined £400 and ordered to pay a further £418 in costs and compensation. Speaking outside court Hatch, the Batman protester who scaled the front of Buckingham Palace earlier this year, said he was disappointed at the outcome. He said, “I am disappointed. I’m a single parent and they are just taking away the food from my child to pay a fine for a peaceful protest…the law is still in a shambles and we are not going to stop.” Hatch went on, “…you are going to see a lot more of that sort in the name of Real Fathers 4 Justice. We are real fathers who care and will fight for their children and we will get this law changed.”
Complete text of article can be found here.
Father Christmas 2004 Fathers4Justice Protestors Plead Not Guilty (Oct 7 2005)
- Helena Tilbury, 19, Garry Hollington, 30, and Martin Matthews, 37, unfurled a banner reading, “Put the Father Back Into Xmas” during a four-hour sit-in above the UK’s busiest rail line on December 16 last year. They appeared at Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court this week, along with Edward Gorecki, 47, who is said to have co-ordinated the protest from nearby. All four denied putting rail passengers in danger between Vauxhall station and Queenstown Road station, Battersea. Prosecutor David Durose said, “You’ve heard the defendants were protesting in support of the organisation Fathers 4 Justice. This case isn’t about that protest or whether that cause is a proper cause – it may well be. It may be you will have sympathy…”
The entire text of the article can be found here.
10/11/05 UPDATE: Tilbury, Hollington and Matthews were given two-year conditional discharges by Judge Chapple and charged £350. icsouthlondon article
In case the UK government isn’t really ready to listen to fathers, Fathers4Justice has this campaign to get their attention:
Friday, October 21, 2005
* In support of overnight stays with noncustodial parents *