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Memo to Men: Like the Government, the APA is Here to Help You

January 15, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

It was barely 45 years ago that the American Psychological Association officially (if not entirely) stopped calling homosexuality a form of mental illness.  As of 2019 it now casts the same slur at “traditional masculinity.”(APA. 1/2019)  The APA has promulgated its Guidelinesfor Psychological Practice with Men and Boys and, like the government, the APA is here to help (APA, 8/2018).  Look out lads people like Michael Kimmel have proclaimed that they understand you and – quelle surprise! – no one but them can give you the help you so urgently need. 

What’s been most publicized about the guidelines is the continuing education paper by Stephanie Pappas linked to above in which she memorably explains that “traditional masculinity is psychologically harmful.”  Of course the guidelines themselves make no such assertion, but it’s helpful to have Pappas around to give voice to the reality behind the carefully-chosen words of the actual APA document.


Does Tucker Carlson Get It?

January 10, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Continued from yesterday.

I’d like to ask David French a question: “Did you grow up with a father?  That is, was your father present in the household, was he a tangible presence in your life?”

The reason I ask is that, in his National Review article, French demonstrates that he grasps the value of fathers to children, particularly boys.


The Right’s Squabble Over Men and Boys

January 9, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

There’s been quite a kerfuffle among the center-right commentariat over the past few days.  Fox’s Tucker Carlson started it with a ten-minute opinion piece on some of the ways in which this culture denigrates men and boys to everyone’s detriment.  Many of Carlson’s points hit the nail on the head.

His was followed by an article by David French in the National Review, and it’s French’s on which I’d like to remark today (National Review, 1/7/19).

French is right about most of what he says.  He points out that the process of raising boys to be men – i.e. the type of men we desire and society needs – is a long and difficult one.


Vote Shared Parenting in Missouri

January 8, 2019 by Linda Reutzel, Chair, National Parents Organization Missouri Chapter and Member, National Board of Directors

When the bell rings on opening day this Wednesday, January 9, 2019, in the Missouri Assembly,  companion shared parenting bills, HB 229 sponsored by Representative Kathy Swan and SB 14 sponsored by Senator Wayne Wallingford, will be ready for legislative action.  The legislative language in these bills has been vetted in previous sessions and so these bills are ready for passage. State advocates of shared parenting are ready to help advance the interests of children and parents in Missouri by informing state officials about the importance of getting these bills across the finish line and signed into law.  Rebuttable presumption of equal parenting is not mandatory and judges have discretion in circumstances where exceptions exist or it would be dangerous for the child. It simply means that for fit and willing parents who want equal time with their children, it should be allowed and encouraged.

All research points to equal parenting time after divorce or separation as a common sense policy that is in the best interest of children and families.  Sharing the parenting after a divorce reduces conflict and helps children have a sense of stability in their lives which most parents would agree is important.   This means less stress on children, reduced litigation costs and frees up court docket time. While there is broad agreement that an intact family is part of the American dream, burying our heads in the sand when it comes to parenting laws after divorce is no solution.  Equal shared parenting is best for children of divorce.


New Jersey Judge Strikes Down License Suspension Law

January 6, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

measure of sanity now leavens New Jersey’s public policy on the enforcement of child support delinquencies (New Jersey Law Journal, 1/2/19).  State Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson has struck down as violating the state’s constitution that portion of a New Jersey statute mandating automatic driver’s license suspension in all cases in which “a child support arrearage equals or exceeds the amount of child support payable for six months or court-ordered health care coverage for the child is not provided for six months.”

In those cases, child support obligors in the Garden State were afforded neither notice of the state’s action against them nor a hearing.  To say the least, that’s an astonishing breach of the most basic tenets of due process of law, a fact Judge Jacobson explicitly noted.  She also wrote in her 187-page opinion that the 1988 law violated the principle of “fundamental fairness.” 

She’s right on both counts.  The idea that a state can or should deprive a person of one of the most basic necessities of modern life without providing an opportunity to be heard and prove, if the facts support it, the inability to pay, is obviously at odds with constitutional precepts.
She explained that “both due process and fundamental fairness require courts to provide counsel to indigent obligors at any hearing at which a hearing officer may recommend a driver’s license suspension to a court, or at any hearing when the family court itself is considering a driver’s license suspension.”
Judge Jacobson issued an injunction against enforcement of the law and gave the state 120 days to establish policies that afford delinquent obligors an opportunity to be heard.

The linked-to article is a good one.  The editors of the Law Journal clearly know the basics about child support and the process of enforcement.
Delinquency is concentrated among low income parents with support obligations…
We find that Judge Jacobson’s ruling addresses an important public problem. We hope that the governor, attorney general, and the Division of Family Development will work diligently and earnestly to produce the new regulations which the court has granted 120 days to formulate. Judge Jacobson declined to make her order retroactive. Thousands of parents—especially low income—doubtless remain stranded without driving privileges. Their status is something which the Legislature can and should address.  
Indeed.  The federal Office of Child Support Administration has long known and stated that some 63% of child support obligors behind on their payments report earnings of less than $10,000 per year.  The heavy weight of draconian enforcement methods falls most heavily on those least able to bear it.

Meanwhile, Judge Jacobson cited some pithy facts about the impact of driver’s license suspension.
In her comprehensive opinion, Judge Jacobson took note of a 2006 study by the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy with the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission—“Motor Vehicles Affordability and Fairness.” The report “found that 42 percent of individuals who had their licenses suspended lost jobs as a result of the suspension, 45 percent of those who lost jobs could not find another job, and 88% of those that were able to find another job reported a decrease in income.” Jacobson wrote that “[e]ven though most of the Report’s findings addressed license suspensions in general and did not focus on child support-related suspensions, it is reasonable to assume that the affected dependents likely included many children who are the subject of child support orders, and the very individuals that the automatic license suspensions were intended to benefit.” The Bloustein/MCV report also found that in low income areas “child support suspension rates for drivers…were ten times higher than the statewide average.”
In other words, what child support reform advocates have been saying for decades is the truth – suspending drivers’ licenses makes paying child support much harder.  It acts to defeat the very end the state claims to be pursuing – money to support children.  That the state legislature did so in such a patently unconstitutional manner was outrageous in 1988 when the law was passed and has remained so ever since.

The late 80s of course were the heyday of the notion that fathers had no interest in their children and sought any way possible to avoid supporting them.  That of course is so much bunk and has been proven to be so many times by scrupulous social science.  But still public policies based on exactly that willful misunderstanding of fathers and their attachment to their children (and vice versa) continues to inform public policy regarding family law.

Kudos to Judge Jacobson.  She’s struck a much-needed blow for sanity in the public policy that governs child support and its enforcement.

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