NEW CAMPAIGN: Urge Schwarzenegger to Sign F & F's Child Custody/Visitation Bill SB 1188

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Fathers and Families

NEW CAMPAIGN: Urge Schwarzenegger to Sign F & F's Child Custody/Visitation Bill SB 1188
August 10, 2010
Top Story
NEW CAMPAIGN: Ask Gov. Schwarzenegger to Sign F & F’s SB 1188 (Child Custody Reform)

Short version: Fathers and Families’ mission is to protect children’s right to the love and care of both parents after divorce or separation. We often hear from parents who have been driven to the margins of their children’s lives because their disability/partial disability is being used to deny them custody or visitation. SB 1188 will protect these parents—to write a letter to Governor Schwarzenegger asking him to sign SB 1188, click here.

Please send your letter whether you are a California resident or not. Your letter will be hand-delivered to the Governor’s office by our Sacramento legislative representative. You may use our form letter or write your own.

Full version: Fathers and Families’ mission is to protect children’s right to the love and care of both parents after divorce or separation. We often hear from parents who have been driven to the margins of their children’s lives because their disability/partial disability is being used to deny them custody or visitation.

While some people with disabilities are truly unable to care for their children, many are more than capable of doing so. Existing California family law codes do not address the issue of disabled parents, leaving the door open for unnecessary and often expensive litigation, even in cases where the disabled parent had been successfully parenting the children for many years prior to the separation or divorce.

California Senator Rod Wright’s (D-Los Angeles) SB 1188 will address this problem. Fathers and Families has joined with Disability Rights California, one the nation’s largest and most respected disabled advocacy organizations, and the American Retirees Association in co-sponsoring SB 1188.

Fathers and Families has helped garner the support of the Family Law Section of the State Bar of California, the Association of Certified Family Law Specialists, the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, AMVETS Department of California, and others for SB 1188.

SB 1188 will add Section 3049 to the Family Code. It will read:
3049.  In any proceeding to determine child custody or visitation under this part, in which at least one parent is disabled, the disability of that parent may not form the basis for an order granting custody or visitation to another party, or for an order for imposing any condition or limitation on an award of custody to or visitation by the disabled parent, unless there is a finding by the court that a grant of custody or visitation to, or a condition or limitation on custody or visitation by, the disabled parent would not be in the best interest of the child. This section applies to any proceeding regarding custody or visitation, including, but not limited to, a request for a modification of an existing order for custody or visitation...
SB 1188 increases the burden of proof on the parent who raises disability as an issue, and will serve as a deterrent to unnecessary litigation. It also reduces disabled parents’ litigation costs and helps reduce court calendar time and costs at a time when California is struggling with budget woes.

To send a letter to Governor
Schwarzenegger asking him to sign SB 1188, click here.

If you are a parent with a disability, we want to hear from you–please fill out our form here. If you have a family law problem or feel that your disability has been used against you, please also fill out the last two boxes of the form.

Fathers & Families' legislative representative Michael Robinson and assistant legislative representative Nicole Silverman have spent months lobbying legislators and gathering support for SB 1188.  F & F is creating real, tangible family court reform today, but politics requires money—contribute to the organization which fights for you by clicking here. One affordable way to contribute is to make a monthly gift—to do so, click here and enter an amount in the "Monthly contribution" box.

Together with you in the love of our children,

Glenn Sacks, MA
Executive Director, Fathers and Families

Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S.
Founder, Chairman of the Board, Fathers and Families

Why We Created SB 1188: Tim & Maria's Stories
The legislation Fathers and Families initiates and/or supports is often drawn directly from the experiences of our members. At Fathers and Families we often hear from parents who have been driven to the margins of their children's lives because their disability/partial disability has been used to deny them custody or visitation.

Tim, a San Diego father of three, was one such parent. Tim's three children were moved out of state by their mother in 2002, but, as part of a visitation agreement, they always spent their summers with him. Tim became disabled almost two years ago, and spent much of this spring battling to maintain his summer parenting time. After a difficult court battle during which his disability was used against him, Tim lost a great deal of parenting time with his children. He told us:

"I use a wheelchair but I can still parent my children. My time with my 14-year-old daughter was cut way back, and I lost time with my sons, too. Not only should I have not lost this time, but I shouldn't have had to fight this battle to begin with. Do my children love me and need me less because I use a wheelchair?"

Maria, a Southern California adoptive mother who suffers from multiple sclerosis, shared 50-50 custody of her 12-year-old daughter with her ex-husband, until he refused to allow Maria access, claiming Maria was too disabled to care for her. Maria told us:

"I have a physical disability but I have been an exemplary mother. It is devastating for both parents and children to be wrenched apart by an ex-spouse seeking an unfair advantage in a divorce."

After a lot of heartache, Maria did get her daughter back under the original 50-50 parenting schedule.

Nationally, one in six parents is disabled. They're poorer on average than nondisabled parents, and their ability to fight long, expensive court battles to defend their relationships with their children is limited.

Join Fathers and Families
Fathers and Families
Fathers and Families is a family court reform organization with a comprehensive strategy, an impressive history of legislative and fundraising success, and the largest reach of any advocacy group of its kind:

Kids & Dads
Former Baseball Star Matt Williams: 'I must and will be with my kids'

Home AwayFathers & Families supporter Jeff Gillenkirk, a former speechwriter for former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, has devoted his latest book to the subject of fatherhood. The book, Home, Away, was inspired by the story of former major league baseball player Matt Williams, a single custodial father. One reviewer of Home, Away explained:

After hitting 32 home runs and collecting 105 RBIs for the Indians in 1997, Matt Williams requested a trade to the expansion Diamondbacks so he could be close to his children in Arizona. He spent the remaining five and a half years of his career there, vetoing a deal to the Rockies in 2002.

"Being there for my kids is everything in my life," Williams said when he nixed the trade. "This responsibility outweighs anything in my baseball career. I must and will be with my kids. I’m a dad first and a baseball player second, and I can only hope that the public can empathize with my decision. Baseball is what I do, not who I am."
Sam Sattler of Book Chase calls Home, Away "one of the best books of 2010." Isolina Ricci, author of the classic book Mom's House, Dad’s House says simply, "It's a great read." 

To buy Home, Away, click here.
Team Fathers and Families to Participate in 5K Run/Walk
'Because of what I saw in the court system, I decided to join Fathers and Families'

Team FAF

Team Fathers and Families' runner/walker Susan Takach (right), with her stepdaughter and two grandchildren.

In January 2009, Susan Takach's nephew was murdered by his ex-girlfriend. He had been a victim of domestic abuse for years. Susan says:
"Knowing how the courts discriminate against men, I participated and assisted in organizing rallies to create public awareness of the prejudice against men in the court system and hopefully to influence the court in the conviction and sentencing of the ex-girlfriend.

"Because of what happened to my nephew, I decided to join Fathers and Families to  promote gender equality in the court systems."
Susan and other Fathers and Families’ advocates are participating in the September 5 “Cheetah Run” 5K Run/Walk at the Cincinnati Zoo and raising funds to support the programs of Fathers and Families. Join Fathers and Families supporters from all over the country with your gift to fund our vital family court reform work. To sponsor Susan Takach and the team, click here.

To learn more about Susan and why she’s joined Team Fathers and Families in running to raise money for our organization, click here.

Support Susan by Giving via PayPal.


If you prefer to contribute by check, please make your check out to "Fathers and Families", put "Susan Takach" in the for/description line, and mail your check to:
Fathers & Families
20 Park Plaza, Suite 628
Boston, MA 02116

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Volunteer Testimonial

"Every child deserves a nurturing, loving environment and protection from hostile parenting and alienation. I have seen first-hand the effects of the emotional turmoil created by unfit parents. As a grand-parent, It is especially heart-breaking to see your child victimized by both an angry parent and then again by a misinformed family court system. I became involved with the National Parents Organization, because the focus is advocacy for the children."

By Paula Cuesy, Member, California Executive Committee