May 8, 2014 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
A couple of days ago I wrote a piece on the Tulsa World’s editorial endorsing the veto by Governor Mary Fallin of a bill that would have very modestly increased the ability of non-custodial parents to enforce their visitation rights. It would have allowed a non-custodial parent who was denied access to a child for six months or more the right to go to court and request that child support be suspended for the period of the denial. The measure passed by unanimous votes of both houses of the legislature only to go down to Fallin’s veto.
More outrageous than that was the Tulsa World’s editorial. Whoever wrote the thing plainly hadn’t read the bill. Twice in the very short opinion piece the World blatantly got it wrong about what the bill would have done, claiming it would have required the custodial parent to repay the child support that had been received during the period in which the other parent was denied access.
The bill consisted of four lines of type. There was nothing that remotely suggested that anyone would have had to repay anyone anything. Plus of course, the Bradley Amendment would have rendered any such law null and void.
So I blogged about the matter and also sent an email to the World’s editorial department pointing out the rather obvious error and demanding a correction.
And they did. Here it is:
A Friday Tulsa World editorial incorrectly described the provisions of House Bill 3001. The bill would allow a noncustodial divorced parent to ask a court for relief from child support payments during periods when visitation is denied after visitation has been denied for at least six months. Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed the bill.
It’s a pretty vague correction, neglecting as it does to point out what was incorrect about the original. But it’s actually stranger than that. Editorial Pages Editor Wayne Greene replied to my email to let me know about the correction, so I asked the next obvious question, “Does the World still support Fallin’s Veto?”
The answer is “yes,” which is pretty strange. After all, the paper gave as one reason why the editorial staff thought the veto was a good idea and that one reason turned out to be completely made up by whoever wrote the editorial. So on what basis do they now place their support for the bill’s veto?
I asked Greene that too. Here’s his response, quoting Fallin:
This bill effectively punishes a child and takes away financial support for that child for his or her parents' actions by removing a noncustodial parent's financial obligation to support the child.
Amazing. Somehow, the fact that a mother refusing a father access to the child doesn’t constitute “punishing the child,” but denying her a bit of money that may or may not have been used for the child’s benefit is. It’s the typical blindness we see so often: the only thing a father can do that’s deemed important is pay money. Everything must make way for that. Yes, masses of social science show that children need their fathers, but if Mom chooses to prevent it, we’ll resolutely do nothing. And yes, much of that same science demonstrates that not interfering with Dad’s access to the child is one of the surest ways of getting his money, i.e. the thing we deem to be all-important. But that too must make way for mother’s whim. The ignorance and bias are sometimes almost too much to believe.
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