NPO publishes blog articles to inform and to stimulate conversation about issues of importance to NPO's mission.  All blog articles express the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Parents Organization, its Board of Directors, or its executives.  

July 17, 2014 by Robert Franklin, Esq.

The anti-dad crowd is at it again. This time it’s Jason Patric who’s in their sights. Patric of course did the unforgiveable in their eyes; he won in court. So Rolling Stone Magazine dispatched a reporter to do a hatchet job on Patric (Rolling Stone, 7/15/14). That done, New York Magazine uncritically channeled its claims that, for the most part, were solely sourced to Patric’s ex, Gabrielle Schreiber (New York, 7/16/14). Gee, what could be more fair and balanced than that? Rolling Stone’s bias in the matter becomes clear just from Patric’s written response to their questions.

"All these false allegations against me from [Schreiber] and her legal team are baseless and without merit. They are an attempt to disparage me after their loss in the Court of Appeal. I will not legitimize the questions posed by Rolling Stone. There isn't one shred of evidence to any of this slander…. I will happily present all of my evidence at trial, and will very soon have Gus back in my arms. I also will continue to refuse to disparage my son's mother in public. I don't intend to alienate him from her. The only one that is hurt by this is Gus. He will soon be old enough to know the truth."

So, having gotten the stiff arm from Patric, Rolling Stone went ahead with its piece anyway. Hey, who needs the man’s voice when you’ve got that of the woman who’s been doggedly trying to keep him out of his son’s life for the past four years. Any reporter reading those remarks would realize that Patric is pretty sure of his ability to do well in court when it’s time to consider custody and parenting time. Likewise, it’s clear he won’t stoop to Schreiber’s level – attempting to use the news media to make the case she can’t in court. And finally, he’s clearly announced that he understands the concept that children need both their parents, even when one is as scurrilous as Schreiber. Just to make the point a bit clearer, here’s what Patric’s lawyer had to say (Rolling Stone, 7/16/14).

And what does that get him? Bashed and trashed as a violent narcissist by Rolling Stone and the New York writer who worships at the same altar. Never mind that essentially everything Schreiber alleges to Rolling Stone is either brand new or discounted by both the trial court that gave Patric visitation during the pendency of the case and the Court of Appeals. Or for that matter, never mind that at least some of what she claims contradicts known facts. So, for example, she claims she raised their son Gus “on my own,” but the very basis of the decision by the Court of Appeals was that Gus and his dad had established a relationship that shouldn’t be disturbed, much as Schreiber wants to do exactly that.

It’s unquestionable that when the pair first decided to have a child using Patric as the sperm donor, he didn’t think he wanted to be the child’s everyday father. I personally don’t think that was a sound decision for either of them. Children need both parents and no one should go into childrearing assuming one or the other won’t be around. Single parenting is a bad idea when mothers decide it on their own and it’s no better when fathers do.

But the simple fact is that Patric decided early in Gus’s live that he very much wanted to be the boy’s father and has fought long and hard to do so. Schreiber on the other hand has taken the attitude that, for some reason, about something as important as parenthood, Patric has no right to change his mind. Of course he does and it’s far better for Gus that he did. But Schreiber takes the “child as property” approach; for her, regardless of the reality of the father-child bond and regardless of the child’s best interests, a deal is a deal. Imagine if Schreiber got her way, but, at some point down the road, ran low on cash. I wonder how long it would take her to change her mind and demand Patric’s child support.

So, of course Schreiber has played the abuse card. The courts don’t buy it and for good reason; she’s never produced any evidence that Patric was abusive toward her or anyone else. Medical records? Nope. Police complaints? Not those either. A therapist in whom she confided? No. A friend? Not so far. A relative? Ditto.

But none of that bothers either Rolling Stone or New York who swallowed everything she said hook, line and sinker. Does it occur to them to question Schreiber’s claims given that she only started making them once Patric started showing an interest in getting some time with his child? That fact might spur some to look askance at Schreiber’s claims, but not the reporters whose only aim is to trash Patric.

Anyone who wants to know Schreiber’s take on the role of fathers in children’s lives need only listen to her lawyer.

Patty Glaser, Schreiber's lawyer, disagrees. "Sperm donors can change their minds – they can say, 'You know what? I'd really like to be a dad,' " she says. "But it shouldn't be unilateral. Mom needs to be part of that decision. And if Mom says, 'Great,' then Dad can do it."

It’s no coincidence that Glaser views fathers’ rights as a matter for mothers’ veto. After all, that’s precisely what Schreiber is trying to do – veto Patric’s rights and any time he might have with his son. Again, I wonder if she’d have the same take on a mother who changes her mind about child support. Yes, she can change her mind, “but it shouldn’t be unilateral. Dad needs to be part of that decision. And if Dad says, ‘Great’ then Mom can get paid.” Somehow I don’t think so. It seems that, when it comes to parental rights and obligations, the anti-dad crowd just aren’t comfortable with fathers having rights they and they alone can enforce. Anything that threatens mothers’ absolute control over fathers’ rights is enough to send them into paroxysms of fury of the type the Rolling Stone and New York articles exemplify.

But, bad as the Rolling Stone article is, it’s outdone for pure no-nothing vitriol by the one in New York. Not content with believing everything Schreiber says and ignoring every one of Patric’s very pointed denials, the article doubles down.

Legal scholars say family courts have changed drastically over the past 40 years to recognize women and men as mutual breadwinners and parents, according to Slate’s Hanna Rosin. Because of changing mating norms and reproductive technology, unprecedented issues like Schreiber and Patric’s crop up, but Rosin says the courts tend to be good at dealing with them, especially when the parties involved are wealthy and lawyered up. The same does not hold true for poor parents, who, without expensive legal representation or steady employment, fail to make child support payments and end up incarcerated or permanently indebted.

You know a writer’s gone totally off the rails when she starts citing Hanna Rosin as an authority on anything and particularly her piece on how, according to her, family courts actually like dads just fine and everything there is nice and equal between fathers and mothers. As I showed here, Rosin claimed that a survey of lawyers revealed that they believe custody matters are evening out in family courts. The only trouble with that is that their anecdotal observations are utterly at odds with the facts as revealed by multiple datasets like the ones maintained by the U.S. Census Bureau and the states of Washington and Nebraska.

Amazingly, the New York writer, Kat Stoeffel, converts a single faulty survey of lawyers into “legal scholars say…” But what’s worse is that she doesn’t notice the contradiction in what Rosin said. Rosin said on one hand that, as claimed by that faulty survey, fathers and mothers are treated equally by family courts, and on the other that that’s actually only true when the two have enough money to fight the fight. But of course almost no parents do have that money, so fathers usually take what they can get – 14 – 20% parenting time and a load of child support to pay – and trudge off into an unhappy future. The point should be simple to grasp; custody decisions can’t be equal if only the wealthy can afford to make them that way. But no, neither Stoeffel nor Rosin managed that painfully easy feat.

Neither of these dad-haters will affect the course of Jason Patric’s bid to have a meaningful relationship with Gus, try as they might. My guess is that the courts will cheerfully ignore Schreiber’s obvious attempts at alienating Gus from his dad. Even though a sane system would recognize that for the child abuse it is, I doubt the courts will pay it much heed. My guess is they’ll give Patric a little time with his son and a huge child support bill and call it a day.

But those dogmatically opposed to fathers having time with their children will soldier on, believing everything a mother says regardless of how outlandish and claiming that any man who once expresses hesitation about being a father should be stuck with his decision for all times.

#childcustody, #JasonPatric, #DanielleSchreiber, #RollingStone, #NewYork, #falseallegations

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