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February 2, 2015 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Yesterday I posted a piece about the astonishing antipathy of the leadership of the Nebraska State Bar Association for anything that would improve children’s chances of maintaining real relationships with both parents post-divorce. The wrongheadedness of that position comes close to trumping my poor ability to describe it. It comes down to a few members of the state bar standing against the well-being of children in order to line their pockets.

But it’s worse than that. They’ve not only lied repeatedly in public in pursuit of their nefarious goals, but now they’re opposing the public’s ability even to know what goes on in family courts. Yesterday’s piece was about that. A few members of the bar have decided that the NSBA should reverse years of favoring public disclosure of the results of custody cases. If successful, that would mean not only the public, but the legislature, judges and lawyers would be in the dark about what family court judges are doing. That would in turn mean that any attempt at reform would be hamstrung due to an entire absence of basic information.

The idea that We the People, the ones who pay the salaries of those family court judges, should be prohibited from knowing what our employees are doing, not only with our money, but with our children, truly requires descriptive terminology that the English language may not supply. The words “disgraceful,” “shameful” and “beneath contempt” come to mind, but somehow fail to do the job.

There’s more. The anti-dad/anti-kid crowd in Nebraska extends beyond just those few members of the NSBA who happen to hold leadership positions. (They of course are the ones who have so mismanaged bar affairs that they’ve gotten the NSBA sanctioned and all but disbanded by the state Supreme Court due to their frankly extra-legal activities.) The results of the study of custody outcomes that was published last January seem to have convinced that crowd that, contrary to their previous beliefs, knowledge of the facts about child custody is not such a good thing after all.

As I’ve mentioned before, those opposed to children having real relationships with both parents following divorce seem to have assumed that the facts would support their arguments. But, to put it mildly, they didn’t. On the contrary, the facts, as revealed by the study, demonstrated beyond question that (a) Nebraska courts overwhelmingly give custody to mothers, (b) they almost never order equally-shared custody, (c) they limit non-custodial parents time with their children to about 17% of the total, (d) domestic violence is a virtual non-factor in custody cases, (e) child abuse is a virtual non-factor in custody cases and (f) parental unfitness is a virtual non-factor in custody cases.

In short, there is absolutely no reason why a presumption of equal parenting shouldn’t be the law of the state. If you’re dogmatically opposed to kids having real relationships with their dads, that’s a serious problem. Facts very often are fatal to wrongheaded ideology.

So the answer, according to the anti-dad/anti-kid crowd is not to alter their opposition to what’s best for children, but to hide the facts. Hence the NSBA’s opposition to LB27 about which I wrote yesterday.

But there are other organizations that have followed suit, in their own ways. For example:

The domestic violence establishment in the state simply refused to testify regarding LB27. Now, this is a bill that would require the collection of data on allegations and findings of domestic violence in child custody cases. We’d all think that the DV establishment would eagerly embrace such a law. For them, what could be better than a sea of data on domestic violence in custody cases? The answer is obvious. The existing study disappointed them by showing that DV is largely non-existent in custody cases. This is an establishment that depends for its funding almost entirely on the assumption that DV is rampant throughout society. When spouses who will never hate each other more fail to even allege DV in their divorce filings, we know to a certainty that the problem isn’t nearly as bad as the DV establishment would like it to be. So rather than embarrassing themselves by testifying against a bill that can only improve our response to domestic violence, the DV establishment took a pass.

Then of course there’s that study from last year. We now find it’s not the final word. No, the study that originally analyzed 392 custody cases is now going to be supplemented with 208 more. Why? Well, that’s unclear. After all, if you’re going to do a study, why not just do it the way it’s supposed to be done and get it over with? But that’s not what’s happening.

What is happening is that the committee that was in charge of the study changed its lead researcher. I had an email exchange with Debra Denny, chairwoman of the committee, and she informed me that Dr. Michael Saini will no longer be used to conduct the additional research. That’s not because of any dissatisfaction with his methodology, Denny said. And the research regimen will remain the same and the new data will be aggregated with the old data. So why is Saini being replaced? That’s unclear at this point, but it’s beginning to look like he failed to produce the data the committee wanted, so they’re seeking more cooperative colleagues.

Then there’s the organization Voices for Children. In Nebraska, they’ve always staunchly opposed any improvement in children’s ability to maintain relationships with both parents post-divorce. They too seem to be taking the approach that, since the facts contradict their ideology, the facts must disappear. And so it is that, with apparently not the least embarrassment on their part, Voices for Children has simply removed from its website all data on child custody outcomes in the state. Reliable sources in Nebraska tell me that we used to be able to go to the Voices for Children website, type “custody” into the search engine and get information on custody in Nebraska. Well, we no longer can do that. The organization seems to have decided that information on child custody isn’t such a good thing after all.

And of course, no story about the malefactions of the anti-dad/anti-kid crowd in Nebraska would be complete without an appearance by Marsha Fangmeyer, former President of the NSBA. Not content with publicly lying two years ago about LB22, a shared parenting bill, she recently appeared before the Judiciary Committee to testify in opposition to the current LB27 that would provide everyone information about custody orders in family courts.

Great minds think alike.

Will Nebraskans be permitted to know what their judges are doing? Not if the forces opposed to what’s best for kids have anything to say about it. We’ll see soon enough.

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National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved?  Here’s how:

Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.

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