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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.  

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First day of school

September 21, 2020 by Don Hubin, Ph.D., Chair, National Board of Directors

Again!

Again, we learn of a loving father driven to despair and, ultimately, to taking his own life by a cruel family law system that fails to protect the bond between a child and both parents when the parents separate.

When Robyn Secrest contacted National Parents Organization late last week, it was to relate a tragedy that her family had experienced—a tragedy that is, sadly, not unique to her family. Her brother, Steven Barton, had taken his own life. As Robyn put it, the family had lost Steven to “the despair and destruction of a loving fatherinvolved, active, and engaged in his children's liveswho was alienated from them due to custody and court rulings that didn’t support shared parenting and the importance of a father’s relationship with his children in a divorce situation.”

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September 18, 2020 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

In Ontario, it’s officially open season on anyone earning a good income (National Post, 9/10/20).  Beware all those who do.  If you have a girl/boyfriend and endeavor to treat them well, you may find yourself married.  No, you didn’t walk down the aisle and no, you never lived together for any significant period of time.  No rings were exchanged nor vows taken, nor marriage license issued.  That’s all so passé, so totally yesterday.  In Ontario, it’s a whole new, brave new world, whose whole point is money, or, to be precise, alimony.

Michael Latner is apparently very well-off financially, so, when he met and fell in love with Lisa Climans back in 2000, he was lavish in his support of her.  She quit her job and he supported her and her three children in a style to which they’d theretofore never been accustomed.  They ate well, lived well, traveled extensively and all on his nickel.  What they didn’t do was marry, live together or have a joint bank account.

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September 14,2020 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

No effort to convince readers that, against all the evidence, family courts are biased against mothers would be complete without eliding the differences between Parental Alienation Syndrome and parental alienation.  And Natalie Pattillo’s piece in the New York Review of Books doesn’t disappoint. 

The reason for doing so is to tar the concept of PA with the name Richard Gardner.  He’s long dead and therefore presents no risk of a libel or defamation suit and so is fair game.  Pattillo introduces the term “parental alienation” and, just one sentence later pretends that it’s the same as PAS.

And no such article would be complete without misrepresenting what PA and PAS actually are.  Again, following the script closely, Pattillo does the same.

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September 10, 2020 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

Nothing quite condemns any publication quite like citing Barry Goldstein as a reputable source.  But that’s exactly what Natalie Pattillo did in her article in the New York Review of Books about which I wrote last time.  Who is Barry Goldstein?  To begin with, he’s yet another of the true believers, like Pattillo herself, who never get around to admitting female violence against men or that many allegations of DV, when made during a divorce action are made to gain the upper hand therein.

But if that were all that Barry Goldstein is, he’d just be one of many.  In fact, he’s unique.  Barry Goldstein at one time was an attorney in New Jersey.  (The state’s bar association now lists him as “retired.”)  Back in 2008, Goldstein won the dubious distinction of being suspended by the bar grievance committee for a whopping five years due to an equally whopping 26 violations of the canons of legal ethics.  About half of those were for playing fast and loose with client funds, but the rest originated from his representation of Yevgenia Shockome whose case was a textbook example of the abuse of the legal system by those who want us to believe that only men abuse and only women and children are abused.

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September 9, 2020 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

Sigh.  Another month, another article that claims that, as a general rule, family courts favor fathers over mothers, and particularly so in matters of domestic violence (New York Review of Books, 9/2/20).  We see these with some frequency.  Law professor Joan Meier has made a career out of exactly that, done her best to prove her point and failed.  But the latest yellow journalism appears in what was once a respectable publication, the New York Review of Books.

The NYRB article runs to type, i.e. pure agitprop.  The writer, Natalie Pattillo, has written pretty extensively and always in the same vein.  She’s a true believer in the Church of Men are Abusers and Women Aren’t.  Predictably, her article, when it locates facts at all, cites only dodgy ones, artfully leads readers to believe that which isn’t true, quotes only those who belong to the same Church regardless of how factually compromised they are and of course manages no balance whatsoever.  The piece is about 3,500 words long and in all those words, Pattillo offers not a single quotation from anyone with an opinion different from her own.  Needless to say, as in all such articles, many pertinent facts go unmentioned

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dadand daughter

September 4, 2020 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

The article dealing with the changes to adoption law in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) that was the subject of my previous piece treads oh so lightly on the topic of the business of adoption.  As I said last time, the writer, Jasper Lindell, didn’t manage to pick up the phone and talk to a single person who questions adoption.  Not one person and not one parent’s organization.  After all, to do so might have interfered with his sunny, anodyne view of the matter. 

Consider:

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September 2, 2020 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

The more I see of Australian family law, the gladder I am that I live in the U.S.  Needless to say, U.S. family law and practices are woeful, often resulting in outcomes that are the very opposite of what public policy should be.  No country in the world, and certainly not the U.S., even comes close to sensible policies when it comes to children and parents.  Still, Australian kids in family courts fare worse than those in the U.S. and it’s not getting any better (Canberra Times, 8/30/20).

The laws governing adoptions in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), i.e. Canberra and environs, will change on September 1.  From now on, the sole governing criterion for adoption is our old friend “the best interests of the child.”  Unlike in the U.S. where parental rights supersede even constitutional ones, if Australian parents have any rights to their children, it’s not apparent.  As of Sept. 1, a judge’s arbitrary, uninformed and free-floating notion of what’s good for a child is all it takes to terminate an adult’s parental rights.

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August 31, 2020 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

Yet another court has decided that a mother who abducts a child should be rewarded for doing so (Scottish Legal News, 8/26/20).

The child was born in 2010 in Poland.  Her mother and father lived together and raised her until she was seven, at which point they divorced.  The mother apparently had primary custody of the girl for the next two years and the father had regular contact with his daughter. 

Mom then asked a Polish court for permission to move with the girl to Scotland.  She did so because that was where her boyfriend was living.  Her boyfriend was on the run from Polish law enforcement authorities, having been released from prison temporarily and fled to Scotland.  The Polish court denied the mother’s request to take the child out of the country.

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August 27, 2020 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

Why is it that child welfare agencies in different countries sometimes seem so alike?  I comment on those agencies in all parts of the English-speaking world and the issues are almost all the same – nameless, faceless bureaucrats who seem to see their job as taking as many children from parents as possible.  Secrecy of the process, failure to follow the rules of the agency itself, lying by agency officials and “emergency” hearings held solely to avoid parental resistance round out the sorry state of governmental efforts to care for kids at risk of abuse or neglect.

And so it is here in Scotland (The Scotsman, 8/19/20).

Mrs. A and her children’s father are estranged.  They have two children, one of whom has an autism spectrum disorder.  So Mrs. A contacted her local council for help in dealing with her autistic daughter.

Big mistake. 

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August 26, 2020 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

Will Senator Kamala Harris go to bat for parental equality in family courts?  As a senator and California’s Attorney General, she never has, but, as the Democratic nominee for Vice President, she now occupies a much more prominent position on the national stage.  Why would she use that newfound influence on behalf of divorced and separated parents?  See this New York Times article (New York Times, 8/21/20).

Harris’ father and mother are both immigrants to this country, her mother from India, her father from Jamaica.  They met in the ‘60s and married.  Her father, Donald J. Harris was a rising star in academia in the field of economics.  As such, the family moved a good deal from one college or university to another as Harris’ prospects steadily improved. 

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Is contact with both parents important after separating? Watch the video and visit the article here

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August 25, 2020 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

Australia’s High Court has struck down a husband’s effort to sue his ex-wife for fraud due to her leading him to believe he was the father of two her children when in fact he was not.  The Court is both right and wrong in its decision that cries out for legislative remedy.

Liam Magill was married to Meredith Magill.  During the term of their marriage, she gave birth to three children.  Liam assumed he was the father of all three, but in fact, he fathered only the middle child.  Meredith allowed him to continue his assumption and indeed contributed to it.  For example, when the children were born, she filled out certain necessary forms that attend the birth of a child in Australia.  Those forms named Liam as the father.  Liam also signed the forms so stating.  As such, it seems clear that, whether intentionally or not, she informed him that he was the father of the children.

Later, he learned he wasn’t and the pair split up.  He sued her for the tort of “deceit,” and the trial court rendered judgment in his favor.  That judgment was overturned by the Court of Appeal whose ruling was upheld by the High Court.  Why?

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August 21, 2020 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

Finally, in his presentation to Australia’s Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Family Law System, Augusto Zimmerman takes on false allegations of domestic violence asserted in family courts.

That’s a highly relevant topic, given that almost the sole justification for opposition to shared parenting comes from radical feminists and the domestic violence industry.  They routinely claim that judges ignore claims of DV in order to give primary child custody to abusive fathers.  And, according to them, all those claims are valid, or false ones are so rare that they’re unimportant in the big picture.

Zimmerman takes down those patently untrue claims.

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August 20, 2020 by Don Hubin, Ph.D., Chair, National Board of Directors

Don’t denigrate play. It’s serious child-rearing work. And, it turns out that dads and moms play with their children differently (on average--obviously, there are many individual variations).

According to recent research from Cambridge University reported in The Guardian, dads “tend to engage in more physical play like tickling, chasing, and piggy-back rides.” Even with the youngest children, fathers enjoy more “boisterous rough-and-tumble play.”

This won’t be news to most parents, and certainly not to anyone who has read Dr. Anna Manchin’s terrific book, The Life of Dad. I once read  an article by an expert on child development who frequently asked audiences of mothers and fathers for a show of hands of those who would play with their older infants by raising them up and down in their arms. Almost every hand in the room went up. Then this expert asked, and how many of the parents toss the infant up, letting go and then catching them. Then, this expert said, almost all of the mothers’ hands went down.

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We had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Linda Nielsen, a renowned researcher in the world of shared parenting and father-daughter relationships. In her interview, she talks about her new book Improving Father-Daughter Relationships: A Guide for Women and their Dadsand how fathers and daughters benefit from good relationships with each other. interestingly, she also talks about how fathers greatly benefit when they have a deeper relationship with their daughters. She also talks about how some women regret not having a more than surface-level relationship when their fathers pass away. She talks about how it is important for fathers and daughters to get to know each other including their feelings and beliefs. She also talks about how a father will influence their daughters in the areas of money, relationships and success in life. She also discusses how mothers and stepmothers can inadvertently harm the relationship between the father and the daughter, and what to do about it. You can visit her site and buy her book here.

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August 18, 2020 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

Professor Augusto Zimmerman goes on, in his presentation to the Joint Select Committee, to take on the issue of spousal maintenance (A Sense of Place, 7/27/20).  As with the child support/parental alienation/male suicide triumvirate of issues, he pulls no punches.

Surely, there is little doubt that elementary considerations of fairness and equity demand that the law compelling the payment of spouse maintenance be immediately repealed under the current ‘no-fault’ system.

It is that system of “no-fault” divorce that’s the focus of his opposition to alimony.  Zimmerman points out that, in the past, when marriage was much less easy to dissolve than it is today, a system of spousal maintenance could be defended.  After all, back then, women tended to be the primary or sole caregivers to children and, if a man violated his marriage contract, could be left with no means of support.

But today’s reality bears little resemblance to that of pre-“no-fault” days.

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August 17, 2020 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

In Australian Family Law, Augusto Zimmerman is a heavyweight.  He’s a highly-respected academic, former Law Reform Commissioner and current President of Western Australia’s Legal Theory Association.  When Zimmerman talks, people listen.  I hope they do in this case.

The linked-to article is adapted from Zimmerman’s presentation to the current Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Family Law System that’s once again looking into how to make family law fair to children and parents (A Sense of Place, 7/27/20).  He doesn’t mince words.  His words positively seethe with indignation.

For example, the first section of his presentation is entitled “Child Support Payments, Parental Alienation and Adult Male Suicide – an Undeniable Link.”  Strong stuff, and he backs up every word.

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August 12, 2020 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

Last time I posted a piece about Donald Williams, Jr., the California man who narrowly avoided having Arizona child welfare officials shanghai his daughter Melody away from him and into foster care and then adoption.  The process took over four years, but Williams finally prevailed in the Arizona appellate court.  His daughter now lives with him and he’s rightly suing the Arizona Department of Child Safety for deprivation of his constitutionally-guaranteed parental rights.

Today I want to delve into that case a bit deeper.  Here’s the appellate court’s decision that makes all too clear what DCS agents were up to.  Judges write in a very circumspect manner, but beneath that calm veneer, it’s easy to see the unanimous panel seething.  What DCS did was outrageous by any stretch of the imagination.

Most importantly, it was from the start.  DCS knew they had a child of a father who was both impecunious and lived out of state.  Getting his child away from him and into foster care and then to adoption surely looked like the easiest of slam-dunks and DCS lost no time in seeking to remove Williams from Melody’s life.  From the very beginning they violated long-established U.S. Supreme Court precedent that’s written into Arizona statute law regarding state power and parental rights. 

Put simply, the state cannot legally intervene into families in which parents are fit and children aren’t being abused or neglected.  Everyone in the Arizona child welfare bureaucracy knows the law (or should), and everyone in Williams’ case violated it.  In short, they did so intentionally and the juvenile court that ruled on the matter took part.

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August 11,2020 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

Donald Williams, Jr. is suing the ironically named Arizona Department of Child Safety and several individual officers thereof for $25 million (AZ Central, 8/1/20).  I hope he gets every penny of it.  He won’t, but I still hope he does.  Williams’ case is a lesson for anyone who wants to learn about the depredations of child welfare agencies.  It provides a good look at what they do and the assumptions they make.

Williams lives in Sacramento, CA.  Back in 2014, he had a brief relationship with a woman who soon moved to Arizona.  She gave birth to their daughter, Melody, in 2014, but the child was taken from her at the hospital because she tested positive for illegal drugs.  She’s not been a part of the case since.

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August 6, 2020 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

This article performs an excellent public service (Lincoln Journal Star, 7/27/20).  It once again informs us about the bankruptcy of the arguments made by anti-shared parenting activists, this time in Nebraska.  This is all they have to offer?  If so, there is in fact no argument of any substance against equal parenting.

Readers may recall that, not long ago, I posted a piece on the pro-shared parenting op-ed in the same publication by Ray Keiser.  Well, the linked-to piece is supposedly an answer to his.  It’s almost touchingly naïve.  From its ungrammatical headline to the final word, the article could have been written by a high school freshman.  And, tellingly, while it’s written by two lawyers, neither of them has any background in family law.  Is there really not one family lawyer in the state who can be convinced to trot out the usual nonsense that poses as reasoned opposition to shared parenting?  Apparently not.

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August 5, 2020

Dear National Parents Organization Supporter

I’m writing with exciting news! National Parents Organization is making available, free of charge, video recordings from the most significant shared parenting conference ever held.

NPO, in collaboration with the International Council on Shared Parenting (ICSP), brought together the world’s leading researchers on child well-being and separated parenting in order to address the most pressing questions about shared parenting when parents live apart:

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August 4, 2020 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

In Ireland, the frank discrimination against unmarried fathers and the children they seek to parent continues.  And it will do so into the foreseeable future (Irish Examiner, 7/28/20).  Amazingly, it’s all part of a public policy that pretends to further marriage.  The Irish might want to rethink that.

In the Emerald Isle, if a man who fathers a child isn’t married to the mother of that child, he has no parental rights.  She has full parental rights, he has none.  With luck and the goodwill of the child’s mother, he may be able to acquire those rights, but otherwise, he can’t.

Here’s how it works:  For the first three months after the child is born, the unmarried father has no parental rights.  Period.  It doesn’t matter how good a partner he’s been to the mother, how much he’s done to support and care for her or how much he wants and loves the child.  He has no parental rights.

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July 30, 2020 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

When it comes to suspected child abuse, teachers are among the many “mandated reporters.”  That is, if they have reason to believe a child is being abused or neglected, they’re required by law to report their suspicions to the nearest child welfare agency.  Failure to do so can result in the loss of a mandated reporter’s job.  As I’ve said before, that none-too-subtle threat is one of the major reasons for the vast over-reporting to CPS agencies.

So it’s interesting to read this article (We Are Teachers, 11/18/19).  It’s written by one Brette Sember, a teacher who’s instructing other teachers on what to do when they suspect abuse or neglect of a child.  Most of it is fairly sensible.  So, for example, readers are urged to not take the lead in investigating the case, but to simply report their suspicions to CPS or the CPS liaison at the school.

But then there’s the not-so-sensible about the piece.  For example,

“More than three million children in the US are abused each year.”

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July 29, 2020 by Robert Franklin, JD, Member, National Board of Directors

This piece comes to us from the Sacramento County Department of Child Support Services (Spotlight, 7/2/20).  As such, its chirpy, “all is well” tone is only to be expected.  The countless problems of the child support system won’t get an airing on that site or any like it. 

Still, the article does offer an important tidbit.

For many years, I’ve wondered why so few custodial fathers have a child support order in effect.  The U.S. Census Bureau’s latest compilation of data says that just 41.4% of those fathers have such an order.  That’s compared with 51.4% of custodial mothers who do.  More telling is the fact that it’s the highest rate recorded by the Bureau in 26 years.  The low, 28.8% came in 2011.

So why do dads tend so strongly to not have a support order?

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