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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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March 3, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Sigh.  Another day, another court that’s failed to protect children (The Chattanoogan, 2/22/19).

The current case is one of international child abduction that a trial court in Tennessee knew was a risk, ignored it, allowed Mom to take the children to Denmark and now no one knows where they are.

Bart Critser and Denmark native Majken Wadum were married for 10 years, but divorced in 2018.  They have two daughters, Ebba and Silvia.  Wadum apparently has long-standing problems with alcoholism that have impaired her ability to be always a fit parent to the girls. 

When Critser filed for divorce in August of 2017, he cited Wadum’s alcoholism and was given primary custody by Judge Robert Whitwell.  But shortly thereafter, Whitwell ordered both children to live with Wadum in Oxford Mississippi.

In June of 2018,
Judge Whitwell grants Majken’s request to again travel to Denmark, this time with both daughters, during the month of July. He returns Majken’s passport to her, along with the passports of the girls. Bart’s legal team objects, stating that Majken is a clear flight risk, noting particularly that the children had indicated to Bart that they are “moving.” 
So the girls’ understanding of what they and their mother were doing was “moving” to Denmark.  To Whitwell, that didn’t signify a risk that they wouldn’t return, so he allowed them to go.  Amazingly,
Judge Whitwell orders Majken to return to Mississippi with the children no later than Aug. 5.
So apparently, the judge figured that a mother who’s planning to abduct her children to her native Denmark would be thwarted by a Mississippi court order telling her not to.  He of course was well aware that Danish courts don’t enforce the orders of Mississippi courts and that the jurisdiction of his court doesn’t extend to Scandinavia.  But he let her go anyway.

Guess what happened.  On August 5,
Majken sends Bart an e-mail saying that she and the girls were staying in Denmark to start their new lives.
That required Critser to travel to Denmark four times over the next six months.  The first trip was to initiate proceedings under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.  The second was for the hearing on that suit in the lower court and the third and fourth times were for Wadum’s appeal of the lower court’s decision. 

All decisions by the Danish courts have been in Critser’s favor.  And those decisions, like that of the court in Mississippi, plus $4.99 will get Critser a latte at Starbucks.  They’re so far worth nothing.

To no one’s surprise, Wadum is no more interested in obeying the orders issued by Danish judges than she was of obeying Judge Whitwell’s.
Majken agrees for Bart to collect the girls on Feb. 6. Bart goes to her apartment – there is no answer at the door. Neighbors say they have not seen Majken and the girls in four days. Bart has made numerous attempts to find the girls. Danish police have searched the apartment. Majken’s mother and brother claim they do not know where she is. She has deleted her email account, her bank account and credit cards are frozen, Interpol has put a warning on her passport – and yet she has disappeared with the children without a trace.
Now, Interpol can track the use of a passport, but of course passports aren’t necessary to travel around Europe.  But there are plenty of other indicators Interpol can rely on, such as the use of credit cards, checks, etc.  But Wadum’s bank account and credit cards are useless, so apparently someone is assisting her in her abduction.  That of course makes that person(s) a conspirator in child abduction.  Who might that person be?

Who knows?  But here in the U.S., we had a similar case in which a mother snatched her son from his father’s custody in Canada and simply disappeared off the face of the planet.  A certain private detective in Minnesota who specialized in parental child abduction cases didn’t hesitate to say where he thought they were – in a DV shelter.  And sure enough, he was right.  Shortly thereafter, both were found in a shelter in South Dakota.  

If the police want to find Majken Wadum, they’d be well advised to start with the local shelters.

We’ll see how this one turns out.  In the meantime, it’s important to note that Judge Whitwell’s shocking failure to prevent this abduction meant (and means) the abuse of two young girls.  He is complicit in that.

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February 28, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors

Child support laws and practices are well-known for their many shortcomings.  Child support often bears little or no relationship to what’s required to support a child and has come to look more like Mom support.  Non-custodial parents complain that they don’t know what their support is being used for.  The Office of Child Support Enforcement has complained for years that states set support levels beyond what parents can pay.  Enforcement mechanisms often make the non-custodial parent’s ability to pay harder rather than easier.  Despite knowing that non-interference with visitation is one of the best ways of ensuring payment of child support, neither the federal nor state governments provide any realistic assistance to non-custodial parents to enforce their visitation rights.

Those and many more problems are all at the forefront of the ever-louder debate about child support law.  But there’s another that’s less commented upon – the rape of boys by adult women who become pregnant as a result.  Those boys, sometimes as young as 12, are in every state required to pay to support the child.  That’s true despite the fact that the entire concept of statutory rape holds that underage boys and girls are by law too immature to consent to sex.  Therefore, at every trial for statutory rape, the state need produce no evidence on the issue of consent.  That issue has already been decided by the laws governing the jurisdiction.  There can be no defense of consent.

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February 27, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Senator and presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, has trotted out her proposal for kids and their care in the unlikely event she becomes president.  Her proposal is a bad one (National Review, 2/20/19). 

Under it, every parent earning up to twice the poverty level would receive free daycare, i.e. the taxpayers would foot the bill.  Parents earning over that amount would see their daycare payments capped at 7% of their income.  So, in all likelihood, taxpayers would pay some for them too.

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February 25, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Yesterday I posted a piece about an article by Maurice Fisher who calls himself a “mental health professional,” whatever that may mean.  His article is so bad I had to spend two posts on debunking it (Roanoke Times, 2/21/19).  From the looks of that article, Fisher could be one of those off-the-shelf know-nothings who’ve absorbed the all-too-common narrative of male corruption and female – what? – perfection, perhaps.

And yet previous pieces by Fisher are nothing of the kind.  Indeed, in one, he rightly bemoans the marginalization (as through the use of medication) of what was once understood to be normal, rambunctious boy behavior.  Reading it, no one would get a hint of the ignorance and antipathy for fathers Fisher displays in the piece about which I posted yesterday and post today.

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February 24, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

We at the National Parents Organization try hard every day to bring sanity to family courts and laws.  Countless other organizations and individuals do too.  It’s a long, hard slog.  The healthy fight to keep fathers in children’s lives is a necessary one.  Too many forces in this society militate against fathers and the result is widespread social dysfunction.  Kids raised by two parents are, on average, far better off than are any other kids, a fact that’s been firmly established and well known now for decades.

And yet there are those who – deliberately it seems – turn a blind eye to the realities fathers face.  Such a person is Maurice Fisher who’s a “mental health professional” working fairly frequently in custody cases (Roanoke Times, 2/21/19).  With an attitude like his, he should find a different job.

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February 21, 2019 

While it’s not surprising that most children of divorce say they want to spend quality time with both parents, studies show that the majority of parents want an equitable custody arrangement, too.

In spite of this, just one state in the nation, Kentucky, has a true shared parenting law in place, and that took effect less than a year ago. Family court practices vary from state to state, and too many remain bound to outdated policy and rote resolutions. After all the filings and legal finagling, fit and able Dads often get every other weekend and as little as one day a week while many moms handle the lion share of child rearing responsibilities while often juggling careers while struggling to maintain life balance.

Today, the stereotype of Dad as the sole bread-winner and Mom as the nesting nurturer couldn’t be further from reality.

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February 21, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

In the U.S., some 41% of children are born to single mothers.  Our custody laws assume all children to have been born to a married couple.  That means stark inequalities between unmarried mothers and fathers.  In every state, mothers have parental rights solely by virtue of their biological connection to their children.  Fathers have a biological connection too, but must spend significant sums of money and jump through various legal hoops in order to establish their rights. 

Combine all that with the fact that, although we have, for the first time in human history, the ability to know to a certainty the father of every child, no state performs genetic testing on every child when it’s born.  Some 30 different tests are performed on newborns, but not the one that would benefit dads.

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February 20, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Sometimes courts get it right – even Nebraska courts.

In the case of Alberts vs. Alberts, both the trial and the appellate court made the right decisions.  Thomas and Joan Alberts were married in 1997, had two children, separated in 2011 and Joan filed for divorce in 2013.  There were multiple issues at trial about marital property and of course about child custody.  Predictably, the trial court’s temporary orders gave Joan primary custody and allowed Thomas only every-other-weekend visitation.

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February 18, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

When you’re the First Minister of Scotland, as Nicola Sturgeon is, apparently you think you can peddle patent nonsense to the people you supposedly represent and they’ll buy it, no questions asked (Express, 2/17/19).  That’s what Sturgeon did not long ago, but it turned out that the Great Unwashed were more skeptical than she’d planned on.

Sturgeon pronounced herself the country’s “first mammy,” and told the children in foster care that “I love you all.”  Well, isn’t that special.  I’m sure her words warmed her heart, but others remained icy.  Why?

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February 17, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Signs and wonders.  Carlos and Jemima Guimaraes have filed suit against Dr. Chris Brann.  Really, they have.  I’m not making this up(Houston Chronicle, 2/14/19).
A wealthy Brazilian couple, sentenced to federal prison for helping kidnap their grandson, sued their ex-son-in-law this week, alleging that he defrauded the court in the trial that led to their convictions.
Carlos and Jemima are, as I’ve written numerous times, the parents of Marcelle Guimaraes, who, over four years ago, kidnapped her son Nicolas from his home in Houston to her native Brazil.  That was done with the active participation of Carlos and Jemima.  They were apprehended in Florida and brought to trial in Houston on criminal charges related to their role in the kidnapping.  They were convicted and given the lightest of taps on the wrist by the federal judge presiding in their case.

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February 15, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

When I was a young man, the “Counterculture” informed me and all of my cohorts, both male and female, that marriage was “just a piece of paper” and that no such piece of paper could improve one’s relationship with the opposite sex.  Marriage was an absurd irrelevancy, the product of an uncomprehending and pitifully unhip Past.  Like so much about the Counterculture, that proved to be false.  The notion was more about sending a message to straight society than getting facts right.

For whatever reason, that message has persisted in this culture.  Marriage rates are either declining or people are getting married later, so data on marriage among those under the age of, say, 35, are far below what they used to be.  In any case, young adults are postponing marriage till much later than previously and to some extent, aren’t marrying at all.

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February 14, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The response in Quillette by 12 practicing and academic psychologists to the APA’s Guidelines for Psychological Practice for Boys and Men breaks down into four primary areas of criticism.  Briefly, the Guidelines are (a) not based in science, (b) based in ideology, (c) not therapeutic and (d) a violation of professional ethics and best practices.

So Stetson University psychology professor, Chris Ferguson was actually able to review the proposed Guidelines prior to their final draft.  He pointed out that they lacked a basis in biology, but, for the most part, his objections went unheeded.

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February 13, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

I return now to the APA’s Guidelines for Psychological Practice for Men and Boys.  I’ve already done a couple of pieces on them and much, much has been written elsewhere, almost none of it complimentary.  But Quillette’s effort to address the Guidelines can’t go unmentioned (Quillette, 2/4/19).  It’s perhaps the last word on what should be the end of the Guidelines.

Why discuss the Guidelines on a blog that deals with family court reform?  Because the same biases already evident in family courts are reiterated in the Guidelines.  They both promote and exacerbate all the anti-male tendencies that are so common in judges’ rulings on child custody and parenting time.  Worse, as a product of the APA, they may well be used by mental health professionals who advise judges on those issues.  If masculinity is accepted by them and by judges as “toxic,” what hope can there be for fathers seeking meaningful time with their children?

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February 11, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Now it’s Montana’s turn in the spotlight (Daily Inter Lake, 2/10/19).  Like many other states, Montana’s child protective agency – the Division of Child and Family Services - is a study in dysfunction.  The usual factors make all but impossible the agency’s ability to do what it’s tasked with doing – protecting children from harm.  Indeed, all too often, it’s the agency that does the harm.

That’s because caseworkers report a management culture that errs on the side of taking children from parents.

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February 8, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The movement for shared parenting in New Zealand is in its infancy.  Spearheading that movement is attorney Loren Portnow who recently penned an op-ed for the New Zealand Herald, the country’s largest newspaper, promoting a rebuttable presumption of equal parenting.  Unfortunately, the op-ed is inaccessible behind a paywall.

Back in 2014, family law in New Zealand underwent a limited reform.  Now the Ministry of Justice is reviewing those reforms and its report on them is due in May.  Portnow rightly points out that the review provides the government an opportunity to remake Kiwi law to provide for a rebuttable presumption of equal parenting.  Part of his argument involves the fact that the wave for shared parenting is rolling in the U.S. and cites, among other things, Kentucky’s recent success.

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February 7, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

I write a fair amount about judicial bias against fathers and in favor of mothers.  But judges aren’t the only ones suffering from that particular illness, this guy is too (Globe and Mail, 2/4/19).

David Eddie is an advice columnist for a major Canadian newspaper.  That allows him to spread his peculiar brand of misandry far and wide, a task he doesn’t shirk. 

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February 6, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

I swear, it’s hard to read this stuff (Canton Daily Ledger, 2/4/19).  That’s a fact even though I’ve been reading scurrilous, uninformed opposition to shared parenting for over a decade now.  By now though, I think the information on shared parenting should be sufficiently well-known that commentators should at least be conversant with the basics.  I understand that family lawyers will, for the most part, oppose shared parenting regardless of facts or a decent regard for children.  They do it to protect their income streams.  It’s a moral abomination, but I expect it.

But Deb Robinson doesn’t seem to be a lawyer.  She’s just someone who influences public opinion via the column she writes for the Ledger.  As such, you might think she’d make the effort to educate herself at least a little on the topics she chooses to write about.  Indeed, she may do that with other topics, but when it comes to shared parenting, she shoots from the hip. 

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February 4, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The estimable Prof. Linda Nielsen has done a lot of work on father-daughter relationships.  She’s currently working on a second book on that hugely important subject.  Until its publication, this article by Brigham Young University Professor Timothy Rarick will have to do (IF Studies, 1/16/19).

Rarick and his wife came across a man in London’s Hyde Park holding a sign that read “Thank you for not breeding. From the unborn children, animals, and the environment.”  The man has three daughters, but still felt it appropriate to instruct others not to have any.  But when Rarick spoke with the man, it turned out that “He clearly has bought into a belief that is quite common in our society today: Fathers are not very valuable and even useful to their children—especially to their daughters.

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February 3, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Did you know that there’s a sub-specialty of Pediatrics called “Child Abuse Pediatrics?”  I didn’t until I read this article (WXYZ, 1/29/19).  Did you know that a physician can become board-certified in that specialty through the American Board of Pediatrics?

Did you also know that many people reject the very concept of that specialty because they doubt that any doctor can accurately intuit the cause of a particular injury?  They can diagnose the results of physical traumas to the body, like broken bones, ruptured spleens and many others.  But what caused those injuries, in the absence of reliable descriptions of what happened, edges into the realm of guesswork.

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February 1, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The APA is at it again, this time with a YouTube video denigrating men.  It comes to us courtesy of Division 51 of the APA whose thoughts on masculinity found such favor in the recent and much criticized Guidelines for Psychological Work with Men and Boys.  (NB: I am reliably informed that Division 51 and Area 51 are two different things.) 

I have a friend who’s a psychologist and was, for a time, on an email listserv for Division 51.  He tells me the place was a hotbed of radical feminist ideas about men and masculinity, a fact borne out by the Guidelines.  Indeed, so anti-male were the members of that listserv that at least one man was removed from it due to his unseemly interest in men as victims of domestic violence.  Such notions aren’t welcome in Division 51.

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January 31, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

What’s been for many years a quiet change in family laws may be about to become one in the U.K. as well (The Star, 1/30/19).  It seems one Member of Parliament, Louise Haigh of Sheffield, intends to put forward a bill terminating the parental rights of men who rape women who then become pregnant.  Similar bills have been considered – and several have passed – by state legislatures here in the U.S.

But, as Haigh and her supporters will likely discover, what seems to be an open-and-shut case for reform is a bit more complicated than they might think.

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January 30, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Here’s a soft piece on child protective services (The Atlantic, 1/27/19).  Writer Diane Redleaf knows enough about her topic to get her facts correct, but apparently not enough to pinpoint many of the problems CPS agencies create in the lives of parents and children.

Her basic point is that, once CPS decides a parent may have abused a child, that parent is in for a long, uncomfortable ride through the CPS system, pretty much irrespective of whether he/she abused the child or not.  With the police, we call that “You can beat the rap, but you can’t beat the ride.”  The same is true of CPS.  Caseworkers can put the fear of God into any parent, even those who know they’ve done nothing wrong.

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January 28, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Here’s a must-see video about the resistance to equal parenting in Texas.  It’s by Wayne Dolcefino, who’s never been my favorite television journalist.  Dolcefino has a track record that leans heavily on shouting and much less on principled examination of issues.  Years ago, he was a product of the television news industry in which scandal and crisis are the quick route to a successful career.  And, if the news happens to be short of either, well, what’s an ambitious reporter to do but create some?

But in the video, Dolcefino is his more mature, considered self.  He’s still raking muck, but this time he gets his facts straight.

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January 27, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

In Great Britain, a court has ordered a woman to pay a man £250,000 for paternity fraud (The Sun, 1/6/19).  That’s great news, right?  After all, paternity fraud is illegal precisely nowhere.  In about five states in the U.S. there can be very limited financial consequences for lying about paternity, but a court’s awarding a defrauded man damages is all but unheard of.  But alas, the reality of the British case is far less encouraging than we might have wished.

It seems Richard and Kate Mason were married for over 20 years and had three sons including younger twins.  They divorced in 2006 and, pursuant to the financial settlement, the co-founder of the internet comparison site, MoneySupermarket.com, forked over a hefty £4 milllion.  The two went their separate ways.

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