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.
The fight for shared parenting in Michigan will be heating up again in the coming months and this article by NPO’s Linda Wright reprinted in a blog is the opening salvo (KiddieMom, 11/13/18). Actually, that may have come on Tuesday, November 6, i.e. Election Day, when Jim Runestad won his bid for a state senate seat. Runestad of course was the force responsible for SB 4691 that would establish a presumption of equal parenting following divorce or separation.
Needless to say, Wright’s piece is, shall we say, right on.
It’s hard to know how to feel about this CNN piece on fathers and the family court system (CNN, 11/7/18). On one hand, the writer seems to be sincere about advising men, so he consults family court experts – a lawyer, a judge and a mental health expert – for their tips. On the other hand, it’s a piece that could have been written 40 years ago, entirely lacking in the long-established realities fathers face. It’s like writer Thom Patterson is a latter-day Rip Van Winkle, newly awakened from a long, long sleep.
So he seems to want us to believe that fathers haven’t been complaining about their treatment in family courts for those four decades.
Usually, advice columnist Carolyn Hax is the very soul of good sense. She rarely misinforms, misleads or misadvises a letter writer. This, however, is an exception (Seattle Times, 11/7/18). Hax’s inquirer signs herself “Wannabe Mom, Not Wannabe Wife,” a label that, strangely enough, is only tangentially related to her, her situation and her question.
WMNWW’s question – whether she should, without a partner, adopt a child - could be right out of the 1990s. That was a time when the “Single Mothers by Choice” movement was in flower. The women of that movement were intentionally giving birth to or adopting children without the involvement of a man. It was all portrayed as terribly “courageous” on their part and few people raised their voices to challenge them. One of course was Vice President Dan Quayle who famously questioned whether TV character Murphy Brown (Candace Bergen) should have been depicted as having a child without a father. Quayle pointed out that doing so shouldn’t be considered “just another lifestyle choice.”
Houston Juvenile Court Judge Michael Schneider has once again unsheathed his judicial sword (Houston Chronicle, 11/9/18). And once again, Child Protective Services must yield.
I’ve written before about Schneider. He shows every indication of being a judge who’s bent on educating CPS caseworkers and their supervisors about how to do their jobs within the confines of statutory and constitutional law. Several years ago, when caseworkers demanded an emergency hearing because, according to them, a child was in such danger that regular notice couldn’t be given to its parents, Schneider acquiesced. But, on learning that no such emergency had occurred, he took the unusual step of ordering the pair to write essays demonstrating that they understood parents’ constitutional rights.
In my post yesterday, I dealt with yet another strange and badly researched article that seeks to cast aspersions on the Family Bridges program. Family Bridges is a four-day workshop that attempts to reverse the process of parental alienation, usually in kids with the most severe form of alienation. It’s been around for 20 years and logged an astonishing record of success. That success is both anecdotal, as I’ve reported before, and scientific. Dr. Richard Warshak has conducted two studies of its efficacy and found the program highly successful at reintegrating children with their targeted parents. No such program could hope to be 100% successful and Family Bridges doesn’t hit that mark, but, all things considered, it seems to work well. That’s why countless judges, custody evaluators and others have referred/recommended alienated children and their targeted parents to the program over the years.
But that success doesn’t keep incurious, mendacious and virulently anti-dad “journalists” from attacking FB anyway. Such a piece was the NBC Bay Area one I discussed yesterday.
In Colorado, and seemingly under the threat of a state Court of Appeals decision, state child welfare agencies are starting to try to locate fathers when mothers are charged with child abuse or neglect (Colorado Sun, 11/5/18). That of course is a good thing, but the new development fairly screams “Why’d it take so long?”
As I’ve written before, back in 2006, the Urban Institute did a study that found that, in over half of cases in which the father’s identity was known, CPS agencies made no effort to locate him. They preferred foster care to father care despite the fact that the former costs the state significant sums of money and the latter little or nothing.
As hit pieces that target the Family Bridges program go, this is one of the most benign and professional (NBC Bay Area, 11/2/18). Don’t get me wrong, its anti-FB biases are abundantly clear and it’s scandalously badly researched (if it’s researched at all), but even so it’s better than the others. For example, it quotes Linda Gottlieb who’s that rarest of birds in articles of this type, an expert who actually knows what she’s talking about. That alone puts it a cut above the other nonsense we read.
The NBC Bay Area piece takes a strange tack in its assault on Family Bridges. The writers (yes, there are five of them) first located three kids who were deemed alienated by the judges in their parents’ custody cases, went through the FB workshop and are willing to say negative and in some cases untrue things about it. Much of the piece then consists of quotations from the three who are all now young adults. For example,
Hi everyone. It’s your intrepid correspondent again, this time breathlessly bringing you the latest on the most important event of the past two years - the Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie divorce and custody case (New Idea, 11/1/18). Yes, wars are being fought, hurricanes are laying waste to entire communities and the Four Horsemen prowl the countryside, but a couple of celebrities are divorcing, so all must drop what they’re doing and take heed.
It seems that Brad has, at least for now, taken the lead in the custody sweepstakes. The judge appointed a custody evaluator, one Dr. Stan Katz, who has, in due course, interviewed all and sundry – the parents, the kids, relatives and others. And it turns out the kids prefer his Bradness to living with Angie.
I suppose this is a case of “anything the U.S. can do, Australia can do … too.”
Three men have been arrested in New South Wales and a woman is sought for arrest in connection with a long-term conspiracy to kidnap and hide children who the conspirators believe have been wrongly taken from their mothers or who are the subjects of joint custody orders. The group appears to be an extension of the “protective mother” movement. Put simply, when a mother claims a father who’s gotten some form of custody is abusive, the group stands ready to abduct and hide the child.
In the case of In Re the Adoption of L.G.K., both the trial and appellate courts reached a just decision. I wish I thought it was the correct legal decision and that the case won’t be overturned by the Indiana Supreme Court.
The child’s father, G.C. and her mother, J.K. were never married, but had a sexual relationship for about 10 months, from December, 2013 to October, 2014. In December, 2014, J.K. told G.C. that she was pregnant. G.C. took little part in her pregnancy or childbirth, but both his parents did. Once L.G.K. was born though, G.C. moved in with J.K. and took an active part in her care. She soon was calling him “Dad” and his parents “Granny” and “Poppy.” He and J.K. separated, but he continued caring for his daughter, paid support to J.K. and had sole care of the child at certain times.
As of mid-October, we have the latest analysis of the Family Bridges workshop that seeks to repair the relationships between severely alienated children and their targeted parents. Previous studies of Family Bridges strongly suggested positive results of the program along with positive attitudes of its participants. The latest study is larger and a more comprehensive examination of both.
It must be noted that the study was conducted by Prof. Richard Warshak who originated the concepts put into practice by Family Bridges. That said, Warshak has had no professional, legal or financial connection either to Family Bridges itself or to the professionals who conduct its workshops.
National Parents Organization’s groundbreaking study of Ohio’s domestic relations courts’ standard parenting time guidelines has provoked a response for the Ohio Association of Domestic Relations Judges (OADRJ).
Normally, it would be appropriate to thank the judges for reviewing the NPO Ohio Parenting Time Report, judiciously weighing the points made in the report, and thoughtfully responding. Unfortunately, there is little evidence that the judges actually read, or at least read carefully, the NPO report. Indeed, there is clear evidence that they didn’t read, or at least didn’t understand, the report.
The case of Teagan Batstone may come to a close soon. Teagan was the little Canadian girl who was killed by her mother, Lisa Batstone, back in December, 2014. Lisa Batstone was apprehended when she backed her car into a ditch and Teagan’s body was found in its trunk. The child was eight years old.
Just why it’s taken almost four years to bring Lisa to trial is anyone’s guess. Mental health professionals said she was fit to stand trial shortly after her arrest, but so far no trial has taken place. The latest proceeding is a one in which the judge must determine whether Lisa’s statements to various people at the scene and at the hospital later are admissible in her trial for Teagan’s death (Abbotsford News, 10/16/18).
#BelieveTheWoman took another body blow recently (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 10/17/18). As many recall, U.S. Representative Keith Ellison, D – MN, was accused back in August by his former girlfriend, Karen Monahan, of physical and emotional abuse against her. He denies her allegations, but they spurred the Star Tribune and Alpha Media to seek records from his divorce from his wife Kim in 2012. Presumably, both media outlets sought information to the effect that Ellison is an abuser.
Both Ellison and his ex-wife opposed unsealing the divorce file (why was it sealed in the first place?) citing privacy concerns. But a judge ordered its contents made public. What they revealed is that it wasn’t Ellison, but his ex who was the abuser.
Yesterday’s piece ended by asking why opponents of the shared parenting bill currently before Italy’s Parliament seek its defeat. In that piece I detailed the usual tired claims by opponents that were faithfully reiterated by Washington Post writer Anna Momigliano (Washington Post, 9/18/18). As usual, none of those arguments withstands even casual scrutiny and Momigliano mentioned not a single reason to support shared parenting. Her piece was 100% negative.
But of course she gave plenty of space for opponents to make their claims. The question though becomes, why do they oppose shared parenting. The answer, it turns out, is both entirely predictable and utterly quixotic, at odds with even the interests they pretend to promote.
Is it possible that, with all that’s been written and said about shared parenting in so many parts of the world, that it will be Italy that leads the way? It is. Indeed, it appears likely.
Now, this Washington Post article about the bill that’s pending before the Italian Parliament is little different from the usual claptrap published by those who oppose children maintaining meaningful relationships with both parents when the adults split up (Washington Post, 9/18/18). That of course means that it’s simply wrong on several fronts and misleading on the others. Plus, writer Anna Momigliano tosses in a rich disregard for Italian mothers in her zeal to mischaracterize the bill, its probable effects and its supporters.
It’s like reading the history of a defeated army retreating but fighting rear-guard actions along the way (Psychology Today, 10/10/18). I refer of course to Professor Edward Kruk’s description of the tactics used by anti-shared parenting advocates over the years as, one by one, their justifications for their opposition fell before the advance of science and sound reasoning. And now, they’ve come up against the impassable river, the unscalable mountain. They’re stuck, hemmed in on every side by the onslaught of scientific achievement.
According to Kruk, there’ve been three waves of justifications advanced by opposition forces against shared parenting. The first wave consisted of three smaller ones.
Here’s a case that’s sadly not uncommon (U.S. News, 10/9/18). So why write about it? Two reasons that I’ll get to later.
A case manager for the Iowa Department of Human Services has been found to have lied under oath and otherwise fabricated evidence in order to strip a mother and father of their parental rights to their four children.
The living arrangements of children in the U.S. seem to have become pretty stable in the past 18 years or so. That’s the takeaway from the linked-to piece by Wendy Wang who is director of research at the Institute for Family Studies and a former senior researcher at Pew Research Center.
So, for example, about 65.3% of all kids under the age of 18 now live with both of their married biological parents. That’s down from 68% in 2000, so not a lot of change. Just 3.6% live with both parents who aren’t married and 4.2% live with one of their parents. Both of those are down from 2000, but not greatly so. Overall, since 2000, living arrangements for kids have generally stabilized after 30 years of declining rates of marital childcare.
The new front in the family law wars appears to be here (BuzzFeed, 10/5/18). It’s a longish article that makes but a single point – that a woman who’s been the victim of her husband’s domestic violence shouldn’t have to pay him alimony when she divorces him. Now, readers will note my gendered language that appears nowhere in the article itself. But, whatever the wording, the gist of the article is clear – that domestic violence is almost exclusively a gendered phenomenon and so the issue of whether alimony should be paid by a victimized spouse is also gendered.
Indeed, of the article’s half-dozen or so examples of a victimized spouse paying alimony to a perpetrator, all of them are women paying men. And there’s this:
The latest news out of Canada is that girls are more likely than boys to physically abuse a dating partner. That’s news of course only because the survey was recently conducted. But the fact that girls are more likely than boys to be violent toward a date has been known for decades.
Here’s one article on the Canadian survey (PJ Media, 10/7/18). In it, the august Warren Farrell recalls his research for one of his books published in the 90s.
For decades now, we’ve seen claims about children’s risk of abuse/harm/abduction/etc. ballyhooed by the press and popular culture. During that time, many people understandably formed the impression that children were in constant danger, that a killer lurked behind every tree, in every family, school, public park, and on and on.
Submerged deep beneath the overblown verbiage was the fact that children have literally never been safer. Countless datasets show children to be healthier and safer from abuse and crime than at any time in our history. The hysteria about child sexual abuse in pre-school environments ran its course, but not before many adults had their lives destroyed by, among other things, district attorneys keen to make a name for themselves at the expense of justice, decency and common sense.
It seems that many of the problems U.S. parents experience when dealing with child welfare agencies aren’t unique to this country. Norway is now reporting some of the same difficulties (Science Nordic, 10/1/18).
There as here, it’s mostly the poor who find themselves confronted by child welfare caseworkers.
The Kansas case, In re Adoption of C.L., that I’ve written about the last two days, demonstrates the abysmal awfulness of putative father registries. In so doing, it makes the points about them I’ve made many times before – that (a) far from enhancing fathers’ rights, they do the opposite and (b) they place the burden of finding out about a pregnancy on the wrong party, i.e. the father.
Kansas law today is much like that of all states prior to the advent of PFRs. In order for a court to dispense with the father’s consent to the adoption of his child, those seeking to finalize the adoption must prove that the father abandoned the child. Kansas adds another possible ground for doing so – that, once the father learned of his child, he took no reasonable steps to support it, establish a relationship with it, etc. That of course is much the same as abandonment.