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.
Crime has a context and part of that context is that children are "growing up not knowing the difference between right and wrong,' he said.
"In too many cases, the parents of these children -- if they are still around -- don"t care where their children are or who they are with, let alone what they are doing,' he said. "The potential consequences of neglect and immorality on this scale have been clear for too long, without enough action being taken.'
"Upon further investigation the deputies watched a video recording the male had made that showed the female telling him that she was calling the police because he was making her leave the apartment and she would tell the police he assaulted her."The woman was arrested for making a false report to police. It's an important lesson. Within the bounds of the law, people can protect themselves against all sorts of things by the simple expedient of recording - either by audio, video or both - what another person is doing. The man in this case certainly saved himself a trip to jail and possibly prison time and a lifetime on the sex offenders registry, just by recording the woman with his phone. Check out the law on recording others, in private, in public and on the telephone. Depending on your jurisdiction, some or all of that may violate criminal law. Educate yourself about who and where you can record; then protect yourself accordingly. Thanks to Jerry for the heads-up. Next up is this article (ABC News 4, 8/4/11). Breast cancer in men isn't common, but it happens. According to the Center for Disease Control, about 2,000 men per year will be diagnosed with the disease each year. Sadly, that's just what happened to Raymond Johnson, a 26-year-old tile layer from South Carolina. Johnson is uninsured and not a wealthy guy, and the diagnosis and treatments for his cancer are costly. So he went the Medicaid route, for which he qualifies. But there's a catch; Medicaid reimburses health care providers for services for breast cancer only if the sufferer is female. Men and boys aren't covered.
A patient advocate from the Charleston Cancer Center, Susan Appelbaum, applied to a state program that provides Medicaid for breast cancer patients on Johnson's behalf, but Johnson was denied because he's a man. He recently underwent his second round of chemotherapy, which runs around $10,000 a treatment, and will need several more.Apparently the state's Department of Health and Human Services has known about the anti-male discrimination in breast cancer care for a long time and has begged the feds to change the regulations, but to no avail. My guess is that Raymond Johnson will find himself the plaintiff in a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services soon. Any lawyer will see this case for what it is - a slam dunk. It's as plain a case of discrimination based on sex as I've ever heard of. Let's just hope Raymond Johnson is around to get the benefit of it. It's a bit hard to figure out why Medicaid excludes men from treatment for breast cancer. The Department surely knows men get the disease and, since so few do, the amount of money saved by not treating them is insignificant. Plus of course it's blatantly illegal. I wish Mr. Johnson the best of luck with his treatments and with his lawsuit. Surely this will encourage the Department to change its regulations denying men coverage for breast cancer care that should never have been promulgated in the first place. Thanks to John for the heads-up. Finally, I've written a couple of times recently about the heavy flak being taken by the Los Angeles County child welfare authority. It's currently resisting compliance with a state-ordered audit of it and similar offices in three other counties. Its resistance is flagrantly illegal, but the office is digging its heels in anyway, strongly suggesting its got a lot to hide. It's the kind of thing that happens when 70 children die in less than three years after the child welfare office was notified they were in danger. Now this article tells us that parents in Utah are demanding a state audit of the state's Division of Child and Family Services (Salt Lake Tribune, 8/12/11).
Led by Darcy Van Orden, an activist who is one of the leaders of Utah"s tea party movement, the protesters claimed the entities are unjustly taking children and placing them with foster and adoptive parents because it"s more lucrative than working to reunite families. The event was part of a national protest of government abuses, Van Orden said.
"I believe there is corruption in the system with built-in incentives for caseworkers to remove children from homes," Van Orden said, adding that too much federal funding goes to support foster care and adoption rather than family reunification services.I've got my doubts about the notion that states make money on the foster care system. I've never seen any reliable data that suggests it's a money-maker for states, but I'd be glad to look at any well-done study of the matter. What's more interesting is the fact that the Division has already undergone an audit that revealed budgets that stand its mission on its head. Child welfare agencies are usually tasked with keeping families together if at all possible. That's known as "family reunification."
A legislative audit released in February found DCFS spends more than $112 million on foster care and adoption assistance, but just $7 million on in-home services aimed at helping reunify families. The audit recommended that the division "reverse its practice of diverting resources from in-home programs."So for whatever reason, the DCFS prefers foster care and adoption to family care. My strong suspicion is that a large subset of that is a preference for foster care over father care. We know that the problem of child welfare agencies ignoring fathers when children are taken from mothers for abuse or neglect is nationwide. That's what the Urban Institute reported four years ago. Indeed, although the identity of the father is known in over 80% of cases, no effort to even contact him is made in over half the cases in which a child is taken from a mother. That's despite federal guidelines encouraging child welfare caseworkers to contact fathers as possible alternatives to foster care. So almost surely that's what's been going on in Utah. The spending habits of the DCFS strongly suggest it bypasses dads in favor of foster care and adoption. And I'd be willing to bet that has more to do with an anti-dad culture among child welfare caseworkers and administrators than it does with making money for the state.
During a lengthy deposition last Tuesday, Pinault's lawyer grilled her on just why she needs a team of heat-packing drivers who are former police detectives - at a cost of $175,000 a year. Evangelista also wants $80,000 a year for a nanny, Pinault lawyer David Aaronson complained to the judge.Now think about the work requirements of a highly sought-after model. How much time does she actually spend - you know - at work? The answer is bound to be "not much." She certainly doesn't work 9 AM - 5 PM the way so many parents do. My guess is that she's actually on the job only sporadically, but it seems that's not all there is to being a super model.
"How many hours a week do you work?" the judge asked the model at one point.
"On days when I do not work, I am working on my image," Evangelista answered, her voice soft, and tinged with defensiveness. "I have to hit the gym. I have beauty appointments. I have to work toward my next job and maintaining my image," she said, "just like an athlete."Well, that's one way to work on one's image and doubtless necessary to a model. Another way of working on one's image would be to try to avoid appearing like one was attempting to use the birth of a child to cash in. But that's the kind of image with which Evangelista seems less concerned. And speaking of motherhood, Evangelista also provided this gem in her deposition:
"She testified that she wants to have a 24-hour nanny because she does not want to be alone with the child..."Yes, that does make being a mother more difficult. It also makes us wonder why she had the child in the first place. Lots of mothers and fathers value that time alone with a newborn more than just about anything, but not Evangelista. She wants the money. The kid? Not so much. All of that is tawdry beyond even what we've come to expect from wealthy and privileged celebrities. But the linked-to article is even more so, seeking to justify the whole thing. And that's particularly strange given the fact that the writer understands that child support in the case won't be based on the earnings of the parents.
New York law states that in high income cases where parental income exceeds $130,000, as in this case, an award of child support should be based on the child's actual needs and the amount required for the child to live an appropriate lifestyle.But the writer, Evangeline Gomez, conflates the needs of the child with those of the mother. To Gomez, round-the-clock nannies for a mother who doesn't want to be alone with the child is perfectly reasonable, even though she grudgingly admits that armed chauffeurs may be less so. Face it, no child with competent parents needs a nanny 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, much less armed guards. Courts rightly expect parents to spend some time doing what parents do - taking care of the child. Evangelista seems not to want to do that, which strongly suggests the case should be more about who gets custody that the amount of child support to be paid. Thanks to John for the heads-up.
1) Nothing ever could come close to justifying what Moni Samaan did to his daughter.
2) It is questionable whether Moni Samaan was, in fact, mistreated in family court.It is absolutely true that many California fathers are manhandled in family court, often cut off from their children, punished without evidence on spurious abuse claims, and bankrupted by confiscatory financial orders and demands. However, Moni Samaan had a decent child custody arrangement, apparently over 30% physical time. In the end he was stripped of all parenting time with his child for a perfectly good reason--he repeatedly disappeared with the girl when it was time to bring her back, violating the court order and causing the girl's mother much stress and worry. Tragically, the mother had every reason to worry. The Center for Judicial Excellence is now involved in the case--see the Capitol Weekly piece here. The CJE works to drive recognition of Parental Alienation out of the family court system and encourage courts to uncritically accept mothers' abuse allegations. We laid out the problems with the CJE and its allies position in our Capitol Weekly column Preventing courts from considering parental alienation will harm kids (2/25/10). The CJE is one of our main political opponents, and we were instrumental in blocking two of their bills last year--to learn more, click here. The CJE also stereotypes fathers as abusers and killers, ignoring the well-documented fact that the vast majority of parental murders of children and child abuse are committed by mothers, not fathers. However, in this case it must be said that the CJE is correct in condemning and making an issue of Nabil Samaan's despicable comments. The case is also being discussed in the American Bar Association Journal here. [Late Note: Nabil Samaan has now issued a statement retracting his previous comments.]
Joe Cioffi, a physician from Fairfield, Connecticut, settled for visitation rights to his son after he and the boy"s mother split up. Soon, he decided that wasn"t enough, so he spent four years struggling to win primary custody.
"Why should I be the underdog here?' Cioffi, 59, said of his clash with his former girlfriend. "I"m a professional. I pay my bills. I"m not a criminal. I"m home at night. So we played hardball.'As a physician, Cioffi is probably better suited than most to play hardball in family court. Less well-heeled guys are pretty well stuck with the same old arrangement - she gets primary custody, he gets two days every two weeks visitation and pays child support. But Cioffi and fathers in his income bracket aren't the only ones getting primary custody. The 8% of single fathers with custody of children has a far more diverse demography.
"It"s time for us to stop assuming that single parents are always women,' said Andrew Cherlin, a professor of sociology and public policy at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. "There is a visible presence now of single men caring for their kids. We didn"t see that a few decades ago.'Cherlin is a highly respected sociologist who's been studying and writing about family dynamics for many years. And family law professor Margaret Brinig agrees with him. Brinig has done some of the most important analyses of divorce and custody data in the country.
As fathers have gotten more involved in the lives of their children and mothers have increasingly entered the workforce, it has become less unusual for fathers to seek and gain custody.
"If the dad is really interested in getting custody and wants to have a relationship with his kids, he is far more successful than he was 20 years ago,' said Margaret Brinig, a family law professor at the University of Notre Dame.All that shows a small trend toward the realization by courts, fathers and mothers that paternal custody should be judged by the same standards as maternal custody. That's been brought about by more and more women in the workplace who often outearn their male partners and by the growing realization among men that fatherhood is both an honorable calling and one they're good at. But it's just a trend in that direction. We're a long way from where we need to be. Up to date data from many sources, such as that compiled yearly by Washington State, show that fathers still struggle to achieve in court what even inadequate mothers would be insulted by. The Washington statistics show that from year to year, women overwhelmingly receive primary custody and the rate of their doing so actually goes up when men contest the matter. Brinig apparently has recently studied what happened in Oregon in the five years after that state passed a law mandating a presumption of joint physical custody in 1997. The results have been good - or not - depending on your point of view.
A recently published analysis of Oregon divorce records by Brinig showed that sole custody awarded to mothers dropped to 51 percent from 68 percent in the five years after the law took effect.That's an improvement of course, but the fact that over half of all cases still resulted in sole (i.e. in which dad has no contact) custody for mothers means there's nothing like equality in family courts. And keep in mind, that's in a state with a presumption of joint physical custody. Either the judges can't read or the law provides ample opportunity for mothers and judges to rebut the presumption. As I've said before, we can change all the laws we want, but until we change misandric mindsets, children will still go without fathers courtesy of family courts that loudly proclaim they act "in the best interests of children." The data that tell us there's a trend toward greater paternal custody of children are building up. That's a good thing because it indicates a greater willingness of courts to honor fathers as caregivers. But let's not lose sight of the fact that the real goal should be equally shared parenting by mothers and fathers. Whichever sex has primary custody and whichever one has visitation, it's that system that shortchanges kids. Substituting fathers for mothers as the primary custodian still marginalizes one parent in the child's life. That's not what we should be aiming for. We need to scrap the system of primary parent/visitor in favor of keeping both parents actively involved in children's lives post-divorce.
Before 1997, Oregon"s divorce law regarding custody was fairly typical. It provided for joint legal custody (shared decision making) in the vast majority of cases and physical custody awards "in the best interests of the child.' Although joint physical placement was a possibility, it was not favored. The legislation amending the statute, 1997 Oregon Laws Ch. 707 (S.B. 243), shows the change in emphasis.
The court may hold a hearing to decide the custody issue prior to any other issues. When appropriate, the court shall recognize the value of close contact with both parents and encourage joint parental custody and joint responsibility for the welfare of the children.The amendments went on to encourage mediation of custody disputes. But the preference for both mediation and joint custody was negated in the law by allegations of domestic abuse. Allen and Brinig gained access to all divorce and custody records in the state beginning three years before the change in the law and five years afterward. They randomly selected 500 cases for each year totalling 4,000 that were winnowed down to a little over 3,800. The authors' goal was to learn the effects of the new law on parental behavior in custody matters. The results, for many of the variables studied, are not what the authors - or the state legislature - expected. Here's how the authors describe their findings generally:
This article has empirically examined a change in custody rules, and has shown that this legislation did influence behavior on several margins, mostly in ways one might expect. In particular, the movement toward joint custody had real effects on custody awards, the use of mediators, and divorce proceedings. Paradoxically, many changes were not those sought by the legislation"s proponents, who sought more equal parenting in the context of less acrimonious and less costly divorces and mediated solutions. Rather, the legislation created incentives that led to more dragged out and acrimonious divorces and no more equal parenting.The reason for the perverse outcomes of the law can be stated in four words - claims of domestic abuse. Because domestic abuse was included in the law as the card that trumped all its other requirements, claims of abuse were used to thwart its overarching goals of more equal parenting, shorter divorce proceedings and less acrimony in the process. The authors identify some changes that are attributable to the new law. For example, before 1997, sole maternal custody was granted in an average of 66% of cases. After the law changed, that dropped to an average of 59% of cases. That drop in sole maternal custody was mirrored by an increase in sole paternal custody, but the number of cases was much smaller. Sole paternal custody increased from 8% of cases before, to 10% after the statutory change. Meanwhile, shared custody remained statistically unchanged. Split custody (in which each parent gets sole custody of one or more children) increased from 2% to 3%. The authors explain:
Whereas split custody decisions were declining over time, they start to increase after the legal change. Ironically, and perhaps most surprising, the effect on joint parenting shown in Regression (3) shows there was effectively no change that can be attributed to the law. Thus, the joint parenting law altered custody, but this came through changes in sole and split custody. This result is quite surprising.So the law that was aimed at greater shared parenting missed the target. In fact, it simply replaced a bit of sole maternal custody with a bit of sole paternal custody and tossed in some split custody for good measure. Likewise, the length of time it took to finalize a custody case increased. And all of that can be laid at the feet of the universal "out clause," i.e. claims of domestic violence. The authors note that the law's goal of greater joint custody was in fact a threat to mothers who received the overwhelming share of parenting time prior to the change in the law. They had the most to lose and therefore were overwhelmingly the ones to file claims of abuse (91% before, 82% after 1997), although fathers filed abuse claims as well in an attempt to get sole custody. Overall, claims of abuse rose significantly and false claims doubled from 3% of all cases to 6%. (The authors defined a false claim as one that was made, but for which no order was made.) The increase in claims resulted in a "dramatically increasing" number of protective orders after the change in the law.
The bottom line is more divorce cases contained more accusations of domestic violence abuse, and these cases were revisited more often, after the introduction of joint parenting.One of the hypotheses tested by Allen and Brinig asked whether, faced with the new law, mothers would simply trade decreased child or spousal support for maintaining their pre-1997 level of custody. That proved not to be so. There was little or no change in levels of child and spousal support suggesting that mothers preferred to use the abuse exception to maintain both the money and the kids. Here is the author's summary of the new law's effects:
1. A fall in sole custody to mothers, a rise in sole custody to fathers, and surprisingly, little change in joint custody. 2. A strong and significant change in the percentage of mediated divorces. 3. No significant change in the raw number of spousal support motions or in the dollar awards of spousal or child support. 4. A decrease in the speed of divorce. That is, divorces happened later after separation. 5. An increase in the number of abuse actions filed, particularly by wives. These abuse actions led to an increase in court no-contact orders, though not by as much as the increase in claims. The accusations were made by both the husband and wife, and were more likely to be repeat allegations.
Taken together, the results paint the following picture. The change in joint parenting law transferred custody rights to fathers who were able to use them to increase sole and split custody. There is no evidence that mothers bought these rights back through reduced support. In addition, the "abuse' escape clause, although utilized by both parents, was mostly wielded by wives. Thus, at least over the first five years of the law, the formal transfer of legal rights led to more disputes in settling the divorce, leading to longer divorces. Our evidence suggests this increase in the length of trial comes from increased accusations of abuse and battles over custody of children.In short, laws intended to increase joint parenting will fail if they include the all-purpose domestic abuse "escape valve," and they all do. That points toward a direction that family court reformers must follow - the reform of domestic violence laws and the use of DV claims in custody litigation. Domestic violence allegations will likely always play a part in child custody disputes, so the goal must be to make them function in a non-biased and sensible way. Non-biased means that allegations by men and women must be treated with equal respect. Among other things, Allen and Brinig's study strongly suggests that they weren't by Oregon courts during the eight years studied. Second, DV allegations must be subjected to some reasonable level of judicial scrutiny. That is, reliable evidence must be required for a finding of actual physical violence. As long as mere allegations of placing a parent "in fear" can be used to deprive a child of its father, family court reform is a dead letter. We've known the pernicious effects of domestic violence allegations for many years. This study shows plainly that the battle for family court reform will be fought on the field of domestic violence.
Cincinnati Monday, September 12th 6:00 – 7:45 P.M. Wyoming Branch Library 500 Springfield Pike Cincinnati, Ohio 45215
Cleveland Area Thursday, September 15, 2011 5:30 P.M. – 7:30 P.M. Holiday Inn 6001 Rockside Road Independence, Ohio 44131
Columbus Monday, September 19th 7:00– 9:00 P.M. Motorists Mutual Insurance Building 471 East Broad Street Columbus, Ohio 43215 We're looking forward to seeing you there---please let us know which of the meetings you will be attending by emailing us at [email protected] or calling us at (617) 542-9300.
It's easy to write off a noncustodial parent who fails to pay child support as a deadbeat who ought to be hauled into court and perhaps off to jail. But the sad fact is, too many don't pay because they can't pay; and prosecution often serves only to make it tougher on kids and taxpayers alike.That's dead-on, and is similar to what Fathers and Families Board Chairman Ned Holstein, MD, MS told the Star in their recent piece Those who owe child support get a break (Indianapolis Star, 8/18/11). In the piece, Holstein explains that state laws on delinquent parents are counterproductive and unfairly punish poor parents:
It turns poor fathers into fugitives who have to work in the underground economy and keep moving, and Mom doesn't get anything because of it. They'll go after a guy who is making minimum wage, trying his best but only making 80 percent of the payment.The editorial notes:
Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry has struck a blow for common sense with his new amnesty program for some parents who have fallen behind. Better yet, the initiative reflects a fundamental change in approach toward the huge task of filling the support gap.
"The old philosophy was, 'I'm the prosecutor, I'm just going to hammer everyone equally,' " says Deputy Prosecutor John Owens. "That's not effective today."
Especially with a depressed job market. Especially given the fact that a large proportion of the approximately 76,000 child support cases now before the prosecutor's office involve ex-offenders, who not only find employment hard to find but also face probation and community corrections fees in many instances. Their fragile freedom and finances can't withstand court trouble over nonsupport...