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March 15, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The excellent Warren Farrell has recently released his book, The Boy Crisis. Rachel Alexander reviewed it here (Town Hall, 3/6/18). As the name indicates, the book isn’t just about family courts and the damage they do to kids and dads alike. But needless to say, Farrell doesn’t ignore that part of the problem.

Unsurprisingly, the removal of fathers from children’s lives serves no one well.

[I]n all 63 of the largest developed nations, boys are falling behind girls in all academic subjects – especially the biggest predictors of success, reading and writing, in their mental health (depression, suicides), physical health (lower sperm counts), IQ, ability to create friends, and so on.

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March 14, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

In this blog I’ve chronicled the many astonishing and utterly senseless efforts by Nebraska’s legislature, courts and various related entities to keep fathers out of children’s lives. The litany of those efforts is far too long to reprise here, but the most recent one is the state Supreme Court’s proposed rule to exempt the judiciary from disclosing to the public materials used to train them in the matters of child custody and parenting time.

Now, inquiring minds may want to know what could possibly be so threatening about a few written materials, power point presentations, etc. that do nothing more than acquaint judges with the science on those issues that could necessitate their being kept from the public. The Nebraska Open Records Act is quite broad, indicating the intention of the legislature that the public be generally informed about the doings of its government. So why should something as innocent as judicial training materials be an exception to the overarching rule of disclosure?

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March 12, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The Alabama Senate has approved a shared parenting bill that, while it could be better, would be a step forward on the path toward children’s best interests. Here’s an article (Decatur Daily, 3/9/18). And here’s the bill.

Senate Bill 211, sponsored by Senator Larry Stutts, would establish a rebuttable presumption in favor of joint custody. Now, when I first saw that term, I got nervous. “Joint custody” of course can mean virtually anything. It can mean joint legal custody with one parent getting virtually no contact with the child. Or it can mean joint physical custody but with one parent again seeing the child only rarely.

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March 11, 2018 by Linda Reutzel, Chair, Executive Committee, National Parents Organization of Missouri

Politics is not for the faint of heart. I have heard this comment for many years and since I’ve been actively involved with changing MO custody statutes, I can vouch for that statement.

Shared Parenting advocates only want to let kids have equal access to their fit and willing parents. And research overwhelmingly agrees with this. Our most vocal opponents have been Bar Associations and Domestic Violence groups. Lawyers and judges like the current adversarial system, for obvious reasons, and they are just stuck in the status quo.

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March 9, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

I’ve written numerous pieces recently about the few hardy souls who seek to deny, and convince others to deny, the existence of parental alienation. To them, PA is a scam by fathers to wrest custody from “protective mothers.” They have essentially nothing on which to base their claims. PA is all too real as a large and growing body of research shows. And the fact that it’s mostly fathers claiming to have been alienated reflects only the fact that, in the great majority of cases, it’s Mom who has custody and is therefore better positioned to alienate.

All that makes this article a breath of fresh air (Psychology Today, 2/27/18). It’s by psychologist Susan Heitler and her purpose in writing is to let potential targets of alienation know how to get help.

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March 8, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

To the great indignation of the domestic violence establishment in Minnesota, a state appellate court has ruled that individuals claiming to be victims of DV and DV shelters may not libel or slander alleged perpetrators. I first wrote about the case here. I did so because, amazingly enough, the trial court in the case of Maethner vs. Jorudruled that slander and libel regarding DV are protected by qualified immunity. Stated another way, because there’s a public policy against domestic violence, anyone can lie about anyone else regarding domestic violence and be free of civil liability for doing so. Make sense?

No, it didn’t make sense when the court issued its opinion and it doesn’t make any now, but, until now, Kurt Maethner simply had to sit back and let his friends, relatives, neighbors and co-workers read what his ex, Jacki Jorud said about him. All of that he stoutly maintains was untrue.

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March 7, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Every so often we hear from a parent (almost invariably a mother) who writes to tell about her experiences in a shared parenting arrangement. Those generally fall into two categories. The first is the parent who lets us know all the benefits of shared parenting, of not having 100% or 80% of the parenting time, of not being forever exhausted, of never having the time to earn the money to support the parent and the child and save for retirement, of the joy of knowing that the child hasn’t lost its father in the divorce process.

The second is this type (Time, 3/5/18). For writer Jessica Ciencin Henriquez, co-parenting “sucks.” If I were her, I’m sure it would “suck” for me too. That’s because for Henriquez, her life post-divorce seems to be all about her. Her rather lengthy piece dwells, not on the child’s well-being, not on his need for both parents and certainly not on the science that shows that shared parenting is by far the best arrangement for most couples when they split up.

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March 5, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The Bright Horizons survey I discussed yesterday relies on a single factoid to make the case that mothers do too much housework and childcare and are therefore shortchanged at paid work.  That factoid is that 40% or more of households have a woman as their chief wage earner.  That’s true, but for the overwhelming majority of those (about two-thirds) the only reason Mom is the primary wage earner is that she’s the only one.  The only other members of her household are her kids.  But Bright Horizons wants readers to believe that, in general women are doing as much or almost as much paid work as are men, but are doubly burdened by carrying all or most of the “mental load” of seeing to family schedules, etc.

A record 40% of families have female breadwinners , and even those primary earners are roughly twice as likely as men to handle all household responsibilities.

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March 4, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

When a piece begins “Working mothers have been steadily gaining ground as nearly half of family breadwinners” you know not only that you’re in for trouble, but what type of trouble you’re in for. And sure enough, the recent publication by an organization called Bright Horizons doesn’t disappoint. It’s yet another piece claiming that mothers work too much, men work too little and society needs to dramatically change to fix things.

In short, it’s what we’ve seen countless times before in different guises, but peddling the same shoddy goods.

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March 2, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The tiny but determined cadre of the anti-dad crowd that likes to claim that family court judges routinely remove children from “protective” mothers and hand them to abusive fathers just keep getting stranger and stranger. This piece by Michael Volpe is the latest example (Daily Caller, 3/1/18).

Volpe of course is the one who claims that Sandra Grazzini-Rucki is a woman done dirt by a nefarious ex-husband and a family court judge. If you don’t recall, Grazzini-Rucki is the Minnesota mother who abducted her two children and kept them in hiding for over two years before finally being located by the police. That stunt got her convicted of six felonies and lost her custody of her kids, which should surprise no one, but Volpe swallowed her claims of domestic abuse by her ex-husband despite their having been aired in court and found meritless. In a Facebook exchange I had with Volpe, he claimed the judge had accepted a bribe of $800,000 to switch custody. I asked Volpe for proof but – surprise, surprise! – none was forthcoming.

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February 28, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Like Suzanne Venker a few days ago, Steve Hilton gets it right about the crisis of family breakdown (Fox News, 2/24/18). And like Venker, his jumping off point is the incident of mass murder at Parkland, Florida, to which Nikolas Cruz has confessed to police.

Hilton rightly calls family breakdown “the biggest issue America refuses to talk about.” I would add that it’s our biggest social issue. Period.

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February 26, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Dr. Edward Kruk has long been one of the great champions of shared parenting and one of the assiduous and fair researchers in the field of parenting time and children’s well-being. So when I noticed that he’d published an article here, I was eager to read it (Psychology Today, 2/24/18). Alas, I’m disappointed.

Kruk’s theme – that shared parenting is as much a woman’s issue as a man’s and that promoting shared parenting promotes women’s welfare - is entirely sound. I’ve said the same thing many times. But how he arrives at that argument frankly isn’t persuasive and undercuts his otherwise legitimate points.

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February 25, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

This is not a post about guns. If you want that, there are plenty to choose from elsewhere. This is a post about fatherless boys. I write it of course because of the horror perpetrated against school kids in Parkland, Florida by Nikolas Cruz. The debate about guns will go on, but sadly, it seems that it won’t include a debate about fatherless boys. Here’s Suzanne Venker to try to right that wrong (Fox News, 2/19/18).

I often point out the many deficits produced in children by the lack of a father in their lives. The statistics are overwhelming and have been around for decades. The terrible effect of fatherlessness on children, including when they become adults, is the single greatest social ill we face. And yet we promote it – actively promote it - as a matter of public policy. Family courts do it, child support laws help, adoption laws pitch in and so do child protective agencies. The absence of laws prohibiting paternity fraud does its part too. Depictions of fathers in the news media and pop culture also contribute. At every turn, where we should be doing everything in our power to keep fathers in children’s lives, (which is where most of them fervently want to be), we do the opposite. We sideline them marginalize them, call them deadbeats, assume they’re not important, assume their greatest importance is as a source of money. Not occasionally, we offer cash incentives to mothers and states to keep fathers out of children’s lives.

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February 23, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The Pew Research Center finds that today’s fathers want to spend more time with their children despite spending more time with them than did dads in the past (Pew Research Center, 1/8/18).

U.S. fathers today are spending more time caring for their children than they did a half-century ago. Still, most (63%) say they spend too little time with their kids and a much smaller share (36%) say they spend the right amount of time with them, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in August and September 2017.

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February 22, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Steve Fischer’s disgraceful screed in the Texas Tribune, about which I wrote yesterday, combines astonishing ignorance of his chosen subject – child support and those who owe arrears – with a snide attitude towards the poor. It’s a bad combination. It’s so bad in fact that I couldn’t deal with all its deficiencies in a single post.

Once he’s finished being entertained by parents under arrest for not paying child support, Fischer eventually gets down to the business at hand – congratulating the lawyers of the Texas Attorney General’s Office on the job they do collecting arrears.

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February 21, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The Texas Tribune is a publication with impeccable liberal credentials, but if this disgraceful article is any indication, liberalism has changed (Texas Tribune, 2/13/18). There was a time when liberals were the friends of the poor and downtrodden, the victims of pitiless judicial and criminal processes. If the linked-to article is any indication, and I hope it’s not, that’s no longer the case.

Steve Fischer is a Texas attorney. He took time out of his busy day to hang out in child support court and let us know his observations. They are neither informed nor in any way compassionate toward the parents hauled into those courts. Fischer, whether politically liberal or not, should be ashamed.

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February 19, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

In 1995, Sundhe Moses, then 19, went to prison for a drive-by shooting that killed a four-year-old child and wounded others (New York Daily News, 2/12/18). Moses was innocent. His wrongful conviction appears to be the handiwork of now-retired New York Police Department detective Louis Scarcella. So far, a dozen people, originally imprisoned following Scarcella’s investigations, have been released from prison due to findings of actual innocence. As is so often the case, Moses was young, poor and not well educated, i.e. an easy target for a criminal justice system that often seems more intent on moving files than determining the truth.

Moses was paroled in 2013 after more than 18 years inside. He spent the next four years trying to prove his innocence. This past January, he succeeded. But that wasn’t the end of Moses’ problems, not by a long chalk. Indeed, it looks like the State of New York wants to incarcerate him again. Why? Moses has a child, Shaquille, who was just eight months old when he went to prison. He’s now in his early 20s and serving in the U.S. Army. And of course, Moses owes child support – to the tune of almost $40,000 for all the time he was in prison. About $10,000 is owed to the state to reimburse it for welfare benefits paid to Shaquille’s mother, Kawana Harper.

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February 18, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Nebraska’s lawyers, including the state’s judges, continue to resist letting Nebraskans know what family courts are doing (Omaha World-Herald, 2/2/18). That actually overstates the matter somewhat. They’re actually uncomfortable with an informed public only in a couple of very specific areas. And how informative those two areas are!

Readers of this blog will remember the fight family court reform advocate Dr. Les Veskrna was put through by the Administrator for State Courts when he tried to find out how family court judges are trained regarding child custody and parenting time. Never mind that Nebraska’s law on public records is about as broad as it can be and clearly encompasses such non-controversial documents as the ones Veskrna sought. The Administrator fought his losing battle all the way to the state Supreme Court where he was unceremoniously “poured out.”

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February 16, 2018 by Don Hubin, PhD, Chair, Executive Committee, National Parents Organization of Ohio

How many times have we heard this in response to our efforts to establish a presumption of equal parenting when parents separate as misguided: “Every case is different; you can’t use a cookie-cutter approach”?

In my more than 25 years of working to promote shared parenting, I’ve heard judges, attorneys, and legislators say this more times than I can remember. Most recently, in two settings. When I presented National Parents Organization’s proposed legislation for a presumption of equal parenting during temporary orders, representatives from the Ohio Bar Association challenged the proposal because … “every case is different” and “you can’t use a cookie-cutter approach.” A couple of weeks later, when I met with two leaders of the Ohio Domestic Relations Judges Association to discuss this proposed legislation, I was told, again … “every case is different” and “you can’t use a cookie-cutter approach.”

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February 15, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The case of Kaylene Bowen, Ryan Crawford and their son Christopher raises the issue of medical child abuse (Fort Worth Star Telegram, 12/8/17). Medical child abuse is rarely or never the wrongdoing of a single person. It is a systemic problem. Crawford, having seen his son undergo 323 doctor visits and 13 major surgeries in his first seven years of life and himself sidelined by a family court judge and child protective services when he tried to sound the alarm, gets that all too well.

 “It’s horrible for my son, or any kid because obviously my son is not the only one that has had to go through this type of torture,” Crawford said. “The system has to be exposed — all the weaknesses that are in the system — because the kids don’t deserve that.”

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February 14, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

A small but persistent movement insists that, against all the evidence, family courts routinely take children from fit, loving mothers and hand them to fathers who abuse them. The movement usually cites cases in which the only abuse is that imagined by the mother, but, since its adherents take all allegations as true, they’re able to claim that 58,000 times per year, family courts take children from “protective” mothers and give custody to abusive fathers.

A good many red flags fly over those claims. First is the fact that only about 18% of custodial parents are fathers, so judges rarely order paternal custody at all. How likely is it that so many of those fathers are abusive? Indeed, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, only about 2.3 million fathers have primary or sole custody of their children. Given that the question of custody usually ends when the child turns 18, that would mean that, on average, about 130,000 fathers per year are given custody. How likely is it that 58,000 of those fathers (about 45%) are abusive?

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February 12, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Perhaps in an effort to slow the sharp decline of its readership, The Guardian newspaper has actually run an article that’s only a little contemptuous of fathers and their efforts to maintain meaningful relationships with their children following divorce (The Guardian, 2/6/18). The paper’s circulation has plummeted an astonishing 48.2% in just seven years, so the editors may be feeling desperate.

Whatever the case, its review of social worker and family therapist Gill Gorell Barnes’ recent book, although it traffics in the usual Guardian tropes, makes important points about the failings of the current family law system in the U.K. For example,

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February 11, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

After years of fighting to convince state legislatures to alter their child custody and parenting time laws to be more equal and serve kids better, we now know that judges can just do that themselves. The judges of Tuscarawas County, Ohio have taken a huge step toward equal parenting. They’ve issued a new Standard Parenting Order with which all “parents must comply.”

And what do you know? For kids over the age of three, parenting time is split almost exactly evenly. If my math is correct, each month Parent 1 gets 16 days and Parent 2 gets the rest. That’s about as even as it gets. From now on in Tuscarawas County, unless two parents come up with their own plan or one is deemed unfit, violent, abusive, etc., they’ll have equal time with their kids. This is no legal presumption, it’s an order. The parents must comply, and so must the courts.

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February 9, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The Missouri Legislature is currently considering an outstandingly bad bill regarding the fathers of children who’ve been taken into foster care by the state (Columbia Missourian, 2/5/18).

House Bill 2027 would excuse the children’s division of Missouri’s Department of Social Services from a search for a child’s biological parent or parents after the child has been in the system for 60 days if certain conditions are met.

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