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"The assistant district attorney started reading me the riot act as if I were a piece of pond scum...When I informed her that I had already paid the arrears, she told me I was lying and that I was going to jail. I stood my ground and demanded that they recheck their records...After yelling at me for another 10 minutes, the payments clerk came in and informed the assistant DA that indeed I had sent in the payment...I demanded an apology..." The letter below is mostly about child support system's abuses, but there's an interesting side element, too.

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"Minnesota's Voluntary Recognition of Parentage form, which establishes a legal relationship between father and child when the parents are not married to each other, spells out dads' rights in black and white: 'When a child is born to parents who are not married to each other the law gives custody of the child to the mother. If the father wants a different custody arrangement, he must go to court'... "...state law leans heavily toward the mother in custody cases, and fathers typically have to go through Mom if they want to become more involved in their kids' lives."

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"The capacity to love is a vital, rich and all-consuming function...you can find nobility and sacrifice and love wherever you may seek it out..."--Rod Serling Hero father Manuel Jesus Cordova Soberanes gave up his attempt to come to the United States and instead turned himself over to the Border Patrol, all to save the life of a injured nine-year-old American boy. Cordova found the boy wandering in the Arizona desert after the boy's mother was killed in a car crash on Thanksgiving Day. Cordova, who was promptly deported, said: "I am a father of four children. For that, I stayed. I never could have left him. Never." Cordova and the boy are pictured. According to the Associated Press: "The 26-year-old bricklayer was two days into his walk and about 50 miles from Tucson when he saw the boy, who had walked away from the crash...Christopher had scrapes on his leg and was dressed in shorts despite the desert cold. The boy had his dog with him and was holding a side mirror from the wrecked van. "Neither Cordova nor Christopher spoke the other's language, but the boy took the migrant to the edge of a canyon and showed him the accident site... "'I felt frustrated and sad because I couldn't do anything for the mother,' Cordova said. 'And I didn't know how to console the boy, so I just sat next to him.'" "Cordova gave the boy the sweater he was wearing, climbed down to the van, and found chocolate and cookies to feed him. "He then built a bonfire, and the two hunkered down. The boy slept most of the night; Cordova kept watch and tended the fire [which he hoped the Border Patrol would see]. Fourteen hours later, a group of hunters found the pair and called for help. U.S. Border Patrol agents took Cordova into custody, and Christopher was flown to a hospital in Tucson." The story is Illegal immigrant ‘never" thought to leave boy: Man comforted child after mom died in Arizona desert crash, officials say (Associated Press, 11/28/07), and be sure to watch the MSNBC video on the same page. According to the story, the Mexican consulate in Nogales is "working to obtain a short-term visa for Cordova so he can come to Arizona and be recognized for his actions." I think instead the US government should send him a legal permanent Visa and invite this hero to come to the US. I have a nine-year-old child and am grateful that, were she ever in a desperate strait, there are men like Cordova out there who are willing to make sacrifices like this in order to help a child.

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The drawing above was taken from Kara Bishop's www.postcardsfromsplitsville.com. Bishop works with Children of Divorce, a class run by Tucson, Arizona-based Divorce Recovery. The class did an art project that included "sending away" the frustrations of divorce. The website is a place where Kara says "children can share their divorce-related feelings anonymously and parents can get a new perspective on how this life-changing experience impacts their children"s lives." To learn more, click here. Kara can be reached at [email protected].

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A letter from Felicia, a reader, about the domestic violence system: Dear Glenn: I was reading an article you wrote about Restraining Orders/Protective orders being overused in our judicial system. I wanted to share a story with you that has me really upset and I thought you might be interested. My husband drank too much one night and we got into a nasty physical confrontation, ultimately resulting in a call to the police. He was taken to jail and charged with domestic violence. I teach Cardio kickboxing classes and when I mean we got into a fight, both of us were involved. I wasn't a so-called "victim" and protected myself fairly well. As it turned out, my husband had more visible wounds than I did. When he was booked, the officer asked if his wife was arrested too based on his injuries. He served four days in jail prior to me bailing him out. Since his release, he has gone to AA meetings and is seeing a counselor as well as a couples counselor with me. We are on the right track to making things better and our relationship has taken a positive turn. All this work has been done without any court orders, as my husband decided to do them on his own. I attended his arraignment with the intention of fighting a restraining order. (I just want to note that I get nervous in court even for a traffic ticket). The commissioner asked me to step up to speak (standing about 10 ft away from my husband and near the sheriff). He said he was required to give me 2 options: file a no contact order or a peaceful contact order. Based on those 2 options, I chose the lesser of the two. I wasn't given the option of not filing an order at all. Once we left the courtroom, I felt coerced into filing a no contact order, whether that be a no contact or peaceful. Shouldn't I have a right to not file one at all? Apparently, an automatic protective order/restraining order is placed regardless of the individual situation. As the "victim" in this case, why are my options limited? I spoke with the DA's office and they backtracked and talked in circles avoiding my questions. The state of California doesn't give the "victim" an option of pressing charges or filing a protection order - the state will do so regardless of what the "victim" wants. Shouldn't I have a say as to what happens? As a result, my husband and I cannot have an argument or disagree about anything in public, and if he accidentally breaks something he will go to jail (per the protection order). This protection order makes me feel just as uncomfortable as it does for him. Each DV case is different and protection orders are not always required - but in Ca. there is no choice. So the victim's have rights - the right to shut up and let the court system decide what's best for ALL women involved in domestic violence. As a woman involved in a one-time domestic violence incident, I become a victim (true sense of the word) to the court system. I am an intelligent, educated, strong-minded woman who knows what's best for me. As it stands, all DV cases are handled the same way, regardless of the circumstances of the incident or the background of each person involved. It seems the approach is this: women are timid, naive, helpless and don't know any better. I consider that an insult! This may be true for some women, but not for all women and a cookie cutter approach to every DV case is not the solution. The court system is imposing its authority and taking away my rights as a woman (aka the "victim").

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Background: I've criticized Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (pictured) on numerous occasions, including my co-authored column When Beating up on 'Deadbeat Dads' is Unfair (Houston Chronicle, 1/7/07). Abbott often beats his chest during his frequent crackdowns on low-income fathers he labels "deadbeat dads." I get as many complaints about Abbott and the Texas Attorney General's Office as I do about Child Support Enforcement in all other 49 states combined. To learn more about Abbott and his abuses, click here. Apparently some custodial mothers aren't very happy with Greg Abbott, either. The letter below from Mary is an example: Dr. Mr. Sacks, I found your website and was very interested in the materials posted about the Texas Attorney General's Office. I am the custodial parent. The noncustodial parent filed for divorce 12 years ago. I am now owed approximately $27,000. On January 2, 2008, I am heading back to court (this will be the 5th time) regarding: lack of health care coverage on his part, as well as only occasionally sending in his monetary obligation (he has never showed up to any court dates). The OAG has lost my request so many times I can"t even begin to tell you. I have heard every excuse in the book, including to go ahead and apply for welfare benefits, because they could never serve him. I paid to have him located for them and even found the job that his father found for him... I am continuously being pushed off and cannot afford legal counsel of my own. Texas OAG is a joke……they post people on their website owing 1/3 of what I am owed... I just want you to know that I feel bad for the dads that pay and get nothing but heartache, but as a mom, my daughter is finishing her senior year in high school and we are struggling to just get her in college. It is not fair….and Texas OAG keeps it that way… Mary

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Background: Mary Winkler--who shot her husband in the back and then refused to aid him or call 911 as he slowly bled to death for 20 minutes--walked away a free woman last summer after serving a farcically brief "sentence" for her crimes. She is currently in a custody battle with Matthew Winkler's parents, who have been raising their three daughters for the last 20 months. The Winklers seek to terminate Mary Winkler's parental rights and adopt the girls. I support their position. In September Mary Winkler was granted supervised visits with her daughters--an important step towards getting custody of them. Shortly afterwards an appeals court blocked the visit after a last-minute application from the children's paternal grandparents. To learn more about this horrendous injustice, see my co-authored column No child custody for husband-killer Mary Winkler (World Net Daily, 9/14/07), or click here. Court clears way for Winkler visits with children Associated Press 11/27/07 JACKSON, Tenn. -- An appeals court has removed a barrier to supervised visits between convicted killer Mary Winkler and her children. A Carroll County judge ruled in September that Winkler could begin visits with her three young daughters, but the children"s paternal grandparents appealed that order. The Court of Appeals temporarily blocked the visits while considering the grandparents" request. But the appeals court ruled in Jackson on Tuesday that the lower court can go ahead with allowing Winkler"s visits while she tries to regain custody of her children. Winkler was convicted this year of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of her husband, Matthew Winkler, a minister in Selmer.

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New Yorker cartoonist William Haefeli often has dead-on observations about men, women, and divorce. A couple examples are above, another is here.

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The drawing above was taken from Kara Bishop's www.postcardsfromsplitsville.com. Bishop works with Children of Divorce, a class run by Tucson, Arizona-based Divorce Recovery. The class did an art project that included "sending away" the frustrations of divorce. The website is a place where Kara says "children can share their divorce-related feelings anonymously and parents can get a new perspective on how this life-changing experience impacts their children"s lives." Kara can be reached at [email protected].

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Examples of decent, loving dads being manhandled by the anti-father family law system are legion, but this one has to make the Top 10. A recent New Jersey appeals court reaffirmed a decision mandating that a man must pay alimony to his ex-wife--who killed their son. From Legal tussle: Should killer get alimony? (Bergen Record, 11/22/07): "A state appeals court on Wednesday refused to automatically bar alimony from spouses who kill a child...The decision was issued in the case of Linda Calbi, who is serving a three-year prison term after pleading guilty to beating her son, Matt, on Aug. 17, 2003, during a violent argument at their home. He died hours later from internal bleeding and cardiac arrest... "Linda Calbi was originally charged with murder, but the charges were later downgraded to aggravated assault, based on expert reports that medical error contributed significantly to the boy's death. She was sentenced last year to three years in prison and won't be eligible for parole until November 2008. "The Calbis were divorced in 2001 after 15 years of marriage. A few months after Matt's death, Chris Calbi fell behind on his alimony payments and filed papers in court seeking a reduction or termination of his payment obligations. "'She took the life of her oldest son, scarred her younger son for the rest of his life, and tore the fabric of my soul from me,' Chris Calbi wrote in papers filed in Superior Court in Hackensack. 'To reward this evil and violent woman by allowing her ... to derive a financial benefit from the family she destroyed ... can only be described as a perversion of our justice system.'" Chris Calbi had been paying Linda $3,183 a month until her incarceration, and may be saddled with that amount when Linda is paroled. Chris is pictured with his deceased son Matthew and his surviving son Dean above. A few comments: 1) Chris Calbi claimed that Linda abused and assaulted him during their marriage, at times employing a kitchen knife and a hammer. The death of the son is discussed in Typical teen meets a tragic end (Bergen Record, 8/20/03), and Linda Calbi sounds like a real sweetheart: "As [Christopher Calbi's] company - Robert Christopher Sales - grew, [Christopher] was increasingly away in Europe on business, Linda Calbi said in divorce papers. Though they shared fine dinners, and Christopher Calbi showered his wife with gifts, a physical and emotional distance developed between Matthew's parents, her papers say. "Linda Calbi said in the papers that she felt like 'a highly paid slave.' "Christopher Calbi countered that his wife subjected him to 'profanity-laced tirades and ridicule.'" 2) From the same article: "The couple split in 1999 and - after 15 years of marriage - divorced in July 2001. "Meanwhile, Matthew was having problems at school, said a woman who worked in the River Vale school system. "When Matthew was in the special education program at Holdrum Middle School, he regularly came to class with bruises, said the woman, who declined to be identified. The teen always had an excuse for the marks - he was playing with his younger brother, or he fell, the woman said. "But in April 2002, the woman noticed a strange bruise on Matthew's wrist, one she thought looked like a defensive wound. She asked Matt to explain, but he couldn't, she said, so she called DYFS to report the mark. "As part of the special education program, Linda Calbi met routinely with educators to review her son's performance. "But when Calbi showed up, she often smelled of booze, the woman said. 'You could light the air on fire, she smelled so badly,' the woman said. "Linda could not understand why her son wasn't more successful in school. "'She was very forceful when she spoke. Nothing was ever her fault, and of course she was at her wit's end,' the woman said." 3) The father now has to raise the surviving son, Dean, age 12, on his own. Is Linda being asked to pay child support? Isn't Chris' ability to provide for Dean negatively impacted by having to pay alimony to the noncustodial parent? 4) Chris also needs to save his money--Linda may be out of prison in less than a year and will be fighting for visitation rights to Dean. In July, 2006, a judge ordered a supervised visitation between Dean and his mother, contingent on the boy's acceptance. 5) Linda apparently received a lesser charge and sentence for her crime because supposedly there was medical mishandling by the hospital after she assaulted her son which contributed to Matthew's death. How much of her light sentence is due to the alleged medical mishandling and how much is just the standard female sentencing discount is unclear. 6) It's amazing some of the things that an attorney will say. Linda's attorney, Ian Hirsch, said: "'Mr. Calbi is using his son's death to take away any obligations he has,' Hirsch said. 'I think he's trying to take advantage of a tragedy and turn it around to his economic benefit.'" Yup--dad not wanting to pay money to the woman who killed his son is "taking advantage of a tragedy and turning it around to his economic benefit." Bad dad--how could he be so rotten? 7) Can you imagine a judge ordering a woman to pay alimony to the ex-husband who murdered her child? In fact, California has a recent law which created a presumption that a victim of domestic violence should not be required to pay support to a violent ex-spouse. 8) Once again we see the link between family violence and substance abuse. Misguided feminists often downplay this link because it contradicts the feminist Duluth/"domestic violence is a function of the patriarchy" family violence model. The new court decision by the Superior Court of New Jersey's Appellate Division can be seen here. A recent CNN report on the case can be viewed here.

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Below are some recent articles and items of interest from Fathers & Families' latest News Digest. On the home front: Soldier custody battle (WHOTV.com, 11-20-07) Suspect arrested in playground killing of NYC orthodontist (Associated Press, 11-20-07) Mom's boyfriend may face new charges in boy's death (The Day, 11-21-07) Divorce rates falling locally and across the US (Kansas City Star, 11-21-07) High Court backs custody battle dad (UTV, 11-22-07) Lehigh County to give parents extra time for child support, if commitment is made (The Morning Call, 11-22-07) New ways of making deadbeats pay up (Daily Herald, 11-23-07) New Convention on child support targets parents (Associated Press, 11-23-07) Hogan 'shocked' by divorce (Fox23, 11-25-07) Mom flees with 3 sons (San Gabriel Valley Tribune, 11-26-07)

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Background: A few weeks ago I debated the issue of "Single Motherhood by Choice" on the BBC. The producer emailed the guests the 2006 London Times article Focus: Going solo (6/4/06), and among those I was debating was Viki Matten, who is discussed in the piece as an early pioneer in the "Single Motherhood by Choice" movement. A poll of 5,000 women conducted for That"s Life! magazine in the United Kingdom found that 42% of women say they would lie about contraception in order to get pregnant, regardless of the wishes of their partners. Reading this article, I can believe it.

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A letter from Tracy, a reader. Sad to say, I'm not even surprised. Tracy writes: Dear Glenn: I was sitting in the Atlanta airport stuck overnight due to layovers, while I was there I saw you on TV and scribbled your name down, hoping I wrote it down correctly. My family needs some help, I have done everything I can to help my boyfriend Curt, but everywhere we turn there is just another door slammed in our face. Curt, the father of my son and unborn child coming in March, is the best father you could ever ask for. He is my best friend. You could not ask for a better person to be with.

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New Yorker cartoonist William Haefeli's recent cartoon above says a lot about modern families.

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A few weeks ago I debated the issue of "Single Motherhood by Choice" on the BBC. The producer emailed the guests the 2006 London Times article Focus: Going solo (6/4/06), and among those I was debating was Viki Matten, who is discussed in the piece as an early pioneer in the "Single Motherhood by Choice" movement. The article unintentionally reads like a laundry list of bad behavior by "single mothers by choice." A couple examples: 1) "[Former Spice Girl] Geri Halliwell (pictured) last month gave birth to a daughter, Bluebell Madonna, conceived during a six-week fling with the screenwriter Sacha Gervasi.

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Feminists often portray the pre-feminist (pre-1970) era as one in which women were not valued or seen as being fully human. To cite one example of thousands, just this week the National Organization for Women wrote on their website: "Are women human? Do women deserve full human rights? The U.S. Senate isn't sure." My belief is that while 1960s/1970s feminists had plenty of legitimate grievances, their insistence that society never valued women is false. In reality, men made enormous sacrifices to provide for their wives and children--a testament to the average man's respect for women. In my column Hate My Father? No Ma'am! (World Net Daily, 4/8/02), I wrote: "[There has been a] successful feminist re-writing of the pre-feminist past as a virtual dark ages where men lived like nobles and women were their serfs...Tens of millions of male blue collar workers--who put their bodies on the line in the coal mines and steel mills so their wives and children could live in safety and comfort--have been turned into oppressors. Their wives and children, for whom these men sacrificed so much, have been turned into their victims. "Edited out of our history are the tragedies of millions of American men who were killed or maimed on what German socialist Rosa Luxemburg called the 'battlefield of labor.' The miners who died in cave-ins, explosions, or of black lung disease. The sailors and fisherman who died at sea. The oil refinery workers killed in explosions. The factory workers killed in industrial accidents. The construction workers who died carving train tracks and then highways through majestic mountain cliffs or the scorching desert. The construction workers who died building our bridges, dams, high rises, stadiums, and apartments. "All of them have been forgotten, in part because there is no natural constituency which would like to remember them--the right generally does not dwell on yesterday's struggling blue collar workers and heroic union men, and the left is beholden to the feminists, for whom any mention of men as special contributors or as victims is strictly forbidden." While reading one of Bill James' baseball books recently, I stumbled upon another small but real example of how society viewed women 100 years ago. It concerns an incident involving George Davis (pictured), a turn-of-the century star baseball player, some of his teammates, and a devastating apartment fire. Davis, then a player with the New York Giants, was on the way to the Polo Grounds with two of his teammates on April 26, 1900 when they saw smoke rising from an apartment building a couple of blocks away and rushed to the scene. It was a major fire which left 45 families homeless. According to the New York World's article the next day: "George Davis, Captain of the New York ball team, with 'Kid' Gleason and 'Mike' Grady of the same nine, had been among the first on the scene and had worked like Trojans in carrying down the helpless. They saw Mrs. F Van Lieben on the top floor of No. 304. "'There's a woman up there!' Capt. Davis exclaimed. He went up the ladder like a squirrel. The heat within blistered his face but he reached the woman and carried her down. She had nearly fainted from terror... "Firemen Roach, Arene, Browning, and Gulick rescued Mrs. Sturges and her three daughters, cut off by flames on the fourth floor of No. 306. Bicycle Policeman Sturden rescued two girls from the third floor of No. 306. Mrs. Tibbetts and a three year-old child were taken from the fourth floor down the front fire-escape by 'Kid' Gleason and Capt. Davis. "Mike Grady and Fireman Frederick Bluemmertt of Hook and Ladder No. 23 took Mrs. Pease in safety from the third floor. Bluemmertt's hand was badly cut by crashing glass and he was taken to the J. Hood Wright Memorial Hospital. "Interviewed about it on the scene, Davis told a reporter that 'I didn't do much. I just went up the ladder the same as the rest of the boys and helped to carry down women and children. Once I thought I was going to be cut off by the flames and be prevented from reaching a child that was holding out its arms to me. But I got through to the little one and reached the ground without either of us being hurt. I didn't do half as much as Grady and Gleason. We were on our way to the Polo Grounds for preliminary practice before tackling the Bostons when we were attracted by the fire.'" Three major league baseball players spontaneously risked their lives to save women and children (mostly girls), without a thought for their own safety, as did numerous firemen and policemen--hardly exemplary of men not valuing women and girls.

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Background: TV often portrays men and fathers as idiots--to learn more, click here. Brandweek Magazine editor Todd Wasserman discussed the problem of 'Dad as Idiot' advertising in his recent column The Surviving Dads Of Ads. In this Windex commercial, dad is an idiot and his wife/mommy cleans up after him. The man is also in pain, which is, of course, slapstick funny. To watch the commercial, click here or see below. [youtube:http://youtube.com/watch?v=HQnqlDrMO8k]

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The new movie Atonement, starring Keira Knightley (pictured), focuses on the destruction wrought by a false sexual assault accusation. The movie trailer can be seen here or below. The film's release date is December 7. A description of the film's plot from Wikipedia is below (warning, plot spoilers): "The film is at first set in the UK in the 1930s. 13-year-old Briony has a crush on Robbie, who is in love with Briony's sister Cecilia. Through her window, she sees Cecilia jump into a fountain in the presence of Robbie, which Briony understands as a flirtation between them. "Robbie asks Briony to give a letter to Cecilia, thinking it's an apology he's written. Briony reads it, but it's not an apology; it's a sexually explicit letter that Robbie had also written but never intended on showing to anyone. Briony thinks Robbie is a pervert. She later discovers Cecilia and Robbie having sex in the library (they did this after finally confessing their love for each other). That same night, Cecilia's and Briony's cousin Lola Quincey is sexually assaulted by Paul Marshall, a guest staying at the house. Briony assumes Robbie was the culprit, and pretends to have seen him do it. As a result Robbie is arrested and convicted. "After three years in jail Robbie has the option to go into the army, to fight in France against the Nazi army (WWII, May 1940), which he does. Cecilia left her family after Robbie's arrest and works as a nurse in London. Robbie and Cecilia meet briefly at a cafe before he leaves, and make plans to reunite at a cabin by the sea. Robbie and Cecilia write to each other. In one of her letters, Cecilia tells him that Briony, to whom she has not spoken in years, has sent her a letter saying she wants to see her because she's sorry for what she did. Robbie is in Dunkirk at the French northwest coast, sick and hoping to return to England on the next ship in the Dunkirk evacuation. "Briony has given up her Cambridge dreams and is also working as a nurse, trying to find atonement for her sin. She starts writing a book, 'about a girl that sees something through her window and misunderstands it'. She discovers Lola is marrying Paul Marshall and attends the wedding, but doesn't dare to interrupt the ceremony. Lola recognises her and looks away in shame. "Briony visits Cecilia and Robbie, who is back from the war, and promises to tell the truth to her family and the authorities. "The film then makes the transition to an old Briony being interviewed about a book she's written, called Atonement. She says it will be her last because she's dying, but in a way it's also her first because she had been writing it since the 1940s, but never could find a way to finish it. She reveals that she never had the courage to go see her sister and apologise, and the happy ending of the book never happened as Robbie died in France and Cecilia drowned during the bombing of an underground station. She wanted to give them the happy ending they never had, after living a life of guilt for what she'd done." [youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAD1pt8yXfk]

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"Bungling cases isn't anything new at Friend of the Court. In recent years Action News has repeatedly showed you how Friend of the Court has accused honest men of being deadbeat dads even when they had proof they were paying child support or didn't owe a penny." Critics of divorced fathers and so-called "deadbeat dads" are often unaware of the many problems with the way child support is set and enforced. One of these problems is the phenomenal amount of errors Child Support enforcement agencies make. I'll be running stories about them as part of my series called "Child Support Enforcement's Endless Errors." According to the Detroit TV station WXYZ's news report Friend of the Court (11/10/06): "It's a system designed to protect children from the hardships of divorce, but one family says Wayne County Friend of the Court made life miserable instead. "The Wayne County Friend of the Court is a place with a history of botching simple cases and turning them into a maddeningly confusing mess. "No one knows that better than Ruth and Dale Akers, who married 6 years ago and had a baby named Dale IV. "But then they got a notice from Friend of the Court saying their son wasn't theirs. Instead, it said, he belonged to Dale's ex-wife and Dale owed child support. "Bungling cases isn't anything new at Friend of the Court. In recent years Action News has repeatedly showed you how Friend of the Court has accused honest men of being deadbeat dads even when they had proof they were paying child support or didn't owe a penny. "Terrance Hale said Friend of the Court misspelled his name and had him paying support for a newborn named Marjae to a stranger named Toni Etters. "'All they could tell me is this is your kid because the computer says it's your kid,' he said. "Director of the state's office of child support Marilyn Stephen says the program has improved but admits problems linger with the state's million dollar computer system. "The state has been making similar excuses since it first installed the system 3 years ago. "'Every time you go in and touch something in system, extensive testing is required to make sure no ripple effect and change other calculations resulting in problems,' said Stephen. "But Ruth and Dale say there is no excuse for what Friend of the Court has done to them. "Records show Dale has faithfully paid his ex-wife child support for three children they've had together. But two years ago, the child support computer system started making life miserable. "This year alone in a four week stretch Dale got three notices; the first said he owed about $700 a month, the second said he owed $849, and the last one said he owed more than $1,300. "And then the most baffling mistake of all, asking Dale to pay his ex-wife for a son he had with his current wife. "But the state and Friend of the Court haven't even been able to fix that, instead saying what they've said for years, 'we're working on it'."

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The piece is satirical, of course, but I think many parents have felt the same kind of disappointment that the dad in this Onion article felt. Child Unimpressed With Aurora Borealis After Whole Day Of Tekken 3 The Onion November 17, 1999 INTERNATIONAL FALLS, MN--A wide-eyed gaze of childlike wonderment over the incomprehensible majesty of creation was not elicited Monday, when 7-year-old Kenny Meier, son of local high-school science teacher Stan Meier, was unmoved by the Aurora Borealis after spending an estimated 12 hours playing Tekken 3. "I have never forgotten the magic night that my own father, like his father and his father's father before him, gently woke me, bundled me up in a warm blanket and quietly led me outside to see the Northern Lights for the first time," said the elder Meier, dejectedly sipping a cup of hot cocoa on the back porch as his uninterested son ran back inside to his Sony PlayStation. "It was a moment I'd always looked forward to sharing with my own son." "Well, so much for that dream," added Meier, heading to the kitchen to pour the boy's untouched mug of cocoa into the sink. The shimmering curtain of iridescent light known as Aurora Borealis is fabled in story and song as one of nature's most beautiful and awe-inspiring phenomena. For Kenny, however, it paled in comparison to Tekken 3's 3-D graphics and impressive 64-bit motion-capture animation, inspiring him to say, "I'm cold, Dad. Can we go back in now?" The Northern Lights occur when the Earth's magnetic field interacts with the "solar wind"--charged particles blowing away from the sun. The resultant luminescent display, visible in most northern latitudes during the winter months, stretches from 40 miles above the Earth's surface in its lowest fringes to upwards of 600 miles above the Earth. Though the sheer immensity of the glowing nocturnal spectacle makes it one of the most glorious sights in all of nature, the Aurora Borealis nonetheless fell far short of Tekken 3, Kenny said, due to its lack of interactive combat-mode features, substandard two-dimensional interface and undynamic, non-action-packed graphics. Read the full article here.

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"Idiots. Utter, unbelievable, jaw-dropping, unpardonable idiots. It is beyond farce, past comprehension, criminally irresponsible and beneath contempt. "All those lectures from government and authorities about keeping our personal data safe; every statement ever made about the security of the proposed NHS database of everybody's personal medical records; each claim that the Children's Database containing all their personal details will somehow make our kids safer; and of course each and every promise about the safety of the national identity register -- exposed as quite, quite worthless. Because as soon as you put it on a computer, a bloke in an office can download it and stick it in an envelope and send your most personal details and mine and our children's across the country with a dodgy courier."It is shocking, it is risible, it is hilarious. Someone gave a disc containing confidential data about 25 million people to a bloke on a bike? And he lost it?" In Second-class and lost in the post (London Times, 11/21/07), columnist Alice Miles details how the UK government lost two computer discs containing the personal information of all families in the UK with a child under 16. The disks contain Child Benefit data which includes the name, address, date of birth, National Insurance number and, where relevant, bank details of 25 million people. I'm sure there will soon be a well-deserved, Night of the Long Knives-style purge of those connected to the scandal. Perhaps the axed employees can get jobs working for child support enforcement agencies--given the agencies' relentless bureaucratic bungling, they'd fit right in.Miles' column can be seen here.

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Background: The issue of Single Motherhood by Choice has been getting a good deal of press lately. For some examples, see There's no shame in going solo, says mum (Guardian Unlimited, UK, 11/4/07) and Knocking Yourself Up--The ongoing debate over going it alone (Newsweek, 11/5/07). To watch me debate Single Motherhood by Choice on Fox's nationally-syndicated Morning Show with Mike and Juliet, click here. To learn more about Single Motherhood by Choice, click here.

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Background: I've criticized Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on numerous occasions, including my co-authored column When Beating up on 'Deadbeat Dads' is Unfair (Houston Chronicle, 1/7/07). Abbott often beats his chest during his frequent crackdowns on low-income fathers he labels "deadbeat dads." I get as many complaints about Abbott and the Texas Attorney General's Office than I do about Child Support Enforcement in all other 49 states combined. To learn more about Abbott and his abuses, click here. Below is a letter from "Sandra," a loyal wife whose husband is being manhandled by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's office. Dear Mr. Sacks,   I am writing this letter to you because I recently found your articles on the travesties that the Texas Attorney General's office brings on men.  My husband, an otherwise law-abiding citizen, seems to be the target of a witch-hunt by the OAG.  He owed less than $2,000 dollars on November 20, 2007 and was reduced to fear of jail, placed in a separate part of the court room and made to sit there for over 5 hours.  We were told to have $1,000 dollars plus $100 attorney's fees, as if they are not paid by salary. When we brought the money, they demanded another $400 or once again he was to face jail.  It was by this time 3:00 pm and we had 30 minutes to get the money to them or we would have to wait until after the Thanksgiving Holiday.  We brought the money and were treated like the dirt of the earth. I, his wife, was told to "walk faster," since apparently I walk too slow, on our way to the District clerk's office to pay the money...  My husband also has a separate case with the Texas Attorney General OAG where he is owed over $6,000 dollars from his ex and, wouldn't you believe it, nothing is being done to the mother. She has never even seen a court room.  Sandra  

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"The study involved an analysis of data originally obtained through the National Violence Against Women Survey in the mid-90's. Felson and Outlaw looked at the 10,000 respondents (out of the total sample of 16,000) who were currently married, and found that adult women are just as controlling and jealous towards their male partners as the other way around. "They also found that the relationship between use of control and jealousy and physical violence existed equally for both male and female respondents, and that 'intimate terrorists' can be either male or female.... "It should be pointed out that the National Violence Against Women Survey was designed, conducted and analyzed by feminist researchers, whose intentions from start to finish were to make the case that violence against female intimate partners is serious social problem, and one that is much more serious than violence against male intimate partners. This, I believe, lends quite a bit of added credibility to Felson's findings." John Hamel, LCSW, a court-certified batterer treatment provider and author of the book Gender-Inclusive Treatment of Intimate Partner Abuse, sent me an interesting letter recently about a couple of new domestic violence studies. I find the one referenced above particularly interesting. Feminists often claim that men and only men "control" their partners through "intimate terrorism," and that only men abuse out of "jealousy." I've often thought this was one of their more unlikely claims. This study--which uses feminist data and research--contradicts this notion. From Hamel: "You might want to be aware of two very important recent papers that have only recently been published on the topic of gender similarities/differences in intimate partner abuse. For the past few years, I have been especially interested in new research that examines the context of intimate partner abuse. What the research tells us has significant implications not only clinically, but also in terms of public policy. "The first paper, by Daniel Whittaker and colleagues, appeared in the May, 2007 issue of American Journal of Public Health and reports on findings from the 2001 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health with a sample of more than 11,000 young adults between the ages of 18 and 28. Among those findings: (1) 70.7% of nonreciprocal physical violence was perpetrated by females, and (2) in reciprocally-violent relationships, men incurred the majority of the physical injuries. Overall, women incurred more physical injuries, but the difference was quite small. You can find an abstract and a review of this paper at www.ajph.org/cgi/content/abstract/97/5/941. "The other paper is perhaps even more significant. It is titled, 'The Control Motive and Marital Violence,' written by Richard Felson and Maureen Outlaw, and published in Volume 22, Issue No. 4, 2007 of Violence and Victims. (pp. 387-407) "The study involved an analysis of data originally obtained through the National Violence Against Women Survey in the mid-90's. Felson and Outlaw looked at the 10,000 respondents (out of the total sample of 16,000) who were currently married, and found that adult women are just as controlling and jealous towards their male partners as the other way around. They also found that the relationship between use of control and jealousy and physical violence existed equally for both male and female respondents, and that "intimate terrorists" can be either male or female. Controlling and jealous behaviors were defined as follows: "Prevents you from knowing about or having access to family income even when you ask. Prevents you from working outside the home. Insists on knowing who you are with at all times. Insists on changing residences even when you don't want or need to. Tries to limit your contact with family and friends. "Here are some selected quotes from the article: "'For current marriages, the results reveal that husbands are less likely than wives to engage in controlling behavior and less likely to be jealous. In former marriages, on the other hand, we find that husbands are slightly more likely to have been controlling than the wives. However, the effect is not quite statistically significant...' (p. 394). "'Controlling husbands are not particularly likely to engage in verbal aggression or violence or generate fear. While controlling spouses in current marriages are more likely to act violently, there is no evidence that this relationship is gendered.' (p. 396; my italics) "'An examination of the predicted reveals that former husbands who were controlling were particularly likely to engage in verbal aggression and physical violence and to generate fear.' (p. 397) "Regarding the extent to which men and women engage in 'intimate terrorism,' a term coined by [feminist domestic violence researcher] Michael Johnson, the authors write: "'Both husbands and wives who are controlling are more likely to produce injury and engage in repeated violence. Similar effects are observed for jealousy, although not all are statistically significant. The seriousness of the violence is apparently associated with motive, although the relationship does not depend on gender.' (jp. 404) "It should be pointed out that the National Violence Against Women Survey was designed, conducted and analyzed by feminist researchers, whose intentions from start to finish were to make the case that violence against female intimate partners is a serious social problem, and one that is much more serious than violence against male intimate partners. This, I believe, lends quite a bit of added credibility to Felson's findings." Hamel helped found the National Family Violence Legislative Resource Center and works with Michael Robinson and the California Alliance for Families and Children to reform California's domestic violence policies. The pair are sponsoring the ground-breaking conference "From Ideology to Inclusion" early next year. [Note: If you or someone you love is being abused, the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women provides crisis intervention and support services to victims of domestic violence and their families.]

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