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Fathers and Families

Deployment Disrupts Parenting, Speak Klingon for a Divorce?, Sperm Donor Not Responsible for Child Support
April 12, 2012
Top Story
Deployment Disrupts Parenting
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the resulting military deployments have significantly affected our service members and their families. These deployments have sometimes caused considerable disruptions in existing child custody and visitations arrangements between the parents. Current California law provides that upon return from deployment any temporary custody order issued during the deployment reverts back to the prior order.

AB 1807, sponsored by Representative Paul Cook, passed the House without a single ‘no’ vote. It clarifies the law protecting custodial arrangements for deploying parents to better protect the custodial rights of our servicemen and women, while still ensuring the best interest of children.
Paul Cook
Paul Cook

Simply AB 1807
  1. Provides that a court may not order a child custody evaluation unless the party opposing reversion can show it is not in the best interest of the child.
  2. Provides that relocation by the nondeploying parent while the other parent is deployed shall not, by itself, terminate the California court's exclusive and continuing jurisdiction over the custody case.
  3. States the intent of the Legislature that courts shall avoid unnecessary delay or continuances, and ensure that parents who serve in the military are not penalized for their service by a delay in appropriate access to their children.
Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America-California State Council, AMVETS – Department of California, California Association of County Veterans Service Officers, and the Family Law Section of the State Bar support this legislation. It is opposed by the Association of Certified Family Law Specialists and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.

In order to protect the custodial rights of military parents, California laws were modified in 2005 and again in 2010. Under current law, if a parent with custody or visitation receives temporary duty, deployment, or mobilization orders from the military, and the court modifies the custody or visitation order accordingly, such modified order will be considered a temporary order. Existing law also helps to maintain contact between the deploying parent and the child by directing the court, upon making a temporary order, to consider additional orders that help the deploying parent maintain frequent and continuing contact with the child during the deployment by whatever means are available. This allows parents and children to maintain their bonds even through long deployments and help make the return that much easier for the children.
Fathers and Families’ Michael Robinson has worked extensively on issues affecting our military parents in California and other states. Robert Franklin has covered our work in numerous articles including — 36 States Have Now Passed Child Custody Bills to Protect Military Parents — It All Started With Our 2005 California Bill.

Michael Robinson

Speak Klingon for a Divorce?
While New York State became one of the last states to enact no-fault divorce, our friends in the UK continue the tradition of finding fault with one’s spouse.

About half of English divorces are granted under the broad category of unreasonable behavior. One party has to accuse the other of acting so unreasonably that living together has become intolerable. As one would imagine, the accusations run the gamut from the mundane to entertaining, such as:
  • Her husband insisted she dress in a Klingon costume and speak to him in Klingon.
  • His wife maliciously and repeatedly served him his least favorite dish, tuna casserole.
  • He insisted his pet tarantula, Timmy, sleep in a glass case next to their bed.
  • Her husband communicated only via post-it-notes.
  • Her husband insisted on dressing up in her clothes and he was stretching her outfits.
Some divorce lawyers and judges are campaigning to change the law to allow no-fault divorce in England, including Justice Nicholas Wall, president of the family division of England's high court. Read full article.

When Governor David A. Paterson signed the law allowing no-fault divorce in New York State he said, “These bills fix a broken process that produced extended and contentious litigation, poisoned feelings between the parties and harmed the interests of those persons – too often women – who did not have sufficient financial wherewithal to protect their legal rights.”

Sperm Donor Not Responsible for Child Support
National bodybuilding champion Ronnie Coleman of Arlington became a father when all he intended to do was become a sperm donor. Luckily for him, the Texas appeals court ruled, "The donor of semen provided to a licensed physician and surgeon or to a licensed sperm bank for use in artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization of a woman other than the donor's wife is treated in law as if he were not the natural father of a child."

Coleman, the 47-year-old former Arlington policeman, has been involved in a paternity suit for four years. At the request of a friend, he donated sperm at a California sperm bank. He also made it clear to her that he had no interest in being a father.

She gave birth to triplets in June 2007, though one child died several months later. Since then, Coleman has been forced to pay to support the children the woman delivered.

Coleman paid thousands in child support until this month when an appeals court overturned court rulings that had said he owed the woman money. At the time they met, Coleman was a police officer and was launching his career as a bodybuilder. He eventually won eight Mr. Olympia championships.

What was Coleman's mistake? He signed documents at the hospital saying he was the father; Coleman said he thought he was signing forms that only confirmed that he was the sperm donor but not the father. He signed the papers without consulting an attorney.

Lower courts said the documents that Coleman signed made him responsible for the children's care, but the appeals court sided with Coleman.

“I learned a very valuable and easy lesson: Never donate sperm,” Coleman said. “A lot of women asked me to donate sperm. I turned them all down except for one.”
In the News
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UK Panel on Riots Treats Father Absence as Fault of Fathers

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Fathers and Families improves the lives of children and strengthens society by protecting the child’s right to the love and care of both parents after separation or divorce. We seek better lives for children through family court reform that establishes equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers.

Fathers and Families’ vision is a society in which:
  • Children are happier and more successful because their loving bonds are protected after parental separation or divorce:

  • Children have a natural right to be nurtured and guided by both parents:

  • Society treats fathers and mothers as equally important to the wellbeing of their children:

  • Shared parenting after separation or divorce is the norm:

  • The courts arrange finances after separation or divorce so that both mothers and fathers can afford to house and care for their children and themselves: and

  • Our society understands and respects the essential role of fathers.

Core Principles
Our core principles are:
  • Shared Parenting: Shared parenting protects children's best interests and the loving bonds children share with both parents after separation or divorce.

  • Parental Equality: Equality between genders has been extended to every corner of American society, with one huge exception: family courts and the related agencies.

  • Respect for Human and Property Rights: The Supreme Court of the United States has found that "the interest of parents in the care, custody, and control of their children… is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court."

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