Monday, November 01, 2004

Divorced Mich. fathers sue for equity

Here is a Detroit News article:
Michigan fathers seeking to make joint custody the norm in divorce cases are suing the state in a class-action lawsuit they hope will stop the courts from marginalizing their role in their children's lives.

The suit claims the state's family courts have violated fathers' civil rights by awarding mothers custody and reducing them to visitors. The suit was filed when noncustodial parents in 43 other states filed similar suits, and when fathers are seeking similar parental equity in Europe and Canada.
Here is info on the class action lawsuit. The article goes on:
Father's role is vital

Psychologists say children who don't spend enough time with their fathers can develop emotional problems such as low self-esteem, depression and feelings of abandonment. Fatherless children are more likely to act out at school, develop truancy problems and develop unhealthy perceptions about relationships, said Michael Brooks, a Kalamazoo psychologist.

"Both parents bring unique characteristics and aspects to parenting the children," said Brooks, who is a member of the state's Friend of the Court Advisory Board. "But it's difficult to be a parent two days out of 15."

Brooks said a court-ordered parenting plan that only includes every other weekend and a few nights a week could be construed as a situation that creates a fatherless child. This is why he supports the movement that courts should initially presume joint custody for divorcing couples, unless one of them is shown to be unfit.

John Mills, chairman of the family law section of the Michigan State Bar, said mandating a presumption of joint custody would take away the discretion of judges, who are considering each individual case.

"They make the decision on what is best for the children," said Mills, who opposes presumed joint legal custody.
Note that the psychologist says that the father's role is vital, but it is the lawyers who are against a presumption of joint custody. Why? Follow the money. Family court lawyers make most of their money by preparing nebulous arguments about the best interests of the child. The more subjective and arbitrary the custody decisions, the more money to the lawyers. They have desperate clients who will do anything to win custody. If there is no presumption and it is all up to the discretion of the judge, then they can take their clients' money and have a chance of winning with a terrible case.

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