Friday, April 29, 2005

Fox viewers spank their kids

Fox News O'Reilly Factor just did an online poll:
Do you (or did you) spank your kids?
Yes 92%
No 8%
Courts should not be issuing orders against what 92% of parents believe to be a good practice.

Hiding the boyfriend from the kids

Yesterday, the kids told me my wife's boyfriend's last name. They said that Mama had been trying to keep it a secret, but they figured it out somehow. Also, they call him B-R-U-C-E (spelling out the letters). I guess that my wife tries to avoid saying even his first name.

They also said that my wife's divorce lawyer is a friend of Bruce's, and that my wife hired that lawyer on Bruce's recommendation.

The kids have also been coached to say that Bruce was just a good friend before the divorce. I told them that Mama is finalizing the divorce in court next month, and that she is likely to be more open about her relationship with Bruce after that. The kids seemed to know more than they were supposed to know anyway.

Mother Goose day at school

I woke up this morning with this message on my answering machine:
Hi. Jenny has Mother Goose day today, and she was trying to be a dog, and half the costume is at your house. We are trying to go over to your house and see if we can make it and get to school on time. Anyway, I was hoping that you were awake. Goodbye.
The schools find any excuse they can to do something other than teach the students. My wife takes these silly diversions more seriously than letting the kids see their father. Sigh.

They never did show up this morning. As far as I know, anyway. Maybe she snuck in and out without waking me. I doubt it, though, as usually she is in a panic to get to school on time and has no extra time.

Update: The kids have informed me that they really did show up in the morning before school, and prowl around looking for a doggie costume while I was asleep.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Mother Charged With Child Neglect

A reader sends this story:
BURTONSVILLE, Md. -- A Montgomery County woman was charged with child neglect after a fire broke out at her home while her children were there alone.

A 7-year-old boy is being hailed as a hero after he led his two younger brothers to safety when a microwave started a fire in their second-floor apartment.

The fire started at about 10 p.m. Saturday in an apartment in Burtonsville's Knight's Bridge complex. Investigators said food was cooking in the microwave when it burst into flames.

A quick-thinking 7-year-old boy led his 4- and 5-year-old brothers out of the apartment. The children went to an apartment next door to get help, and an adult called 911 and led the boys and several other children to safety.

The fire caused an estimated $100,000 damage to the apartment complex in the 3300 block of Teagarden Circle.

The mother told police she left the kids for 20 minutes to make a phone call about a babysitter who was late.

The child neglect charge carries a criminal penalty of a fine of up to $500 and up to 30 days in jail.
I do not think that this is criminal child neglect. The main error was for the mom to leave the apartment with something cooking. That was a fire hazard that endangered everyone in the building. It was a foolish thing to do.

The 7-year-old boy is credited with knowing exactly what to do, but the mom or dad should also be credited with teaching him what to do.

I do not think that simple mistakes like this should be criminalized.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Wife upset with what the kids know

I just dropped off my kids at my wife's apartment. My wife asked me, in front of the kids, whether I was going to give her a check on May 1, as scheduled. I said yes. At that point, our 5-year-old asked how money it was going to be, and I told her.

At this point, my wife threw a tantrum. She said that we should be able to handle the money as adults, and not tell the kids the details.

Yes, I wish that we could handle the issues as adults. My wife regularly tells the kids that they cannot have things because I don't give her enough money. I think that they are starting to figure out that I am paying far more money than is needed to meet their expenses.

Michael Jackson's ex-wife is prosecution witness

The prosecution just had Michael Jackson's ex-wife testify against him. She was not a witness to any crimes, but she has a child visitation dispute with Jackson, and her testimony was just to badmouth him.

I am amazed that judges put up with prosecution witnesses like this. She adds nothing to the case against Jackson, except perhaps to suggest that Jackson is a weirdo. Everyone knows that Jackson is a weirdo. It is not a crime to be a weirdo.

I think that Jackson should be acquitted, based on what I have seen.

If I get prosecuted for some unrelated crime some day, is the DA going to chase down my ex-wife and ask her to tell the court about our marital or child-rearing disputes? It makes no sense to me. It is just not relevant evidence.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Romanian bridegrooms take DV course

News from UK about Romania:
Romanian bridegrooms will have to take a three-day course to deter them from beating their wives under new laws set to come into force next year. ...

Yet the government's plan has its critics. "Think about people living in the countryside," said Andrei Popescu, a sociologist. "The counselling centres are all in cities and people will not want to take three days off work to stay in a hotel just to do a pointless course. It won't work."
There ought to be more criticism than that. It is a crazy idea.

Monday, April 25, 2005

California shared parenting law proposed

His Side with Glenn Sacks says:
His Side has launched a campaign supporting the California Shared Parenting Alliance's AB 1307, the California Shared Parenting bill.

AB 1307 will clarify California law and create a clear presumption that parents equally share in the responsibility of joint custody of their children unless there is clear evidence that it would not be in the children's best interest.
Good. Let's hope the legislature does something. His radio programs are excellent, and are archived on his web site.

Non-father has to pay child support

Here is another deadbeat dad story:
AUBURN, Maine -- Maine officials are coming after a 35-year-old man who they said owes thousands in back child support for a child that is not his.

They said Geoffrey Fisher owes about $11,000 in child support to cover the time from the child's birth until paternity tests proved that Fisher was not the father.

They say Fisher failed to file a court motion three years ago that would have relieved him or any financial responsibilities for the child.

But Fisher said he's flabbergasted that the state sent him a letter seeking payment even though DNA tests have proven he isn't the father.
This happens a lot because of the Bradley Amendment, federal incentives for over-agressive paternity establishment, a lack of penalties against perjuring moms, prejudice against men, and a variety of other evils.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Requiring two evaluator opinions

I just talked to someone experienced in custody evaluations in the next county. She said that in that county, a custody evaluator and a supervisor must sign off on an immediate custody change, and there must be documentation of some very compelling reasons. She was amazed that I could lose custody based on just one evaluator expressing an opinion and no hearing.

I am amazed about everything in the family court system.

Monday, April 18, 2005

MacKinnon rants about war between sexes

Kooky feminist C. MacKinnon says:
Aggression against women isn’t called the violation of peace, as aggression against nation-states is called,” she said. “There’s no Geneva Convention for this war, and the domestic criminal laws are so under-enforced that they can be considered not there.
According to this:
When it comes to committing domestic violence, women are fully the equal of men. Scores of research studies in the United States and elsewhere show that women are just as likely as men to engage in partner aggression. And fully 38% of persons who suffer injuries from domestic violence are male.
And of course there are plenty of criminal laws against domestic violence, and over-enforcement of those laws.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Falsely Accused of Paternity

Reason says:
The Best-Case Scenario if the State Falsely Accuses You of Paternity ...

... is that you'll be out $1,500 in non-recoverable lawyer bills. The worst case is much worse.
A comment says:
It's not hard to believe the parts of the story dealing with incompetency, but I still find it hard to believe that there can be no possible repurcussions on the mother, who was making obviously fraudulent claims.
A year ago, I would not have believed it either.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Shrink practices witchcraft

More wacky Chicago news:
A third person has claimed that a former St. Charles psychologist used witchcraft on her and shared private medical details between patients.

Kathleen Carlson of St. Charles filed a lawsuit late Friday against Delnor-Community Hospital in Geneva, claiming that the hospital failed to monitor Leitita Libman, a psychologist working at the hospital from 1994 until January 2005.

The lawsuit is the third in as many weeks filed against the hospital claiming Libman used witchcraft under the guise of therapy.

None of the suits have been filed against Libman because of fear of retribution, said Richard Stavins, a Chicago attorney representing the women in two Kane County lawsuits and one federal lawsuit.
If you sue a witch directly, she might cast an evil spell on you.

No divinity school for Brooklyn dad

This NY story says:
A Brooklyn judge wants a deadbeat dad to choose the law over God - telling him to use his legal degree to make money to support his kids, and postpone plans to become a minister.

The bizarre intersection of church and state was revealed yesterday in a ruling by Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Sunshine.

The judge held the wanna-be clergyman in contempt for being "voluntarily unemployed" and stiffing his ex-wife out of $40,000 in back child support.

The trouble started when Ivy League grad Simon Ajose left his six-figure job as a lawyer, stopped paying child support and enrolled in divinity school.
The court hasn't made my lawyer wife use her legal degree to make money to support our kids yet.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Illinois considers custody reform

Illinois is considering custody reforms:
Several state lawmakers and legal groups aim to give children more time with both parents and prod parents to work out agreements before they ever set foot in court.

“Contested divorce and child custody proceedings in this state can be torturous, heart-wrenching experiences to parents and children, that in turn create an undue burden on the community,” said Michael Burns, executive director of the Chicago think tank Dialogue on Sustainable Community.

Burns’ group is among those pushing the changes.

In Illinois, Burns said, joint legal and physical custody is granted less than 8 percent of the time. Sole custody usually is awarded to mothers, he said. ...

Under current law, when divorce cases go to court, a judge must consider the best interest of the child. Parents and their attorneys are left to argue before the court whether joint or sole custody is best.

State Rep. Richard Myers, a Macomb Republican, offers a different system. Under his plan, people would go to court under the notion that joint custody is best. Currently, there’s no presumption on what’s best; it’s up to the two sides to fight it out.

“We talk about mothers in one corner and fathers in the other,” said Michael McCormick, executive director of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children. “We need to recognize the value of the contribution both parents make in raising children.”

Myers’ proposal calls for each parent to have equal time with and responsibility for their children and to formulate a parenting agreement on how they will carry this out.
Who could be against such a sensible idea? From the article, it appears that the main opposition comes from the domestic violence lobby.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

$21,782 per month in child support

Here is the rap news:
NEW YORK (AP) _ Hip-hop star Sean "P. Diddy" Combs has been ordered to pay more than $21,000 a month in child support to an ex-girlfriend with whom he has an 11-year-old son.

The order, issued Thursday by the state Supreme Court's Appellate Division, came after Combs appealed a Westchester Family Court ruling last year that he should pay $35,000 a month.
I wish that they would stop calling it child support. The money is not going to be spent on the child.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Radio program on divorce

Last week's This American Life radio program was on divorce, and is free online.

It started with some research by psychology guru John Gottman on what causes divorce. His theory is that he can predict divorce based on how couple deal with conflict. He denies conventional wisdom that divorce is caused by irreconcilable difference; he says all happily married couples have ten or so such diffences, and it is much more important to look at whether the couple treat each other with respect when differences arise. You can find some related views here. Here is a negative review.

It had another segment from a daughter who couldn't figure out why her father persisted in trying to make the marriage work when her mother was so unreasonable, unfaithful, and crazy. Her father could not articulate it very well.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Japanese father-daughter movie

Toby writes:
Hello George

Your post of march 19th made me recall one of my favourite movies. I was wondering if you had ever seen, or heard of the children's movie My Neighbor Totoro. It's a Japanese cartoon but was released in the US by Fox. It is somewhere in Roger Ebert's top 100 movies, and here is a link to his review of it.

I won't go into the movie in too much detail, but it a happy children's movie about two girls who live with their dad. They move into a new house and have adventures playing in the garden. The mother is present in the movie, she is just in hospital so she isn't really around, I wont go into it much more, you can look the movie up yourself if you are interested, I would recommend it.

The point(s) I am getting at is, there is a scene where the family are taking a bath, the youngest is scared of the dark and the storm outside, but her dad and her sister act funny to cheer her up so they wont be scared. That scene, while in my mind being a totally natural family scene, is very hard for me to imagine ever seeing happen in a western movie, because as you said in your post (or rather Ebert and Roeper did) "if there is a father usually he is either a meanie, a child abuser, an authoritarian, or some sort of a monster."

The second point I am getting to is that Disney now own the rights to all of that Japanese studios movies, and are gradually releasing them all on DVD and some to cinema. I'm not sure when Totoro is being released, but from what I read, part of their contract is that the movies cannot be cut, edited, or have the music changed (obviously they record the dialog to english and things), so I really wonder how Disney will handle this film, and that scene in particular.

Anyway, I hope you have good luck in court, despite all the odds. And I hope that your children come through relatively unscarred whatever the outcome happens to be.
Thanks. I never heard of the movie, and I'll look for it. It sounds like my daughters would like it.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Trying to enroll in a parenting class

I tried to sign up for a parenting class at Simply Your Best, a local parenting school that the court endorses. I wasn't expecting to learn anything, and I was only doing it in order to pacify the family court judge. I thought that it would be a simple matter to enroll in some classes, and to suffer thru them. I was wrong.

I had to make an appointment for an intake interview. When I got there, a woman asked to make a copy of my drivers license. Then she had a big stack of forms for me to fill out. It was like buying a house. She wanted my criminal records, psychiatric records, history of marital disputes, biographical info on my relatives, Social Security number, education and work history, and detailed views on parenting and other issues. She wanted a copy of my divorce court file, and a copy of my tax return. I was asked to sign an assortment of waivers and releases, including promises not to sue, promises to supply whatever psychological and judicial info they want, and agreements to allow the school to release personal info about me. I was also asked to sign pages of promises to lead a nonviolent life, not yell at anyone or abuse anyone, etc.

The school is a private company. It wanted my tax return because it has a sliding fee scale that depends on my income, and it wanted proof of my income.

I am desperate to get my kids back, and I was willing to go along with all that, until I looked at the course materials. The school believes in a particular parenting philosophy similar to what is described in the book Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen. That philosophy has its pros and cons, but it sure isn't the only way. It teaches that all spanking is child abuse, and it teaches faulty research about the effects of spanking.

The classes consist of discussion groups, and the school sends reports to the court. I was told that if I don't participate as expected, or if I express an opinion that spanking was acceptable under certain circumstances, then the school would send bad reports to the court.

This policy was more than I could take. I happen to know that their textbook was misrepresenting the spanking research. It said that studies had proved that spanking causes juvenile delinquency. I would have to keep my mouth shut about it. I would be at the mercy of some flaky teacher who may or may not like my attitude. He could ruin my life on a whim, and there would be nothing that I could do about it.

I couldn't find anything in the course materials that even related to the complaints against me. Most of it was about spanking, drug abuse, and anger management. There were no complaints against me about any of those things.

The woman admitted that if I had told her that I was enrolling on my own, then I could have avoided the court reporting requirements. But once I admitted that I was involved in the family court, then they wouldn't take me unless I supply court papers, sign all the waivers, and pay for reports being sent to the court.

I eventually walked out, frustrated and annoyed. I tried to explain that all I wanted to do was to pay some money, take some classes, and hope to eventually get my kids back. She said that it is possible that her boss would grant some sort of exception for me, but I'd have to wait a couple of weeks and see someone else. I don't know what to do now. She later called and cancelled by appointment. My guess is that the school is as eager to get rid of me and I am to get rid of the school.

ACLU is against dictating values

This AP story says:
WASHINGTON - How should you talk to your children about sex? Tell them, "No sex", says a new government Web site that proclaims "abstinence is the healthiest choice." That's dictating values, say organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union and gay rights groups, and they want the site taken down.
Normally I'd be sympathetic to an argument against the govt dictating values. But where is the ACLU when teachers and courts try to dictate values and tell me how to raise my kids?

Here is what enraged the ACLU:
I don't want my children to be sexually active until they're married, but is this realistic?

Tell your child what you expect of them and what you believe they are capable of. Children often rise to meet their parent's expectations. If you are one of the many parents who believe that sex should be saved for marriage -- tell your child so.
This sounds like benign advice to me.