Wednesday, November 30, 2005

California shared parenting initiative

John R. sent this:
Dear Friend,

Our children need your help and we need you to get involved. The ballot initiative petitions have been circulating since October 6th, 2005 by volunteers and paid signature gatherers. We need 411K signatures to vote on the Nov 2006 election. Print, sign, and mail them back. Mail the signed petitions to your county coordinator before February 20th, 2006. Field polls show that the majority of Californians are in favor of this initiative.

The Attorney General of California has prepared the following title and summary of the chief purposes and points of the proposed measure:


Requires courts to provide parents with equal physical custody of a child unless there is clear evidence that equal custody would not be in child's best interest, and requires courts to consider the welfare of all family members in making such determinations. Defines "equal physical custody" as an "equal timeshare" that assures frequent contact with both parents, and redefines "joint legal custody" to mean that both parents share equally in decisions regarding welfare of child. Adds finding that equal and joint custody is generally in child's best interest."
This sounds great. To download petitions, see There is more info at
this wiki and at If it gets on the ballot and passes, it could help in California.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Father or sperm donor

NY Times letter:
To the Editor:

I am saddened that your Nov. 20 front-page article used the term "father" to refer to a sperm donor. "Fathers" are parents who raise children. They change diapers, go to soccer practice, supervise first dates. "Fathers" are members of a family, not anonymous sperm donors.

There are millions of healthy parents raising children across our country. These parents may not be a traditional "father" and "mother." They may be grandparents, single parents, gay parents, family friends, couples who adopt. How often will they be condemned for their absence of "father"?

When can we celebrate the reality of these successful, healthy, happy families without holding on to the false myth of the American family?

Alyson D. Miller
Portland, Ore., Nov. 20, 2005
If you won't call him a father, then please don't call him a "deadbeat dad" either.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Another Bret Johnson victim

I just heard from a woman who stumbled onto this blog. She is also fighting an incompetent custody evaluation from Dr. Bret K. Johnson. Apparently he does a lot of evaluations for the Santa Cruz family court, and he is completely clueless.

She saw my blog where I complained about Bret Johnson's weird preoccupation with food. He didn't like me feeding the kids oatmeal, broccoli, asparagus, and potatoes. She said that in her case, his report had a whole section favoring the parent who was feeding the kid McDonald's Happy Meals. She said that his report was stupid and incompetent from beginning to end.

She wanted to know whether Johnson could be sued for his incompetence or malpractice. No, I am afraid that he is sheltered by the court. If he could be sued for incompetence, then he would have already been driven out of the business, and bankrupted. He is a gay psychologist whose main expertise is counseling homosexual men on coming out of the closet. He does custody evaluations as a sideline, but he had no knowledge or expertise in the subject that I have been able to determine. A 5-year-old child knows more about child-rearing than he does. If he does know what he is doing, then he must be maliciously enjoy profitting from causing misery to children.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Parent-teacher conferences

I went to the parent-teacher conferences for our 2 kids last week. My ex-wife made appointments without telling me, but the kids told me about it. She acted surprised that I planned on going, and said that I had never gone before. I reminded her that I had gone lots of times. She said, "You've never gone willingly."

Hmmm. Did somebody twist my arm? She claimed that I once argued that it wasn't efficient for us both to go. Now that sounds like something that I might have said. It is not really necessary for both of us to listen to some dopey teacher read a report card to us. So I told my ex-wife that I wouldn't need to go if only she will give me a full report. There is no chance of that anymore.

At the parent-teacher conferences, the teachers each showed us a battery of standardized tests. The 1st grade teacher told us that our kid needed work on her middle vowel sounds because on one of the tests she spelled "chirp" as CHERP. She also mispronounced some proper names on the reading test, such as saying Liza instead of Lisa.

The one thing that I did learn was that there is another girl in the class who is also so far ahead of everybody else that she is not learning anything either. At least they can talk to each other.

The 4th-grade teacher also gave us a stack of test results. Our kid aced the math tests, only missing 2 questions. One was "What is a hundred less than 8,002?". She answered 7,902. I told the teacher that I wanted to do some grade grubbing on that one. She said that a lot of students got that problem marked wrong. Then she got up and walked across the classroom. I thought that she was going to get the answer key to see if it was wrong. Instead she got a pocket calculator, and confirmed that 8002 - 100 = 7902.

This teacher was mainly proud that I had heard from my kid how mean she is. The teacher's name even rhymes with "mean". I am not belittling this; I think that she has done a good job in restoring order to the classroom. There are a lot of undisciplined goof-offs in the class, and it is difficult for the teacher to teach anything to those kids.

I found out that my ex-wife was angling to get our 4th-grader into some sort of gifted program. The teacher asked whether the child could do long division. I assured her that I had taught her long division at home. Long division was not on the tests.

Today, our 4th-grader was sick and went to bed early. Our 1st-grader used the chance to practice her own long division. After a while, I noticed the above diagram. She explained that she does Divide, Multiply, Subtract, Bring down, and repeats. She remembers the D-M-S-B because it also stands for Dad, Mom, Sister, Brother. That seemed clever to me; I am not sure if she figured that out herself or not. She certainly didn't learn it from the school. She needs some practice, but she has the main ideas. No, they don't have a gifted program in first grade. The school is much more concerned about what to do about the class bully. Apparently one bully has punched out a couple of other kids already, and one other kid has even dropped out of the school because of the bully.

USA wins computer games medals

John writes that they beat us in math, but we beat them at games.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

PBS anti-father propaganda

Cathy Young writes in the Boston Globe:
CHILD CUSTODY battles are always wrenching, particularly when there are allegations of abuse. For years fathers' rights groups have complained that men face a pervasive bias in family courts, while many feminists have countercharged that the real bias is against women. The latest round of this debate is being waged over a documentary, "Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories," which has been airing on Public Broadcasting Service affiliates in the past month.

The film's point is simple: Children in America are routinely ripped from their mothers and given to fathers who are batterers or molesters. The women's claims of abuse are not believed by the courts and are even held against them when mothers are suspected of manufacturing false charges as a divorce strategy.

To fathers' groups, "Breaking the Silence" is blatant antidad propaganda. In a campaign led by the Boston-based Fathers and Families, PBS has been bombarded with thousands of calls and letters. It is now conducting a 30-day review of the research used in the film.
The show was indeed extremely biased and inaccurate. I previously criticized it here. Glenn Sacks also explains how bad the TV show was. He is sponsoring a protest here.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Congress supports parental rights

The US House of Reps voted 320-to-91 to criticize a recent court decision, and issue a statement in favor of parental rights. The resolution included this:
Whereas in Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 401 (1923), the Supreme Court recognized that the liberty guaranteed by the 14th amendment to the Constitution encompasses "the power of parents to control the education of their [children]";

Whereas the Supreme Court in Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 534-35 (1925), highlighted the Meyer doctrine that parents and guardians have the liberty "to direct the upbringing and education of children under control" and emphasized that "[t]he child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations";

Whereas in Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205, 232?33 (1972), the Supreme Court acknowledged that "[t]he history and culture of Western civilization reflect a strong tradition of parental concern for the nurture and upbringing of their children. This primary role of the parents in the upbringing of their children is now established beyond debate as an enduring American tradition. ... The duty to prepare the child for 'additional obligations', referred to by the Court [in Pierce] must be read to include the inculcation of moral standards, religious beliefs, and elements of good citizenship";

Whereas a plurality of the Supreme Court has stated, "it cannot now be doubted that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children" (Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57, 66 (2000) (plurality opinion));
The problem here is a couple of federal judges who think that parental right end at the schoolhouse door. We need to convince everyone that they do not end at the schoolhouse door, and they do not end in the family court.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Criminal cheese squeezing

Rodney Dane Higginbotham is one the most wanted fugitives in South Carolina. If you run into him, you are being asked to immediately notify the authorities so that he can be arrested for criminal domestic violence. Here is the official state notice:
ALLEGED CRIME: Police said Higginbotham argued with his wife because she had not cooked anything. When she began cooking, he started making spaghetti while eating crackers and squeeze cheese. They argued, and he squeezed cheese on the kitchen floor. She squeezed the cheese on his truck, and he squeezed the cheese in her hair before fleeing in his truck. His wife said she washed her hair before the officer arrived to take her complaint.
Too bad she washed her hair; she apparently destroyed all the incriminating evidence! Unless this man is quickly brought to justice, no woman in S. Carolina is safe from having cheese squeezed into her hair.

I don't know whether they have any kids, but if they do, then the domestic violence charge will surely prevent the kids from being able to see their dad. If he would squeeze cheese into his wife's hair, then the law would presume him to be a bad influence on the kids. He might even do something to cause his kids to have to wash their hair.

Judge Jailed Man Who Sighed

Here is a NY story about a father being bullied by a family court judge:
In November 2002, Mark Schulman was appearing before Lawrence on domestic violence charges lodged by his wife, Eva Schulman, and over an order by another judge giving the two joint custody of their two children.

During the proceeding, Schulman loudly sighed, fidgeted and on several occasions turned his back to the judge to retrieve personal belongings on a chair behind him.

The judge believed Schulman's conduct to be disrespectful, and in one instance, Lawrence ``gazed at him silently but intently,'' according to the commission's ruling. Court officers had also warned Schulman to be respectful several times.

When Schulman sighed again and shook his head, Lawrence ruled him in contempt and sentenced him to five days in jail.

Schulman objected, but Lawrence cut him off and raised the sentence to 10 days. Schulman again tried to say something, but the judge upped the jail time to 12 days. Schulman was then handcuffed and arrested.
The amazing part is that the judge actually got formally admonished for picking on the father.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Judges May Lose Immunity

AP story:
A movement is under way in South Dakota to turn the tables on members of the bench. Activists are trying to put a radical measure on next year's ballot that could make South Dakota the first state to let people who believe their rights have been violated by judges put those judges on trial. Citizens could seek damages or criminal charges.

The measure would overturn more than a century of settled law in the United States by stripping judges of their absolute immunity from lawsuits over their judicial acts.

"The current system doesn't work because there is no adequate way to hold a given judge accountable for proper behavior or to prevent them from judicial misconduct if they choose to do so," said businessman William Stegmeier, a leader of the movement. ...

The South Dakota amendment would eliminate state judges' immunity in cases involving deliberate violations of the law or someone's constitutional rights or deliberate disregard of the facts.

People could file complaints against judges after the traditional appeals process has concluded. A special grand jury would handle complaints, deciding whether a judge could be sued or face criminal charges.

If the grand jury decides on criminal charges, it could indict the judge and create a special tribunal that would act as both judge and jury, deciding guilt and any sentence. The measure would not apply to federal judges.
Things might be a little different if judges were more directly accountable for what they do. Here is the South Dakota Judicial Accountability site.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

James Roger Brown rant

I ran across this rant against various child social service agencies. It is long, in pdf format, and rambling, and it seems a little crazy in places, but it has some good info in it. Here is a another similar essay.

For one thing, these essays have specific inferences that are made from answers to psychological tests, like the MMPI-2. These inferences may not be correct, as the author explains. For example, responding true to "I like to flirt" indicates Ego Strength, while false indicates Depression, Social Introversion, and Repression. Hundreds of answers like this are combined to make a personality profile.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Mom's boyfriend is risky

NY Times Science reports:
Living with an unrelated adult, especially an unrelated man, substantially increases the risk that a child will die violently, researchers reported yesterday.

According to the study, children who live with adults who are not biologically related to them are nearly 50 times as likely to die at the adults' hands as children who live with two biological parents, the researchers said.
Here is the Pediatrics article.

It continues to amaze me that anyone would make the argument that the mom should get child custody because of safety reasons. The child is nearly always safest in the home of the dad. If the mom is living with a boyfriend, then the child could have 50 times greater risk with her, according to the above study.

In my case, my ex-wife made safety and risk her main argument to the court. In fact, the kids are much safer with me. Every single safety problem has been under her watch, not mine.

She lied to the court about her boyfriend, and said that she didn't have one. I guess that if she had admitted that she was secretly living with her boyfriend and his roommate, with the kids sleeping on his couch or his floor or whatever, then she'd look pretty silly complaining about my safety.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Co-parent counseling

I just got out of a co-parent counseling session. It is confidential counseling, meaning that my ex-wife and I both agree not to make any issue in court from what is said in a session. The counselor just told me that the confidentiality agreement does not bar me from discussing what happened on this blog or anywhere else (other than court).

Nevertheless, I want to make it clear that I do not intend to discuss anything that goes on in those sessions. The idea behind confidentiality is that we should be free to express any opinions or propose any solutions without that being used elsewhere against each other. As I've previously written, I am not going to discuss anything she says in the sessions on this blog.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Requiring equal custody

Someone sent me this link to the California legislative analyst's office:
The proposed initiative amends current law to establish the concept of “equal custody,” in which the child’s time would be equally split between the parents. The initiative further amends current law to state that equal custody is in the best interest of the child, and should be provided to the greatest degree practicable. Under the measure, in cases where one parent disagrees with equal custody, the burden of proof is on the objecting parent to show that equal custody would not be in the best interest of the child. The initiative also eliminates the provision requiring the court to state its reasons for granting a joint custody request. However, in cases that result in a denial of joint custody, it requires the court to include in the record the specific “findings of fact” it relied upon in making its custody decision. Findings of fact would not be required in cases where joint custody is granted.
I am not sure if this initiative is qualified to be on the ballot, but it sounds great. Unfortunately, it lets the judge override custody based on his opinion about the best interest of the child, but it sounds like a big improvement.