Friday, December 30, 2005

Delinquent Without Dad

Someone sent me this article from a newsletter:
Depressed Without Mom, Delinquent Without Dad

Mothers help keep teens from falling victim to anxiety and depression; fathers help keep adolescents from turning belligerent and defiant. Of course, in an age of rampant divorce, custodial mothers may try to do their best for their children, but noncustodial fathers can do very little for their offspring's psychological development.

The markedly different ways that mothers and fathers affect their adolescent children's lives are detailed in a study recently published in the Journal of Early Adolescence by a team of researchers at Yale and Florida State Universities. But because so many fathers are now largely absent from their children's lives, the paternal side of the parental equation remains merely a theoretical abstraction for many of the teens in this new study.

Scrutinizing data collected from 116 sixth through eighth grade students (selected so as to be demographically representative for the state of Florida), the Yale and Florida State analysts look for indications of how parents affect their adolescent children's lives. The data in this study clearly indicate that "fathers are less involved in parenting their adolescent children than are mothers and that adolescents report feeling more securely at¬tached to their mothers than to their fathers." The influence of mothers on their adolescent chil¬dren further manifests itself in statistical analyses establishing that for "internalizing problems" (i.e., problems manifest by "extreme shyness, worry, anxiety, and depression), "maternal factors ... outweigh paternal factors in terms of relative influence."

However, when the Yale and Florida State scholars shift their fo¬cus to adolescent children's "externalizing problems" (evident in "hyperactivity, impulsivity, aggression, and delinquency"), the researchers see fathers' influence eclipsing that of mothers. "For externalizing behavior problems in the full sample," the researchers report, "the paternal factors (involvement and attachment) explained significant, unique variance; however, maternal factors did not." Surprisingly, fathers' effect on externalizing behaviors shows up in particular strength among adolescent daughters, "with fathers apparently exerting more influence on girls' externalizing behaviors than on the expression of similar behaviors in their sons."

What is more, when the researchers examine data for "total behavioral problems" for both boys and girls, they conclude that "only the paternal factors of involvement and attachment were found to be uniquely significant." In other words, "for externalizing and total behavioral problems, the father-child variables outweighed the mother child variables" for both genders.

Not surprisingly, adolescent children are not likely to feel attached to a father who does not live with them, nor is an absentee father likely to be very involved in their lives. The authors of this study in fact report that "nonresident fathers were found to be less actively involved, in comparison to resident fathers, in the lives of their teenage children." The researchers further remark that "the teens of nonresident fathers also reported feeling less securely attached to their fathers than did their peers whose fathers lived with them."

Since this new study identifies weak paternal involvement and attachment as statistical predictors of adolescent behavior problems, its findings can only underscore the vulnerability of the many teens now growing up without fathers.
(Source. Susan K. Williams and F. Donald Kelly, "Relationsbips Among Involvement, Attacbment, and Bebavioral Problems in Adolescence: Examining Fatber's Influence," Journal of Early Adolescence 25 [2005]. 168 196, empbasis added.)
By all available measures, fathers raise children with fewer problems than mothers.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Recurring themes

Child Support Follies:
News of the Weird has reported several times about hard-luck men who, believing they are biological fathers, agree to child support, only to learn via a DNA test that they are not, but whom judges will not let rescind those agreements. An even more ironic case emerged from the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal in December. A man had originally agreed to support his new wife's daughter, but then he and his wife divorced, and the court ruled he must continue to support the girl even though the wife has now married the man who is the girl's biological father. [Globe and Mail-CP, 12-8-05]
The story is also here. This is just more evidence that the child support system has gone way too far.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas

I'll soon be getting the kids for the week. Presents are ready. It will be a happy and peaceful week. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

PBS to redo documentary

Glenn Sacks has been protesting the anti-father PBS documentary, Breaking the Silence, and he now reports:
PBS has just notified us that they will "commission an hour-long documentary" for the purpose of further examining the "complex and important issues" raised in the film and by our campaign. PBS says that "plans call for the documentary to be produced and broadcast in Spring 2006" and that the "hour-long treatment of the subject will allow ample opportunity" for those of differing views to "have their perspectives shared, challenged and debated."
Amazing. Glenn Sacks deserves a lot of credit for getting PBS's attention on this one. I hope the new show has a fair and factual look on the subject. The earlier show was maybe the most biased show I have ever seen.

Another bad order

I just got another ridiculous order from Commissioner Joseph of the family court. This one retroactively requires an increase in my child support payments.

Apparently he searched the file, and discovered that at one point I had to pay extra because of "a deviation from guideline due to imputation of income based on the father's having no mortgage or rent payment for his house".

I had convinced Judge Kelly to drop that charge, but now Commissioner Joseph says, "However, Judge Kelly failed to perpetuate his calculated deviation for father's housing circumstance." So he ordered me to pay an extra $1062 per month, retroactive to last year.

This makes no sense. I've paid off my mortgage so I have to pretend that my ex-wife is the bank and send her my mortgage payments instead? As usual, Commissioner Joseph gives no justification, and I cannot find any statute or precedent for such payments.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

How to avoid my mess

A reader asks what he can do to avoid the mess that I had to face.

Maybe you should ask someone who has had a successful marriage.

I suggest trying to maintain good relationships with your wife and your kids. Keep a record of the good things that you do, so that you can prove it later. Ignore your wife's adultery; the court doesn't care about that.

There are a bunch of books for fathers facing family court. I posted a free link to a draft of one a couple of days ago. The books have a lot of good advice.

Scientific article on custody evaluations

I previously reported on a paper that explains well why psychologist custody evaluations are invalid and should be stopped. Here is the Scientific American article and the full research article. An accompanying editorial says:
The authors take a very tough position on determination of parental unfitness.They say that a diagnosis of mental illness or substance abuse should only be considered disqualifying for child custody if theparent’s inadequacy is so great that it would justify taking a child away from parents who are not divorcing.
Many fathers lose their kids without anything near what would be required for parental unfitness.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Court ignores its own order

I just got this order in the mail:
This matter came on for hearing pursuant to notice.

Both parties are present in court, in pro se.

This matter is on calendar for several matters, all of which are decided in open court except two taken under submission. This Order After Hearing disposes of one of the remaining two issues; specifically, whether $6,500 in attorney fees is in addition to, or included in, the $20,000 attorney fee Order by Judge Kelly.

The court looks to the Minute Order of May 13, 2005 after having queried Judge Kelly. It is clear that the $20,000 is in addition to the previous order of $6,500. The total fees ordered paid by Respondent to Petitioner's attorney is $26,500.

The language of the Minute Order is clear, plain and unambiguous.

Respondent is ordered to pay the Bosso Law Firm $6,500 within ten days of this Order being served upon him.

DATED: December 16, 2005
So Commissioner Joseph queried Judge Kelly and looked at the May 13 Minute Order, but he didn't look at the order that Judge Kelly signed.

What actually happened was that Judge Kelly ordered me to pay $20,000 in legal fees, including the $6,500 I had already paid. My ex-wife's lawyer, Ms. Gray, tried to get Judge Kelly to sign an order saying:
A. Respondent is ordered to pay Petitioner's attorney's fees in the amount of $20,000.00. Said amount may be made in installments of $5,000.00 per month beginning June 1, 2005. Payment shall be made to Bosso Williams, APC, P. 0. Box 1822, Santa Cruz, CA
Judge Kelly signed it on July 15, 2005, but only after writing in "Respondent is credited with $6,500 in attorney's fees." He wrote it in his own handwriting, and initialed it.

Ms. Gray was very unhappy about it, and wrote:
Dear Judge Kelly:

I received the court's signed and filed FOAH for the hearing before you on May 13, 2005, in the above matter, which includes your handwritten notation concerning the issue of my client's attorney's fees. Your note indicates "Respondent is credited with $6,500 in attorney's fees." My recollection of your statements regarding attorney's fees differed from your notation. ...

In light of the transcript, your intent at the time of the hearing seems clear. We would appreciate a second review of the transcript against your hand written notation.

Respectfully submitted,
JJG/b Jennifer J. Gray
So I have an order from Judge Kelly that says that I am to be credited with the $6,500, and I have an order from Commissioner Joseph that I have to repay the $6,500.

I don't get this at all. If there is something wrong with Judge Kelly's order, then it seems to me that it needs to be rescinded or corrected or something. I don't see how Commissioner Joseph can just issue a contradictory order without even referencing the other order.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Canceling the counselor

I just canceled our last appointment with the co-parenting counselor, after my ex-wife suggested that I do so. I was glad that she did, because it conflicted with my only chance to let the kids pick out a Christmas tree. The afternoon was freed up, and they picked a great tree. I cut it down and carried it back to the house. They decorated it the next day.

The judge never encouraged us or ordered us to continue the counseling. At one point he asked us whether we had any more appointments, and whether I was willing to go. I said "yes", of course, just as I had been willing to comply with his other court orders.

The judge's question was before his custody order. At the time that he asked, he seemed to be considering sending us out to see shrinks again in lieu of a custody order. Once he made the custody order, he said nothing more about shrinks, so my inference was that he considered and rejected sending us to more shrinks.

I never did figure out why the court sent us to the co-parenting counselor in the first place. The judge never said. At the last court appearance, the judge made some cryptic comments about seeing the shrinks was of no benefit except to test our willingness to comply with court orders.

There are other possible explanations for sending us to see the shrinks. Maybe it was just a stall, to postpone or avoid making any decisions. Or maybe it was an attempt to lock in an illegal temporary order.

Perhaps the judge thought that it was inequitable that I had to jump thru some hoops and my ex-wife had not, so he wanted to order her to do something. He also may have recognized that most or all of the evidence of psychological disorders and uncooperative parenting was against my ex-wife, and he wanted some outside opinions on her. He may have been frustrated by my refusal to carry on a character assassination against her, as she did to me.

Maybe the judge thought that the reports would contain some useful information. Maybe the judge just wanted to educate himself about what sort of reports get written in such a case.

It is also possible that the judge had some theory about how seeing the shrinks might advance the best interest of the kids. I think that this is unlikely. He never articulated any such theory, and I do not know what basis he might have for thinking that. I've never seen him consider the best interest of the kids in my case or any other case.

The co-parenting counselor wrote this letter for the judge:
[George AngryDad and Ms. AngryMom] have attended co-parent counseling according to the following dates, 3/10, 6/2, 6/16, 10/13, 11/3, 11/10, 12/1 and 12/8.

They have shown marked progress and I would recommend they continue co-parent counseling in hopes of achieving a more cooperative co-parent relationship to benefit their children.
One thing that bugged me about his letter was his recommendation at the end. The deal with him was that he was just supposed to report attendance and progress, and not to make any recommendations. I don't know why he would recommend counseling, except that he was hoping to make more money by getting the court to order us to see him more.

I do think that my ex-wife made some progress in the last couple of meetings with the counselor, but overall the shrinks were very detrimental to me and the kids. My ex-wife used them as an excuse for not dealing with me. And the kids suffered from being in a legal limbo.

I hope my ex-wife got something out of the shrinks. I cannot think of even one sentence of advice or opinion from them that was any personal value to me whatsoever. All I learned was how crooked and evil the whole system is, and that I can only save my kids by getting them out of the system.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Draft book on divorce strategy

I just stumbled across an essay on How Fathers Can Win Child Custody:
So you have a child with a soon-to-be ex-girlfriend or ex-wife, and you are wondering what is going to happen to your children. The first thing you need to be aware of is this: The laws and family court system are not set up fairly towards fathers. The laws are set up to award custody to the parent who has had the most involvement so far raising the child, which means the parent who has worked the least - this is virtually always the mother. ...

If you believe that you are the better parent, you need to read this guide and find out everything you need to know in order to have the best chance at obtaining primary custody.
The author says that he is writing a book.

The same site has another article saying:
I’ve never heard of a Public Broadcasting Service documentary being slammed by two ombudsmen in the space of one week. But that’s exactly what happened to PBS’ ill-fated program, Breaking the Silence. ...

Turns out a rogue outfit called the Mother’s Research and Reference Center was in cahoots with PBS insiders and got advance copies of the program.

Then the MRRC organized demonstrations and private screenings of the documentary for state legislators, judges, and local activists. The idea was to convince them to pass laws to make it almost impossible for dads to get even shared custody of their kids after divorce.
So PBS was deliberately lending its credibility for this propaganda purpose.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Judge prohibits the N-word

Here is a Louisiana family court case where a man lost a custody appeal based on an assortment of minor allegations such as listening to hip-hop music and once having diapers of the wrong size. But the big issue, according to the judge, was that he violated court orders not to make racist comments by calling the kid's stepfather the N-word.

It is a stupid decision. We have a First Amendment in this country that is supposed to guarantee free speech. The judge cannot order a man to avoid making racist comments to his kid.

The father and stepfather is the case are both black. The mother is white and the kid is mixed-race. The judge is presumably some white liberal man who thinks that racial harmony can be achieved by raising a generation of kids who do not hear the N-word. It won't work because the father still has visitation privileges, and the kid will learn his opinions whether the court likes it or not. The judge is just using the kid to punish the father in order to reinforce the judge's own prejudices.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

PBS acknowledges a biased program

The Mary Kay Ash Foundation gave $500k to make “Breaking the Silence: Children’s Stories”, which was then shown on PBS TV and criticized here.

CPB ombudsman says:
My conclusion after viewing and reviewing the program and checking various web sites cited by critics is that there is no hint of balance in Breaking the Silence. The father's point of view is ignored as are new strategies for lessening the damage to children in custody battles. There is no mention of the collaborative law movement in which parents and lawyers come to terms without involving the court, nor of the new joint custody living arrangements.

The producers apparently do not subscribe to the idea that an argument can be made more convincing by giving the other side a fair presentation. To be sure, one comes away from viewing the program with the feeling that custody fights are a special hell, legally, emotionally, psychologically. But this broadcast is so slanted as to raise suspicions that either the family courts of America have gone crazy or there must be another side to the story.
The family courts have gone crazy, but not as described on the show.

The PBS ombudsman says:
The critics challenged the program on many counts, including a lack of balance and objectivity that they claimed violates PBS editorial standards, a lack of evidence to back up assertions on the program, the complete absence of fathers and their perspective in the documentary, failure to cite statistics that critics say contradict the thrust of the program, the promotion of negative stereotypes that work against fathers in custody disputes, and some very specific challenges about one case, in particular, that was discussed in the film.

There were also strong objections to the portrayal of what is called "Parental Alienation Syndrome" as "junk science" on the program. The original press release about the program said that: "Despite being discredited by the American Psychological Association and similar organizations, PAS continues to be used in family courts as a defense for why a child is rejecting the father." This prompted the Association to issue a statement that it "does not have an official position on parental alienation syndrome-pro or con. The Connecticut Public Television press release is incorrect."
He promises a more complete report in "early December".

These ombudsmen are understating the problems with the PBS program. The show was a propaganda show for separating fathers from their children, based on a theory of child abuse risk. But most child abuse comes from mothers, step-fathers, and boyfriends, not fathers.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Thanks for reading

I just want to say how I appreciate all the encourage and support that I've gotten from readers of this blog. It has been a long struggle.

I am mellowing out. Someone asked if I am going to rename the blog. I didn't really think that I'd stick with the name this long. It was just a spur-of-the-moment thought as I was setting up the blog.

I am not yet completely free of the family court. One of the leftover issues is that my ex-wife has a theory that I owe her ex-lawyer $6,500.

Here is what happened. Her lawyer had asked for attorney fees several times, and had collected $6,500 from me. Then last May, she said that her cumulative bills to date were about $40,000, and she wanted me to pay it. Judge Thomas Kelly ordered me to pay $20,000 of it, and let the lawyer write up the order. She wrote up the order as if I had to pay $20,000 in addition to what I already paid.

I only paid $13,500 because I had already paid $6,500.

Judge Kelly signed the order, but only after writing in, "Respondent is credited with $6,500 in attorney's fees." The lawyer tried in vain to convince the judge that he made a mistake.

Judge Joseph seemed rather annoyed at me for not paying $20,000 in new money. He said, "Why do you think that I ordered you to pay in 4 installments of $5,000 each?"

I said, "Probably because you didn't read Judge Kelly's order."

I explained to Judge Joseph that I had an order from Judge Kelly in which he says in his own handwriting that I am credited with the $6,500 that I already paid. Judge Joseph said that he would talk to Judge Kelly about it. It seems unlikely to me that Judge Kelly is going to change his mind, or that Judge Joseph will try to overrule him.

So there are a few silly issues like this leftover.

I am still going to collect signatures for the California shared parenting initiative, and to speak up for other parents who want to raise their kids without court interference.

Thanks again to everyone.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Not angry today

I actually had a good day in court. The judge ordered 50-50 custody starting Jan. 23. We will alternate weeks with the kids. Alimony was terminated. Child support was slashed. My ex-wife has to get a job.

We were in court for about 3 hours, including interruptions. My ex-wife had her usual rambling monologue about what a bad guy I am. I guess Judge Irwin Joseph was starting to get tired of us.

No more shrinks. No more custody evaluations. No more parenting classes. No more reports. No more silly court orders micro-managing our lives.

No wrongdoing on my part was ever established. I can continue to parent as I always have. I never had to agree that I ever made any mistakes, or to change any of my practices.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Alimony demands

My ex-wife just filed extensive demands for child support above and beyond state guidelines, and even for alimony above my actual earned income. She asks for alimony even tho she is living with her boyfriend, Bruce Travers, and is engaged to marry him.

Normally I wouldn't mention her boyfriend's name, but he is using the courts to cheat me out of my money, and it is necessary to name him in order to defend myself. If he wants to marry her, that's fine with me, but he shouldn't be injecting himself into our dispute.

The Calif Family Code states:
4323. (a) (1) Except as otherwise agreed to by the parties in writing, there is a rebuttable presumption, affecting the burden of proof, of decreased need for spousal support if the supported party is cohabiting with a person of the opposite sex.
My ex-wife has been dating Bruce Travers since before she filed for divorce over two years ago. She lied to the court by saying that she didn't have a boyfriend, and by attributing her reasons for leaving the marriage to other factors. In fact, she and the kids have been sleeping over at Bruce Travers' house on a regular basis, and it has been going on for a very long time.

Under California law, adultery is not a crime, and the family court ignores it. I cannot do anything about the bad example she is setting for our kids. But the court is not supposed to be making me pay alimony while she is cohabitating with him. She has apparently postponed the wedding until the alimony runs out, but the alimony should have run out when she started cohabitating with him.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Counseling not confidential

I just got out of co-parenting counseling with my ex-wife. I hadn't discussed what happened in these sessions before, because we signed a confidentiality agreement not to use any of it in any adversarial proceeding.

It is not confidential anymore. Today, my ex-wife filed a complaint with the Court about something I supposedly said in last week's session. She claimed that I rejected the following proposal:
From what the children tell me, you have bought them each 4 outfits to wear while they are at your home. This was so encouraging to hear, that I am proposing a new schedule that could begin in January. This is Dr. Johnson's recommendation for the parenting plan, option B. I've written it over below:

Once Father has satisfied the requirements herein, with Court review or stipulation otherwise, he shall be responsible for the children on Wednesdays after school until 7 PM on the second and fourth weeks and, every first, third and fifth Thursday after school (or 4 PM) through Monday return to school (or 9am), including three day school holidays that fall on his weekend through 4 PM Mondays.

There are a few stipulations though:

1. Father is to return clothing that children are wearing on Thursday, by packing them in a bag and giving them to the children to take to school on Monday. Alternatively, the children can wear the clothes to school on Monday, as long as Father has washed them ahead of time.

2. Father is responsible for transportation.

3. Father is to have the children eat breakfast before school.

4. Father is to provide a healthy lunch and snack for the children on Friday and Monday.

5. Father is to help the children complete Thursday's and any other uncompleted homework of the week. He is to check it over, and have the children correct the errors. He is to make sure that the children return the homework on Friday, along with all the required signatures.

6. Father is to make sure the children are at school by 8:25 p.m. on Friday and Monday morning.

7. Father is to make sure that the children are well groomed for school (clean clothes), and are suitably dressed (warm clothes for cold weather).

8. This agreement is subject to Father's good faith efforts in following the conditions.
I didn't really turn down the proposal. I asked for a minor change in her schedule for last week. She said that she could, but that she wouldn't because she wanted me to learn to accept schedules dictated by her. It is her way or the highway.

School starts at 8:30 am. I am sure she meant 8:25 am and not pm. I don't know why she said 8:25, except that she used to have a problem getting the kids to school on time.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Child marriage for custody dispute

Here is an extreme custody fight:
When Brandon Balch's 13-year-old daughter got married in Georgia, he wasn't there to give her away.

The Boynton Beach man didn't even know about his daughter's union to a 14-year-old boy until after they got married, a license from a Georgia judge in hand.

Georgia law allows minors to marry without parental consent if the bride-to-be is pregnant.
Now it turns out that it was all a stunt by the mother to prevent the father from seeing his daughter. The daughter was supposedly pregnant, but she isn't anymore. She is living with her mother, not her new husband. The father no longer has any visitation rights.