Friday, March 31, 2006

Complaing group for moms

A reader sends this funny NPR commentary about a single mom describing how housewives complain about their husbands.
The gist of her essay: She went to a new moms group where she was the only single mom, and was surprised to find all the other new moms making trivial complaints about their husbands. They were more feminist than she is.
The group seems to encourage discontent.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

NY getting too many faxes

Glenn Sacks writes:
James Hays of the Coalition of Fathers and Families New York, which is sponsoring the New York Shared Parenting Bill, informed me yesterday that your faxes have completely shut down the fax machines of the 16 members of the Assembly's Children & Families Committee. The committee members have asked us to stop, and we complied immediately.

Five thousand of you have faxed or emailed the committee members in support of A330, the shared parenting bill.
He has info on how you can still support the NY bill with email and letters.

He has links to opposing views published in an Albany newspaper op-ed page, if you want to get both sides. The NY chapter of NOW is against sharing parenting. Perhaps its best argument is:
Let us learn from the experience of others. In California, a report prepared 15 years after divorce reform legislation, found that one-third of joint-physical custody arrangements were indistinguishable in practice from the sole-custody visitation arrangements.
There is no citation for that "report", but it is not clear how it helps her argument anyway. Shared parenting custody orders give the parents the flexibility to negotiate what will be best for them and the kids. If it is true that a substantial number of parents were awarded 50-50 custody by the court but later negotiated some other time-sharing arrangement out of court, then why is that a bad thing? The purpose of shared parenting is to give opportunities, rights, and responsibilities to both parents, not to force them into a rigid schedule.

Child may not collect child support

Legal news:
The adult daughter of a failed marriage should not be able to sue her father to enforce a child support provision from her parents' property settlement agreement that would benefit her directly, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled unanimously in a case of first impression. ...

"As a society, we allow parents to make decisions concerning how to allocate their incomes between savings and spending, between themselves and their children, and between individual children," Justice Max Baer wrote on behalf of the majority. "While parents may include their children in discussions of expenditures, especially as children age, the final decision regarding the family's budget is for the parent or parents."
It is the same in every other state. The so-called child support cannot be collected by the child because it is not for the child. It is for the parent. It should be called mother support.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Exposing kids to domestic violence

Michigan news:
LANSING, MI, United States (UPI) -- Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox is seeking changes in state law to make exposing kids to domestic violence tantamount to mental or emotional abuse.

Cox wants police officers who respond to domestic violence where children are present to report incidents to Child Protective Services, even if the children were not the direct victims. ...

Kathy Hagenian, executive policy director for the Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violation, cautioned lawmakers about linking domestic violence to the Child Protection Law, however.

Hagenian said victims of domestic violence -- often mothers of young children -- are re-victimized when Child Protective Services becomes involved. Domestic violence victims are often labeled unfit parents because they can`t protect themselves or their children from a spouse or live-in partner.

Minnesota passed similar changes in child protection laws several years ago, Hagenian said, and then rescinded the laws because so many parents who were victims of domestic violence saw their children removed from their care.
This is another example of where the do-gooders just makes problems worse.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Banned in Boston

A reader forwarded this:

On March 22, 2006, Essex Probate and Family Court Justice Mary McCauley Manzi, made it clear that First Amendment rights do not apply in her courtroom when she banned Kevin Thompson's tell-all book titled "Exposing the Corruption in the Massachusetts Family Courts."

What makes this particular ruling so outrageous is that Manzi is prominently criticized in the book for her judicial misconduct in Thompson's case. Therefore, a clear conflict of interest existed that should have excluded Manzi from having jurisdiction.

This issue has caused a stir among civil rights and fathers' rights groups in the state who have tired of the illegal treatment that they receive in family court where constitutional law is routinely ignored. Dr. Ned Holstein, founder of the parental advocacy group Fathers and Families, argued, "Manzi should have recused herself from ruling on a book in which she's criticized. I think the Family Court has lost all sight of the Constitution in this matter and in many others."

Aware of the media interest in the story, Manzi refused to release her ruling by phone to Thompson, who received his notice by mail on Friday, March 24, 2006. The order permanently restrains Thompson from disseminating any information related to his custody case and impounds the custody case itself until the year 2021.

Manzi's rationale for this action is that "impoundment is necessary to protect the best interests including the privacy interests of the parties' minor child." She wrote further, "no harm will be caused to the community interest by impounding this file."

When reached for comment, Thompson asked, "what privacy interests of my son have been compromised and whose interests are being protected other than the personal interests of Judge Manzi, Judge Digangi, and the three judges in appeals court who don't want their crimes to be exposed?"

Thompson commented further, "No community interest is harmed other than the community's right to scrutinize the judiciary, hold it accountable, and prevent from happening the concealed crimes committed against fathers and children every day in family court for profit."

When asked whether he would adhere to the order, Thompson commented, "I made it clear at the hearing that Judge Manzi did not have the jurisdiction to ban my book. Any order issued from such a hearing would be illegal and therefore, null and void. Since I respect the law, I have no intentions of adhering to an illegal order issued by a judge with her own agenda."

Thompson is scheduled for court on April 19, 2006, to respond to the Mother's request for attorney fees incurred to ban Thompson's book. Manzi has requested financial statements from both parents before she rules on this motion. Thompson commented, "what could possibly be the relevance of financial statements in the determination of whether or not to extort the mother's attorney fees from me? This is how the family courts bully fathers into silence - jail them for ignoring illegal orders or financially ruin them by making them pay for attorneys who they did not hire. Everything that I am doing right now is for my son. I will not be shut up."
This is remarkable. I agree with Thompson that the judge had no jurisdiction to ban the book. I have a copy, and if the book disappears from, then I will post it here. Here are Thompson's comments.

Saturday, March 25, 2006


Patrick writes:
I enjoy your webpage.

I am also a Father that feels the Unfamily Court is an outrage that every person should fight for change!

Keep up the good work and watch your breakfast manners.
I'll try to be on my good behavior. Eddie writes:
My ex is currently seeking supervised visitation for me. This nonsense has to end. Remove all government interaction from family affairs.
Yes, people need to stand up to what a truly evil institution the family court is. Supervised visitation should be reserved for convicted criminals. If Eddie's ex believes that he has committed crimes that somehow make him a threat to his kid, then maybe she can tell the grand jury and try to get him prosecuted. If he is such an imminent threat to his own kid, then why is he even walking the streets where he might attack my kid? Give him a jury trial and all the protections that other criminal defendants have.

But the family court is unlikely to make any factual determination on whether Eddie is a good father. The judge may just order the supervised visitation anyway, because he thinks that it is safer, or more prudent, or to pacify the mom, or to give some lucrative business to court personnel, or because he doesn't like the way Eddie looks, or some other reason. It is extremely unlikely that the judge will pay any attention to the best interest of the child, as you might expect.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Toddler wanders into strip club

A reader sends this Boston Globe news story:
TULSA, Okla. --A Kansas man was arrested at a Tulsa strip club after police say his toddler son wandered from an unlocked car into the club over the weekend.

Christopher Greg Killion, 31, was arrested Saturday on a complaint of "encouraging a minor child to be in need of supervision." He posted $500 bond and was released from the Tulsa Jail.

The toddler told police that his father told him to stay in the car, and that if he left it, "monsters would eat him," reports indicate.

A manager at the club had called police to report that about 30 minutes after Killion entered the club, a 3- to 4-year-old boy came inside looking for his father.
I didn't know that there was a law against "encouraging a minor child to be in need of supervision."

My ex-wife filed various complaints against me in the family court where her objection seemed to be that I was encouraging a minor child to NOT need of supervision. That is, she complained that I was raising the child to be independent and self-sufficient and not need close supervision for routine daily activities.

I also wonder why a Boston newspaper needs to report on a completely harmless incident about a Tulsa child being left unsupervised for 30 minutes.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

NY parenting hearing

Wendy McElroy reports:
On March 28, the New York State Assembly's Children & Families Committee is scheduled to hear Bill A330 on shared parenting. The bill seeks to establish "the presumption in matrimonial proceedings for awarding shared parenting of minor children in the absence of an allegation that shared parenting would be detrimental to the best interests of the child."

In short, a parent seeking sole custody (most commonly the mother) would assume the legal burden of proving why a shared arrangement would harm the child.

Father's rights advocates view New York as "a battleground state" not only because of the influence its policies exert but also because New York is one of the few states to resist a national trend toward statutes favoring joint custody. ...

Shared custody is only one of several fathers' rights issues that are appearing with increased frequency in the courts and in the media. It is perhaps inevitable that, as the image of men gradually moves out of the shadow cast by mainstream feminism, that the image of fathers improves as well. The emerging complaints of fathers are likely to force a redefinition within family law over the next few years.
She lists some of those issue.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Fathers’ Rights Book May Be Banned

ANCPR news:
On Wed., March 22, there will be a hearing in Essex County Court in Mass. which could result in the banning of a book by a Fathers Rights Activist, Kevin Thompson.

Kevin Thompson’s book is available here [for a fee].

Kevin Thompson has been fighting a long and lonely battle in the Essex Probate and Family Court to try to be able to be a father to his son. Several months ago, the court impounded the records of the trial and Judge DeGangi has recently granted a restraining order forbidding Kevin from distributing his book, Exposing the Corruption in the Massachusetts Family Courts, which apparently is still available at
There is also info at It sounds like the judge just didn't want the corruption exposed.

Update (March 24): The Boston paper reports that the judge has issued a ruling on whether to ban the book, but no one knows what it is yet. A UCLA free speech expert says that it would be unconstitutional to ban the book.

Georgia child support

Georgia has revised its child support formula:
The new system of calculating child support could reduce the payments for many noncustodial parents, most of whom are men. The law mandates that child support be calculated based on the incomes of both parents, unlike the existing system that focuses mainly on the income of the parent who does not have custody. ...

The guidelines represent the biggest change in calculating child support in years, experts say. The current law, which focuses on the income of the noncustodial parent, often awards about 20 percent of that parent's income for a child.

SB 382 also includes a provision that would give noncustodial parents a reduction on their payments if they spend at least 121 days a year with their children.
The Atlanta article says there are a lot of complaints from custodial moms, but they are still getting an outrageously good deal. They can take care of the kid for only 245 days in the year, and get paid for 365.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

SubGenius child custody case

I commented below on the SubGenius mom, and here is an update:
The reason for Magdalen's absence (and the lack of the transcripts) became clear as of Thursday, March 9. On that day, I learned that the judge had ordered Magdalen to cease all communication on the Internet regarding her son. This was not a written statement – the judge had verbally ordered her to remain offline, and no written order was available. Magdalen stated that even though the order was verbal, the court considered it to be an official order from the judge, and so she has had to remain offline since then.
I hope that she posts the transcripts soon. The SubGenius folks are a little goofy, but she certainly should be able to tell her story.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Bill would shield divorce details

California news:
First Amendment advocates are gearing up to fight a new version of a bill that would limit access to divorce records, a move they say would erode the public's ability to monitor judges ...

Backers of the bill, SB 1015 by Sen. Kevin Murray, D-Culver City, say it is needed to guard against identity theft and to preserve the privacy of parties in contested divorces.

"Why should it be invaded?" just because someone ends up in divorce court, asked Fred Silberberg, a Los Angeles lawyer and certified family law specialist who drafted the bill.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Breakfast manners

I burped at the breakfast table this morning, and my 6-year-old immediately went to the phone and called my ex-wife to report the burp!

Perhaps someday there will be a complaint to the court that I burped at the breakfast table.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Shared parenting in ND

North Dakota news:
Secretary of State Alvin Jaeger on Wednesday approved for circulation an initiative by a Grand Forks man that would ensure that parents are not denied joint physical custody of their children unless they are termed unfit to raise children.
A lot of states are considering laws like this.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Demanding to see the evidence

AP news:
MIAMI - Timothy Muldowny's lawyers decided on an unconventional approach to fight his drunken driving case: They sought computer programming information for the Intoxilyzer alcohol breath analysis machine to see whether his test was accurate.

Their strategy paid off.

The company that makes the Intoxilyzer refused to reveal the computer source code for its machine because it was a trade secret. A county judge tossed out Muldowny's alcohol breath test — a crucial piece of evidence in a DUI case — and the ruling was upheld by an appeals court in 2004.

Since then, DUI suspects in Florida, New York, Nebraska and elsewhere have mounted similar challenges. Many have won or have had their DUI charges reduced to lesser offenses. The strategy could affect thousands of the roughly 1.5 million DUI arrests made each year in the United States, defense lawyers say.

"Any piece of equipment that is used to test something in the criminal justice system, the defense attorney has the ability to know how the thing works and subject its fundamental capabilities to review," said Flem Whited III, a Daytona Beach attorney with expertise on DUI defense.
The family court sent my ex-wife and me to a court psychologist who showed us inkblots, asked us what we saw, punched our answers into a computer, and then sent a report with computer-generated personality profiles to the court for use in child custody decisions.

Needless to say, the inkblot company refuses to release the source code. I do think that if the court is going to use output from such silly programs, then the source should be made available. It is fundamental that a man in court should have the right to scrutinize the evidence against him.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Right to a lawyer before jail

New Jersey news:
The federal and state constitutions guarantee that indigent "deadbeat" parents have the right to a lawyer when facing jail time at child support hearings, the state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.
One time I was in family court, and a poor Mexican-American man said in broken english that he had no money to pay. The judge warned him that he might want a lawyer, because he might end up in jail if he is not believed. I don't know whether he understood or not.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

NY shared parenting

Glenn Sacks writes:
New York's Shared Parenting Bill has reached a critical point and we want to help give the bill a strong push forward. ...

Today joint custody is rare in New York and sole custody for mothers is the norm. A330 would "require the court to award custody to both parents in the absence of allegations that shared parenting would be detrimental to the child." It would place the burden of proof that shared parenting would be detrimental where it should be--on the parent requesting sole custody. ...

A330 is opposed by the usual suspects--feminists and divorce attorneys.
I sent an email to the NY legislators, as he recommends.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Reader comments

A reader asks whether a parent can be blamed for taking a child fishing and hunting.

Child have watched their parents hunting, fishing, and slaughtering farm animals for 1000s of years. There is no known harm. You could run into a judge or custody evaluator who happens to be an animal rights activist. Those folks are unpredictable.

Another reader says that I should be scared to comment on an allegedly psychologically damaging frog boiling incident.

No, accusations do not scare me. My ex-wife has already made many wackier and more potentially damaging allegations. They have all turned out to be false, irrelevant, or easily explainable.

My kids were with me all last week. My ex-wife called regularly to check up on them. They missed a couple of days of school from being sick. One teacher said that a third of the school was absent one day. The kids still completed their schoolwork.

Somehow my ex-wife reported some garbled stories that caused an anonymous poster to say that I am crazy and that our kids will need therapy. My ex-wife spent a lot of time, effort, and money to try to convince the court that I had some psychological problems. After hearing all her claims, three court experts said that there was nothing wrong with me. If anything, the problems were with her, not me.

Perhaps she is planning another legal attack, I don't know. If so, I will vigorously defend myself. The kids do not need therapy. They are doing well. I am much more sane than my ex-wife. I will prove it again, if I have to.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

NH custody reform

New Hampshire is considering a custody reform bill. I just got an email that says a prominent NH Family Law Attorney implores fellow industry profiteers:
They are bills sponsored by the "mad dads" and will pass if there is not a lot of rucus raised by the other side of the argument. They are so bad that we must make an effort to try to kill them. They passed the House because no one showed up for hearings to oppose them! has an inline rebuttal. It looks like the "mad dads" are doing some good work.

The rebuttal cites a state commission report. These are all pdf files. The report has a lot of info on state custody and child support policies. It says:
A primary focus of the Commission’s investigation was to determine the fairness and effectiveness of New Hampshire’s current legal and guidelines custodial presumptions. ...

Currently, the Court looks at what appears to be in the best interests of the child(ren). Unfortunately, there is no definition for the “best interests” of the child(ren), therefore leaving the Court to make these paramount decisions using his or her own personal beliefs, understandings and value systems. In the majority of custody orders, one parent is given primary physical custody leaving the other parent in a subordinate situation. Such a custodial situation can create inequality between parents and may have a very negative impact on the subordinate parent’s relationship with his or her child(ren). This feeling of inequality appears to grow as the subordinate parent’s relationship with his or her child(ren) fails to flourish at the same rate as the relationship of the parent enjoying primary physical custody. The result is a growing animosity, and often litigation, between the parents, which can have a serious negative impact upon the child(ren). ...

In reviewing these factors and considerations, a majority of the Commission determined that there should be a rebuttable presumption for the courts to initially consider both parents equal in their parenting abilities and start the custody determination with a 50/50 parenting arrangement.
The divorce lawyers will raise a ruckus, but it appears that NH is getting some good reforms.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Alabama shared parenting

Someone sent me the following bill that has been introduced in Alabama to reform child custody:
Section 2. (a) All natural parents are presumed to be equal under the law and shall have the right to be treated equal at the bar. It is hereby declared by the State of Alabama that children have the fundamental right to the direct care and interaction of both natural or adoptive parents and that parents have the fundamental right to equal parenting time, parental oversight, and direct care of their children. The State of Alabama's presumption is that equal shared parenting is in the best interest of children.

(b) A court shall grant shared parenting in the final order unless the court makes specific findings that one or more of the following exceptions exists:
(1) One or both parents have been found guilty by a court of proper jurisdiction of a violation of law which bears directly on the care and custody of the minor child or children involved.
(2) Clear and convincing evidence shows a parent to be unfit for shared parenting due to a current condition of mental illness, substance or alcohol abuse, mental disorder, or physical incapacity.
(3) Voluntary reduction by either parent of parental rights.
(4) One or both parents have been found guilty of domestic violence pursuant to Sections 30-3-130 to 30-3-135, inclusive, Code of Alabama 1975.
(5) Physical desertion or abandonment, or both, by a parent of the marriage or minor children of the marriage, except if the parent's absence in the home is due to either of the following circumstances:
a. The parent is housed in a domestic violence shelter due to acts of domestic violence.
b. The parent is serving on active duty in the military.
(c) No final order as to child custody shall be issued ex parte while a parent of the child is on active military duty.
This sounds good to me.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Why wives walk out of marriage

When my wife first asked for a divorce, a lawyer called me, asked me a few questions, and then tried to convince me that she was leaving me for another man. "Who is the boyfriend?", he asked.

I was surprised that he said this, because I had already told him that I hadn't hired a lawyer because I found them to be annoying, among other reasons. If he wanted my business, then I would expect him to refrain from trying to annoy me.

I didn't hire him. Here was his story.
Every day I meet with a man in his 30s whose wife wants a divorce. My client is usually stunned and confused. His wife is sending mixed signals, and her reasons for wanting a divorce are vague. She even seems, at times at least, ambivalent as to whether she wants the divorce. My client desperately wants to save the marriage. His tendency is to blame himself and to irrationally focus on his deficiencies as a husband. He tends to cling to her (in effect if not in fact), repeatedly asking for another chance. He pathetically assures her he will do better. If I ask him what exactly there is for him to do better, he commences an anguished recital of a much considered and lengthy list of his spousal failings. As I listen, I realize these items cannot, even cumulatively, explain his wife's decision.

What my client does not yet realize, however, is that his wife's decision to surrender her family has nothing to do with him. I believe the stimulus is something much deeper. The fact is that women in their 30s are intensely conscious of aging. You do not have to have a PhD in sociology to realize that the fact of aging is of more importance and urgency to your wife than it is to you. Women in this culture (perhaps in all cultures) have not failed to notice that physical and sexual attractiveness are powerful and frequently determinate factors in their relationships with men. Therefore there is a closing window of opportunity for women in their 30s to obtain a desirable mate. For married women this means a lateral move or, better still, the opportunity to trade up. Put differently, the cement is drying. If such a woman is not completely "fulfilled" (whatever that means), she must take steps soon, if ever, to rectify the situation.

However, my experience has been that the factors discussed so far are not, in and of themselves, sufficient to stimulate a wife and mother in her 30s with an admittedly decent guy to jettison it all. The fact is, your wife is on a boat that, despite its less than perfect accommodations, does float. As a result, it would be the pinnacle of recklessness for her to jump ship, hoping against hope not only that another seaworthy vessel will come along but that its accommodations will constitute an improvement.

Doubtlessly she realizes that the good guys, the desirable guys, are already married in their 40s. The single guys in that age group are, for the most part, laden with baggage, such as child support, hostile ex-wives, financial problems, and alcoholism. What I am coming to is this: assuming you meet that minimum threshold of fitness already discussed, your wife will not leave you unless there is someone else. Some of you reading this book are shaking your heads. You have woven far more complicated psychological explanations for your wife's actions. This propensity is compounded by your exaggerated perception of your own culpability. To you I can only suggest that you wait 6 months and then reread this section. [From Civil War: A Dad’s Guide to Custody, by Joseph E. Cordell, p.22-24.]
I've given up on the complicated psychological explanations.