Thursday, December 30, 2010

State gives lesbian parental rights

Law professor Eugene Volokh endorses a couple of court decisions that give joint child custody rights to non-parents. He says that this is good policy because they apply of the “psychological parent doctrine” and the “best interest of the child” (BIOTCh) standard.

In a N. Carolina case, a mom's lesbian lover had adopted the child, but the court later ruled that the adoption was invalid. Nevertheless, the state supreme court said that because the mom had foolishly let the lesbian lover act like a parent, the mom had relinquished her rights, and empowered the family court judge to do whatever he pleased.

Volokh acts as if there is some sort of justification for this decision because of psychology or child development, but there was no such evidence at all. The court did not make any finding about who was a “psychological parent”, or how the child might actually benefit.

A comment explains what's wrong with this decision by saying, "I shouldn’t ever have to convince the court that my sister is a drug abuser to decide to keep my children away from her."

That's right. The state has a procedure for assigning parental rights to non-parents. It is called adoption. Unless there is a formal court-finalized adoption, then the parents should retain all of the parental rights. The courts are usurping the rights of the parents for the purposes of some grand social experiments, and I don't see any good coming out of it.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

California can now jail parents of truant kids

Effective next week, there is a new California truancy law:
Penal Code Section 270.1. (a) A parent or guardian of a pupil of six years of age or more who is in kindergarten or any of grades one to eight, inclusive, and who is subject to compulsory full-time education or compulsory continuation education, whose child is a chronic truant as defined in Section 48263.6 of the EC, who has failed to reasonably supervise and encourage the pupil's school attendance, and who has been offered language accessible support services to address the pupil's truancy, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.
A year in jail seems excessive to me. Presumably the legislators will say that they did not intend for anyone to put in jail, but just want the authorities to have some very powerful intimidation tools. But this law is going to be selectively enforced by authorities with personal grudges. This is no law for a free society.

I mentioned this before, when the legislature passed it, and I just got this comment:
You people who think this law is ridiculous and are saying the school districts only want it for the money are silly. I teach in a large urban district and it is very difficult to teach an empty chair. Everyone complains about our low test scores yet how do I raise a child's score who is absent 1 or 2 days PER WEEK?? You people who are always blaming the teachers unions really don't even know the half of what goes on in these schools and how the parents are NEVER held responsible for half of this stuff. I have no control over this yet am held responsible. Absurd.
It is about the money. In my experience with the local public schools, they only teach about half the time. Missing one day a week would be insignificant if they actually taught the other four. Whenever my kids had to miss school for some reason, the school always explained to me that it loses funding of about $40 per day unless I fill out some paperwork or make some token appearance to avoid the loss. As long as they got their $40 per day, they were happy.

I am getting tired of teachers trying to blame parents, as the above commenter does. The teachers are very well paid, and they should do their jobs without blaming the parents. They should think of the parents as their customers. Otherwise, they should let someone else do the teaching. Every time my local school had one of their tenured teachers quit, it was always able to hire a better teacher.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bristol Palin moves to Arizona

The NY Post reports:
Growing up in the frigid climes of Alaska, it’s understandable why Bristol Palin might want to find a warmer home.

So it makes sense that the daughter of Sarah Palin just bought a house in Maricopa, Ariz., where the temperature on Christmas morning was a cool 75 degrees.

Of course, not every 20-year-old woman can afford to slap down $172,000 in cash to buy a nearly 4,000 square foot, two-story home, with five bedrooms and a three-car garage, as Bristol did. ...

“I appreciate the fact that she’s standing up against underage drinking – she raising her own child, and she getting an education, and going out on her own,” Smith said. “I admire her for being 20 years old and doing what she’s doing. It can’t be easy.”
The article does not mention the fact that Bristol's child has a father living in Alaska. Bristol just moved thousands of miles away, and is depriving her child of a father. There is nothing admirable about what she is doing.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Teen embarrassment

Family courts sometimes consider the wishes of a teenager about which parent should have custody. They usually do not ask the kid directly, but try to infer the kid's wishes from various subjective reports. The process is foolish.

AP reports:
What embarrasses a teen? Parents
Associated Press

NEW YORK — Mom is not cool in her jeggings and Uggs. Dad's a dork who drives a wreck. Together they're unbearable, singing along in the supermarket to "Do they know it's Christmas?"

No wonder "Mom (or dad), you're embarrassing me!" is heard wherever teenagers are seen in public with their parents.

And yet, parental bad taste is not the true cause of teenage mortification. What's really going on is a normal stage of adolescent development, according to David Sabine, a clinical psychologist in Wichita Falls, Texas.
That's right, a normal stage of adolescent development. If the court tries to avoid such embarrassment, then it is depriving the kid of normal development.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Courts shrinks in old movies

The most popular Christmas movie on TV seems to be Miracle on 34th Street (1947). It is being shown over and over, in color and black-and-white. It is an entertaining and corny Santa Claus movie, if you haven't seen it. It has been remade, but you want to watch the original.

The courtroom psychiatry scenes are particularly amusing. Santa Claus calls the psychologist "contemptible, dishonest, selfish, deceitful, vicious -- and yet he's out there and I'm in here. He's called normal and I'm not." The judge has to rule on Santa's sanity, and he is in way over his head.

Another amusing old movie with a courtroom psychiatric commitment scene is Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936). Gary Cooper has to deal with greedy relatives, backstabbing lawyers, and schlock forensic psychiatrists. Again, the expert testimony is worse than worthless and you wonder how a court could ever deal with a psychological issue competently.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Preparing the impromptu speech

Mark Twain said:
It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.
He is right. It only takes one week to prepare a good prepared speech. My child custody trial continues on Jan. 12. I am going to need a good impromptu speech. I'd better start preparing.

A reader recommended a lawyer to me, so I called him. He seemed like a knowledgeable and sensible guy, but as soon as heard that I was in the middle of a trial, he chickened out. He did not even want to tell me what he fees are, because there is no way that he would step into such a fight in progress. He said that if there is some new action in a couple of years, and I want a lawyer to represent me from the start, then he is interested. Otherwise he would never get a firm enough grasp of the case, and would not want to be responsible for what he might have overlooked.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Perlmutter declares himself incompetent

The most striking thing about psychologist Ken Perlmutter's testimony was how many times that he admitted that he was incompetent. I mean that he was literally using the words "incompetent" and "not competent" to evade questions about his evaluation. When asked the most basic questions about our child custody situation before his evaluation, the reasons for his appointment, the outcome of a previous custody trial, the appropriateness of various parental behaviors, the applicability of psychological principles, criteria for defining abuse, comparisons of parenting abilities, the effectiveness of court orders, standards for denying legal custody, etc, he repeatedly claimed that he was incompetent to answer such questions. Yes, he said that he was literally not competent to answer.

When I challenged his expertise to testify, he had a very hard time argument for his qualifications. He claimed to have training and experience in child custody evaluations, but he was completely unable to explain how he brought any expert knowledge to bear on this evaluation.

After several questions about expert knowledge, he eventually claimed to have some knowledge about attachment theory, as taught by John Bowlby. When asked how this had any relation to the current evaluation, he admitted that there is none, and sounded as if he was just repeating some buzzword that he last heard in grad school. When asked what it was, he said that I could Google it to find out. I replied that I would have, if he had mentioned it when I asked him the same question during the deposition, but he denied any expert knowledge in that deposition. Nevertheless, the judge then said that he was qualified to testify after she heard him say Bowlby's name, and that I could challenge his testimony later.

I don't think that the judge realized that the attachment theory line was total BS. The theory has to do with how toddlers get attached to parents during the first two years of life. None of that has anything to do with my case. But the judge was surely disappointed at how Perlmutter repeatedly declared his incompetence on the most central and important issues of the case.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Perlmutter testifies

We had another day of trial, with Palo Alto psychologist Ken Perlmutter testifying. He testified that he had a mistaken understanding that I had already lost legal custody, but he wrote the order to take away legal and would have done it even if my ex-wife had told him the truth. For many questions, he said that he was not competent to understand the legal history of our case. I post more on his opinions later.

Earlier in the day, I saw the judge lecture a mom about getting the dad into the child's life. Apparently the parents were busted for illegal drugs, and CPS took their baby. CPS put them on a reunification plan where they go into rehab, take parenting, and have regular testing to get the kid back. The mom did it and got the kid back. The left town, and did not see them for 5 years.

Now, 5 years later, the dad wants visitation. The mom says that he never did the rehab or other requirements, and the kid does not even recognize him. He got 3 hours visitation per week, supervised by his parents (the child's grandparents). He got a better deal than I got!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Advantages of a lawyer

Readers have been posting messages about the pros and cons of being represented by a lawyer in family court.

I don't have all the answers, but I will make one note. When I ask a dad how he lost custody of his kids, the most common answer is that he went broke paying lawyers. He will say that he fought the system until all of his savings had been depleted, at which point his lawyer convinced him that nothing else could be done. So he gave up.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Why some court cases are prolonged

A reader comments:
what on earth happened between you and your ex to create such mistrust and hostility? something else must have happened that you are not sharing. seldom to never does someone get themselves into this position while faultless.
I am afraid that this comment misunderstands the legal system.

The recent popular movie The Social Network tells the story of Facebook, and how it has been plagued by lawsuits from former associates who claim to have been cheated based on some oral (and unwritten) understandings. In the end of the movie, the company pays them all off, regardless of the merits of their claims.

But the claims have not been resolved. Just last Sunday on CBS TV News 60 Minutes, the Winklevoss twins were explaining how they think that they have been cheated, and how they want more money in addition to the settlement of $100M or so that they already received.

The movie gives the impression that Zuckerberg made some cold business decisions that were essential for Facebook's success. His associates missed out on one of the biggest booms in business history, and they are unhappy about it.

I have no idea whether there is any merit to the twins' claims. But I do know that, the way our legal system works, it does not necessarily have anything to do with mistrust, hostility, and fault. All of the litigation can be explained by the simple fact that the twins can hire contingency lawyers, and they can keep suing until the courts eventually force them to stop. The twins have nothing to lose by suing, and Facebook has the deep pockets. It is as simple as that.

A reader does not understand the analogy, so I will spell it out.

My ex-wife first demanded sole custody in June 2004. She has occasionally gotten temporary orders in her favor, but all of her claims were ultimately disproved at trials. The only permanent orders have been for 50-50 custody. She continues to ask for sole custody, even tho her own witness acknowledges that he could find no merit to her accusations.

She will continue to make bogus legal claims as long as she can profit by doing so. I have currently been cut off from my kids, and I will continue to bring legal motions to see my kids as long as I am the legal father and I have the legal right to see my kids.

The point of the analogy is that you do not have to understand the merits of the twins' claims in order to understand why the litigation seems to go on forever. And you do not have to understand the merits of my ex-wife's claims to understand why our court case has no end to it. It is a defect in our legal system. I could be the world's best dad or the world's worst. But unless the court is going to make some determination and stick to it, then there can be no end to the litigation.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The root of Assange's rage

The Wikipedia article on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange explains some of his hostility towards govt officials keeping secrets:
In 1989, Assange started living with his girlfriend and they had a son, Daniel. She separated from him after the 1991 police raid and took their son. They engaged in a lengthy custody struggle, and did not agree on a custody arrangement until 1999. The entire process prompted Assange and his mother to form Parent Inquiry Into Child Protection, an activist group centered on creating a "central databank" for otherwise inaccessible legal records related to child custody issues in Australia.
Or, as a London newspaper says:
At around this time Assange split up with his girlfriend, with whom he had a child, and then pursued a long and unsuccessful custody battle which further embittered him towards authority. By the end, his mother says, the strain had turned his hair from brown to white.
My ex-wife has used secret documents to falsely label our kids as abused kids and gain custody of them. She complained to CPS that I was an emotional abuser, and managed to convince the CPS agent of some gripes about my parenting style. But the CPS report and testimony said that CPS was not able to find any specific abuse.

I would post the quotes from the CPS findings that there was no abuse, but my ex-wife managed to get an order from Cmr. Irwin Joseph forbidding me to do that. As a result, our kids are growing up without a father, and everyone in town thinks that they are abused kids.

When govt agencies are allowed to keep secrets, they always use the power to cover up their own incompetence and corruption.

The court-appointed psychologist, Ken Perlmutter, also made a determination that there was no abuse. I am supposed to keep quiet about that also, because Calif. Family Code 3111(d) forbids an "unwarranted disclosure of a written confidential report", whatever that is.

WikiLeaks seems irresponsible and destructive. But so is using govt secrecy to prevent kids from seeing their fathers. I would rather just post all the documents in my case, as they would prove that my kids were not abused.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

New film against lying moms

Someone sent me this claim, from
Lancaster, PA, December 8th, 2010 – With only a camcorder, unique strategy and a refusal to back down, Bennett J. Vonderheide single-handedly stood up against false accusations of domestic violence and the system that fuels them. But unlike the millions who tried and failed before he won!

Creating Daddy Justice via his, "Michael Moore on steroids," guerrilla filming style, he inspired the first conviction ever in America for perjury in custody court and much more. Eventually politicians, the district attorney, judges and government agencies took action to correct the anti-male, "status quo," as a result of his expose’. Now this extreme footage is going public for the first time.
This fellow angry dad has a polished film trailer on his site. On it he says, "I am going to film every bit of the process, while they steal my son."

That is the way I feel, in maintaining this blog. Maybe I cannot stop them from stealing my daughters, but at least I can document what they are doing.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Court to consider dads held in contempt

The federal courts avoid family court issues as much as they can, but another one has gotten the attention of the US Supreme Court. The NY Times reports:
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to decide whether poor people who face incarceration for civil contempt are entitled to court-appointed lawyers.

In a series of decisions starting with Gideon v. Wainwright in 1963, the Supreme Court has held that poor people facing the loss of liberty for crimes must be provided with lawyers. The question in the new case, Turner v. Price, No. 10-10, is whether that right also applies where incarceration is meant to be coercive rather than punitive.

The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled in March that Michael D. Turner, who was held in civil contempt and sentenced to a year in prison for failing to pay child support, had no constitutional right to a lawyer. The point of the sentence was to make Mr. Turner pay rather than to punish him, the court said. ... As it happened, Mr. Turner served the entire sentence.
If a man is facing a year in prison, then he should have all the same rights of any other defendant who is facing a year in prison.

Monday, December 06, 2010

How I lost legal custody

A reader asks whether I am allowed to see my kids.

I am currently operating under an order written by Palo Alto psychologist Ken Perlmutter, and signed by the acting juvenile delinqency court commissioner, Irwin Joseph, without any hearing. It terminated my joint legal custody, and reduced my visitation to four hours per month, professionally supervised by the court.

Perlmutter did a $26,000 evaluation, and did not find any abuse, neglect, drug use, or any other wrongdoing. He said that my kids love me, and want a relationship with me. He testified that the main reason for the restricted visitation was to prevent my kids from learning that my ex-wife had made unfounded charges of emotional abuse to CPS and the family court.

As far as I know, I am the only father in American history to lose joint legal custody like this. In the cases that I've heard about, fathers only lost joint legal custody if they voluntarily waived their rights, or they had unexplained absences from several consecutive court hearings, or they were convicted of a crime against their kids in either criminal court or juvenile dependency court. None of that has happened in my case. No professional has even accused me of doing any specific wrongdoing. Not even the court-appointed crooks like Perlmutter.

A reader asks, in the comments:
I didn't think that recommendations from a custody evaluation were signed into order without a hearing to review? Did you miss that hearing?
I did not think so either. I also did not think that a juvenile delinquency court commissioner had any authority over the matter. There was never a case in any juvenile court. The case is in family court. No, there was no hearing. I had to make a motion in the family court to ask for a hearing.
What was your timeshare like before the recommendations and new order?
Before the motion that resulted in the Perlmutter evaluation, I had 50-50 joint legal and physical custody of our two kids. During the evaluation, Perlmutter was supposed to make temporary recommendations, but he never did. So visitation was sporadic.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Allowing a court-ordered report as evidence

A reader asks about any specific indications that the judge may be leaning against me.

One minor procedural issue concerned a 2005 report. It was ordered by the court, at my ex-wife's request, but she has been complaining about it ever since. At our current trial, the judge granted motions to prohibit my witnesses from reviewing or commenting on the report. But then the judge granted her motions to let her own witnesses use the report! At the end of the hearing on Tuesday, I said, "Let me get this straight. None of my witnesses can read the report, but [my ex-wife's] witnesses can read the report. Is that correct?"

At that point, the judge reversed herself and said that the report could be entered into evidence so that any of the witnesses could read it and comment on it.

I do not really expect some 5-year-old report to make a big difference in my case, but it was disturbing that the judge was so eager to keep this report from my witnesses. There was just no good reason to block use of the report. It was not that the report was old, because an older report was being used. It was just that my ex-wife was whining about the report.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Seeing All Men as Predators

That is the subject of a NY Times column on moms who refuse to hire male babysitters. Some related stories include this:
Finally, to round out the week, a big brouhaha broke out on my neighborhood’s parent’s Listserv. A number of men playing chess on the stone chess tables inside one of our local playgrounds were given citations by the police. The reasoning? No adults allowed in a children’s playground without a child. (That’s the rule in all city playgrounds.)
It is a sad day when it is a crime for a man to play chess in a public park.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The new face of divorce

Here is divorce news from England:
It used to be the tell-tale lipstick on the collar. Then there were the give-away texts that spelled the death knell for many marriages.

But now one in five divorces involve the social networking site Facebook, according to a new survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

A staggering 80 per cent of divorce lawyers have also reported a spike in the number of cases that use social media for evidence of cheating.

Flirty messages and photographs found on Facebook are increasingly being cited as proof of unreasonable behaviour or irreconcilable differences.

Many cases revolve around social media users who get back in touch with old flames they hadn’t heard from in many years. ...

‘Desperate Housewives’ star Eva Longoria recently split from her basketball player husband Tony Parker after alleging that he strayed with a woman he kept in touch with on Facebook.

An American minister also made the headlines recently when he called Facebook a ‘portal to infidelity’ and insisted that his congregation delete their accounts after revealing that 20 couples attending his New Jersey church had been led astray through the site.

Rev. Cedric Millier, who runs the Living World Christian Fellowship Church in Neptune, New Jersey, said Facebook enabled spouses to reconnect with former lovers, leading to rows and bitterness.

But Rev. Miller was forced to take a leave of absence after his own non-Facebook transgressions were revealed in an admission that he took part in three-way sexual trysts in the past.
I waiting for marriage vows that include a promise to stay off Facebook.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

No relief for the falsely accused

The US Supreme Court just denied relief for those falsely accused of child abuse. CNN reports:
Justices rule against couple still on state registry

Washington (CNN) -- The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday against a California couple "living every parent's nightmare" who tried to sue local county officials for damages after failing to get off a database listing known or suspected child abusers.

At issue was whether the database -- known as the Child Abuse Central Index (CACI) -- violates the constitutional protection of due process because those on it are not given a "fair opportunity" to challenge the allegations against them.

The justices by an 8-0 vote ruled strictly on the complex, rather dry legal arguments, refusing to offer any sympathetic thoughts on the plight of either the parents in question, or the county. ...

However, a subsequent probe -- which included the family doctor testifying he had examined the girl on repeated occasions and had seen no physical abuse -- found the parents "factually innocent" and they were cleared of all charges.

When they next sought to remove their names from the CACI list, they were told to address their request to the local detective in the case. But they found the detective had been transferred and there was no procedure to challenge their listing. The state and county continued refusing to remove the Humphries designation as "substantiated" child abusers, even after a court order mandated the arrest records be sealed and destroyed. ...

This appeal raised the fundamental question of whether an absence of procedures or accountability amounted to a "policy."
Here is the opinion in LA County v Humphries. The LA Times reports:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Tuesday that Los Angeles County does not have to pay attorney fees to a couple listed as child abusers even though they were declared innocent years ago.

Craig and Wendy Humphries were arrested by sheriff's deputies nine years ago after their rebellious daughter accused them of abuse. State courts ruled the allegation was false but they remain on California's Child Abuse Central Index.
This is disgusting. The court is more interested in rights for the guilty and various political causes, then defending the rights of the innocent.

My own situation is similar to Humphries. My ex-wife made false accusations of emotional abuse against me three years ago. Her own psychologist expert witness examined her claims, and testified that he could find no merit to them. And yet I cannot get off that California index either.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Continued custody trial

My court hearing continued today. I am trying to get some custody of my kids back. We were scheduled for 9:30, but did not get started until nearly 2:00. I got two witness on the stand. Three others waited around all day, and never got to testify. The trial will continue on Dec. 14.

I am not sure whether I am making progress with the judge or not. She has had to rule on a assortment of minor procedural matters, and she seems to have some bias against me. But she has not had to address the meat of the case, so I really don't know.

I will report more details later.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dads have rights in Lebanon

A Massachusetts family court refused to respect a Lebanese child custody decision, because their law is too favorable to dads. Here is how the court described Lebanon law:
“Based on the evidence, it is clear that male children in Lebanon go to the Father at the age of two. The parents are not evaluated equally when determining the best interest of the children and which parent should have physical custody. Although the Mother can obtain custody, it is only if the father is a criminal or cannot or will not care for the children. Unlike Massachusetts which requires that the court determine the best interest of the child and which parent should have custody based upon the ‘happiness and welfare of the children,’ it is clear that the Lebanese law does not take that into consideration unless the father is unfit. G.L. c. 208, § 31.”
The court then reasoned:
The issue before us, whether the substantive laws of the Jaafarite Court in Lebanon are in substantial conformity with those of Massachusetts, turns largely on the question whether the Lebanese Jaafarite Court considers the best interests of the children, as that standard is understood under the laws of the Commonwealth. ...

The best interests of a child is the overarching principle that governs custody disputes in the Commonwealth. “[T]he touchstone inquiry of what is ‘best for the child’ is firmly rooted in American history, dating back to the Nineteenth Century.” What is in a child’s best interest depends upon the particular needs of the child, and is left largely to the discretion of the judge, who “may consider any factor pertinent to those interests.” ...
So because American judges have the discretion to decide child custody however they please, and Lebanon actually has some laws about it, then American judges do not have to respect Lebanon law.

That drew this comment:
If you change the genders, it would roughly fit Massachusett’s de facto standard. At the time of my divorce not so long ago, approx. 90% of custody was awarded to the mothers in MA. I envy the men whose ex-wives actually took the best interest of the children at heart and had more equitable arrangements.
And this:
As BlackX notes, American judges are much more dishonest than foreign judges: in particular, much more willing to recite neutral principles of general applicability before rendering wholly politicized decisions based on the race, sex and religion of the parties involved.

Many people prefer it this way, including most lawyers I think, hypocrisy being the tribute vice pays to virtue.
I wish that I could say that American law is more advanced that some chaotic Mideastern country, but it is really not.

Here is another good comment:
“The parents are not evaluated equally when determining the best interest of the children and which parent should have physical custody.”

The court just described every single United States court.

Let’s be honest, a mother could bring a child to court in America, beat it with a stick in open court while spitting on it, and the judge would award her custody and double normal child support rates for showing extra attention to the child.
It is just laughable for an American family court to look down on another court in this way. I have been following our family court for six years now, and I have never seen even one example of the parents being evaluated equally when determining the best interest of the children. It does not happen in the USA, and these judges are hypocrites for pretending that it does.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Agnostic dad gets custody reduced

A reader sends this story:
Religious Discrimination in America: Father's Custody Reduced Because He Is Agnostic

Craig Scarberry, a father of three, shared 50-50 custody with his ex-wife until last week, when he learned that time with his kids would be cut to just four hours a week and every other weekend.

According to Indianapolis' Fox 59,

Searching to find out why, he found Judge George Pancol wrote, "the father did not participate in the same religious training as the mother, and noted that the father was agnostic. It goes on to say that when the father considered himself a Christian, the parties were able to communicate relatively effectively.
I actually think that it is plausible that Christian dads do better than agnostic dads, on average. But even if that is true, there are several things wrong with acting on it.

First, we don't believe in punishing people for stereotypes. Even if, say, Swedes were better than Hungarians on average, we would not have a court policy of favoring Swedes over Hungarians.

Second, we don't believe in holding people accountable for their religious beliefs. Religion is a very personal thing to most people, and they should not be judged on how they articulate those beliefs.

Third, this is blatantly unconstitutional. Any judge who is willing to do something like this is probably willing to do unjust harm in all sorts of other ways as well.

Unfortunately, family court judges can make biased and subjective decisions in all sorts of ways. If this judge is upheld on appeal, the judge will just learn to do the same thing without mentioning religion in his decision. We need to get rid of all of the subjective biases, not just religion.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Teen Mom charged with felony domestic violence

Here is reality TV star news:
Police in Anderson, Ind., have officially charged "Teen Mom" star Amber Portwood with two felonies and one misdemeanor for domestic battery.

During a September episode of season two of the MTV hit show, Portwood was seen repeatedly slapping, punching and kicking her then-fiance, Gary Shirley. Police said that Portwood is facing felony charges because Portwood and Shirley's young daughter, Leah, was present when the alleged violence occurred.

Portwood faces fines of up to $10,000 and three years in jail if she's convicted.
Three years in jail for a fight on a reality TV show? All because a toddler is a witness? Of course no toddler will testify -- they will just use the MTV tapes.

Apparently the teen mom has been dating 3 other guys, besides the dad. She likes being a TV star. Her toddler is living with the dad.

What we have here is a feminist man-hating domestic violence law being written in a sex-neutral manner, forcing silly prosecutors to throw the book at a girl who actually initiates the attack. They probably disapprove of the behavior being shown as acceptable on TV. And the dad takes responsibility when the mom turns into a nut case.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Custody trial, day 1

I was supposed to have a child custody trial today, from 10:00 to 4:30. We did not get started until 1:45, and went only until 4:00.

At 1:45, I started to put my first witness on the stand, but my ex-wife made a serious of proposterous objections. She said that my witness should not be able to testify because he had been criticized by her witness. She said that he is not a psychologist, and therefore should not be allowed to have an opinion on child custody. She said she did not have adequate notice of the witness, even tho he had been on my witness list all along. She said that he did not follow the procedures that he would have had to follow if he had been a court-appointed evaluator. She complained that I used the internet to transmit some pre-trial documents. She complained that her witness proposed restricting my ability to make motions for custody and visitation, so I should not even have the hearing.

The amazing was that Judge Heather Morse was buying into her kooky objections! The judge ruled in favor of her a couple of times, and I had to spend about 30 minutes arguing with her and explaining the unfairness.

I had to explain that the rules on court-appointed child custody evaluators do not apply to other witnesses. I had to explain that I am entitled to a rebuttal witness under the statute. I had to explain that the current order was issued by juvenile delinquency commissioner without any input from my ex-wife or me, or any opportunity for a hearing. I had to explain that if I were limited to witnesses who had interviewed my ex-wife and the kids, then I would have no opportunity at all.

The judge had to concede some of these points, but kept going back to ridiculous arguments such as saying that my rebuttal witness could only go after my ex-wife's witness. I had to remind the judge that she was the one who required my witness to go first.

Eventually I did get my witness on the stand, but with a limited scope of testimony. I had no time for the other testimony that I planned.

This is not going well. The trial was supposed to finish on the 30th, but there is no way that we can get all our witnesses on that day. The judge said that the next open days are in March and April 2011.

The worst part was the judge's dogged determination to make up bogus excuses to reject my witnesses. That is a bad sign.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Calling CPS to avoid questions

In Seattle Wash., a hospital might call CPS if you ask too many questions:
SEATTLE – Charlie's family never gave up the fight for their premature baby boy. But just when they thought Charlie was out of the woods they faced losing him to a new danger. The state's Child Protective Services tried to take Charlie away after his parents asked for a second medical opinion. Our Problem Solvers team investigated what it took to "Save Charlie." ...

But what led to Charlie's medical emergency? Why did the hospital call CPS? And why did CPS sue to take Charlie away?

The Graggs think it's because they were "too" involved.

"It's in the notes," says John Gragg, referring to the Mary Bridge Hospital records. "'Parents ask endless questions – seems repetitive – it's annoying.' Of course we want to ask these questions; we want to know what it says; we have every right to understand and know what's going on."

The Graggs asked the Problem Solvers to investigate. We found that the Gragg's desire for a second medical opinion, along with questions about Charlie's tracheostomy tube, are at the core of what happened. ...

The Graggs say Mary Bridge officials just kept insisting, in spite of medical reports that show no evidence of reflux, that Charlie had reflux and needed a different feeding tube.

"I says, well we'd like to get a second medical opinion; we want him transferred over to Children's," says John. "Doctor looks right at us and says if you don't sign the consent form to do this, we're gonna get a court order to do it."

Staff at Mary Bridge then called CPS.

"The concerns that were presented to us was that the parents were not consenting to that treatment," said Regional Children's Administration Manager Barb Geiger.
Many medicos do hate it when you ask too many questions.

In this case, it appears that the hospital was trying to get the parents to sign a consent form for treatment contrary to what the records indicated. Maybe the records were wrong, or maybe the surgeon was wrong. Or maybe the parents misinterpreted the records, I have no idea. But if they are asking for the parents' consent, then the parents ought to be asking about any concerns that they have. There is a reason that it is called a "consent form". Obviously the hospital is used to intimidating parents into signing these forms without understanding the issues.

CPS is the abuser here.
But four days after CPS was called in, the state decided it was "medical neglect" and sued, asking the court for custody of Charlie. ...

Geiger told us they have to rely on the information they receive from doctors and nurses: "We're not medical professionals; we're social workers."

In the meantime Charlie was transferred to Seattle Children's Hospital. The Graggs got their second opinion and consented to the surgery. But the state did not drop its suit. Instead it had a foster family prepare to take Charlie home.

We asked why the state continued to seek dependency after the surgery was performed.

"We were very concerned for the baby," Geiger says, "and wanted to make sure that he had the necessary care once he was released from the hospital as well."

However, records show that the day after the Graggs' attorney sent the state copies of Charlie's discharge orders, his reflux tests and information about the trach suction depth, the state dropped its suit, agreeing there was "no" medical neglect and Charlie would stay with his parents.
So it took a two-month investigation and a lawsuit to determine that it was okay for the parents to seek a second opinion?

You don't have to be a medical professional to know that it is reasonable for parents to ask questions and get a second opinion before signing a consent form. Geiger meant to say, "We're not evil; we're idiots." I think that CPS is evil.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ethics of shrinks and lawyers

A fellow angry dad writes:
Geez, is there no end to the evil of lawyers and psychologists? Redistribution of wealth by means other than the govt.
He sends two recent NY Times stories, Psychologist in Terror War Is Subject of Complaint and Investors Put Money on Lawsuits to Get Payouts.

The vast majority of these professional do not take part in supporting torture or anything like that. These stories do not prove that they are all bad. But they do show the limits of holding them to their professional codes of ethics. Those codes allow all sorts of bad behavior.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Seven signs of a wimpy parent

I rarely praise psychologists, but here is some uncommon good sense from child psychologist Gregory Ramey, on the signs of a wimpy parent:
I have evaluated numerous children whose only problems are that they live with loving and dedicated parents who are wimps. There is no psychological test yet to diagnose this disorder, but here is how you can assess yourself and perhaps avoid a visit to a therapist’s office.

1. Are you more concerned about your children’s feelings than their behaviors?

2. Do you praise your children excessively?

3. Do you give in on your discipline?

4. Do you feel guilty after disciplining your child?

5. Are you inconsistent in your application of discipline?

6. Do you talk endlessly to convince your children that your discipline is fair?

7. Do you typically place your children’s needs above those of you and your spouse?
You can find more of his opinions here. In one essay, he says, Children should know that evil exists.

His opinion is refreshing because most child psychologists teach parents to be wimpy parents.

I mentioned below that Communist countries use forced psychiatry to force dissidents to conform.

I once had gay family court psychologist Bret K. Johnson recommend that I be ordered to do this:
10. Counseling/ Related:

A. Father shall participate in a minimum of six months of thrice monthly individual counseling with a licensed therapist familiar with issues of healthy child care and safety needs to deal with the issues noted herein,, e.g., safety, supervision, insight into his own needs versus the children's, and other issues and shall continue as needed thereafter or until released. Possible therapists in Santa Cruz County may include: Jay Goodman, Ph.D., Jay Muccilli, Ph.D., CJ Neusdater, LMFT, Sheilah Seigel, Ph.D., Judy Zappacosta, LCSW.

B. Mother shall seek counseling as needed.

C. The parents shall sign appropriate release authorizations and provide documentation for written communication between the counselor(s) and Court regarding level of participation, number of sessions completed, issues addressed and progress.

D. The counselors shall be provided with a copy of this and other relevant Court Orders and reports.
There were no actual health or safety issues mentioned in his report, but just gripes from my ex-wife about my parenting style.

I was particularly struck by the phrase "insight into his own needs versus the children's" because there was nothing about this in either his report or the court papers. It seemed to be just a boilerplate psychologist phrase for demoralizing parents. No matter what the dad says and does, he can be accused of now always putting his own needs (and those of other loved ones) ahead of the children's. He can also be accused of lacking insight and empathy. No dad would dare stand up to a court psychologist who holds the power to order forced counseling to continue "until released."

I do think that psychologists are evil when they use the authority of the court to order psychological punishments that are not grounded in any generally accepted psychological wisdom. That includes Johnson, Perlmutter, and the Chinese Communist shrinks.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Another Nazi CPS case

I posted before about parents losing their kids because of Nazi sympathies. Now, from Canada, is a story about kids being taken for the opposite reason:
Early this morning, five thugs broke into the home of anti-racist activists Jason and Bonnie Devine. Their four children were asleep upstairs. ... Enter Calgary Social Services.*

Unbelievably, they are threatening to apprehend the Devine children unless the Devines stop their anti-racist activity.
Somebody needs to tell these folks that World War II is over. And CPS has no business meddling with political beliefs.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Assertive Chinese Held in Mental Wards

The NY Times reports:
Xu Lindong’s confinement in a locked mental ward was all the more notable, his brother says, for one extraordinary fact: he was not the least bit deranged. Angered by a dispute over land, he had merely filed a series of complaints against the local government. The government’s response was to draw up an order to commit him to a mental hospital — and then to forge his brother’s name on the signature line. ...

Mr. Xu’s ordeal exemplifies far broader problems in China’s psychiatric system: a gaping lack of legal protections against psychiatric abuses, shaky standards of medical ethics and poorly trained psychiatrists and hospital administrators who sometimes feel obliged to accept anyone — sane or not — who is escorted by a government official.

No one knows how often cases like Mr. Xu’s occur. But human rights activists say confinements in mental hospitals appear to be on the rise because the local authorities are under intense pressure to nip social unrest in the bud, but at the same time are less free than they once were to jail people they consider troublemakers. ...

In annual performance reviews of local government officials, reducing the number of petitioners is considered a measure of good governance. Allowing them to band together, and possibly stir up broader unrest, is an significant black mark that can lead to demotion.

The most dogged petitioners are often classified as crazy. In an interview last year, Sun Dongdong, chief of forensic psychiatry at prestigious Peking University, said, “I have no doubt that at least 99 percent of China’s pigheaded, persistent ‘professional petitioners’ are mentally ill.” He later apologized for what he said was an “inappropriate” remark.
The old Soviet Union was also famous for using forced psychiatry and re-education camps to marginalize and punish political dissidents.

The USA is not as bad as China, of course, but the family court here does use psychologists to punish psychologically healthy parents in order to shut them up and force them to submit to oppressive policies.

In my case, the court-appointed psychologist, Ken Perlmutter, refused to do the evaluation until he could talk to Commissioner Irwin Joseph and find out who he was supposed to punish. Perlmutter could not find any psychological disorder, and did not recommend counseling. He did not find anything wrong with my parenting practices or my relationship with my kids. But he recommended that the custody of my two kids be changed so that my ex-wife gets sole legal custody. His only reasoning was that Cmr. Joseph did not like me, and that it would be more convenient for the court if my spirit were crushed. He had no psychological evidence to back up his recommendation, and he is no better than those Chinese psychologist lackeys who commit healthy dissidents to mental hospitals.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Family court meeting

A local Santa Cruz SCORE family court self-help group is meeting tomorrow (Sat) at 3pm in Scotts Valley, California. Everyone is welcome. Free.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Talking intimate is emotional abuse

A newspaper advice columnist accuses a husband of emotional abuse of his wife. The man did not have an affair with another woman. He did not make degrading comments to her. He tells her that she is beautiful and sexy. So what did he do?

He talks to a friend about their marriage relationship, and mentions it to his wife. That's all.

I've had women tell me that they share the most personal details of their lives with all their friend, and proceed to tell me the most personal details of all their friends' lives. When I ask why they would even talk about such stuff, they assure me that all women do that.

Men don't. Most men do not want to even listen to it. If a man wants to talk about such stuff, he sometimes has to find a woman to listen. That is what the husband in advice column does. And the columnist says that it is emotional abuse. By that standard, I am guessing that 80% of all wives are guilty of emotional abuse.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Canada takes cars from dads

A Canadian newspaper reports:
It’s the end of the road for motorists who drive drunk or while under licence suspension.

Police services across Ontario will have the power to order a vehicle impounded for seven days if the driver has an administrative license suspension, a blood alcohol limit of more than 0.08, refuses a breathalyzer or does not have the required ignition interlock device beginning Dec. 1.

Parents who have been stripped of their driver’s licence for failing to pay child support are included in the new impoundment rules.

“We’re looking for ways to require those parents to be responsible to their kids,” Ontario Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne said Monday. “And so separating someone from his or her vehicle is a pretty significant deterrent.”
No, taking a man's car is not requiring him to be responsible to his kids. It is the opposite.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Why so many unwed moms

AP reports:
Seventy-two percent of black babies are born to unmarried mothers today, according to government statistics. ...

The black community's 72 percent rate eclipses that of most other groups: 17 percent of Asians, 29 percent of whites, 53 percent of Hispanics and 66 percent of Native Americans were born to unwed mothers in 2008, the most recent year for which government figures are available. The rate for the overall U.S. population was 41 percent. ...

There are simple arguments for why so many black women have children without marriage.

The legacy of segregation, the logic goes, means blacks are more likely to attend inferior schools. This creates a high proportion of blacks unprepared to compete for jobs in today's economy, where middle-class industrial work for unskilled laborers has largely disappeared.

The drug epidemic sent disproportionate numbers of black men to prison, and crushed the job opportunities for those who served their time. Women don't want to marry men who can't provide for their families, and welfare laws created a financial incentive for poor mothers to stay single.
This last argument seems to be the hardest for people to understand. People always respond to financial incentives. Every time they pass a law to benefit unwed moms, it increases our percentage of unwed moms.

You might think that child support laws would have no effect on the rate of unmarried moms rearing kids. What woman would rather collect child support than be married, you might ask. You would be wrong. Take Economics 101. There are always people on the margins, and there are millions of kids being raised by single moms because of the child support laws.

Update: Here is an unwed mom wannabe. She says:

"I immediately make it obvious I'm only after a one-night stand and most blokes are always up for that. ...

"Obviously, I encourage them to have unprotected sex, but some men want to use a condom.

"If they do, I always have one that I have pre-pricked in my handbag. That way the sex isn't a waste of time."

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Canada has alimony for unmarried girlfriends

A Canada newspaper reports:
MONTREAL — Unmarried Quebec spouses seeking alimony and assets from ex-partners won a partial victory Wednesday in the province’s highest court thanks to the ex-girlfriend of a billionaire.

The Quebec Court of Appeal struck down a section of the province’s civil code that says only married partners can receive alimony.

A Brazilian woman nicknamed “Lola” is seeking $50 million plus $56,000 a month for a seven-year relationship that ended in 2002. Lola and her ex-partner “Eric” cannot be named to protect their three children.

Lola won’t get paid immediately. The court suspended its ruling for one year while Quebec revises the law, after which time the woman can re-argue her case before a lower court to seek the beefed-up payments.

In a 51-page ruling, the appeals court found that section 585 of Quebec’s civil code discriminates against more than 1.2 million Quebecers who lived together but were never married.

“In ignoring de facto spouses, as current legislators do, more than one third of Quebec couples find themselves excluded from a measure of protection for the family unit,” Justice Julie Dutil wrote on behalf of colleagues Marc Beauregard and Lorne Giroux.

Dutil added that alimony helps spouses, mainly women, meet their financial needs following breakups. She added that these women have the same needs as married ex-partners.

Quebec, the only province that doesn’t allow unmarried partners to claim alimony, says it will study the ruling before deciding its next move.
I am sure that $50 million will buy a measure of protection for the ex-girlfriend.

Quebec is more socialist than I thought, according to this:
Around 1984, Quebec made it illegal for a wife to take the name of her husband. ... In 1989 Quebec enacted legislation putting every married couple into a 50/50 situation for all major assets. ... In 1994 a new law stated that the free government hospital/clinic may not inform the parents about the free government abortion performed on their 14-year-old daughter, ... The same Family Law eliminated the word “parent,” replacing it with “the holder of parental authority” ...
If it is illegal in Canada for marriage law and family courts to discriminate between married and unmarried couples, then marriage has lost its meaning. It is no longer possible for a couple to enter into a traditional marriage based on mutual promises. The relationship is defined by some wacky judges who are trying to re-engineer social policy with their leftist ideals.

Last week, Iowa voters kicked out three state supreme court judges for trying to rewrite marriage laws.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Lesbian lover wins long fight

mentioned in 2006
the child custody dispute between the Vermont lesbians. The mom took the kid to Virginia, which does not recognize lesbian marriages. But Virginia does recognize out-of-state visitation orders, and the mom refused visitation to the Vermont lesbian.

The dispute continues and the mom argued to the Vermont Supreme Court that kid doesn't even know the ex-partner anymore, so visitation would not be in the Best Interest Of The Child (BIOTCh).

This is, of course, one of many problems with the BIOTCh. It encourages illegal and destructive behavior by the parents. So the court ignores the BIOTCh when convenient, which is most of the time. In the Vermont case, the court weaseled in this way:
I do not lightly note this inconsistency. As we have recognized in the past, the family court should not construe the application of the § 665(b) best-interest factors in a manner that gives incentive for wrongdoing by a parent. See, e.g., id. That said, we likewise cannot ignore the plight of children whose relationships are significantly disrupted and/or distorted when one parent chooses to prevent another from contact. Parental kidnapping is the most common form of abduction in the United States with more than 200,000 children victims each year. Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Dep’t of Justice, The Crime of Family Abduction: A Child’s and Parent’s Perspective iii-iv (2010), available at Its impacts last far longer than the search for and recovery of a missing child, especially for a child whose trust in both parents may have been seriously damaged. See id. at 37 (“To many parents, the recovery might seem like a moment of celebration, but to the child, it may feel like another abduction.” (citation omitted)). Simply because Janet had a strong relationship with her daughter before the current estrangement, the family court cannot assume that such a bond still exists.
This has some similarity to my case. The court-appointed evaluator, Ken Perlmutter agreed that my ex-wife wrongfully got custody by lying to the court, but uses the BIOTCh as an excuse not to do anything.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Dad was falsely imprisoned

ABC TV 20/20 has a show at 10pm this evening on a man who was imprisoned for 20 years based on false accusations from his kids. A lot of people don't realize how easily kids can be manipulated into lying.

Update: It was the story of Ray Spencer, and you can see more here. A bitter ex-wife used their kids to frame him.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Wife wants more evaluations

I just got this message from the court-appointed evaluator:
I received this e-mail.
It sounds like you only want me from 1030 to Noon and 130 to 430 on Nov. 30.
Is that correct?
In other matters prior to trial either the Court determines what additional information I am to review or the attorneys come to agreement on it.
If the Court does not address this and you and George cannot agree then I don't know what to do.
As regards the time I spend possibly reviewing new documents I can let you know that after it is clear what I am going to review.
If I am not going to need to be in court from 9-5 as previously budgeted then I would credit you for the time I already billed for.
Thank you for the information on parking.
I will wait to hear from you on the matters stated above.
Ken Perlmutter
My ex-wife sent him my trial brief, and proposed that he evaluate that as well as some additional documents.

He already did a $26K evaluation in which she sent him about 3K pages of documents. He recommended that I lose joint legal custody and that our kids remain under court supervision until they are 18.

Perlmutter is very petty about his procedures, and had instructed my ex-wife not to send him documents like this. I am surprised that she did it. She did not tell me that she was going to do it, or ask me about it. My guess is that he would not want to see any documents that might change his opinion.

Meanwhile, I asked the court clerk for a list of their court reporters. She said that they have no such list. If I wanted a record of my trial, I should consult the Yellow Pages. So I called a court reporter, and she said private reporters do depositions, but she never heard of the court needing a court reporter. She asked me why I don't just use the court reporter provided by the court. I had to tell her that they all got laid off, and the family court does not use any in-house court reporters anymore. If I want a record, I have to hire my own. Weird. I never heard of a court operating like that.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Feminists against DNA tests

A UK feminist writes in a magazine:
DNA tests are an anti-feminist appliance of science, a change in the balance of power between the sexes that we’ve hardly come to terms with. And that holds true even though many women have the economic potential to provide for their children themselves. ...

Now I can see that some men might rather welcome an end to the old-fashioned scenario whereby they find themselves held to account for the paternity of children born to girls with whom they just happen to have had sex. The actor Jude Law recently found himself in just this position, and unhesitatingly and ungallantly demanded a DNA test.

By contrast, the old situation, in which women presented men with a child, and the man either did the decent thing and offered support, or made a run for it, allowed women a certain leeway. The courtesan in Balzac who, on becoming pregnant, unhesitatingly sought, and got, maintenance from two of her men friends, can’t have been the only one. Uncertainty allows mothers to select for their children the father who would be best for them.

The point is that paternity was ambiguous and it was effectively up to the mother to name her child’s father, or not. (That eminently sensible Jewish custom, whereby Jewishness is passed through the mother, was based on the fact that we only really knew who our mothers are.) Many men have, of course, ended up raising children who were not genetically their own, but really, does it matter? You can feel quite as much tenderness for a child you mistakenly think to be yours as for one who is. ... But in making paternity conditional on a test rather than the say-so of the mother, it has removed from women a powerful instrument of choice. I’m not sure that many people are much happier for it.
Yeah, the sluts committing paternity fraud are not happy about it. They would like to have babies, and have separate men for sexual relations, genetic fatherhood, and financial support.

There are many women who could be supporting their kids by themselves, but it hardly ever happens. If the father is not in the home, them the mom is nearly always getting some sort of welfare or similar support.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

How CPS does harm

I posted before about CPS investigations doing more harm than good. It might seem hard to understand how well-meaning govt social workers could be doing harm by investigating suspected child abuse.

First of all, I do not concede that they are well-meaning people. They do not become social workers because they are noble and saintly, but because they are battling their own personal demons. Some of the social workers are seriously emotionally damaged, and they can be careless, sloppy, malicious, vindictive, bigoted, and have all the other faults that other people have.

The bigger problem is that it is nearly impossible to make people change their lifestyles. Suppose that a social worker discovers some parents doing a lousy job of rearing kids. Maybe the parents get drunk frequently, fight a lot, ignore the kids, watch too much TV, eat too much fast food, let the kids get fat on candy, fail to make the kids do homework, yells at the kids, etc. Suppose a well-meaning CPS agent sees this situation, and decides that it is not good for
the kids.

If she sees criminal child abuse or neglect, then she can turn the case over to prosecutors who can charge the parents with a crime and put the kids in foster care. That is not a good situation, but at least we have some standards for when such an action should be taken.

But what if the kids are getting substandard treatment that is not bad enough for permanent removal of the kids? Then CPS may be able to temporarily put the kids in foster care, but the kids will ultimately go back to the parents who will probably be just the same as before.

I know of one case where CPS put the kids in foster care for a year. I heard the story from the mom, and I saw the paperwork so I know the CPS story as well. The facts were not in dispute. The details are irrelevant for my point. The parents adamantly deny that they did anything wrong. The kids were not harmed by anything that the parents did. Maybe they are good parents, and maybe they are lousy parents. Reasonable people can differ. But ultimately the kids went back to the parents after the foster care, and the CPS intervention seemed entirely destructive to me. And yet the CPS agents would probably say that they did good by ensuring the safety of the kids for a year.

There is also a larger cost when we permit CPS to actions like this. We are not free if we empower govt agents to bust up families according their personal standards of how people should live. Our civilization has always been based on parents having the discretion to rear their kids as they see best. If they are constantly subject to CPS second-guessing, then they are not doing what they think is best. I think that CPS is harmful, both in their actual interventions and in their threats of interventions.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Trial date confirmation

I just got out of court. The appearance was just to confirm our child custody trial date for the end of the month.

For once, Judge Morse did not put us off to the end. She let the lawyers go first with their cases, but then called us after that. My ex-wife and I were unrepresented.

The only non-lawyer case before us was of a 300-pound woman in blue jeans and sandals who flew in from Virginia to try to finalize her divorce. But the judge could not do it, because she did not submit a proof of service. "Are you saying I flew out here for nothing?", she said. The judge asked if her husband was still in San Quentin. That is a big nasty California prison. The woman said that she did not know, and acted as if she had no way of finding out. The judge seemed to know more about the husband than the wife. Obviously, the problem was not just the proof of service. She had made no attempt to get the divorce papers to her husband, and he is entitled to notice about his court case.

Our case was called next. We both presented witness lists for the trial. The judge said that the trial would not start until 10:30, and my ex-wife complained that there may not be enough time for her witnesses. I asked for a second trial date. The judge suggested a date in January, but my ex-wife said that she would be out-of-town that date. I guess my kids will be out of town also; no one ever tells me. The judge then looked for a date in February and March. At one point she said that she had a an opening on Nov. 19, but that was too soon. "Too soon? I thought that sooner is better.", I said. So she gave us that date. I am taking a chance that I will be able to get my witnesses on that date.

I asked about a court reporter, since there wasn't one in the court at the time. The judge said that if I wanted a court reporter, then I was on my own to find one and hire one! I never heard of a court having a trial and not supplying a court reporter. It is a good thing I asked.

My ex-wife complained that I had been order to prepay the fees for her psychologist witness to testify, but she was concerned that I might not pay him, so she paid him. Now she wants to get reimbursed. The judge said that she had ordered me to pay the witness, so now I am ordered to pay her. There was also a complaint about orthodontics bills. I still don't understand that issue. I guess that I am supposed to pay half of out-of-pocket emergency medical expenses, but I really don't see what that has to do with discretionary orthodontics for which I was never consulted.

I told the judge that I was submitting a pre-trial brief that names my witnesses, and outlines their testimony and my arguments to be given at trial. The judge said that she had not read it. I guess she was making a joke since it was still in my hand. I had given a copy to my ex-wife shortly before court this morning, so she had a chance to read it quickly. She complained to the judge that I had given a description of the history of the case that was slanted to my point of view, and that she disagreed with how I framed the issues. The judge told her that she was welcome to write her own trial brief, if she wishes. My ex-wife is a lawyer, so her complaint seemed odd. Didn't she take a class in law school in how to write a slanted brief?

I had a new rebuttal witness, so I asked for permission for him to see the court case documents. I said that I don't think that permission is needed, but I was asking anyway just to make sure the trial goes smoothly. The judge asked my ex-wife for an objection, and she said that she objected to me springing this issue on her without following procedures, and she finds this annoying because I did it before. But she had no substantive objection and the judge granted permission.

My ex-wife also complained that my brief was a sneaky attempt to revisit issues that were settled three years ago, and that she had gotten Commissioner Joseph to order me not to do that. The judge started rustling some papers, and looked like she was going to order me to follow previous orders. But I assured her that I was filing a brief today that explicitly says that I do not intend to re-litigate any issues that have already been litigated. The judge was satisfied with that.

My ex-wife complained that she was on my witness list. Her position was that I was already found to be the bad guy, and the court psychologist agrees with her, so there is no reason that she should have to testify. That argument was so ridiculous that the judge ignored it.

My ex-wife also complained about how I might use the reports from the visitation supervisor. She said that the supervisor should testify if I am going to use her reports. So I agreed to put the supervisor on my witness lists. My ex-wife then complained that it was conflict of interest for the supervisor to testify, but the judge said that there was no such conflict. My ex-wife also wanted copies of any additional reports that the supervisor writes. I said that I would be happy to give her copies of any such reports.

My ex-wife complained about not having gotten her Nov. 1 child support check. I paid her right after we walked out of court.

Now I have to prepare for a trial. This is my big chance to win some custody of my kids back.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Blaming the dad when the mom is a lunatic

Here is an advice column about a lunatic mom:
Dear Concerned: Your daughter-in-law is mentally ill and is abusing her son emotionally.

The fact that Dad permits this is reprehensible. Call Child Protective Services, and ask that someone check out the home situation. Talk to the principal and counselor at Jeremy's school.
Note that the mom is a lunatic, but it is still the dad's fault.

I did not include the letter about the crazy mom. Yes, she is nuts, but I think that about 10% of moms are that nuts. The only thing that keeps them from causing a lot of destruction is a husband being the head of the household. The nutty single moms do cause a lot of damage.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Disrespectful court brief

I am writing a brief for the court in my child custody case, and I ran across this extreme example of disrespect to the court in an appellate brief. The appellant got gouged on a student loan, and has a good point, but he was sure to lose anyway because the court is not going to change how student loans work. He was ordered to pay $80K for what was originally a $6400 loan. If you have a chance of winning, then this brief is an example of what not to do. The brief such contempt for the judges that it is funny.

From the same legal blog, Tennessee denies voting rights to certain fathers with unpaid support payments. The federal appeals court upheld the policy by a 2-1 vote. I think that it would make more sense to deny the vote to people on welfare, food stamps, and child support. We would all be better off if taxpayers did the voting, not society's leeches.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Girls Want to Talk

Time magazine reports:
Mostly, the conversation that dare not speak its name, the most excruciating 25 minutes of either a parent or an offspring's life, The Talk, is left to Mom. Make lunch, do laundry, figure out where the thing is that goes on that other thing, tell kids about sex. But a new study from New York University suggests that young women could actually use a little more talk about intimate matters from their dads.

Yes, I know, eeeew. Previous studies have concluded that girls who have open communication with their fathers — about everything — tend to have intercourse later in life and also have fewer sexual partners, both of which can be very good for sexual and mental health.
This is just the latest in the great number of research studies showing the importance of dads.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Neighbor feud escalates to custody dispute

Here is news about a New Jersey neighbor feud that is out of control:
It's been a rough month for Jennifer Petkov. The 33-year-old Trenton woman accused of bullying 7-year-old Kathleen Edward lost custody of two of her children this week, according to Fox 2.

The television station reports a Wayne County Probate Court judge has ruled Petkov's eight-year-old daughter and five-year-old son should live with their father until further notice.

The father, who had a relationship with Petkov prior to her current marriage, filed for an emergency hearing shortly after Petkov made national headlines by admitting on camera that she posted disturbing images on Facebook of Kathleen, who is in the final stages of Huntington's Disease, and her mother, who died of the degenerative brain condition.
I suggest watching the video stories here and here to see the offensive images that Petrov posted on her Facebook page. The images were not too offensive to broadcast on TV, apparently.

Petkov does sound like a crazy woman making some sort of sick joke. But the neighbors may also be at fault, and we will never know the full story.

The disturbing thing here is that the family court has chosen to intervene in a petty neighbor dispute, and take her kids away. The dispute did not involve her kids. Yes, Petkov owed her neighbor an apology, but it is not the job of the family court to enforce good manners. If Petkov committed some sort of crime, then she could be charged with it, but the family court should not treat her as if she is guilty of some crime when she has not been charged.

The family court may have helped cause this problem in the first place by giving Petkov custody of the kids. If the dad is a competent parent now, then why didn't he get joint custody in the first place? It sounds like the family court policy was to give custody to the mom, unless she posts offensive pictures on Facebook. That is no way to run a family court.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mom sues Tyra Banks

The Boston Herald reports:
ATLANTA — A Georgia woman is suing Tyra Banks for $3 million after she said her 15-year-old daughter appeared without her permission on an episode of Banks’ talk show about teen sex addicts.

In a lawsuit filed Oct. 8 in federal court in Atlanta, Beverly McClendon claims the show contacted the teen on her cell phone after she responded to a request on the show’s website seeking "sex addicts." The girl was then picked up from her home in Georgia in a limo and flown to New York, where she was put up in a hotel, all without her mother’s knowledge, the lawsuit says.

McClendon filed a missing person report with local police when she realized her daughter was gone. The teen has never been diagnosed as a sex addict, the lawsuit says.
A commenter suspects:
I am thinking that the mom was the one that orchestrated the entire thing. I don't buy her story for one second.
The real problem here is that there is no father on the scene. The mom probably kicked him out so that she could get more welfare money, and has her own sex addiction.

Update: The first comment below confirmed all my prejudices. Tyra does not ask about the dad.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Kid taught to turn in parents

If your kids attend the public schools, then they are probably being taught that the govt and school authorities are more important than parents. My kids were.

Here is what happens. A North Carolina kid was taught to have his parents arrested:
MATTHEWS, NC (WBTV) - Two parents are facing drug charges after their child took their drugs to school and told a school officer his parents were breaking the law. ...

The 11-year-old student is in 5th grade at a an elementary school in Matthews. Police say he brought his parents' marijuana cigarettes to school when he reported them.

Matthews Police say he reported his parents after a lesson about marijuana was delivered by a police officer who is part of the D.A.R.E. program, which teaches kids about the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.

"Even if it's happening in their own home with their own parents, they understand that's a dangerous situation because of what we're teaching them," said Matthews Officer Stason Tyrrell. That's what they're told to do, to make us aware." ...

Police arrested the child's 40-year-old father and 38-year-old mother on Thursday.

Both were charged with two misdemeanor counts each of marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. ...

Police say both the 11-year old and a sibling have been removed from the parents' house by social services. Police say they are staying with relatives.
I was planning on voting against California Proposition 19, a ballot initiative for the limited legalization of marijuana. I don't smoke the stuff, and I don't want laws to encourage smoking the stuff. According to the proposition opponents, it will make it impossible to fire a school bus driver for being a regular dope smoker.

But I also don't want our schools teaching our kids to snitch on their parents, so that the cops can arrest the parents and CPS can seize the kids. This wrong for many reasons. It directly undermines family loyalties. It teaches a child to betray those who love him the most. It rips the kids out of their homes. It is dishonest because those teachers are not telling those kids the consequences of what they are being encouraged to do. It teaches kids to trust govt official who turn around and double-cross the kids, and who will not be around when the kids need help later. There are probably several more things wrong with this that you might list in the comments.

If you told me that Red China was doing this, I would say that is because they have a no-good commie government that has no respect for individual liberties, privacy, and parental rights. Why are we putting up with this in the USA? I would charge those D.A.R.E. teachers and CPS agents with child abuse as they have caused a lot of harm to these kids.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Scared to use an elevator

Here is some newspaper advice:
Dear Annie: Last weekend, I stayed at an upscale motel where they serve breakfast in the lobby. After eating, I went to the elevator, and a little boy, perhaps 6 years old, left the table where his father was eating and announced, "I'm going up to Mom." Dad agreed, and the boy rode up to the third floor with me, chatting the whole time, before getting off on my floor and pounding on a door farther down the hall.

Annie, this child could have been abducted at any time. The elevator was at the intersection of two hallways and was 10 feet from a stairwell. Anyone could have gotten on that elevator or been in the hallway when he got off.

I was tempted to say something to the parents,... — Concerned in Texas

Dear Texas: ... Next time, speak up.
No, 6 year old boys do not get kidnapped in elevators at upscale hotels. These women are paranoid. I think that they need psychological treatment.

For a more sensible attitude, I recommend the FreeRangeKids blog.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Constitutionality of CPS interrogations

The US Supreme Court has just agreed to hear another CPS case:
The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to take up a case involving the questioning of an elementary school student at school by a deputy sheriff and a state child-protective services caseworker about possible sexual abuse at home.

The justices accepted appeals from the two Oregon investigators of a federal appeals court ruling that they violated the student's Fourth Amendment rights to be free of unreasonable search and seizure when they interviewed her at school without a warrant, court order, parental consent, or exigent circumstances.
It would be nice if the court broadly declared that parents have constitutional rights to prevent their kids from being secretly seized and interrogated while in school custody. I am afraid that there is not much chance of that. The ideology of the court is to impose rules that occasionally require the release of some nasty criminal, thereby convincing the public that the constitutional rights of criminals are being respected. Meanwhile, CPS will continue to trample on the rights of good law-abiding parents.

BTW, occasionally someone tells me that CPS has changed its name to something else, but the Santa Cruz CPS still uses the name.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Study shows failure of CPS investigations

The NY Times reports:
Child Protective Services investigated more than three million cases of suspected child abuse in 2007, but a new study suggests that the investigations did little or nothing to improve the lives of those children.
People argue for CPS investigations and interventions as if it is obvious that such things are beneficial. Even after showing case after case after case of destructive CPS actions, they will still say that CPS actions are prudent or responsible or something like that.

The problem with this reasoning is that it overlooks the harm that nearly always result from having CPS agents interfere with a functioning family.

CPS should have to prove that its policies somehow have benefits that outweigh the harm, or abandon those policies. This is the first study, to my knowledge, that actually looked at whether CPS was doing any good. My guess is that there have been dozens of previous attempts to show benefits to CPS, but the results have been buried. CPS burns billions of dollars every years, and there are too many hogs feeding at the trough.
In an editorial published with the study, starkly titled “Child Protective Services Has Outlived Its Usefulness,” Dr. Abraham B. Bergman suggests some essential changes: child abuse, because it is a crime, should be investigated by the police; public health nursing services should be the first to respond to concerns of child neglect; social workers should assess appropriate living situations and work with families to obtain services, and not be engaged in law enforcement. But Dr. Bergman, who is a pediatrician at the Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, expressed considerable skepticism that such changes would happen.
He is right. These changes will not happen. CPS exists for reasons other than helping children.

Monday, October 11, 2010

New York's new divorce law

New York used to the only state to require cause for divorce. Not anymore, and there is a new alimony formula:
While no-fault divorce was signed into law in New York this summer with great fanfare, the bill included numerous unheralded provisions that have left many divorce lawyers uneasy.

Now, with the bill set to take effect next Tuesday, divorce lawyers are bracing for change and squeezing in as many claims as possible to avoid some of what they consider undesirable provisions of the new law.

Perhaps the most troubling new provision is a formula for judges to determine alimony. Under the current system, judges have broad discretion and consider the needs of a family and its budget to determine what is necessary to maintain that marital lifestyle, said Susan M. Moss, a divorce lawyer with the firm of Chemtob Moss Forman & Talbert.

Under the new law, however, only up to $500,000 of a spouse’s income will be counted when determining alimony. So, for instance, if a spouse earns $2 million a year, only $500,000 of that will be counted toward the formula.

And here are the two formulas judges will consider:

1) Thirty percent of the higher-earning spouse’s income, minus 20 percent of the lower-earning spouse’s income.

2) Forty percent of their combined income, minus the lower-earning spouse’s income.

The lesser outcome of these two formulas will be the alimony award, although the law does give judges the option to consider further factors.
This will surely cause a further decline of marriage in New York. A non-working wife can now file some papers and get 30% of her husbands income, and she does not even have to state a reason. If there are kids, then she gets child support on top of that, and she does not have to spend any of it on the kids.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Rally against the family court

I missed this today, on an island next to Oakland California:
Archisand Professional Sand Sculptors, a premier team of artists pursuing this craft, will create a significant sand sculpture ribbon for the newly-formed organization “Best Interest of the Child in Custody Cases (BICCC).” Individuals and families who have suffered injustices in Family Court are encouraged to attend the event. There they can sign the ribbon, share their stories, and join a support network to help reform the Family Court system. This event will be held on Sunday, October 10, 2010 in the City of Alameda.

Alameda County Supervisor Gail Steele, a member of the BICCC, states, “In so many instances the decision of the Family Court is not in the best interest of the child. This is not just a problem in Alameda County, but across the country as well.” In fact the State of California has approved auditing the Family Courts of Marin and Sacramento. Marin County, however, destroyed its Family Courts records, which are now unavailable for audit by the State of California.
I am suspicious of some organization whose main purpose is to draw attention to the fact that the family courts do not always act in the Best Interest Of The CHild (BIOTCH). Of course they don't. I have never seen the family court act in the BIOTCH. That is just some meaningless buzz phrase that the family court cites when it does something really stupid.

Unmarried Irish dads have no rights

Robert Franklin writes:
For about 10 years, an Irish man and woman lived together in that country. They were not married but had three children together. Last year, she abducted all three children to England. The father petitioned courts in Ireland, England and an EU court in Luxembourg, and all three agree; what the mother did is perfectly acceptable and legal.

How can that be? Well, here's the reasoning as I understand it. In Ireland, unmarried mothers and unmarried fathers are treated differently under the laws governing their parental rights. Mothers have full parental rights by virtue of being mothers. Unmarried fathers, on the other hand, must petition to be recognized as fathers and have their parental rights established by a court of competent jurisdiction. ...

The father in the case linked to hadn't done that. According to previous articles, he believed that, having been his children's only father, having helped to support and care for them meant something (a) to the mother and (b) to Irish law. He turned out to have been wrong on both counts.
I actually do not find this so outrageous. Establishing paternity used to be considered one of the main purposes of marriage. If Ireland still has that understanding, then men should know that they have to establish paternity somehow in order to gain their parental rights.

I was actually surprised to learn that in California, marriage has so little to do with a child custody dispute. In the western world outside of Ireland, marriage is being replaced by the DNA test for establishing paternity. Get used to it. Probably eventually the DNA test will be attached to the birth certificate. Marriage is a financial agreement, and the connection to paternity is being abolished.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

The registry court case

I tried to make sense out of the US Supreme Court case I posted yesterday. It is confusing.

As I understand it, the Humphries were wrongly put on the child abuse index. It went to court, and the court agreed that the Humphries were innocent. But the Humphries still could not get off the index.

The Humphries sued in federal court for a denial of their constitutional rights. The federal judge agreed that Humphries should not be on the list, that California is denying the due process rights of its residents by not having a procedure for innocent people to get off the index, and that the state of California and the city of Los Angeles have to pay 6-figure damage awards, mainly for attorney fees.

The city of LA was appealing to the US Supreme Court because it puts people on the index, and the state doesn't give it any money for taking innocent people off, so it says that it has no responsibility in the matter. The city says that it is just following the law that created the index, and if the state wants due process, then the state should create the due process.

The Supreme Court justices were unconcerned about the differences between the city and the state. Their concern was that the trial record does not include a finding that the city had a policy of refusing to allow due process. The appellate court said that such a finding was unnecessary in this case, as both the city and the state are not only denying due process to the Humphries, they are denying it to all Californians put on the index.

Apparently the concern of the justices is that if they let this ruling against the city stand, then it will set a precedent for other cases, and make it easier to sue state officials for violating the constitution. The justices do not want lawsuits against rogue officials who are merely individually failing to do their jobs properly, but only lawsuits against officials who are following an unconstitutional policy.

The whole issue is ridiculous in this case, as it is obvious that LA has a policy of no due process. The Humphries are still on the index, even after 5 or 10 years of litigation.

This case may last a few more years. It seems likely that the justices will remand the case back down to the lower court for a determination of whether the city had a policy of no due process for people on the index. The courts will surely find that there is such a policy, but the courts will probably stall for years in order to give the state and the city every opportunity to start a policy of due process.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The unconstitutional registry

The US Supreme Court is hearing a case on the constitutionality of the California child abuse index. The LA Times reports:
A lawyer for Los Angeles County told the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday that the failure to remove a wrongly accused couple from California's index of reported child abusers was the state's responsibility, not the county's.

"It's the state's data base," said attorney Timothy Coates. "There are no state standards and no specific criteria for removing someone from the list. We don't have any procedures on how to go about that."

The case of Craig and Wendy Humphries has highlighted the difficulty of getting off the state index once a person's name has been reported to Sacramento for abusing a child. The state's law requires many agencies and employees, including schools, police and child care workers, to report instances of suspected child abuse.

More than 800,000 names are on California's index, and employers consult the list before hiring people to work with children. ...

In January of 2009, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals described their "nightmarish encounter" with the California system and ruled that both the state and county were liable for violating their constitutional rights. "There is no effective procedure for the Humphries to challenge this listing," the appeals court said.
My situation is just as outrageous as the Humphries. My ex-wife made a complaint to CPS in which she made false allegations of emotional abuse against me. As a result, my name was put on the state child abuser registry. At the court hearing, the CPS agent admitted that I never did any act that constituted abuse or that was contrary to law. And yet I cannot get off the registry because the state has no due process for doing so.

The US Supreme Court should declare the entire registry unconstitutional. It is not like the sex offender registry, which only lists those who have been convicted of sex crimes. The child abuse registry lists those who have been suspected of abuse, whether they have been proved innocent or not. It is entirely contrary to our legal assumptions of being innocent until proven guilty. I am only on the list because I have a malicious ex-wife who discovered that she could get more child support money by lying about me to CPS.

Here are the briefs and oral argument transcript for the Supreme Court case. Here is theaudio.