Friday, March 26, 2010

Who’s Your Daddy? Or Your Other Daddy?

Libertarian Ronald Bailey gets excited about some gay rights cases that have found they way into family court, and writes in Reason mag:
The responsibilities of a parent have never been simple. Three recent cases highlight just how convoluted those chains of responsibility can get, and how fickle the courts have been in weighing genetic parenthood against the deals would-be parents have struck with their partners. ...

Parents who violate their marriage contracts by cuckolding their spouses should not be awarded support payments for the resulting children. The good news is that the advent of widespread paternity testing at birth will make situations like Mike L’s less common and will thus shrink the number of children affected by the emotional and financial instability that such conflicts cause. In the meantime, the courts need to look beyond genetics to the reproductive contracts the parties actually adopted. In most cases, the right way to protect the best interests of children will be to enforce the contracts under which they were brought into being.
You can count on libertarians to recite grand principles of freedom and contract, and then apply them to obscure cases of some ideological significance. And then ignore the practical consequences for ordinary citizens.

A marriage has always been regarded as a contract between a man and a woman to be jointly responsible for the upbringing of the resulting kids. The family courts completely ignore this, and decide based on the prejudices of the judge. The judge does not even pay attention to whether the parents were married or not, when ordering custody, visitation, and child support. No contracts between the parents are even considered binding by the family court.

I am all in favor of adults being able to make some agreements that give them autonomy over their lives, but the family court stands squarely against the concept. Nothing in modern society violates libertarian principles more than the family courts. Bailey needs to open his eyes. He mentions a couple of obscure cases while the family courts are doing much worse things thousands of times every day.

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