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.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Sibling visitation

The New Jersey high court has ruled that family courts can make visitation orders so that one sibling can visit another against the wishes of the parents.

The trouble with this sort of opinion is that the court recites and distorts the facts in a way that make it sound like the court action is reasonable, and then the readers are persuaded that the court was reasonable. In reality, the court is very unlikely to hear from the child, or to have any idea what is harmful to the child. When the court second-guesses a parent, it is usually causing harm in ways that the court does not recognize.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Shrinks consider parental alienation

AP reports:
The American Psychiatric Association has a hot potato on its hands as it updates its catalog of mental disorders — whether to include parental alienation, a disputed term conveying how a child's relationship with one estranged parent can be poisoned by the other.

There's broad agreement that this sometimes occurs, usually triggered by a divorce and child-custody dispute. But there's bitter debate over whether the phenomenon should be formally classified as a mental health syndrome — a question now before the psychiatric association as it prepares the first complete revision since 1994 of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. ...

His proposal defines parental alienation disorder as "a mental condition in which a child, usually one whose parents are engaged in a high conflict divorce, allies himself or herself strongly with one parent, and rejects a relationship with the other parent, without legitimate justification."
This is a hot issue because some people argue that there is no such thing as Parental Alienation Syndrome because it is not defined in the DSM-IV. But it clearly exists, regardless:
Texas Supreme Court Justice Debra Lerhmann, chair of the American Bar Association's family law section, said the issue of possible alienation can be raised in child custody proceedings whether or not any such phenomenon is classified as a disorder by health professionals.

"Anyone who's in this business knows there are situations where that in fact is happening — and sometimes it's alleged but is not happening," she said. "Even if it's not in the manual, relevant evidence can still be brought in."
Either way, it is just another excuse for so-called experts to charge large fees:
She said the initial impetus for recognition of parental alienation syndrome came in large part from the fathers' rights movement, but suggested much of the momentum now comes from psychologists, consultants and others who could profit if the concept had a more formal status in family court disputes.

"It's monetary," Kates said. "These psychologists and therapists make huge money doing the evaluations and therapies."
There are a lot of other disorders in the DSM-IV with less empirical support.

In my case, the psychologist Ken Perlmutter told me that my ex-wife told our a serious of false and malicious stories about me, and then took extraordinary measures to prevent them from learning the truth. But he said that the kids say that they love me, so he determined that there was no alienation and did not
mention it in his report.