Do We Need A Fathers' Rights Movement?

Discussion in 'Law and Justice System' started by Madeline, Jun 24, 2010.

  1. Madeline
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    Most people see their local domestic relations court through the lens of their own experience, perhaps expanded by the experience of others close to them. I suppose this is natural; little else is more deeply felt than a property settlement with a former spouse or an award of child custody.

    The purpose of this thread is to ask, do you feel fathers usually get a raw deal in your domestic relations court? Do you feel men have a legitimate need to come together and try and change laws or remove judges they feel are unfair to them? (No one is disputing their right to do so.)

    It'd be hard to point out another area of American law that has undergone greater change in my lifetime. When I was young, few states had no fault divorce laws. The right to divorce did not exist unless one party had proof the other had misbehaved. These antiquated notions led to many, many unhappy people who could not leave, or faced ruination if they did.

    No fault laws ushered in a greater sanity, imo. But women lost almost all rights to seek alimony, helping to ensure that women and their children lived in dire poverty after the divorce. Women were typically granted full custody (I can remember when shared custody was viewed as a bizarre idea) and judges calculated child support by the seat of their pants. Many/most women were never able to collect the child support they were owed.

    The rising sensitivity to domestic violence and the rights of women and children led to some modification of these principles or usual outcomes. Women found it (somewhat) easier to collect child support as the government undertook collection actions, established garnishment procedures, etc.

    Nothing can ever be codified to eliminate judicial bias or prevent unfair results -- that is why we have an appeals process. I am not opposed to the objectives of the Fathers' Rights Movement insofar as they seek to maintain the father-child bond, level the playing field for contested custody cases, or deal with neglectful or abusive mothers.

    What bothers me is that the claims some members of the Movement make regarding women. Such claims as women abuse men more than men abuse women. That most applications for a protective order are specious. That sex abuse charges arising during divorce proceedings should almost never be believed.

    In short, I don't object to the goals of the Fathers Rights Movement until they attempt to turn back the clock and reverse gains made by the Womens' Rights Movement.

    Comments?
     
  2. ConHog
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    we already have one, and they work hard. But there is bias in the system when it comes to mothers. If no kids are involved there is not, but the system still seems to foster the idea that in most cases the mother is preferable to the father for custody.

    NFRC - Fathers for Equal Rights - New Membership Levels
     
  3. Madeline
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    It is possible ours will be the last generation of Americans who perceive a bias towards moms in custody awards, ConHog. There has been a radical shift in the percent of women in the workforce and the pay equity gap has thinned. (Not closed, but thinned.) It's not easy to parse out exactly what the Fathers' Rights Movement is about from a quick scan of their website, but here are some undesirable results I have personally seen:

    * Men who do not sincerely want custody threaten their wives with a custody battle to reduce the property award made to them. Twenty years ago, such a threat didn't hold water. Now it strikes terror and is abused.

    * Men who seek protective orders without grounds as a means of prejudicing the judge against their former spouse. This seems to be especially attractive to men who commit domestic violence. Yes, I know -- some women do this too.

    * The outright elimination of alimony, even transitional alimony. Most women will never need alimony, but some will. So will some men.

    * A bias in favor of shared custody arrangements that one spouse (usually the wife) opposes. When a woman senses her former spouse wants shared custody as a means of intruding and controlling, rather than of remaining in the children's lives, shared custody can be a nightmare. It is also being abused (imo) to eliminate a women's right to child support.

    I'm not saying there have not been inequities and gender bias in the courts; there has been. Most likely, the domestic relations courts and law should be under almost constant revision. But trust me when I say, very rarely is a loving father separated or alienated from his children as compared to the number of cases where uncaring and manipulative men use threats about the children to bend their former wives to their will unfairly.
     
  4. ConHog
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    I got divorced in 1996. My ex wife had to be ordered by the court to take a drug test. I had video evidence of her being unfaithful, and she perjured herself in court; and even at that there was actually some question as to would I get custody. I prevailed, unheard of back then for a father to get sole custody.

    Since that time, I haven't heard from ex wife once, she makes no effort to contact or support her child.

    So absolutely I am biased. However, I am a member of the organization that linked above and I can tell you a few things.

    1. Custodial mothers are notorious for using the children as little weapons against a father that they are generally angry at.

    2. Many fathers simply give up and leave because they are tired of fighting for their rights and being nothing but wallets for their ex wives.

    3. Non custodial parents have NO say whatsover over the money they are paying in child support and in many cases those parents just get fed up with watching their kids do without while the custodial parent just blows the money on whatever.

    4. It is absolute FACT that men are pursued more aggressively by the state than women when it comes to failure to pay child support.

    5. Society in general has more "sympathy" for the single mother than they do for the single dad.

    6. It is a myth that a father's lifestyle improves while the mother's lifestyle decreases after divorce - I posted an interview on 20/20 in another thread I'd be happy to bring it over here where that is disproved.

    7. A ridiculously high percentage of women claim abuse when none exists during a custody hearing in order to garner sympathy from the court. I would think that w omen's groups would be pissed about this because it lessens the impact when he see REAL cases of abuse, but instead they jump on any claim no matter no matter how illegitimate.
     
  5. FA_Q2
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    As the child in one of these disputes I can attest to the outright abuse the system levies on the father no matter what the evidence. My mother is literally insane and I was under her custody for the first ten years of my life. Many times she tried to use me as a tool to hurt my father. It took an INSANE amount of fighting in court for several years before my father was awarded custody. The system is a joke.

    To alimony - in most cases I believe there should not be any alimony at all. Only in cases with very long relationships with a single breadwinner should alimony ever come into the picture.
     
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  6. Madeline
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    I'm sorry to hear this, FA-Q2. IMO, everyone involved deserves a portion of the blame. The judge ought to have shut down the carrying on. The lawyers should have leaned on the parents to cooperate (although I'll admit, the ethics here are tricky).

    I heard today Texas is the only state that permits litigants in a custody battle to choose a jury trial to decide the outcome. Mebbe that would be an option worth looking at?

    BTW, on the whole I agree with you about permanent alimony. If there are children and wide disparity of income earning power, I would like to see rehabilitative alimony granted more often. (This is very short term support meant to help the recipient parent through a college degree or skills training course; if they abandon the education, they are no longer entitled to the support.)
     
  7. ConHog
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    I don't know about a jury trial to settle custody. I've met my fellow citizens.

    To me, a better solution would be to require a child's advocate in the courtroom, an attorney paid for by both parents who's sole concern is the child's welfare. Why does the person MOST affected by the custody case not have representation?
     
  8. Madeline
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    They do in many jurisdictions, ConHog. I doubt that a guardiem ad litem is a prerequisite to a custody hearing in any state as there are usually many more such cases than people able and willing to serve.
     
  9. ConHog
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    You can request it in ANY jurisdiction, but you pay for it out of your own pocket, which is fine, I don't expect the courts to pay for it. Split it with each parent paying half, but I don't know of any jurisdiction where it's mandatory. And of course the court can order it.
     
  10. FA_Q2
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    That is what the judge is supposed to be. No need for another arbiter when there is one. The sad part is that people rarely if ever actally know what is in the best interest of the child.
     

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