MENZ ISSUES

MENZ Issues: news and discussion about New Zealand men, fathers, family law, divorce, courts, protests, gender politics, and male health.

Moment Of Truth For Shared-Parenting

Filed under: General — domviol @ 11:56 am Sat 6th November 2004

Dr Muriel Newman – Press Releases – Social Welfare

ACT New Zealand Deputy Leader and Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today accused Labour, United Future, New Zealand First and the Greens of giving Kiwi fathers false hope about their support for Shared-Parenting.

“Last night, Parliament had an opportunity to change the law, to help fathers, grandparents and children throughout New Zealand who have disadvantaged by our Family Law system – but these Parties threw it away,” Dr Newman said.

“I urged the House to support my amendments to introduce Shared-Parenting as a rebuttable presumption into the Care of Children Bill. My amendment introduced two shared parenting concepts:

· `shared parenting means joint day-to-day care of a child, arranged in such a way that the best interests of the child is paramount, but that the starting point is the equality of parental responsibility and rights’

· `rebuttable shared parenting as a default position for the starting point of day-to-day care determinations is based on the principle that just as two parents are equal in their parenting responsibilities and rights before a relationship breakdown, so too they should be regarded as equal afterwards, unless it can be proved that one of the parents in unfit’.

“Sadly, New Zealand First, the Greens, United Future and Labour voted the amendments down. In fact, the only other Party to support Shared-Parenting was National.

“New Zealanders who believe that Shared-Parenting should be introduced as a core principle of Family Law should realise that Shared-Parenting will only become a reality when ACT and National are in Government.

“All hope of persuading other Parties to stand up for the rights of fathers and children, by supporting Shared-Parenting, has been shown to be false,” Dr Newman said.

ENDS

2 Responses to “Moment Of Truth For Shared-Parenting”

  1. MurrayBacon says:

    Old subject, but the best interests of children has changed little in thousands of years……..
    Society has seen what is going on in children’s and parent’s lives and wants sensible resolution.
    It is only the familycaught$ standing in the way of progress, to protect their paramount financial interests.

    __________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    National Parents Organization

    December 26, 2013 by Robert Franklin.

    Nationwide polls in Canada have consistently revealed widespread popular support for a presumption of equal parenting post-divorce. Support ranges from 68% to 75%. Studies by social scientists show similar support, most importantly among children. Fabricius showed that children, both in sole and shared custody strongly support equal custody by both parents. But of course the Canadian government knows better than do the people who pay their salaries. Bills before Parliament that would establish a presumption of shared parenting invariably fail to make it to an up or down vote by the full membership.

    It turns out Britons are possibly even more enthusiastic about equal parental rights than are the Canadians. Here’s the study that goes back 18 months, but is an important indicator of the British zeitgeist on parenting. The market research firm YouGov did the poll of about 1,800 adults that found overwhelming support for equal parenting by mothers and fathers following divorce or separation.

    YouGov asked the survey respondents this: “Thinking about parents who get divorced and have to go to court to decide who should get custody of the children, in general, who do you think should have more rights – the mother, the father or do you think their rights should be equal.

    Just 9% said mothers should have superior rights, while 84% said rights should be equal. Two percent said fathers should have greater rights and the rest gave no opinion.

    That’s backed up by data from the same survey regarding the importance of fathers to children. Eighty-five percent agreed with the statement, “Fathers are instrumental in bringing up children.” One percent of respondents strongly disagreed.

    A full 95% of those responding agreed that “Both parents should share responsibility for bringing up children.” Again, 1% strongly disagreed.

    The role of fathers as solely breadwinners received increased scrutiny from what it likely would have in the, say, 1950s or 60s. A bare majority (52%) agreed with the statement “A father’s main role should be to provide for the family by working and earning money.” Forty-two percent disagreed. Only 17% strongly supported that statement, while 11% strongly disagreed. In short, roughly equal numbers of Britons agree and disagree that fathers’ main role should be earning.

    And 86% of respondents agreed that “The role of fathers has changed drastically in the past 50 years.”

    The YouGov survey is far from perfect. There are countless questions that could have provided much more depth and nuance to the responses given, but it likely provides a fair snapshot of the public’s attitudes toward fathers and their roles in parenting and the family generally.

    What the poll indicates is that there is a vast difference between public attitudes and beliefs about fathers and those of family court judges, the various experts who advise them and members of Parliament who pass laws regarding divorce and child custody. Where the public wants fathers to be strongly involved in childcare, the courts all but invariably deny to fathers the chance to do that after a divorce. Where the public wants fathers and mothers to have equal rights in custody cases, courts opt for sole or primary maternal care following divorce or separation about 90% of the time. And where the public sees the role of father as having “drastically” changed over the past 50 years, courts have made little-to-no adjustment in their parenting orders to reflect the change.

    What’s true in the U.K. is also true in Canada. It’s likely also true in the United States although I’m aware of no polling that reflects Americans’ take on equal parenting.

    Put simply, family court judges are stuck in the 1950s. They order custody as if fathers weren’t doing almost as much childcare as are mothers, as large datasets from the member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development show they are. They marginalize fathers from the day-to-day parenting of their children as if we didn’t know from some 50 years of social science the damage done to children by the process of losing their fathers in a divorce.

    Come to think of it, British judges may in fact be entirely ignorant of that social science. As I’ve reported before, when a fathers’ rights organization asked the British Judicial College what scientific evidence they had to support the typical child custody orders of family judges, the response was a quick and indignant one – the Judicial College has no such science and wouldn’t use it to train judges if it did. Amazing but true.

    So in that way at least, we may be able to understand why the public is so at odds with family courts; people know the value of fathers to children while judges have remained doggedly ignorant of the fact.

    Or maybe they know and just don’t care. Consider the case of Scott Ritchie, the Michigan dad who’d been his son’s stay-at-home father for the first seven years of the boy’s life. He’s a fine and thoroughly fit father and his son was a healthy and happy little fellow, but when Scott’s wife decided to divorce him, she got primary custody. Why? Because the judge found Scott to be too focused (has a judge ever said such a thing to a mother?) on his role as a father and, since he hadn’t been employed in the past seven years, his wife could earn more income than he could.

    Imagine if those criteria were applied in every child custody case! We’d likely have the exact mirror image of the child custody statistics we have now. The vast majority of children would be in the care of their fathers with mothers on the outside looking in.

    In Scott’s case, the judge admitted in so many words that, in future, he’d have to stop automatically giving custody to mothers. It was an interesting admission on his part, revealing as it did his frank and invariable bias against fathers. But it was more than that. The statement also revealed the strength of that bias. After all, faced with a fine stay-at-home father and his own realization of his anti-father bias, the judge still opted for maternal custody of Scott’s son. As my friend Kathy remarked when I told her the story, “He’ll be careful not to automatically award custody to mothers, just not in this case.”

    It doesn’t get much more blatant than that.

    Judges and office holders need to progress to the level of understanding about children’s need for both parents that We the People have had for years. You don’t need to read the social science when you have the basic understanding that children shouldn’t have to suffer the loss of one parent just because Mom and Dad no longer live together. Of course a little formal knowledge of the subject could certainly help, but surely we don’t want to unduly tax the faculties of the judges and elected representatives in whom we entrust one of the most important decisions anyone ever makes – the parenting of children post-divorce.
    ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Dr. Linda Nielsen on the Value of Shared Parenting and How Mothers and Courts Thwart It

    National Parents Organization

    January 24, 2014 by Robert Franklin,

    This summary of research compiled by the excellent Dr. Linda Nielsen is a must read. No family court judge should be allowed to be a judge, no family lawyer should be allowed to practice family law and no elected officeholder should be allowed to vote on family legislation without reading it and being able to demonstrate a thorough knowledge of its contents.

    It’s entitled Divorced Fathers and Their Daughters: A Review of the Recent Research, and, as the title indicates, it’s mostly about the relationship between fathers and their female offspring. But don’t be fooled; Nielsen’s analysis covers all the high points of social science as it relates to fathers and their children and the parts the divorce system plays in damaging those father-child relationships. In the latter part of it, Nielsen goes into how best to cure what ails family relationships, and I’ll deal with that in a future post.

    In a nutshell, up-to-date research shows that during marriage, but particularly during and after divorce, the legal system and mothers’ anti-father bias leads to a drastic breakdown in father-daughter relationships. That breakdown leaves fathers emotionally shattered and daughters struggling long into adulthood and often unsuccessfully to establish stable, trusting romantic relationships with men. Read the first eight pages of Nielsen’s summary of the scientific literature, and a clear picture emerges of a system that could well be called a “perfect storm” of social dysfunction. There’s a kind of evil genius at work that alienates children from their fathers and results in daughters growing up to be suspicious of men and fathers; they go on to have children themselves, get divorced and repeat the cycle. Meanwhile, girls growing up without fathers (or those insufficiently involved in their lives) demonstrate all the usual anti-social behaviors we’ve come to know go hand in hand with fatherlessness.

    So, in the United States, 80% of the children of divorce spend only 10% – 15% of their time with their fathers, a fact that happens to have been borne out by the recent data out of Nebraska I’ve reported on. Some 25% spend none at all.

    Girls who grow up without a father or just a marginalized one are far more likely than their peers with married parents to have sex and become pregnant as teenagers. Their grades are lower; they’re more likely to drop out of high school and not go to college. They’re more likely to be involved in crime and other anti-social behavior. They have greater psychological and emotional problems and are more likely to have issues of severe over- or underweight. As adults, they find it harder to form lasting intimate relationships with men.

    Growing up fatherless is not what kids want. A whopping 85% of the children of divorce say they wanted more time with their fathers and didn’t want to live full time with their mothers. But they don’t, in part because the legal system of divorce and child custody decrees that they can’t, but also because their parents decided that while they were still married.

    The great majority of parents establish relationships in which the father is the primary breadwinner and Mom is the primary parent. Although fathers are spending far more time with their children than in decades past, and the actual difference in parenting time on average is relatively slight, Mom’s role as primary caregiver allows her to form closer bonds with the children, particularly daughters. So, when Mom opts for divorce (70% of divorce actions are filed by mothers), she can easily spin the breakdown as Dad’s fault. That happens a lot with the unsurprising result that daughters tend to blame their fathers for the breakup of the family. That in turn results in a further distancing of her from her Dad.

    Once the parenting plan is worked out, that alienation of the daughter from her father only continues. She, often with Mom’s active assistance, comes to think of Dad as uncaring about her; this drives her closer to Mom, a fact Mom is all-too-willing to accept. The relationship between mother and daughter often becomes reversed with the child playing parent to the parent and the parent playing child to the child. Nielsen refers to that as the daughter becoming “parentified.” That tends to result in depression and anxiety on the girl’s part, a condition that can last well into adulthood. That co-dependency means that the father-daughter bond is often never healed. Children or divorce are far more likely to report caring for their mothers emotionally and financially in old age than doing so for their fathers.

    Of course, this marginalization of fathers in the lives of their children, and the attendant damage to the children’s psyches is at the very least abetted by family courts. Children don’t usually notice the role of the judicial system in alienating them from their dads. They tend to blame him for his absence and their strong sense of loss.

    But of course, as Nielsen makes abundantly clear, family courts play a vital part in the marginalization of fathers and the lasting damage that does to their children. Amazingly, 60% of family lawyers admit the child custody system is biased against fathers who want shared parenting. More amazingly, when almost 5,000 judges and lawyers were surveyed, two-thirds of the judges and half the lawyers said that fathers aren’t treated fairly in child custody cases. (That raises the rather obvious question for those judges of why they don’t start – well – treating fathers fairly.)

    When judges in four southern states were polled, 60% said that fathers with children under six should have no parenting time with them at all and that mothers are, by nature, better parents. (The “Tender Years Doctrine was abrogated in law decades ago, but lives on in fact.) Half of family court judges attending a legal conference said they were opposed to shared parenting. The custody evaluators they rely on to advise them on custody matters agree. Only 30% of them said that fathers with children under two should have their children for as much as a single night per week. And only 4% of custody evaluators reported favoring equal parenting post-divorce.

    With that type of blatant anti-father bias on the part of decision makers in family courts, it’s no surprise that fathers see little of their children once Mom files for divorce. But why would that make any difference since 90% of custody cases are resolved, not by the intervention of a judge but by the agreement of the parent? As I’ve said many times and the science on the matter makes clear, fathers agree to radically anti-father arrangements, not because they like them but because they know they’re the best they can get. Mothers know the same thing, so they’re the ones to file for divorce and they’re unwilling at mediation to agree to anything less than 75% – 85% parenting time for themselves.

    Speaking of mothers, how do they feel about sharing parenting time with the man they’re divorcing, the father of their children? They’re not enthusiastic. According to five different studies cited by Nielsen, the majority of mothers are unwilling to agree to let Dad have more than 25% parenting time, and usually nowhere near that much. And, as it turns out, research shows that 25% level is important. Specifically, the benefits of shared parenting simply don’t tend to accrue to kids who see their father less than that. When social scientists talk about the value of shared parenting for children, they’re talking about parenting time for dads in the 25% – 50% range, i.e. the type of time that’s almost never awarded even in cases that are termed “shared parenting.”

    Not only are mothers generally dead set against fathers having more than minimal parenting time, courts and laws routinely genuflect before their wishes. Nielsen cites the 2008 Family Law in the Fifty States Digests for the fact that, “in almost all states, the mother must agree before the father can spend more than 15% or 20% of the time with the children. As usual, fathers’ rights reside in mothers’ hands.

    That’s not just bad for fathers and children, it’s bad for everyone. In states in which the law has been amended to make it easier for fathers to have substantial time with their children, the divorce rate has gone down. That only makes sense. When mothers know they’ll get the kids, they file for 70% of the divorces; when they know they’ll have to share substantial time with Dad, they’re not so apt to vote with their feet. And fewer divorces generally makes for a less conflicted, more stable society.

    Nielsen goes on to touch on parental alienation that mothers engage in more than do fathers a fact their children are aware of. As many as 80% of college students with divorced parents say they know their father wants to spend more time with them but that he can’t because their mother opposes it. Nielsen cites studies of false allegations of domestic violence leveled by mothers against fathers to avoid sharing custody and still others in which mothers convinced their daughters they’d been sexually molested by their fathers, once again fabricated to avoid paternal involvement in the child’s life.

    Maternal gatekeeping, in which the mother decides how much a father may parent a child goes on both during marriage and after divorce, and Nielsen cites five different studies on that phenomenon. Maternal gatekeeping is perhaps explained by the fact that fully half of mothers believe themselves to be superior to men in parenting abilities and that a single mother or any random man can make as good a father to a child as the actual dad. Those notions of course have long been debunked.

    In short, there’s little doubt about why there’s such a crisis of fatherlessness in this country, and it has little to do with the “deadbeat dad” or the uncaring man who sires children with little thought of being involved in their lives. All too many mothers are hell-bent on cutting fathers out of their children’s lives and the family court system is all too happy to do their bidding. This occurs despite the fact that our children are being damaged by those anti-dad mothers and that anti-dad system of courts and laws. They’re being damaged by mothers whom all and sundry assume to be model parents and by judges who barely draw breath but to tell us that they’re acting “in the best interests of children.”
    __________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Bias in Family Courts

    National Parents Organization

    April 8, 2015 by Robert Franklin

    Judicial bias? Are there judges who are blatantly anti-father and pro-mother? Many like to pretend it’s not true, but somehow fathers keep losing the custody wars despite a small avalanche of scientific studies demonstrating children’s need to maintain full, meaningful relationships with both parents post-divorce. Plus, fathers continue to be marginalized in their children’s lives by courts despite their marked increase in hands-on parenting by them. All that is true, but the rate of maternal sole or primary custody in the United States has remained statistically unchanged since at least 1993.

    And who knows how much more hands-on parenting fathers would do were it not for that sword of Damocles hanging over their heads – family courts. The simple fact is that every father who can read knows that, if he gets divorced, his chances of maintaining a real relationship with his kids is vanishingly small. So he’s got a choice; he can do what society expects and spend most of his time working and earning or he can curtail his time on the job in order to spend more of it with little Andy or Jenny. If he does the former, he can expect to see his kids every other weekend after the divorce is finalized. If he does the latter, he can expect the same.

    In short, he can opt for a full career and a truncated relationship with his children or he can have a truncated career and a truncated relationship with his kids. Seems like an obvious choice. The point being that divorce courts strongly encourage men to limit their involvement with their kids during marriage. After marriage, they order them to.

    Here in the U.S., Scott Ritchie’s is a case in point. Read my accounts here and here. Scott and his wife decided when their son was born that he should be the stay-at-home parent. She would support the family until the boy started school at which point Scott would get back into paid work. That was the arrangement they both agreed to and both kept their end of the bargain – until their son started first grade. Then Scott’s wife filed for divorce and, sure enough, was given primary custody despite Scott’s having been their son’s primary caregiver for the first six years of the boy’s life. In one hearing, the judge actually stated on the record that he just couldn’t wrap his mind around the idea of a stay-at-home father and that, in the future, he’d stop reflexively giving custody to mothers.

    It’s a cautionary tale for all fathers. At least one small study of family court judges in the U.S. demonstrates their admitted pro-mother bias. The recent analysis of Nebraska child custody cases showed that, in some jurisdictions in the state, fathers essentially never get primary or sole custody, while in others, the mother/father ratio is almost 50/50. How likely is it that the fathers in the second jurisdiction are that much better than in the first? The far more probable conclusion is that the judge in the former believes fathers shouldn’t have custody except in the rarest of circumstances.

    Which brings us to this blatant case of anti-father/pro-mother bias out of South Africa (IOL News, 4/4/15). As in the Ritchie case, the father had been his daughter’s primary caregiver for all of her three years. More remarkably, once the pair decided to divorce, they agreed to a 50-50 split of parenting time, for which I applaud them. As I’ve said many times, it matters little to a child who did the majority of the hands-on parenting. What’s important is that she’s attached to both her parents, the loss of either of whom would be a serious blow to her emotional/psychological development. So, despite the fact that Dad did most of the parenting, it was altogether appropriate that the child should spend time equally with her mother and father after they split up.

    But apparently the court knew better.

    A High court judge told a Joburg businessman that because his child was a girl and only 3 years old, it was not appropriate for him to have “extensive contact” with her.
    Instead, the child should live with her mother and he should have contact with his daughter only on alternate weekends.

    The father, who argued in court that he was the child’s primary caregiver, has spent hundreds of thousands of rand fighting gender bias in a bid to be a parent to his child.

    “Her primary attachment figure is me,” the dad says in court papers.

    “She calls for me in the night and comes to me in the mornings for a cuddle.”

    He told the Saturday Star this week: “I have spent all my available time in the past three years with her, mostly alone. But the judge said it was impossible to believe a mother of a 3-year-old girl would give her away and that in (the judge’s) experience a minor child belonged with her mother, and I could see my daughter only once a month.””¦

    On January 20, the North Gauteng High Court judge declared that “the minor child was a girl and should reside with her mother”.

    “Joint residency is not in the minor’s child best interests in view of her age and the father should have contact with her on alternative weekends.”

    Notice of course that this is “in the minor child’s best interests.” It continues to astonish that every single child custody case is decided in “the child’s best interests,” even when the overwhelming majority of them aren’t. The fact is that judges don’t know the social science on which post-divorce family structure tends to promote child well-being and which don’t. They don’t know the science because they’re not required to know it. So when judges like the one at the North Gauteng High Court intone the mantra of the best interests of children, they’re basically just making it up. That is, they’re consulting their preconceived notions about what children need – a mother, not a father – and issuing their orders accordingly.

    The judge’s bias becomes more apparent when we notice his/her issuance of a no-contact order on behalf of the mother despite the fact that it was based on false claims that were later admitted by her. Still, it served its intended purpose of removing the father from the child’s life.

    Meanwhile, it’s the father who’s been made to pay for extensive factual and psychological investigations ordered by the court. And, again like Ritchie, this father gave up a lucrative job to be his daughter’s primary parent.

    After the couple agreed to file for divorce, his ex-wife secured a protection order against him that allowed him to see his daughter only with supervised access.

    The order was later withdrawn.

    He believed she was using their child as a “pawn” after the breakdown of their marriage.

    “Not only was the basis for the protection order completely false, which my estranged wife later admitted, it was completely malicious and put me in a situation where I was allowed only supervised access to my child.”

    The man was served with the order shortly after he returned from a three-week holiday with his daughter.

    “I have cared for my daughter my entire life. I have never harmed her. I was insulted and took it very personally.

    “My daughter is the best thing that ever happened to me. I changed my job, gave up my executive position in a company so I”¦ could spend most of my time with her, giving her my undivided attention”¦
    The judge ordered the father to pay for an investigation by private individuals, a social worker and psychologist, regarding parental responsibilities and rights in the best interests of the child.

    The father is awaiting this report, which has cost him a further R85 000. “That’s the stigma about being the father of a girl. I can’t accept it. I’ve made a conscious choice to challenge the system,” he said.

    By the time his court battle is over, he expects to have spent close to a R1 million.

    Meanwhile, this father vows to fight the system that he sees as discriminating against fathers. He’s not alone.

    “If I’m not happy with the outcome of this investigation, I’m going to the Constitutional Court. I’ve been advised I’ve got a strong case. I’m fighting for myself and for my daughter. She is the most beautiful, special little girl.””¦

    A group of fathers filed a multimillion-rand damages claim case against the Family Advocate’s office in Pretoria in 2012, saying they had been discriminated against because they were men. The group have been waiting for a court date for more than three years. “The Equality Court is supposed to bring swift justice,” one of the applicants said.

    Steven Pretorius, founder of Fathers-4-Justice, said as more dads fought to secure their rights for greater parental access, there remained an “inherent gender bias against fathers” in raising children.

    In many states, provinces and countries, laws are on the books that do not prevent judges from ordering equal custody. But laws are generally no better than the judges on whom we rely to interpret them fairly, honestly and without prejudice. But all too often, that reliance is misplaced. All too often, judges rule with their hearts and not their minds. And all too often, they’re simply ignorant of the important social science on parenting that frankly demands equal parenting time as long as both parents are fit to care for their children.

    That of course means that one of the keys to shared parenting is educating judges in the science we have on what actually is in the best interests of children when their parents’ divorce.

    https://nationalparentsorganization.org/blog/20929-stay-at-home-dad-loses-custody-part-1

    Stay-at-Home Dad Loses Custody, Part 1

    National Parents Organization

    November 30th, 2011 by Robert Franklin

    I’ve said before that fathers who opt for the stay-at-home dad role should beware. In the event of divorce, courts may still look at them as dads, not as stay-at-home dads. That is, they may get the treatment that’s so familiar to fathers across the country and the English-speaking world – non-custodial status, minimal parenting time, and child support.

    The following is a case in point. It’s also a cautionary tale for any father who considers embracing “role reversal.” What the dad in this case found was that, while he accepted a reversal of sex roles with his wife, family courts did not.

    Scott and Kathleen Ritchie were married in 1994. At the time, he was a well-paid pilot scheduler for American Airlines and she was employed too. For several years they lived a nomadic existence due to the fact that Kathleen often changed jobs seeking better pay. That took them from Hershey, PA to St. Louis to Chicago, back to St. Louis, to Dearborn, MI, and finally to the Kalamazoo, Michigan area where both had extended family and friends.

    When Kathleen discovered she was pregnant in 2003, both parents decided that Scott would be the stay-at-home parent. Kathleen earned more than he did anyway, so the arrangement made sense. For the first six years of their son Kyle’s life, Kathleen worked and received a pay check and Scott stayed home and cared for their son who flourished under the arrangement.

    Kathleen got laid off in the economic downturn in 2009 but eventually found work with Conagra in Omaha earning $120,000 per year. She took that job in October of 2009, but they both wanted to stay in Michigan due to deep family ties there. Kyle had started school, so, according to their agreement, Scott would once again start earning. The plan was for both of them to seek employment in Michigan for one year, and if that didn’t work out, they’d pull up stakes and move – this time to Omaha.

    >From the time she took the job in Nebraska to about the summer of 2010, Scott and Kyle traveled there three or four times, but Kathleen came to Michigan more often. As far as Scott knows though, she never applied for a job there despite the fact that Kellogg’s and Ford had both told her, when she left them, that she was welcome back any time.

    Then, in the summer of 2010, Scott got several surprises. The first was that Kathleen had cleaned out their joint bank accounts, placing all the money – $73,000 – in hers. She also cleaned out the account they’d established for Kyle, about $1,500 in all. A month and a half later, she filed for divorce, demanding custody of Kyle into the bargain.

    Now, recall that Scott was a stay-at-home dad. He hadn’t worked in several years and was way out of the loop in terms of his resume and his work skills. He hadn’t worked and he hadn’t expected to work because that was their arrangement. Now he had a six-year-old son to care for, no job and no money. But he still had credit cards, right? Nope, Kathleen had cancelled them as well. Scott maintained one credit card he’d had before they married, but with no money to pay with, it was largely useless. Due to his wife’s theft of his share of their joint funds, Scott and Kyle had their backs against the wall – no job, no money, no credit.

    Into the bargain, Kathleen also had the utilities cut off in the house in which her husband and son were living. With no job and no money, Scott and Kyle were trapped. This was Michigan in 2010, the depths of the recession.

    Now, you might think that all of that would mean a family judge would immediately issue a temporary order giving Scott custody and making Kathleen pay him child support of at least $2,000 per month. Indeed, you’d probably think that the judge would be fairly ticked off at Kathleen for placing a little boy in such dire financial straits. You might think those things because, if a father had done that to his son and wife, the judge wouldn’t hesitate to throw the book at him.

    But you’d be wrong. In fact, when they went before Referee Richard Minter in January of 2011, he gave custody to Kathleen.

    What were his reasons? Michigan state law required him to consider 12 factors in deciding the relative merits of the parents. Minter decided that all factors weighed equally between the two parents except one – the “capacity and disposition” of the parents to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care and”¦ other material needs.” In other words, Kathleen earned more money than Scott as per their agreement, and therefore should have custody.

    Now, I know what you’re thinking. There are some six million stay-at-home mothers in this country and they don’t all lose custody on divorce because their husbands did the earning in the family. In fact, virtually none of them do. So how could all those other factors be considered equal between the Scott and Kathleen when it was Scott who did the hands-on parenting?

    A few interesting remarks Minter made during the initial hearing suggest the answer. Those made it clear that he simply couldn’t wrap his brain around the concept of a stay-at-home father. Stay-at-home mothers were familiar to him and he enthusiastically approved. But a stay-at-home father was a strange and dangerous animal to the referee. From the trial transcript:

    Page 27, Line 7: “But I really struggled with that whole gender issue. And, you know-and that was the first question in my mind as I sat and went through this. Well, a lot of things.

    Line 13: “You know, if this were the dad that went away and got a job, and a mom who was home, what would I do? And I really, really struggled with that.

    Page 31, Line 9: “On the gender issue, boy, I-the only answer I can give you at this point is that perhaps we are wrong if we look at favoring-and I have always tended to favor stay at home moms. I will admit that. Or stay at home parents. I respect that and admire that very, very much. Given these same circumstances in the future, I will remember this case, and I’m not going to rule in favor of a woman just because she’s a woman from here on in on these kinds of circumstances.

    It doesn’t get a lot clearer than that. Minter admits to having “always tended to favor stay at home moms.” He respects and admires them “very, very much.” But when a dad does the same thing, he all of a sudden doesn’t admire it so much. He also admits to having ruled “in favor of a woman just because she’s a woman.”

    So in the initial phase of his divorce and custody case, Scott Ritchie lost custody of the son he’d raised since birth, not because he was a bad dad, not because he was violent or uninvolved in Kyle’s life. He lost his son for one reason only – he was a stay-at-home dad in a family court system that embraces only stay-at-home moms.

    https://nationalparentsorganization.org/blog/20928-stay-at-home-dad-loses-custody-part-2

    Stay-at-Home Dad Loses Custody, Part 2

    National Parents Organization

    November 30th, 2011 by Robert Franklin

    So it was off to Nebraska for Kyle, in the suddenly-loving care of his mother. I say “suddenly” because before she filed for divorce, she’d never been much of a hands-on-mother. Oh, she loved her son and did what she could for him, but she was a career woman first and a mother second, just the way countless dads are. But once she filed, all that changed and she became the doting mother every judge likes to see.

    But Referee Richard Minter’s decision was only temporary. A second judge, Patricia Conlon, would have to rule on the case and make permanent orders. She did that on October 25, 2011.

    Conlon’s order is like none I’ve ever read. It can be charitably called “rambling.” Much of it is simple a stream of consciousness narrative that veers from legal order to the tone of a school principal correcting a wayward child, to am amateur psychotherapist and back to judge. Conlon contradicts herself more than once and throughout the 34-page order is at pains to construe every ambiguity against Scott Ritchie, the stay-at-home father. It is, in short, a barely coherent exercise in misandry.

    Was Scott a stay-at-home father for all of his son’s life? Yes, Conlon admits that he was, but, according to her, he failed to behave enough like a stay-at-home mother, principally one of, say, 100 years ago.

    First of all, it does not appear that the father was a “homemaker” under the traditional interpretation of that concept held by females for centuries who tended to be the “stay at home parent.”

    True, he cared for his son night and day. True he was an excellent and loving father who has raised a fine little boy to school age. But all of that meant little or nothing to Conlon. Indeed, her opinion entirely skips the first six years of Kyle’s life, preferring to focus on Scott’s failure to get a job prior to his son’s starting school and move to Nebraska to be with his wife.

    Never mind that that was their agreement. Never mind that Kyle was in school in Michigan and had friends and family there. Never mind that, if they couldn’t get work in Michigan, Scott had agreed to move. And never mind that he never refused to move until she filed for divorce and cleaned out their bank accounts.

    It’s a strange judge who finds fault with a stay-at-home father for refusing to displace himself and his child to be with his itinerant wife who’s just stated via her petition for divorce that she wants nothing to do with him. As a client of mine used to say, “That just don’t make no damned sense.” Indeed it doesn’t, but Conlon was just getting started.

    You’re probably wondering what Conlon did with the fact that Kathleen cleaned out their bank accounts. Here’s how. She found fault with Kathleen’s having done that. It seems that, according to Conlon, Kathleen was living the high life in Omaha, while Scott and their son “did without.” That’s not surprising considering she was earning $120,000 a year of her own, plus having taken the $73,000 from their accounts. A single person can live pretty well on that. By contrast, a man and a little boy, with nothing at all to live on fare decidedly worse. All that Conlon called “cruel” on Kathleen’s part.

    But it turns out it was all Scott’s fault. The fact that Scott wanted to stay in Michigan, as they’d agreed to do if possible “led her to withdraw the money from their accounts.” It apparently also led her to refuse to put any of it back when he asked her multiple times to do so. How Scott’s hewing to their agreement that was clearly in Kyle’s best interest meant that he “led her” to make off with their only savings, threatening their child with privation, Conlon doesn’t explain for what must be obvious reasons.

    Conlon’s self-contradictions and inconsistencies make reading her order like driving on a curving road; it almost makes you motion sick trying to follow it. For example, one of the reasons she ended up giving custody to Kathleen is that, after she moved to Omaha, she returned to Michigan to visit Scott and Kyle on occasion. That’s a good thing – a mother visiting her son. Except maybe it isn’t; according to Conlon, “she got tricked” into doing so by Scott. How he did that, she doesn’t say, any more than she says why he’d need to “trick” a mother into visiting her son.

    Another example of Conlon’s bewildering patterns of thought involves the question of what constituted Kyle’s “established custodial environment.” Under Michigan law, a child’s established custodial environment dictates which parent should get custody, all other things being equal.

    Now, follow this if you can. According to Conlon, Minter was wrong to say there was a joint custodial environment because Scott provided that alone at their home near Kalamazoo. Except the minute Kathleen moved to Nebraska, there was a joint custodial environment. That’s because she made the effort to see Kyle after she moved. So Kathleen lived with Scott and Kyle in Michigan, but that’s not a joint custodial environment because Scott was the stay-at-home dad. But when she moved away without either father or son, that created a joint custodial environment because she came back to visit sometimes. You figure it out, because I can’t.

    Then of course there’s the fact that Conlon decided that as of the date of the trial, Kyle’s primary residence was in Omaha because he’d spent most of his time there for six months. What about the six years he’d spent in Michigan with his father? She doesn’t say.

    Then there are the strictly gratuitous slaps she takes at Scott. The most outstanding of which is her opinion that Scott is narcissistic, believing that Kyle is an “extension of himself.” Her basis for that?

    Somewhere (sic) during the course of this marriage, the father began to see the minor child as being an extension of himself and that was evident in his testimony that the wife was “threatening Kyle and me.” This is not rational considering the fact that the child is the child of both parents and not just one, and there was nothing to indicate that the mother was abusive to either the child or the father.

    Nothing more supports her amateur’s diagnosis.

    But more important is the fact that there was indeed proof of abuse. If stealing all their savings, including Kyle’s, leaving father and child destitute, in the middle of a severe recession when the father hadn’t had a job for over six years isn’t threatening, I don’t know what is. But if you’re Judge Patricia Conlon, it not only isn’t abusive, it’s something to use against Scott. He complained about it in court and that, in Conlon’s telling, renders him irrational.

    Well, I know who’s irrational here, but it isn’t Scott Ritchie.

    But the real kicker comes when Conlon lists the factors she’s required by Michigan law to consider in deciding custody. There are 12, and they’re all ties, i.e. neither parent comes out better than the other, except in one instance. Like Minter, Conlon found that Kathleen is more able to provide for the child than Scott is.

    And of course that’s true. Scott, like almost every stay-at-home parent suddenly faced with the need to go to work, is scrambling to do so in one of the worse economies the country has ever seen. Kathleen of course is in the catbird seat.

    But if earning capacity were the thing that tipped the scales, essentially every divorced father in the country would have primary custody of his child. But that’s not so. Indeed, similar analyses of fathers’ and mothers’ contributions describe stay-at-home moms as the next best things to saints, while fathers who go to work every day, just don’t seem to care much about their children. Indeed, that narrative seems to hold that working to support your wife and child is a suspect activity. It likely means the dad is an egoist, more interested in his own career advancement than in his child.

    Let the sexes be reversed, however, and that narrative disappears entirely replaced by, once again, the mother as heroine. And so it is in Conlon’s telling. The fact that Scott stayed home, cared for his son and involved the neighbors in the little boy’s life meant that he was the “social butterfly of the neighborhood.” Has she said the same about mothers who take their little ones to the park to visit with other mothers who’ve done the same? What about mothers who have other moms over for coffee and a chat while the children play? I doubt it.

    The life Scott led was, Conlon writes, “all due to the efforts of his employed wife.” True, just as it is when fathers work to support their children and stay-at-home mothers. But it’s only when a father stays at home that the activity becomes suspect. Did Conlon notice that Kyle’s care was “all due to the efforts of her stay-at-home husband?” She did not, the well-being of the child having temporarily escaped her notice.

    Gone are the encomiums to stay-at-home parents that are so much a fixture of court orders when the parent in question is female. Amazingly enough, Conlon noticed that Kathleen really had little to do with Kyle up until she filed for divorce. Then she became a “more attentive parent than she had been in Michigan.” But no matter that she’d played little part in the boy’s life until it behooved her to do so in her bid for custody. She’s the boy’s mother and Conlon was bound and determined for her to have custody, the facts be damned.

    And so Scott Ritchie lost custody of his son. Indeed, during the school year, he barely gets to see him at all – only on certain holidays. In the summer he’ll have him for two months, and that’s it. Now, if Scott follows his wife to Omaha, then custody is 50/50. But just consider what that means in terms of Kathleen’s propensity for changing jobs and moving here and there. As far as I can count, she’s now done that six times during their 14-year marriage.

    So what Scott can look forward to is following his ex-wife around the country, dutifully paying child support in order to keep contact with the son he did everything to raise. He’ll be like a dog following a nomadic band of humans hoping they’ll throw him a bone.

    In the meantime, what does that do to his ability to establish a career for himself? After all, he no longer has his son, so what’s a dad to do? The workplace is pretty much it, but if he wants to keep contact with his son, he’ll need to keep to Kathleen’s schedule, not his own. And since Kathleen moves so much, Scott will need to do that as well, and at a moment’s notice. How is he supposed to make a career that way? Conlon’s not only damaged Scott’s relationship with his son, she’s destroyed his ability to pursue a career.

    And what about the stability of the child’s home? That’s usually considered extremely important by judges deciding custody. But here, placing Kyle with the mother who’s taken little part in his care and who moves every couple of years is preferred to the stable home environment provided by the boy’s father who’s been his sole caregiver almost all his life.

    >From now on, remember the name Scott Ritchie. He’s the father who did everything right, who played the game by the mothers’ playbook. He’s a doting and fine father who devoted his life to his son, only to have the boy taken from him by courts that blatantly apply a double standard to men and women. Stay-at-home moms get primary custody almost without exception and their selflessness is praised to the heavens.

    Stay-at-home dads? Not so much. Ever suspicious of fathers, the courts in Scott Ritchie’s case went to absurd lengths to discredit him for doing exactly what countless mothers do.

    The case is a disgrace of which any judge of decent sensibilities would be ashamed.

    It seems like good fathers just can’t win for losing.

    http://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/gauteng/dad-fights-for-access-to-daughter-1.1840958#.VSKnHE10yUk

    Dad fights for access to daughter

    IOL News

    April 4 2015

    By Sheree Bega Comment on this story

    Johannesburg – A High court judge told a Joburg businessman that because his child was a girl and only 3 years old, it was not appropriate for him to have “extensive contact” with her.

    Instead, the child should live with her mother and he should have contact with his daughter only on alternate weekends.

    The father, who argued in court that he was the child’s primary caregiver, has spent hundreds of thousands of rand fighting gender bias in a bid to be a parent to his child.

    “Her primary attachment figure is me,” the dad says in court papers.

    “She calls for me in the night and comes to me in the mornings for a cuddle.”

    He told the Saturday Star this week: “I have spent all my available time in the past three years with her, mostly alone. But the judge said it was impossible to believe a mother of a 3-year-old girl would give her away and that in (the judge’s) experience a minor child belonged with her mother, and I could see my daughter only once a month.”

    This was after both parents had agreed and signed off on a settlement for joint residence on a 50-50 basis.

    On January 20, the North Gauteng High Court judge declared that “the minor child was a girl and should reside with her mother”.

    “Joint residency is not in the minor’s child best interests in view of her age and the father should have contact with her on alternative weekends.”

    After the couple agreed to file for divorce, his ex-wife secured a protection order against him that allowed him to see his daughter only with supervised access.

    The order was later withdrawn.

    He believed she was using their child as a “pawn” after the breakdown of their marriage.

    “Not only was the basis for the protection order completely false, which my estranged wife later admitted, it was completely malicious and put me in a situation where I was allowed only supervised access to my child.”

    The man was served with the order shortly after he returned from a three-week holiday with his daughter.

    “I have cared for my daughter my entire life. I have never harmed her. I was insulted and took it very personally.

    “My daughter is the best thing that ever happened to me. I changed my job, gave up my executive position in a company so I”¦ could spend most of my time with her, giving her my undivided attention.

    “In the past three years, I’ve literally done what a mother should be doing. If you look at the 1 068 days of my child’s existence, I took care of her emotional and physical needs for 80 percent of the time.”

    In court papers, his estranged wife claims the man was always “working and gambling”, but he countered in his replying affidavit that this was malicious and untrue.

    He revealed how his phone was always switched off when he got home, and he would answer it to do work only after his daughter had been put to bed at 8pm. According to the interim court-ordered parental plan, which the judge delivered on January 23, pending the outcome of an investigation begged for on an urgent basis, the child may stay with her father for two weekends a month and every alternate Saturday. He may also have daily telephonic contact with the child.

    “It is evident my child needs me desperately. In the past 63 days, I’ve had my child for about 40 days, mostly with sleepovers. If that’s not enough evidence I’m the primary caregiver, then I don’t know.”

    The judge ordered the father to pay for an investigation by private individuals, a social worker and psychologist, regarding parental responsibilities and rights in the best interests of the child.

    The father is awaiting this report, which has cost him a further R85 000. “That’s the stigma about being the father of a girl. I can’t accept it. I’ve made a conscious choice to challenge the system,” he said.

    By the time his court battle is over, he expects to have spent close to a R1 million.

    “If I’m not happy with the outcome of this investigation, I’m going to the Constitutional Court. I’ve been advised I’ve got a strong case. I’m fighting for myself and for my daughter. She is the most beautiful, special little girl.”

    In 2011, dad Phillip Engelbrecht successfully applied to the high court for custody after the mother of his 2-year-old son walked out on them.

    A group of fathers filed a multimillion-rand damages claim case against the Family Advocate’s office in Pretoria in 2012, saying they had been discriminated against because they were men. The group have been waiting for a court date for more than three years. “The Equality Court is supposed to bring swift justice,” one of the applicants said.

    Steven Pretorius, founder of Fathers-4-Justice, said as more dads fought to secure their rights for greater parental access, there remained an “inherent gender bias against fathers” in raising children.

    Kids scarred by high-conflict divorces or forced to grow up without dads “further suffer at the hands of institutions intended to safeguard (them)”. – Saturday Star

  2. MurrayBacon says:

    Pragmatic solution for children that furthers their best interersts when divorced parents can’t get along.

    http://thestir.cafemom.com/being_a_mom/182295/i_cant_coparent_with_my

    I can’t co-parent with my ex so we do the next best thing

    Jenny Erikson

    To say that my ex-husband and I don’t get along is a bit of an understatement. Sometimes I hear about those exes who discover they actually can be friends after a divorce, and effectively co-parent their children together. Um, what’s that like? I have no idea.

    The tricky part is that we have joint custody of our two school-aged daughters. It’s a 50 percent split — equal time with each parent. You’d think we’d have to come together and co-parent for our kids, display a united front, make decisions together, etc., but we don’t.

    We don’t co-parent; we parallel parent, and that’s a whole other ball game.
    ……….

    As for our kids, here’s what happens:
    We don’t have conversations about the girls other than when we absolutely have to meet with one of their teachers or a therapist. We don’t sit together at school functions. We don’t have dinner as the four of us anymore — ever. We even arranged it so that we barely have to have any contact. Every Monday morning, one of us drops them off at school, and the other one picks them up that afternoon.

    …………
    Sometimes it’s just not possible, and you have to work with what you’ve got.
    We didn’t plan on this, or come up with some grand master scheme with a court-appointed mediation counselor …
    we just sort of fell into it organically. It’s what happens when every conversation is tense, wildly uncomfortable, and full of accusations and passive-aggressiveness.
    How does it work? We just trust each other to keep the kids healthy, safe, and get them to school on time. That’s it. I think he’s overly strict with them, and he got peeved when I let our 11-year-old read Twilight and The Hunger Games. He doesn’t allow sugar cereal; I toss Pop-Tarts at them in the car on the way to school. We go to churches of different denominations. Santa doesn’t visit his house, and the kids aren’t always in bed by nine at mine.
    We have learned to let it go when the other parent does something that we don’t see eye-to-eye on.
    Which is basically everything.
    ………
    He’s really not a jerk when it comes to our daughters. It’s just that our parenting styles are as incompatible as our personalities, so we have to agree to disagree, and do things our own way when we’re the custodial parent.
    Of course conflicts will arise that cannot be brushed off. Our daughter had recently decided that she didn’t want to go on her sixth grade class trip, but my ex was insistent that she go. He thought it would be good for her, build character, and was deeply afraid that she’d eventually regret not going.
    I wanted her to go too, but seeing how adamant and articulate she was about not wanting to, I thought it would be a good learning experience. Yes, she’d likely regret not going, but what a great opportunity to learn the consequences of decision making.
    Thankfully I have a therapist worth his weight in gold, and we managed to come up with a solution for that quandary without actually having to reach an agreement about it. My ex, my daughter, and I all get one big trump card, something that we can use to supersede each other in order to get what we want. Her dad decided to play his card and make her go on the trip, but she knows that she has a big “get out of jail free” card in her back pocket. I know I’ll be able to play mine at some point in the future, perhaps to allow her to participate in an activity he’d ordinarily disapprove of.
    She feels reassured that she’ll be able to say no to something he feels strongly about her doing in the future, and he is satisfied that she is going on the camping trip. Mostly I just feel grateful for the reminder of oh that’s why we got divorced.
    Of course it would be great if we could level with each other and figure out parenting solutions together, but that’s only possible when you at least share some of the same philosophies. Traditional co-parenting just isn’t an option with some couples, when neither parent is willing to concede enough to come to a mutual agreement about something.
    This arrangement allows our kids to have healthy, loving relationships with both of us, without them having to be in the middle of our constant, harmful conflict.
    Yes, it’s hard, but at the end of the day, this is what’s best for them, and that’s all that matters. And who knows? Maybe someday my ex will decide he can be friends with me after all. Heh — I won’t hold my breath.

Leave a Reply

Please note that comments which do not conform with the rules of this site are likely to be removed. They should be on-topic for the page they are on. Discussions about moderation are specifically forbidden. All spam will be deleted within a few hours and blacklisted on the stopforumspam database.

This site is cached. Comments will not appear immediately unless you are logged in. Please do not make multiple attempts.

Skip to toolbar