Men stuff® has compiled information, books and resources on the issue of divorce and custody. Photo upper left Carole Patterson.
If you are married and think it's happy, that's great. However, if underneith it all, she's not happy, she has asked you to change and maybe you did, but went back to your normal way of being, it builds up. Even the things you think are "little things", count up. If you really don't want to change, that's okay. Talk those things out. Because, if you don't, it takes about 3 years, with many wives, and at some point she wants out. Chances are that any change you agree to at that point is too late. She doesn't trust you because you reniged too many times before. It's over. I hope you "get it" before it's too late.
"Broken: Two men after divorce" 8:48
Divorce Corp. Powerful Cinematic Indictment of the Family Courts. Together we will make shared parenting and gender equality in family law the norm. Watch the trailers.
Newsbytes - News and information
Divorce Calculator shows odds your marriage will last
Divorce Decree -
Signs You're Heading for Divorce
Dos & Don'ts - Before, During and After the Trial
Defending Divorce, Really?
Broken hearts: A rundown of the divorce capital of every state
Welcome To The Danger Zone
Can a Spouse Quit Work Just Before and During Divorce Proceedings?
Divorce Facts . . . Divorce does affect our children and their future . . .
Alternate Dispute Methods and Tools Available in our Community
Divorce can be Deadly
Fathers Rights Swept Under the Rug
The Effects of Divorce on Children
Your first post-divorce date
Australian Group Urges "Don't be a Dad!"
Debenhams Creates Divorce Registry
Children & Divorce
What No One Tells the Groom - Some Legal Consequences of Marriage and Premarital Agreement
Father Figures - A Different Perspective from Ms. Magazine
Improve your relationship
Get out of your relationship
know you're getting divorced if...
Five steps for cleaning up your credit after a divorce
12 Tried and True Rules for Dealing with Your Ex after Divorce
Inconsistency Concerning Consistency
The Fair Way - Something New in Divorce Mediation
Paying the Bills for Life
California Kids are Cheated by Support
Your Tax Dollars at Work, Part I
Your Tax Dollars at Work, Part II
The Divorced Father's Quilt
The WriteConnection Program
Custodial/Non-Custodial Parent Record Keeper
Family Laws Grow in California
Fathers Movement or Family Rights Movement, you decide.
Related issues: Talking With Kids About Tough Issues, DNA Testing, Divorce Terms
How to Talk with Mom and Child (Downloadable)
Resources: Divorce, Families, Catalogues (some provide lists of lawyers), Requests for Help (See right sidebar.)
I want a divorce...
not from you,
but from the feelings I get
when you walk away
before I finish my sentence.
I want my freedom...
from the startled gasp I utter
when you erupt at the computer,
or rage at the screwdriver
for its poor design,
for not cooperating,
or breaking in your angry hands.
I want a separation...
from the deep heartache
that pushes tears through my eyes,
shut tight in the dark
against the sight of love's remains,
Late at night, I want to leave...
those feelings of being alone
right there beside you,
beside your fitful twitches and
grumbling snores, asleep, yet not at rest.
I want a divorce,
from the resignation that lines my face
creasing my girlish image of love
dulling the vibrant glow, now pale and wan.
I need to split
from the need
for my fantasy,
the partner I imagined you could become,
the expectations I invented
from seeds of lust,
mingled with hope and
I want to stay married,
to the silly jokes only we understand,
the friends we share,
the miraculous children born from our passion.
I want to live together,
as we watch our tiny girls bloom,
bound by the love we share for them,
the love that heals our ragged souls.
I want to keep my promise,
to honor you, my sweet,
and keep the sacred oath
to love you for the rest of my life.
To offer my caress at night
as friend and lover.
I want a divorce
from this need to prove I'm right,
and from my smoldering anger
whenever you raise your voice so urgently.
Perhaps you truly intend
it as an offering of help.
I want a separation
perhaps then I'll be free
to let patience and warmth
soothe this heart grown vacant and cool.
So, look not for legal papers
delivered by a stranger's deft hand.
They are not coming in the mail
to deliver the crushing blow
and end this battle
with words and terms.
I want a divorce...
from disdain and tears,
that I may offer you my smile
and feel it warm my face,
happy being free at last
and choosing to remain.
See more at www.Themestream.com/articles/167266.html is the link to "After Ten Years" and wwwThemestream.com/articles/167107.html linked to "Love and Anger"
Divorce Statistics (1993)
Total divorces granted: 78,226
Rate per 1,000 population: 2.7
Median age at divorce: Males: 38 Females: 36
Median duration of marriage: 10 years
Estimated number of dependent children involved in divorce: 36,252
Signs You're Heading for Divorce
Being Opposites We have all heard the old saying that "opposites attract:". They may attract, but they don't seem to stick. In fact, while many divorce attorneys mentioned that it is fine and healthy to have different interests, spouses need to be more alike than different to make it to a silver wedding anniversary.
Sex: Many divorce clients confess to living in a sexless or nearly sexless marriage...not days or weeks without sex, but many, many years.
The Grass is Greener: Many child get divorced because they think that somewhere else the grass is greener. After spending a lot of time in this business I can tell you that the grass is not greener.
The In-Law Factor. In-laws are one of the biggest causes of divorce. Parents won't leave their kids alone. Parents ought to take a course on how to be in-laws.
Infidelity. Nearly 100 divorce attorneys agreed...while many of their clients blamed their divorce on infidelity, the infidelity itself wasn't the "cause" of the divorce. Stated another way, divorce lawyers rarely see marriages that are otherwise healthy and happy marriages but for the infidelity.
Second marriages. Most second marriages typically fail for one of two reasons. Reason one is that people choose a second spouse who is very similar to their first. The second reason..is that raising stepchildren and dealing with the former spouses, is so difficult that many second marriages collapse under the pressure.
The Marriage Fix. Many divorce attorneys cited "marriage will change my soouse" as a common unrealistic expectation that frequently leads to divorce. The priest, minister or judge who performs the marriage ceremony doesn't hae the power to change essential attributes of the bridge and groom.
Drug and Alcohol Addiction. "In one-third of the cases that I see there is some evidence of alcohol, illegal drug, or prescription drug abuse. Whatever the addiction, the effect is the same. If left untreated, the addiction can ultimately destroy the marriage.
Disillusionment. According to an article that appearsd in the Los Angeles Times titled :Can Suyccess in Marriage be Predicted?", couples who were most vulnerable to disillusionment had brief courtships. In a whirlwind romance, it's easy to paint an unrealistically rost picture of the relatinship.
Growing Apart. Examples of how couples grow apart fit into eight scenarios: The Kidaholic, The Workaholic, The Hobbyaholic, Age, Marriages between Opposites, Changes in Goals and Values, Intellectual and Social Differences, and Marriages between Straight and Gay Spouses.
Communication. Many people get divorced because they never form that communication bridge, and they lose patience with each other. They don't spend the intellectual capital to come up with joint solutions to their problems.
Lack of Commitment. Several of the divorced people that I
interviewed told me that they had serious doubts about their future
spouses before the wedding date...the mistakenly thought that it
would be easier to go through with the ceremony and obtain a divorce
if things did not work out, than to phone guests with the news that
the wedding was off.
Welcome To The Danger Zone
In those cases where the woman has come to the point of no return, wants out of the marriage and demands a divorce is usually her time in the danger zone. Her husband's immediate reaction can cause a host of emotions; not the least of which is fear that he may become physically violent. And those initial emotions can drive a divorce in unforeseen directions.
But for men, the danger zone they experience is much farther down the divorce path. And it doesn't come suddenly but instead builds up slowly over time. It comes at the point when emotional exhaustion is reached and he has realized the woman he married is not the woman he is divorcing. It comes when she has worn him down with endless delays in court and hammered him in front of the judge about how she's "afraid of him" with vague references that are as flimsy as wet toilet paper. All the game playing with the children's visitation time, the parental alienation she may be indulging in and the overprotective mother act that makes it look like he can't care for his own child has him gobsmacked...and vulnerable.
It takes just four words for me to know a man is in the "Danger Zone." He just has to say one specific phrase and I know that I have to launch into my role as coach, cheerleader, personal therapist, life coach, dating coach, financial advisor and spiritual support system for a brother who has been beaten and battered by the words and games of his soon-to-be-ex.
Once I hear the four words, I know that we are on the brink of defeat. He's about to give in and lose his past, his present and most of his future. When he says the "Danger Zone" words, he's in real trouble.
What are the words? "I just want out."
That's it. That's all it takes for me to know that I have a client who is about to sign his life away.
I've seen it hundreds of times. She works him over emotionally for months, in some cases, for years. By the time he's in my office, he's lost birthdays, holidays, countless weekends and midweek dinners with his kids. He's answered hundreds of inane questions, and produced mountains of financial documents.
It's at this point, when he's reached the end of his emotional rope, where he makes spectacularly bad decisions. He will agree to a lifetime of non-modifiable spousal support and is as flexible to her as a pair of pantyhose.
"I just want out" is the dying refrain of a man in a divorce.
It's painful to watch. I spend hours talking beaten-down men off the cliff of "I just want out." I remind them that the deals they make today have to be paid tomorrow. I tell them to go to Vegas, get drunk, do anything to get some distance and all will be better in the morning.
Keeping a man's spirits up during the lengthy process of a contested divorce is a major role and purpose for a lawyer like me. My job is not just to fight for the visitation schedule that a father deserves but to keep his resolve to leave the marriage with as much money as she gets. It's my job to create an exit plan for the spousal support and to have my eye on his future. Because in the fog of war - he can't see.
I remind my men that in a few months they'll lose the "Partner Pudge" they put on, he'll be out in a bar or hanging out with friends, and the game will have changed from when he was married.
Frequently my pep talks work. In those cases, when I've used every argument I have to keep him from giving up and I succeed, invariably he comes back to me in a year and thanks me. He tells me I was right. He's realized that there are many more women out there for him, that he has found a way to make the time with his children count, and he's grateful that he didn't sign his life away because he was thinking "I just want out."
Guiding a man through the "Danger Zone" is difficult, painful, and frequently frustrating. And oftentimes no matter how much I warn a client what may be in his future, many feel that it won't happen to them. Maybe it's a 'guy" thing. The reality is that we all want to throw up our hands sometimes and scream, "Enough!" But in the all too frequently rough and tumble world of divorce, where words slice like daggers and false statements are often viewed as fact, that surrender flag a man waves can actually be the start of another battle.
David T. Pissara's book, A Man's Guide To Divorce Strategy,
can be purchased here.
Defending Divorce, Really?
So, given my view of many Boulderites, I shouldn't have been surprised to read an article in a local paper entitled "Defending Divorce. When nearly one out of every two marriages ends in divorce, I'm certain that divorce hardly needs a defense. But that's not the reason for my dismay. The article was filled with erroneous assumptions and information.
The author considered it to be "meddling" that a proposed law requiring couples with children to take a class about the impact of divorce and for then go through a "cooling off" period before being allowed to divorce, demonstrated no appreciation for the havoc divorce leaves in its wake, especially when children are involved. Children have no veto power in a decision that forever alters their lives in often not-so-positive ways. The least responsible parents can do is learn about the insidious ways divorce effects their children. And as to the "cooling off" period, while it might not help, it certainly can't hurt.
Furthermore, in regards to the waiting period, the author wrote, "Once two people have decided they can't stand the sight of each other, there's really no place to go." Excuse me, but as a therapist specializing in work with couples on the brink for nearly three decades, I'm here to tell you, divorce is almost always a unilateral decision, leaving the desperate spouse in the dust. I'm certain that the left-behind spouse would jump at the chance to slow things down.
Additionally, while admittedly there are many, many unhealthy marriages, the author assumed there are two ways of handling this dilemma- getting out or staying miserable forever. But certainly, there is another realistic possible outcome- improving the quality of relationships so that both spouses feel happier and more connected. In the last decade, there has been a proliferation of effective, marriage-friendly therapy and evidenced-based marriage education classes that truly change the dynamics in failing relationships.
Should this new legislation pass, the author worried that women will get stuck in psychologically abusive relationships with alcoholic, controlling husbands. (A bit of male-bashing?) Research suggests that severe problems such as this account for only 10 to 15% of all divorces. The remainder of marital dissolutions is due to garden variety problems such as poor communication, growing apart or an inability to manage conflict, all of which are solvable problems.
The author and I do agree on point; it should be more difficult to get married. A marriage license requires little more than a few bucks, a blood test and some signatures, hardly solid preparation for a challenging, lifetime commitment. But the good news is that today's pre-marital classes are much more informative and life-transforming that those offered in the past. Furthermore, relationship skill-building classes are now required in many junior and senior high classes throughout the country. Indeed, prevention is key.
And yes, as the author suggested, more women than men file for divorce- two thirds, to be exact, but as someone in the front lines with couples, the causes the author cited for these filings- women's unfair share of housework and childcare, infidelity, money problems and so on- are merely red herrings. Most women leave because they feel emotionally neglected despite years of trying to get their husbands to be more responsive. Again, with help, these problems can be resolved.
Divorce should not be looked at as a jailbreak from prison. Research tells us that, contrary to popular belief, people in long-term healthy marriages live longer, are healthier, happier and do significantly better financially. Their children do better across countless dimensions as well.
So before jumping to the conclusion that putting a beat between
the decision to divorce and moving out is Big Brother in action,
consider the benefits of spouses working things out, keeping their
families together and tucking their kids in bed at
Source: Michele Weiner-Davis, The Divorce Busting Center, 800-664-2435
Can a Spouse Quit Work Just Before and During Divorce Proceedings?
Spousal support is usually ordered in situations where the marriage has lasted more than 10 years and there are children living at home. In situations where the marriage has been shorter, if requested, spousal support is usually awarded for 1/2 the period of time the couple were married. If the marriage was short, both spouses are employed, and there are no children, kiss the idea of spousal support good-bye (if not immediately, then in the very near future), unless one of the spouses is absolutely loaded and the other spouse has become accustomed to living the good life. Then, in reality, any prenuptual agreement would be binding or a "buy-out" settlement would be reached.
Spousal support can be awarded to either spouse who isn't employed or who has a history of sporadic employment (e.g., If Flor had actually divorced Harold, she would have had to pay him spousal support if he were to have asked for it. Although he made lots of money on occasion, he usually didn't make any, and Flo always had a stable, well-paying job, and obtained health insurance, etc., for the family through her employment).
Now, as far as someone quitting a job just before or just after filing for divorce. . . Under Family Code Section 4320, and under the case, In Re the Marriage of Gavron, a person has a reasonable period of time within which to find a job. "Reasonable" varies from situation to situation, depending on what the unemployed spouse does for a living, education, etc.; however, if that spouse does not make a good faith effort to find meaningful employment, the Court will impute an income to that spouse, and he/she will have to pay the support regardless of whether he/she is employed. The Court really, really frowns on people who try to fuck with the system.
Right on the back of the Judgment (Family Law) form (Form No. 1287), there is a little box that you can check that says, "NOTICE: It is the goal of this state that each party shall make reasonable good faith efforts to become self-supporting as provided for in Family Code Section 4320. The failure to make reasonable good faith efforts may be one of the factors considered by the court as a basis for modifying or terminating spousal support."
Of course, this is California law. Other states may differ, but there is a Uniform Family Law Act, and many of the states are now following the same rules.
(Editor: This has not be verified.) Statistically, men quit their jobs during this process FAR more often than women. Men seem to think that if they quit their jobs, they will not have to pay spousal or child support. I mean, there isn't "Deadbeat Mom" legislation, is there? (I know that there are mothers who, indeed, flake on child support, but the overwhelming majority of people who shirk their support obligations are men. That's just the way it is.) Men are usually the ones who want to maintain their power over their ex-spouse, and the way to do it is through money (gee, kind of like being married and a stay-at-home mom). They tend to be so blinded by their power that they fail to see how the children are being harmed in the process. (Editor: Here she is using raw numbers, since men obviously are the ones most often required to pay support. However, research shows that, of those required to pay support, there is a larger percentage of women who don't pay support than men who don't pay support. So, yes, there should be Dead Beat Mom legislation. But then, most states don't really care aboutr fairness (see this story.)
For your reading pleasure, I have pasted the text of Section 4320 below (along with the other sections that come right after it because that's how I copied it off the net). Oh, by the way, the website for the California Codes is www.leginfo.ca.gov, and I wouldn't be surprised if there's one for Oregon, too. It makes fascinating reading.
4320. In ordering spousal support under this part, the court shall consider all of the following circumstances:
(a) The extent to which the earning capacity of each party is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage, taking into account all of the following:
(1) The marketable skills of the supported party; the job market for those skills; the time and expenses required for the supported party to acquire the appropriate education or training to develop those skills; and the possible need for retraining or education to acquire other, more marketable skills or employment.
(2) The extent to which the supported party's present or future earning capacity is impaired by periods of unemployment that were incurred during the marriage to permit the supported party to devote time to domestic duties.
(b) The extent to which the supported party contributed to the attainment of an education, training, a career position, or a license by the supporting party.
(c) The ability of the supporting party to pay spousal support, taking into account the supporting party's earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets, and standard of living.
(d) The needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage.
(e) The obligations and assets, including the separate property, of each party.
(f) The duration of the marriage.
(g) The ability of the supported party to engage in gainful employment without unduly interfering with the interests of dependent children in the custody of the party.
(h) The age and health of the parties.
(i) Documented evidence of any history of domestic violence, as defined in Section 6211, between the parties, including, but not limited to, consideration of emotional distress resulting from domestic violence perpetrated against the supported party by the supporting party, and consideration of any history of violence against the supporting party by the supported party.
(j) The immediate and specific tax consequences to each party.
(k) The balance of the hardships to each party.
(l) The goal that the supported party shall be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time. Except in the case of a marriage of long duration as described in Section 4336, a "reasonable period of time" for purposes of this section generally shall be one-half the length of the marriage. However, nothing in this section is intended to limit the court's discretion to order support for a greater or lesser length of time, based on any of the other factors listed in this section, Section 4336, and the circumstances of the parties.
(m) The criminal conviction of an abusive spouse shall be considered in making a reduction or elimination of a spousal support award in accordance with Section 4325.
(n) Any other factors the court determines are just and equitable.
4321. In a judgment of dissolution of marriage or legal separation of the parties, the court may deny support to a party out of the separate property of the other party in any of the following circumstances:
(a) The party has separate property, or is earning the party's own livelihood, or there is community property or quasi-community property sufficient to give the party proper support.
(b) The custody of the children has been awarded to the other party, who is supporting them.
4322. In an original or modification proceeding, where there are no children, and a party has or acquires a separate estate, including income from employment, sufficient for the party's proper support, no support shall be ordered or continued against the other party.
4323. (a) (1) Except as otherwise agreed to by the parties in writing, there is a rebuttable presumption, affecting the burden of proof, of decreased need for spousal support if the supported party is cohabiting with a person of the opposite sex. Upon a determination that circumstances have changed, the court may modify or terminate the spousal support as provided for in Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 3650) of Part 1.
(2) Holding oneself out to be the husband or wife of the person with whom one is cohabiting is not necessary to constitute cohabitation as the term is used in this subdivision.
(b) The income of a supporting spouse's subsequent spouse or nonmarital partner shall not be considered when determining or modifying spousal support.
(c) Nothing in this section precludes later modification or termination of spousal support on proof of change of circumstances.
4324. In addition to any other remedy authorized by law, when a spouse is convicted of attempting to murder the other spouse, as punishable pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 664 of the Penal Code, the injured spouse shall be entitled to a prohibition of any temporary or permanent award for spousal support or medical, life, or other insurance benefits or payments from the injured spouse to the other spouse.
As used in this section, "injured spouse" means the spouse who has been the subject of the attempted murder for which the other spouse was convicted, whether or not actual physical injury occurred.
4325. (a) In any proceeding for dissolution of marriage where there is a criminal conviction for an act of domestic violence perpetrated by one spouse against the other spouse entered by the court within five years prior to the filing of the dissolution proceeding, or at any time thereafter, there shall be a rebuttable presumption affecting the burden of proof that any award of temporary or permanent spousal support to the abusive spouse otherwise awardable pursuant to the standards of this part should not be made.
(b) The court may consider documented evidence of a convicted spouse's history as a victim of domestic violence, as defined in Section 6211, perpetrated by the other spouse, or any other factors the court deems just and equitable, as conditions for rebutting this presumption.
(c) The rebuttable presumption created in this section may be
rebutted by a preponderance of the evidence.
Divorce Facts . . . Divorce does affect our children and their future . . .
Alternate Dispute Methods and Tools Available in our Community
each of these processes.
Divorce Dos and Don'ts
For most men, the best and often times only friend is their wife. They can't reach out to someone else in a difficult time, especially when faced with a tough situation with this best friend. The wife, on the other hand, usually has a number of friends who she shares information with and receives advice from long before you know there is any problem. Not only are you alone, but you're months if not years behind in her planning process. We have provided this information to help you start catching up. However, one of the best things you can do is network with men friends about what's going on, not only for emotional support, but for factual support as well - what to do in your specific case, who to retain, etc. Do not wait! Once the court makes a ruling on any one item, it is next to impossible to get that situation heard again. Do it right the first time! This usually means getting all the moral support you can muster plus retaining an excellent divorce lawyer.
DO: Admit to yourself you have a problem: How to obtain an
DON'T: Move out of the house unless so ordered by a court (or advised by a professional you respect)
DO: Close joint accounts and cancel credit cards.
DON'T: Forget that you, too, have constitutional rights
DO: Make sure your wife cannot obtain your business and personal financial records. If you keep that information at home, remove it to a more secure location,DON'T: Tell your children horror stories about their mother: there is no need to make them trek through the muck too
DO: Try for a reasonable out-of-court settlement if possible
DON'T: Use your wife's lawyer.
DO: Contact various men's rights/divorce-reform groups and consider joining them; ask their advice on choosing an attorney.
DON'T: Be afraid to ask a potential lawyer for your case any and all questions you want to ask.
DO: Get a lawyer who specializes in divorce. Attempt to determine what their fees will be.
DON'T: Work with a lawyer who is defeatist about your chances for some success.
DO: Make sure, if there are children, they understand that you are not divorcing them.
DON'T: Leave all your friends behind and become a hermit.
DO: Keep a written record of all incidents pertinent to the divorce: names, dates, etc.
DON'T: Discuss any proposed settlement with your wife and/or her lawyer unless your lawyer is present.
DO: Rent a post-office box to receive correspondence that you do not wish having your wife open or see.
DON'T: Avoid your children if you move out of the house, even though you will probably be tested by them much of the time.
DO: Ask yourself which parent, in all honesty, would be better for the children; ask yourself also if you have the psychological and financial strength to go through a custody fight. While doing this, don't assume that she is any better at being a parent merely because she is a woman.
DON'T: Take your children with you if you leave home unless you are absolutely sure you know what you are doing and what effect it will have on them.
DO: Tone down your lifestyle during the divorce proceedings. Don't entertain lavishly or travel extensively; cut down on purchases of clothing and household goods. Judges usually away maintenance payments based on a couple's standard of living before the divorce, so the sooner you lower the standard, the less you may have to pay.
DON'T: Rely on psychiatrists, psychologists or social workers to support you once the case is scheduled for court; they are reluctant witnesses in such a situation.
DO: Learn about the judges who might sit on your case. Ask for a different judge if you are assigned one who seems prejudiced. (This is where the picking of a god divorce lawyer comes in. Also, a good divorce lawyer will probably know whom the lawyer who is working for your wife will work.)
DON'T: Converse from anger. Either before, during or after the trial.
DO: Consider having your divorce lawyer present if a court-appointed social worker interviews your children.
DO: Attend all depositions, court sessions, etc., even if
your attorney tells you he has no need for you.
DON'T: Sign any decree or settlement until you understand every word.
DO: Obtain and keep copies of transcripts of all proceedings.
DON'T: Be afraid to change lawyers if your interests are not being defended as you think they should be.
DO: Get specific visitation rights if you don't get custody, joint custody or joint physical custody.
DON'T: Panic when, as is likely, the court awards your former-wife custody of your children; remember how high the odds were against you and realize that no institution, state or malicious person can dictate your children's feelings about you; that is a matter between you and your kids.
DO: Claim tax exemptions for the children you are supporting.
DON'T: Agree to alimony unless there are exceptional circumstances (a sick or aged wife, etc.).
DO: Keep a tab on your attorney's fees; also estimate your wife's fees.
DON'T: Agree to child support based strictly on your income; try to have the children's needs considered but nothing else.
DO: Take a reasonable settlement any time you can get it; just because you have begun a court case does not mean you have to end it.
DON'T: Agree to pay all medical expenses for the children, as you could find incredible bills for not much illness; medical insurance is another matter and is more logical.
DO: Fight with everything you have to keep the kids from appearing in court.
DON'T: Be sloppy about wills, trusts and insurance; make sure the beneficiaries are who you want them to be.
DO: Understand that you are undergoing a test that drives some men to suicide; the anxiety you may feel is not abnormal or a sign of weakness; the male is almost inevitably the underdog in divorce court, and what you are feeling matches the facts.
DON'T: Discontinue paying child support even if your former wife interferes with your visitation rights. They are two different issues, in the eyes of the court, and you must keep focused on positive steps to maintain visitation versus using revenge in responding to her revenge tactics. (In most states, there are ways to force court ordered visitation and, if your former wife denies visitation, the information may be used to rehear the custody issue. Usually, a former wife who interrupts, interferes or refuses visitations is not acting in the best interest of the child.
DO: Fulfill your visitation rights and see your children
regularly. (As much as you possibly can or are allowed!)
DON'T: Review all the details of the divorce with your children.
DO: Obey the divorce agreement, even if your former-wife violates it; continue to pay child support if she denies you visitation. You want a solid case should you have to go back to court.
DON'T: Be afraid to socialize; you are not a leper; you are simply a divorced male, and you have a lot of brothers who have been through the same thing.
DO: Avoid contact with your former-wife as much as you can unless you can develop a very amiable relationship and become friends. It is valuable for children and their friends to see that parents don't need to become enemies during or after a divorce, but can separate and yet be very civil to and around each other.
DON'T: Be overly possessive of your children; they, too, need time to adjust to the new situation.
DO: Keep a complete record of all the financial support you give your children. Keep all correspondence relating to the divorce, in case you have to return to court. Don't pay in cash. Check out the Custodial/Non-Custodial Parent Record Keeper by Janice Todd. Cope More, 2626 F Coffee Rd, Ste 200, Modesto, CA 95355.
DON'T: Use your children as spies to find about things about their mother.
DO: Forgive yourself for mistakes you have made and go on to lead the best life you can; fight off sentimentality when dealing with your children and confront them as a man who has self-respect and who has made the best of a bad situation.
Children & Divorce
In the U.S. during 1990, only 58% of children lived with two biological parents, although more than 79% lived in two-parent households. Most of the remaining children lived in a variety of other types of households headed by one or more adults. Whatever his or her family structure, a child has the best opportunity to thrive only when the household provides a loving, nurturing, stable and protective environment.
Divorce receives a great deal of attention in the professional and academic literature as well as in other media. Our goal is not to repeat this literature, but rather to highlight key issues in divorce that are particularly significant for the well-being of children. These issues include the actual process of divorce, custody and visitation decisions, ad the financial support of children following divorce. However, it is important first to appreciate the dimensions of divorce in this nation: how many children are affected by divorce, who they are, what living arrangements are made for them, and how these arrangements relate to other major trends in domestic situations for children. It is also helpful to put this problem in historic perspective. And of great import is the need to appreciate what is known and not known about the impact of divorce itself on the psychological and emotional development of children.
About 26% of all children under 18 years of age (17 million) live with a divorced parent, a separated parent, or a stepparent, according to 1988 data summarized by Shiono & Quinn. In 1990, about 9.5% of all children (6 million) were living with a divorced single parent. In comparison, 7.7% (4.9 million) were living with a single, never-married parent. About 90% of these single parents are mothers. Generally, when single-parent families are compared by race, significantly higher proportions of white children are found to be living with divorce or separated mothers, and African-American children are found to be living with never-married mothers.
The trends in marriage, divorce, remarriage, and out-of-wedlock births which have resulted in these living arrangements for children are analyzed and discussed in the articles by Shiono & Quinn. Since the mid 1940s, annual first-marriage rates have declined from about 14% to about 7% of single women. In addition, between the 1960s and 1980s, the proportion of women marrying after becoming pregnant declined by about 50%, and the number of unmarried couples living in the same household increased fourfold. In general, women today are marrying at older ages, and African-American women are less likely to marry than white women.
Divorce rates have been increasing since the 1860s (about 10 per 1,000 married women per year), although there have been considerable fluctuations over the decades. There was a peak after World War II (24 per 1000) followed by a trough in the 1950s (15 per 1000). Through the 1970s, the rates rose dramatically to reach an all-time high of 40 per 1000. Divorce rates have leveled off since the late 1980s (37 per 1000 in 188); however, at least 40% of young adult women today are likely to divorce sometime in their lives. An increase in divorce rates during the early years of marriage has resulted in a higher proportion of divorces occurring among parents with young children. Many believe the increased employment of married women outside the home as been significant concomitant societal change related to the divorce rate. This relationship is probably not a causal one in which either divorce or employment outside the home as caused the other, but rather a complex one in which both employment and divorce are influenced by an entire spectrum of social changes as well as by each other. The rate of employment of married women with preschool children has been particularly noteworthy; it rose from 11% in 1949 to 58% in 1988. Economic stress and deprivation also increase the risk of divorce.
Remarriage and the resulting restructured family have important consequences for many children. In the late 1960s, remarriage rates soared to an all-time high. Sixth percent of white women whose marriage ended in divorce between 1965 and 1984 had remarried by 1988. This was almost twice the rate occurring among divorced African-American women. Today, at least 30% of young adult women who divorce are likely to remarry. In general, young women are more likely to remarry than older women, although this age differential does not occur among divorced men. During the first few years of remarriage, the risk of divorce is increased over that of first marriages.
Similar trends in marriage, divorce, remarriage, and cohabitation have occurred in many population subgroups in this country and Western Europe, although there are some important quantitative differences. Hypotheses for the changing marriage patterns include the breakdown of the traditional gender-based division of labor where men work outside the home for wages and women specialize in domestic activity; the enhanced opportunity for women who enter the labor market to exercise the individual choice and personal freedom so valued in our society; the "sexual revolution" with increased availability of ways to prevent contraception and terminate pregnancy; and changes in the divorce law.
Given that more than a quarter of all children in the U.S. have experienced the divorce or separation of their parents and that, at current divorce rates, this proportion is expected to grow to 40%, careful attention must be given to the direct effects of divorce on children. Perhaps the most obvious effects are changes in children's living situations and economic status. In 1991, 39% of divorce women with children lived in poverty, and 55% of those with children under six years of age were poor. In this same year, the poverty rate of all children was 22%. There is also related and crucial concern about the effects of divorce on children's emotional and psychological well-being, and on their successful development and transition to adulthood.
Divorce and events related to divorce, including marital conflict and separation, are almost universally very stressful events in the life of a child. Most children exhibit a variety of signs of disturbance in the months after the separation, including anxiety, sadness, anger, aggression, non-compliance, sleep disturbances, and disrupted concentration at school. The length of this initial period of distress varies from child to child. Most children adapt reasonably successfully after this initial period, and most apparently evidence no long-term ill effects. However, children who experience divorce, as compared with children in continuously intact two-parent families, are at somewhat greater risk for symptoms of psychological maladjustment, behavior, and social problems, negative self-image, and low academic achievement. Similarly, when comparing these two groups as adults, those adults who experienced parental divorce as children are more likely to evidence poorer psychological adjustment, lower socioeconomic attainment, and greater marital instability. However, the differences between the two groups, either as children or as adults, with respect to these untoward effects seem, in light of current research, to be small.
Further, there is considerable variation in each individual child's reaction to divorce: an affected child's psychological well-being can range from poorer to better than it was before divorce. Variables that are believed to account for children's adjustment to divorce include the amount and nature of involvement of the non-custodial parent, the custodial parent's adjustment to divorce and his or her parenting skills, interparental conflict before and after divorce, economic hardship and other life stresses (for example, moving, changing schools, parental remarriage). Little is known about how these factors interact to affect a child's response to divorce, what the variations are in the response to divorce among children of different ethnic and racial backgrounds, what the long-term effects are on individual children, and how various legal and therapeutic interventions influence the outcomes for children.
Knowledge about the effects of marital conflict and divorce on children is limited by both the quantity and quality of available research. It is difficult to design and carry out research projects involving these families. Long-term follow-up studies are especially problematic. Further, there is a paucity of funding for such investigations.
Although many children adjust well to divorce without the need for therapeutic intervention, a minority have significant adjustment problems which warrant counseling. Interparental conflict after divorce (characterized by verbal and physical aggression, overt hostility, and distrust) and a high level of custodial parent emotional distress place children at high risk for emotional and behavioral maladjustment and disturbed parent-child relationships. In general, evaluations of therapeutic intervention programs for children having adjustment problems related primarily to divorce have been favorable, although only a small number of studies are available. There is need for more research to improve the efficacy of treatment of these children.
Marriage and the Process of Divorce
The trends in divorce law, division of labor between husband and wife in marriage, the family's right to privacy, and the family's responsibility for children have hanged significantly over the past four decades. Laws and public policy relating to marriage and divorce, reflecting some of these changes, have gradually moved away from the concept of marriage as a state-sanctioned, husband-dominated, hierarchical institution, toward the view of marriage as an economic partnership of autonomous individuals, although not necessarily of equals. Under the earlier concept, a divorce was granted only after an often adversarial adjudication to find one party at fault for having done something wrong during the marriage, such as being cruel or adulterous. All 50 states have now enacted some changes in divorce laws to incorporate the more recent concept, that is, over the past 40 years, states have generally expanded the groups for divorce and simplified the process of terminating a marriage. Most states now grant "no-fault" divorces, but only a few states have entirely done away with fault as a basis for divorce.
There is controversy about some of the effects of these widespread changes in divorce laws. To the degree that no-fault divorce has decreased the acrimony and hostility has decreased the acrimony and hostility between spouses, as is generally believed to be the case, children have benefited. There is, however, a difference of opinion as to whether laws permitting no-fault divorce have increased the divorce rate. The advent of no-fault divorce legislation is associated with increased divorce rates in some states but not in others. However, an increase in marital disruption preceded the change in public opinion favoring more liberal divorce laws, and the laws enacted were, in part, a response to public demand and also may have engendered some demand for divorce.
Much of the current emphasis in divorce laws is on defining the marital assets and determining how they should be distributed to the economic partners of the shared enterprise of marriage when it is terminated. Changes in statutory law have, to a certain extent, limited judicial discretion as to this distribution and given more consideration to the noncash contributions of wives and to the financial needs of children. Although there is difference of opinion as to whether no-fault divorce systematically favors one spouse over the other, there is no question that, despite changes in the law, divorce itself has greater negative social and financial effects on women than on men
The increased demand for and availability of divorce have focused attention on the dramatic rise in the financial costs of divorce and some of the serious limitations of terminating a family relationship in a court setting using a judicially managed adversarial process. Alternatives to traditional divorce proceedings include summary dissolution (where children are not involved) and simplified divorce procedures (also called summary process or divorce by mutual consent). These streamlined procedures are being used in a few states because they are more expeditious and less costly for both the parties and the court system than traditional divorce procedures.
Divorce through mediation is another alternative for making decisions about property division, spousal maintenance (alimony), child support and custody. Most states have laws encouraging or requiring mediation to resolve conflicts over child custody and visitation rights. The advantages of mediation over adversarial proceedings are lower costs ad, what s more important, the direct involvement of the parties speaking for themselves and actively participating in the decisions affecting children for whom they share concern. However, unfair agreements can result if spouses possess unequal bargaining or negotiating power or skills. All of these alternatives to an adversarial divorce proceeding deserve critical evaluation. Unfortunately, little research on these issues is currently available.
Of primary importance, there is need for education about divorce.
Parents need to be educated about the effects of family conflict on
children. They need a range of educational and meditational services
to diminish rather than escalate conflicts, to focus on what is best
for their children at various developmental stages, and to increase
the change for mutual agreement between parents about custody,
visitation, and the financial arrangements for their children.
Educational and meditational services should be available to prevent
divorce. Not only parents, but judges, lawyers, and mediators
involved in determining the best interest of a child need a better
appreciation of child development, including information about
attachment, separation anxiety, the importance of continuity and
nurturing relationship s between children and adults, and the needs
of children during and after divorce. The costs of education about
divorce need to be planned for and funded.
Custody and Visitation
Because of well-being of a child is critically dependent on parenting received from adults throughout childhood, the issues of custody and of continuing relationships with the noncustodial parent after divorce are of paramount importance. Historically in the US, custody decisions by colonial courts, following English legal doctrines, were based on a strong paternal preference. This gradually changed over time. By the 1920s, a strong maternal preference was the presumption of which custody decisions were made, and this has continued for many decades.
This shift in preference to the mother reflected and was reinforced by a number of societal changes. These included a gender-based division of family responsibilities in which the father was viewed as the wage earner and the mother was viewed as the child nurturer, primarily as a consequence of the industrial revolution, which caused fathers to seek work away from home; an improvement in the legal status of women; psychoanalytic theory arguing for the unique role of a mother as love object; and research on the development of infant attachment to mothers.
The maternal presumptions for custody remained firm until the 1960s and 1970s when there began a transition to gender-neutral laws. This change was influenced by the entry of large numbers of women into the work force, the gradual realignment of some gender roles within the family, the increased divorce rate; fathers' claims of sex discrimination in custody decisions, the feminist movement, and psychological research on the importance of a child's attachment to both parents and the father's continuing contribution to his child's development. The idea of basing custody decisions on the child's needs and interests is a relatively new one that emerged about 20 years ago and eventually became embodied in the "best interests" of the child standard. Subsequently, support for the related idea of awarding joint custody, to both parents evolved rapidly so that, by 1991, almost all states had recognized this latter concept in some form.
The prevailing standard for courts to determine custody is the "best interests of the child." We concur that it is the most appropriate legal standard for making decisions in custody disputes because it is "centered on children's developmental and psychological needs rather than parental demands, societal stereotypes, or legal tradition." Under this standard, there is a case-by-case determination of the best way to meet the unique needs of each child. This process is also potentially responsive to changing social or legal trends outside custody law. For courts to make the best custody judgment with respect to the child's needs, this standard should employ multiple variables about the family, such as information about the loving and emotional relationships between parents and child, information about the parents' mental and physical health, the child's age and developmental stage, and the pattern and quality of the primary caretaking arrangements. Unfortunately, this approach can result in a lack of uniformity from one case to the next about the weight given to these different variables and how to take into account children's changing developmental needs. However, on balance, the advantages of using "the best interests of the child" standard appear to outweigh the disadvantages of relying on a single more uniform standard such as a determination of the "primary caretaker" during the marriage
Exactly what custody arrangements are being decided upon and implemented in divorce decrees is difficult to determine nationally because of considerable variation in definition of legal, physical, and joint custody among the states and difficulty in collecting data from individual divorce decrees. Joint legal and sole maternal physical custody is probably the most common legal arrangement, followed by awarding sole legal and physical custody to the mother. Only 10 to 15% of divorced fathers have their children living with them more than half of the time. Thus, mothers continue to be primarily responsible for their children during marriage and after divorce, although shared physical custody arrangements and paternal visitation time are increasing.
The majority of these arrangements are made by private agreement between parents when parents are unable to agree on their own, and non adversarial mediation is increasingly being utilized. Research does not support the concern of some commentators that mothers are systematically disadvantaged in such forums. Mediation has significantly reduced the use of adversarial proceedings with their high financial costs and often substantial disruption of the lives of the children and parents. At whatever level custody decisions are made, they are subject to powerful statutory, judicial, cultural, educational, and research influences. Efforts to educate parents, attorneys, and judges about the impact of divorce and conflict on children and the needs of children for continuity in the relationships with fathers and mothers should be priorities, even though the effectiveness of such efforts is unknown.
As mentioned, access of the noncustodial parent, usually the father, to the children through visitation has increased over the past two decades. Although no general relationship has been found between visit frequency and lack of the adjustment problems of children to divorce in the near term, some studies suggest that continued involvement of fathers with their children after divorce is beneficial to the children under certain circumstances. There is in addition, a definite economic advantage to continued paternal involvement as it is associated with an increased likelihood of payment of child support. More research, however, s needed on the long-term effects of children of continuing contact with the noncustodial parent.
After the divorce decree and custody award are final, modifications of child custody and visitation arrangements are sometimes needed to adapt to the changing circumstances of parents, and to the changing developmental needs of children, including their own wishes. Adjustments to custody and visitation arrangements should be able to be made in a timely and inexpensive manner. Custody and visitation arrangements are obviously in the best interest of children when they facilitate effective co-parenting.
Mediation should be widely available and mandatory, with certain exceptions, as the initial step for all parents disputing or modifying child custody and access arrangements before continuing adversarial proceedings, but settlement of the disputes via mediation should not be mandatory. Mediation results in 50 to 75% settlement rates, and the costs are substantially less than with litigation. Those who mediate are more likely to reach an agreement than those who do not mediate (which, in part, reflects self-selection), and both parents are more likely to be satisfied with the agreement than those who litigate. However, exceptions to required mediation are need for those who are unable or afraid to negotiate on their own behalf, such as women subjected to or at risk of domestic violence, families in which there has been child neglect or abuse, parents who are substance abusers, and parents who are mentally incapacitated. Racial, ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic factors also need to be taken into consideration in structuring fair and effective mediation policies, procedures, and safeguards. Further, mediators (including attorneys) need special training and experience in divorce and custody matters, in assessing domestic violence, and in the process of mediation itself.
Mediation up to this point has not generally, been available to resolve the financial disputes of divorce,with most states requiring that financial matters be settled in a separate proceeding. However, with the adoption of federal guidelines for child support by states, the custody and financial conflicts become more closely linked. These guidelines also reduce the potential for bargaining inequities in which women may feel the need to reduce their child support demands to avoid losing custody. Simple support matters might also lend themselves most appropriately to the mediation process.
Types of Custody Arrangements:
1. Sole Custody
2. Joint Custody
3. Divided Custody - Each parent has child for a portion of the year or in alternating years. Each parent has legal rights for decision making when child is in that parent's care.
4. Split Custody - Each parent has sole legal and physical custody of one or more children; noncustodial parent has visitation rights.
Financial Consequences of Divorce and the
Support of Children
The primary social and financial responsibility for children in the US rests with parents. In marriage or cohabitation, it is assumed that total family income, at whatever level, will be shared in a manner that at least provides for the basic needs of children. This is fundamentally a private matter except when there is child neglect or resources are transferred to the family through public programs. After divorce, initially the same income must be used to pay for the greater fixed costs of maintaining two households as well as legal, relocation, and other expenses related to family dissolution. Further, the basic dynamic of meeting the changing financial needs of children from the income of custodial and noncustodial parents is different than in marriage, and the state becomes significantly involved int he relationship between these parents and children in a variety of ways.
Divorce results in a significant decline in the income of women compared with that of men after divorce. However, there is some improvement in the economic well-being of divorced women if remarriage occurs relative to the divorced state. Family income after divorce drops on the average buy more than 20% and, as previously indicated, a substantial number of divorce women with custody of children live in poverty (39%). Poverty is not only more prevalent in these families, but it starts immediately after marital disruption, and it lasts longer than for two-parent families living in poverty
The substantial increase in the percentage of mother-child families living below the poverty line following divorce results, in part, from the fact that a large fraction of these families were close to the poverty line as intact families before divorce. This situation occurs in a larger proportion of African-American families because they generally have lower income levels.
Conversely, in single-parent families, the substantial increase in family income with remarriage is immediate and significantly reduces the incidence of poverty. The current trend of lower remarriage rates probably increases the duration of poverty, but the countervailing trend for increased cohabitation of unmarried parents may decrease the poverty rate.
Employment of divorced mothers may not be an effective buffer against economic deprivation. The number of mothers with children who are employed outside the home increases after divorce, but the average amount they earn declines, although it constitutes about 60% of women's postdivorce income. Over time the proportion of these working mothers declines to just above what it was before marriage disruption. This decline is probably the result of a number of factors, including lack of prior continuous work experience; employment in low-status and part-time jobs, usually without career advancement opportunities; low wages; discrimination against single mothers in the workplace; the costs and constraints of child care; and the availability of public assistance benefits, especially those that erode with earned income.
Public assistance plays a substantial role in the financial well-being of divorced women and children. Immediately following divorce, the number of children living in families receiving public assistance through the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program doubles and the number receiving food stamps triples. These numbers continue to increase slightly over time. The proportion of average family income constituted by these benefits increases from 18% before divorce to 25-30% after divorce. These benefits go to those most in need. Mothers in the lowest third of the income distribution before divorce are 18 times more likely to receive these benefits after divorce than those in e highest third of income distribution before divorce.
Taken together, the major cash (such as AFDC and earned income tax credits) and noncash (such as food stamps, Medicaid, and housing subsidies) public assistance programs are critical to decreasing the effects of poverty on divorced women who are awarded child custody, although many of these families remain in poverty even after these benefits are taken into account. However, these pogroms were not intended to provide long-term support for raising children. They are based on the premise that this responsibility remains with both parents. Thus, child support from the noncustodial father is central to maintaining the financial status of children after divorce and also has a significant effect on welfare costs.
Historically, state laws have established the responsibility of the noncustodial parent to provide child support under general guidelines of reasonableness, delegating the implementation to local courts. State court judges were given considerable discretion in determining what constituted an adequate amount of money for noncustodial child support and in approving the support settlements negotiated by the parties' lawyers. These private agreements were usually approved. The rules which judges developed focused on the needs of the child and on the ability of the noncustodial parent to pay. However, the application of these rules and the exercise of judicial discretion resulted in considerable variation in the awards from case to case, even given similar family circumstances. Furthermore, these awards have generally been regarded as inadequate to cover a fair share of the reasonable costs of raising the children.
In contrast to this traditional approach to child support, as a result of federal legislation passed in 1984 and 1988, court-ordered child support awards over the past decade have had to conform to standardized numerical formula guidelines or judges have had to provide appropriate reasons for deviation from the standards.
This federal legislation was enacted, in part, to have more child support (including available medical insurance) provided by the noncustodial parent, usually the father, and to contain the growing costs of the AFDC program. The states were required to adopt a numerical formula guideline to determine the amount of child support awarded as a condition for receiving federal funds for their AFDC programs and were authorized to initiate automatic wage withholding for AFDC cases. States were also authorized to withhold wages of noncustodial parents to provide child support in non-AFDC cases starting in 1994.
Almost all of the states have adopted variants of one or two approaches for income sharing between custodial and noncustodial parents to support their children: either the income shares formula or the percentage of income formula. Issues which receive special attention are the inclusion of actual child care costs in support awards; the provision for ordinary and extraordinary medical care expenditures; the treatment of higher education costs; the way in which child support orders are updated for changing child needs and parental income; the ways in which remarriage and multiple support obligations are taken into account; and the effect of dual residence on child support obligations.
Even with the implementation of federal guidelines for determining awards, substantial problems persist. Child support awards continue to be small, much less than the reasonable costs of child rearing and the pattern of payments is often irregular. The average amount of support received by divorced mothers in 19899 was $3,138 per years for a family with an average of slightly more than 1.5 children. In addition, the receipt of support payments declines over time. Further, a large proportion (28%) of divorced mothers do not have a child support award at all. Of the 72% who do have awards, 25% do not receive any payment. Nevertheless, the receipt of child support payments, even at a low level, can make a significant difference in the economic well-being of divorced low-income mothers with children. In 1989, although child support payments represented 17% of the total income of all divorced mothers who received them, they made up 38% of the total income of divorced mothers and children living in poverty because of their low income.
Research to determine how much child support absent fathers can reasonably afford to pay suggests they can afford three to four times the amounts they are currently paying or two to three times what they are currently obligated to pay under child support awards. If this increase were received by custodial parents, children would be benefited economically and, possibly, by the absent father's increased involvement in their lives. However, a substantial reduction in welfare cost would not necessarily result because payments would not be distributed equally among divorced mothers; those at higher income levels are more likely to receive a greater proportion of the increased payments.
All mothers, whether divorced or never married, who have custody of their children may be awarded child support. However, about 42% of all custodial mothers and 56% of all poor custodial mothers are not awarded child support. The reasons for the absence of awards are varied and include a mother's decision not to pursue an award, often to get custody without dispute; privately arranged settlements for support; inability to establish paternity or locate the known father; and the inability of the father to pay or the mother to afford the costs of legal proceedings to enforce awards. Marital status is the most important factor in being awarded child support; as noted above, 72% of mothers who were married received child support awards on divorce while only 24% of never-married mothers receive support awards from their children's biological father. However, having a court-ordered award, which is an important determination in obtaining payment from many fathers, does not guarantee payment. Payment compliance, which is not public and somewhat insulated from normative and legal pressures, is highly dependent on the father's motivation and ability to pay. There are a number of additional factors that have a significant influence on mothers' obtaining awards and receiving payment. The children of low-income women, whether divorced or never married, are especially disadvantaged under the present system of obtaining support from a noncustodial father.
The enforcement of child support award orders presents additional problems such as locating the noncustodial parent, serving legal papers on the parent, scheduling timely hearings, undertaking discovery, obtaining and implementing health insurance orders, and collecting arrears in payments. The inadequacies of the current enforcement system have obvious serious consequences for the specific children who would have been the immediate beneficiaries of the awards that are not paid. They also have broader policy implications by contributing to the increasing number of children who live in poverty and the untoward effect of this trend on our society?
There are very specific recommendations to strengthen some aspects of the state system and suggests complementary federal responsibilities. A number of these changes could be beneficial. At the state level, these include offering parents easy means to routinely establish paternity of newborn infants and children by voluntary agreement; streamlining the legal processes for determining contested paternity at low cost, including the provision of appropriate genetic testing; developing a greater capacity to locate parents through access to federal records such as tax returns and a sharing of this database among all the states; having the states continue to be responsible for establishing and modifying custody, visitation, and child support orders but requiring that a national guideline be used as a rebuttable presumption of the level of child support to be paid; and requiring states to deal with interstate cases under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) that has been approved by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.
At the federal level, adopt a national guideline, percentage of income, to determine the economic contribution of the noncustodial parent because of its basic fairness and ease of administration and because it does not create work disincentives. In addition, create a national registry for child support orders within the Internal Revenue Service (IRS); the gradual transfer of responsibility for enforcement of child support orders from the states to the IRS; and the authorization of the IRS to withhold wages for child support, collect quarterly payments from the self-employed for child support, and routinely apply all of the other IRS collection mechanisms against those who do not pay. The IRS would also be charged with the responsibility for keeping records and dispensing payment to custodial parents.
All of the efforts to increase the number of child support awards, have the amount of the awards represent an appropriate contribution toward the costs of caring for children, and assure payment of awards will accomplish little when the non-custodial parent does not earn enough to make the required payments. A direct government payment to make up the difference between what the noncustodial parent can reasonably be required to pay and a basic level of child support has been proposed. This idea is usually incorporated in what is referred to as a Child Support Assurance program. This difficult an controversial issue also needs to be considered within the context of providing financial support for never-divorced families who live in or near poverty. Poor divorce families are a special subset of this problem because of the complex state and federal systems which currently exist to provide support for these children. Thus, child support assurance relates closely to a variety of proposals for welfare reform, job training, and creation of employment opportunities. It should not be considered in isolation.
As discussed in this analysis, divorce and separation of parents
affect millions of children n the US. Currently, there are serious
problems with the process of obtaining a divorce, in deciding about
what custody and visitation arrangements will be in the best
interests of children, and in providing financially for children when
parents divorce. Further, divorce needs to be considered in a broader
context. One of the greatest challenges facing our society in the
years ahead is the increasing diversity of the families responsible
for raising children. Children will be living in one- and two-parent
families of married, divorced, remarried, and never-married
individuals from an increasing variety of racial, ethnic and cultural
backgrounds. Whatever the family structure, children will still need
a loving, nurturing, stable, economically secure environment for
their optimal growth and development. Children are not responsible
for who their parents are or for what they do; rather it is the
parents and the community who are responsible for who their children
are and for what they become.
Illinois Right of First
Refusal Unanimously Passes Both Houses
Currently, Massachusetts has similar legislation pending to Increasing Parental Involvement with Childcare, HB1343. Also, Indiana and Utah both have legislation which provides a similar opportunity, but does not explicitly call for such consideration.
Right of First Refusal is a guarantee that anytime a parent needs someone to watch the children, they must ask the other parent first. This gives a parent the opportunity to watch the children when the other parent has them.
As an example, lets say that the mother of two little boys needs to go on a two day business trip during the week when she has custody. Instead of calling a babysitter or another family member to watch the children, she must first call the boys father and give him the right to have the two days with the children. If he refuses, then she can find someone else to watch them. It is the responsibility of the parent with the children to notify the other parent no later than 24 hours from the time of first learning of the need to leave the children. It is the responsibility of the other parent to respond within 24 hours of notification. It is the responsibility of parent with the additional parenting time to provide all transportation.
The court is given the maximum discretion in determining if Right of First Refusal is in the childs best interest. Once determined, the court issues an order that includes provisions regarding a) what would trigger the invocation of right of first refusal, such as the length of time the parent will be away from the child, b) how much advance notice the parent with the child must give the other parent, c) the amount of time by which that parent must respond, and d) transportation requirements. The court takes into account the distance between parents, and whether a parent has restricted or denied visitation for any reason. The provisions set forth by the bill are enforceable under Enforcement of Visitation Order; Visitation Abuse statutes.
Current research shows the increased degree to which both parents share in the direct caretaking of their children during marriage. We know how difficult it is for non-residential parents to remain meaningfully involved in the lives of their children after divorce. Some experts say this accounts for the recent rise in the number of non-residential parents who have no contact with their children despite decades of improvement. The pain and frustration of no longer having the contact they used to have with their children becomes too unbearable for many parents. Right of First Refusal provides the opportunity for much desired additional parenting time, especially for non-residential parents.
Right of First Refusal also allows children to remain with their natural parents rather than with other people for extended periods of time. Illinois recognizes the valuable contributions extended family and step-parents make to the wellbeing of children. Specific statutes are in place to protect their relationship with the children. However, the US Supreme Court recognizes that the childs natural parents are the preferred caregivers under most circumstances. Illinois concurs.
By insuring a meaningful relationship between the child and the natural parent, we see greater child support compliance and continuing contributions when the child reaches majority age. We also see greater support by the child to aging parents. Right of First Refusal can also encourage even greater cooperation among parents in that the other parent must be considered to be an integral part of the childs life. Right of First Refusal goes far in supporting the maximum involvement of both parents to the wellbeing of a child. And thats always in the childs best interest.
With Governor Pat Quinns signature, the legislation will become effective January 1, 2014. These are the senators and representatives who sponsored HB 2992:
Senators Ira Silverstein (D-8), Steven Landek (D-12), John Sullivan (D-47), John Mulroe (D-10), Jason Barickman (R-53), Kirk Dillard (R-24), Michael Hastings (D-19), Daniel Biss (D-9), Linda Holmes (D-42), Melinda Bush (D-31), Michael Noland (D-22), Martin Sandoval (D-11), Toi Hutchinson (D-40), Pamela Althoff (R-32), Chapin Rose (R-51), and Napoleon Harris, III (D-15), and Representatives Josh Harms (R-106), Jil Tracy (R-94), Chad Hays (R-104), Naomi Jakobsson (D-103), Michael Zalewski (D-23), Linda Chapa LaVia (D-83), John Cabello (R-68), Monique Davis (D-27), Jim Sacia (R-89), Raymond Poe (R-99), Lou Lang (D-16), Ann Williams (D-11), Elgie Sims, Jr., (D-34). Dennis Reboletti (R-45), and Andre Thapedi (D-32).
Snippets on Children
Fathers Rights Swept Under the Rug
As difficult as it may be for others to comprehend the act, and while I wish he did not do it, I can understand why Thomas Ball doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire. There was no escape. Nobody cared. This was the ultimate call for attention, a scream into the universe for all the world to hear about the plight of fathers. A father of three, Ball correctly noted that we are no longer fathers, just piggy banks.
Ball was faced yet again with jail for a child support amount he could not pay. He wrote in his last statement, I could have made a phone call or two and borrowed the money. But I am done being bullied for being a man.
When one engages in criminal enterprises, one expects jail to possibly be a part of their life. But nobody expects that a hard working stiff or a man who has served 21 years in the armed forces would be treated like a criminal and jailed for being poor and a father.
Find a poor mother and she is the elevated single mother, and society scrambles to give her Section 8 housing, free attorneys, and welfare benefits. Non-profits for her benefit abound.
Find a poor father and he is a deadbeat dad. The Supreme Court said in a recent case, Seventy percent of child support arrears nationwide are owed by parents with either no reported income or income of $10,000 per year or less. It makes you just want to kill yourself.
The Ball story and the media reaction do not surprise me. Google his name Thomas Ball is not even remotely a national news story. The story appeared briefly on the radar screen of the Boston Globe and a few New Hampshire newspapers. There was no media circus, no throngs of reporters trying to hunt down fathers rights activist for a quote, or examining court documents for some insider information. Wikipedia, a source that will publish just about anything on anybody, took Balls webpage down because Ball or his self-immolation was not noteworthy enough. (Dont worry, you can still read about the drummer for Pearl Jam or a listing of leading porn stars.)
Ball should have filmed his self-immolation so that it could have been played over and over again by CNN and the Fox News Channel.
On the other hand, had they covered the story, it probably would have been with experts in domestic violence or mental health, with no experts on what Ball called the war on men or fathers rights activists. Its a story nobody wants to hear because men are its victims and that doesnt fit the script of women victimhood.
Every day in America, thousands of men are thrown out of their homes with the flimsiest amounts of evidence against them, their children are taken from them by a highly biased court system, and child support awards bear almost no resemblance to the actual incremental cost of having a child or the fathers ability to pay.
Through unilateral no-fault divorce, a mother can simply dump her husband, without a showing of marital fault and take his children and money. Mandatory arrest procedures were developed, even though most domestic violence incidents involve mutual combat.
In a short column, I could never do the entire subject matter of fathers rights remote justice. A column could be written on the single subject that the federal government literally subsidizes states for every dollar of child support awarded, thereby incentivizing judges to grant sole custody and high child support awards. But the point I make is that Balls suicide remains a mystery because the media has cast so little light on the issues that prompted it.
Paul Bowes, who spoke at length at the event, stated that since his involvement in the fathers rights movement in 1994, he has known of four fathers who have killed themselves. How many men kill themselves because of the current family court system? Nobody knows because nobody cares.
Warren Farrell opined in his book The Father Child Reunion that such data simply are not collected because no government agency is interested in documenting the maltreatment of men or fathers. Private funding also does not exist. We are only interested in studies about how men victimize women.
In his last statement, Ball writes, A man walks up to the main door of the Keene N.H. County Courthouse, douses himself with gasoline and lights a match. And everyone wants to know why. I am not sure if he is correct.
Rinaldo Del Gallo III is a family law attorney and spokesperson of
the Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition in Massachusetts.
Source: Monday, July 18, 2011 Keene Sentinel, www.sentinelsource.com/opinion/columnists/guest/fathers-rights-are-swept-under-the-rug-by-rinaldo-del/article_44d1c959-dbba-51af-9306-eb5f530bf328.html
Snippets on the Immunization of Young
Source: The Future of Children, a publication of the Center for the Future of Children, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation.
The Fair Way - Something New in Divorce
Paying the Bills for Life
California Kids are Cheated of
Your Tax Dollars at Work, Part I
There's a catch. The man was still in Illinois, had a listed telephone number and his address was even on file with state agencies. Perhaps the state did not want to contact him because the story isn't quite so goo when there are two sides to it. Instead of being a wealthy scofflaw typically shown in "deadbeat dad" stories, the man said his divorce had left him broke and he works as a handyman to support his disabled mother. He also told Associated Press that his ex-wife is blocking his efforts to see his daughter. In retrospect, the real child abuse would seem to be the mother's for not only distorting the picture to the world and their daughter, but by distancing the daughter from her father.
Tax Dollars at Work, Part II
Your first post-divorce
Rule #1: Put some effort into your outfit
When I was married, I got used to throwing on any old thingI felt like I had no one to impress. So when I went on my first date after my divorce, I wore beat-up old khakis and an un-ironed shirt. My date was dressed to kill, and I felt like a total mess. Remember, when you start dating again, youre trying to impress someone, so look the part. -Josh Kantor, 39, Warwick, RI
Rule #2: Give yourself a recovery period
My divorce had only been final for a couple of weeks when I went on my first divorcée date. I guess I was still reeling from the split, because I spent the majority of the time talking about how much I hated my ex. I didnt realize it until my date said, Wow, sounds like youve still got a lot of issues to resolve. Are you sure youre ready to be dating? He was totally right. After about six months, I had a new attitude; I had let go of a lot of my anger, and was finally ready to channel my efforts towards meeting someone new. And that was the right time to start dating again. Paula Franklin, 42, Minneapolis, MN
Rule #3: Dont get hung up on age
I was reluctant to date older women because I thought they wouldnt be as much fun. But the first woman I went out with was 40, and she was extremely successful and worldly. I found her to be incredibly self-assured, confident and sexy. It was like a totally different ball gameno games and no drama. Older women have a defined sense of self, and they know what they want from lifeboth of which are fantastic qualities. Craig Hersset, 34, Villanova, PA
Rule #4: Dont feign an interest
For my first post-divorce date, I agreed to a baseball game, claiming I loved baseball in order to wow the guy I was going out with. The truth was that I hate sports; I had never been to a game and knew nothing about baseball. When we got there, he kept making references to the game and asking my opinion, and it soon became clear that I had lied. Of course it was my lying that turned him off, not the fact that I didnt like baseball. Dawn Webb, 36, Highland Park, IL
Rule #5: Dont go to an old haunt
I think I had become so accustomed to my ex-wifes love of seafood that I scheduled my first post-divorce date at a restaurant we used to go to together. We had a fine time, but the wait staff kept asking where my ex-wife was. Needless to say, the date wasnt a success. I never went there againalone or with a date! Larry Grossberg, 38, Edgewater, NJ
Rule #6: Dont put all your cards on the table
I guess it had been so long since Id dated, I wasnt sure how to act. Within the first five minutes of my first date, I explained my whole history, laid out exactly the type of person I was looking for, and explained that I wanted to remarry. My date was clearly freaked out. Now I know that a date isnt a job interview. Take it slow and let your story unfold as time goes on. Shelley-Ann Poole, 33, Hartford, CT
Rule #7: Dont kid around
About an hour into my first date after my divorce, my date mentioned that he was so glad that he and his ex never had kids because he just wasnt a daddy type. I have two young kids, so I knew immediately that there was no possibility of our ever having a relationship. What a waste of a Saturday night and a babysitter! I figured that having kids wouldnt be that big of a deal to a fellow divorced person, but to some, it is. After that date, I made sure to be very up front beginning with the date-planning stage about my status as a parent so that I didnt waste anyones time... nor have mine wasted. -Ann Reese, 38, Pittsburgh, PA
Rule #8: Plan an activity-based date
Your first post-divorce date is a big step! I recommend choosing a fun, active event, like going to an amusement park or the zoo over meeting for dinner. In an activity-focused situation, there are fewer opportunities for awkward lulls in the conversation because you can always talk about what youre doing or seeing. Even if your date is a dud, youll feel more at ease. Joe Tallston, 40, Millwood, NJ
Rule #9: Dont be afraid of branching out
I had never been into dancing before my divorcemy ex-wife never particularly enjoyed it, and I never thought I was very good at it. When my date, Sarah, suggested we go swing dancing for our first date, I tried as hard as I could to get out of it, but she wasnt having any of that. Good thing she persistedI had a blast! I think dating after divorce especially that first time is really about opening yourself up to new possibilities, so dont be scared to do things you never would have considered in your former life! Eric Donnelly, 37, Los Angeles, CA
Rule #10: Keep the conversation focused on the future
I always advise not discussing your ex on that first date. Its too much of a reminder of the past when youre trying to move forward. Instead, talk about the things that you find interesting and alluring your interests, your goals for the future, your travels, etc. and ask those same questions of your date. After all, isnt your ex the last person who should be on that date with you? Laura Wellborn, 33, Detroit, MI
Chelsea Kaplan is a senior editor at The Family Groove. Her work
has been featured in Self, Mens Health, New Woman, Bridal
Guide, and The Mommy Times.
Source: By Chelsea Kaplan, msn.match.com/msn/article.aspx?articleid=6673&TrackingID=516311&BannerID=544657&menuid=7>1=8535
Suddenly Single Archive, msn.match.com/msn/archive.aspx?category=681&lid=0
The Divorced Father's
.The WriteConnection Program
Family Laws Grow in California - Joint Custodian, James A. Cook
California is one of six states with a full-time legislature meeting all year long with the time and machinery to generate a large volume of bills. 6,500 legislative bill concepts were introduced and debated. Over 150 bills affected the main interests of divorcing men. Of the 150+. 87 were passed into law and are identified by Chapter number in Section I. Section II provides a listing of bills and topics likely to come again in the legislature. These were reintroduced after they had previously failed, were canceled or vetoed.
Specially Significant - examples of influential bills, both passed and failed.
Formula for frustration.
SB 370 Child Support Guidelines, Hart (D). Revises statewide child support guidelines formula, increases awards by minimum of 25% over Judicial Council formula (Rule 1274). Enacted and into effect, Chapter 46.
SB 1614 Support Mechanisms, Hart (D). Provides earnings subject to wage assignment to include payments due for workers' compensation benefits. Authorizes acceptance of a credit card for payment of child or spousal support. Provides additional discretion to judges in applying. SP 370 support formula guidelines. Chapter 848.
Let's see your license! Your delinquency was over the
AB 1394 Support Delinquency: Lifting Licenses, Speier (D). Prohibits issuance or renewal of a business or professional license (including commercial drivers license) for an individual alleged to be 30 days in arrears on court-ordered support payments. Chapter 50.
Knit-pick litigation: When did you stop beating your
AB 1437 Marital Dissolution Property Rights, Speier (D). Creates duty to fully disclose information about assets, liability and income without formal discovery requests in marriage dissolution and penalizes failure to file or accurately report interests and income. Each party subject to rules which control actions of persons occupying confidential relations with each other. Prohibits court from entering judgment with respect to property rights unless declarations of disclosure are filled. Non-complying party ordered to pay costs incurred by opposite party in seeking this information. Chapter 37.
Where or where has my little dogma gone? Rewriting the
book on family law.
AB 2641 Family Code Corresponding Changes, Speier (D) Consolidates into comprehensive Family Code all related provisions in other sections of the law. Chapter 163. (830-page booklet overview of the new code, Report on the Family Code, can be had upon payment of $45 payable to the California Law Revision Commission, 4000 Middlefield Rd, Ste D-2, Palo Alto, CA 94903.)
Blow to teen fathers expressing altruism and responsibility.
AB 1296 Adoptions: Paternity, Katz (D). Original purpose of this bill was to codify case law (Adoption of Kelsey S., 1991) which increased the right of fathers to stop adoptions. Would exclude those fathers from this protection who have engaged in nonconsensual sexual relations (rape or unlawful sexual intercourse). However, this could deny the father of "high school sweethearts" from having a say in adoption. After amendment, AB 1296 eliminated ability of teenage fathers to participate in adoption decisions and defined rapists as men who are convicted of forcible rape and those who are convicted of statutory rape if they are over the age of 21 and the birth mother is under the age of 15. In effect, teenage fathers' rights were cut. Chapter 559.
Wham! We thought "false allegations" worth expunging.
AB 92 False Child Abuse Reports, Moore (D) Requires state Department of Justice and a teacher's school employer to destroy a report of child abuse if report is later found to be untrue. Also require school district to notify employee if he or she is the subject of an investigation. Vetoed by Governor. "...we should err on the side of protecting...children" and "bill does not provide...for the delay of notification of...employee." Vetoed.
As commercials say: "We make it the old fashioned way."
SB 937 Surrogate Contracts, Watson (D). Alternate Reproduction Act to regular commercial surrogate contracting or use of donated ovum. Surrogate to have home at least one child. Advertising of surrogate or donors only as specified. Up to $15,000 in compensation. Guidance to courts in custody disputes. Sets legal framework for surrogacy. Governor vetoed as premature.
Section I: Enacted. By Chapter.
SB 1307 Parenting Education, Watson, (D). Require an adopted course of study of one semester, for grades 7 or 8, in parenting skills and education. Chapter 1355.
SCR 68 Family Week, Rogers (R). Proclaim the week in which Thanksgiving Day falls as Family Week. Chapter 40.
SJR 27 Family Planning, Watson (D). Memorializes Congress to permit family planning programs receiving federal Title X funds for abortion counseling and referral services to women. Chapter 142.
AB 1101 Vital Stats: Marriage Licenses. Frazee (R). Requires certificate of registry of marriage to be returned by person performing marriage to county recorder with 4 days. Duplicate licenses issued up to one year after original license. Chapter 318.
AB 2650 Family Code, Speier (D). Expands procedural provisions applicable to family law act, ex parte protective orders may enjoin a party from telephoning other party, expands definition of community property to include property in another area, codify case law regarding certain presumptions about marital property. Chapter 162.
AB 3399 Marital Dissolution Property Rights, Speier (D). Involves complex and substantial issues of fact or law related to property rights, visitation, custody or support. Provides "family law real property lien" for attorney's fees in dissolution and for judicial case management of fees and costs in family case. Abrogates the 'Droeger' case. Requires encumbering spouse to notify opposite spouse of real property lien 15 days before encumbrance is recorded. Chapter 356.
AB 3630 Marriage Dissolution, Floyd (D). Upon petition of dissolution (etc.) requires notice advising party to review wills, insurance policies, retirement plans, credit cards, credit accounts, and matters they may want to change. Advises may need agreement of spouse for change. Chapter 159..
SB 1423 Child Support Info Reports, Morgan (R). Requires Dept of Soc Svcs to notify Dir of Employment Develp whether individual filing a claim for unemployment owes support obligations. Established Calif State Support Registry requiring all employers to report hiring or change in employment status of any person. Chapter 850.
SB 1530 Family Support Obligations, Watson, (D). Provides earnings subject to wage assignment also include payments due for workers' compensation temporary disability benefits. Makes related provisions. Chapter 851.
SB 1680 Child, Spousal Support Software, Calderon (D), prohibits any software to compute support orders unless it meets standards to conform with statutes and court rules. Chapter 1157
SB 1817 Pilot Procedures: Support & Temporary Orders, Morgan (R). Reenacts 2-year pilot projects in San Mateo & Santa Clara counties for making and hearing motions for temporary support orders and other temporary orders. Chapter 411.
SB 2016 Minors: Support Leslie (R). With respect to minors emancipated under termination of parental support obligations, Makes two exceptions: (1) require parent provision of health insurance, & (2) reimbursement to state for any public assistance provided the minor. Chapter 821.
AB 568 Family Law Support, Hunter (R). Revises law with respect to enforcement of support obligations of a parent to support an unmarried child of 18 years of age and is not self supporting. Provides earnings subject to wage assignment to include payments due for workers' compensation temporary disability benefits. Chapter 718.
AB 2621 Family Support Obligations, Bates (D). Requires financial institutions to provide DAs with information in connection with child and spousal support. Exempts financial institutions from liability. Requires Statewide Automated Child Support System to act as single statewide registry of child support orders. Chapter 847.
AB 3018 Child Support Engorcement Incentive, Horcher (R). Permits compliance incentive rate be provided each county converting to Statewide Automated Child Support System, if county likely to be in full compliance. Chapter 652
AB 3589 Child Support Tax Liens, Speier (D). Makes Franchise Tax Board "collector of last resort" for unpaid child support. Allowed to impose liens. Chapter 1223.
SB 2018 Community Property: Retirement Plans, Calderon (D). Specifies no court to order retirement plan to provide increased benefits on basis of actuarial value, nor make payments resulting in increase of benefits, nor order payments before a member retires, except as specified and not to be applied retroactively. Chapter 431
AB 1396 Sets Aside Family Law Judgments, Speier (D). Creates uniform rules and time limits for allowing courts to set aside judgments or settlements in dissolution of marriage if based on mistake, fraud, perjury or because a party was mentally incapacitate or under emotional duress. Chapter 36.
AB 1719 Community Property: Non probate Transfers, Horcher (R) Existing provisions of probate code do not preclude certain nontentamentary transfers of real or personal property effective upon death of transferor. This bill authorizes certain non probate transfers of a spouse's share of community property, becoming effective on death of transferor without the written consent of the other spouse. Chapter 51
SB 1564 Minors at Risk, Watson (D). Generally, minors are not to be taken from parents during dependency petition unless evidence the minor was sexually abused or cannot be protected from such abuse. This extends the ability to remove a child from parents in situations wherein a sibling was abused or at risk. Chapter 455
SB 1646 Removal from Abusive Homes, Calderon (D). Requires court to determine if siblings of a sexually abused child should also be removed from a home. Children must be at substantial risk. Chapter 455
AB 638 Statute/Limitations: Child Sexual Assault, Boland (R). Extends statute of limitations (typically 6 years) for adults alleging they were molested as children. Charges could be filed as many years after 21 years of age as years under 21 when assault occurred. Chapter 921.
AB 1405 Task Force: Assault on Children, Alpert (D). Requires Department of Justice establish a statewide Task Force on Sexual Assault of Children funded by private grants and donations. Organized pedophile rings to be investigated and prosecuted. Chapter 561
AB 3243 Child Abuse Prevention Funds, Bronzan (D). Requires DSS to allocate funds in annual budget for abuse and neglect prevention services. Chapter 1106
AB 3353 Minors: Treatment & Shelter, Gotch (D). Allows minor who is an alleged victim of incest or child abuse, to consent to residential shelter services without consent of minor's parent or guardian. Chapter 252
AB 3676 Sex Offense Enhancement: Children, Burton (D). Provides additional punishment of 1, 2, or 3 years for adult who, prior to commission of sex offense upon child up to 14 years, exhibits child pornography with intent of arousing child. Chapter 933
SB 14 Child Abuse Resulting in Death, Lockyer (D). Raise penalty for willful, cruel punishment resulting in death of child to voluntary manslaughter and increase punishment to 3, 6 or 9 years in prison. Chapter 917
SB 1125 Juveniles: Child Abuse, Presley (DP). Continues jurisdiction of juvenile court for children subject to serious physical harm, provides AFDC assistance, require written case plans from counties, etc. Chapter 1203
SB 1695 Child Abuse Report: Visitation Monitors, Royce (R). Defines tasks of child visitation monitor to report known or suspect child abuse, include district attorney investigate or family support officer. Chapter 459
AB 3491 Abuse or Neglect: Family & Child Index, Gotch (D). Authorizes county computerized data base to share information regarding child abuse with other agencies. Chapter 316.
AB 3633 Child Death, Polanco (D). Establishes California Child Death Advisory Board for purpose of coordinating state and local efforts to address fatal child abuse. Chapter 844.
AB 3679 Child Abuse Prevention, Hunter (R). Revises pilot projects and requires officer of child abuse prevention to monitor. Chapter 1122
AB 2220 Spousal Rape, Roybal-Allard (D). The crime of spousal rape to mirror the provisions of rape, generally. Deletes existing definition of spousal rape and, instead, defines spousal rape essentially the same as rape. Additionally, spousal rape punishable by imprisonment for 3, 6, or 8 years in state prison rather than county jail. If force or violence is involved, person required to register as sex offender. (21 states have abolished distinction between forms of rape.) Heretofore, duty to report spousal rape within 90 days. This eliminated now. Statute of limitations for proceeding remains at 3 years. Chapter 925.
SB 804 Child Custody: Jurisdiction, Boatwright, (D). For purposes of custody criteria, amplifies "subjected to or threatened with mistreatment or abuse" to include a child who has a parent who is a victim of domestic abuse. Would modify decree of another state if the custody decree failed to consider allegations of domestic violence. Chapter 392
SB 1541 Domestic Violence, McCorquodale (D). In custody or visitation proceedings, court to make reasonable effort to ascertain whether a civil restraining order or criminal protective order exists. Makes it a crime to make repeated, annoying telephone calls to the workplace. Redefines domestic violence as family violence. Chapter 1136
SB 1545 Payments to Women's Shelter, Lockyer (D). Upon conviction for domestic violence and a grant of probation, in lieu of a fine, defendant to make payment to battered women's shelter up to $1,000 or defendant reimburse victim for costs of counseling and other expenses, or both. Chapter 183.
AB 2336 Domestic Violence, Conroy (R). Provides that a peace officer called out on a domestic call shall be mandatory that the officer inform the victim of his or her right to make a citizen's arrest. Chapter 555.
AB 2439 Domestic Violence Restitution, Archie-Hudson, (D). As a condition of probation, requires a defendant convicted of domestic violence offense to pay restitution to a domestic violence shelter for costs of counseling and shelter of victim. Chapter 184.
AB 2628 Domestic Violence Court Proceedings, Lee (D). Requires that defendant accused of misdemeanor domestic violence or violation of specific court orders, must be present, in court, and not merely represented by counsel. Chapter 863.
AB 2634 Restraining Orders, Lee (D). Failure to state the expiration date on a restraining order creates an order of 3 years duration. Parties, by stipulation, can create one of permanent duration. Chapter 149
AB 2762 Restraining Orders: Telephone or Mail Threats, Lee (D). Harassing or threatening telephone call or letter to be a misdemeanor. Chapter 1209.
AB 3544 Domestic Violence Crimes, Lempert (D). Provides that when the person injured by an act constituting a misdemeanor has a remedy by a civil action, the offense may be compromised except when it is committed, among other things, in violation of any court order to present domestic violence and except when it is committed by or upon any family or household member. Chapter 475.
AB 3696 Domestic Violence, B. Friedman (D). Mandatory felony for second conviction of willfully inflicting injury on a partner or spouse. Chapter 934
SCR71 Sexual Assaults by Acquaintances, McCorquodale (D). Convenes task force to determine differences between assaults by acquaintances, and by strangers, whether treated differently. Chapter 88
AB 1309 Sex Crime Sentence Enhancement, Umberg (D). Adds offenses of kidnapping with intent of rape, oral copulation, sodomy or rape by instrument as constituting a "violent felony". Creates "habitual sexual offender" status subject to minimum sentence of 20 years. Increases term to 5 years for person who kidnapped a victim for sexual offense. Died, Incorporated in SB 1295
AB 2155 Violent Sex Offenders, Peace (D). Under violent sex offender statute sentences must be served first and not credited toward offender's parole eligibility they may have on a life sentence. Chapter 133.
AB 3388 Sexual Battery, Alpert (D). Require sexual batterers be registered as sex offenders, allows more sexual battery cases be prosecuted as felonies, increases penalties for employers convicted of sexual battering employees. Chapter 1219
AB 2401 Battered Woman Syndrome, Speier (D). Require Commissioners of Board of Prison Terms to receive training on domestic violence and BWS. Chapter 296
AB 2980 Battered Woman Syndrome, Tanner (D). Requires courts consider whether evidence the defendant suffered from repeated abuse from the victim warrants mitigation of crime for sentencing purposes. Chapter 1137
AB 3436 Battered Woman Syndrome Evidence, B. Friedman (D). Establishes BWS as factor in granting clemency. Address cases of women killing batterers before law went into effect. Chapter 1138
SB 1421 Grandparent Child Care: Packet, Russell (R). Provides development, publication, distribution of informational packet to grandparents and other non parent relatives providing primary care for grandchildren who are at risk of substance abuse and born to substance abusing mothers, to list services available. Chapter 892
SB 1811 Child Care & Development Programs, Bergeson (R). Revises funding priority to expanding full-day child development programs for 4-year olds, establishes adult-child and teacher-child ratios. Chapter 814.
ACR 109 Child Care Worthy Wage Day, Gotch (D). Declares first Thursday in April as Child Care Worthy Wage Day acknowledging need of higher wages. Chapter 84
AB 962 Child Day Care Facilities, Alpert (D). Prescribes hours of training and subjects of training for staff of child day care centers, with emphasis on preventive health practices. Chapter 35
AB 2766 Transitional Child Care, Bates (D). Makes changes in transitional child care for former AFDC recipients and those under the GAIN program. Chapter 243
AB 2852 Child Day Care Facilities, Frazee (R). Require DSS check county child abuse and neglect records in which applicant resided for two years preceding application. Substantiated child abuse to deny license. Chapter 1083
AB 2879 Child Care Staff Qualifications, Polanco (D). Operators of child care and development programs at two or more sites required to abide by program directions, instructional permits, and other provisions. Chapter 533
AB 3087 Family Day Care Homes, Speier (D). For licensure, require fire escape plan and fire drill exercises, immunization requirements for children and staff. Chapter 1316
AB 3372 Child Care Facilities: Certificates, Becerra (D) Require DSS to accept certificate of operation issued by Department of Education. Exempts employees of school districts from various requirements. Chapter 1113
SB 500 Administration of Child Care, Morgan (R). Provides for administration of the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 1990. Chapter 1190
AB 2840 Intercountry Adoptions, Frizzelle (R). Requires licensed adoption agency provide post-placement supervision for adoptions finalized in a foreign country. State resident adopting thru intercountry adoption to readopt in California if required by INC. Chapter 435.
SB 1148 Independent Adoptions: Rights, Bergeson (R). Specifies when child to be placed for adoption, duties of service provider, requires parties to sign adoption agreement, advisement of rights, up to three counseling sessions. Chapter 1353.
AB 2887 Adoption, Conroy (R). Authorizes court investigator perform functions with regard to stepparent adoptions and perform similar functions with regard to declaring a minor free from parents' custody and control. Chapter 472.
AB 3456 Adoption, Conroy (R). Establishes procedure for birth parent, or parents, to select and designate adoptive parents. Would be final and legally binding 72 hours after signed. If birth parents do not withdraw within time period, adoption agency authorized to proceed with other adoptive parents. Chapter 667.
AB 2365 Family Reunification, Bronzan (D). Deletes limitations on excess AFDC-FC expenditures to those for children subject to certain provisions for receiving specified services. Chapter 717.
SB 1445 Guardianship, Killea (D). Provides that minors of 12 years or older (rather than 14 years) may petition for the appointment of a guardian of the minor. Chapter 1064
SB 1394 Marriage, Family & Child Counselors, Torres (D). Provides interns or trainees may perform services at locations other than employer's offices. Changes in licensure or registration. Chapter 890.
AJR Missing Children, Conroy (R). Declares May 25th ad National Missing Children's day and commitment to protection of children. Chapter 52.
AB 973 Child Support Engorcement Information, Cannella (D). Requires state, county and local agencies to cooperate with the district attorney in locating abducted, concealed or detained minor children and modification of child support orders. Information to be confidential. (From 1985-1989, number of absent parents not locateable rose from 16.1% to 30.1% of total case load. The 1989 statewide caseload was 1,009,544; 305,982 parents could not be located by California Parent Locator Services.) Chapter 1192
AB 1356 Substance Offense: Presence of Child, Bentley, (R). Makes it a circumstance in aggravation if a person commits a controlled substance offense in the presence of a child under age of 14. Chapter 415
AB 1935 Dependent Children: Right to Jury, Frizzelle (R). If requested by a parent or guardian of a minor, a juvenile court hearings to declare a minor a dependent child of the juvenile court, to be conducted by a jury of 8 members and agreement of 6 or more for a verdict. Expense of the jury trial to be borne by person requesting. Testimony of child under 10 by informal videotaping. Failed is Ass. Jud. Comm
AB 2008 Crime Victim: Restitution Fund, Lempert (D). Adds malicious taking, detaining, concealing, or enticing away a child of 7 consecutive days or more to the list of crimes wherein it is presumed the victim who suffers an emotional injury also suffers a physical injury. Allows payment to victims of parental child abduction, upon determination of Board of Control that the victim's restitution fund can sustain the claims for a period of 2 years. To deduct an amount up to 50% from wages of the prisoner. That amount, less a 10% administrative fee, to be transferred to the Restitution Fund. Chapter 1090.
AB 2411 Public Employees: Spousal Benefits, Campbell (D). Authorizes spouse of a vested member to receive, upon death of the member, the same disability retirement benefit to which member would have been entitled, had selected a specified option, and had named the spouse as beneficiary. Vetoed.
AB 2448 Child Dependent Hearings, Bentley (R). Require San Diego courts appoint counsel in child dependent cases not having conflict of interest. Chapter 433.
AB 2601 Employment Discrimination: Sexual Orientation, T. Friedman (D). Codify case law prohibiting employers from discriminating against workers based on sexual orientation. Exempts religious organizations and employers of fewer than 5 employees. Chapter 915
AB 2725 Violent Crimes Against Women, Speier (D). Authorizes and encourages counties to create task force on violent crimes against women. Chapter 995.
AB 2865 Pregnant Employees, Speier (D). Requires employers to accommodate pregnant employees, such as transferring them to less strenuous or less hazardous duties if requested to do so. Chapter 907.
AB 3332 Sibling Visits, McClintock (R). Gives brothers and sisters separated by social workers with other families the right to visit each other. Chapter 665.
AB 3441 Dependent Children Placement, Speier (D). Requires county social worker ask parents (of child removed from their physical custody) if there are relatives who should be considered for placement, but would not guarantee placement with person identified. Chapter 495
AB 3560 Inmates: Restriction of Access, D. Friedman (D). Person incarcerated for sex crime against child under 18 years; visitation prohibited between child victim and incarcerated person unless juvenile court order permits. Chapter 1008.
AB 3663 Juvenile Court Legal Services, Horcher (R). Prohibits same attorney in DA's office from representing child in dependency hearings and prosecuting that child in juvenile delinquency case. Chapter 1327
SR 1959 Parentage: Presumed Fathers, Hart (D). Man is rebuttably presumed to be the natural father where he and natural mother execute a declaration under penalty of perjury that the man is natural father. 30% of all births in California are to unmarried women. Establishment of paternity is prerequisite for child support order. Chapter 849. (Ed. - Note, by signing papers that you are the birth father is not a guarantee that you will have visitation rights, joint custody, adoption possibility if birth mother puts child up for adoption. The basic right you have is to be financial responsible for the child and no other rights, necessarily. California is a tricky state. They want the male for the money, not as a parent.)
AB 1488 Women in Business, Speier (D). Creates within Department of Commerce, a Council to Promote Business Ownership by Women. Creates California women's business ownership fund. Chapter 1081. (Believe that the funding for this has ended.)
Section II: Failed, canceled, vetoed. Candidates for next legislative session.
SCA 42 Family Constitutional Protection, Leslie (R). Add to California constitution the inalienable right of preservation of one's family, enacting a family bill of rights. Provision might prohibit or inhibit the granting of divorces or enforcement of marital settlement agreements. Failed.
SB 1513 Minors: Parental Liability, B. Greene (D). Parent or guardian shall be jointly and severally liable with the minor for any damages resulting from a crime resulting in injury or death to another person, or injury to property, without limitation. Dead.
AB 2208 Parental Responsibilities, Bentley (R). Makes it an infraction for a parent or guardian to willfully allow a minor "to become out of control". Died in committee.
AB 2477 Family Care Leave & Discrimination, Moore (D). Require employer, who determines family leave creates undue hardship, to consider alternative. Employer not required to grant care leave of a month when used in conjunction with a 4-month pregnancy leave. Vetoed.
AB 3437 Family Reunification, Knowles (R). Requires written case plan be completed and presented no later than at time juvenile court makes dispositional orders, rather than within 30 days of initial removal of child from parents' home. Dead
SB 1809 Premarital Exam: HIV Test, Russell (R). Would declare that a positive test shall not result in denial of a marriage license. Certificate shall not contain the results of the HIV test. Failed.
SB 163 Child Support, Watson (D). Continues child support, for a child having a child support order, til age 21 years. Requires a finding that "but for the parents" separation or dissolution of their marriage, a parent would have provided support for appropriate education or training'. Died
SB 1620 Support Obligations, Lewis (R). Good cause for refusal to cooperate in establishing paternity and obtaining support exists only under defined circumstances. Provides that, to the extent permitted by federal law, cooperation in establishing paternity and obtaining support would mean specified acts. Failed, Assembly.
SB 1681 Study: Child Raising Costs, Calderon, (D). Requires Judicial Council study and report on child raising costs and costs incurred by parents. Dead
AB 2658 Support Obligations, Andal (R). Specifies that good cause for refusal to cooperate in establishing paternity exists only under specified circumstances and repeals the authority of the DSS to establish an exclusive list of acts deemed reasonable cooperation. Withdrawn.
AB 3697 Support Obligation Enforcement, Umberg (D). Requires DSS consolidate lists of delinquent support obligations, no later than 15th day of each quarter deliver the list to every statewide financial institution. Dead
AB 2930 Joint Custody Responsibilities, Moore (D). Court to provide a list of parental rights and responsibilities upon making a joint custody order. Entitlement to medical and school records, availability of mediation, unlawful corporal punishment or certain kinds of touching may jeopardize parent's custody. Canceled.
SB 1771 Task Force on Ritualistic Child Abuse, Russell (R). Determine extent of psychological physical and sexual ritualistic child abuse and make recommendations. Dropped topic changed to local hospitals.
AB 2579 Minors: Sexual Abuse, Arthie-Hudson, (D). Minor may be taken from physical custody of a parent if the court finds the minor, or a sibling of the minor, has been or is at substantial risk of being sexually abused. Died.
AB 254 Crime: Child Abuse, Costa (D). Provides that a person causing great bodily harm "as a result of criminal negligence" to be imprisoned 3, 6, or 9 years. Canceled.
AB 1687 Child Abuse Reporting, Chacon (D). Existing law requires certain persons (care providers, health practitioners, etc.) to report known or suspect child abuse. This bill requires that training in those duties also include instruction in cultural child rearing, medicinal practices, which differ from general community standards. Dropped.
AB 2394 Immunity: Child Abuse Investigations, Frizzelle (R). Makes public employees liable for knowingly including false accusations of child abuse in an investigative report. Died.
AB 2775 Child Abuse Reporting: Custodian, O'Connell (D). Revises definition of child care custodian to include attorney representing minor, district attorney investigator, inspector, family support officer, or peace officer. Dead.
AB 3045 Safe Start Program, Speier (D). Require several state offices to collaborate with California consortium for prevention of child abuse, develop home visit services for new parents to prevent abuse and neglect. Vetoed.
AB 3435 Child Abuse Reporting, Knowles (R). Requires 2 employees from each school to be trained in child abuse detection. Imposes a fee up to $5 per registrant for costs of materials used in training. Dead
SB 5 Domestic Violence, Fees, Presley (D). Increases fee to be collected for domestic violence centers, including specified amount for new and underserved areas. $24 fee. Passed but died since tied to SB 25, Vetoed.
SB 1343 Domestic Violence, Bergeson (R). Increases penalty for violation of a restraining order, that results in a traumatic condition, of a fine up to $2,000 or imprisonment of at least 45 days, or both, and adds to list of serious felonies a battery of bodily injury in domestic violence. Passed, but tied to SB 25, vetoed.
SB 1768 Domestic Violence Definition, Watson (D). Expands definition of abuse to include violation of restraining orders, harassment, threats or damage to or theft of property. Dead.
AB 2337 Domestic Violence: Protective Orders, Conroy (R). Would require peace officer making an arrest on a felony domestic violence charge to notify, or have a dispatcher notify a judge, commissioner, or referee to determine whether a 48-hour emergency protection order restraining the arrestee from having contact with the victim should be issued. Died.
SB 1295 Sexual Predators, Presley (D). Subjects one convicted of felony sexual assault against 3 different victims to life sentence without parole. Passed but tied to SB 25 vetoed.
AB 924 Habitual Sex Offenders, Lee (D). Subjects habitual sex offenders to prison sentences of 20 years to life. Makes kidnapping with intent to commit sex offense a violent felony. Canceled.
AB 1499 Convicted Rapists' Sentences, Ferguson (R). Requires judge sentence convicted rapist with two prior rape convictions to life without parole. Died.
AB 591 Battered Women's Syndrome, Moore (D). Provides for expert testimony in criminal cases on "battered women's syndrome" to involve experiences of women and children who kill their abusers. Would provide for admission of expert testimony on "bws" which results from sequel (pathological condition resulting from a disease) of the physical, emotional or sexual abuse of a child. Failed.
AB 2932 Homicide: Battered Woman Syndrome, Moore (D). Extends the provision for expert testimony on BWS and provides that homicide is justifiable under such circumstances. Dead.
SB 1106 Child Care Financing, Watson (D). Provides for submission to courts of Child Care Facilities Financing Act for bonds of $50,000,000. Died, Assembly Floor.
SB 1636 Child Placement & Care, B. Greene (D). Establishes Child Placement and Residential Facility Fund administered by State Department of Social Services to make ethnically sensitive placements. Dead.
AB 2765 Integrated Children's Services, Bates (D). Need for professionals with training or experience n working in integrated children and family services. Vetoed.
AB 3122 Child Care & Development, B. Friedman (D). Require agencies receiving enrollment funding to provide services to children and families on waiting lists for subsidized child care. Vetoed.
SB 717 Independent Adoptions, Boatwright (D). Makes it unethical for an attorney to represent both the adoptive parents and the birth parents in connection with an adoption. Killed on Assembly floor.
SB 794 Adoption Services, Calderon (D). Requires probation officer to provide updated information about minor to adoption exchanges. Requires use of federal funds for placement of special needs children. Vetoed.
SB 1170 Adoption Services, Calderon (D). Assure adoption agencies are given specified information, review amounts paid to counties and to private agencies, study feasibility of fee for out-of-state adoptions and pilot program on adoptability of special needs children. Vetoed.
AB 1444 Adoption: Records, Quackenbush (R). Revises access to birth certificates for adoptees of 18 years of age and birth parents of adoptees attaining 18 years of age. Creates form to be signed by birth parent relinquishing information when child attains 18 years of age. Died in committee.
AB 3717 Adoption Agreements, Quackenbush (R). Authorizes agreements between birth parents and adopting parents concerning exchange of information and communications (open adoption stipulations). Canceled.
SB 1504 AFDC: Minor Parents, Leonard (R). Establishes California Learning Program for parents under 19 years of age on AFDC. Family to receive additional $50 a month for each month teen parent attends high school, lower grades or equivalent vocational or technical program. Failed.
SB 1506 AFDC Payment Schedule, Russell (R). AFDC payments to be made once-a-month, unless recipient elects to receive payments twice a month, but that election limited to those paying rent on 1st and 15th of month. Vetoed.
SB 1881 AFDC: Minor Parents, Hart (D). Any custodial parent under 19 years of age participating in GAIN program but not complying with program requirements be subject to a sanction of $100 reduction in AFDC apportioned over 2-month period. $100 supplement for parent who does comply with program. Failed.
ACR 37 AFDC Reduction, Bates (D). Requests Governor for evidence budget will meet AFDC needs, improve work incentives and child care. Inactive.
AB 2545 Special Needs Children, Bates (D). Requires DSS to implement a pilot project in 2 counties over 3 year period for special needs children placed with a relative and qualifying for AFDC assistance. Dead.
AB 2584 AFDC Benefits, Quackenbush (R). Prohibits maximum aid payments to a family resident in state less than 12 months if in excess of amount family could have received in state of prior residence. Dropped.
AB 2640 AFDC: Minor Parents, Hansen (R). Establishes California Learning Program for parents under 19 years of age of AFDC. Dead.
AB 2646 Parental Responsibility Act, Bates (D). Changes name of AFDC to Parental Responsibility Act of 1992. Dead.
AB 2655 AFDC: Minor Parents, Harvey (R). Requires an individual under age of 18, who has never married, and has dependent child in his/her care, may receive AFDC benefits if individual and child in residence of individual's parent, guardian or adult relative. Dead
AB 2727 AFDC Benefits, Andal (R). Reduces maximum AFDC aid benefit and reduces limit for any family receiving assistance for more than 6 months or received AFDC during prior 24 months. Dead.
AB 2772 AFDC: Sex Education, Murray (D). Require counties provide free sex education and contraceptives onsite at county welfare offices for AFDC recipients. Dropped.
AB 3157 AFDC: Electronic Fund Transfers, Cannella (D). Authorizes counties to issue AFDC payments by electronic fund transfer. Canceled.
AB 3158 AFDC: Employment, Cannella (D). Establishes unemployed parents public works employment act. Dead
AB 3492 Child Welfare Monitoring, Hannigan (D). Extends AFDC eligibility to include children in county juvenile homes, ranches, camps, or forestry camps. Dropped.
AB 3822 Child Support, Bentley (R). Technical changes in composition of Judicial Council advisory committee on child support guidelines to also include custodial and noncustodial parents and academicians specializing in family law and others. Failed.
AB 3535 MFCC Licensure, Speier (D). Deletes authorization for licensure by superintendent of public instruction and provides for approval of accrediting agency, and makes changes in units and content of classroom instruction. Dropped.
AB 3654 MFCC Peer Review, Statham (R). Existing law requires peer review for licensure of various healing arts professionals. Would add marriage, family and child counselor licensure to this requirement. Dead.
AB Teen Male Responsibility Projects, Vasconcellos (D). Establishes demonstration projects to educate teenage males of responsibilities and risks of early fatherhood. Vetoed by Governor
AB 2719 Child Dependency Procedures, Bently (R). Prohibits courts from removing children from their homes based solely on hearsay evidence submitted by social workers. Requires social worker to give report to parents 10 days before jurisdictional hearings. Failed.
AB 2760 African-American Males, Lee (D). Establishes 21-member Commission on Status of African-American Males to examine problems in seven targeted areas. Veto reasons related to executive branch appointments and not because of merits of commission.
AB 2818 Prenatally Substance Exposed Infants, Lee (D). Establish grant programs in educational institutions to study prenatally substance exposed infants to better identify educational needs. Canceled.
AB 2819 Norplant Contraceptive, Roybal-Allard (D). Requires Department of Health Services to distribute a brochure about Norplant contraceptive insert. Canceled.
AB 2900 Education: Sexual Harassment, Archie-Hudson (D). Requires educational institutions to have written policy on sexual harassment, rules and procedures for reporting, and available remedies. Chapter 906.
AB 3099 Condom Labeling, Speier (D). Require lambskin membrane condoms to include notice they provide limited protection against transmission of AIDS. Vetoed.
AB 3713 Dependent Children; Parental Notification,
Quackenbush (R). Requires juvenile court to inform parents they may
submit names of relatives suitable for placement of child. Dead.
Debenhams Creates Divorce Registry
In recent years as I've shopped for bachelorette party goodies, I've noticed a swell in tacky garb brazenly boasting "Newly Divorced" and "RIP Marriage," for themed parties of a different kind. The idea that divorce is something to celebrate is a controversial one. According to DivorceRate.org, the divorce rate in America for a first marriage is 41%. The statistics are worse for second marriages, with 60% ending in divorce, and a staggering 73% of third marriages ending as well.
It's hard to speak generally about divorce, as each one is so different, but whether it's amicable or not, it signals the end of an era. Reuters reports that Debenhams new registry is "for those wishing to help a loved one with the pain."
So. Salt and pepper shakers?
Debenhams' head of retail services Peter Moore gave this
statement: "A divorce means that one partner will be leaving the
marital home and therefore be left without any essentials in their
new house." The recommended gift list includes items like "cookware,
cutlery, crockery, glasses, bed linen, towels, small electrical goods
such as toasters and microwaves as well as non-iron shirts, large
plasma screen TVs and computer games," according to Reuters. The
registry has yet to appear online.
Movement or Family Rights Movement, you decide.
Fox said, "Children are often given into the custody of abusive fathers." According to my research, in approximately 70 percent of all California child custody cases mothers receive sole physical custody. Fathers receive it approximately 10 percent of the time. (Nationwide mothers receive sole physical custody 84 percent of the time.) If children are given into the custody of abusive fathers, they're given into the custody of abusive mothers as well. Mothers it turns out are most likely to harm a child. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Children, Youth and Families, approximately two-fifths (40.8 percent) of child victims were neglected or abused by "their mothers acting alone." Just 18.8 percent were maltreated by their fathers acting alone, (and 17 percent of children were abused or neglected by both their mothers and fathers).
Fox testified about the sexual abuse of children. By far most child custody cases do not involve the sexual abuse of children, but the words alone can strike fear. I don't blame her. She wanted to win, and she's good at it. It's what she does for a living. Fox's organization, by her own testimony that day, trains people in the family court system how to litigate and adjudicate child sexual abuse cases. I care about victims of abuse too. I want to make sure that no child is put in harm's way. AB 1307, like most shared parenting bills, had provisions to protect children who are victims of abuse. This was a non-issue. But again, the subject of child abuse was brought up.
It disturbs me greatly that Fox casually painted fathers as perpetrators of incest when in fact fathers are the least likely of all males to commit sexual abuse. According to the January 2005 Male Perpetrators of Child Maltreatment: Findings from NCANDS, fathers are, "less likely than other male perpetrators to be involved in sexual abuse." Keeping fathers in the lives of their children protects them.
This tactic, mentioning sexual abuse, is similar to our opponents bringing up abusive and "controlling men". These men are the minority. The same is true about men in the Men's Movement, (not to be confused with the Father and Family Rights Movement), who want to completely eliminate child support, and the ones who want to revert to patriarchy. Sure, they're out there, but they do not represent the people I work with, the people who are fighting for equality in child custody. We are the real Fathers and Family Rights Movement.
And I do call it fighting sometimes. It feels like that when I have to deal with the politics of it. At one time I had no idea that I would be pitted against people who are fighting equality. This is America. The whole idea astounds me. I find it frustrating that the opponents of joint physical custody use sensationalism to "win" when it is most beneficial to our children when we all just stay honest and above board.
When I first encountered the Fathers Movement it was by accident. My son was having a child outside of marriage and he asked me for help. His father had abandoned him as a baby shortly after he and I divorced. My son later told me that the most important thing in his life was to be a good dad. He wanted to be the best father he could be, in every possible way. When he learned in his 20's that he was going to be a father and that marriage wasn't a possibility, he asked me to find out how to insure he'd be a large part of his child's life. I had been successfully co-parenting with his sister's father, a man I'd never married, for 15 years so we both knew it was possible. I was happy to see him looking into parenting plans and caring for the baby's mother. Unfortunately, shortly after his daughter's birth an attorney was hired, my son was served a summons for family court, and the situation turned adversarial. I went online to see what I could learn, unknowingly stepping into the Fathers Movement.
Shortly after I became involved in the movement, I realized there was a battle going on between a handful of radical patriarchs, called "angry fathers' rights activists" by the radical feminists and a handful of radical feminists, called "feminazis" by the radical patriarchs, with both sides tossing around accusations, insults, and outdated and inaccurate statistics to try to prove their side was right. I decided to do my own research, to see what the truth really is. I'll admit I was put off by the hostility. I can almost understand why the Fathers' Movement has a bad reputation. I saw posts online like, "You might get lucky. The Ex might lose interest or get hit by a truck." Oh, wait, that quote isn't from a Fathers' Movement web site. That's from an anti-Fathers' Movement, anti-equal custody activist's web site. The same woman, who has never met my reformist friends, or me, yet sent a letter from her state to my legislators calling us "angry fathers' rights activists."
What I found as I dug deeper through the maze of "bad facts" was that both sides were describing the same thing. Both sides exposed the same broken court system. These quotes, "it really depends upon the Judge, which GAL, (Guardian ad Litem), or Evaluator is used and all the biases he or they might hold" and "it's not simply a matter of attorney v. attorney (or facts or laws or even evaluators, all of which are key players) as much as it is the strategy of knowing which cases to bring before which judges", came from the same anti-Fathers' Movement online forum. I've read similar statements many times in the Fathers' Movement forums.
I naively assumed that since my son had been a great father during the entire pregnancy, and since joint physical custody had been law in our state for over 20 years, that he would be treated as an equal to his child's mother. I was shocked by what happened as he went through the family court system. He was prevented from having equal physical custody of his daughter by what could only be called gender bias. Lies were accepted as truth, physical evidence was ignored, the "best interest of the child" and justice were not served. I will never forget his anguish or the trauma my granddaughter went through. I knew that I could not turn my back on this kind of blatant bias and injustice.
It's now been three years and I've learned that the injustice and heartbreak my son went through is happening to fathers, and some mothers, not only all over California, but also all over America, and even all over the world. I've learned that what used to be the Fathers' Movement has become more of a Family Rights Movement with the inclusion of noncustodial mothers, grandparents trying to get their grandchildren out of foster care, and families dealing with Child Protection Services, (CPS). And I've learned that gender bias isn't the only problem in the family courts.
I'm honored to be associated with advocates, activists and reformists in more than a dozen countries including the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, Scotland, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Italy. I've heard hundreds of personal accounts from parents. Everywhere, all around the world parents are saying the system is broken, that it doesn't serve the needs of today's families. Part of the problem is that the adversarial winner-take-all atmosphere of the current family court system is causing unnecessary conflict and hostility, financial devastation, and worst of all, the tragic separation of decent, fit, loving parents from their children.
Many fathers have told me that they want both equal physical and legal custody, but they only got joint legal custody. Instead of having significant quality time to truly parent their children, instead of getting the respect they deserve and access to programs that are now exclusively for custodial parents, noncustodial parents simply have 'the parental right to make major decisions regarding the child's health, education and welfare' and have 'visitation' with their children.
Jeffery Shipman, 44, a New York father to 21-month-old Deonna, can only see his daughter every other weekend and one weekday evening. He told me, "People often say to me now, 'It must be getting easier now, huh Jeff?' I always reply, 'It never gets easier' ...and you know, a part of me never wants this minuscule amount of time to ever become 'easier' for me. For if one day per week becomes 'easier' to cope with and I would be considered 'adjusted,' that would tell me I'm not doing my job as a father. It's totally unnatural as a dad not to see my own child for a week straight."
Approximately one-third of the participants in the Fathers' Movement, or Family Rights Movement as some call it, are women. Some are grandmothers like me, some are second wives or girlfriends. Others are professionals or concerned citizens, and some are noncustodial moms like Beverly Morris. Beverly, 39, lives in Florida with her husband and their child, and is a noncustodial parent to two children in Pennsylvania. She told me, "It's been over seven years and I still feel raped, angry, and severely robbed of my parental rights to raise (my) children." Beverly is now founder and President of The National Association of Non Custodial Moms, Inc., an online emotional support forum for noncustodial parents of both genders. She said, "It makes me feel like the court system doesn't care at all what is in the best interest of children; they only care that they continue to make money through hearing after hearing; a trap which I refuse to fall into, and I refuse to put my children through."
I've heard supporters of sole custody say that liberal visitation is adequate for maintaining a close parent-child relationship, yet they aren't considering the families who are forced to deal with move-aways and estrangement. According to Rebecca Mackey, a remarried 27-year-old noncustodial mother to one, "I lost a part of my heart that has never repaired itself. The phases I feel are similar to the ones that people go through after someone dies. The only difference is that you don't get to go on with life and remember them. You get to go on with life knowing that they miss you and need you and you are helpless to do anything about it. There is no closure, just a constant searing pain in your soul that some big part of yourself is missing."
The fathers I know in the movement are regular dads; average, responsible, fit, loving fathers, just everyday dads like you meet in your neighborhood. Yet, they are prevented from fully parenting their children. Unmarried fathers, fathers to one-third of all the babies born in our country, are almost universally denied physical custody of their children. They're told, "It's against policy" by mediators, attorneys and judges. Bill Sharp, 51, a never-married Illinois father to 14-year-old Tasha and 15-year-old Willy lost his joint physical custody after his former partner refused to cooperate with the courts. Instead of giving custody to the parent who was most willing to facilitate a relationship between the children and the other parent, the judge awarded sole custody to the mother. Bill told me he still remembers the judge in his case saying, "The father should not be upset because this is how it ends up in 90 per cent of the cases."
Bill's son Willy said, "I'm angry and confused. I went to court and told the judge I wanted week-week. I don't have bad parents. That's what's fair. It's the best thing I can think of. The judge said he'd give me week-week. But then it was taken away from me before it even started and no one told me why. They ought to give a reason if they're going to take away time with a parent. No one gave me a reason". He went on, "Mom gave me a reason she said she was the better parent. Mom tells me that 50/50 is bad but doesn't tell me why. She was always trying to convince me that 50/50 was a bad idea." Willy then said the same thing I was thinking, "I don't understand why the one who is compromising is punished."
Warren Farrell, Ph.D., author of Father and Child Reunion told me, "Fighting to be the primary parent is not a mothering instinct - or a fathering instinct - it is an instinct of territoriality. Any mother with a mothering instinct senses that children need both their mom and their dad because children are both their mom and their dad. When they are missing either, they are missing that half of themselves. The children who need most the stability of both halves of themselves are the children of divorce, especially those children whose parents are the most in conflict."
Bill added, "Ask any kid what they want in a custody solution and they'll tell you they want both their mom and their dad; and they'll tell you that they want them equally. Why? Well, primarily because it's really what they want. But most kids have had fairness drilled into them as part of their parent's, and school's, and church's, and their role models' instruction as to the proper way to go through life."
Jamil Jabr, who has been divorced for 2 years and has one child, has been involved in organizing Fathers-4-Justice in the United States. He has been working to build the group as a recognized non-profit, charitable organization. His intention is to support the gender-neutral civil rights movement in America that is fighting for equality in child custody. Jamil, who lives in Minnesota told me, "Replacing the presumption of sole physical custody with joint physical custody will remove the need to have a winner and a loser. It won't take much to change the presumption so that everyone can be a winner, particularly children, families and society, once the voice of the people stands up to the entrenched special interests and profiteers which, fortunately, are in the minority but, unfortunately, extremely powerful and loathe to change."
One falsehood that is repeated about joint custody is that it is forced 50/50. This is not true. Most parents, including people in the movement, realize it isn't realistic to split timeshare exactly down the middle. The age of the child, relationship with parents prior to the custody hearing, the work schedule of each parent, these are all things that need to be taken into account by both parents. When you hear "equal custody" it means the parents are equal, not necessarily the time. From the moment they sit down at the negotiating table to the day the judge makes his order, they should be equals, and in today's family court system they are not.
Adryenn Ashley, a motion picture producer with 21st Century Pictures Group is one of the women in the movement. She lives in California with her husband and their 2-year-old son. Adryenn experienced the injustice of the family court system firsthand while helping her husband with his case from a previous marriage. Since then she has been filming a documentary about the family courts and how they impact families in the United States. The Family Alliance Council, a not-for-profit company that promotes positive images of families and responsible role models, funds the documentary. Adryenn observed, "We can make the future better for our children, but we have to put aside our own personal prejudices and work toward the real best interests of the children. And I think we can all agree, that a profit machine that sucks billions of dollars out of the pockets of taxpayers, thus reducing the amount available to fund the future generations, is not in anyone's best interest."
According to Ronald Rohner and Robert Veneziano, authors of "The Importance of Father Love: History and Contemporary Evidence," (Review of General Psychology 5.4, 2001), "Having a loving and nurturing father was as important for a child's happiness, well-being, and social and academic success as having a loving and nurturing mother." I'm happy to report that today my son and his daughter's mother co-parent successfully. They communicate often and in positive terms about their daughter, they both remain flexible with drop-off and pick-up times and days, and my granddaughter shows the benefit of knowing that both of her parents love her always, and that neither are ever far away, or away for long.
Wendy Sheppard, 34, a licensed social worker and life coach who has shared custody of her 8-year-old son told me, "We have a week on/week off custody arrangement in which we both see our son every day no matter where he sleeps. My clients and friends often remark at how 'lucky' I am to have such a mutual arrangement with my ex. I don't consider myself 'lucky'. I'm doing what's best for my son because it's about HIM, not ME. It's not luck - it's about putting my personal feelings aside and doing what's best for my son."
When asked, the general public has shown overwhelming support for shared parenting and equal custody. As reported by Fathers & Families, (www.fathersandfamilies.org ), in November 2004, 37 districts in Massachusetts had a non-binding ballot question asking if voters supported shared parenting. With over 600,000 votes cast, 86 percent of the voting public said "Yes." In Michigan recently the Detroit News carried out an on-line survey asking the following question, "For divorcing parents, should Michigan courts make equally shared custodial responsibility of children the standard?" Again, 86 percent of respondents voted "Yes".
The Michigan Families and Fathers Conference, Healing our Families, a Time for Change is being held at the Metro Detroit Airport on June 17th and 18th. For information write to the Family Rights Coalition at email@example.com, call 734.322.2974 vox or visit the web site www.fathers05.org .
What I've learned in the last three years in the movement is that children want equal access to both of their parents and that parents of both genders want equal access to their children. I've learned that studies show children adjust to divorce best when they maintain the same level of contact with their parents as they had before the divorce and that in some cases shared parenting can actually reduce conflict between parents. I learned that other unmarried parents could successfully co-parent, even if they didn't think they could. And I learned that society supports shared parenting and equal custody. To answer the question of why I'm working within the Fathers' Movement, I'm here to tell the truth.
For more information on shared parenting please visit these web sites:
©2007, Teri Stoddard
Impotence is grounds for divorce in 24 U.S. states.
I never wanted but your heart - that gone, you have nothing more to give. - Mary Wollstoncraft
The cold season: divorce rates rise in the winter. As the
temperature goes down, divorce rates go up.
Unrelated? According to a Yale study, you think better in the winter than in the summer.
The primary reason for the high rate of divorce is the high rate of marriages.