Saturday, October 07, 2006

Jealousy of the Mother/Child Bond Continues and Spreads like A Cancer

Well I guess spite and jealousy against mothers makes for many strange alliances and here is one of the strangest: a Fathers’ Rights group supporting a lesbian being awarded custody simply because she lived with a mother and child for 18 months. As I have said many times: lesbians are allowing themselves to be used by men to undermine the rights of all women in their role as mothers. If this woman wins, when the smoke clears, another dangerous precedent for mothers and children will have been set.

In essence even a short-term relationship can serve as the basis for a total stranger to gain legal rights to custody of your children.

My children growing up interacted with many people on both a long and short-term basis. From teachers they loved to friendly doormen. I even shared my apartment with a woman and her children for almost two years until she found her own place. YET that didn’t mean either her or I was entitled (nor should we have been) to any type of legal rights or obligations for each other’s children.

How will men feel if this becomes standard practice and just living with a woman with kids automatically makes them legally liable for her off-spring? As in having the state come after them for child support. Massachusetts, by the way, allows gays to marry and/or adopt. So how come this lesbian didn’t do either of these things initially? Obviously either her or the child’s mother didn’t feel the relationship merited these steps. Yet she wants to pursue custody now after the relationship has ended? Sorry, but these sorts of ‘do-overs’ after the fact should not be allowed.

You want to be a mother, have your own kids or adopt...

This Fathers’ Rights group supporting this woman shows me one thing pretty clearly: that men will go to any lengths to try to disavow the mother/child bond, even if the ultimate result is harmful to most other men. As a court ruling in favor of this lesbian will do nothing good for men. Actually it puts them at more risk of having to be forced into assuming responsibility for other men’s children simply because they lived with a mother for a short period of time.


http://www.fathersandfamilies.org/site/news.php?id=177&PHPSESSID=ff6737c9c9834feb96d99f212a54f6b8


Recent News
10/06/2006
F&F in Mass Supreme Judicial Court Yesterday


F&F Stands Up for Children, Breadwinners

Do you think that when courts make custody decisions, they should choose the parent who most often dresses the children or arranges his daycare, and give no “credit” to the parent who earns the money to pay for the clothes and daycare?

Fathers & Families submitted an amicus brief in a case argued before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) yesterday. The brief, principally authored by Dr. Ned Holstein, argued that, contrary to some court decisions and legal authorities, being a breadwinner is a crucial family function that should be considered just as important as direct caretaking of children when courts make custody decisions. (Of course, it is also necessary that the principal wage earner develop a bond with the child!) The brief also argues that custody should not be decided by rigidly counting up the hours of who does the most diaper-changing, meal-cooking, etc. Instead, custody should usually be shared because children bond equally strongly to both parents, even when one is out of the home earning a living for long hours every day.

It doesn’t seem that we should have to argue such elementary points. But, unfortunately, many legal authorities and courts still insist that being a breadwinner does not help qualify you for custody of a child, and that custody should go to the “primary caretaker.” According to those authorities, things that mothers typically do, such as buying the child’s clothes, count as caretaking, but things fathers usually so, such as earning the money to pay for the clothes or fixing up the house, do not. This sexist approach almost always leads to sole custody for mothers. Under this kind of thinking, even the most devoted fathers end up with a few days per month of “visitation.” And the children, of course, are the ones hurt the most by this antiquated way of thinking. The twist in this case is that we were supporting a lesbian parent in her custody dispute.

The woman in question, identified in court papers only as A.H., is not the biological parent of the five-year-old boy who is the center of the dispute, but lived with him and his biological mother for the first eighteen months of his life, cared for him like a mother to the present, and was the primary breadwinner for the family. Some legal authorities argue that she should lose because breadwinning shouldn’t count, and without counting breadwinning, the biological mother did more for the child. Our argument is that neither A.H. nor heterosexual parents should be punished in court because they rose to the challenge of supporting their family financially.

Chief Justice Margaret Marshall mentioned that she was aware of our brief, and counsel for A.H. mentioned Fathers & Families by name in her oral arguments.

35 comments:

bloggernoggin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
NYMOM said...

bloggernoggin if you don't stop it I am going to your ISP to report you...

LeRoy Dissing said...

nymom says: You want to be a mother, have your own kids or adopt...

I concur. I am of the opinion that children have two parents - a mother and a father - who have a legal and moral obligation to support and raise the children they decide to bring into this world. That obligation does not cease until the child reaches the age or majority (and as we all know, many parents continue providing some support beyond their legal obligation to do so) or a parent's parental rights are terminated.

In this case, the other woman could only have proceeded with an adoption if the father had either given up his parental right's, had them involunarily taken or died. Even then, there is no guarentee that a Court would grant this woman's adoption petition. It seems to me in this case that this woman has no legal standing to even request custody of this child. A blood relative of the child would have more standing (legally) than a current same-sex partner. Even a step-parent has less standing then a bio-parent when it comes to custody of children. I wonder where the father is in this court case. No mention of him at all.

NYMOM said...

Hello Leroy:

Anyway, since the mother was living with a lesbian, we can safely assume she was a lesbian as well. So it could very well mean her child was the result of an anonymous sperm donation. AND the mother might have precisely conceived a child this way to AVOID a custody battle at some point in the future. She might have gone to the trouble and expense and extra legal steps to do this properly and then STILL her and her child wind up being dragged into court anyway.

Since many lesbian mothers lose custody whenever they are dragged into court for any reason, precisely because they are lesbians. Although the courts generally find another reason to use. Thus, I find the few I know are extra careful when they wish to start families. As they know they are vulnerable to losing them for any reason or none at all depending upon the whim of a judge, who might not like them simply because they are a lesbian...never mind the additional baggage of being a single mother.

So now even someone living with a mother for 18 months has rights to a child.

It's totally ridiculous.

LeRoy Dissing said...

Hi nymom...I agree that the child could have been conceived via DI. I do find it interesting that the Court is even considering the lesbian partner as having any standing to gain custody of this child. It would seem that she would have to prove that her partner (mother of the child) is somehow unfit and if that were the case, it is likely that neither party may gain custody of the child. In other words, the child might end up with a relative of the bio-mother or in the foster care system. It is an interesting case to follow.

LeRoy Dissing said...

What may also play into this (and should be paramount) are the needs of a 4 year old boy. A boy needs his mother and I believe a father or at least, a father role-model. The child has undoubtedly been appointed a Guardian ad Litem in this Court case. The Guardian ad Litem represents what he/she feels is the best interests of the child. This is often an attorney who makes recommendations to the Court regarding custody.

NYMOM said...

Yes, but Guardian ad Litem can have their own biases and prejudices, so there is no guarantee that this total stranger will act in a child's best interest either.

It's a coin toss really.

Generally mothers have been found to be the best people to decide what is best for their children. So unless abuse or neglect is involved I think we should stick with this tried and true formula.

LeRoy Dissing said...

In this particular case, if the mother did use donor sperm to create this child and there is no known father, I believe the mother already has custody. The Court's only decision is whether to remove the custody of the child from its biological mother or dismiss the petition altogether. I vote for the latter.

NYMOM said...

Well we'll see what the court saids...however the most interesting part of this whole situation to me was the alliances formed during this custody fight...and how many forces will work together when attempting to undermine motherhood.

Richard said...

We see tremendous changes around us which have been brought about by women and many of them have not favoured men at all. To be precise,men had to be at the receiving at most of the times. But today when men are asserting themselves for their right to have the custody of their children, suddenly women are feeling threatened. Then men are being accused of being greedy and treacherous. The attitude is simply ridiculous.When will women get over the nagging habit of accusing men of being evil and women as being above board.

Frankie said...

Radical changes have been ushered into our society by women's movement in the past three decades. Hike in divorce rates, crumbling down of the institution of marriages, breakdown of families, teenage pregnancies, rampant promiscuity, growing adultery and extra-marital affaris etc have altered the face of our social system.. There has been an incessant demand by various women's groups that these changes should be accepted by the society as "women want them" or " women want to live that way".But strangely when men are asserting for some of their rights and want to highlight what they "want", they are being accused of being greedy and cruel. And again it is women who are deciding whether a man is bad or good. He is not supposed to stake claim of his own wants in his own right. Women are simply not willing to accept , which is atrocious. This is nothing but female chauvinism.

Richard said...

NYMOM says "How will men feel if this becomes standard practice..."
Frankly speaking, for the last three decades, women activists have bashed up men in the media, taunted them , humiliated and scorned at them . Their wives have come out and said that they are getting nothing out of their marriages and have justified affairs or a walkout. But they have not bothered to find out as to what men are getting out of their marriages or out of the roles that they have to play in a marriage.They had to confront that if their wives are lusting for other men and are having a sexual excapade, then it is a revelation of her "liberated status" and does not mean inflicting mental cruelty on the husband.He has been told that since his wife is economically independent, she is liberated and hence entitled to an affair but no body had pointed out that all husbands are also economically independent but that does not give them the license of being promiscuous. Instead he is dumped the role of the provider and the protector. But even then he was not supposed to complain or feel anything or feel bad about it.

So NYMOM, MEN ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO FEEL ANYTHING. So it does not matter as to how will men feel as it does not matter to women's activists. So why this sudden sympathy for men as to how men would they feel if so and so happens to them. Why are women all of a sudden so concerned as to how will men feel. THEY ARE CONCERNED BECAUSE NOW THEY ARE GETTING ON THE RECEIVING END NOW. so why should men bother????
YOU CAN ACCUSE MEN OF BEING GREEDY AND CRUEL BUT IT IS TRANSPIRING THAT WOMEN ARE NO BETTER. IN SOME CASES THEY ARE EVEN WORSE.

Sandy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
NYMOM said...

Sorry Sandy.

I removed your comment as I already answered that question when you asked me it less then a day or so ago...

To be honest I'm more patient with men then with women on these issues as I feel they are more sincere in their concern; whereas I find women are just in this to gain the attention of men...and I'm not enabling it on my blog.

Your question was answered by me already...so if you want to grandstand to attract the attention of men do it someplace else, not on my blog.

NYMOM said...

Richard and Frankie:

To be brief...those changes you referred to were inspired by feminism and men benefitted from them as much as woman did initially. You all were very eager to usher in feminism particularly when you realized it meant that you could participate in casual sex with many women as opposed to marrying just one and when you did agree to marry you were quite happy when you saw women had decided to share the bread-winning role with you...

Now you don't like the ultimate result of your choices.

Too bad...

Richard said...

NYMOM, You are totally misplaced to even conceive that men had greeted feminism with open arms. Infact feminism was introduced to hit out at men and no man had ever welcommed it with open arms. For the last three decades in the name of femonism, women had demeaned and insulted men in all possible ways and had tried to humiliate them. It is only when men are today coming out of their shells with their feelings and sensitivities and are openly criticising women and their norms, feminists are trying to pretend that feminism was welcomed by men in the first place. Feminism is based on false propaganda, twisting facts and lies. And that is apparent from your reaction, NYMOM.
Men had never benifitted from feminism initially and men were accused of being narrow nminded, male chauvinists,uncouth if they did not fall in line with feminist preachings. Men were portrayed as uncultured by the media if they spoke against sexual promoscuity ushered in by women. Women lib movement is primarily aimed at demeaning patriarchy and at humiliating men and it is totally wierd to conclude that men had beniffited from it. You must be hallucinating, NYMOM. It is the creed of feminists to lie to support their arguments and you are no exception.
It is time you wake up and started smelling the coffee.

Samuel said...

Today it is women who are being badly affected by feminuism and it's aftermath. The society has been twisted beyond shape and recognition and feminists can not pretend that men have welcomed feminism and hence they are to blame. It is an open fact that men have been bullied by feminists and the media in the last three decades to accept the distorted versions of feminism which have been over the years justified in the name of emancipation, creativity, liberation, empowerment etc of men.
Men were demeaned as backward and neandranthal if they criticised feminists. AND NOW MYMOM, YOU ARE SAYING THAT MEN HAVE ENJOYED FEMINISM!!!! yOU MUST BE OUT OF YOUR MIND!!!
It is time women start realising the mess they have led themselves to. They can not criticise men now and state that it is the fault of men. It is time women strated waking up and face the consequenses of their actions instead of blaming men.

Frankie said...

I had the oppurtunity to go through Sandy's opinion which has been deleted by NYMOM.Sandy had not said anything offensive so as to merit a deletion.What he had said was the truth and nothing but the truth.
Sandy has correctly stressed that in a marriage a man is imposed the role of the "provoder", which in other words meant that men have to go out of their homes to seek out means of livelihood and earn so as to support their wives and children. Infact, men are given no other option and all their lives they are made to go out of their homes early in the morning to work and earn AND SUPPORT for their wives and children and he comes back home late in the evening , tired and exhausted. Hence it is the wife and children who enjoy the fruits of his hard labour and the man spends his entire life shuttling between workplace and his home.
Under the circumstances, how is it expected that he should bond with his children? Where does he get the time. Then why are such role models imposed on him and are taken for granted? He is not given the oppurtunity to do so. Moreover he is punished by being given only a few hours of "visitaion rights" in exchange of his sacrifice and not custody of his child!!Then he is rebuked by being accused that he is not bonding with his child as if it is his fault.
What is further humiliating is that if he musters up the courage and speaks out, demands and questions, his opinion is deleted.IT IS SIMPLY DELETED. WOMEN START FEELING THREATENED IF MEN START ASKING SUCH QUESTIONS.MEN ARE SIMPLY NOT SUPPOSED TO FEEL OR SPEAK OUT OR FEEL PAINED. IF THEY DO, THEY ARE DELETED!!!!!

NYMOM said...

"You are totally misplaced to even conceive that men greeted feminism with open arms."

Well I believe many men did.

If you look at most of the changes that came about originally due to feminism, they benefitted men.

You've only begun to speak out against feminism lately as you see some of the negatives of it. Yet you all still support gender neutrality, so that's one of feminism central pillars, so how can you claim not to support feminism...

NYMOM said...

I didn't claim Sandy said anything offensive when I erased her comment. Where did I say she said anything offensive? I simply had already answered her question as she already asked it previously in a different post.

So what does she do...she ignores everything I said and reposts the same questions all over again...

I'm sorry but this place is to support women in their role as mothers. Not to provide another safe place on the internet for men or their enablers to vent...there are plenty of places like that where this Sandy can go.

If someone has a legitimate question or opinion that is different from mine I'm willing to entertain it. What I am not willing to do is to have this entire blog be turned into another attack site against mothers.

So eventually if you continue trying to 'swarm' on this blog and take up all my time with answering the same questions over and over again, you'll be deleted too.

Just warning you...

Sandy asked about why I felt mothers should always get custody of their children, unless abuse or neglect was involved. I answered her. So if she comes back again and asked the same question using different wording again, I'm going to erase her again.

Sorry.

NYMOM said...

Regarding your claim that men work and women stay home with children. So what?

That's what has been going on for thousands of years since humanity first crawled out of the primal mist. Females have raised the young of every species on the planet, as well as our own...and don't bother coming up with some odd clown fish example so far off the bell-shaped curve that most of us would never have even known about it but for men trying to prove a false point...

This is very feminist-like too, btw.

Coming up with some niche creature and claiming because this rare exception exists, it negates how the other 99% of us live and do anything...

Most women do work today anyway after having children. They are not home forever, but for a few years maybe until their youngest is off to school. But clearly from all the complaining I hear coming from men even that is too much for you to bear...so you know what: don't do it anymore, but meanwhile quit trying to give yourselves unearned rights to the children women alone bear. Since you don't wish to make anymore even the most marginal of effort to help raise them...

Stop with these statistical lies about single mothers. Stop trying to get yourselves rights to children, when you don't even bother marrying their mothers. Stop interfering with mothers decision to place their children for adoption, if they decide it's in their childrens' best interest to do so. Stop all this propaganda against mothers trying to make yourselves appear more important in the whole drama of birth/life then you really are...

Okay...

That's the problem here. Not women expecting too much from you but male jealousy of the mother/ child bond. AND your endless attempts to try to degrade it...

Looking around at our world I see MOST of Congress is male. MOST of the Supreme Court is male. The President and MOST of his cabinet is male. All the organs of power including the Pentagon, all the armed forces, most police forces including corrections and sheriffs are men...

So accept yourselves as having what you have already, which is just about EVERYTHING and leave mothers and their children ALONE...since your endless greed will wind up with both of us having nothing if you continue...

bloggernoggin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Frankie said...

Nymom, I stress again that you must be out of your mind to suggest that men had welcomed feminism and that they had gained by it. Feminism was and still is primarily aimed at promoting women's interests, furthering female chauvinistic ideas and demeaning men. Feminists had and still have a typically anti-male attitude and had actively encouraged male hatred among women and generations of women have grown up hating men and having a female chauvinistic attitude.
On the other hand, men were made to feel that if they protested against the growing trend then they were male chauvinists and narrow minded persons.Hence, most men kept quite and did not have the courage to openly protest against the anti-male tirade as they felt that it would portray them as male chauvinists.
But with the passage of time, it became clear that the anti-male tirade and female chauvinistic approach has to be checked and hence today more and more men are shedding their traditional inhibitions and are coming out and protesting. The fact that men had taken time to come out of their shells and protest does not mean that they had consented to female chauvinism, lock stock and barrel. Women have taken thousands of years to come out and protest. So does it mean that they had enjoyed, consented and welcomed male domination???
So women cannot simply say that men had welcomed feminism with open arms.It is time women started to wake up and contfront the twisted reality they themselves have created.
It is too bad that they are unwilling to smell the coffee they themselves had brewed!
NYMOM, you are rambling. It is time to realise that women cannot brow beat men anymore and cannot dictate how men should feel, think and demand. You cannot stop men from demanding their natural rights.
If men are in important positions, they have worked hard for it and hence they rightly deserve it. Why do not women do similarly? Infact then women start whimpering and whining and start craving for male sympathy!
The world has changed and the change had been brought in by women themselves and now they can not crib about it.It is time they start accepting the reality and mature up.

NYMOM said...

Goodbye bloggernoggin.

Why don't you go write on your own blog as you are not wanted here.

NYMOM said...

Frankie:

Last comments on feminism...

Men benefitted from feminism just as much if not more then women did initially, which is why it happened...

You don't like the turn it has taken after reaping the benefits of it these last 40 odd years.

Tough...get used to it.

BloggerNoggin said...

"You don't like the turn it has taken after reaping the benefits of it these last 40 odd years."

What is that supposed to mean nymom, what benefits?

The only benefit I can see that men got out of the last 40 years of feminism is watching more female on female porn!

BloggerNoggin said...

Ok nymom, seems like all of the posters here you delete them all, it's almost like your talking to yourself, all I see is that the vast majority of posts in here are all yours with a delete message in between. I know you have every right to delete whatever you want, and people have a right to post whatever they want too. But in essence, you've done a drive-by-type media by deleting other peoples comments and that makes this blog a one way street. I truly believe a blog should be governed, no doubt, but when it's steered in one direction only to benefit only your beliefs it then has become biased and not user friendly among people that have different beliefs than you.

NYMOM said...

Men got the benefit of more casual sex available to them without having to marry any one woman. Even if she got pregnant you could still walk away, if you so chose to, until fairly recently when the government finally cracked down on men and started demanding child support from never-married men...

Additionally you got the benefit of women working after having children to help you with the financial burdens of a family...as most women with young children return to work fairly quickly today.

Also courts are more likely to allow men custody of children now, so you use that as leverage to manipulate women...

Gender neutralized feminism gave you all these things.

So you didn't not get anything but better porn...

NYMOM said...

AND as you know damn well bloggernoggin MOST of those deleted comments are yours acting like a jackass.

AND sorry but that's the very definition of a blog...a personal journal featuring your own opinions on any issue. Mine is motherhood.

I don't go to the trouble of having this blog so idiots like you can show up alternating cursing and calling me names or disputing every single thing I say on it...you want a user-friendly blog go to your own or your friends blogs.

Okay...

I let people comment once in a while to ask me questions clarifying what this blog is about and that's it...I'm not spending all my time arguing with those who disagree with me...so if you don't like it, get to steppin...and don't come back.

Anonymous said...

I am new to your blog and actually have a comment on your first one regarding adoption. I have learned the hard way. Women pregnant over 40, the agencies don't want to take their children. Women who choose to raise their own children, well those fathers can come back at any time and request a DNA test and gain custody. Even in cases of casual sex or rape (if the rape can't be proven). This is quite the hole in the pro life movement. If there is a question of safety for the unborn child, I feel that adoption, even if the child is lain on the hospital doorstep is the only option. I think all the men's movement is doing is bringing enlightenment to the OPTION of sperm donation for those who wish to raise their children without the threat of future custody battles. I enjoy your blog, it peaks my interest and raises my awareness. You did make a comment on Wendy Titleman, about her helping her husband gain custody of his first two. That sort of thing is common in domestic abuse relationships. She may have been forced to do so, or she may have believed lies he told her about his X wife. I have heard many abused women who supported their husbands to get their children and then found out he was not the man he professed to be. We women are continuously decieved by men it would appear.

NYMOM said...

I USED to be a strong supporter of adoption...however, even that has been corrupted by mens rights and gender neutralized feminists' agenda.

Frankly it used to be that a single mother was giving a child up to a stable married couple in order to give their child a shot at a better life. One, they couldn't provide for whatever reason.

NOW, however, it's a coin toss who they'll dump your kid off with.

There was one mother, out in Chicago I think, who found out the agenda she entrusted to place her child with (what she assumed would be a regular married couple) actually dumped her baby off with two men!!!! When she found out what they had done, she tried to get the child back, but was stopped by the court after a long protracted years-long legal battle. Last I heard, she was in Rome trying to talk with the pope: like that's going to help her...

Sadly, adoption is not what it used to be: which was an option mothers USED to be able to exercise in their child's best interest. Not any more...

PLUS like you said: the baby shopping that goes on where certain kids are not even considered 'worthy' to be placed in the adoption pool depending upon their mothers' history.

PLUS the fact that men can come back at anytime, anytime, even years later like you said and demand the child be returned to them. MOST of the more famous adoption fights we've seen in the media, although painted as the mother changing her mind, have really been about a recreational sperm donor trying to overturn the adoption and the mother re-entering the picture to stop some man from trying to use her baby as an ATM card to get either public or tax benefits or child support from her...

It's sad but I don't recommend adoption anymore...

PLUS we cannot continue giving cover to the hundreds of thousands of women who enable men to steal children from their mothers for financial gain to themselves. I'm sorry but women need to take responsibility for their own bad behavior. Enabling some jerkoff to get custody of another woman's child in order to help him evade child support should be a felony...

Like what Ellen Barkin did for Ron Perlman: helping him steal a 5 year old from its mother, that child's mother is still in court fighting with that jerk Perlman over contact with her daughter (over 5 years later) totally disgraceful.

Unfortunately I have to place Wendy Titelman in the same category. She reaped what she sowed.

Barkin was lucky she didn't have any kids with Perlman but it would have served her right if she had, and loss them five years later when he dumped her. I was sorry to hear she managed to get a settlement from him as she definitely didn't deserve one. They didn't even live together so she was nothing but a beard for him to parade in court to steal custody of another woman's child. She should have been punished, women should boycott her movies, at the very least.

Anonymous said...

Custody fight: Documentary sheds light on system that lets children suffer at the hands of abusive fathers
By BOB PORT
October 16, 2005
Albany Times Union
This week, every judge, lawyer, psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker with any connection to family law in New York ought to be taken into custody, escorted to their local courthouse and forced to watch "Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories," a PBS documentary set to air in the Capital Region at 10 p.m. Thursday on WMHT Ch. 17.
Before coming to Albany, I worked for years at the New York Daily News. I had occasion to cover stories from Family Court and custody battles, largely in New York City. I've heard the tales of more than a hundred people in recent years caught up in the "Twilight Zone" of a custody dispute, as many of them identically refer to the legal system.
This exquisite documentary, "Children's Stories," like no other production I have seen, makes comprehensible the subtlety of a scandal that recurs in custody proceedings in New York and other states. It is an almost impossible story to tell, one from which journalists flee, and it boils down to this: A judge, often misled by self-interested lawyers and court-appointed professionals, ignores a protective mother, ignores the wishes of children and awards custody to a man who is an abuser, emotionally or physically, of his wife or their children.
In a bitter irony, the judge orders this injustice wrapped in the banner that is New York 's legal standard for deciding custody: "best interests of the child."
What our legal system has failed to grasp is that lust for vengeance drives the worst of fathers to use litigation itself as a way to abuse ex-wives. Their economic incentive has also grown. Winning custody can be cheaper than child support.
"Children's Stories," filmed partly in Loudonville, will not try your patience with he-said, she-said debate between couples or among experts. Save that for later. Instead, the filmmakers select wise experts to explain and ask that you do two things our courts easily fail to do: Trust mothers to behave like mothers and listen to what children say.
There is little Sarah, ordered to live with a father she feared. "You feel like," she says, biting her lip, "you want to die."
There is the terror-stricken voice of Many recorded on the phone, pleading with her mother to rescue her from her father, who molested her for years. "I don't care if you have to break the law," she sobs, "get me out right now."
There are the observations of Jeff, who turned 18 and escaped, but who remains haunted at having lain awake across the hall from his little sister as she was raped and sodomized by his dad, who won custody. "It's the most helpless feeling," Jeff laments.
These are the raw extremes of custody law gone awry. The typical abusive parent is less severe or far less obvious, and abuse is always difficult to discern. Two adult men speak in "Children's Stories" with memories of their own abusive fathers to shed light.
One of them, Joe Torre, manager of the New York Yankees, who suffered in the care of a violent father, recalls why he never called police. "My father was the police," Torre says.
"It is never an event," says the other, Walter Anderson, CEO of Parade magazine. "It is a pattern of behavior." Abuse, he explains, is "the systematic diminishment of the child." This common sense can elude family courts.
Some facts are in order here. We're talking about a big but very narrow problem. Custody is not disputed in court in the overwhelming majority of divorces as many as nine in 10 cases settle amicably, according to studies. In uncontested custody, mothers win out over fathers, taking custody about 2-1, although this is partly because some fathers see trying to win custody as futile.
Contested custody, about 10 percent of break-ups, clogs courts. In these disputes, some studies show, a mildly abusive, or brutally battering or seriously molesting parent lurks in three fourths of cases. It can be a mother, but mostly it tends to be a father, and recent studies show fathers winning these battles 2-1.
Do the math. It's a problem.
Custody case law in New York , as in many states, enshrines one of the most ridiculous legal principles ever to evolve, called "parental alienation."
Conceived by the late Columbia University psychiatrist Richard Gardner, "parental alienation syndrome" was a proposed name for a mental illness in which a mother, to punish her ex-mate, alienates kids against dad by coaching them to allege abuse.
The antidote for this alleged insanity, Gardner theorized, is to give the kids to dad, thereby counteracting mom's alienation by removing the kids from her control. It's the ultimate mind game in custody battles. We can almost never prove what's really true in an abuse allegation, and a bald abuse allegation, even if false or exaggerated itself, can be symptomatic of a deeper, less severe pattern that is true. The victim of abuse thus becomes the perpetrator and a villain can win. Gardner 's ideas became a playbook for fathers using litigation to punish ex-lovers.
Gardner 's colleagues rejected the addition of his theory to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the peer-reviewed handbook of mental illnesses. His work has been debunked by the American Psychological Association and others. Parental alienation syndrome is junk science.
Yet in a monument to ignorance, New York courts continue to recognize "parental alienation" as if it were some psycho-law of medicine and continue to give kids to oppressive, if not abusive fathers simply when mothers make accusations. It's as if judges are years behind in reading social science literature.
Father's rights groups have legitimate concerns about false abuse allegations, but given the nature of contested custody, these utterances should not trigger instant death for mothers. Yet, Gardner 's remedy for alienation is etched in precedent in our state appellate law books. Judges continue to fall for it as medical dogma when it comes from court-appointed forensic psychiatrists. These experts, unregulated in the court system, are often ordered by a judge to evaluate parents, but they answer to no one. They must be right, judges are pressed to believe. After all, judges appointed them.
In "Children's Stories," a judge, who happens to be a social worker, as perhaps we should require of all our Family Court judges, tries to set the record straight. Maybe our Court of Appeals will get the message.
Also aired in this documentary are the problems with some law guardians, lawyers appointed for children. The documentary shows us how they can do more harm than good. They can be patronage-seeking pals of judges who authorize legal fees billed to parents for whatever the market will bear
Law guardians may not listen to their clients, the children, and they inevitably end up taking sides, then avoid communication with the losing side. They can freely engage in what lawyers call ex-parte communication they talk to one side without the other present. Judges do it, too. It's unethical and it deprives one party of a fair hearing. Yet, in our family courts, ex-parte exchanges, even hearings, can be standard operating procedure.
Dominique Lasseur, the producer of "Children's Stories," told me he expects to be sued, but I say he deserves a Nobel Prize for honesty for his work here. The Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation, which financed this effort, deserves our gratitude. And this documentary should prove again the incalculable value of public broadcasting.
An annual event at Siena College became the setting for some of "Children's Stories." Mo Therese Hannah, a psychology professor at Siena , is already organizing the third Battered Mothers' Custody Conference there, set for next January.
The judiciary in New York is aware of the problems you'll see on TV. A 32-member Matrimonial Commission, appointed by our chief judge, has heard from hundreds of citizens. Appellate Judge Sondra Miller of Westchester County , chairwoman, says her commission is preparing its report for release in December and it will recommend major changes.
"We hope that we can change the tenor of these proceedings," Miller said. She intimated her commission is considering some new court model for resolving custody, one based on principles of mediation and arbitration more than advocacy.
We'll all be watching.

NYMOM said...

This article is almost two years old and I don't agree with all of it...

But I posted it anyway...

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that most of the men who posted here cannot spell properly... Tone down the testosterone, take a deep breath, calm down and concentrate, will you!!!?
/G.

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