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Archive for May, 2009

Photo AP

Photo AP

Christian Gehartsreiter, alias Clark Rockefeller, is currently on trial for having kidnaped his daughter Reigh during a supervised visitation in July 2008. An amber alert was declared and Gehartsreiter was arrested in Baltimore as he was trying to leave the country with his daughter. Rockefeller will plead insanity:  his lawyers will say he suffered from bipolar disorder and depression, delusion and narcissism. According to Martin Finucane from Boston.com, attorneys seem to agree that the strategy adopted by the defense is a risky one, unlikely to convince jurors.

Whether the man is delusional or not, whether his defense strategy is convincing or not, two things are sure: first, Gehartsreiter/Rockefeller loves his daughter and did not harm her in anyway, ever; second, he could not take any longer the regime of supervised visitations that he had agreed to with his ex-wife, Sandra Boss. That’s the sad part of Gehartsreiter/Rockefeller’s defense strategy:  all the legal kidnapers, who deprive non-custodial fathers from their right to have a normal relationship with their children and the family court system, which protects them, receive a clean bill of mental health.

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This Judge Judy’s case was on a recent Glenn Sacks’ posting. A 22 year-old man, Adrian Welsh, was suing his ex-girl friend,  Ashley Brawthen, for destruction and steal of property. On January 13 of this year, Ashley -with the baby she had with Adrian- leaves the conjugal apartment and go to her parents. On January 25, allegedly upon receiving a provocative phone call, she goes to her boyfriend’s, finds him with another girl and breaks the door of his bedroom.  Then, on January 30 – when Adrian is taking care of the kid!- she goes to court to get a restraining order and to file for custody.  This young lady has clearly understood the way to work the system: with a restraining order – that one can get without problem, one just wonders why they are not available with dispensing machines at the entrance of family courts- she will get the kid, most of the goods and revenge. Adrian Welsh was smart enough to take a break from  family court and knocked Judge Judy ‘s door. When Judge Judy asked Ashley why she filed for a restraining order, she repeats the sesame words: “he physically and verbally abused me,” but all the specifics she comes with is harassing text messages. Watch her having her ass properly kicked by Judge Judy:

Judge Judy regrets to see a Ashley Brawthen abusing a system that women have worked so hard to reform. Many non-custodial fathers wonders why the family court system let itself abuse so easily. Perhaps it would not be so if it was not  a behind closed- doors justice. Biases would not fly well in public.

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For several years, I have been considered by the Brearley School (New York City), where my girls are students, as a plagued-cla256cstricken fellow: My ex-wife had told the school that I was a child abuser, and when the trial that she initiated was over, she forgot to tell them that the court had refuted her accusation. The School did not try to know more and I was not allowed on its premisses. At the beginning of last year, I informed by phone the Head of the Middle School, Ms Elsbach, that the trial was over -and bogus- and that the order of protection against me had been lifted. From then on, things seemed to be moving finally in the right direction. First, a February 18 letter to me and my ex-wife acknowledges I am the father of my girls. Second, in the same letter Ms Elsbach and Ms Hull, Head of the School, express their understanding that both my ex-wife and I have the right to information concerning our daughters’ progress and that we will both be invited to events at the school. Folks, at this stage, I felt like Mandela at the first signs of collapse of the apartheid. What ex-wife and I needed to do is to provide the legal documents that clarify our situation. I then sent March 27 2008 Judge Sturm’s order, stating that “both parents are entitled to the children school… but not limited to report cards, parent-teacher conferences, information regarding extra-curricular activities” and Judge Sturm’s ruling ending the trial. In a subsequent phone conversation, Ms Elsbach confirmed that I will be invited to parent-teacher conferences – next year, the 2009’s has taken place already. Extra-curricular activities like a dance performance where my little one would be? My girl has to invite me. It’s not perfect, I am not exactly persona grata, but I have finally  a chance to have some involvement in the academic life of my girls. As many non-custodial fathers cut off from the lives of their children, I get satisfied with just a breach in the wall that separates me from them.

The breach would not stay open very long. Alienation is indeed a totalitarian project: for  the alienating parent, there is no possible presence of the targeted parent in the life of her children. On April 22, I receive a new letter from Ms Hull and Elsbach, reverting their previous decision : I will not be invited to the school.  Why?  Cheryl Solomon, my ex-wife’s lawyer, had sold them the grossest  illegal interpretation of Judge Sturm’s ruling. What is amazing is that the Brearley School swallowed them without blinking. Admire Solomon’s glorious shortcuts quoted in Brearley’s letter to me: …all contact between Mr. Lacour and the children must be supervised and in a therapeutic setting…Under no circumstances is he be alone with the children (I am supposed to be during parent-teacher conferences?). This would necessitate the following procedure: Mr Lacour should have no access to the school when the children may be present.  

Family court law is no constitutional law. Is there a Brearley alumnus – preferably but not necessarily a pre-law student- that would be kind enough to help  the Brearley School interpret Judge Sturm’s ruling for them?   

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Insane Asylum

Insane Asylum

For almost three years now, I  have been forced by Support Magistrate Grey’s money judgment orders to pay for my daughters’ un-reimbursed medical expenses that could be covered by my health insurance, if only my ex-wife were to ask the provider of services to fill out the proper insurance forms. Support Magistrate Grey is currently inventing a new right for custodial mothers: the right to choose to deny insurance coverage and have insured fathers pick up the tab as a consequence.  Even insurance companies, which are rather inventive in their efforts to block any reforms of the health insurance system, have not thought of that one.

On December 19 2008, I objected for the second time to Support Magistrate Grey’s money judgment order to pay  $2,170  in unreimbursed medical expenses and $1,125 for my ex-wife lawyer fees. Among others, I wanted to hear the legal foundations of such a ruling. Folks, these foundations are as thin as the best cigarette paper on the market.

On March 16, 2009, Family  Court Judge Jody Adams answered my objection. The start is rather not promising and will give the tone to the rest: “the Family Court Judge ‘s review is a narrow one. It is the Support Magistrate  (‘empowered by Family Court Act  439 (a) to hear, determine and grant any relief within the powers of the court’) and not the reviewing judge, who was present at the evidentiary hearing and who was, therefore, uniquely able to evaluate both the evidence an the credibility and the demeanor of the witnesses bla… bla …bla….” Translation: Support Magistrate Grey is one of us, and she is bestowed with the power of the court, says the court.  How dare you, criminal, question the powers of  S.M. Grey who renders justice behind closed doors, without jurors and witnesses, and who is uniquely able to make sense of an audio tape, sole trace of what is going on in her court?

Then, moving to the core of the matter: Having an insurance that covers these medical expenses is no basis for objection. What is then? Moreover, goes on Judge Adams, there are no documents in the court record regarding the aforementioned health insurance policy. Well-done: my case has dragged in this court for years, my file must occupy a decent amount of space in the record office, and Manhattan family court has managed to  loose  a nth- times- provided key piece of evidence. Finally, about my ex-wife -lawyer fees: in her infinite wisdom, the Magistrate has the right to order the respondent to pay counsel fees upon the finding that the failure to pay was willful. And, incidentally, the Magistrate incites vindictive custodial mothers and their lawyers to keep soliciting Her Highness.

Manhattan Family court, as other family courts, is supposed to protect families.We non-custodial fathers, know that this mission is NOT accomplished. One thing is sure tough: Manhattan family court is a big family.

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Photo hyundai

Photo Hyundai

That’s amazing how innovative  a severe economic crisis make firms and governments. By the end of 2008, Hyundai started the Hyundai insurance program, to show “the faith the company has in its customers.” You become unemployed, Hyundai insurance picks up the tab up to $7,500 in negative equity. The car payment insurance has been such a marketing coup that it had to be copied. General Motors is now offering its protection plan: if unemployed, don’t worry about your car payments for nine months. The  Obama administration lends money to GM, which commits to rescue the unfortunate unemployed GM customers. This subsidized “corporate” welfare ultimately aims at strengthening GM while protecting its customers, hence killing two birds with one stone. Compassion is swelling in places you expect it the least. Even the International Monetary Fund , which not so long ago was the champion of fiscal responsibility and had its representatives regularly stoned in many capitals of the world – is advocating coordinating fiscal policies and increased lending. Live and learn.

Problem: this wind of care is flying over most economically-hit  non-custodial fathers without affecting them. Why? acting like

Prévert à Paris en 1955.

Prévert à Paris en 1955.

Janjaweed militias, family courts are making sure that non-custodial fathers do not pull their head above water. One thing matters: child support payments, often unreasonable in good times and even more so in bad times. You are unemployed and cannot pay? too bad.  Seize the opportunities that the labor market has to offer, while we take all the time in the world to review your petition to decrease child support. If you are still unemployed and cannot make your payments, you end up in jail. While there, Hyundai or Pontiac will make the payments for your new car which is not of much use to you and will not help you find a job.

For non-custodial fathers, there are really two solutions: Family courts have to be reformed so that it renders a bias- free justice. Or pray for Hyundai or GM to add child support payments in their protection plan. I’ll buy a car of the first company that does it.

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