Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Manhattan Family Court Sucks’ Category

Four days ago I was on the bus to Laredo (a charming resort on the Spanish Atlantic coast) to see friends, having departed from Bilbao, in the

Cantabria shore

Cantabria shore

Spanish Basque country. I was enjoying the landscape, with mountains overlooking the ocean, when I saw, painted on a bridge in white letters, the words: CUSTODIA COMPARTIDA (Spanish for shared custody). They were impossible to miss, but the bus was too fast for me to grab my camera and take a picture.

Two thoughts, a good and a bad one. The good one first: Fathers’ movements have come a long way all over the world. When I was in the midst of my child abuse trial, there was zip going on in the US in terms of fathers’ rights. In 2005, the only glimmer of hope was what was going on in the UK (I learnt about it thanks to a Susan Dominus’ article in the New York Times Magazine, which had Jason Hatch from Fathers 4 Justice on the cover). Now among others, there are fathers climbing cranes in France (and getting their voices heard) and even in USA Today, Sharon Jayson talks about dads demanding equal custody rights all over the US. Now for the bad one; this current rise of the fathers’ right movement is like the D-Day: a blessing if you are not dead by June 6 1944, or to be at little less tragical, if New York State Laws and Manhattan Family Court have not destroyed your relationship with your children.

By the way, things have been going on for a while in Cantabria, where joint custody was added to the divorce laws in 2005. A year ago, the Santander Supreme Court granted joint-custody to a father of two, breaking the decision of the family court which had given sole custody to mum. These fathers from Cantabria have a facebook page titled Custodia Compartida.

Read Full Post »

Mark Sargent (Photo: the CT Mirror)

Mark Sargent (Photo: the CT Mirror)

The US family justice system is supposed to act in the best interest of the child. We all know that, we divorced fathers especially, whose rights to see our children are often sacrificed in its name. Fortunately, family justice is here to remind us that our miserable interests are to be trumped for this greater cause.

Reading about the State of Connecticut’s family court reforms in the baking, one is not certain any more that family courts are that sure about whether they are acting in the best interest of the child; or rather, there is some awareness that this might not necessarily happen. As divorces are becoming more litigious, custody dockets a judge has to handle pile up, and children suffer from prolonged custody battles.

The physical-abuse trial I had to go through after my divorce was a continuation of a custody battle by other means. I had a law guardian who did do zip to protect the interests of my children or mine. She was here only to serve as the good conscience of family justice system: when your case moves at a agonizingly slow pace like my trial (which lasted six years and half), the presence of a law guardian means that the interests of children are nominally protected, even though de facto they are not.

In Connecticut, they happen to have guardians ad litem. I went to the website of one, and frankly, I have trouble understanding the difference with law guardians. Guardians ad litem are “self-described” mediators in chief,  lawyers with shrinks’ talents that pretend to have a special gift in understanding the human soul and for parenting.  In Connecticut, the services of these folks might be quite pricey. Guardians ad litem bill by the hours, and face no cap. Mark Sargent, an attorney involved in pushing reforms to the Connecticut family court system, spent $130,000 in GAL(Guardian At Litem) fees.  Some parents empty their retirement account to pay their bill. In Connecticut, family justice provides another opportunity, besides serious health problems, to be faced with financial ruin.

My homeland does not have it all. Yet it has something I came to value as I reflected on the problems I had with Manhattan family court: a conception of justice that transcends a contract between parties. In the French criminal justice system, justice is supposed to be represented, and its interests are to be defended, by an investigating judge, who investigates a case before a judge rules about it. There are the parties, and there is justice which is supposed to be served by the state.

Connecticut’s family justice does not need one more substratum of mediators, the guardians ad litem, supposedly acting on behalf of the best interest of the child stuff and taking their cut until a judge hears the final mediators of a custody case. What is needed are impartial law guardians, with real investigative power, payed by the State, speeding up the process and acting in the best interest of justice. More surely than not, they may act in the best interest of the child.

Read Full Post »

Rep. Joe Kleefisch (photo Wisconsin State Journal)

Rep. Joe Kleefisch (photo Wisconsin State Journal)

A month ago, I read about Assembly Bill 540, which Joel Kleefisch, Republican Representative of Oconomowoc, was planning on introducing to the Wisconsin State Assembly. I thought it was incomplete, but some ideas were not to be dismissed entirely: capping child support payments to $150,000 in yearly income, which the bill proposed, was not unreasonable to me.  As much as I am for the top 10% to pay their fair share of taxes, I don’t see why child support payments ought to guarantee a 10% life style to an ex-spouse who happened to have married into the 10%. The bill was also aiming at guaranteeing “an equalized placement of children into both families.” That resonated nicely to me; we non-custodial fathers too often are granted pitiful visitations of our children.

However the fathers’ rights rhetoric of bill 540 proved pure smoke screen. In fact, Kleefisch had one father in mind when he was writing the bill, his multimillionaire friend, Michael Eisenga, who is also a contributor to his campaign and to that of his wife, who is Lieutenant Governor of the State of Wisconsin. Even better, Eisenga, unhappy with his child support obligations, was holding Kleefisch’s pen. On January 15, the bill was withdrawn from committee hearing.

The saddest thing in this story is that there is a bunch of fathers besides Eisenga who really needed a break. Let’s be fair with Wisconsin Child Support guidelines: They are immensely more sophisticated than New York State’s.  Income subject to child support is determined as an arbitrary percentage of each parent’s gross income (wrong), yet a component of child support obligations (day care for instance) is adjusted for the time the child spends with each parent (right), and income disparity is stated to factor in the computation of child support obligations. Wisconsin Child Support guidelines also describe sources of income subject to child support payments, which include social security disability benefits and unemployment benefits. The folks that live off such income often need to have their child support obligations revised downwards or be exempted from child support obligations altogether. Obviously Kleefisch and his pal Eisenga were not thinking about them.

Read Full Post »

Family justice in the US is a race to the bottom, with,  I long thought, New York State family justice as unbeatable at crushing fathers’ lives.

Wrong. Texas is surging as a serious contender to New York. Check out Clifford Hall ‘s story on Fox News (click on the photo below to watch video):

Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 10.49.54 PM

One question that Fox News does not ask is why did Judge Millard sentenced Clifford Hall to pay his ex’s lawyer fees. It sounds like it’s a just the stuff that fathers have to do when they end up in family courts.

Read Full Post »

JusticeWonder why there is a strong father rights’ movement in the UK and not in the US ? Perhaps because the press gives heed to the fate of the regular guy in family court, not just Alec Baldwin’s. But that may well be the chicken and the egg thing: the press cares about what goes on in family court because fathers have claimed their rights loud and clear. Both factors may help the justice system to take its job seriously.

Check out this (old) October 2013 Belfast Telegraph article, about a ruling in the Family Division of High Court in Leicester (Ulster, UK) on a case regarding a father asking for an increase in the number of yearly visits with his daughter. What strikes from this article is the granularity of the judge (judge Bellamy)’s decisions: the father asked for one overnight visitation a month instead of three -without overnight- he currently has; He got eight visits a year, without overnight, two more than his daughter had asked for. Emails? Three or three texts a day, no more, and no contacts through social networks.

This judge Bellamy fellow does not seem to be kidding. If he says X, it looks like it is going to be X, no more, no less. One is led to infer that there is not just a ruling; there is a ruling that will actually be enforced.

What’s is so great about enforcing decisions that, in this case at least, are harsh for a father ? When you have experienced Manhattan family court dilettantes, you see why. No follow-up on decisions there. First of, in the unfolding of a trial there, your time with your children does not weigh much against procedure, that is the contribution of a bunch of folks, from ACS (Administration for Child Services), to the so-called forensic psychologist and social workers who report to the judge and bloat up your file. Their input – sometimes valuable – does not matter in any event.  Indeed I cannot recall one decision, about visitations or email contacts, that was enforced.  And I’d trade absentee judges and law guardians for Bellamy anytime.

But talking about details, let’s be fair with Manhattan family court. When it comes to child support, Manhattan Family Court is not serious, it is anal. To the penny.

Read Full Post »

Stop and FriskI don’t vote in this country , although it will be twenty-two years on November 2 of this year I have been living in the US. I probably never will. I also still do not understand why, in the so-called global world we live in, voting is still tied to citizenship. That’s so passé.  If you are resident in a country, pay taxes there, you should be able to vote.  Perhaps not in presidential elections, but in local and regional ones.

I any case, I do not have the first clue whom I would be voting for if I could. Ok, I would rule out casting my vote for Carlos Danger and his unconditional support of Israel’s settlements in occupied territories, and for Christine Quinn for supporting Michael Bloomberg’s third term.   As to the other fellows, their websites tell us they all have the family and professional background to bring the middle class New Yorker a better life. More boring, you die.

The hottest “issue” on the agenda of the candidates is “the stop-and-frisk” policy by Michael Bloomberg, motivated by an excessive attention on safety that originated in Giuliani’s administration. I will not cry if it goes. Yet I would like the candidates to be more ambitious and to root out the stop-and-frisk policies implemented in family courts that affect black, latinos and also white fathers. What fathers experience in family courts is the stop- and-frisk “pay child support and maybe, you’ll see your kids.”  But about family court justice in New York, the silence of the candidates in the democratic primary is deafening.

Read Full Post »

Since 1994 when Congress passed it, the “Violence Against Women Act” has been the weapon against domestic violence.  The act was to be reauthorized in 2012 to include gays, undocumented immigrants, American Indians and students.  Republicans in the Senate joined Democrats to approve the reauthorization, Republicans in the House did not.  Then the Republicans took a beating in the 2012 Presidential elections, and the reauthorization of the bill is back on the floor of the senate in February, with Republicans now more accommodating to compromises, as they hope to lure women and latinos back  (or finally) into their ranks.

One may think that at least, this  hard-learned lesson in political realism is for the greater good – the end of domestic violence. Wrong: the tackling of this problem has been nothing but petty, parochial politics (PPP) and PPP it remains.

Why? We now know  that domestic violence is not only the deed of men against women, but also that of women Universalitéagainst men and children: physical violence along with a less apparent but as pernicious a form of violence, parental alienation, which is given a free ride in family courts, which are women-biased courts. The very fact that domestic violence is defined as domestic violence against women gives women leeway to overuse of the accusation of domestic violence, to get the divorce they want and expel their ex from the life of their children.

Want to solve domestic violence? Change course and instead of adding categories of victims, throw universality into the law already. Just pass a Domestic Violence Act, that will aim at protecting women, gays, immigrants, American Indians and… men, too.

Read Full Post »

That’s the bottom line: for fathers claiming their rights, it all starts with the desperation from not seeing their kids: Jason Hatch (England) could not see his, Charlie and Olivia. He joined Fathers 4 Justice (UK) and stunted Buckingham Palace in September 2004 (The New York Times Magazine, May 8 2004). At the end of 2007, I had not seen my girls for almost three years and was harassed by ex via Manhattan Family Court. I was seeing myself going straight to jail and at least, I wanted my girls to know why; I started this blog.  Nicolas Moreno, from Romans (France), has adopted a bolder way: hunger strike.

Dauphiné Libéré, 01/21/2013

Dauphiné Libéré, 01/21/2013

Let me say first that if I could trade the New York State family justice for the French one, I’ll do it in a second. There, I bet justice may be slow but there ain’t no trial for child abuse that lasts more than 6 years; no judge arrogant enough to tell you, after having found you innocent of child abuse, that your relationship with your kids is “damaged” hence your kids and yourself are doomed to therapeutic visitations for an indefinite period of time; finally,  joint-custody is the default option in divorce.

Is the French justice system faultless? On paper, it acknowledges the right to fathers to be part of their kids’ life; Yet it did not protects Nicolas Moreno’s when ex moved with Luca and Evan, their sons, some 400 miles away from him, for no justifiable reason.

Nicolas is part of SVP Papa, a father rights organization which is asking for the inclusion of alternate staying of the kids with each parent into family laws. There is a fathers meeting in Nantes, the city whose mayor is Jean-Marc Ayrault, the Prime minister, on February 20; to help him hear the Nicolas of France.

Hat Tip: Scott Gabriel Alexander Reiss

Read Full Post »

Some readers of this blog may know that September 10 is a special day for me. Seven years ago, September 10 2005 was my last supervised visitation. Looking back at it, this last supervised visitation had to be the inevitable fall off a cliff of a supervised visit process that was not ever seriously monitored by Manhattan Family Court.  It’s all about regulation and public scrutiny having deserted family justice for a long while.

But today I want to rejoice with the haves fathers, like this man:

Just wish the haves would give a thought to the have-nots.

Read Full Post »

You don’t know what parental alienation and parental alienation syndrom are? Take a look at what follows:

On December 19, on Camille’s birthday, I sent my girls two watches – one for Camille, one for Chloé- and a card. On Tuesday January 24, I received – in the very envelope I had used- the two watches – unwrapped- and my card with the following line on the lower right corner:

We want nothing from you except the return of our privacy, starting with the removal of your disgusting website.

What’s the intention of these words?  To hurt, to rubb hate to my face. Touché.

This line is not signed. Camille? Chloé? Mom?  A “we” wrote to me. At this stage, the alienating parent has won. The brainwashing has been completed. Mom does not need anymore to tell her victims their father is to be hated, for mom’s hate  has been appropriated by the victims. At this stage, why would mom feel she is doing anything wrong, if she has ever?  Two seemingly rational girls reflect back her own hate. The privacy my girls say they want back?  Although they live in New York City, it is as if they were living in a bunker to me. I have no contact with them except through mom’s email, through mom’s phone, under mom’s control. But mom wants the removal of “my website,” which is the only thing that keeps her from evicting me in peace from the universe of the girls. The victims take side with the executioner, that’s the beauty of parental alienation.  The request to remove my blog is a starting point without any end. In fact, I am deep fried in eternal hate: Mom’s.

Girls, I love you no matter what.

But this blog will go on. For a long time now, it ‘s not just been about you. It has been about preserving the privacy of other children like you with their dads; And to try to keep the irresponsible amateurs of Manhattan Family Court -the Sturms, the Octobres, the Spitzers, the Berrils – to give a free pass to parental alienation.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 39 other followers