I came across TyQan Brow’s story, which was on the news some ten days ago. A new pearl in the nauseating list of encroachments of
Scottish Monster (Katie McPherson)
fathers’ rights by family courts.
TyQan is the father of an eponym son he conceived with Jonetta Woods. In February 2013, Jonetta tragically lost three of her four children in a fire. The story gets suddenly very complicated, thanks to erratic Kalamazoo (Michigan) family court decisions. For a while, TyQan is granted custody of Drayanna, the daughter Jonetta had with another man and escaped the fire, and his soon-to-be-born son. But not so fast: TyQan Junior is born in March 14, but his father TyQan does not even have a chance to bring his baby home, as he has to face an accusation of child abuse and neglect: A social worker, who had visited TyQan before the baby’s birth and had found no crib at home, jumped to the conclusion that he was not prepared for parenthood. Eventually TyQan is granted temporary custody of his son by Kalamazoo family court, after he showed he had all that was needed to take care of his son, and all the desire to do so. Yet,TyQan is a father on “probation.” I could not keep myself from thinking: what will he need to prove to the court to be granted permanent custody of his child? How filled, and with what food, his fridge will have to be? How much money will need to be on his savings account?
My first reading of TyQuan’s tangle with family court was that if the family court’s crowd despises the Patriarch figure, the man that provides, takes charge, and imposes his will on women and children, there is one type of men it hates even more: the poor. In the times we live in, low-income men don’t make it to the middle class, and their status as breadwinners is always fragile. If they get divorced, they don’t not remain breadwinners very long, as family courts turn them into deadbeat dads with inflexible child support payments. Eduardo Porter is right when he suggests to policymakers, in a New Times article from March 5 2014, to try support instead of punishment for low- income fathers (and families).
However, a look at family laws outside the US shows that punishment by family courts also applies to low-income non custodial fathers in countries where the social safety net is better than in the US, in Ireland for instance. Dan Buckley from the Irish Examiner writes that judges are breaching human rights of fathers, keeping them from seeing their children and forcing them into poverty. The targets of family courts there are fathers who can just make it with state benefits. Too often, judges tend to order an excessive amount of child support (maintenance in Ireland) relative to income; the same judges will curtail visitations or send fathers to jail if child support is unpaid.
There is something in out- of- wedlock fathers with kids which deeply bothers our societies; perhaps, the fact that they could be totally autonomous with kids, that they could not need the help from women to educate their children.
I will celebrate when the first custodial or non- custodial father will be elected in office – any office- anywhere.
Posted in All Kinds of Dads, Child Support and Child Support Laws, Family Justice and the Media, Family Laws, Father Unfriendly Institutions | Tagged Channel 3, Dan Buckley, Eduardo Porter, Irish family justice, Jonetha Woods, Kalamazoo Family Court, the Irish Examiner, the New York Times, TyQan Brown | 1 Comment »
Cirilia Balthazar Cruz and Ruby (Photo Sharon Steinmann)
Over the last years, I have been blogging about Cirilia Balthazar Cruz’s case, perhaps one of the most outrageous examples of violation of parental rights by the US family justice in recent times. When we, non-custodial fathers, deal with family courts, we are often the defendants, there is a usually a trial and a vague appearance of due process; in Cirilia Balthazar Cruz’ case, hardly.
With Cirilia, there is no husband, no boyfriend, and no custody battle. Problems start with social services’ predators of the State of Mississippi. Her baby is taken from her almost upon delivery in Singing River Hospital in November 2008. Why? Mrs Cruz does not speak English or Spanish, but an indigenous language, Chatino, spoken in the region of Oaxaca, Mexico. The hospital employees and the social worker assigned to the case understand zip. That must have made them angry. They tell the Mississippi Department of Human Services, that Cirilia is a prostitute and about to give up her child for adoption. Such deeds go a long way when supported by a high officer of justice- in the present case, Judge Sharon Sigalas. According to her, Cirilia’s child will suffer developmental problems for lack of English (I guess there are a bunch of folks in this country that may have had developmental problems throughout US history, and historians better investigate the problem quickly). As a result, the child is put to adoption.
Fortunately, thanks to the Southern Poverty Law Center that filed a federal law suit (in passing, why isn’t there any Wealth Law Center anywhere in the US?), Cirilia regained Ruby’s custody in 2009 and her maternal rights in 2010. And last friday, a federal justice court decided that Mississippi state officials may have to answer of their actions violating Cirilia’s constitutional rights to raise her child. Cirilia might get justice for the miscarriage of justice by the justice system, a precedent that hopefully will inspire others beyond the great State of Mississippi.
Posted in Adoption, Family Laws | Tagged Christina Steube, Cirilia Balthazar Crus, Judge Sharon Sigalas, Nicole Flatow, Ruby, Singing River Hospital. Souther Poverty Law Center.SunHerald.com | 1 Comment »
A while ago, I read somewhere that emails had the virtue of taking the edge of familial conflicts. It has to do with writing and distance, if I remember well. When you write, you think, as the other guy would say, and that helps you overcome your emotions. Also, a written commitment is a commitment you are more likely to stick to. Something like that…
Mrs Justice Pauffler
In the technological age we are living in, Mrs Justice Pauffley (from the High Court of London) found much better: prescribe taking tea to parents who were had been tearing them apart over custody issues for ten years. And it worked…
Thinking about it, it makes total sense to me. Tea soothes tensions. Anybody who went to arid countries in West Africa such as Mauritania or Mali, where people spend hours talking over the”three teas,” a very bitter one, a less bitter one, and a sweet one, knows what I am talking about. Long before you are drinking the sweet one, the world looks harmonious to you.
The three tea tradition does not exist in England and the story does not tell us how many tea meetings it took the parents to come down and start settling contentious issues. Anyway, hats off before Mrs Justice Pauffley!
Posted in Family Justice and the Media, Justice and the judiciary | Tagged Mail Online, Mrs Justice Pauffley, Sam Greenhill, tea | Leave a Comment »
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.
Posted in Child Support and Child Support Laws, Family Justice and the Media, Family Laws, Father Rights Movement, Manhattan Family Court Sucks | Tagged Dee J. Hall, Emma Roller, Joe Kleefisch, Michael Eisenga, Slate, Wisconsin Assembly Bill 540, Wisconsin State Journal, Wisconsin's Child Support Laws | Leave a Comment »
For some time now, I have noticed a growing number of comments on this blog expressing frustration and anger at the lack of change in child support laws.
It ‘s important, I think, to see that in the sad political times we live in, where “welfare as we knew it” has been under attack since 1996, and these attacks have been adding to the justifications for tax cuts, current child support laws, as New York State’s, have sizable advantages. Welfare of the child? Not the problem of society anymore. That’s the problem of the noncustodial parent, for the most part the noncustodial dad.
Last but not least, the design of the law – the regressive one-size- fits- all percentages of noncustodial parent gross income in child support payment (in New York, 17% for one child, 25% for two children. etc.)- has the advantage of convenience: enforcing the law is a no brainer. These child support percentages are part of this category of numbers you don’t know where they come from (who is the brilliant mind that came up with it) and that spoil the lives of millions of people (like for instance, the convergence criteria to belong to the European Union, but I won’t get started).
There is thus a lot of inertia at play against changing the laws, and politicians are usually no prophets of change. I don’t know if our new mayor, Bill de Blazio, is, but I like his proposal to add pre-K to the school years of the New Yorkers.
I am not going to talk about the benefits of PreK for child development, which are well documented. I am talking here of the possible impact of the implementation of pre K on child support laws we fathers have to deal with.
If pre K becomes part of the life of a child, single custodial mum’s child care expenses go significantly down. That may bring our wise lawmakers to think, for once, of what “the cost to raise a child” is. And perhaps to think that it could be born by the two parents based on their income, not just one.
And allow me to step on the financing side of the issue. Governor Cuomo would like us to believe that New York State can afford tax cuts and pre K. This presupposes that public services in New York State are just good as they are. But New York State is not Sweden: people are dying in 2014 in the emergency room in the Bronx. Pre-K ought not to happen at the expense of already substandard enough public services. The 1% has to chip in.
Posted in Child Support and Child Support Laws, Family Laws | Tagged Andrew Cuomo, Bill de Blasio, child support payments, fiscal policy, John Verrier, Saint Barnabas Hospital, tax cuts, the 1%, the Bronx, The Welfare Reform Act | 1 Comment »
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):
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.
Posted in Child Support and Child Support Laws, Family Justice and the Media, Family Laws, Father Unfriendly Institutions, Manhattan Family Court Sucks | Tagged Clifford Hall, fathers in jail, Houston Family Court. Fox News, Randy Wallace | 1 Comment »