Feeds:
Posts
Comments
From the Manhattan Bridge, August 2015

From the Manhattan Bridge, August 2015

A long time ago, the Greeks invented tragedy. Tragedy is about irreconcilable positions and impossible goals. Often in the mix there are delusional aspirations, because folks fail to assess their predicament.

Talking about crazy aspirations, take that one: Being “#1 Dad”, as a fellow painted on the roof of his building (see photo), when the divorced ones can barely be dads. When I saw it, I thought of a comment of a reader of this blog. The man had an accident, tried to get disability, lost his job, while his daughter was more than 18. In New York State however, child support is owed until the child is 21, and more…  it is actually owed after the child is 21. Our man still keeps paying back support while his daughter is 24.

Why should he? Simply because for New York State, child support obligations is a gender-based financial yoke, whereby men are non-custodial payers bound to pay support to ex until the child is 21, irrespective of any need.

Blue Star 1, July 1 2015

Blue Star 1, July 1 2015

On July 1, 2015, my girlfriend and I took the boat from Mytilene (Lesbos, Greece) to Athens. That day, most travelers on the Blue Star 1 were not the usual tourists doing the twelve-hour journey at this time of the year. They were Syrians (perhaps also Afghans and Somalis), mostly men, going to Athens on a transit visa. From there they would try to reach Northern European countries.

The day before, we had seen long caravans of men, veiled women and children walking along the roads of Lesbos. Small boats coming from the shore of Turkey had dropped them off in the north of Lesbos, in small villages like Eftalou, where chances to get caught by the Greek navy are remote. The price the smugglers charge for this short trip, we later learnt, is about $1,000. The migrants were all heading to Mytilene, Lesbos capital, where a refugees camp with a capacity of 400 people is totally overwhelmed.

In my experience, the poor and the destitute often tend to be the nicest people (after them come the Greeks). First, we started a conversation with two women and an adorable 7-year old little girl who could not fully bend one of her arms, which had been crushed under stones when her house was shelled. Later, we met two thirty-year-old Syrian men, whom we will call X and Y. The deck was crowded, and they insisted on finding us chairs and offering us some of the almonds that made their dinner for the day. X and Y are well-educated civil engineers, who had finished their degree and were working in the suburb of Damascus, until it became impossible to go on: They had to do a five-year military service and fight all the foes of the Assad regime. They also have no sympathy whatsoever for Daesh and its version of Islam. Y has two little girls, who are still in Damascus, and whose pictures he keeps on his cell phone. X’s wife is pregnant. For the two men, staying in Syria was not an option, and they have the support of their family in their journey.

The next morning we did not see X and Y among the crowd landing in Athens. We hope they made it to Germany or Denmark, where they want to work and settle.

The sad thing in all this is that Europe quietly let Greece cope with these fluxes of migrants coming from Asia and Africa, adding to the aggravation of EU austerity policy inflicted upon the country. In the Financial Times, George Soros called for an integrated migration and refugees policy in the European Union. So far, he is unfortunately screaming in the desert.

Father'DayIt has been a long time that Father’s Day has not had any meaning to me. My girls don’t phone me, and I guess the very thought of it would make them feel disloyal to their mom. I rejoice with some of my relatives or friends who post pictures of them with their dads on Facebook, but for me, Father’s Day is like National Doughnut Day.

I happened to have caught Jasmine Hernandez’s opinion piece in the New York Post, on June 18, titled “Stop Stacking the Legal Deck Against Dads.” A timely, well-intended call inviting moms to be nice with their ex, because, you know, there are men who really want to play a role in the life of their children, let us not lose sight of that on Father’s Day.  Since Jasmine Hernandez is a family court lawyer, the reader is given a short digest of New York State family laws.

That’s where her piece gets questionable, as it ultimately justifies one of the most unfair family laws in the country. Take her distinction between “physical custody” and “legal custody” for instance. Hernandez want us to believe that when “a dad has relinquished physical custody,” he nonetheless has plenty of room to exert a meaningful role in the life of his children, because he is not deprived of legal custody. Truly, legal custody is a legal fiction if mom wants ex out the life of the children; Of course, dad can resort to the services of good lawyers like Hernandez to prevent it…

Obviously, non-custodial dads would be much better off without the flimsy legal custody they have now, and if joint custody were to be the default option in divorce in New York State.

Have you ever heard about a lawyer who wants to change the law, not just walk you through it?

There is apparently in this country a building consensus on reforming the criminal justice system.

Photograph Gilles Clarke, Getty Images

Photograph Gilles Clarke, Getty Images

Perhaps it started with the Milwaukee Experiment, which Jeffrey Toobin related in a May 11 article in the New Yorker.  John Chisholm, the District Attorney in Milwaukee County, singlehandedly decided to correct the imbalance of the American justice system which sends a disproportionate amount of young Afro-American people for minor drug offenses in prisons.  Chisholm started to ask that prosecutors’ success be measured by their performance in reducing prison’s population, and not the opposite.

In New York State, the “Raise the Age” movement has focused on changing the law that sends juvenile offenders in jail at 16. Chief Judge Jonathan Lippmann, Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, has been advocating for five years to raise the criminal age in New York to 18.  Lippman was heard by Governor Cuomo, who is now trying to gather support for his bill to raise the criminal age.

Interestingly enough, as the readers of this blog well know, a 16 year old is a criminal in New York State but not exactly an adult before 21, since non-custodial parents have to pay child support until their offspring reaches this age. Consistency would require raising the criminal age to 21, or freeing non-custodial parents from child support obligations when their children are 18.

This brings me to my next point. A very interesting article in the April 20 New York Times describes how divorced fathers -mostly in North Carolina and Georgia- go in and out of jail for child support debt, are denied jobs for that reason, and are drawn to poverty for life. The title tells it all: “Skip Child Support. Go to Jail. Lose Jobs. Repeat.”

It is definitely a good thing to empty jails of young people, provided one does not keep filling them with their fathers, thanks to unfair child support laws. I can’t wait to hear Governor Cuomo’s thoughts or Hillary Clinton’s on that one.

In November 2014, I contacted my ex-wife to ask her to tell me where Chloé, my youngest daughter, was planning to study next year. Chloé is in her senior year at Brearley, and I do not know anything about her plans for College. I had not asked ex for my oldest daughter on time (before she turned 18) and I should have known better. My ex-wife has never ventured any information about the girls, about education, health, religion or anything, although she is obliged by our divorce contract to “inform and consult.”

At first, ex argued my request was impinging on Chloé’s privacy when she will no longer be a minor.  I insisted, stating that when Chloé will be an adult, she will take care of her privacy herself. Upon my insistence, she announced to me that Chloé would answer to me herself. I received this email [CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE]:

email1

 

 

 

I smelled an obvious rat: the name change – Chloé Jones instead of Chloé Lacour- the “friendly” greetings, the mention of my blog, which truly disturbs ex and ex only. This email looked exactly like the one ex would like my daughter to write to me: a statement of total indifference to what we had, and denying what we may possibly have in the future. I did not buy it.

I am tired of abiding by my side of the contract (the only side that New York State family laws acknowledges unfortunately: paying child support and unreimbursed medical expenses) and not seeing my daughters, let alone knowing nothing about them. I also have been a teenager too, and as a teenager, I broke off with my parents (God bless their souls) as a teenager would do, with the seeming rationality of passion. I did not sense it in Chloe Jones’ answer.  If a break were to happen, so be it. At least, I wanted this break to be between Chloé Lacour and her dad, and make sure that it was not, again, a fake break engineered by ex. So was my answer [CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE]:

email 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I then got the following answer from “Chloe Private”, which confirmed my doubts[CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE]:

email 3

 

 

 

 

 

Oops, I will not stick to the name Chloé Jones, which I picked for no plausible reason. It happened to be that of a porn star, but, mind you, I am fully aware of your obligations as a non-custodial father according to New York State family laws, which, as my “biological father,” you need to comply to.

Who ever thought millennials were trouble makers?

I believe I have not corresponded to my daughter Chloé, and I bet there are 99.99% chances that ex impersonated her. That’s why I am posting these emails; They do document a singular case in the annals of parental alienation.

(And by the way, as another proof of my doubts, there is nothing to respect with French taught at Brearley, if what you get from it after several years of French is what is reflected in this “Chloe Private”s email).

Hillary Clinton stepped in the Presidential race yesterday, Sunday April 12 2015, stating that “when family is strong, America is strong.”

Exactly the kind of line that gives me the creeps. The topic of family in politics is indeed always and everywhere sulfurous; It is the favorite topic of the far-right, who sees family as the repository of traditional values; it is for sure the topic of those who do not have much to say about policy in general, except that the essence of government is not to interfere with individual liberty.

The problem with family champions of all kinds is that they have to come from “above-reproach families” or be hypocrite. That makes life difficult for a lot of good folks who have interesting ideas beyond “making family stronger,” like Chuy García for instance, who is running for mayor in Chicago. Two weeks before Hillary’s official launch of her presidential campaign, Phil Ponce, a WTTW’s anchor, was rubbing into Chuy García’s face, the strong- family argument:  “Your son has been a gang member. Is he still one? If you could not control him, how dare do you pretend to lead us?”

I also wonder in what way policies aiming at “making family stronger” would help the cases of Michael T. Slager and Walter L.Scott. The former, a cop coming from a divorced family according to an April 13  New York Times article, shot the latter eight times in the back as he was escaping arrest. No reason whatsoever to shoot the man, Walter L. Scott, who happened to have the bad luck to owe $18,104 in child support, was facing an arrest warrant for it since 2013, and was scared to be arrested.

Why doesn’t Hillary Clinton leave the “strong-family thing” to the guys running against her?

There is one principle I have been sticking to since this blog started: I do not publish ads disguised as

Sheri Atwood (Photo Vicki Thompson)

Sheri Atwood (Photo Vicki Thompson)

“I love your blog” comment for anybody, even from self-declared lawyers specialized in fathers’ rights. About a week ago, I received a comment from (perhaps) a parent praising SupportPay.com. I am going to publish this comment, for once. I might do even worse, but I’ll take the risk: discuss SupportPay here, because it is a topic that, I believe, deserves comments.

SupportPay is an online platform developed by Ittavi.Inc, which is incorporated in the great State of Delaware, although its headquarters are in Santa Clara, CA. According to founders Sheri Atwood and Lorena Chiu, SupportPay aims at softening tensions between divorced parents. Between the latter, communication sucks. It does, because it revolves around money. If communication about money is made easier -here comes SupportPay, with which you upload any receipt as proof of your expenses toward what you paid for your child- tension will ease, and children will be spared the shouting match that accompanies the bringing of them from one parent to the other.

I like technology like the next guy, but I do not think it will save the world. And I am also not totally sure that SupportPay founders have a clear idea of what their customer’s base is. Who pays child support? Mostly fathers. How do they pay it? Often, the State takes care of payments for them, through garnishment of their wages, like in my case. What are the predicament of fathers? They don’t see their kids, and making communication about money smoother won’t help see them more. Child support payments, which in most states are based on the sole non-custodial father’s income, amount to absurd percentage of their income. The problem of most fathers is not to keep track of their expenses for their kids; It is to keep up with them.

All of this to give a clearer idea of who SupportPay might be for: some of the 1%, Silicon Valley fathers who are not affected by the daunting demand of US family laws on the rest of us, and may find comfort in seeing through their expenses thanks to SupportPay. God bless them. Markets will always find answers, adequate or not, to their needs. I for one, will post another blog about SupportPay if it keeps one father from going to jail for missing chid support payments.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55 other followers