Alec Baldwin’s book “A Promise to Ourselves. A Journey through Fatherhood and Divorce” is out. In his book, Baldwin describes the hurdles his ex-wife Kim Bassinger and the family court system of California put him through. Baldwin struggled with California’s biased justice system that denied him the right to have a normal relation with his daughter Ireland and gave Bassinger carte blanche to alienate her; the common lot of fathers in this bleak judicial landscape in the US. The only thing that Baldwin has not shared with the average divorced father is to be driven to poverty with overburdening child support payments. He might well be ordered to pay unfair child support; in any case, he will be able to meet his obligations.
Given that the American public barely knows about violation of fathers’ rights, that the silence of the politicians on this issue is deafening, Baldwin’s book is truly good news. It has already raised awareness; it might also boost the fathers’ rights movement, which is in infancy. Yet some of us –Dean Tong– disagree: Baldwin can be no poster child for the fathers’ rights movement.
Why would we need a poster boy in the first place? Fathers’ rights is not some charitable cause that would best be promoted by a Laura Bush. We don’t need a Saint; we need to have the issues of shared custody of children, fair child support payments, criminalization of parental alienation, made part of the political agenda. Baldwin’s book can help for that matter.
Dean Tong’s fear that Baldwin might be the wrong messenger is based on the “infamous message” Baldwin left on the answering machine for his daughter. He had not heard about his daughter in a long time, he was pissed and called her “pig.” Bassinger did not fail to use this message to claim the Baldwin was an unfit father. To me, this makes Baldwin real. At the end of one of the supervised visitations, my girls verbally assailed me with the accusations that their mother had put in their mouth. I told them to “shut up” and sicko-ex wife pressed criminal charges against me after the visit. Children’s alienation is a crime, being pissed is not; Ireland will understand and forgive.
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Posted in Family Laws on September 23, 2008|
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2003 Supervised Christmas Visitation with my Girls, Chloé Lacour (left) and Camille Lacour (right).
When supervised visitations start, the thought that immediately comes to mind is that this absurdity cannot last. It is just not possible that your relationship with your children, the free, loving life that ties you to them be held off by an unfounded accusation. The Court will soon realize the dramatic injustice and harm of prolonging this way of seeing your children. Meanwhile, like an inmate who has a conjugal visit in jail, you try to get all you can from the pathetic supervised one hour a week you have: kisses, smiles, hugs and news. You need that until the next one. And time passes. 2003 Supervised Christmas visit was supervised visit number twenty third. My older sister was visiting from France at this time. On December 27 2003, she experienced her first visit in jail -the crummy room of Comprehensive Family Services in downtown Manhattan – with me and her nieces, whom she had not seen in two years and has not seen since then. She barely could hold her tears after the visit. I guess she was not used to the “comprehensiveness” of Manhattan Family court justice. They don’t have it in old Europe.
Awareness of injustice never strikes the folks of Manhattan family court. Law guardian Garline Octobre is nowhere to be seen while supervised visitations last, judge Sturm just cares for procedure and Spitzer, the director of Comprehensive Family Services, pays the bills with your money. This little useless world peacefully sleeps until the next court date, when it will recommend more of the same, while you try to make sense of this absurdity.
Supervised visitations are like preventive wars on terrorism: blunt stupid and inefficient. While their alleged purpose is to prevent unproven child abuse, all they succeed in achieving is to give sicko ex-wife the leeway to spoil the relation between the non-custodial parent and his children. A prescription for disaster. They should be ordered in homeopathic doses, and only when abuse is proven.
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Posted in Family Laws on September 20, 2008|
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Triton Abducting a Nymph
In 2005, Tanya Diane Brown abducted her five children, two of whom from her marriage with Chuck Brown. Tanya Diane Brown had first tried the venue of “legal abduction:” pressing made-up charges against her husband to have the poor bastard removed from the life of her children by family court. She accused her husband of having sexually abused her children. For once, it did not work. Several agencies declared the accusations unfounded. On February 13, 2008, Tanya Diane Brown and the five children were found near the Tehachapi mountains (California). During these five years, they had little schooling and no medical and dental care.
According to Steven Mayer from the Tehachapi News, Chuck Brown cannot believe how benign the sentence of her wife is: five year probation and one hundred hours of community services. A slap in the wrist. On August 4, Christian Gehartsreiter alias Rockefeller was arrested in Baltimore for having kidnapped his daughter Reigh, whom he treated perfectly. I wish he will not get one more day of probation and community services than Tanya Diane Brown.
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The Soup Nazi
From judges to support magistrates, law guardians included, Manhattan Family Court’s staff is biased against men. With a more- than- six- years- long trial for child abuse (now over)- and three annual convocations to Court for unreimbursed medical expenses, I know what I am talking about. Would it kill this people not to treat fathers like criminals and be civil with them at least?
That’s just wishful thinking. They cannot help it. When the warden behaves like an executioner, you cannot expect the humblest of the guards to be human with the inmates. When you have Bush in the White House and Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary, you get Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo scandals.
On May 22 2008, I wasted one more day in Manhattan Family Court at no avail. A new court date was set on September 10. I could not make it. Three weeks before, when I got my work schedule, I sent a letter to Support Magistrate Grey to explain why I was not available this time and told her, for the third time, that I could only go to Court on Fridays . A respectful letter, even if I do not have much respect for her rulings. Two days ago, I got “a notice of warning of warrant” in the mail telling me that “on September 10, 2008 I failed to appear in Court.” Yet, as I said in my letter, this “failure” was perfectly justified. I was in class. The “notice of warning of warrant” ended with the traditional “failure to appear as directed may result in the execution of a warrant and your arrest!” I am back there on Friday (they got it!) October 24, 2008; for the third times this year.
I know this ridiculous Court inside out and yet, I have not located the office of the nazi clerk who sends these gracious convocations. A dark and narrow place, I bet. Inside, the sicko ex-wife type. On the walls, pictures of the kids – that the father has not seen for years- along with those of Elizabeth Dole, Oprah Winfrey and perhaps Sarah Palin (after all, Manhattan is supposed to be democrat); all day long, instead of these “notice of warning of warrant”, she dreams of sending notices with “no child support payment relief for you!” and “jail for you!” on them.
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Sarah Palin was picked by John McCain as his running mate only two weeks ago and I am already feeling a deep Palin fatigue.
Win Mcnamee/Getty Images file
Sarah Palin “does it all;” According to Allison Linn from MSNBC, Sarah Palin toted her newborn at public events, Sarah Palin nursed him during conference calls. Sarah Palin manages political responsibilities and a large family with ease and grace. If the republican ticket is elected (God protect us!) there will be at least one happy group of people: her staff and the employees of the White House. You are one of them, you have an urgent parent-teacher conference to attend, your spouse is in a business trip and you don’t know what to do with the baby? Worry not. Just give Vice-President Palin a call. She will gladly take care of your little one while you are at your parent-teacher conference. She must even have a few diapers left with her.
Sarah Palin “has it all.” That’s actually for Governor Palin to decide if she is plainly a women, a mother, a wife and a politician. In the world I live tough, women – and men sharing their lives – are not happy to have to nurse or to take care of a kid at work. They are pissed: pissed at not being able to afford twelve miserable weeks of maternity leave without pay (thank you Clinton), pissed at the lack of public nurseries and public kindergarten schools, pissed at having to waste a night at the emergency room if a kid is sick because no doctor would come to your place at night. Sarah Palin brags about successfully handling a career and being a mother at the same time. The political message is crystal clear: you can do it…alone. There is no need for more public schools, no need for universal health insurance. The US can remain in the state of social prehistory it is now for the rest of the twenty-first century.
Now, toss a divorce in the Palin brand and you go from the “has-it-all” type of women to the “must-have- it-all-anyway” type: sicko ex-wife. Sicko ex-wife thinks her kids are her property and feels entitled to severe their ties with their father, with the support of family court. Sicko ex-wife denies the father of her children any involvement in their life: no medical reports, no access to the school, no school reports. Sicko ex-wife keeps the father from using his health insurance for their kids, so that he goes in a deeper financial hole with unreimbursed medical expenses.
I hope that the choice of Sarah Palin will not prove to be McCain’s perfect political coup. But for sure, hawkish patriarch McCain and super hockey mom Palin are the perfect match: the two faces of right-wing conservatism.
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Posted in Family Laws on September 10, 2008|
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The State of Minnesota is currently experimenting a “new formula” for child support payments. This new formula takes into account both the custodial and non custodial parents incomes. Simple fairness, which to my knowledge, is only prevalent in New Jersey child support laws.
According to Jean Hopfensberger of the Star Tribune, this “new formula” for child support is raising a lot of oppositions in the State of Minnesota. Some custodial parents – women- have seen their child support payments decrease sharply and they are not happy about it. On the other side, father- right activists complain that the formula considers gross income and not net income in the computation of child support payments.
Point well taken. But from New York State where I live, the Minnesotian formula seems a decisive step toward sustainable and fair child support payments for non-custodial parents. In New York, we have the conventional, retarded “formula”: the custodial -parent income is ignored, and the non-custodial parent pays a flat percentage of his income in child support, whatever his income.
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Let’s set up the stage of the typical non custodial father story: Sicko ex-wife has pressed unfounded charged of child-abuse against non-custodial father. Biased justice system complacently listens, grants an order of protection to sicko ex-wife. At this point, guilty or not, the non-custodial father has lost everything: he has to prove his innocence during an endless trial; meanwhile, he cannot see his children but through supervised visitations. Of course, the justice system makes sure that non- custodial father pays child support.
In many areas where the public sector does not set the rules, the market takes over and does the job miserably. The market of supervised visitations is perhaps, after the private health insurance business, the worst ever. Unlike the flea market, you will never find the pearl here, but you surely will find lots of junk, whose business titles commonly declines the word family : “Family First”, “Helping Family” … etc. Lucky me, I got ” Comprehensive Family Services”, (305 Broadway, New York City), that my lawyer recommended. I should have known better; What in hell does this mean? Do they park your car when you help your kid do her homework? Truly, there is only one thing comprehensive here: the nullity of the director, Richard Spitzer; Avoid absolutely.
Let ‘s unveil Spitzer’s used car salesman’s trick: he brags he will deliver reconciliation that will put the broken pieces of the family together. He is the magician of the transition toward the resumption of unsupervised visitations. Does he have the means to deliver? Not the first. Sicko ex-wife does not want any change in the regime of visitations and Spitzer cannot enforce any. Why would he? Is Spitzer accountable for his performance to the Court? Manhattan family court could care less about his performance. What matters to the law guardian Octobre and Judge Sturm: no storm. The more supervised visitations there are, the smaller the risk the Court takes with a potential abuser. Why should Spitzer care more than the Court does? So enjoy, prolong supervised visitations, that’s good for business. The outcome of this jungle-like, totally unregulated market of supervised visitations: sucker non-custodial father pays the bill and his relationship with his children goes down the drain.
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