Archive for October, 2008

I was again in Manhattan Family Court, on Friday October 24. Same all, same all:violation of a court order

Inside Manhattan Family Court

Inside Manhattan Family Court

for being $400 in arrears for medical expenses related to my girls, because sicko ex-wife did not want to use my health insurance; in the pipeline, another $2,000 of these expenses for 2008, which will give rise to subsequent court dates for subsequent violation of court orders. The bi-annual circus of court dates might end if Support Magistrate Grey were to realize that sicko ex-wife is the only person in America whose kids are covered for dental and vision expenses and does not use this insurance, while the United States is still trying to implement universal health medical coverage …for children. Just because this insurance is mine, and she can harm me this way.

On Friday, I could not help thinking that secrecy in the family courtroom helps biased justice against fathers to be perpetrated. Let us break this secrecy and enjoy a fragment of “inside the courtroom.”

Cheryl Solomon (lawyer of sicko ex-wife) asked me to look at my 2008 pay stubs. I had just provided a copy of all pay stubs for 2008 to Support Magistrate Grey, but Solomon wanted me to look at the copies she supeonaed from the New York State Office of the State Office Comptroller. She wanted “her work” to be acknowledged. Hence she could justify the $7,000 new retainer fee she asked sicko ex-wife to pay, retainer fee that she hopes she will add to my bill through a new Court order.

“Mr Lacour, how come you did not manage to send $100 or $200 to your ex-wife while you earn – now- $1,600 net a month?”

Parenthesis: Solomon is not the Peace Corps type of woman; she never went to Chicago’s suburbs to experience once in her lifetime the lot of the poor; I bet she does not have the faintest idea as to what it means to live with less than twice as much as $1,600 a month.

“Mr Lacour, have you ever been evicted from your home?”

“Mr Lacour, have you ever filed for bankruptcy?”

Translation: if you are not homeless, you are not credible and therefore, you are stealing from your ex-wife. The nazi lawyer line: you did not die in concentration camp, hence concentration camps did not exist. Anything you make beyond absolute bear necessities is taken way from your ex-wife, because she has a claim on it. No soup for you! Don’t even think of justice.

I forcefully objected to these line of questioning and my objection – miracle!- was sustained.

Manhattan family court building has recently been renovated. They forgot an important item: cameras. In all the court rooms. “Justice” has to be televised and aired.

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Nurse Ratchet

Nurse Ratchet

In the old Soviet Union, deviants and suspects were sent to psychiatric hospitals to be reeducated. A denunciation could send you there. Psychiatric hospitalization was the answer to the disease of not being able to understand the virtues of the regime. For family courts, therapy in the form of therapeutic supervised visitations is the wonder remedy that is supposed to fix a relation interrupted and damaged by the court itself.
After twenty three regular supervised visitations and sicko ex-wife still stumbling to bring the first proof of her accusations of child abuse, I get therapeutic visitations with my girls, in the beginning of 2004. Spitzer is categorical: after eight of these therapeutic supervised visitations, my normal, unsupervised visitations with the girls will resume. When you have longed for two years of pointless supervised visitations, you take the deal. There was one major flaw to this beautiful plan: sicko ex-wife was therapy-free and as the custodial parent, she was free to alienate at will!
To be continued.

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A few days ago, I found by chance the Mom of three’s blog, bashing about Du Page County Family Court in Illinois. It was not exactly clear to me why. The blogger has joint custody of her children, which is an option denied to divorced fathers living in New York State for instance. She complained that the father is an abuser but there were no specifics.

After a few lines, you get what is wrong with Du Page family justice, as with any family justice that does not satisfy 100% the claims of the blogger, who is the “I have to have it all” type of woman: “There is no reason why any mother should not have full custody unless she is a serial killer.” Interesting. “She should also get full support.” What the hell does that mean? “If she has the children out of wedlock that is law, no courts are required, and the father of her children goes to jail if he does not pay 33% of his income.”

Gosh. These folks are dreaming of chained divorced fathers, in orange suits, breaking stones on Illinois roads.

The foes of Du Page family justice’s also deplore its negative impact on marriage. According to the blogger, “no woman in her right mind will marry knowing that these laws exist and are being enforced this way.” Frankly ,if any of these women declares her views on family justice to her date and the guy volunteers for a second date, he must be completely deranged. Run, men, run!

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This year, in addition to $1,000 a month in child support, I was forced by Manhattan Family Court to pay more than $3,500 in dental expenses for my daughter Chloé, expenses that my insurance would have covered had sicko ex-wife ask the dentist to fill and send the insurance forms to the insurance company. I paid also for a $680 lice treatment for my daughters although at this price, I suspect that sicko ex-wife has treated the entire Upper West Side of Manhattan. Finally, Support Magistrate Grey added to my bill $875 for my ex-wife lawyer fees.

I thought that Manhattan Family Court was ahead of the fray for biased and unfair rulings against non-custodial fathers. Presumptuous judgment. There is always worst with family court justice.

Non-custodial fathers typically pay child support for children they rarely see or like myself, for children

Brand Samuel (Photo Tulsa World)

Brande Samuel (Photo Tulsa World)

they don’t see at all. They usually pay child support for children who are theirs tough. Not in Oklahoma. In 2001, Brande Samuel works in Texas. He is ordered to go to family court to set up child support for a child he is supposed to have had with Nadia Smith. He cannot go. Although Nadia Smith has never accepted he signs the birth certificate, the court did not blink and bombarded him father of the child. In 2004, after two years in jail, he starts working as a welder for less than the minimum wage. He starts paying child support. Unfortunately Jarrel Wade, the Tulsa World’s journalist, does not tell us what do child support payments represent as a share of a below the minimum-wage income in Oklahoma. Surprise surprise, Brande Samuel quickly falls behind. He now owes $13,000 in child support arrears. Yet he smells a rat and decides to seek a DNA test for the child, which he finally gets in 2007. 0% chance he is the father.

It comes without saying that all these steps taken by Brande Samuel to fix Oklahoma family court’s mistakes are on him and have not helped his financial situation; Brande Samuel is no Joe the plumber (who earns close to $250,000 a year). Will there ever be funds appropriated to compensate fathers for the hardship that family courts have inflicted on them?

Some sensitive people wonder why Madonna is getting a divorce in England, whose justice is supposed to favor the interest of fathers (Father for Justice would certainly not agree). Frankly, I share the view of these folks. Madonna’s pick does not make any sense. Why not use good old Oklahoma biased family courts instead?

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The parental alienation syndrome describes one parent’s – in most cases the mother- brainwashing of the



children in order to put them on her side and severe the relationship of the children with the other parent. My girls have been and are still victim of it, and the judge ruling on the accusation of child abuse against me have acknowledged it. My girls are sadly not alone. Parental alienation syndrome is a global phenomenon. Non-custodial fathers in the US, England but also Australia and South Africa deplore the painful, sometimes dramatic ending of their relationship with their children, which the mother has turned against him. Torn between the loyalty to the mother and their feelings for the father, children come to adjust their beliefs about their father so that they match their mother’s. They come to believe that their father is the monster that the mother tells them he is. It’s called cognitive dissonance theory. There is nothing difficult to understand there. For the children living with the custodial parent, this is the way to keep functioning.

If, unlike physical domestic violence, it does not leave any visible mark, it is yet nothing less but domestic violence. It is playing with an impressionable mind and heart. I cannot help thinking of the nice amount of years in therapy that my girls are going to need to cope with the war that their mother pulled them in, a war that was not theirs. It is also depriving them of their right to have a much needed relation with their father.

Some feminist groups contest the very existence of parental alienation syndrome. Why? What is at stake is the survival of their own brand of domestic violence. For these generous knights of women and children, domestic violence is the fact of a brute – the man- physically abusing his wife and children. With testosterone lies the devil. For these folks, parental alienation syndrome is bull; it is part of a coordinated and scary effort by fathers and father right organizers. What is the goal of such an effort? It can only be the restoration of some sort of a patriarchal order. Who could the mastermind of this international conspiracy be? Pick one among the ugly usual suspects: Chavez; possibly Bin Laden.

For the contenders of the conspiracy theory, the punch line is that there is not enough data -yet- to support PAS, according to the American Psychological Association and a Task Force gathered around … President Bush. That’s it and that says it all. Like Bush with global warming, these folks will deny PAS until it will not be possible to do so.

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Scene of Amarcord (Fellini)

Scene of Amarcord (Fellini)

Everyday there are new subjects to be aware and millions of do-gooders ready to raise awareness about it. These folks tend to focus on the tree and forget about the forest. Marching to raise awareness about AIDS is fine but it will be ten times more efficient to protest against insurance companies which deny cheap medications to AIDS victims in developing countries and lobby against universal health insurance here that would help Aids victims.

Domestic violence is a relatively new subject to be aware of. Especially in October, which is the domestic violence awareness month since 1987, as Barbara Fay (nationalpost.com) reminds us. I cannot wait to see in the New York City subway billboards messages like the one inciting people to denounce suspicious “terrorist” behavior:”if you see something, say something” abundantly translated in Spanish (“Si ves algo, di algo”). This month, pay special attention to your latino (macho) neighbor. Through the walls, covered by a merenge tune, you might hear the sobbing of the wife and the children who do not even have a dish of rice and beans to eat.

Nobody would deny that domestic violence is a serious problem, a problem that family courts and family laws do not take it seriously. True or false (which they are according to the study quoted in Fay’s posting), allegations of domestic violence are the “sesame” that opens the door to sole custody of the children and the domestic- violence rent in the form of cushy child support payments. In addition, they are painless. Plaintiffs do not have to prove her allegations and are not punished if the allegations are false. No wonder that women tend to use them as tissues.

The beauty of family laws is that they work like Guantanamo justice for fathers. A restraining order, which is often granted unconditionally, and that’s it: the alleged terrorist is out of domesticity, sometimes ends up in jail and will never get rid of the stigma of child abuse.

Barbara Fay is right. November has to be the fathers abused by domestic violence laws awareness month.

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Waiting for Godot (Tower Theater)

Waiting for Godot (Tower Theater)

Two days ago, I received a New York City Office of Child Support Enforcement notice reminding me that I was $1,713 in arrears. No wonder that with 31% of my gross income going to child support and unreimbursed medical expenses, I am behind.  I have not even started to pay $875 for my ex-wife lawyer fees, which Support Magistrate Grey sensibly added to my bill.  The object of this  notice was to warn me that if I failed to pay off everything by the end of October, I will not be eligible to receive a (US) passport or loose my tax refund, if any.

But in its great wisdom, the State of New York separates the wheat from the chaff, the good and the bad noncustodial fathers. With this letter came a flier trumpeting that some noncustodial parents might be eligible for a earned income tax credit of up to $1,030! Conditions: you earn less than $30,000 a year, you paid a total of $2,600 in child support from January 1 through December 31 2007. Let us do the math: to be eligible for the $1,030 New York State bonanza, assuming that this $2600 in child support payments a year is for one child and represents 17% of your gross income as New York State law prescribes, you have to make $15,294 gross a year. With that-let us wrongly assume this income is not taxed- you are left with some $1,000 after $200 a month in child support payments. The noncustodial parent earned income tax credit is like previous Pataki’s subsidized health insurance for all: you have to be close to dying of hunger to get it. Let’s face it folks: this is not this fiscal travesty that will worsen New York State budget deficit!

Why don’t liberal New York State start being serious – and fair- with noncustodial fathers?  Revamp the existing child support laws and like in New Jersey and Minnesota, make child support payments depend on BOTH custodial and noncustodial parent incomes!

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