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Archive for November, 2012

H. Collins and children

Do you know who is Holly Collins? Well, me neither, until recently. Holly Collins took her children with her to Holland because her ex-husband was given custody of the kids by Minnesota family courts, while they were allegedly abused. Collins became an international fugitive for fourteen years. I could not help but feel immediate sympathy for her.

A documentary ,”No Way Out but One,” was made about the Collins’ Case.  In a Huffington Post article, Nancy Doyle Palmer interviewed the director of this documentary, Garland Waller. That’s what spoiled my sympathy for Collin.  What is there in this interview? In a nutshell, that kind of non-sense: The justice system grants custody cases to abusers -fathers- like banks mortgages to people before the 2008 financial crisis. Why? Judges believe in the parental alienation syndrome against the whole profession of psychologists. It just takes fathers to accuse “ex” of being an alienating parent, and that’s it: custody wrapped. Hello, have you been to court lately?  Waller does not flesh out the reforms -as she does not give any data backing up her points- but there are not difficult to surmise: “lock’em all (divorced fathers) up.”

Ms Waller appears to be one of these crusaders of the consensus. She pretends 1/ that the consensus (courts favor women) is not the consensus 2/ her alleged consensus (courts favor men) is supposed to put women’s rights under imminent threat. Fortunately, the crusader is on the watch;  she will call for the reforms that will correct this sad state of affairs. Since there are plenty of folks that support the true consensus, they will applaud the crusader, who has set herself up for an easy victory.  If anything, courts are indeed likely to be even more biased for women, whether Holly Collin’s children were abused or not.

I then googled Holly Collins. I found this Glenn Sacks’ article about the case: unlike Palmer’s, there are plenty of facts showing little robustness in Collin’s accusation against her former husband.

I am not done researching the case. Yet, I am in no rush to see “No Way Out but One.” I don’t know yet if Holly Collin abducted her children for the right reasons. I know however that family justice in the US need not reforms grounded in cheap bashing of male abusers.

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I love what readers of this blog are doing with it: it becomes a place where experiences, and sometimes solutions, are exchanged.

Yesterday, comments of a reader immersed me back deep into the Dickensian world of New York State family laws, in 2012.

Let’s summarize: She’s a non-custodial parent living on Social Security disability benefits; her ex-husband too. As a veteran, he gets disability benefits for their dependent son. It does not matter. She has to pay child support no matter what. Any earnings in addition to disability benefits -strictly limited by law- are garnished: that’s part of the bureaucratic recklessness rooted in the sheer imbecility of the State’s child support laws. When she asks for a refund, the State takes its time and its cut: child support overpayments are never entirely refunded. Only in New York State!

At this point, another reader mentioned bill S4547 introduced by New York State Senator Ken LaValle. I did not know about it. Thanks. I immediately googled it.

Kenneth LaValle

A smart fellow once said politics is the art of the possible. As New York State family laws goes, the possible is not much. The bill basically amounts to putting a band aid on a gaping wound. It requires a reduction of a child support’s obligation by the amount of social security benefits received by the child (conditional upon a case by case examination by family courts: good luck!).

Sure, the bill will help my reader, who should not be in this situation in the first place. Has it occurred to lawmakers that recipients of social security disability benefits do not exactly belong to the 1%? And that our reader would not be that distressed, if her child support payments were not a flat share of her gross income, regardless how low her income is?

Kenneth LaValle and colleagues on the other side of the aisle need to get some ambition. The State family laws can be reformed, deeply. It has happened in Britain and Australia, who had as crummy family laws as in the State. The guiding plot: joint-custody and child support payments based on both parents’ income.

Meanwhile, readers, stay safe: don’t marry, and most of all, don’t divorce in New York State!

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