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Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Introductions

p1030170It has been more than 11 years since my last supervised visitation with you (September 10 2005 to be exact). Since then, our contact have been either inexistent, or imaginary -as when ex impersonated one of you in email exchanges, very recently.

During all this time, your cousins in France you met and may remember have become adults, and one you never met, Romane, is a teen. Let me introduce to you your little cousins, Louise and Théa, who live near Chambéry, in France. In December, Louise will turn 4 and Théa 1.

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SignBetter2

If you walk the streets of Skala, the main town of Patmos, the Holy Island of Greece where I was a few days ago, you will likely bump into these signs that feature a man  -yes, a man – holding the hand of a little girl. These signs are there to tell motorists to slow down.

I am no specialist of Greek culture but these signs tell an interesting story: Greek fathers have a role to play in the life of their children, protect them, and have to be protected as caretakers. I bet Greek family courts are smarter than New York State’s and, as they handle divorces, do not limit fathers’ obligations to their children to paying child support.Sign1Greece

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Happy New Year 2016!

I am no fan of the end of the year holidays. All this family rejoicing used to give me the blues. Fortunately I am in Mexico (Jalpan, State of Queretaro) at the time when Mexican families travel together. There is nothing contrived in family festivities out here, and reasons to think of fathers rights seem almost out of place.

At least, being in Mexico makes me focus on positive family events. My girls are now the aunts of a new niece, Théa-  Louise’s sister- born on December 23, 2015.  They needed to know it!

 

 

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Photo AFP

Memorial to the Paris victims in New York (Photo AFP)

I am shocked by the November 13 Paris attacks, but I am mostly angry and disgusted. I cannot understand the scything of these civilian lives, which according to the nuts who conducted the attacks, was the price to be paid for France strikes in Syria. I cannot fathom the absolute arrogance of these so-called soldiers of God who decide who lives and who doesn’t, and the kind of paradise they pretend to earn with their crimes.

There never were just wars, and the war on terror which is unfolding in Syria is certainly not proof to the contrary, even if Daesh commits daily crimes against humanity. This is a war without soldiers and a lot of civilian casualties. Daesh hectors civilian populations, our strikes add to their misery, strenghten and legitimize Daesh yoke on them. I am tired of the rhetoric of the war on terrorism. One ought not conduct wars against terrorism, but intelligence operations at an international level, and police operations at a domestic level.

As I read the flow of articles about the Paris attacks, I was struck by Omar Ismael Mostefai’s story, one of the killers of so many people in the Bataclan theater, in the 11th arrondissement. Mostefai was twenty nine years old, born in a suburban town I know- Courcouronnes- because close to my hometown. The man happened to have a little daughter. Did he kiss her before going to the Bataclan? I don’t care if he is where he thinks he would be, but I am afraid she will live in hell, and for a long time.

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baby

I am sure many of the readers of this blog have seen this video, featuring a Brazilian father and his baby daughter; one of those moments that ex or family courts cannot steal from us. Enjoy.

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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.

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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.

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Let's Get Honest! Blog

Absolutely Uncommon Analysis of Family --and "Conciliation" -- Courts' Operations, Practices, and History