A 60-year-old man and his son, in his 40s, were found dead in their apartment in Ayase, Kanagawa Prefecture, on Friday, police said. The man’s younger son, in his 30s, was also found in a coma. All three had suffered knife wounds to the stomach.
Fuji TV reported that police received a call at around 12:15 a.m. Friday, in which the male caller said, “I’ve killed my father and older brother and I’m going to kill myself, too.”
When police arrived at the scene, they found the apartment locked. After gaining entry into the apartment, they found the older man and his oldest son already dead. The second son was still alive and taken to hospital where he remains in a coma.
Police believe the younger son may have stabbed his father and older brother and then himself. A bloodied knife was found beside the younger brother, police said.
Police in Tanabe, Wakayama Prefecture, said Sunday they have arrested a 22-year-old woman on suspicion of attempted murder after strangled her 6-month-old son with a kotatsu electric cord.
According to police, the woman, Naomi Misu, strangled the child at around 12:30 p.m. Saturday while her husband was out. Fuji TV reported that she then called 119.
The boy was taken to hospital where he remained in a coma on Sunday.
Police said Misu, who was on maternity leave from her job at a bank, had consulted with Tanabe city welfare authorities on Dec 3, saying the child wouldn’t stop crying and she found child-rearing stressful.
Police in Sodegaura, Chiba Prefecture, have arrested a 46-year-old man on suspicion of killing his two daughters by carbon monoxide poisoning.
Nobuya Amaha, an office worker, is suspected of burning coal briquettes in the bathroom at his residence in Sodegaura City and killing his daughters, Sae, 23, and Nami, 22, with carbon monoxide poisoning on Monday morning, Fuji TV reported.
On Monday, Amaha sent an email to his relatives which suggested he was suicidal. Police said the email read: “Thank you for everything you have done. We cannot hold out any longer.”
After the relative notified police about the email, officers went to Amaha’s residence where he and his two daughters were found unconscious in the bathroom. They were taken to hospital where Sae and Nami were pronounced dead.
Police said Amaha has admitted to the charge and said that his wife died of illness last May and the family was depressed about their future. He said he wanted to die with his daughters.
Police in Yokohama said Monday they have arrested a 42-year-old man on suspicion of attempting to murder his 6-year-old son.
Shunsuke Okudera, an office employee, is suspected of attempting to strangle his son to death at their home at around 11 p.m. on Sunday, Fuji TV reported.
Okudera’s mother, who lives with them, called 110 reporting her grandson had been strangled by her son. When police arrived at the residence, the son was lying on the floor in the living room. Okudera admitted to the charge and was arrested at the scene.
Police said the boy is in a coma.
So far, Okudera has not said anything to police about why he attacked his son.
RUTH GRAHAM discusses one part of a much larger problem: a broken family law system (“Broke, but not deadbeat”). Graham’s focus on fathers who are poor is commendable. However, it misses the larger problem of one parent — usually the father — being driven out of the lives of his children because the laws, the courts, the lawyers, and the government all have a financial stake in extracting as much money as possible from the noncustodial parent, the best interests of the children be damned.
If both parents continued to be involved in their children’s lives, as numerous studies over several decades have shown to be best, it wouldn’t be nearly as lucrative for those other so-called stakeholders. The better solution, for parents who are rich, poor, or in between, is shared parenting, which should be a presumption, not a mandate, in every child custody action, even so-called preliminary rulings.
In 2004, 86 percent of Massachusetts voters supported a presumption of shared parenting in a nonbinding referendum, and yet the Legislature has ignored or blocked the issue year after year.
The solution: Take the profit out of the system, and stop urging parents to fight over sole custody. Even poor fathers are more likely to financially support their children if they are fully involved in their lives.
Children have the right to be raised by a mother and a father, Pope Francis said, emphasizing that “the family is the foundation of co-existence and a remedy against social fragmentation.”
The Pope made these remarks on Nov. 17 at the opening of the three-day international, interfaith colloquium entitled The Complementarity of Man and Woman, currently underway in the Vatican.Also referred to as the “Humanum” conference, the gathering is being sponsored by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.
“To reflect upon ‘complementarity’ is nothing less than to ponder the dynamic harmonies at the heart of all creation,” he said. “All complementarities were made by our creator, so the author of harmony achieves this harmony.”
Complementarity, which is at the core of this gathering, “is a root of marriage and family,” the Pope said. “For the family grounded in marriage is the first school where we learn to appreciate our own and others’ gifts, and where we begin to acquire the arts of cooperative living.”
Although the family often leads to tensions – “egoism and altruism, reason and passion, immediate desires and long-range goals” – it also provides “frameworks for resolving such tensions.”
Pope Francis warned against confusing complementarity with the notion that “all the roles and relations of the two sexes are fixed in a single, static pattern.” Rather, he said, “complementarity will take many forms as each man and woman brings his or her distinctive contributions to their marriage and to the formation of their children – his or her personal richness, personal charisma.”
“Marriage and family are in crisis,” he said, with the “culture of the temporary” dissuading people from making the “public commitment” of marriage.
“This revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom, but in fact it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.”
Pope Francis noted the evidence pointing to the correlation between “the decline of marriage culture” and the increase of poverty and other “social ills”. It is women, children, and elderly persons who suffer the most from this crisis, he said.
The Pope likened the crisis in the family to threats against the environment. Although there has been a growing awareness of ecological concerns, mankind has “been slower to recognize that our fragile social environments are under threat as well, slower in our culture, and also in our Catholic Church.”
“We must foster a new human ecology,” he said.
“The family is the foundation of co-existence and a remedy against social fragmentation,” the Holy Father continued, stressing the importance of marriage in the raising of children.
“Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity,” he said.
Pope Francis encouraged the participants in the Colloquium to especially take account of young people. “Commit yourselves, so that our youth do not give themselves over to the poisonous environment of the temporary, but rather be revolutionaries with the courage to seek true and lasting love, going against the common pattern.”
He also warned against being moved by political agendas. “Family is an anthropological fact, he said, which cannot be qualified “based on ideological notions or concepts important only at one time in history.”
Pope Francis concluded his address by confirming his participation in the World Meeting of Families to take place in Philadelphia, USA, in 2015.
Following the Holy Father’s remarks, CDF Prefect and moderator of the colloquium’s opening sessions, Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, spoke at length on the central themes of the gathering.
At the core of the Colloquium which has gathered representatives from diverse religious traditions, is the question of the import of man and woman’s complementarity “for the relationship between the human person and God”.
Recounting the Genesis account of the earth’s creation, followed by that of man and woman, Cardinal Mueller said in his intervention the “difference between man and woman, both in the union of love and the generation of life, concerns God’s presence in the world.” It is man’s calling “to discover [this] in order to find a solid and lasting foundation and destiny for our life.”
“In sexual difference,” the cardinal went on, the man and the woman “can only understand him or herself in light of the other: the male needs the female to be understood, and the same is true for the female.”
It is therefore the the aim of the colloquium, Mueller concluded, “to explore the richness of sexual difference, its goodness, its character as gift, its openness to life, the path that opens up to God.”
Later that morning, keynote speaker Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks opened his intervention by telling “the story of the most beautiful idea in the history of civilization: the idea of the love that brings new life into the world. There are of course many ways of telling the story, and this is just one.”
The Rabbi explored the evolutionary development leading to the human family, from which emerged “the union of the biological mother and father to care for their child.” Then, with the development of cultures came the normalization of polygamy: “the ultimate expression of inequality because it means that
many males never get the chance to have a wife and child.”
“That is what makes the first chapter of Genesis so revolutionary,” he said, “with its statement that every human being, regardless of class, colour, culture or creed, is in the image and likeness of God himself.”
Rabbi Sacks spoke at length about the development of family within the Jewish tradition, noting how the Jews were “became an intensely family oriented people, and it was this that saved us from tragedy.”
From the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D through centuries of persecution, he said, “Jews survived because they never lost three things: their sense of family, their sense of community and their faith.”
“Marriage and the family are where faith finds its home and where the Divine Presence lives in the love between husband and wife, parent and child,” he said.
In an interview with CNA, President for the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch, reflected on the fundamentals of complementarity, beginning with the first chapter of Genesis.
“We have this very beautiful idea, an image that the relationship between man and woman is an image of God,” he said. “In this sense, in the Catholic Church, the marriage between husband and wife is a Sacrament. This Sacramental issue is very important for us.”
Citing the interfaith character of the Colloquium, Cardinal Koch, who served as moderator for the afternoon sessions he stressed the need to give witness about complementarity “first of all in an ecumenical way.”
The chance to “give witness about family and marriage in an inter-religious dimension is a very beautiful opportunity,” he said.
David Quinn, director of the IONA institute and newspaper columnist, was among the participants in the colloquium. “The conference is obviously an extremely major international gathering about the importance of marriage between a man and a woman,” he told CNA.
“It’s probably the most significant gathering of its kind to date that’s been organized by the Church, and specifically by the CDF.”
“The loud and clear message for me,” Quinn said, “is the importance of the complementarity of men and women, and particularly the right of a child to be raised by their own mother and father whenever that is possible.”
Citing Ireland’s upcoming referendum on same-sex marriage, set to occur in 2015, Quinn said “this is obviously a loud and clear message that people need to hear. That the sexes are complimentary.”
“This is imbedded in the very nature of marriage itself. You deny the nature of marriage if you deny the importance of the complementarity of the sexes, and above all if you deny that mothers and fathers should raise children together.”
What scene comes to mind when you envision a dad left in charge of his kids for the day? Is it a room with fresh crayon marks all over the walls, kids with food-smeared faces—nothing short of general chaos? While those tropes might be funny, they probably aren’t all that accurate, especially nowadays, when more and more men are pitching in at home.
In fact, fathers now perform 4.6 more hours of childcare and 4.4 more hours of housework each week than they did in in 1965, according to a report from the White House Council of Economic Advisors. And dads say that involvement with responsibilities on the home front, particularly involving children, is increasingly important, as is finding a career and employer that will allow them to devote a significant portion of time to their family. In a study from the Boston College Center for Work and Family, 60 percent of the 1,029 fathers polled said that employer-provided, paid paternity or parental leave was important to them. This figure was significantly higher among younger men, with 93 percent of Millennial dads indicating that paid paternal leave was important to them.
Still, while opinions and priorities may have seen some cultural shifts, the balance between work and home is still a difficult one to strike. The vast majority of fathers surveyed for the Boston College study took only two weeks off for the arrival of a new baby, a period of time that correlated strongly with the amount of paid paternity or parental leave provided. When asked how much paternal leave they thought was appropriate, the majority of men said somewhere between two and four weeks, with younger dads erring towards longer leave. And some men choose not to take the maximum amount of time off from their jobs, fearing that they’ll fall too far behind, or be seen as less dedicated employees.
“I would be working just for someone else to watch my kids and it just didn’t make sense.”
While some fathers find themselves trying to create work schedules with additional flexibility, more fathers are assuming the role of primary caregiver. The number of stay-at-home dads has risen from 1.1 million in 1989 to 2.0 million in 2012, according to Pew. Why? For some fathers, they found themselves in the role due to circumstance: Temporary unemployment or disability can make dads the most logical option for childcare. But some fathers are home by choice, and because of a shift in labor dynamics as women reach higher educational and career attainment.
For Chris Tecala of Centerville, Virginia, who worked full-time in the audio visual field for a hospitality company, the question of who should stay home with the kids was an easy one to answer. “My salary equaled the cost of the yearly daycare of two, non potty-trained infants, which was about $40,000 a year,” he said. “I would be working just for someone else to watch my kids and it just didn’t make sense.”
According to Pew, 24 percent of married women earn more than their husbands. The study also found that for married couples with children, women were the primary breadwinners in 37 percent of households. As women earn more and seek higher positions in more competitive fields, the decision of who should leave work to care for a sick child, or stay home altogether, has become less clear.
Now Tecala, who stays home during the week to watch his twin two-year-old boys, strikes a balance by working part-time for the same company during the weekends. Even once his boys are old enough to attend school, Tecala says he plans on continuing with a part-time schedule so he can “be there for them every step of the way.”
The decision to remain active in the professional world, albeit in a scaled-back fashion, is fairly common, says Will Culp of the National At Home Dad Network, especially for those who plan to reenter the workforce after the kids get older.
Dan Baldwin, a stay-at-home dad from Baltimore says that his family’s decision to rely on him as the primary caregiver was driven partially by finances, but also because of the lack of schedule flexibility at his former job. Baldwin used about seven weeks of paid leave thanks to the Family and Medical Leave Act, but afterward, when he tried to discuss creating a more family-friendly schedule for his urban planning job, he said his employer offered up the equivalent of two days off per month. For his family, it simply wasn’t enough, he said.
So Baldwin stays home to care for his son, David. He says he plans on returning to the working world, once any children he and his wife may have are old enough to attend school, but even then, there will still be a focus on flexibility so he can do things like attend field trips and soccer matches. “I think that going into a new job, that would be one of the things I would look for—that would weigh heavily on my decision about where to end up,” he said.
“I think the bias against pro-paternity policies in the workplace starts with the notion that mothers are genetically better-suited for childcare,”
Though they are the primary caregivers in their families, both Tecala and Baldwin make sure to note how involved their wives, both employed full-time, are in child rearing. “By the end of the day when she gets home, I like to have that break,” Baldwin says. “She’ll feed him dinner, give him a bath, and put him to bed. And that’s when I’ll get some cleaning done.” Tecala describes a similar scene in his home.
But despite this scene of domestic bliss and cooperation, it still seems as if a large portion of Americans don’t see stay-at-home dads and stay-at-home moms in the same light. Another to Pew poll reported that, 51 percent of respondents felt that kids were better off with a mother who stayed home, and only 34 percent said that kids were just as well off if their mom worked. Those numbers change dramatically when you switch to the idea of a stay-at-home father. Only 8 percent of respondents said that children would be better off if their dad stayed home, while 76 percent said they’d be just as well off if their dad worked.
Culp says that these views, that deem that mothers are better suited to take care of the kids, contribute to flimsy pro-paternity leave policies at many organizations. “I think the bias against pro-paternity policies in the workplace starts with the notion that mothers are genetically better-suited for childcare,” he said. “As long as employers see involved fathers as an impediment to productivity, any change toward more progressive paternity leave policies will be met with resistance.”
While Baldwin and Tecala said that most people were positive about their decision to act as their child’s primary caregiver, both had stories of odd looks or curious reactions that they had gotten from strangers, mostly women. Tecala described a look of confusion that he gets occasionally when he carts his twin boys around the supermarket. I asked him if that type of reaction upset him. “At first it bothered me, but now I just kind of shrug it off and laugh,” he said. “I like to think that they’re just jealous that they don’t have a guy who’s willing to look after the kids like I am.”
Dec. 5th, 2014 The Columbus Dispatch by Donald Hubin
Most people have a common-sense understanding that children are better off when both parents are fully involved in a child’s upbringing and care, but Ohio’s child-custody laws and court practices fail to recognize this obvious truth.
While Ohio isn’t the worst state in this regard, a recent study gives the state’s child-custody laws a C- when it comes to ensuring that both parents remain engaged with their children following divorce.
In a groundbreaking report published within the past month, National Parents Organization released its inaugural Shared Parenting Report Card, the nation’s first study to grade the states based on child-custody statutes. The report found that most states are performing poorly in terms of encouraging shared parenting and parental equality. The nation as a whole scored a 1.63 grade-point average, and Ohio is in the middle of the pack, receiving a C-.
These findings make it clear that Ohio legislators must act to raise the state’s grade for the benefit of our children, and legislators can get to work by addressing the fact that Ohio statutes:
• Contain no preference for or presumption of shared parenting.
• Do not explicitly provide for shared parenting during temporary orders.
• Do not mandate that a court award shared parenting even in a case where the court finds that the submitted shared parenting plan is in the best interest of the children.
• Have not been significantly revised in light of the 2001 recommendations of the task force set up by the Ohio legislature and the Ohio Supreme Court to recommend reforms to family law in Ohio.
The report’s examination of statutes in Ohio and elsewhere show it’s typical for one parent to be marginalized when parents separate. This happens routinely, even when both parents are fit and loving and want to be fully involved in their children’s lives. It happens because of obsolete laws and outdated assumptions about parents.
Is diminishing the role of one parent the unfortunate price we pay to promote the best interest of children? Some have thought so, but the evidence is against them. And the evidence is now overwhelming. Over the past three decades, there has been a growing consensus among social scientists that in the vast majority of cases, when parents separate, children are best off when their parents are equally involved.
Just this year, three different groups of child-development researchers and practitioners endorsed shared parenting in most circumstances. In one instance, a report by prominent psychologist Richard Warshak, titled “Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report” and published by the American Psychological Association, concluded that shared parenting should be the norm. The conclusions of this research were endorsed by 110 researchers and practitioners who added their names to the published paper — an extraordinary event in the social sciences.
Despite the weight of scientific evidence, shared parenting is in place just 17 percent of the time, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
There are many reasons why this harmful practice continues. Some judges seem not to have noticed that we are no longer living in theMad Men era, when mothers stayed at home with the children and fathers were relatively uninvolved in child rearing. Some parents see the decisions about raising their children after divorce as a contest where one parent wins and the other loses — losing sight of the fact that, in such a contest, children are the real losers. And our adversarial approach to divorce and custody disputes encourages this winner-take-all attitude. Some judges favor shared parenting in principle but will not order it unless both parents agree to it, thinking that if the parents cannot agree to shared parenting, they can’t cooperate under a shared parenting plan. However, the research proves this false.
While the causes of what some have described as ‘parent-ectomy’ are many, there is no doubt that legislatures share some of the responsibility. Across the country, and certainly in Ohio, legislators have a responsibility to make common-sense statutory changes that will better ensure that our children, regardless of whether their parents live together, experience a childhood filled with the love of both parents.
Donald Hubin, a professor emeritus at Ohio State University, is chairman of the Ohio Executive Committee and a member of the National Board of National Parents Organization and is one of the principal authors of the National Parents Organization 2014 Shared Parenting Report Card.
Last night I cuddled up on the sofa with my five-year-old daughter Ruby as we enjoyed one of her favourite TV shows.
It was The Story Of Tracy Beaker — who, I should explain to any non- parents, is a wonderful character created by the children’s author Jacqueline Wilson.
Tracy is a young girl growing up in a children’s home — she’s feisty and funny, but constantly fantastises about a better life. One with parents.
Whenever she goes into one of her reveries, claiming to have ‘hay fever’ when she wants to shed a tear, Ruby gets sad.
So last night, when hay fever struck Tracy, Ruby, too, became misty-eyed.
‘I’m so lucky to have a mummy and daddy,’ she said, hugging me. As I cuddled her back, I felt a terrible stab of guilt in my stomach.
For Ruby nearly didn’t have a daddy. For the first two-and-a-half years of her life, I did everything I could to scupper her relationship with her father.
In a fit of selfish pique, I attempted to come between them and deny them the right to love each other.
It was the most spiteful thing I’ve ever done.
Thank God her father, James, fought me all the way and dragged us through the hell of solicitors, legal bills and finally to the Family Court, where he won access to his little girl — access that was his by right.
He never gave up. Such is the testament of his love for Ruby. And for that, I will never be able to thank him enough.
I remember all too well that wretched day in the Family Court in March 2009 as we sat in front of the judge, with a solicitor between us. James, whom I’d once loved so dearly, looked grey and hollow.
I listened with a growing sense of shame as my legal team reeled off the acidic statement I’d made, littered with stupid accusations I’d dramatised to hurt him.
Even then I knew it was unfair, but I wanted to punish him. I blamed him for the break-up of our relationship and what better way to hurt him, I reasoned, than to take his daughter away?
The terrible struggle some fathers have to maintain contact with their children was highlighted last week when the Daily Mail told the story of an exemplary father who’d battled for 12 years to see his daughter after his former wife falsely accused him of sexually abusing her.
‘It’s like a bereavement,’ he said. ‘My anguish never stops. I wake up every morning with a knot of anxiety in my stomach. I don’t know where my daughter is. I don’t know how she is. I don’t even know if she is with her mother.’
To my eternal regret, it’s a torment I tried to inflict on the father of my child.
How could I do such a terrible thing? In my defence, I should explain I didn’t know any better.
My mother, Brenda, 73, and father, Bob, 78, though married, have never lived in the same house — they split up before I was born.
Throughout my childhood, I only ever saw my father at sporadic intervals. I still harbour resentments at all the years I spent as the ‘mediator’ in their fractured relationship.
Somehow, I thought misguidedly I would be doing my daughter a favour in sparing her this disruption if I severed all ties with her father. Ruby, I concluded, didn’t need James. She had me: I was all she needed.
How terribly wrong I was.
I’d met James, a 42-year-old newspaper reporter, when we worked together in Bristol in 2003. We were just friends until a Christmas fling in 2006 changed everything. We weren’t even a proper couple when I discovered I was pregnant in April 2007.
James was shocked, but nevertheless said he would support me no matter what. So we decided to give parenthood, and our relationship, our best shot.
We moved to the South Coast, rented a family home and determined to make it work. But our path was not to be a smooth one.
After a traumatic birth, in which Ruby and I almost died due to pre-eclampsia — a condition caused by high blood pressure, which affects 5 per cent of women in later pregnancy — I spent two weeks in hospital.
I was hardly able to pick up my newborn baby, let alone breastfeed her, and struggled to bond with her.
I don’t use this as an excuse for the bad behaviour that was to come, but the tranquil birth I’d dreamt of had been smashed to pieces. I sank into depression.
I pushed away James because I felt so sad, when all I really wanted was his love and help.
It was hardly a big surprise, then, that after a few months of sleepless nights with a newborn, tension and arguments, our relationship was in tatters.
Ruby was ten months old when I announced I was leaving. James was utterly taken aback.
I think he thought we’d somehow muddle through, but my mind was made up.
I convinced myself I could just sweep the matter of my baby’s father under the carpet. The scars of my parents’ acrimonious break-up ran deep.
I moved into a flat in Hove, East Sussex, in October 2008 and set about making it as difficult as possible for James to see his daughter.
I ignored his calls, refused to answer the door and slandered him to anyone who would listen.
I told everyone he was a dreadful father: he didn’t give her enough to drink; didn’t change her nappy often enough; and his flat was a tip.
Today I can admit my unhappiness was to blame, not James’s ability as a father.
I thought that if I just ignored him for long enough then he’d disappear. He’d give up and find someone else to pester. Ruby and I would be happy on our own.
But, thank God, James never gave up. When all negotiation failed, he sought legal advice and decided to fight me to gain access to his child.
He didn’t even go for shared custody, just the right to form some sort of relationship with her.
Despite this, I still convinced myself that James was trying to take my baby away from me and set out to fight him like a lioness.
The irony of Ruby’s first word was not lost on me: it was ‘Daddy’. But still I fought to wipe him from her life.
We spent thousands of pounds and the best part of a year in court and at each other’s throats.
James could have given up at any stage and, looking at his broken figure at the other end of the bench in court, I realised just how far I’d pushed him.
Finally, an agreement was reached. The judge ruled that Ruby would stay overnight with James every other Saturday. Begrudgingly, I capitulated.
As Ruby and James set about rebuilding their relationship, I began to see just what a precious bond they shared.
They looked so much alike and, as Ruby’s personality developed, I realised how alike they were in so many other ways.
They had the same quirky sense of humour and deep concentration at something that caught their interest.
I saw all of the qualities I’d loved and admired in James develop in our little girl. I even felt joy when she came home and chirped happily about their time together.
Having gone from barely mentioning or seeing her father, I saw their relationship blossom and it brought about a thaw in our relationship, too.
“Without a father in her life, she would be bereft of so much love. What child, whatever the situation, deserves to be deprived of that?”
James and I began to trust each other again and to exchange pleasantries when we met until, finally, we became good friends.
He says he has forgiven me. I thank him for that and admire his maturity.
Today, Ruby and James see each other most weekends, but the arrangement is informal.
He sees her whenever he likes. If he’s ten minutes away, he’ll pop in for a cup of tea and help Ruby with her spellings. Often she has a painting she just has to show her Daddy right now and, of course, that isn’t a problem.
They chat on the phone most days. And the three of us spent Christmas Day together.
I know in an ideal world that Ruby would have a mummy and daddy who live together, but this is the next best thing.
Without a father in her life, she would be bereft of so much love. What child, whatever the situation, deserves to be deprived of that?
She brings endless joy when she draws pictures of the three of us, and my dog Ralph, standing together and smiling.
Thankfully, all she remembers is a mummy and daddy who are friends and prioritise her before any emotion we might be feeling.
If James hadn’t fought me in court, Ruby wouldn’t be the delightful, clever, kind and happy child she is today.
I’m just glad I eventually saw through my own resentment and hurt — and put my child first.
It’s Time To Stand Up Against Unfair Treatment: No Indians Or Dogs Allowed
From D.J., a grandmother:
I would like to share with you a story. One that was told to me by my mother, one that I have never forgotten. My dad was white and my mother was Native American. Before they were married, when they would go on a date, my mother would tell of times that she was not allowed in certain businesses.
Why you might ask. Some businesses back then had signs on their doors that would read…NO INDIANS OR DOGS ALLOWED. Therefore, my Dad would go in alone, while my Mom was forced to stay outside. Hurtful and sad to my Mom? Yes. But that’s not the reason I share this story with you. I share this story because I find strength in knowing that somewhere along the line; someone must have stood up as a group, like the Shared Parenting Supporters, and were successful in changing the laws, so that those signs could no longer exist. As times change, so must the laws.
For the last several years I have watched while my grandchildren are pulled away from their Daddy every two weeks and watch them cry as they hold out their arms to him as they leave. And I have watched my son sit at my kitchen table and cry like a baby after they have gone. Those of you that have children know that your children are your children, no matter how old they are. And when your children hurt, you hurt. Despite the thousands of dollars he has spent in attorney fees, he still has limited time with his children and they with him. He is denied phone calls and is only allowed to talk to them for a few minutes twice a week within a one hour time frame. The children are sent to their rooms if they ask to call their Dad and are punished if they cry when he takes them back to the custodial parent. My granddaughter tells me she wishes she could see her guidance counselor everyday because she says every day she is sad. The same granddaughter shares with me that she has nightmares about her Mom (the custodial parent) chasing her and her friend with a knife! How many five year old girls dream such dreams about their Mom? The court says they are doing what is in the best interest of the children. I beg to disagree. I write this to you today as a proud Native American Mother, Aunt and most importantly Grandmother… because my children and my grandchildren need me to. I stand proud with my son as he struggles to change the custody laws and because the children of North Dakota need me to tell my story.
There are families in your State, North Dakotan’s, father’s mothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and yes, children, that have had something that belongs to them taken away…a parent and an entire side of their family, and are hurting because of our outdated custody laws.
It is time for change. I am here today to ask the voters of North Dakota to Please support Measure 6…for the children!
Despite the existence of family court agreements spelling out visitation rights following divorce or separation, more than 40 percent of parents who don’t live with their children remain unable to have any contact with them, a survey conducted by the Japan Federation of Bar Associations has revealed.
Although it had been known that many parents were not able to visit their children despite the existence of such agreements, the extent of the situation had not been understood prior to this study.
The survey was conducted between February and April this year, with the assistance of lawyers nationwide, on parents who had filed for visitation agreements with family courts. It focused on how satisfied they were with child visitation agreements, whether visits that had been agreed upon were actually occurring, and the payment of child-support fees, among other issues.
Forty-four percent of the 296 respondents indicated that they were “unable to see their children at all.” Twenty-four percent said that they were “able to see their children in accordance with the agreements that had been made,” while 32 percent responded that they were “able to see their children, although not exactly to the letter of the agreement.”
On why court-granted visits were not occurring, the highest response, at 37 percent, was either that “The children did not want it, or the parent living with the children informed me that the children did not want it.” Meanwhile, 31 percent said, “The parent living with the children will not let me see them.”
With respect to how visits took place, 51 percent reported that arrangements were made directly between the couple or ex-couple, while 24 percent said that “relatives were offering assistance” with visitation. Ten percent cited the involvement of third-party organizations. The latter figure revealed that the system of providing institutional support for visitation remains underdeveloped.
One parent who has been deprived of visits remarked via the survey, “Even if I send an e-mail (to the parent living with the children), I don’t get a response for a week or so — and even then, I just get the runaround.”
Meanwhile, parents living with their children pointed out issues such as, “(The parent living apart from the children) is not fulfilling their proper parental responsibilities.”
Survey comments from parents who have been able to visit their children included, “I am receiving assistance from lawyers,” and, “My children are now in the upper grades of elementary school, so I am able to make visitation arrangements with them directly.”
Michiko Fujiwara, a lawyer with the Daini Tokyo Bar Association who assisted with the survey, commented, “The family courts are unable to provide support after agreements have been signed.” She added, “A system is needed wherein local governments and organization-based experts are able to assist or coordinate between parties who are finding it difficult to carry out the stipulated visitation agreements.”
In order to help parents understand the importance of child visitation, the Tokyo Family Court has begun providing them with picture books that illustrate children’s feelings. A special room has also been set up on the court premises to facilitate trial visits, featuring children’s toys and stuffed animals in order to help create a warm atmosphere.
Kazuko Yao, a judge with the Tokyo Family Court who specializes in divorce and visitation agreements, commented, “Even if parents split up, the act of facilitating visitation can help children understand that they are loved. I hope that parents (who are outlining visitation agreements) will put the children first.”
Tokyo Family Court associate examiner Hajime Shiino additionally remarked, “When children are growing healthily, it will also benefit the parents.”
MBRIDGE, Mass. — We’ve interviewed nearly 100 divorce litigators in different U.S. and international jurisdictions for a forthcoming book. We didn’t do this to educate ourselves about Measure 6, the Shared Parenting Initiative on the North Dakota ballot; but inadvertently, we’ve become experts on the practical effects of changes in divorce laws.
Broadly, states fall into three categories:
1. Preserve the status quo
2. Craft a new optimum
3. Don’t take sides
North Dakota currently falls into the first category. The judge tries to figure out who was the “primary parent” during the marriage, then extends the financial terms of what had been a voluntary partnership out until the children are adults.
The parent identified as more important pre-lawsuit is awarded custody, and the parent who had been the breadwinner will be ordered to pay child support.
This approach is consistent with the best published psychology research of the 1950s. However, the academic psychologists have changed their minds. “A psychologist can’t walk into an intact family, do an assessment and determine which parent is better for which child at which age in that family,” said Linda Nielsen, professor of psychology at Wake Forest University.
“And it is the wrong question to ask, since the importance or effectiveness of each parent will go up and down as the child ages.”
In theory, the decision regarding which parent is to be primary is made after a Perry Mason-style trial with witnesses testifying and being cross-examined. In practice, as its typical nationwide, North Dakota judges make an “interim” decision at a 60-minute hearing shortly after a divorce lawsuit is filed — and that decision is likely to become permanent.
The second category includes states that recognize parenting is going to be different following a divorce, so the court should “craft a new optimum.” The court may order the parents to assume unequal roles, but not because roles were unequal during the marriage.
This approach, followed by states such as Michigan and Missouri, sounds great in theory. But in practice, it leads to lots of arguments (at $1,000 per hour or more, considering everyone in the courtroom who is being paid) about what the new optimum should be; and no two judges are likely to agree on what is “optimum.”
“I could take the same facts and argument to five judges and get five different results,” was a common refrain.
Alaska, Arizona, Colorado and Delaware are examples of the third approach: “Don’t take sides.” Either the Legislature or the court will require or strongly suggest that, absent an agreement between the parents, courts award 50/50 parenting.
Effects of Measure 6
Measure 6 would push North Dakota into the third category. Generally, lawyers nationwide say they think that roughly 50/50 shared parenting is best for children. They report that their clients with 50/50 parenting experience less conflict than clients with an every-other-weekend-and-Wednesday-night-dinner schedule.
Among other advantages, “you don’t have a father who is perpetually angry that he pays all of the bills and seldom sees the kids,” as several attorneys observed.
Attorneys and psychologists also report much greater involvement by fathers who had been awarded 50/50 parenting than ones who had been officially deemed “secondary.” “The best kind of parenting is called ‘authoritative parenting,’ as distinct from ‘permissive parenting,’ which is the worst,” Professor Nielsen noted.
“An authoritative parent sets rules and talks to children about important things. He is a child’s parent, not the child’s uncle. For this to be possible, the children must spend ample time with the father and have a full range of activities with him.
“When you cut the parenting time down to every other weekend, there’s not an opportunity to be an authoritative parent. It is not that the dad is a different person. He’s the same person with the same parenting skills, but in a restricted situation.”
Despite saying that 50/50 parenting is better for most children, most lawyers oppose a statutory 50/50 rule and prefer each child’s schedule to be a custom decision. One reason is that these attorneys don’t factor in the cost of legal fees. Maybe a 60/40 schedule is better for Johnny than a 50/50 schedule, but is he better off now that $200,000 has been drained from his college fund to pay for that fight?
One warning, North Dakota: About a third of Measure 6 is given over to an escape clause in the event of domestic violence. Alaska added such a clause to what had been a strict 50/50 system. What happened? “Either there has been an epidemic of abuse since this statute was amended, or a lot of women are lying,” said Pam Sullivan, a divorce litigator there.
“In about 25 percent of the cases now, the man is alleged to be a physical or sexual abuser.”
Lawyers all over the United States report that domestic violence allegations now are standard in custody fights, with up to 75 percent of divorce cases in some states now involving allegations of abuse.
To sum up what we learned from talking to attorneys: Uncertainty drives litigation. Parents like children. Parents like to make money off children.
The typical U.S. state generates a maximum amount of custody litigation by making it uncertain who will win a custody lawsuit and by awarding substantial cash profits, in addition to the enjoyment of time with the child, to the winner.
In Switzerland and Denmark, custody litigation is greatly reduced by a presumption that “Mom wins.” Legal fees in those countries tend to be less than 10 percent of what Americans pay for a divorce. But note that 50/50 shared parenting is common in Denmark, despite the “Mom wins” rule. Why? Child support awards in Denmark are limited to a range of $2,000 to $8,000 per year (compared to a maximum of $25,224 in North Dakota).
Jackie Stebbins, an attorney at Bliss & Stebbins in Bismarck, said “It’s hard for many of us [divorce litigators and judges] to admit that a lot of these custody battles are really about money, but they are.”
After a year of interviewing experts, what’s our expert advice for North Dakota voters? Don’t listen to experts! They aren’t the ones who have to live with the consequences of the law. Talk to adults whose childhood was the subject of custody litigation.
Among us five co-authors, it turns out that one is the child of divorced parents. Here’s her personal perspective: “I am a proponent of the 50/50 custody presumption. The current system forces the parent who does not receive custody too far to the sidelines. Also, Measure 6 should reduce the number of custody battles, which are always destructive.”
We’ve prepared a free excerpt from our forthcoming book for Herald readers. It includes our full North Dakota chapter. Visit tinyurl.com/gfhballot6.
LINCOLN, Neb. —His service to his country took away his leg, and now former Army Sgt. Ben Marksmeier said the state’s child custody and support laws are taking away his son.
“The only thing I was thinking about was my son, my unborn child, and then I come back only to have him ripped out of my life,” said Marksmeier.
Marksmeier and other noncustodial fathers told their emotional stories to a special commission looking into revising the state’s child support guidelines.
“I currently only see my child for four hours a month. Four hours,” said Marksmeier.
Legal Aid, an Omaha nonprofit organization, said payments for some parents are unrealistically high and don’t change or are slow to change if the person loses their job or their financial status changes. It places them in a rut they can’t climb out of.
“They are incredibly broken and ashamed. And when they are broken and ashamed, it interferes with their relationships with their children,” said Muirne Heaney, an attorney for Legal Aid.
Noncustodial parents in Nebraska rank in the top 10 in paying child support but still owe $70 million in back payments. Child welfare advocates say their only concern is to make sure the basic needs of every child is met. Even those who can afford the payments said it’s about equal parenting time, though.
“If there were a way to trade money for time, believe me, I would be the first in that line,” said Eddy Santamaria, a noncustodial father.
The chair of the commission, Brad Ashford, agrees changes need to be made to allow more equal time for both parents.
“Let’s make sure the child support piece is right as well, so that when we think about equal parenting — the child support guidelines reflect the reality of daily life,” said Ashford.
Actor Jason Patric arrives for his custody hearing at the 2nd District Court of Appeals in Los Angeles, May 8, 2014.Jonathan Alcorn/Reuters
Following the 2009 in vitro-assisted birth of Gus, a very public legal argument broke out between mother Danielle Schreiber and her former boyfriend and the child’s sperm donor, Jason Patric. Patric, a well-known actor who starred in films such as The Lost Boys and Speed 2: Cruise Control, petitioned for parental rights, arguing that he and Schreiber had been partners for years, and that he had every intention of fathering the child. He says he kept his name off the birth certificate to protect Gus from media attention.
Schreiber, citing section 7613(b) of California’s Family Code, maintains that as a sperm donor, and with no written agreement to the contrary in place before the child’s birth, Patric does not have any parental rights. In addition, Schreiber, through her lawyers, tells Newsweek that she and Patric never agreed to be co-parents, and that Patric never showed any intent of wanting to be the child’s father. A 29-page letter written sent by Patric in late 2008 or early 2009 to Schreiber portrays a tortured man who ultimately says he’s not ready for fatherhood, but would act as a sperm donor as a “gift” to the woman he had loved, as long as she kept it a secret.
The trial court sided with Schreiber, awarding her full custody of Gus. A Domestic Violence Restraining Order was also issued against Patric by the trial court on November 25, 2013; in an email to Newsweek Schreiber’s legal team says this was in response to past instances of verbal, physical, and emotional abuse (including anti-Semitic remarks) levied by Patric towards Schreiber.
Patric unequivocally denies these charges, and by now has spent roughly 160 hours in courtrooms trying to convince judges (and the public) that he is Gus’s father in every sense of the word. In May of 2014, an appellate court decided that though Patric could not claim fatherhood under section 7613(b), they would allow him to seek paternity under different sections of the California Family Code. Schreiber’s legal team has petitioned the California Supreme Court to review the appellate court’s decision; they have not yet responded to the request.
In the meanwhile, it has been 72 weeks since Patric last saw the child.
He has also launched the website Stand Up for Gus to promote awareness of parental alienation syndrome (PAS), a mental health syndrome he fears his son may have to deal with for the rest of his life, based on the acrimonious relationship between his parents.
Coined in 1985 by psychiatrist Richard Gardner, PAS describes a set of behaviors exhibited by kids whose parents deliberately turn them against the other parent, through a variety of techniques that are at once coercive, manipulative, vindictive and sociopathic. “It’s a violent act to a child’s mind,” Patric tells Newsweek, speaking of PAS, which he says he began investigating following his initial trial to assert his parental rights with Gus. He believes parental alienation is akin to what domestic violence was 40 years ago—a dirty secret that is harming millions but not acknowledged by many mental health professionals.
One of the reasons PAS hasn’t been embraced universally is because of controversies that punctuate Gardner’s career. In 1992, for example, at the height of the tumultuous scandal in which Woody Allen’s former partner, Mia Farrow, accused him of child abuse, Gardner told reporters that “screaming ‘sex abuse’ is a very effective way to wreak vengeance on a hated spouse.” Many took this as a tacit diagnosis of PAS—inferring that Gardner had sided with Allen and believed Farrow had manipulated her children into falsely believing Allen was a sexual abuser.
Nor did it help that Gardner, at first, repeatedly declared that fathers are more deserving of legal protection from alienating mothers than the other way around. Writing inThe American Academy of Psychoanalysis in 1994, he said, “The campaign of denigration embarked upon by many parents (mothers more often than fathers) can be both vicious and creative. Mothers are generally more bonded to their children than fathers, and they are more likely to engage in a wide variety of manipulations designed to strengthen their positions in custody disputes.”
Within the decade, however, Gardner amended his theories about women and PAS. “In the last few years I have seen a shift that has brought the ratio now to 50-50,” he wrote in a 2000 report. But the legacy of his earlier statements remains and has led many to argue that PAS is just a tool used by men to seize custody from any mother who claims abuse, an idea bolstered by famous cases such as Allen’s. Psychologist Joyanna Silberg says she has seen many divorces in which parents—typically fathers—hoodwink judges and case evaluators with the term parental alienation and turn themselves into the victim. Silberg represents the Leadership Council on Child Abuse & Interpersonal Violence, a nonprofit that staunchly opposes many of Gardner’s original notions about PAS. The organization’s president, Paul Fink, has called PAS “junk science at its worst.”
But many PAS advocates think that this gendered characterization of PAS is inaccurate, and even intentionally misleading. “I know for sure it happens to both mothers and fathers,” says Amy Baker, a developmental psychologist who authored the book Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Breaking the Ties That Bind.
Teenagers are more likely to own a smartphone than live with their fathers, according to a study.
It predicted that almost half of the children sitting their GCSE exams in 2020 will come from a broken home.
In a startling portrait of ‘broken Britain’, the Centre for Social Justice warned that a culture of ‘disposable dads’ had developed in poorer parts of the UK.
Dr Samantha Callan, David Cameron’s former family policy adviser, who co-wrote the report, said that young people should be encouraged to aspire to have children in wedlock.
Referring to a popular hit single, she added: ‘As Beyonce Knowles says in her song, “If you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it”.
’The CSJ, an independent think-tank founded by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, warned that the Government was ‘sleepwalking into a family breakdown crisis’.
It claimed broken families were costing the taxpayer nearly £50billion a year, through welfare payments for single mothers and the additional strain on the criminal justice system, because the children of lone parents are more likely to end up in court and jail.
The report said fathers who did not live with their children should be given financial incentives to return to the family home.
They should also have the legal right to be named on their child’s birth certificate, it added. Currently, an unmarried father cannot register his name unless the mother of his child agrees.
Dr Callan called for the Prime Minister to ‘back marriage with money’ and double the transferable tax allowance for married couples to £2,000.
Criticising Mr Cameron, she said: ‘Despite his genuine resolve, when it comes to the most pressing family policy priority of improving stability there is very little to show from that rightly ambitious rhetoric.’
The study found that while 62 per cent of 15-year-olds own a smartphone, only 57 per cent live with their fathers.
Tory MP Andrew Selous said: ‘It’s a very alarming and shocking statistic and a call to action to put strengthening family stability much higher up the political agenda.’
The report warned that the number of single-parent families had risen by 20,000 a year between 2010 and 2013.
It said 48 per cent of children aged five and under in the poorest 20 per cent of families were now from broken homes. The CSJ also found more than 1million children had lost contact with their grandparents as a result of separation or divorce.
The CSJ was set up by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who has argued marriage helps to prevent family breakdown
Christian Guy, the CSJ’s director, told The Sunday Times: ‘For too long family breakdown has gone unchallenged despite the devastating impact it has on adults, children and communities.’ Fiona Weir, chief executive of Gingerbread, the charity that supports single parents, said: ‘Most single parents are doing a good job.
‘Government spending should be focused on policies that make a real difference for families of all shapes and sizes.’
The CSJ predicted that by next year there will be 2million single-parent families.
It found that in the poorest neighbourhoods in the UK, three-quarters of families have a lone parent.
The Government will introduce a marriage tax allowance from next year, in an attempt to recognise the importance of the institution. It means that where one person in a marriage does not use their full income tax allowance, currently set at £10,000, they could transfer up to £1,000 to their partner, helping to reduce their tax bill by as much as £200 a year.
However, the CSJ says the Government should go further, and double the £1,000 transferable allowance to £2,000, resulting in a £400 tax benefit.
TheBreakthrough Britain 2015 study found that just 57 per cent of teenage boys were currently living with their father. It predicted that by 2020 almost half of pupils sitting their GCSEs would come from a single parent families.
Children whose parents had separated were significantly more likely to fail at school, have low self esteem, struggle with peer relationships and have behavioural difficulties, anxiety or depression, the report suggested.
“For too long family breakdown in this country has gone unchallenged – despite the devastating impact it has on adults, children and communities,” said Christian Guy, director of the Centre for Social Justice, the think-tank that carried out the study.
Dr Samantha Callan, one of the report’s co-authors, said the “social norm” of having children outside marriage needed to change in order to reverse the growing number of families without fathers.
“There’s a prevailing view in society that when things don’t go well in a relationship, it means the end is near,” she said. “But all relationships come under pressure; you need to have made a commitment like marriage so you know you’re not going to bail.”
The report suggests registry office fees should be scrapped for couples who attend “marriage preparation courses” and that further tax benefits should be available to married couples.
“We’re not talking about bribing people to get married, “ Dr Callan said. “This is a very important cultural issue, there are no silver bullets here. The Government wants to avoid doing things that makes them look like they’re getting involved with people’s personal lives, but this isn’t the nanny state – it’s the canny state.
“Family breakdown is one of the fastest routes into poverty and drawing benefits. Many people can stand alone as a couple but when they split up they find they just can’t do it, which obviously has an impact on children too.”
Family breakdown costs the country £50bn a year through welfare payments and extra strain on the justice system, the authors of the study estimate.
The report also recommends the setting up of “family hubs” to provide relationship support for struggling parents, as well as giving unmarried fathers the right to be named on the birth certificate of their child even if the mother objects.
Glen Poole, the author of Equality For Men, welcomed the report but said that to prevent the rise of “disposable dads” more needed to be done to encourage fathers to stay involved in childcare after separation.
“It’s one thing to try to reduce the number of couples who split up, but you also have to be pragmatic and accept that in some cases, unfortunately, that is going to happen,” he said. “What you have to ask then, is: how do you make it the norm that men stay involved in childcare?”
“In Sweden they have the same separation rate as we do, but separated fathers there are three times as likely to share childcare than separated dads in the UK. It’s because there’s a culture of dads being involved – they have the same parental leave from work and equal rights when it comes to children.”
He added that growing up without a same-sex role model was one of the “major disadvantages” faced by young men when compared to women.
“It’s crucially important that boys have male role models around them,” Poole said. “Even if they’re not positive role models, at least then they can decide for themselves, ‘oh, I don’t want to be like him’.”
David Bartlettof the Fatherhood Institute, a think-tank and charity which promotes children’s relationships with fathers and father figures, agreed that the focus should be on encouraging fathers to share childcare rather than on financial incentives for couples to get or remain married.
“What children need is a close, positive, on-going stable relationship with fathers and father figures,” Bartlett said. “That’s irrespective of whether they are married to or even living in the same household as the mother.
“Medical professionals should talk to new parents about sharing childcare right from the start. We need to make sure both parents are involved at all stages rather than giving people a bit of money to stay married.”
Smith thanks Chairman Menendez, Ranking Member Corker for Marking-Up Bill which prods State Department and provides tools to bring American children home
Washington, Jun 24 | Jeff Sagnip ((202) 225-3765)
The Goldman Act (HR 3212), legislation to help thousands of “left-behind” parents from across the country, was marked-up and approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today, said Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), the author of legislation that passed the House 398-0 in December 2013. The bill would give the State Department a variety of tools to put pressure on foreign governments to send home American children abducted to overseas destinations.
“Followingthe bipartisan, unanimous House passage of HR 3212, The Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act, I have been eager for Senate action and am grateful to both Chairman Menendez and Ranking Member Corker for considering this legislation,” Smith said. “In the four-year push to turn my bill into law, we have seen a sea change in the Congress’ and State Department’s understanding of international parental child abduction—an understanding that these abductions are a form of child abuse and a human rights violation. Winning unanimous passage in the House and garnering the State Department’s support of this legislation has been critical.”
Smith sadly noted that many children and parents have tragically lost years illegally separated. They have missed birthdays, holidays, and family time—that they can never get back, he said. H.R. 3212 ensures that they will now receive significant help from the U.S. government in their fights to recover their children.
“Every day of separation brings immense suffering to abducted children and their left behind parents,” Smith said. “The Goldman Act will mitigate enormous pain and suffering and accelerate the return of abducted children.”
H.R. 3212 is named after David Goldman, of Monmouth County, N.J., who waged a five-year battle to get his son, Sean, back from Brazil in 2009. Ever since he has stayed in the fight on behalf of other less fortunate left behind parents, most of whom haven’t seen their own children in years, testifying repeatedly before congressional committees appealing for help for left behind parents.
Smith has held multiple hearings on the heartbreaking cases of left-behind parents of American children abducted to India, Japan, Egypt, India, Brazil, Russia, England and other countries from which far too few of the thousands of U.S. kids held wrongfully overseas are returned. Not all countries have signed The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the main international treaty to address parental abductions. The Hague provides a civil framework for the quick return of abducted children to their home country, and facilitation of visitation and contact between parents and children during the pendency of the case and after the resolution. Unfortunately, many Hague signatories, like Brazil, fail to consistently enforce the Hague Convention provisions.
More than one thousand international child abductions are reported to the State Department’s Office on Children’s Issues—the Central Authority of the United States—each year. Between 2008 and 2012, 7,000 American children were abducted, according to the State Department.
Among its many provisions, the legislation enumerates eight steps the Administration can take, increasing in severity, when a country refuses to cooperate in the resolution of overseas abduction and access cases involving American children. The bill also urges the Administration to enter into Memorandums of Understanding with non-Hague Convention countries to locate and effectuate the return of abducted children and protect the access of the child to the left behind parent. In order to ensure more robust accountability of the Administration and to warn judges who may allow a child to visit a country where return is difficult, the bill significantly enhances reporting on country by country performance.
Last Friday Fathers’ Rights Ireland held a public stunt outside the Four Courts where they used a medieval pillory to symbolise the legal torture dads can be put through when relationships with their children’s mother turn sour.
Here in Ireland, a father needs to be married in order to get automatic guardianship of his children. When a couple isn’t married, the mother remains the sole legal guardian until the father looks for guardianship.
However, if the mother objects to this, the father must apply to his local district court to be made a guardian.
It’s an all too common scenario now since 33pc of all children born in Ireland are to unmarried parents.
Married men are entitled to guardianship of their kids but this can all change horribly when marriages fall apart.
A father might believe he has rights but then can find that he’s expendable and faced with a horrendous and expensive legal battle on separation. A father has to fight bitterly to get what is automatically awarded to mothers.
And if he doesn’t have the cash, he doesn’t get to see his children. But even fathers who can afford it are stripped of their assets by costly legal battles and then might be told that they can’t have their child to stay overnight because their humble bedsit isn’t suitable.
In more unpleasant separations, a man might be falsely accused of all kinds of physical or sexual violence so that the court case drags on unnecessarily while this is investigated.
Just take a look at the many fathers’ rights websites and you’ll soon see that men today tend to be victims of an unjust system that benefits the mum as opposed to the dad when it comes to children.
In fact, judging by messages left on the websites, false allegations are rampant and our court system separates too many innocent fathers from children.
Family law researcher Roisin O’Shea observed 493 judicial separation and divorce cases in 2010 which are ordinarily held in private.
She didn’t find a single case where the wife was ordered to pay maintenance for children or a spouse and had only seen the courts order joint custody in two cases.
Tina Rayburn, co-author of ‘I Want to See My Kids! A Guide for Dads Who Want Contact with Their Children After Separation’, writes: “Until people acknowledge the current system is flawed and has an overriding female bias, it will be difficult to see anything changing. There are two core problems. I don’t think the courts recognise a child can live happily in two homes and they are loath to take a child away from its mother. There is still a perception that these guys have done something wrong and they don’t deserve to see their children.”
It seems that both women and men are more comfortable aligning themselves with campaigns to help the sisterhood, whereas nobody wants to be seen siding with the brotherhood.
Over the past few decades we have quite rightly been tackling issues like making sure that women have an adequate income after separation and patriarchal abuses like domestic violence. But doesn’t it seem like the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction?
Meanwhile, the father’s rights movement continues to be politically marginalised. But women aren’t the only “natural” caregivers and men can and should play an equal role in raising their children. The horrible injustices suffered by many dads and their children go by without as much as a whisper.
The lack of justice for fathers is one of the biggest social scandals of our time.
We have a legal system that is utterly out of touch with the way we live now in a world where dads change nappies, push buggies and spend hours cuddling their children in exactly the same way that good mothers do.
Monday, 16 June 2014 08:00 | Written By Arshy Mann
The latest attempt to bring the presumption of equal shared parenting to child custody matters in Canada has failed.
Bill C-560, legislation introduced by Saskatchewan Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott, went down to defeat on second reading. The bill would have amended the Divorce Act in a number of ways, most prominently to prescribe that judges should start from an assumption that parents should have equal custody unless giving one side a greater share could demonstrably enhance the best interests of the child.
Brian Ludmer, founding partner of Ludmer Law and co-founder of Lawyers for Shared Parenting, wrote the language in the bill. He was surprised and disappointed the bill didn’t at least make it to the committee stage.
“What were they so afraid of that they couldn’t let it get to committee for further study? You know what they were afraid of in my view? That the committee would say there’s a lot of merit to this. I think this got shut down because they didn’t want to hear a further study and to hear there’s actually merit.”
Equal shared parenting has become a major cause for fathers’ and men’s rights groups internationally. Proposals similar to bill C-560 have surfaced during several parliamentary sessions but have yet to make any headway.
Ludmer points to social science literature, much of it by Edward Kruk, a social work professor at the University of British Columbia, that argues equal shared parenting is in the best interests of children.
“The social science literature tells us that the closer you get to 50/50 and two primary parents, the better the outcomes,” says Ludmer.
Currently, judges try to determine an arrangement that’s in the best interests of the children. Ludmer argues the approach often leads to needless litigation that’s actually bad for children.
“The most unfair criticism of bill C-560 or frankly any similar legislation in any jurisdiction around the world is that it’s about parents’ rights rather than children’s rights. And it’s not. The current system is about parents’ rights.”
John-Paul Boyd, executive director of the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family, believes proponents of equal shared parenting misunderstand the reasons custody arrangements often end up favouring one parent over another.
“If the parent who has not been the stay-at-home parent is still working full time, why on earth would you arrange a 50/50 set of parenting arrangements?”
And while he agrees there are some studies that show an equal parenting arrangement is best for children, there are also a large number of reports that come to different conclusions.
“In fact, if there is any consensus in the literature, the consensus tends to gather around the idea that there is no particular parenting arrangement which is presumptively best for all children,” says Boyd.
While Boyd is against a presumption of equal shared parenting, he thinks it’s wrong for a judge to impose any sort of presumption.
“The only issue I have is that there should be a presumption about any kind of parenting arrangements, whether it’s shared parenting or some sort of primary-caregiver-plus-weekend-parent kind of thing. Both of those presumptions are wrong-headed.”
Many people involved with the fathers’ rights movement argue that since a significantly greater number of women receive a larger share of custody in separation cases between heterosexual couples, the courts have a bias against men. Boyd, however, argues the disparity reflects the fact that women, for a variety of economic and social reasons, tend to be the primary caregiver before separation. Courts simply maintain that.
“After all, the status quo is an arrangement that the parents themselves agreed to. They together made the economic and social decision that this particular parent would be the parent staying at home caring for the children,” he says.
“And so the judge makes an order carrying on the status quo on the basis that this is the arrangement that the child is used to, but also just from a purely logical perspective, this is what the parents themselves had agreed to.”
Boyd argues there are many reasons women tend to be the primary caregiver before separation. For example, women on average tend to earn less than men and, as a result, are more likely to leave their jobs or take on part-time work.
Another reason women become the primary caregiver, according to Boyd, is mothers have the ability to breastfeed, something many families want to do for their children. But Boyd says that even without these two realities, women still end up with most of the childcare work.
“Even if you were able to strip away the economic part of it and biological part of it, there’s still the sociological expectation that we continue to be acculturated with, this idea that moms are the perpetual caregivers and the idea that dads work outside the home,” he says.
Another aspect of the bill that worried Boyd was that it would have retroactively applied to all divorce orders made in the past.
“You can imagine the tidal wave of annoyed people flooding into court saying this is what should apply to me,” he says.
He didn’t oppose all aspects of the bill.
“One of the good parts was finally overhauling the antiquated and adversarial language with which we talk about the care of children, which is custody and access, which of course places the locus of the right in the hands of the parents rather than the hands of the children,” he says.
Bill-560 would have changed that language to instead talk about parenting time and parental responsibilities.
Ludmer maintains that in addition to providing better outcomes for children, the bill would have had the added benefit of clearing up some of the backlog in the family courts.
He argues other proposals, such as funding more mediation or making it mandatory, have failed to fix the problem.
For “the types of people who don’t settle their own affairs with the assistance of lawyers, mediation was always available,” he says.
“They’re not the type of people who are going to settle because you have mandatory mediation.”
And Ludmer argues that collaborative law ultimately fails because even collaborative lawyers ultimately have to follow their client’s instructions.
“And these types of people, the people that are so intent on marginalizing the other parent, they don’t hire collaborative lawyers in the first place. They hire lawyers who are going to fight this case and win this case for them,” he says.
Instead, Ludmer sees equal shared parenting as the only long-term solution to the problem.
“The answer is you need a default position to make it more difficult to litigate,” he says.
“And then guess what happens? Then the backlog gets cleared up, and suddenly you’ve got court time available for the cases that really need it, the troublesome situations.”
Although currently only the Green Party of Canada supports equal shared parenting, Ludmer is adamant.
“We’re not dissuaded; it is the only answer,” he says.
“We’ll keep going and hopefully it will become an election issue for the benefit of children.”
DR. AMY BAKER: PARENTAL ALIENATION IS CHILD ABUSE
Psychology Today has finally wised up. Not long ago the magazine ran a truly scurrilous article by Paula Caplan that was supposedly about Parental Alienation Syndrome, but simply recycled a few old and utterly meritless claims. Those claims are routinely made by anti-father advocates who fear that PAS may deprive mothers of custody. Of course that’s correct; any parent – mother or father who engages in parental alienation deserves to lose custody. Put simply, parental alienation is child abuse. The Caplan article in Psychology Today frankly described PAS as a theory that fathers use to take children from mothers. The fact that that is simply untrue (PAS supporters have said for years that alienators can be male or female) detered Caplan not in the least. Nor did the fact that the science she cited is long outdated and at least one of the authors has since disavowed the work Caplan relied on. Now comes Dr. Amy Baker here to give readers facts on parental alienation and give Psychology Today at least a figleaf of respectability on the subject of PAS (Psychology Today, 6/28/11).
Parental alienation is a set of strategies that parents use to undermine and interfere with a child’s relationship with his or her other parent. This often but not always happens when parents are engaged in a contested custody battle. There is no one definitive set of behaviors that constitute parental alienation but research with both parents and children has revealed a core set of alienation strategies, including bad-mouthing the other parent, limiting contact with that parent, erasing the other parent from the life and mind of the child (forbidding discussion and pictures of the other parent), forcing the child to reject the other parent, creating the impression that the other parent is dangerous, forcing the child to choose, and belittling and limiting contact with the extended family of the targeted parent.
Notice that Baker nowhere uses a masculine or feminine pronoun. For Caplan’s information, that’s because both sexes engage in the behavior Baker describes. Baker describes parental alienation of children as child abuse.
Parents who try to alienate their child from his or her other parent convey a three-part message to the child: (1) I am the only parent who loves you and you need me to feel good about yourself, (2) the other parent is dangerous and unavailable, and (3) pursuing a relationship with that parent jeopardizes your relationship with me. In essence the child receives the message that s/he is worthless and unloved and only of value for meeting the needs of others. This is the core experience of psychological maltreatment (emotional abuse) as defined by the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC).
Most importantly, children who succumb to alienation by a parent are often scarred for life because of it. When a parent exerts pressure on a child to reject the other parent, sometimes the child may do so in order to maintain a relationship with the alienating parent. In effect, the child turns away from the target parent to please the alienator. The results often extend far into adulthood.
Research with “adult children” of parental alienation syndrome (that is, adults who believe that when they were children one parent turned them against the other parent) confirms that being exposed to parental alienation represents a form of emotional abuse. Furthermore, these adults reported that when they succumbed to the pressure and rejected one parent to please the other, the experience was associated with several negative long-term effects including depression, drug abuse, divorce, low self-esteem, problems with trusting, and alienation from their own children when they became parents themselves. In this way the cycle of parental alienation was carried forward through the generations. Thus, parental alienation is a form of emotional abuse that damages the child’s self esteem in the short run and is associated with life-long damage.
Finally, Baker makes clear that in court, parental alienation can look like nothing more than the child’s passionate preference for one parent. That of course is the whole point of the exercise. When child custody is involved, what better strategy could there be than to convince the child that his/her well-being depends on remaining with the alienator and rejecting the target parent? That drama plays well in court and custody evaluators need to be trained and aware of the distinction between a child’s rejection of a bad parent and his/her rejection of an alienated one.
As is often true with other forms of abuse, the child victims of parental alienation are not aware that they are being mistreated and often cling vehemently to the favored parent, even when that parent’s behavior is harmful to them. This is why, mental health and legal professionals involved in cases of parental alienation need to look closely at the family dynamics and determine what the cause of the child’s preferences for one parent and rejection of the other parent are. If the favored parent is found to be instigating the alignment and the rejected parent is found to be a potential positive and non abusive influence, then the child’s preferences should not be strictly heeded. The truth is, despite strongly held positions of alignment, inside many alienated children want nothing more than to be given permission and freedom to love and be loved by both parents.
Child custody law is riddled with falsities and misconceptions. Parental alienation and PAS are prime examples of those very things. It is beyond astonishing that publications and social scientists would, for the sole sake of attacking fathers and their relationships with their children, engage in the type of blatant intellectual dishonesty that we see routinely regarding parental alienation. As Dr. Baker says, it’s child abuse. Why are they defending abusers? Whatever the answer to that question is, Amy Baker has been and will continue to be a staunch advocate of sound science. When it comes to PAS (I couldn’t resist the pun) that means we’ll continue to learn more and more about alienation and its effects on kids. And courts will continue to listen over the din of the anti-dad crowd that more and more reveals itself to be anti-science as well.
A shocking exposé of the inner workings of the $50 billion a year U.S. family law industry, Divorce Corp shines a bright light on the appalling waste, and shameless collusive practices seen daily in family courts. It is a stunning documentary film that anyone considering marriage or divorce must see.
DON’T BE LEFT IN THE DARK ABOUT DIVORCE.
Nearly every household in America is affected by Divorce and sadly too many families fall victim to divorce court. Whatever the causes or reasons for divorce it’s vital to have all the information. Here we provide a user friendly resource for navigating the complex US family law system.
Find Divorce statistics, divorce how to’s, divorce self-help and essential information on child custody, child support, alimony/spousal support, custody evaluators, divorce lawyers, divorce reform and much, much more. Search for a divorce topic or browse the blog entries below.
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Leading Women for Shared Parenting was founded to dispel the widespread myth that it is only – or even mainly – disgruntled fathers with limited access to their children who promote equal shared parenting as the default model for separating parents.
That is simply not the truth.
Polls in the United States, Canada and other western countries consistently demonstrate overwhelming support in the general population for equally shared parenting. Both fair-minded men and women across all social and cultural lines understand that mothers and fathers are equally important in the lives of their children.
For some years a number of prominent women in media and politics have been championing this issue in the public forum of ideas and in policy-making circles. Eventually they sought a common platform from which they could bring their support for equal shared parenting to effective attention and positive legislative action.
Thus LW4SP came into being, with more than 150 influential women lending their names in support of the equal shared parenting principle.
LW4SP is made of up Leading Woman from all walks of life including prominent authors, activists, researchers, academics, advocates, domestic violence experts, columnists, therapists, legislators, attorneys, PTA Presidents and more. Most importantly however, LW4SP has a highly engaged membership, comprised of over two-thirds Women, who are determined to change Family Law in the most crucial way; to benefit the well-being of Children. Our organization is assisted by a group of passionate volunteers whose tireless efforts make all the difference.
Click on the link below to listen to Jill Egizii (of Family Matters) talk with 4 women who are involved with Leading Women for Shared Parenting (LW4SP). These 4 women share their stories about why they got involved with LW4SP.
Japan and Morocco are quite similar in some ways. Morroco took some steps recently to become a Hague signatory. It would be wise if Japan followed their lead. Of the 146,408 divorces in Japan in 2009, only 3.6% involved both parents taking part in child rearing. Japan’s system seems to favor sole-custody, but Morocco had a very similar system that valued one parent, usually the mother, under Shari’a law. Although Morocco allowed the father to make important decisions about the child, such as where the mother and child could live and whether the child could travel abroad, all decisions regarding daily functions and routine care were left to the mother, essentially creating a sole custody system, similar to that of Japan. Both systems included matrifocal tendencies. While Japan’s Civil Code typically breaks custody into shinken and kangoken, the Moroccan Code of Personal Status similarly divides custody into hadana and wilaya. Morocco successfully uprooted its custody system and allowed joint responsibility to be established among parents, as one parent was given hadana and the other wilaya. In Japan, the same ideology should be adopted. Instead of granting one parent parental rights and physical custody, efforts should be made to grant shinken to one parent and kangoken to the other to allow for increased responsibility for both parents and bring about an understanding of joint custody.
Second, Japanese courts, or the Japanese Diet, need to establish visita- tion as a fundamental right. One of the key reforms Morocco made to join the Hague Convention was to establish visitation rights. However, these rights were already inherent within the Moroccan system as such meas- ures were implied when Moroccan mothers were prohibited from moving away from the father so that the father could have access to the child. Similarly, in Japan, an understanding of the psychological benefits of visitation on the child is already taking root. Courts have even granted visitation rights in some cases, but have made the rights extremely limited. It is time for Japan to push this notion and make visitation rights funda- mental within the constitutional system.
Third, Japan needs to dissolve its current registration system, or at the very least, modify the system. Allowing a child to be taken off a father’s register when a mother changes her name after divorce, resulting in the loss of parental rights for the father, is abhorrent. The registration system should be discarded completely or altered so that the child’s name will remain under both parents’ registers, regardless of the marital status of the parents. Such changes will bring Japan one step closer psychologically to joint parental responsibility.
Fourth, in order to comply with the Hague Convention, services must be available to ensure the return of children to their habitual place of residence. Like Morocco, Japan should implement law enforcement mechanisms to find abducted children and return the children safely. Fortunately Article 226 of the Japanese Penal Code is already in effect to return abducted children. The Japanese government needs to force Japanese law enforcement officers to comply with Article 226 to ensure abducted children are returned home.
Lastly, before signing the Hague Convention, Morocco entered into specific bilateral agreements to resolve familial disputes with neighboring countries to promote collaboration and global cooperation. In an effort to ease global tension, Japan would be strongly urged to do the same with the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Canada, as these four countries have repeatedly called on Japan to increase efforts to prevent parental abduction.
February 22, 2013 Japan PM Abe Promises Hague Accession, but Leaves Kidnapped U.S. Children Held in Japan
WASHINGTON, D.C.–Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has arrived in Washington
for a four-day summit with President Obama, bearing yet another promise that Japan will
accede to the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction. For 30 years,
Japanese officials have said they have been “studying the Hague”. While Japan
studied, one FBI agent estimated in 2009 that 20,000 American children have been
kidnapped from U.S. soil and taken to Japan. Even if Japan finally fulfills its public
promises to sign the Hague, the Treaty will only represent a prevention framework for
future cases. There has been no mention of remedy for, and the Hague will not apply
retroactively to existing cases. In spite of intensely negative press, Congressional
legislation, and several joint demarches in recent years by 10 or more countries
condemning Japan’s apparent policy of state-sanctioned kidnapping, Japan has not yet
acted to remedy any of the long record of existing criminal abductions, or prevent future
abductions of children by its nationals.
Per capita and in real numbers, Japan, a G7 nation, owns the ignominious ranking of #2
in the world in the crime of international child kidnapping, behind Mexico and ahead of
India. Unlike the developing countries of Somalia, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, Japan has
never returned a kidnapped child to the U.S. or any other country, through direct legal
or diplomatic means. Over the same 30 years, the only American child ever returned
from an illegal kidnapping to Japan, is Wisconsin native Karina Garcia. Today, Japan’s
Ministry of Foreign Affairs continues efforts to subvert the U.S. law and jurisdiction
governing Karina’s custody. Both U.S. and Japanese courts had previously awarded full
custody to her father, Dr. Moises Garcia.
American parents of children kidnapped from the U.S. to Japan believe there is much
Japan must rectify. In U.S.-to-Japan child kidnappings, Japanese nationals intentionally
broke the law in America and directly defied, with pre-meditation and malice, U.S. court
custody and passport surrender orders, issued under proper U.S. jurisdiction. The
abductors frequently enlisted the assistance of organized crime elements in the
planning and execution of the crimes. Worse, MOFA officials in Japan’s U.S.
Consulates encourage law breaking on their own websites and assist in the crimes
through dubious and unilateral issuance of Japanese passports for U.S. citizen children,
who at the time of their kidnappings were not also citizens of Japan. Upon the
kidnappers’ arrival in Japan at the conclusion of the crimes, the Japanese government
unlawfully claims jurisdiction over the children. When American parents fight back by
seeking the help of the U.S. government, Japan’s government counters by employing
well-paid American lobbyists, lawyers, and agents to lobby Congress and work against
legislation intended to assist the kidnapped American children and U.S. law
enforcement. Routinely, and with no supporting evidence, Japanese officials or
affiliated spokespersons falsely claim that Japanese parents kidnapped the children to
flee abuse, a charge that U.S. parents find deeply offensive, libelous, and damaging to
the children. Global Future condemns all perpetrators of violence and abuse in the
home, regardless of their gender, nationality, or race.
The Japanese government’s apparent endorsement of this set of belligerent actions
reflects poorly on Japan’s image worldwide. Abe, by visiting the U.S., is now in
position to answer for it. Japan’s record of stripping defenseless American children of
their U.S. Constitutional rights raises serious questions about Japan’s true intentions
and worthiness as an ally. When one of our best allies subverts our sovereignty, aids
and abets in the criminal kidnapping and illegal retention of defenseless American
children, outrageously claims jurisdiction over the children after the unlawful acts,
causes lifelong damage to the children and then alienates them by smearing their
parents with false accusations, and employs paid agents to run interference against the
American children and their parents, how much can this supposed ally really be trusted
in any subject of mutual interest? Where is the reciprocity, shared values, and mutual
respect for the rule of law?
Time is the enemy of all of these children. Wrongfully held children in Japan just grow
older and more alienated from their American families, society, culture, and their US civil
and constitutional rights. These mixed race children represent the future of the U.S.-
Japan alliance. They represent the best bridges between our two countries, societies,
and cultures. They need to be protected, cherished, and allowed to thrive. Forcibly
separated from one half of their families, restricted from one parent’s love, care,
guidance, and protection, and brainwashed against them, these children are destined to
Recent events in the China Sea, and in North Korea call us to consider how we will fulfill
our obligations in the alliance on behalf of Japan. Should we really send our service men
and women into harm’s way to protect Japan from Chinese or North Korean threats, if
we can’t trust Japan to rectify the kidnappings of American children for which it is
Through his work on the issue of the abduction of Japanese by North Korea while a
cabinet official under then-Prime Minister Koizumi, Abe knows very well the
devastating effects of abduction. He also knows that North Korea returned surviving
abduction victims to Japan. Abe could likewise rectify the criminal and destructive
behavior of Japanese nationals by returning the kidnapped children to the U.S. and
allowing them to have both parents again, as both parents originally agreed to before
U.S. judges, in U.S. courts of law. We hope Abe will see the long-term benefit to the
alliance of returning the kidnapped children to U.S. He can make a concrete offer to
Obama now regarding open abduction cases, while staying on course to accede to the
Hague. By doing so, he will deepen the alliance, on a basis of mutual respect, trust,
shared values, and family connections.
P.O. Box 861892 Los Angeles, CA 90086 Phone: (213) 392-5872
Global Future advocates for every child’s right to two loving parents.
Contact: Patrick Braden, (213) 392-5872 Global.Future@yahoo.com
Scott Sawyer, (323) 877-9185 firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Garcia`s daughter was returned to him (from Japan) in December of 2011. It was a wonderful Christmas present for him. Univision just released a story about Garcia`s fight to get his daughter back. His is the only case of a child being returned (from Japan) through legal means to the country of habitual residence. Click on the link to watch the story (in Spanish).
In this undated photo, U.S. army sergeant Jeffrey Chafin poses with daughter Eris. (Courtesy of Jeffrey Chafin)
An Army dad whose wife left him and took their daughter to Scotland gained new hope when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the American courts can assert themselves in international custody battles.
In a 9-0 vote that overturned an appeals court decision denying Sgt. Jeffrey Chafin’s bid to get daughter Eris back, the high court rejected the idea that Chafin’s appeal was “moot” because the six-year-old girl had been in Scotland for more than a year. The justices sent the case back to the Florida-based 11th Circuit court, telling the judges there to rule on the merits.
“Such return does not render this case moot; there is a live dispute between the parties over where their child will be raised, and there is a possibility of effectual relief for the prevailing parent,” Chief Justice John Roberts said in the written ruling. “The courts below therefore continue to have jurisdiction to adjudicate the merits of the parties’ respective claims.”
“When you have been done wrong and you’ve been screaming and finally someone hears you. It’s a very good feeling.”
– Jeffrey Chafin
An ecstatic Chafin, who met Lynn Chafin while he was stationed in Germany, but later saw their marriage sour back in the U.S., said he is ready to resume the fight for custody of Eris.
“I’m still in the cloud,” Jeffrey Chafin told FoxNews.com. “When you have been done wrong and you’ve been screaming and finally someone hears you. It’s a very good feeling.
“Now we have a fighting chance.”
Chafin and his attorney said it was frustrating to not get the chance to make their case before the lower court.
“We didn’t have a day in court,” attorney Michael Manely said. “Now the 11th circuit will have to look at the facts of this case. I think the appeals court will look at the facts and see that something doesn’t match up here. This soldier needs the opportunity to have his case heard.”
Roberts said U.S. courts have a role to play, even if Lynn Chafin refuses to cooperate.
“Even if Scotland were to ignore a U.S. re-return order, or decline to assist in enforcing it, this case would not be moot,” he said. “The U.S. courts continue to have personal jurisdiction over Ms. Chafin, may command her to take action even outside the United States, and may back up any such command with sanctions … Enforcement of the order may be uncertain if Ms. Chafin chooses to defy it, but such uncertainty does not typically render cases moot.”
The couple married in 2006 and Eris was born a year later. They were living in Germany where Jeffrey was stationed until he was deployed to Afghanistan. Lynne and their daughter had moved to Scotland until Jeffrey was transferred to Alabama in 2009. He was joined by his family the following year, but the couple divorced in 2010 and Lynne was deported a year later.
Chafin’s case is the latest high-profile custody battle involving a U.S. father and a mother who whisked their child away overseas.
In 2008, Iraq War veteran Michael Elias was separated from his 4-year-old daughter, Jade, and 2-year-old son, Michael, when his wife illegally took the children from their New Jersey home back to her native Japan. Elias lost all rights to see his children or have them return stateside due to Japan’s government not signing and abiding by the Hague Convention, which includes regulations on the civil aspects of international child abduction.
In 2004, then 4-year-old Sean Goldman of New Jersey, went with his mother Bruna Bianchi back to her native Brazil for a two-week-vacation. When she did not return , a custody battle began between Bianchi and Sean’s father David Goldman. Bianchi remarried in Brazil in 2007, but died a year later while giving birth. Her new husband was granted a custody order by the Brazilian court, but Goldman won custody of the boy in December 2009.
New York City photographer Michael McCarty has fought since 2007 for custody of his son Liam, after his ex-wife took the boy to her native Italy. Despite Liam’s mother, Manuela Antonelli, being declared unfit to care for her child and McCarty having been given full legal custody, child services officials in Italy have refused to give McCarty his son back.
<Our Aim> We are a non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Tokyo. We support Japanese-Filipino Children (JFC) who are born to Filipino mothers and Japanese fathers. The numbers of Filipino women who come to Japan for working have increased since 1980’s. Many of them met Japanese men and the numbers of children between Filipino women and Japanese men have increased as well. Some of those children are in difficulty because of lack of supports from their father. Although they have different circumstances, one thing common among those children is that they had lost communication and necessary support from their fathers. We accept cases from those mothers and caregivers of such JFC both at Tokyo office and Maligaya House, our branch office in Manila.
1)Para-legal assistance for the Paternal Recognition, Child Support, acquisition of Japanese Nationality, mediation/law suit for divorce, Special Permission of Residence, etc.
3)Japanese lesson for JFC mother
4)Tutorial services for JFC
5)Study tour to the Philippines
6)Publishing of quarterly newsletter “Maligaya”
15 minutes from Shinjuku Station (JR line)
Manila Branch (Maligaya House)
<Establishment> 1998 January
1)Case registration and management
2)Psycho-social workshops for JFC and mothers/carcgivers
3)Japanese Lesson for JFC
Metro Manila, Philippines
TEL/FAX: (63-2) 913-8913