Huge Victory for Jason Patric, Declared Legal Parent

Posted on November 4, 2014. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation | Tags: , , , |

Jason Patric just won a 2-year legal battle against his baby mama — a judge just declared he is the legal father of 4-year-old Gus … TMZ has learned.

Jason had a baby with ex-GF Danielle Schreiber, and after breaking up, going back and breaking up again, she fought hard against his bid to become the legal father, citing a quirky law.

According to the law … if a man donates sperm to a woman to whom he is not married and a doctor facilitates the insemination … the man has NO claim of custody or parental rights.

The trial judge ruled against Jason, he appealed and the appellate court said the trial judge was off base and sent it back for another hearing.

The second time was a charm for Jason. We’ve learned the trial judge just issued a sealed, 45-page opinion, concluding Jason is the legal father.

The judge ordered Jason, Danielle and their lawyers to try and hash out a custody, visitation and support agreement, but if they can’t the judge will make the decisions.

This case became a rallying cry for father’s rights — enormous victory for Jason.

Read more: http://www.tmz.com/2014/11/03/jason-patric-legal-parent-father-court-baby-mama/#ixzz3I5qhpYbi

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In Japan, Child-Abusing Parents Retain Parental Rights

Posted on August 13, 2012. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death, Human Rights | Tags: , , |

By   /   August 6, 2012  /

Several facts stood out to me from the recent report on the record-high number of child abuse cases in Japan in 2010. One was that in the previous three months, only seven petitions to temporarily suspend parental rights were presented to the court. And of those, only one was granted. Realize that these were not petitions to end parental rights, just to suspend them for up to two years.

 

It is extremely difficult to terminate parental rights against the will of the parents in Japan. For example, in 2007, out of 40,639 cases of child abuse handled by Child Welfare, staff members appealed to the family court for termination of parental rights in only four cases, and only one case was approved.1 This is the norm. As a college professor said ironically, “It is easier for judges to give someone the death penalty than for them to forcibly sever parental rights in Japan.”

Secondly, over 84% of the 51 children who died due to child abuse were age three or under; most were under age one. I have been watching a situation up close that almost contributed to this statistic. In 2010, a father, the boyfriend of someone I know, almost killed his son, who was about one year old at the time. That child remains in the child orphanage system almost a year later. The father’s rights have not been severed, nor has he been charged with a crime. The child is in limbo where he may remain until he is 18 years of age.2

Of course, there is no reason to work to sever the father’s rights if the goal of the government is just to keep the child safe in an orphanage . The primary reason that parental rights would need to be severed is so that the child could get adopted. Sadly, that is not the goal. And especially in cases where the child is still so young, how much more sense it would make to push as quickly as possible to a clear conclusion for the good of the child.

As it is, though the government doesn’t sever parental rights, the parents in abuse cases can be legally deprived of their child for long periods of time. The main right they retain is to keep the child from going to a loving family. By bringing the case to a clear conclusion as soon as possible, perhaps extended family members would step up and offer to become legal guardians. Or maybe mothers would get serious about leaving abusive husbands/boyfriends to keep their parental rights. The way things are, children are left waiting while the wheels of the system grind slowly and their childhood slips away.

I asked my professor friend why Japan prefers this approach. A gross oversimplification of what he said is that Japan had long been a theocracy with the Emperor as father/god, and the Japanese as children. Families were/are also considered small theocracies where the parents have the divine right to do whatever is necessary to keep the family under control. Thus, the system works in favor of the parents, and he said parental rights are very unlikely to be severed more often in the future.

Another way to understand this and other things in Japan is to recognize the value placed on form over substance. Keeping parental rights in tack and placing children in orphanages protects the form of the blood-line family. Cutting parental rights and adopting children to unrelated parents wrecks the form and makes the situation “abnormal.” The substance of family love and life-long support is not the main consideration.

An issue that often comes up when discussing orphanages and/or adoption here is the idea of taking responsibility. Parents must be made to take responsibility for their children at some level even if it hurts the children. I was not surprised to read that many of the 2010 abuse cases involved teenage mothers who didn’t know how to take care of their babies and had been ostracized by their local communities (Japan Today, 7/27/2012). Since these mothers didn’t do the responsible thing and get an abortion, they must be made to suffer the consequences. Probably no one around them suggested they choose adoption because that is considered “irresponsible.”

The truth is that unless Japan can wholeheartedly embrace adoption and foster care, there is nothing to do but continue placing abused children in the ever-expanding orphanage system where they are likely to be abused again. The unwillingness to cut parental rights is undergirded by the same thinking that leads to an aversion to adoption.

As I’ve written elsewhere, the government is beginning to promote adopting out newborns before they enter the system, so there is some hope. Of course, the women in those cases voluntarily give up their rights. That process began when a brave government worker started asking pregnant women in distress if they were interested in adoption.

I think the government should at least ask this same question to parents of young, abused children. Reluctant parents can be strongly encouraged by offers to drop criminal charges or reduce sentences, though bringing charges against abusive parents seems to be another weakness of the current system. It may be that especially young, single mothers of abused babies would quickly agree if only someone would ask and encourage them.

Stopping the abuse would, of course, be best, and I applaud the government’s call for more consultation services for at-risk pregnant women. But given the many adults who were themselves abused as children, the likelihood of a continued cycle of abuse is pretty high. I hope Japan will stop the cycle whenever possible by not only getting children away from abusive parents but by also getting them into loving families.

1. Sachiko Bamba and Wendy L. Haight, Child Welfare and Development: A Japanese Case Study (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 180-81.

2. The government workers involved in this case have done a good job protecting this child. Without being able to forcibly cut parental rights, there’s not much else they can do.

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Pentagon to support bill to protect troops’ child custody rights

Posted on February 18, 2011. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation, Divorce | Tags: , , , , , |

By Charlie Reed

Stars and Stripes
Published: February 17, 2011

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – In an about-face, the Pentagon now supports the idea of federal legislation to better protect troops’ child custody rights.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates confirmed the move Wednesday during a Defense Department budget hearing with the House Armed Services Committee. He said the Pentagon would begin working with Congress immediately to help craft a bill to ensure servicemembers are not unduly penalized in child custody disputes because of their military service.

In a letter Tuesday to Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, a member of the armed services committee, Gates wrote, “The Defense Department has been officially opposed to federal legislation on this matter. However, I have been giving this matter a lot of thought and we should change our position.” Turner has sponsored such legislation since 2006 but has been unable to overcome opposition in the Senate.

“You should know that this view is not widely shared within the legal community,” Gates wrote, “but I am convinced that the benefits outweigh the concerns.”

Turner said the Gates’ endorsement would eliminate much of the Senate’s resistance to the idea behind his failed Service Members Family Protection Act.

It sought to prohibit family court judges from using deployments against troops when determining custody and prevent permanent changes to custody orders while troops are deployed.

Turner said he aims to preserve those pillars of his original legislation while working out the details of a new bill with Pentagon officials.

Turner said he hopes a new bill can reach a vote in Congress within the next few months.

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“Our men and women in uniform should not have to worry about losing their children while they defend us overseas,” Turner said Wednesday.

Because most family court proceeding are not public, tracking how many divorced troops have been denied custody of their children based on their deployments is impossible.

However, the media continues to report on such cases; in the fall Oprah Winfrey interviewed on her show several female servicemembers involved in custody battles related to their military service.

The growing media attention likely helped influence Gates’ decision to support a national standard of protection for servicemembers in child custody cases against the advice of his Pentagon advisors, Turner said.

Before the change in stance, the Pentagon had been working to help pass individual state laws with the objectives similar to Turner’s proposed legislation through the Defense State Liaison Office. To date, 13 states have few or no state laws safeguarding troops’ custody rights, 21 have some laws on the book and 16 have met the DOD’s desired level of protections — a standard based on a points system for different measures such as not holding a deployment against a parent when determining custody.

Col. John Odom, who tracks child custody issues at the Pentagon, told Stars and Stripes in May that federal legislation would only complicate family law, which is typically decided and enforced in state courts, where few matters are simple.

But Turner contends a federal law is necessary because of the differences in state laws and the mobile military lifestyle. When a servicemember is an official resident of one state, gets divorced in another and then enters custody proceedings after having moved to yet another state or even out of the country, determining jurisdiction can be difficult.

A federal custody protection for troops would create a baseline of protection in U.S. courts, no matter where they were assigned, Turner said.

Gates change of heart “is incredible news because we now have an ally that was previously our biggest force of opposition,” Turner said. “Gates has 1,001 things to do, I’m just glad he did this one.”

reedc@pstripes.osd.mil

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Video’s of British fathers who can’t see their kids

Posted on January 31, 2011. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Two British father’s are fighting to see their kids. Alex and his kids live in Japan but his ex has prevented him from seeing them. Shane lives in Britain and his kids went to Japan with their mother to visit a sick relative. They never came back and Shane has no contact with his kids. Click on the links below to watch the BBC videos.

Alex Kahney

Shane Clarke

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Every child has certain enalienable rights (video)

Posted on January 25, 2011. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation, Divorce, Video | Tags: , , , |

Every child is suppose to have certain rights that are guaranteed. If you are divorced or separated from your child I think you can understand. Sometimes those rights are not guaranteed.

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Parents plea for an end to child abduction in Japan (video)

Posted on January 22, 2011. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

CNN and several other new agencies covered the Left Behind Parents demo in Tokyo on January 16th, 2011. The following is part of an article written by CNN.

“Stop parental child abduction,” the parents cried. “Sign the Hague Convention.”

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Abduction is a multilateral treaty that dates to 1983. It often comes into play when parents divorce, and one parent takes the child back to his or her home country, keeping the child away from the other parent who may have partial or full custody. The treaty effectively forces signatory nations to recognize that custody.

Dozens of countries have signed onto it — the official website lists 84 “contracting states” to the convention — but Japan is not among them.

Calls for Japan to sign the convention have increased as heartbreaking stories have come to light.

But some critics say Japan joining the convention would not solve cases of international parental abductions. They argue Japan’s domestic legal system needs to be improved and prepared for the increasing numbers of marriages between Japanese people and foreign nationals. To read the full article or watch the video click on the link(s) below.

Stop the abductions now

Joint Custody video

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Tokyo Left Behind Parents Demo on Jan. 16th

Posted on January 22, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Hague Convention, Japanese Family Law, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , |

A group of left behind parents met in Tokyo on a cold winter day to protest and speak about child abduction and the need for Japan to change it’s outdated Family Law. Parents want more access to their children. Parents want joint custody like all of the other G-7 countries have. Children have the right to see and love both parents. Under Japanese law only one parent has custody after divorce and the other parent often loses custody and contact with the child. Left Behind Parents gave speeches and marched down the street in Shibuya. This was an excellent turnout for such a cold day. About 80 parents and concerned citizens showed up to raise awareness about child abduction. The children are the foundation of the future. Click on the link to view a 3 minute video of the demo.

Tokyo Left Behind Parents Demo

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When Families Break-up

Posted on January 20, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Japanese Family Law | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

WHEN FAMILIES BREAK UP / Divorced parents fighting for right to see own children

The Yomiuri Shimbun

We live in a time when divorce has become commonplace. In Japan, a couple gets divorced every two minutes. Consequently, the number of divorced parents filing requests with the courts for visitation rights is increasing.

There is also a growing number of conflicts resulting from breakups of couples from different countries. Due to differences in interpretation regarding child custody, parents have been accused of abducting their own children and taking them to another country.

As families and people’s values diversify, certain problems have become difficult to resolve under the existing system.

Starting today, we will look at some of the problems divorced parents face as they struggle to win the right to see their children.

After separating from her husband five years ago, a 51-year-old woman in Tokyo began a long struggle to see her 15-year-old son.

The woman, a temporary worker, has only been able to see her son twice in the five years that have passed. The meetings, held in a court and in the presence of a court personnel, totaled just 95 minutes.

On both occasions when the woman saw her son, she was unable to stop tears welling up.

“My son, who is taking piano lessons, put his hand on mine to compare the size,” she said. “As I saw him staring at me while talking, I felt we were deeply bound inside.”

Desperately wishing to see her son more often, in July 2007 she applied to the family court for mediation on the issue of visitation rights.

However, the woman’s former husband initially resisted all requests to allow her to visit her son, citing the boy’s need to focus on his schooling, including preparing to move up to the next grade.

As part of the mediation process, in which a voluntary settlement is sought with the help of commissioners, the court initially set up two short meetings between the woman and her son as a way of determining the format future meetings should take.

The two met for 50 minutes in March 2008 and 45 minutes in April 2009.

“My son remembered the meeting we had a year earlier,” the woman said.

While the court advised that the woman be allowed to visit her son every two months, the couple failed to reach an agreement. As a result, the mediation process moved to the next stage, which will see a final decision issued by a judge.

“I’m so worried that I might never be allowed to see my son again,” she said.

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Children caught up in disputes

The number of divorces nationwide reached 250,000 in 2008, according to a Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry survey. Of those divorced couples, 140,000 had children aged under 20, which numbered more than 240,000.

The rising number of divorced couples is accompanied by an increasing number of conflicts involving children.

According to an annual survey compiled by the Supreme Court, family courts across the country mediated in 6,261 cases concerning disputes over meetings between divorced parents and their children and judges were forced to deliver a final decision in 1,020 of those cases. Both figures were triple the numbers a decade ago.

Even through such court-mediated procedures, only half of the parents involved in the cases won permission to see their children.

In addition, regardless of an agreement or court order reached on visitation, if the parent who lives with the child strongly resists allowing meetings, it remains difficult for the other parent to see the child.

===

Maintaining contact important

Several years ago, a 40-year-old man from Kanagawa Prefecture seeking the right to see his then 1-year-old son applied for court mediation.

He had helped his wife take care of the baby, feeding him milk and changing his diapers at night. On his days off, he took the boy to a park to play. “I had no inkling I’d be prevented from meeting my son after the divorce,” he said. “But I was completely wrong.”

He said that even after the official mediation procedure started, his former wife maintained she would never allow him to see their son. She even pushed back the scheduled date for the mediation. Time passed and no decisions were made.

Desperate to see his son, the man even visited the neighborhood where the boy lived with his mother.

The former couple failed to reach a compromise through the court-led mediation process and began proceedings that would lead to a decision by a judge. Two years later, the court concluded that the man should be allowed to see his son once a month, for half a day. Nevertheless, the former wife broke the appointment set for the first meeting, leaving the man unable to see the boy.

After repeated negotiations with the woman through lawyers, he finally managed to ensure he could regularly see his son. “I believe it’s important for children’s growth to maintain a relationship with both parents,” the father said. “I think adults shouldn’t deprive their children of this right due to selfishness.”

Waseda University Prof. Masayuki Tanamura argues the existing system no longer meets society’s changing needs. “It was previously believed that divorced parents had to accept they couldn’t see children they’d been separated from,” Tanamura said. “In recent years, however, men have become more involved in child rearing and the number of children born to couples has declined. Because of this, many divorced parents have an increased desire to maintain their relationship with their children even after a divorce.”

What needs to be done to ensure that parents can see their children after a divorce? There is a growing need for this nation to find an answer to this question.

===

Sole custody causing headaches

A key factor behind disputes involving divorced couples over their children’s custody is a Civil Code stipulation that parental prerogatives are granted to either the mother or father–not both.

The parent who obtains custody assumes rights and duties for his or her child, such as the duty to educate the child and the right to control any assets they might have. However, the parent without parental authority can claim almost no rights concerning their children.

In fact, mothers win in 90 percent of court decisions concerning the custody of a child–known as mediation and determination proceedings.

There is no provision in the Civil Code referring to the visitation rights of a parent living separately from his or her child, so whether the absent parent can meet the child depends on the wishes of the former partner who has been granted custody.

If the parent who has custody refuses to let his or her child meet with the former spouse in a court mediation, it is difficult to arrange visits.

Even if the parent living separately from his or her child or children is allowed to visit, the chances are limited–for example, to once a month. Moreover, if the parents who have custody ignore the court’s decision to grant their spouses visiting rights, there is almost no legal recourse to implement such visits.

Waseda University Prof. Masayuki Tanamura said: “The current system strongly reflects the Japanese family system established in the Meiji era [1868-1912]. Since that time, parental authority has been regarded as the right of the parents to control their children, so couples fight over it.”

Meanwhile, as the number of divorces increased from the 1970s to the ’90s in Europe and the United States, such countries began allowing joint custody, in which former couples cooperate in bringing up their children even after breaking up.

Lawyer Takao Tanase, who also serves as a professor at Chuo University, said: “[In such countries,] the rights of parents who live separately from their children after divorce to visit and communicate with their children are recognized, and such visits occur regularly. For example, there are cases in which such parents meet with their children once a fortnight and spend the weekend together.”

The number of international marriages is increasing yearly–reaching a record high of 18,774 cases in 2008–and the difference in the custody system between Japan and foreign countries causes serious problems when a Japanese splits from his or her foreign spouse.

Cases in which Japanese living in foreign countries take their children back to Japan after divorcing a foreign spouse have become an international problem. The Foreign Ministry confirmed 73 such incidents in the United States, 36 in Canada, 35 in France and 33 in Britain.

There is an international law to deal with such disputes. The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction stipulates that if a former husband or wife takes his or her child or children to another country without the consent of the former spouse, the spouse can apply to bring the child back to the country where they were living. Member countries assume an obligation to cooperate in bringing the child back to the home country.

Many European countries and the United States have joined the convention, but Japan has yet to ratify it. International pressure on Japan to adopt the convention is growing.

“We need to separate the problems of parent-child relationships from the problems between couples. We need to establish laws enabling children to meet with the parent who is living separately after divorce, with the exception of cases in which the child is exposed to potential physical danger by meeting the parent,” Tanase said.

“In Japan, divorce is becoming increasingly common, and it’s important to accept the idea that divorced couples will share child-rearing duties even after divorce,” he added.

(Feb. 3, 2010)

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