Happy birthday disenfranchised daughter, happy birthday to you, where ever you are.

I was thinking that maybe you (the electronic world) could do me a favor.  Now with social media blasting things all over for everyone to see I thought maybe if you know her you would pass along a happy birthday wish from me for my daughter.  You see, I fulfilled my “responsible father” parental duties, as defined by my government, years ago and we have no contact with each other for nigh on 20 years now.  So please, if you are blessed with knowing her do pass along my wishes for a good birthday and a happy year to follow.

CAH Circa 1989.jpeg

Birthday Party 1989

I suppose I should also here explain and make my apologies for her ending up a disenfranchised daughter to a beat dead, dead broke, disenfranchised dad (often referred to a “deadbeat dad” or “NCP – Non Custodial Parent”).  It certainly wasn’t my plan to be a disenfranchised dad, indeed I was actually a very involved dad and the primary care giving parent as her mother had returned to school and then work full time.   I didn’t plan my life this way, but life is the thing that happens to you while you are busy making plans.

You see, in the 1980’s we (me and her mother) believed that men and women should both share in providing for their children emotionally and financially.  Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me (and most other people out there), the system has defined “responsible fatherhood” as a father who pays his “child support” on time and in full, regardless of his ability to pay the government assessed amount or the needs of the child.  What I had been led to believe about society working “in the child’s best interest” and about fathers should be active and involved, “responsible”, I was soon to learn was not true.  I now believe only half of what I see and nothing that I hear.

In looking back I wonder if I would have been better off not trying to be an active nurturing participating father.  I could have accepted the “Standard NY Order” of every other weekend and Wednesday after school for 4 hour “visitations”.  I expect though that given the circumstances and the system that the disenfranchisement would have occurred just the same.  Indeed, I have come to learn that it is the hands-on active father who fights the hardest to be in their child’s life, and it is he who is often the one disenfranchised the most, an “inverse correlation”.  Of course, hind sight is 20-20 and nobody knew then what they know now.

I find some consolation in that I fought very hard to stay in my children’s life, over 3 years of litigation in multiple courts.  I was penalized financially for fighting “to hard”  and not accepting the “standard order” and made to pay attorneys and fees in addition to “child support”.  I was told to just “shut up and pay and you can visit your kids”.  I likened “visiting” on a regular schedule to being in jail.  I wanted more.  Alas, there was no avenue in which I would be allowed to be an active father in raising them.  The harder I fought, the worse I was penalized.  I had to define fatherhood as I saw it, not as another thought to make me be.  Unfortunately, Life isn’t fair, it was their way or nothing.

I think I did exceptionally well given I was fighting a government system with unlimited resources which was also plundering mine to pay to remove me from my children.  It was only after many years when I was ultimately arrested and suspended from work and lost all income that I capitulated.  I was bankrupt, facing incarceration, and a lifetime court order keeping me from my children or I could take a “deal”, return to work, pay my (extorted) “child support”, and rely on their custodial mothers good graces for any continued access to them.  I chose the latter as the lesser of two evils, she had no use for me.  In life you don’t always get what you want.

I did fault myself at times for “not fighting hard enough” or inversely, for not capitulating and accepting “visitor” status.  But in addition to be a father by my own heritage and definition I had to ask myself, “fatherhood at what cost”?   The entire system was designed to remove my parental right to raise my children, and so it did. I had no choice than to pay the “child support” extortion and it left me at maximum garnishment and I had to live on 35% of my income for 10 years (no bank account, no credit card, no home, no car).  When you add in the cost of “visitation” (denial of access, more false allegations and incarceration, loss of work, more jail for not paying the “support”) the cost of being a father wasn’t there, much less being a “visitor”.  My door is always open, I never denied any family member access the choice to not come to my door was not mine, and that’s cold hard fact.

When I tell people my now grown children haven’t called, emailed, or even been to “visit” me for 20 years they ask why or “who’s fault is it” (obviously I did SOMETHING to cause it).  It’s nobody’s I think, and EVERYBODY’S.  It’s “Parental Alienation” and a government system which encourages and rewards it, a system which most turn a bit of a blind eye to which is why it continues now for over 30 years.  To hide their discomfort most people will give the “maybe they’ll come back some day”, as if 20 years of acting a way will just change overnight.  Pffft is what I say back.  I certainly don’t expect them to crash my threshold, but I will stay true and never turn them away should they do so.

Photo on 12-20-16 at 5.03 PM.jpg

2017

This is a computer selfie of me in 2017.  I used to look for an unattended camera and snap a “selfie”, this in the days before smart phones and the term “selfie”.  So more than one person has had film developed (and then digitally downloaded) to find a photo of me smiling at them.  Of course I recruited my kids as accomplices when they were old enough.  I thought perhaps they would be interested in how I look now.  Perhaps.  Their choice now.

A lot has been taken away from me by this government system, more so my children.  They took a good active involved father from two children who deserved better.  What they can’t take away is me being a DadSometimes you fight the good fight, and lose.  Such is life.  The sun will come up tomorrow and God willing you get a new day.  So in keeping with still being a Dad I say to my daughter, the doors open if you desire.  I wish you a happy birthday and a good year to follow.  Love, Dad.

 

Memo in OPPOSITION to S4489/A6587 No Fault Divorce Bias towards “Victims of DV”

Many years back in the days before no fault divorce was the law of the land, yet being pushed by the NYS Bar Association, The Coalition of Fathers and Families NY, Inc. (FaFNY) and the New York Men’s Action Network (NY MAN) opposed no fault divorce unless the issues of sexual bias towards mother custody, arbitrarily high arbitrary and capricious child support awards, and the problems with false allegations of abuse (child and domestic violence) were addressed.

Eventually, no fault divorce passed, but as we know none of the issues we raised have been addressed.  Indeed, one Betty Little, Republican Senator from the Adirondack Region of NYS was in part responsible for the parliamentary maneuvers in the NYS Senate which derailed shared parenting legislation in committee.

Now, none other than Betty Little would put in a no fault divorce “repealer” for one class of people, that is “victims of domestic violence”, who would be able to declare no fault divorce null and void.  Knowing that both men and women are the victims of domestic violence in equal numbers, I can’t imagine a scenario where a victim would want to stop the process which would help free them from their abuser.   But, NYS Courts or the DV system don’t address male victims, so it is obviously pandering to “the women’s vote”, an action that will be beneficial to women only in a sexually baised system which serves females only.

And if passed I can only imagine that each and every recipient of a unilateral no fault divorce action will claim to be the victim of domestic violence as leverage in that action.  Indeed, every filer will need to file allegations of DV to protect themselves from a counter allegation.

It’s not hard to see who will benefit from this legislation, lawyers who need to address “these issues” will rack up billable hours.  And of course the politicians here would be able to point to this legislation in their pandering for the “women’s vote”.

Just another example of the NYS Legislature, the most corrupt and dysfunctional in the nation, doing unnecessary business as usual.

NY MAN has issued a memo in opposition to this legislation and is asking it be placed upon the official record in the bill jacket.  Feel free to cut, copy and paste this to these, and more importantly YOUR, legislators.   And in the process, ask them why shared parenting, which has the support of 80% of NYS population, has been stalled (and why are they in the pockets of the NYS Bar Association?).

**************************************************************************

NY MAN-The New York Mens Action Network
jh@nymensactionnetwork.org      http://www.nymensactionnetwork.org

Memo in OPPOSITION to S4489/A6587

Senator Betty Little
310 LOB Albany, NY 12247

Assemblywoman Sandra Galef
641 LOB Albany NY 12248

Dear Senator and Assemblyman;
The NY Mens Action Network, a statewide political action and grass roots lobby group is opposed to this legislation  S4489/A6587.
This is in effect a repealer of no fault divorce which flies in the face of the intent of that legislation, which was to not force a party into into a marriage which was broken down and place the parties in a situation of continuing conflict, which is what this legislation would do.  It creates a class of protected person such that any and all non filers of a divorce action will be able to claim victim status, and at a minimum delay proceedings for adjudication of the allegations.  Perjury and false allegations of abuse already run rampant in family and supreme courts in matrimonial, custody and support matters, and are used to gain leverage.  This legislation is only bound to add to that existing problem and one can envision filers making allegations of abuse to negate the non filers possible claim. (see http://www.saveservices.org/camp/faam-2011/research-on-false-allegations-of-abuse/ and also http://www.saveservices.org/key-facts/).
The NYS Courts already have great oversight authority over individuals when a divorce action is filed, including the issuance of protective and restraining orders, and orders over the dissipation of assets.  This legislation is unnecessary, would not protect victims of domestic violence, would endanger victims of domestic violence, would contribute to an already overworked system, and foster more false allegations to gain leverage.  As such we oppose this legislation and further request that this official opposition be placed upon the record (in the bill jacket).

I Do ………. agree to government control of myself and my family

I am a co-founder of the Coalition of Fathers and Families NY, Inc. and was its primary lobbyist for many years.  I have been following these issues now for 20 years, advocating for families.  While we initially focused only on shared parenting and court reform we also developed positions on issues such as unilateral divorce and and gay marriage.  As an organization our membership was made up of a broad base of the political spectrum, liberals, conservatives, and libertarians, men, women, parents, grand parents and extended family members who had one unifying experience, they had their rights violated in New York (anti) family and supreme courts.

FaFNY did oppose unilateral divorce and for many years were able to stop this legislation pushed forward by the NYS Bar Association.  Our 2004 memo in opposition (following at the end of this piece) to no fault divorce cited the negative consequences of single parent households on children, at the time standing at 24.7 million children growing up without one of their parents (usually the father).  We did note that our opposition, child focused and in the interest of the children, could be lifted with “ a corresponding overhaul of family and matrimonial law and statutory protections for children, spouses and/or parents wishing to preserve their marriages and maintain their families intact, and for those parties most likely to become non-custodial parents.”

Regarding the issue of gay marriage we took a neutral stance.  FaFNY, at that time, supported marriage as being as being beneficial to children but given the diverse membership who supported everything to all marriages to only traditional marriages, so we didn’t come to a consensus on the issue.  The one response that was universal within the organization was, why would you want to get married and subject yourself to these courts?  To that end the VP at the time, Randall L. Dickinson, wrote an op ed piece, “Be careful what you ask for…” (which I include at the end of this piece for your enjoyment).

Ultimately no fault divorce passed in New York.  But none of the measures put forth that would strengthen parental rights; shared parenting, terminology change from “visitation” to “parenting time”, court restructure and reform, mediation, collaborative law, grand parents rights, alimony reform (called maintenance in NY), nothing, nada, none, not a single piece of reform in New York’s Courts has been enacted.

Even on gay marriage the NYS Legislature kicked the can down the road, following Vermont passing “civil union” reforms first, then recognizing marriages of other states.  But on the issue of gay marriage, as in the reform of family and matrimonial law, the most dysfunctional legislature in the nation did nothing.  But now SCOTUS has changed all that, marriage between any two consenting adults is the law of the land.

My response to gays, or any other person for that matter, is why would you want to?  Why get a state sanctioned marriage license?  What are the benefits?  And the down side?  By saying “I DO” with license from the state you agree to a contract that holds no one responsible.  Worse, the contract and case law protects the defaulting party.  Even prenuptial agreements are no protection for the parties for they are routinely thrown out by the courts.

And one would expect that gay marriages will lead to children with adoptions, surrogate parenting, artificial insemination and new age techniques bringing children to married gay couples.  I can only imagine the field day the mostly incompetent judges will have deciding “custody” under these circumstances.  With two married biological parents the best the courts could do was to strip one of their parental rights, relegate them to visitor status with the “standard NY Order” of visiting every other weekend and one mid week 4 hour visit.  One can only imagine the violation of individual rights of a parent with no biological connection to their child.

Gays thought they were fighting for a right that other people had and which was denied to them.  In their ignorant bliss and fight for individual equality they, as most of us did before we suffered under the injustices of these courts, have entered a system which does not grant nor guarantee an individuals rights but works to plunder their assets, destroy their civil liberties, individually abuse them, and all the while being accountable to no one.

We tried to warn you.  But now I say, WELCOME to the family!  Perhaps when we have enough individuals and organizations which watch and suffer the abuses of these courts we’ll get large enough to change things.

Sincerely,
Mr. James Hays

#

February 2004

Be Careful What You Ask For …

By Randall L. Dickinson

The recent Massachusetts Superior Court decision granting gays the right to marry and the highly publicized same-sex marriage ceremonies performed in San Francisco, are only the latest examples of what some are suggesting may become the most important social issue of the upcoming presidential election. As the debate intensifies, those on both sides of the social and political spectrum continue to define their positions on gay marriage, indeed, on the very definition of the institution of marriage itself. While those on the political left, backed by the Democratic Party and aided by the liberal press/media attempt to frame the issue as one of civil rights, conservatives on the right, backed by the Republican Party, promote a more traditional definition of marriage. Indeed, most recently, President Bush, himself, has called for a Constitutional Amendment that would clearly define marriage as being between one man and one woman.

Largely overlooked in all of the sound and the fury, however, is one aspect of the broader issue itself that gays and lesbians might want to ponder before proceeding much further on their quest for the Holy Grail of connubial bliss. Beyond the ideals of “marriage” and “family”, what are the realities associated with each in the late 20th and early 21st centuries; how have they evolved, what are the implications for those wishing to enter into the bonds of matrimony, and what happens when it all ends, and couples no longer wish to remain married.

Changes in state laws beginning in the early 1970’s have given a legal preference to any spouse wishing to leave a marriage, even if the other spouse wants to preserve the marriage and has done nothing to give the deserting spouse “grounds” for a divorce. Such laws have essentially acted to empower whichever party wants out, leaving the spouse who wants to preserve the marriage powerless to prevent its dissolution and with no recourse but acquiescence.

The marriage contract has, thus, been described as having been reduced to little more than a contractual economic partnership devoid of any legal protection. Maggie Gallagher states, in her book The Abolition of Marriage, that it has become “less binding than the average business deal. Marriage is one of the few contracts in which the law explicitly protects the defaulting party at the expense of his or her partner”. If all of our business transactions were conducted in a similar fashion, our national economy would collapse. With the marital contract now worth less than the paper it’s written on, why should we deceive ourselves into thinking that it is not having the same devastating impact on our marriages and our families.

Adding to laws that help facilitate the divorce process are others that drive the decision to initiate it. Research has shown that the single greatest factor in determining

which party is most likely to file for a divorce is the expectation of being awarded custody of the kids. Along with the kids usually comes a whole range of other financial benefits, as well, including child support, alimony, the marital residence, and one half of the remaining marital assets. With most states still adhering to the standard sole custody model, wherein one party receives the kids, while the other is left to pay, it’s not difficult to understand how at least one of them may perceive little or no downside.

The elimination of any need to establish grounds for a divorce was based on the presumption that both parties are equally motivated to end a marriage, and was supposed to make the process less adversarial and more amicable. Today, 50 percent of all first time marriages and 60 percent of all second marriages will end in divorce, 80 percent of them initiated against the wishes and the will of one of the parties. Ooops!

Such public policies as these have been supported by both liberals and conservatives alike. Ironically, many elected representatives, jurists, legal “experts”, and social services “professionals” who advocate for the right of gays to marry, at the same time continue to resist any reasoned consideration of the impact these same policies may be having on the dual institutions of “marriage” and “family” and the trap that may await those who sail blindly into these uncharted waters.

Nor has the institution of the Church been any great help. While continuing to pay lip service to the ideals of strong marriages and healthy families, most churches today appear reluctant to address the issue of divorce for fear of offending their congregations, large portions of which having experienced the phenomenon of divorce either directly or indirectly in some manner. Preferring to go along in order to get along, many churches that haven’t chosen to ignore the elephant in the room altogether, have simply adopted a policy of acceptance. Rather than providing assistance for couples struggling to save their marriages, and admonishing them that the Church will not condone divorce as an option, some churches have, in essence, begun to legitimize divorce by performing so called “New Beginnings” ceremonies designed to help divorcing couples “move on” with their lives. Today the divorce rate among those professing to be Christians and who claim to attend church on a regular basis is higher than it is for the general population overall. Coincidence? Maybe, but it’s difficult not to draw certain inferences.

Before the gay and lesbian community becomes myopic in its passion for the equal right to marry, it might be wise to consider, as well, the need to lobby for the equal right to certain protections under the law following divorce. Matrimonial and Family Law, including those dealing with the custody of children, the “equitable” distribution of marital property, and child support standards are in desperate need of a major overhaul. Without such reforms, rather than embarking on a journey toward nuptial bliss, many gays and lesbians may find that they have unwittingly entered into a Faustian bargain, ending in the inferno of Divorce Hell. The message for gays and lesbians is crystal clear: be careful what you ask for; you might just get it.

Randall L. Dickinson resides and works in the Albany, New York, area and is Vice President of the Coalition of Fathers and Families New York, Inc. The Coalition of Fathers and Families New York, Inc. is a not-for-profit public information, education, and lobbying organization dedicated to the advocacy of family related issues and to preserving the relationship between fathers and their children. Its national affiliate is the American Coalition of Fathers and Children.

 

#

The Coalition of Fathers and Families NY, Inc.,

an affiliate of the American Coalition of Fathers and Children,

Date:            November 11, 2004

 

To:            Members of the New York State Assembly/Senate and Executive Branch.

 

From:            The Coalition of Fathers and Families New York, Inc.

 

Re.:            Memo in Opposition to No-Fault Divorce

 

 

 

The Coalition of Fathers and Families NY, Inc. is opposed to No-Fault Divorce without a corresponding overhaul of family and matrimonial law and statutory protections for children, spouses and/or parents wishing to preserve their marriages and maintain their families intact, and for those parties most likely to become non-custodial parents.

 

No-fault divorce is ill advised because:

 

  • No-fault divorce laws have produced a failure rate among all first time marriages of 50 percent, and 60 percent for all second marriages.

 

  • Eighty percent of these divorces are initiated against the will and without the control of one or the other of the parties.

 

  • This rate of family dissolution is responsible, in part, for producing 24.7 million children growing up in the U.S. without at least one of their parents (usually their fathers).

 

  • The devastating impact this is having on children has been extensively documented, is well known, and is widely recognized. Virtually every social and/or behavioral dysfunction and psychological pathology experienced by children and young people today can be directly traced to the absence of at least one of their parents, and 80 percent of all child abuse occurring in single parent households.

 

However well intentioned the proposal to reduce the cost and stress associated with the divorce process, it is difficult to rationalize how any demographic, except the initiator of divorce, can be said to have benefited from making divorces easier to obtain. More fundamental then is the question of whether or not it is really in the best interest of the State or the Nation to promote divorce in such a manner.

 

After almost thirty years of experience with no-fault divorce laws it is widely recognized that, in effect, it has given a legal preference to any spouse wishing to leave a marriage, even if the other spouse wants to preserve the marriage and has done nothing to give the deserting spouse “grounds” for a divorce. These laws have essentially acted to empower whichever party wants out, leaving the spouse who wants to preserve the marriage powerless to prevent its dissolution and with no recourse but acquiescence.

 

Marriage is one of the few contracts in which the law explicitly protects the defaulting party at the expense of his or her partner. The marriage contract has, thus, been described as having been reduced to little more than a contractual economic partnership devoid of any legal protection.

 

If all of our business transactions were conducted in a similar fashion, our national economy would collapse. With the marital contract now worth less than the paper it’s written on, why should anyone deceive him or her self into thinking that it is not having the same devastating impact on our marriages and our families.

 

Adding to laws that help facilitate the divorce process are others that drive the decision to initiate it. Research has shown that the single greatest factor in determining which party is most likely to initiate a divorce is the expectation of being awarded custody of the kids. Along with the kids usually comes a whole range of other financial benefits, as well, including child support, alimony, the marital residence, and one half of the remaining marital assets, to name but a few. With many states – most notably New York – still adhering to the standard sole custody model, wherein one party receives the kids, while the other is left to pay, it’s not difficult to understand how at least one of them may perceive little or no downside.

 

Without a corresponding overhaul of the entire body of family and matrimonial law and statutory protections for those most likely to become non-custodial parents, no-fault divorce will only produce more of the same devastation in the lives of countless innocent people. The Coalition of Fathers and Families New York, Inc., vigorously opposes and will not consider supporting any such proposal, otherwise.

 

 

#