The hidden half of domestic violence
How to have eternal life
Family Courts victimize divorced fathers, children
Worcester Telegram & Gazette Family Courts victimize divorced fathers, children Thursday, July 12, 2001
Recently many of our nations major newspapers and magazines, including the Telegram & Gazette, wrote that the U.S. Census report for the year 2000 showed a steady decline in married households and an increase in single-parent households.
The census also indicates that households with children headed by single mothers are more than 3.5 times as common as single-father households. Additionally, but not cited in the report, is the commonly known statistic that mothers are awarded custody of children about 90 percent of the time in divorce and separation, while fathers are relegated to being noncustodial "visitors" of their children.
Our nation's family courts determine custody in this manner with what appears to be a faulty interpretation of the "best interests of the child" standard, since research indicates that children do just as well or better with their dads than with their moms. The notion that children are served better when mom cares for them is just another myth in the realm of family law that puts the child/father bond at a major disadvantage.
Why does the bias exist? One theory is that America is infatuated with groups that qualify for "victim" status -- so much so that our state bureaucracy is ever ready to aid these groups regardless of whether innocent people, such as fathers and children, are unfairly treated and suffer unjustly. A victim group in our society can receive layers of government funding and benefits. However, divorced and unwed fathers receive little assistance from our government, and even if, by slim chance, a father is granted custody, he will rarely receive child support from the mother because the courts do not impose it or enforce it. There are times when men and fathers inadvertently receive state assistance, but not under the guise of victimhood. They receive it in the form of "crisis" intervention, such as when they are incarcerated for not being "responsible" or perhaps when they become homeless and destitute, or made chronically infirmed as a result of sex discrimination against them.
Massachusetts has been highly effective at creating a subculture of poor fathers who have been forcibly disassociated from their children, even when these dads are willing, competent and loving parents.
It is tragically sad to see fathers in their 20s emotionally wounded because they have never had the opportunity to truly parent their children or to be more active in their kids' lives. This epidemic continues on even when there is evidence, such as in a recent Harris poll, that indicates young men are approximately 7 percent more likely to give up pay to be with their families than women of the same age group.
Regardless of bureaucratic motives, men, fathers and children continue to be violated by the family courts, a forum having little to do with justice or equal rights, but more to do with helping women and mothers receive entitlements based on their "victim" status. Fathers become hostages to an oppressive system the first time they seek justice in family court when engaged in custody disputes with the mothers of their children.
It is time fathers demand equal consideration from the government with regard to relationships with their children. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mike Franco, of Holyoke, is the state co-chairman of The Fatherhood Coalition
WT&G Home: http://www.telegram.com/ ©2001 Worcester Telegram & Gazette Corp.
(please click above to vote for this site)
JUNE is Domestic Violence Against Men Awareness Month