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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
     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
WT&G Home:
2001 Worcester Telegram & Gazette Corp.


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