Ex-spouses may see faster enforcement of child-visitation rights

Monday, February 11, 2008

A pilot program that is speeding up the enforcement process when a divorced parent violates a court-ordered child time for an ex-spouse was given top priority status and unanimously endorsed by a legislative budget subcommittee Wednesday.

Similar legislation to HB22 was given the same status a year ago but was ultimately voted down in the House.

Those and other concerns raised last year have been addressed in the current bill, the proposal's sponsor, Rep. Julie Fisher, R-Fruit Heights, told members of the Legislature's criminal justice appropriations subcommittee.

HB22 doesn't override the section of the law dealing with steps a divorced parent must follow when an ex-spouse violates parent-time schedules remains in place. It offers a stopgap measure to the process, which has been criticized for years by fathers' rights groups who say designated and scheduled time with their children can be suddenly changed.

"And nothing happens, not in reality," a father from Boulder, Colo., told the Deseret Morning News after his Thanksgiving time with his two children in Layton was denied by his ex-wife.

"I got out of the car and she came to the driveway and said she had made other plans and wouldn't change them," he said. "The visit was scheduled, she knew I was on my way. She just turned and walked back into the house."

Possible abuse is nearly always the implied reason for a sudden refusal of a visit by a noncustodial father, advocates for the legislation in Utah said. The fact is, the only recourse is to seek court action until weeks and months after an incident.

"Besides, what good is it going to do to service a court order on someone who is violating a court order already?" he said. The state relentlessly demonizes dads who don't pay child support but hardly does a thing when a visit is canceled.

"That's a loud and clear message: money is more important than time with a parent," he said.

The state child support collections section is relentless for back child support, but they virtually never enforce missed child time because an incident is over so fast and fathers who try to make up the time rarely get it back anyway, advocates say.

That's what the bill is designed to do, Fisher said, noting that was the motivation behind the original bill passed last year.

The pilot program that has been under way in 3rd District Court involves going back to court, but a judge can call for the immediate involvement of a mediator to settle a time dispute.

E-mail: jthalman@desnews.com


Fathers have rights, too, 02-10-08

The Family Court of Fall River, like thousands of others, seems to not only sanction, but ardently promote the estrangement of child and father. Further, the mothers, along with their lawyers, manipulate the court with the outdated "every woman is a victim" syndrome and false or exaggerated accusations, and offer up the children as catalysts to punish and impoverish the father.

This is scathingly evident in the case of unwed parents. The fathers of illegitimate children are "fathers" only in the eyes of the bank! Nowhere is this more apparent than a case in California of the unwed mother placing her child up for adoption, the father of the child petitioning the court for custody of his child, and the "wisdom" of the court denying his petition. This particular case is now pending in the Supreme Court. For most, the expense of such a pursuit of justice is completely prohibitive.

Signing an acknowledgement of paternity provides no parental rights to the father. The child, with the blessings of the court, becomes no more than a commodity for the unwed mother. Affording her the lifelong "right" and ability to abuse and harrass the system, the courts and the father of the child without repercussion or accountability. The family courts are overflowing daily with charges that are ludicrous, unfounded and out-and-out lies. Fathers by the droves are brought to task by vindictive, self-serving, deceitful mothers, many of whom practice irresponsible breeding as a means of income.

Yes, there are "dead beat" dads. Many simply choose to ignore their parental responsibilities. But, the majority are "created" by our (in)justice system.

Judgements in Family Court are hawked as in the best interest of the child, when, in fact, they are in the best interest of the court. The family lawyers are much like morticians, preying upon clients at a most vulnerable moment, a time when rationale is set aside. After all, what father is not willing to sacrifice all for his child? Ergo, thousands upon thousands of dollars are mindlessly placed in the hands of attorneys, who, with minimal exception, concern themselves with plans for their next boat purchase and wouldn’t know the best interest of the child if they fell over it.

What about the guardians ad litem? Case in point. After meeting with a "father" who provided extensive legal documentation regarding his child being subjected to frequent visits by an ex-con pedophile and a known heroin addict, the GAL met with the (un-wed) mother. She admitted that both were a part of the small child’s life on a regular basis, and that, "if it matters, I won’t let him go around them anymore." If?

The final recommendation of the GAL was the child should continue to live with the mother, even though there was concern about his safety and well-being (paraphrased). Guardians ad litem have no particular qualifications, if any, and yet the court utilizes and respects their recommendations. Again, where does the "best interest of the child" come into play? Perhaps in the next battle in the court? I doubt it!

Being a father, wed or unwed, is not a crime, except in the Family Court system. Being an unwed mother has lost its stigma, and rightfully so. It happens. If there is a "crime" involved, it is that the Family Court system violates rather than endorses the "best interests of the children."

Until we correct this mockery of jurisprudence, hundreds of thousands of fathers will continue to be estranged or incarcerated, hundreds of thousands of the vindictive mothers will continue to view their children as cash registers and hundreds of thousands of children will fall to abuse and neglect, or worse.

For the many mothers and fathers who work toward the "best interest of the child," blessed be. For the rest of you, bless the children; they deserve better. I hope you get what you deserve!


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