HAPPY FATHERECTOMY DAY
As Father's Day comes upon us once more, America continues to grow into a behemoth social bureaucracy. Recent statistics from the National Census Bureau showed mothers are awarded child custody 85% of the time. In many contentious family court cases fathers become nothing more than disneyland dads to their children. And in cases that are resolved via mediation, fathers oftentimes are victimized via legal blackmail, signing stipulated-to/consent court orders.
Although the scientific research from such prominent scholars in attachment theory and fathers, such as Dr.'s Michael Lamb, Kyle Pruett and Peter Fonagy points to the need for an increased role of fathers in the lives of their children at young ages, in real life cases this is more the exception than the rule. Many family courts have parenting time guidelines that restrict a father's "normal" visitation rights with his child(ren) until the same reach almost the age of reason - 7 or 8.
Since 1969, when both No-Fault Divorce and the Equal Rights Amendment became law in California, fathers and children have had a tough road to hoe. The passage of the Mondale Act (Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act) in 1974 combined with the hurricane forces of feminism in the mid-70's left only one dagger out of the hearts of fathers and their children. That final knife appeared twenty years later in 1994 when former President Bill Clinton passed into law the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) as part of the National Crime Act.
Enter "fatherectomy." By my definition, a fatherectomy is the evisceration of a father from the life of his children, and vice-versa. And I know what you're going to ask me now. How could a father be ripped from the life of his male and/or female offspring? In actuality, in America 2007, it's very simple for mother to begin paternal/child surgery and do so without a scalpel. She can go down to the local battered women's shelter and cry wolf and complete the forms to secure an ex parte Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) (also called OFP in Minnesota, PFA in Pennsylvania, 209A in Massachusetts and DVI in Florida), accusing dad of everything from a statement of fear of threatened bodily harm to child sexual abuse. Many states, mine included, have mandatory arrest laws in cases of alleged domestic violence and the police will not even listen to father's version of the facts until only after he's placed in custody. She can summons local Child Protective Services (CPS) to conduct an investigation into her abuse allegations against father or she can empower one of her disciples - therapist, pediatrician, or police officer friend - to do so. The latter route affords her more credibility and a quicker and usually more effective legal result.
As we've become an overly protective society, ensuring that we "err on the side of caution," with the passage of Megan's Law, Jessica's Law (Florida), and who knows, maybe Hillary's Law, if Senator Clinton is elected president next year, many fathers are at-risk this Father's Day. They are at-risk of not having a normal day with their kids - perhaps the victims of emotional abuse.
They are at-risk of not seeing their kids at all if mother decides to slam the door shut on their visitation - perhaps the victims of parental alienation. And they are at-risk of not seeing their kids for a long time - perhaps the unfortunate recipients of false domestic violence and/or child abuse allegations. Fortunately, in some states such as California, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Florida, courts can now appoint Parenting Coordinators (PCs) to monitor the progress, or lack thereof, of families-at-war. And virtual visitation (www.internetvisitation.org) can help exiled dads in long distance family court battles.
well. Be happy. But, above all, be smart. Visit www.x10.com
and consider making your house look like a bank, for accountability
reasons. I hope you all have a happy Father's Day, and never have
to endure a fatherectomy.
Dean Tong is not a licensed attorney. The contents of this e-mail
correspondence represents his personal and professional opinion and
must not be gleaned to be "legal advice." If you need an attorney
please visit www.lawyers.com
or contact your local State Bar Association.
� 2007 - Dean Tong - All Rights Reserved
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Dean Tong, forensic trial consultant, is author of the critically acclaimed book Elusive Innocence: Survival Guide for the Falsely Accused. Retained by parents and attorneys in contested divorces, child custody and abuse cases from 45 states and Canada, Tong has most recently appeared on CBS 48 Hours, CNN, Court-TV, MSNBC, and Dr. Phil.
I will speak to my expertise - protracted custody battles and false abuse accusations and how-to counter same in court and win. It's not pretty.