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Topics - annemichellesdad

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Father's Issues / Jail for judges
« on: Oct 18, 2006, 01:23:16 PM »
I heard about this on National Public Radio this morning. Essentially, it is a state constitutuional amendment proposal which would remove judges' soveriegn immunity and allow them to be sued for unlawful decisions. I'm still undecided about it, but I believe the idea has its merits. I, for one, have had to endure incredible legal harships when a judge once told defiantly (quotes taken literally here) "I don't follow federal law!"  His statement, with the issue at hand, represented a civil rights violation, yet I was not only powerless to have my rights protected, but he enjoyed full freedom of immunity from prosecution. Clearly, a remedy was required which was not available.


Father's Issues / Parental Interference as a tort
« on: Oct 13, 2006, 12:08:50 PM »
I am frequently amazed to hear how some parents (frequently mothers)  simply take children away from another parent without the "protection" of any court order whatsoever. After a year or so hiding out in another state, a "new status quo" is created and, even though the other parent acted very wrongly, they are "awarded" full custody when court finally doe insue, and the non-custodial victimized parent ends up paying child support and hardly gets to see his children. It is as if there exists actual INCENTIVE to do things the wrong way!

Naturally, I understand that the family court is bound to determine "the best interests of the child" rather than the damage done to the relationship between a parent and his children. However, I am curious why, in situations where children are indeed taken WITHOUT a cout order, we never hear of civil lawsuits for damages against that parent.

There are four elements to proving an intentional tort:
1 - An act was committed (the interference or alientation)
2 - The parent intended or was aware of doing it
3 - Causation: the act caused an effect (lost time, loss of parental control, emotional damage)
4 - Damage resulted

A defending parent would, under a tort case, have three basic possible defenses:
1 - The other parent consented
2 - Self-defense (the alienated parent was a potential threat to the other parent)
3 - Defense of the children (the alienated parent was a potential threat to the children)

These three defenses would be extremely difficult to prove if that parent made no effort to avail themselves of legal remedies, such as a custody proceding.

In addition to parental interference, a case might also be for intentional infliction of emotional distress. In short, this is when the alienating parent takes the children with the intent to cause the other parent emotional harm. While intent might seem difficult to prove at first, any animosity which the alienating parent expressed openly with others against the victim parent can be used to show intent. ("We'll see how he likes it when he wakes up and his children are gone!"

It might be argued that a tort for parental alienation is simply a tort for alienation of affections by a different name. Not so. The tort of alienation of affections (outlawed in some states) implies that the victim was deprived of the affections given to them (usually a spouse). For example, if a man's wife was murdered, he might also sue the murderer for committing an act which resulted in the loss of the affections which he might have otherwised enjoyed from his wife. In contrast, parental control isn't something which a child gives to a parent. Likewise, where "affections" are given voluntarily (symbolized and institutionalized through marriage), the relationship between a parent and a child is more fundamental; a parent is that child's protector, life-giver, and teacher. While both may certainly give and receive affections from one another, the affections are incidental to the nature of the relationship itself.

Also, it might be argued that recognzing a tort for parental interference might simply create more litigation and more animosity between warring parents. Perhaps, and perhaps not. There's no denying that some parents routinely and malicously interfere in the legitimate relationships between their children and other parents. Too often, however, we just say "Oh well, the courts aren't fair". In reality, the courts are bound to solve a different problem: the welfare of CHILDREN. It is civil (tort) litigation in this country provides both a REMEDY for the PARENTS as victims, and a DETERENCE against future transgressions.

Would not at least some alienating parents think twice before running away with their children if they knew they might be sued later? And wouldn't some third parties who might be encouraging this sort of conduct think twice about being a part of such interference if they knew that, unlike family courts, they might end up being a co-defendant? It might just encourage those parents who would otherwise simply take off to through the available legal channels to stay behind and use the proper channels available to them (not to mention marital counseling!). After all, if what they wish to do is found by the family court to be consistent with the best interest of the children, they'll be allowed to go anyway, right?

Finally, it might be argued that a tort would take resources away from the controlling parent which might otherwise be used for the children's welfare, making the children unwilling victims. This argument doesn't hold up, either. First, being a parent doesn't bring about any immunity from any OTHER sort of a tort. ("Yes, I know that I got drunk and ran over the farmer's cow, your honor. But you see, I'm a primary custodial parent....")  That sort of argument implies that one parent has a soverign immunity which the other does not enjoy, certainly an EXTREMELY broad application of the "best interests of the child" standard. Second, because the suing party is also a parent to the same children, any awards could still directly benefit the children. This is quite different than if, for example, that parent was sued by a farmer for killing his cow. In that case, the money would go to a completely unrelated third party with no interest in the children.

Would an award constitute a HARDSHIP on the alienating parent? Perhaps. But again, that's actually at least a PART of the intent of tort justice in the first place!

In reality, very few cases would be subject to a tort for parental alienation or intentional infliction of emotional distress because most parents do go through the court system. This tort would only affect the real "monsters", acting outside the legal system in a completely selfish way solely for their own benefit.

I think it's time we seriously considered these options as a remedy and deterrent.


Father's Issues / The effect of alienation on children
« on: Sep 28, 2006, 05:43:27 PM »
For the first several years of our separation, our daughter did very well. Her mother and I co-parented roughly 50-50, and my daughter was able to enjoy a healthy relationship with both her mother and her father.

Eventually, however, her mother began experiencing tremendous anxieties and frustrations over not be re-married; this, had been adamant to do. One day, she announced that she would not be returning our child to me for regular parenting time... no reason given, but I understood... she was blaming ME for being unmarried.

Because we had co-parented voluntarily, we had no court order. (Whenever I recommended we have one drawn up, I would see her getting nervous. My silence on the issue helped keep the peace, at least for three years.)

I won't get into any more legal particulars right now, and such particulars are not the point of this thread. I just wanted to share with you real evidence as the how the alienation of one a child's parents can profoundly affect them. These three messages were left on my answering machine by my daughter, six years old, about four months after being TOTALLY deprived of her father by her mother. When I heard these messages, I totally collapsed on the floor in anguish over my child.




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