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Oregon State Forum / Child Support website
Feb 26, 2004, 09:52:01 PM
Just browsing a bit, I found summaries of new child support legislation at the following:

Thought they were interesting (at least some of them.)  The DCS website also gives information on the new guidelines put into effect last May.  I've kind of avoided this site for the past several months, because I am so tired of it all.... so maybe it's old news to everyone else.  I had heard there were new guidelines, but assumed it meant more bad news for NCPs.  I was pretty stoked to find out that they now take into account the amount of parenting time NCPs have, if more than 20% (was previously 35%)  My husband's original parenting plan puts him at 23%--and it actually makes a pretty big difference for us.  Can't wait to modify CS......
Child Support Issues / CSD vent
Dec 11, 2004, 01:55:46 PM
OK, so a few months ago, caseworker called my husband completely out of the blue, because she noticed he was not paying the ordered amount.  Well, duh!  The ordered amount was way more than it should have been and we could not afford it (a whole other story I have already shared here.)  So caseworker offered to send a modification form.  Wahoo :)  We filled it out and sent it in as soon as we had a new parenting plan signed (adding 92 overnights.)  Then we sat back and waited and waited and waited.

Finally on Monday we received a copy of the modified amount.  It went down almost $200 month.  What a relief!!  But as I looked more closely at the paperwork, I noticed caseworker calculated CS based on 62 overnights instead of 92--makes a difference of about $80/month.  So frustrating.  Where do these people come up with these numbers?!?  It's not worth us trying to rock the boat to save that extra $80, but they'll hear about it if BM appeals.....
Child Support Issues / A vent about CSD....
Sep 15, 2004, 02:20:02 PM
For various reasons, we attempted to have CS modified about 18 months ago--wasn't finalized until exactly a year ago.  CSD did their own thing and decided the amount shouldn't change, we couldn't afford an attorney to appeal, etc. etc.  So we left it there.

My husband is a full-time student.  We live on financial aid and my small income from child care.  So, our CS payments have been very irregular in the past few years.  (Quite frankly, because of our income and our children, our tax return is only about $1200 less than a year of CS--so even IF we paid nothing all year, we wouldn't get TOO far behind.)

We have been trying the past several months to speak with a caseworker about arrears and set something up to begin paying them off, and to avoid other actions by CSD.  We've sent letters, emails, and phone calls and had absolutely no response by the state people or by the county DA who officially does the enforcement.

So, yesterday my husband got a voice message from some new caseworker in the DAs office saying something to the effect of we obviously can't afford the ordered amount, and haven't been making regular payments, would we like to go through the process to have the amount lowered?  What?!?  (State law says you can only ask for a modification every two years, or if there is a significant change of circumstances.)  My husband's theory is that she thinks he is a woman, because his name can go either way.  But, hey, we'll call her back and see what happens!

BTW, I have to add that when we met, my husband was almost obsessive about paying CS.  When he made extra money in his own business, much of it went to his daughters and BM.  Since he has not had visitation in over 2 years now (BMs false accusations), and since BMs attorney costs for the trial to take the children away equaled a whole year of CS, and since BM subsequently tried to raise CS since my husband was not "exercising" visitation, and for many more reasons I am sure many of you also experience, my husband's desire to pay CS has diminished greatly!  He still wants to fulfill his responsibility, but just not with the same vigor and vim, I suppose.
We have requested payment records from CSD a few times in the past and have copies of their records through May 2004.  In the past, I have just looked through the payments to make sure all that we had record of were listed on their records.  Then I looked at the bottom of the summary sheet to see the total amounts billed, paid, and owed.

Well, today we got a statement/June bill for CS, and the arrears amount was nowhere near what I had calculated.  So I sat down and started looking at the papers again.  I AM SO CONFUSED!!

There are columns for "amt sup billed" "amt sup recd" "diff btwn recd/paid" "amt sup paid" and "date."  They are listed in chronological order--more or less--and after each year there is listed a Year Total and Case Total for each of the above columns.

OK.  So first of all, I am wondering why there is a difference between amount recieved and amount paid?  I understand that they can charge interest on arrears, but NONE of our monthly statements have indicated any interest charged or any other fees, and yet for the case the total is $277.80.

Secondly, I noticed that the numbers on the summary sheet are different from the numbers listed in the above-mentioned columns.  i.e. the Case Total listed on every page is different from the total amounts listed on the last page.

Thirdly, I took the numbers CSD provided for "amount billed" and "amount paid" for each year, totalled them up, and came up with completely different numbers than either the case totals or the last page totals.

Fourthly, when I look at the differences between the Case Totals and the totals on the summary sheet, the gap is increasing--in February 2003 the "amt billed" was off by $1804 in May 2004 it was off $3202; in February 2003 the "amt paid" was off by $266.15 in May 2004 it was $1410.92.

What am I missing??  I WILL be calling/writing CSD soon (they also did not record a pretty hefty payment from last month--seized from our account, so it's not as if the check got lost in the mail.)  But I was wondering if ya'll had some explanations for this complete nonsense??

Maybe if the numbers were off a few dollars, or even a few hundred... but we are talking a few thousand--and almost $1300 difference in what I calculated my husband owes in arrears--which of course is the key figure right now.

Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions.
Child Support Issues / Annoying notices....
Mar 10, 2004, 07:34:05 PM
A few weeks ago, we received notice from Support Enforcement saying they were going to suspend my husband's license.  This was just a few days AFTER we received notice from the IRS that a good portion of our tax refund was going to support arrears.  We tried contacting CSE (email and phone) several times to discuss options to avoid suspension.  My husband never talked to a real person.  Caseworker called our house once, I gave her my husband's cell number, but she never called him....

A week or two after CSE's notice, we received the DMV notice stating suspension would be in effect last Saturday (3/6/04) at 12:01 am.  Today we got a Notice to Reinstate License from CSE--dated 3/8/04.  We assume it is because the tax return finally found it's way there.  How frustrating!!

Relieved that we can reinstate the license, but very annoyed that we have to pay an extra $75 to do so, because the federal and state and county agencies couldn't get things figured out together.

(Even more annoyed that the CS guidelines are so out of whack that my husband is ordered to pay an unreasonable amount in the first place.)

Shrink Rap / A rock and a hard place
Jan 04, 2004, 12:45:10 AM
Background: July 2002, BM picked up SDs (now ages 11 and 9) for her weekend visit during our 4-week summer visit, and did not return him.  BM did not allow SDs to speak with my husband at all; she refused visitation; and then she took my husband to court under accusations of child abuse.

Judge ordered in October 2002 that visitation stop until 1. Husband took anger management 2. Husband and SDs participated in joint counseling 3. Husband, SDs counselor, and BM agreed it was OK to proceed with supervised visits. (This was something our attorney told us only happened in very severe cases of abuse--what BM accused my husband of should not have warranted such a judgment even if it was true.)

We decided to just do what needs to be done to restore contact with SDs. (Side note: The order did not say anything about other contact with SDs--only no parenting time.  Despite that, and against the suggestions of the counselor she chose, BM has not allowed any contact whatsoever since March 2003.)  My husband finished Anger Management in June 2003.  We have been trying since then to get joint counseling set up.  

I am posting now because we have been very dissatisfied thus far with the counseling center chosen by BM, but again, we didn't feel it was worth it to battle BM over changing counseling centers.  Here are our main concerns: 1. Original counselor testified in court that SDs were not lying about abuse, but in records we received right after the hearing, she had recorded OSD admitted to lying.  2. There was no effort to gain the entire picture--the center seemed to take BM completely at her word, including some plain old, bald face, easy-to-disprove lies.  There was no consideration that abuse may be taking place at BMs house or that SDs are victims of PAS.

My husband spoke to a counselor in December 2003 and her that he did not abuse his daughters, and did not want to "play along" with that idea just to get through counseling.  According to my husband, she did not take it well.  Therein lies my primary concern--our dilemma.  My husband cannot lie in counseling--say what the counselor wants to hear--then his daughters will forever believe that he actually abused them, which he DID NOT!  But, if he continues to deny the abuse, who is going to believe him now?  (Another side note: Neither the police nor CSD found anything even worth investigating, and no charges were ever brought against my husband.) If the counselor did not recognize the possibility of PAS 18 months ago, how can my husband change that?  And how will he ever be able to have normal parenting time with his daughters again?

Sorry this is long, tried to cut it down, but I'm just long-winded.  I guess my primary question is how can my husband best go about joint counseling with SDs?  Given previous history, would it be worth it to find another counselor--of course going through a huge battle with BM, and delaying the counseling even more? (Plus we are two hours away from BM--difficult to find a good counselor long-distance.)

I personally am glad that my husband has this opportunity for counseling--he and his SDs will surely need it after what BM has done the past year and a half especially.  I am just concerned that the counseling will not focus on the true problems that have caused the so-called "rift in the relationship" because of what BM has told counselors.
I am planning on moving 110 miles from my current home (and about 100 miles from my ex) in order to attend grad school.  Our parenting plan states that I must give 20 days notice if I intend to move more than 60 miles.  I have informed my ex of my intention to go to school, but don't have housing set up yet and so have not given him an address (with about 40 days until school starts--yeah, I'm stressing out--still don't have my financial aid.)  I have not kept him in the dark, I just don't have any info myself and may end up having to defer my enrollment another year.

But now he is pushing the issue and telling me that state law requires I give 90 days notice if I move more than 90 miles.  (He graduated from law school, at the same school I will hopefully be attending, last year, so he likes to throw stuff out there, but I know from experience that he also makes stuff up to sound good and get his way.)  He says state law trumps the parenting plan, but I always thought it was the opposite.  How can I be expected to follow the requirements of an unknown state law when my parenting plan very clearly lays out other standards?  Is he right or am I?

By the way, I have been considering this for almost the whole year and a half since our divorce--we will be moving back to the community where my kids spent the bulk of their lives (while their dad was in school), and since they only see their dad EOW, I don't anticipate too great of an impact on his time.  My ex moved 260 miles from his older daughters in order to go to school, and now he's making an issue of this--plus there's the fact that he moved away first and was just fine with the added travel time.  We just moved up here a few months later to be with my family and to heal.
Dear Socrateaser / Just a little thing....
Mar 26, 2008, 03:50:46 PM
My divorce decree requires that my ex have a life insurance policy with the children listed as beneficiaries.  I know that he cancelled the one he had while we were married, and I have serious doubts that he is currently covered--he refuses to give me any kind of proof.  Is there some way to compel him to provide the info without actually having to go to court?  He insists that the policy is safe with Wife #4, who I have never met.
Dear Socrateaser / Just a little thing
Jun 19, 2007, 08:11:28 PM
It seems that every week I have some different thing that I obsess over....

This week it is the clause in our divorce decree that requires my ex-husband to carry life insurance for the benefit of the children.  At the time it was written, my husband had a policy in the specified amount, but with me listed as the beneficiary.  I know that has changed, since he remarried less than a month later, and I am fairly certain he cancelled the policy altogether.

Is there any way I can compel him to provide proof of life insurance (without going to court)?  He is a high-risk type of person, and I would like to make sure my kids are taken care of if he kills himself jumping out of a plane or driving his truck or walking across the street.  (I just spent the last 5 years putting him through school--yeah, he dumped me in his last semester of law school--so I don't have a lot of resources right now.)

Dear Socrateaser / Attorney headaches
Mar 16, 2006, 01:57:41 PM
BM refused visits with my daughters (now ages 13 and 11) since March 2005.  We hired an attorney in September 2005, after numerous attempts to work things out outside of court.  He did not file a motion until February 2006--that was after some months of frustration and phone calls (and a few threats) from me.  But finally, a court date was set for the end of March.

Yesterday the attorney's assistant called to tell me that BMs attorney was requesting a postponement of the hearing, and strongly urged me not to fight it because BM would win anyway and it would just cost us more attorney's fees.

Today my attorney sent me a copy of BMs attorney's motion to postpone.  In it, BMs attorney had contacted my attorney a week ago, with no response from him or his office.  Also, included in the affadavit was argument that the hearing can easily be postponed because I have waited a year to do anything, so waiting longer won't matter.

I have felt for several months that my attorney has not properly represented me, but we stayed with him because 1. We did not want to further delay the hearing, 2. We have really liked his ideas and arguments for our case, and 3. He has been extremely patient in our payment arrangements.

1. How will switching attorneys at this point affect the hearing?  A new date has not been set yet.

2.  I have considered representing myself--I'm a 2nd year law student.  How might this be viewed by the judge?  (We will have the same judge who ordered visitation stopped 3 1/2 years ago--she didn't like me much.)

3. Do I have a reasonable case to sue for malpractice, since BMs attorney is already using the delay and inaction to her advantage?  Should I wait to see how the hearing goes--cross our fingers and hope our attorney is not too busy to show up--or just get rid of him now?

Dear Socrateaser / Counseling center not helpful
Jan 06, 2006, 04:10:32 PM
I am in Oregon.  A few years ago, I was ordered by the court to participate in joint counseling with my daughters.  I completed the counseling at the center previously chosen by BM, as ordered.  A few of the sessions were just myself and the counselor, but apparently they are included in my daughters' files.  Last fall, I wrote to the center requesting those records.  State law and my parenting plan allow for it, and in the past the same counseling center has sent records to me with no problems.

We have been going back and forth ever since September.  I have made numerous phone calls and heard a variety of stories/excuses.  Yesterday, I drove to the city where the counseling center is (2 hours away.)  The director of the counseling center flat out refused to give me the records without a subpeona.  They actually told me that my behavior demonstrated why the girls were in counseling! (I was demanding, but not overtly angry or abusive in any way.)

The subpeona will definitely happen, since BM will not even communicate with me outside of court (or so her attorney writes.)  But I am livid that the center would treat me this way and so blatantly violate my rights to the records.

What legal recourse can I take against the counseling center for keeping my records away from me?

What difference is there in not receiving my own records and not receiving the records of my daughters?

Note: I will admit that this question in part is just pure vindictiveness.  I do not know that I would pursue anything beyond what is needed to get my parenting time back.  I hold a lot of blame for this counseling center for this whole mess--the original counselor testified in court 3 years ago that my daughters were not lying about me, but her own records indicated that my oldest admitted to lying.  (We had not the opportunity to see the records before court--yeah, I had a really inexperienced attorney at the time.)
Dear Socrateaser / How long is too long?
Oct 03, 2005, 01:20:10 PM
In March 2005, BM again has refused to allow my parenting time.  I have not seen, nor spoken to my daughters since.  My wife spoke briefly on the phone with them in July (BM was not home at the time), and found out they had not received any of our letters, phone messages, etc.  Since then, BM has blocked our phone number.

Since March, BM has refused to respond to letters or phone calls.  I have also written to her attorney numerous times, and finally received a response (in August!)--that BM will not do anything outside of court.  

I have now contacted an attorney, but am struggling to come up with Retainer.  (I am a law student, maxed out on student loans, very bad credit that we are just now cleaning up, and we are in better financial shape than most of our family, so no borrowing from them.)

I am anxious to see my daughters!!  And I am afraid that my options with the court are disappearing the longer it takes to settle this up. (We are in Oregon.)

That's a lot of background for the one burning question I have:

1.  How long do I have (generally speaking) before the judge just says to keep things the way they are?
Dear Socrateaser / Stipulated Agreements
Jun 14, 2005, 04:50:09 PM
My husband and his ex signed and notarized a new parenting plan in September of last year.  The previous order said no visits until certain requirements were made, and my husband met all those requirements.  There were no attorneys involved.  We based the new parenting plan on the original one, making a few minor changes suggested by ex.  Ex agreed to file with the court, since we no longer live in that county.

I know it was stupid to trust her to do it, but we did and just found out that she never filed it.  She stopped allowing visits, and her attorney advised her to follow the previous order.  The attorney wrote a letter to the judge requesting that she not sign the new agreement.  We also sent a letter to the judge requesting that the order be signed, but have not yet been able to file it.

1. If we go ahead and file the agreement, can the judge really not sign it in as an order?

2.  If judge does not sign the new agreement, what is the best argument we have to get past that and get some parenting time going again?  Nothing happened from the time the new parenting plan was signed until ex stopped visits, and ex gave no reasons for stopping--just that she no longer agreed with parenting plan.

Thanks for your help....
Dear Socrateaser / Reinstating regular visitation
Sep 18, 2004, 09:04:52 AM
Nearly two years ago, my husband's parenting time was halted until certain stipulations were met.  We have fulfilled those stipulations ("jumped through the hoops.")  Unfortunately, the court order was extremely vague--which means we are pretty much at the mercy of the BM.

As far as getting back to normal, the order says, "It is the goal that regular parenting time between DH and the minor children be reinstated at some point in the future...."  We are at that point--BM wanted 6 supervised visits, we have had 5.  SDs are anxious to come to Dad's house.  My husband thinks BM is tired of the whole thing now too.

We do not have an attorney, and I know BM would move VERY slowly if we tried to have her attorney write something up.  None of us want to head back to court.  I want to make absolutely certain things are filed correctly so we have something to fall back on when BM tries to pull her next stunt.  Also, because of brand new laws in Oregon, CS will be drastically affected by the change in visitation.

1. What do we do to officially get back to the regular parenting time as ordered by the original parenting plan?
Dear Socrateaser / Judges
Jun 08, 2004, 11:50:06 AM
Just curious.... I was going through my husband's "Child Support" file and noticed that the same judge signed every single order in there.  There were a few times that she crossed off another judge's name and signed her own.  This is in a huge county in a major metropolitan area.  And it was 6-7 orders that she had signed over 4 years.

The reason I noticed this time through was because it was the same judge that halted my husband's visitation rights in October 2002.  (All of the child support orders except one were prior to 2002, and before my husband ever stepped foot in her courtroom.)  She also ordered herself to be the judge of record for his case--NOT a good thing for us.

Question:  Is it usual for a judge to take such an interest in one particular case?  Or do you think it is just a bunch of weird coincidences?
My SDs are 12 and 13.  We just restarted every other weekend visits, but it is a graduated schedule, so right now we see them about 9 hours EOW.  Recently, I have been in different situations where the topic of online safety/online sexual predators has been discussed.  (I haven't been looking for information, it just keeps finding me.)  So my concern is growing about SDs.

BM is CP.  BM is not the brightest bulb, and I sincerely doubt her ability to monitor SDs online, especially since OSD has had her own laptop now for about 2 years, and both SDs have their own cell phones now.  I know we could talk with SDs about online safety, but when it comes to actual rules that are practiced, we know SDs know how to work the situation--Tell Dad exactly what he wants to hear.  BM will only communicate with us through an attorney--that adds up!  (Stepdad is also non-communicative, I've never spoken with him in the 7 years I have been with my husband and have only seen him in court.)

Does anyone have suggestions/experience in how to have a real discussion with CP about a real concern?  My husband would LOVE to get all 4 parents together and discuss the issues, go to parenting classes, whatever.  BM keeps pulling the "he's so controlling, I can't talk to him" card.
General Issues / Underage driving....
May 28, 2007, 08:57:57 PM
So my ex-husband insists on having his 14-year old drive--and not just some little car, it's either Ford Expedition or the Dodge 4X4 truck.  It was a major point of discussion/disagreement when we were married.  Now I have no say in what he does with his daughter (from wife #1).  But she is driving while my children (ages 4 and 6) are in the vehicle.  Plus he takes my kids out of their booster seats/seat belts regularly, had my 6-year old "drive" the truck today.

I was to the point of frustration that I called the local police to see if anything could be done.  Either someone witnesses it, then reports it as it is happening (not likely to happen.)  Or, the police officer advised that I call the court tomorrow to have visitation rights "cancelled."  I know that is not right, would never do that to my children.  But at the same time I am seriously concerned about the safety of my children.  (There was a local news story about 3 months ago of a woman allowing her 14-year old stepson drive, and he killed himself in a car accident....)

My children's father thinks that he is super-dad and has never done anything wrong by his kids.  (I personally think cheating on their mom is not doing right by the kids, but that is a side point.)  To even suggest that he is putting them in danger, he will just laugh it off and probably threaten me with some court action.  He just graduated from law school, so pretty much any disagreement we have ends with him quoting (or misquoting) some law and threatening court....

Our divorce was final in January, so being on this side of things is still new to me.  Any suggestions?
General Issues / On the other side
Mar 07, 2007, 09:35:49 AM
I have been visiting SPARC for about 5 years now, as the wife of NCP and stepmom to two girls.  Now I am divorced, and pretty traumatized by it.  My children and I currently live in one bedroom in my sister's house, we have no car (ex took both, since they were both financed in his name), just barely found a job as a substitute, no child support ordered (since my ex is full-time student and not working.)  My ex has standard every other weekend and alternating holidays--he agreed to it, signed the papers, took them to the judge even though I asked him to just wait a little longer.  I know it sounds crazy, but when we signed the divorce papers, we were hoping to still work things out--he thought we needed a fresh start to our relationship in order to overcome some things he had done.  He remarried exactly 4 weeks after the divorce was final, and spent what would have been our 7th anniversary on his honeymoon.

As I said, I am a bit traumatized by the whole thing--came down very fast.  I am seeing a counselor.  Here is my dilemma, after 5 years of researching and venting and working to see SDs more, I have been advised by my counselor to not allow more visits than what is in the parenting plan.  Everybody, including my ex, says they want me to be "healthy."  And my counselor says that communicating with the ex, setting up extra parenting time, etc. just prolongs the healing process, plus he is just continuing to exercise the control over me that he had while we were married, that I need to be a "tiger" and be strong, and the law is on my side (which I know quite well.)  AAAAggggghhhhhh!!!!  Everyone says that my being "healthy" is the best thing for the kids.

I have more empathy now for the 1st ex, although I would never pull the same trash she did.  I just don't know how to balance the whole getting healthy thing with promoting my children's relationship with their father.  **I** am also losing time with my children--not just when they are with their dad--I told my ex before we were married that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, and we have managed that for most of our marriage.  Now I am forced to leave them to go to work.

At their dad's house, they have one big happy family--6 children with 3 BM's, 2 BF's, 3 SM's and 2 SF's, and of course all the half-siblings and step-siblings, and more to come I am sure.  I would never not allow the ordered parenting time, but it just seems like such an unstable situation right now.  Good grief--the day my husband called and told me the divorce was signed and we could move on together, he started dating someone else.

I allow the kids to talk to their dad whenever they want; I don't talk bad about him (just slipped up once--said some stuff about his then girlfriend--they were seeing each other while we were still married--took the kids to see a counselor shortly after.)  The kids seem to be dealing with things very well.  I just don't know what to do about "extra" time.  Is that so horrible?  Can't we just all take time to heal?  

SPOKANE, Wash. Dec 31, 2004 — A judge has refused to grant a divorce to a pregnant woman trying to leave her husband two years after he was jailed for beating her, ruling instead that she must wait until the child is born.

Shawnna Hughes' husband was convicted of abuse in 2002. She separated from him after the attack and filed for divorce last April. She later became pregnant by another man and is due in March.

Her husband, Carlos, never contested the divorce, and the court commissioner approved it in October. But the divorce papers failed to note that Hughes was pregnant, and when the judge found out, he rescinded the divorce.

"There's a lot of case law that says it is important in this state that children not be illegitimized," Superior Court Judge Paul Bastine told The Spokesman-Review newspaper on Thursday.

Hughes' attorney, Terri Sloyer, said nothing in state law says a pregnant woman cannot get a divorce.

"We don't live in 15th-century England," said Sloyer, who has appealed.

Under Washington state law, a husband is presumed to be the father of any child born within 300 days of a divorce. The judge argued that the paternity of the child needs to be determined before a divorce can be finalized.

Hughes has stated in court records that her boyfriend is the child's father, and that the judge's decision prevented her from marrying him.

"She has the right to divorce and be free to marry whoever she wants," Sloyer said. "It's about the choice, the fundamental right to choose."

In a very brief interview on Good Morning America, the attorney also stated that Hughes is on state assistance, and suggested that the decision may have something to do with making sure someone was paying child support........

Wednesday, September 29, 2004
By Wendy McElroy

At least 28 federal class action suits in 28 states have been filed in the last two weeks on behalf of non-custodial parents (NCPs). The defendants are the individual states.

The plaintiffs claim to represent an estimated 25 million non-custodial parents — primarily fathers — whose right to equal custody of minor children in situations of dispute is allegedly being violated by family courts across the nation.

Family law is traditionally a state matter, but the federal government has assumed greater control in the area over the last few decades. Thus, the plaintiffs are appealing to the Constitution, U.S. Supreme Court precedent and acts of Congress "to vindicate and restore their various inalienable rights."

In short, federal law is being asked to trump state practice in custody matters.

According to the suits, state practices appear to be "willful, reckless, and/or negligent fraud, deceit, collusion, and/or abuse of powers" with a "systematic pattern of obstructing, hindering, and/or otherwise thwarting the rightful and lawful conclusion of due process" of non-custodial parents in child custody proceedings.

In particular, fathers protest the widespread practice of almost automatically granting sole custody to mothers in divorce disputes.

The 28-plus class action suits are identical, as any future suits will be. The ultimate goal is for every state and U.S. possession to be represented in one large consolidated action. Indeed, Torm L. Howse — president of the Indiana Civil Rights Council and coordinator of the suits — says that paperwork is under way for submission to the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, a legal body which has the authority to transfer such multiple civil cases to a single district court.

If this happens, every single non-custodial parent in America will be represented by the class action suit, which is nothing more than a lawsuit brought by one person or a small group on behalf of an entire class who shares a grievance.

What specific relief is being sought?

The sweeping legal goals are spelled out in a press release. The main relief sought from federal court is the immediate "restoration/elevation to equal custodial status" of all current non-custodial parents against whom no allegations of abuse or neglect have been proven and who have an ongoing relationship with the child.

The establishment of equal custody embraces several other reliefs.

For example, the "prohibition of custodial move-aways of minor children [more than 60 miles] from their original physical residences with natural parents." Also, the "abolishment of forced/court-ordered child support in most cases." Support of the child would be borne by each parent during their own parenting time.

The Plaintiffs argue for restoration of equal custody not merely for the sake of non-custodial parents but also for children's welfare. The press release cites a much-touted study entitled "Child Adjustment in Joint-Custody Versus Sole-Custody Arrangements," which was published in the APA's Journal of Family Psychology. The study concluded, "Children in joint physical or legal custody were better adjusted than children in sole-custody settings, but no different from those in intact families."

In this sense, the suits also advocate children's rights.

Other reliefs being sought are financial in nature; some of them take the suits into murky areas. For example, the suits ask for "reimbursement" from custodial parents to non-custodial parents of any state-ordered child support that exceeded the "maximum limits of federal law." This ceases to be an appeal to constitutional or parental rights and instead pits one set of civil law against another, with retroactive penalties being imposed.

In addition, the suits ask for "various damages against the Defendant [the state named] in the aggregate value of $1,000,000 payable per Plaintiff." The court awards would be "executable upon all monies, property, chattels, assets, goods, pecuniary interest and anything whatsoever of any value" owned or controlled by the State. The suits request that "an appropriate portion" of the award be provided by the liquidation or direct transfer of title of "unused, abandoned, or unnecessary state property and assets."

The number of non-custodial parent plaintiffs who sign on to a federal class action cannot be predicted but it could run into millions; the collective damages could run into billions or even trillions of dollars. Unfortunately, this gives the appearance of pursuing profit rather than justice.

When asked to elaborate on the amount of damages, Howse clarified, "We are preparing, later this week, to offer proposed settlements that will waive the vast majority of damages, among other things, in exchange for a quick restoral of equal custody rights, a few forms of tax abatements/credits to balance what custodial parents have enjoyed for years and some other basic and related issues, like the setting up of neutral visitation exchange centers, and the like."

He added, "It has never been about winning large amounts of money from the states ... It's about restoring the lives of our children, and restoring our own lives."

I genuinely hope the settlements come to pass. Stripped of their financial demands, the suits could go a long way toward removing what I believe to be the worst laws governing child custody in disputed divorce.

At bare minimum, they are raising the profile of an issue that will not go away: the crying need of non-custodial parents, especially fathers, to know their children.

And the equal need of children to embrace both parents.

Wendy McElroy is the editor of and a research fellow for The Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif. She is the author and editor of many books and articles, including the new book, "Liberty for Women: Freedom and Feminism in the 21st Century" (Ivan R. Dee/Independent Institute, 2002). She lives with her husband in Canada.

I always keep an eye open for any story related to divorce/custody/ fathers' rights in mainstream media.  Found this article on Fox News about Fathers' Rights in England:,2933,121474,00.html

And the Today show this morning ran a story of a mother who lost custody because she was "smearing" the father with accusations of sexual abuse of their twin daughters.  I only caught the tailend of the story, will have to look up the transcripts.....  All I saw was the mother--who purposefully called in the media and made a huge show of her daughters being taken away from her.  How can you put your children through something like that on national television and really expect sympathy??

General Issues / Document Document Document
Apr 10, 2004, 09:58:19 PM
My husband and I had a recent discussion about the ex and her little stunts.  She is once again "interpreting" the court order in her own special way.  Well, I think my husband needs to be more aggressive--document more, file contempt, etc.  He flat out told me no.

My husband has never filed for anything in court, BM has ALWAYS instigated it.  Before we met, he had an attorney--a rather high-priced one--he told him NOT to keep a journal and not to document anything.  Reason: If you write down every little thing BM does, you appear to be controlling and obsessive.  You also don't want to appear to be trying to get BM in trouble.  It is a valid argument, I think.  My husband said that this was the only attorney who ever accomplished anything for him in court, so he is sticking to that advice.  So we sit and take whatever BM feels like dishing out.

I am just curious as to what other posters think of this advice.  And how can I gently suggest to my husband that there is a difference in documenting vs. obsessing?  And how can you make that clear in court?

Our last attorney kept saying that BM was going to "hang herself" with all the frivolous charges, but instead my husband lost his parenting time and BM is making up whatever rules she pleases....
Second Families / Farewell... maybe
Feb 06, 2007, 08:49:12 PM
I've been here off and on for the past 5 years or so.  What a roller coaster.  I'm done now.  My husband and I have divorced, so I am no longer the stepmom.  I was never really allowed to develop any kind of relationship with my ex-husband's daughters, so I don't anticipate a whole lot now.  Although, since I've been around, BM has been very generous to ex-wife #2--she sees the girls more than their dad.  I've thought about playing the whole, "You're right, he was such a horrible person" act to get on her good side, and then tell her what I really think about all the crap she's pulled in the past 7 years.  But I guess I am mostly just relieved to be out of that mess.

Now I am the custodial BM.  Kind of weird to be on the "other side," after battling things for so long.  Maybe I will be back to SPARC.  Who knows?
Second Families / Stepmom nerves....
Oct 31, 2006, 01:57:29 PM
So, in May, our judge ordered that we would have a "graduated" visitation plan--first just Saturdays, then Sat-Sun, finally the regular Fri-Sun, EOW.  But returning to regular visits was to occur only IF we stuck to the graduated schedule.  She was very specific that there were to be no variations.

This weekend is our last time for Sat-Sun.  But my husband will be out of town.  Rather than try to make other arrangements with BM and risk having to start over with visits, we decided that I would pick up SDs for the weekend.  (Our judge did state during the hearing that it was OK for SDs to spend time with their stepmother and their brother and sister.)  At our last visit, we explained to SDs (ages 12 and 13) exactly what was going to happen, and emphasized that the following visit will be be for the entire week of Thanksgiving Break.  They were fine with it--we made some tentative plans to work on projects they have to finish by next week.

A full week later, on Sunday, OSD called and said they didn't want to come down if Dad is not there.  My husband told her "too bad"--he explained that the judge was very clear that we could not miss any visits.  But we are both waiting for more of a battle. :(  

I was nervous enough as it was to pick the girls up by myself--this will be the first time in many years (mostly because BM keeps blocking visits.)  I've known them since they were 6 and 7 years old, but we have had almost no opportunity to develop any kind of relationship in that time.  We suspect that BM does not talk very positively about me.  But I also tend to be a little more strict, and SDs are just at the age when that doesn't go over very well. (You should have seen the look I got from OSD when I told her no soda in my new car!  Gotta love those teen years!)

This was a little bit of a vent--it's a pretty minor "event," but just adds to the whole frustrating picture.  But I am also looking for ideas to cope--to not be so nervous, to not let my frustration with the situation show to my SDs, etc.  In past months, when I just can't deal anymore, I "hide" for an hour or two--let my husband do the entertaining.  But I won't be able to do that this weekend....  

Second Families / Court last Friday
May 15, 2006, 02:58:39 PM
And I just have to vent, even though judge ruled in our favor.  First a little background, since it's been a while since I've been here.  My husband lost his parenting time 3 1/2 years ago when BM accused him of abuse.  Judge was pretty harsh--BM was asking for supervised visits, but judge stopped parenting time completely until 1. anger management counseling, 2. joint counseling with SDs, 3. supervised visits.  And, the kicker, the judge ordered herself as the judge of record for the case.  (We had a pretty inexperienced attorney at the time.  No more.)

My husband did everything as quickly as possible.  BM dragged her feet, so supervised visits didn't start until June 2004.  In September 2004, BM and my husband signed a new parenting plan reinstating regular EOW schedule.  (BM agreed to file the papers in court, since she lived in the county, but we later found out she never did.)

Went OK until December 2004, then SDs complained.  BM said they were "old enough" to decide not to come, so we didn't see them again until February.  Had 2 more visits, they expressed desire to live with us.  BM freaked out when approached.  Haven't seen them since March 2005.  We tried numerous times to contact SDs, BM, and her attorney, no reponse until August when her attorney sent us a letter stating that BM would not agree to anything outside of court.  In September 2005, we retained an attorney.

Finally, last week we end up in court.  Our attorney did a great job--just 8 months later than we wanted.  Judge ordered visits to start again ASAP in a graduated schedule.  But before she could do that, she chewed my husband out for taking a year.  Yeah, we were very concerned about the time issue, but our attorney wasn't going to argue that he was the one dragging his feet; and it might have been uncomfortable to tell the judge we were scared to try it without an attorney since she completely screwed us last time.

Judge didn't reprimand BM in the least.  Grrrr......  BM's last statement on the stand was, with tear-filled eyes, "I just never want him to be alone with the girls ever again."  This was after admitting the only "problems" with the parenting time were the 11- and 13-year old girls complaining about chores and spending time with stepmom, and supposedly being pressured to live with Dad.

We are very relieved with what happened, excited to have visits again, even glad that it will be a gradual schedule--I was stressing about having them full-time for 4 weeks this summer after all the "issues" the past 3 1/2 years.  But there is always just the little annoying thing that Dad for some reason takes second fiddle.....  Like the court making such a point of what "Mom" was uncomfortable with, but not ever asking "Dad" if he had concerns.  Like the fact that no one seemed to care that ex-wife #2 sees the kids more than Dad (she testified at the hearing--pretty amusing.)

Just had to vent a little and move on.  We spent the weekend rehashing the hearing, and celebrating.  Our attorney is planning on starting Saturday visits this week.  Wahoo!
Second Families / Counselor's records
Jan 10, 2006, 09:51:30 PM
Well, we finally received the records that we requested back in September, for YSD (OSD's in the mail, hopefully, but probably pretty similar.)  It was incredible reading.  Lost what little respect I may have had left for the counseling center and the counseling profession in general....

The records from when my husband was in joint counseling with his daughters had a definite bias toward BM and her version of the "situation."  At the end of almost every session there was a note that counselor called BM to discuss what happened.  But, my husband has never once received a phone call to discuss his daughters--in 3 1/2 years.

Then there were the most recent records, starting about a month after BM would no longer allow visitation.  They keep talking about "what happened" at our house.  But the records don't say what actually happened. Our version: SDs said they wanted to stay.  My husband said OK and called BM, who of course freaked out completely.  SDs changed their minds by Sunday afternoon.  My husband told them their mom would probably not allow them to come back.  BM picked them up, and we haven't seen them since March.  That is "what happened."

But the counselor's records keep talking about Dad not following the rules, and not being consistent, and how much his letters hurt their feelings.  (Jeez, no one cares if Dad's feelings are hurt!)  And the counselor put them in a group for abused children--appropriate touching, what domestic violence is, etc. etc.  My husband is scared to death of what will come next.

I get so long-winded here.  But I just wanted to know what you all do to deal with it....  Our children are 5- and 3-years old--old enough to understand a little when we start venting.  We try to keep the whole mess away from them--we say BM won't let SDs come any more, when they ask when we will see their sisters.  But, receiving the letters at Christmas and now the records creates such tension in our home.  

This will be the first time that my husband has initiated a court hearing (if our attorney ever gets it done), and there is stress and concern related to that as well.  It's frustrating to read all that garbage SDs say about us, and then have to spend $1000s to be able to see them again (on top of the $1000s sent to CS.)  OSD is 13,  YSD is 11 1/2.  Is it possible for them to recognize what BM has done to them, even with a 1/2 decent therapist (depending on a reasonable outcome to court)?  How do you resist the urge to pull out the filing cabinet drawer full of letters, court documents, etc. to show them what really happened?
Second Families / Merry Christmas vent
Dec 26, 2005, 12:30:09 AM
Merry Christmas to all the NCPs and their families.  Seems like an impossibility really.  We have never had a truly 100% Merry Christmas--just do the best we can, but there is always hanging there in the background the fact that once again my SDs are not there, and have not called or sent a letter, or anything.

This year we did get letters from SDs.  I forgot to pick up the mail yesterday, so I ran out today to check for Christmas cards....  There in the pile was an envelope addressed by BM.  The letters were written a few weeks ago, but not mailed until 12/22--gotta' get the good news there by Christmas.  SDs (ages 11 and 13) called my husband a liar, accused him of threatening them, said that our letters were making them "sob" and they just want to be happy at home so stop sending letters.

First of all, my husband has had no communication with his daughters since March--not without his trying to do so--so not sure how he could lie to and threaten them.  (In March, they asked to live with us, he said OK, they changed their minds and went home with BM and we haven't seen them since.)  Secondly, the only letters we have sent were short, cheerful updates of the family--not sure how that can make them unhappy.  And as of the end of July, they had not received any letters, packages, phone messages. (I was able to get through on the phone then, our number has been blocked since.)  Not sure when they started getting the letters, which letters they got, or what BM did to twist the letters.

Sorry this is going long, but receiving the letters just makes everything else bubble to the surface....  We called an attorney in September to take care of this and he has done nothing--but conveniently in the mail I picked up today there was also a bill from him.

We requested school records (using the same basic form letter found on SPARC), and received incomplete copies of the records, report cards, and nothing else in 4 months--I seem to recall taking a lot of papers home from school with me at the age....

We requested counseling records in September. The counseling place sent different forms to sign to release records, which we returned immediately; someone called in November asking which records we wanted; I called back a few weeks later because we hadn't received anything and was told someone would call me back.  No more phone calls, and still no records. (By the way, we have tried to get the attorney to get the records as well, not happening....)  We are pretty certain that the girls are back in counseling at the place where this whole mess started over 3 years ago.  Really a lot of the blame for the mess lies there too.  The original counselor testified in court that there was no way SDs were lying; when we received the records (after the hearing--yes, we had a crappy lawyer then too), the counselor's notes indicated that OSD admitted to lying about "incidents of abuse."  (That hearing led to my husband losing his parenting time, an order of joint counseling, and then supervised visits, with the ultimate goal being to restore normal parenting time.  The court order was so vague and poorly written, that it pretty much left everything up to BM.)

A few weeks ago, CSE sent a letter saying that my husband's license was suspended, with no other prior notice, and despite the fact that we have made payments.  Called the attorney about that too--said over a week ago it would be no problem to take care of.  But as of Friday they had not done anything, and had lost the copy of the CSE letter I had faxed over.  We found out Thursday the suspension was in effect 12:01 am Christmas morning.  Not sure if the attorney took care of it the Friday afternoon before Christmas Eve....  If the suspension was not stopped, it's another $75 out of our pockets to reinstate the license--because the DMV will NOT ever admit to a mistake and waive the fee, not ever, ever.

We are two hours away from SDs, attorney, school, and counseling center.  Not too far, but we are on a student budget!!  Financial aid doesn't come in for a few more weeks....  We can't afford driving back and forth.  We can't afford an attorney.  We can't afford child support.  And yet we have to for two little girls who don't even want it.  (Well, they do want the child support--BM told them last time they were in counseling that Dad didn't pay and they were very upset.  I want them to see the invoice saying "Amount Previously Paid: $46,490" and counting!!)

I guess the only bright side of this is that my husband is on Christmas Break from law school, no job, lots of time and some resources to hopefully get things moving on all sides.  It will be good (on our marriage) to have him busy, outside of the house :)
Second Families / Oh the craziness....
Mar 01, 2005, 01:37:17 PM
Back in December SDs called to say they didn't want to come down because I was "mean."  My husband said he would let them decide when they were ready to come down (what else could he do?), but they can't just jerk us back and forth every few months.

They didn't actually make the first call.  My MIL is seriously ill, and my husband called to let them know they needed to go visit their grandmother.  That started things again--a couple visits with SDs while we were up to see MIL, etc.  And SDs came for a regular visit this weekend.  All went well.

OSD wanted to stay a little later, and so called to ask BM if that would be OK, it wasn't.  My husband got on the phone and BM chewed him out.  SDs heard the entire conversation--at least Dad's side--for the first time.  (It wasn't on purpose--our cordless phone is broken, so we have an old phone plugged in and my husband couldn't go in another room like he usually does when speaking to BM, and SDs just sat and listened.)

Long story a little shorter, when my husband took the girls home, they started asking him if they could live with us.  Whoa!  What a shock!!  My husband has been very careful not to push that idea on the girls--occasionally he will bring up the possibility jokingly.  But this time they asked a lot of questions, and he told them straight out that they are old enough to decide.  BM found out about this little conversation and left us a lovely little message.

So I am really nervous to see how things go the next time they come down.  Worried about possibly having a 10- and a 12-year old full-time, worried about my husband if they change their minds (although he has made it very clear to them that it is OK if they do change their minds), worried that they are just learning to "play the system" some more, and worried about the impact this will have on my 2- and 4-year old children, especially with all the conflict that will certainly be there.
We are back to "normal" visits now EOW, since the end of September.  We wanted to switch a weekend for several very good reasons, but it's not a huge deal, and we are fine if BM says "no."  We just would like to know what to plan for.

BM goes back and forth about talking to my husband on the phone.  Earlier this summer they agreed to set up an email account specifically so that my husband can communicate with his daughters and with BM. (BM doesn't want us to send messages through SDs, but the only communication she will allow is through SDs email--go figure!)  We played along, sent BM an email over a week ago to ask for the change--no response.  My husband has tried calling the past few days--no answer.  Finally OSD called tonight to say "Hi!" and "See you tomorrow."  When I asked about switching weekends, she said they hadn't checked their email.  Oooooh, the frustration....

OSD also said that she does have a volleyball game this weekend--news to us.  We have TRIED to keep in contact with the coach and get a schedule so that we can get OSD to as many of her games as possible--the games are all on Saturday 2 hours from our town.  The last game we found out about the day before--as I was leaving to pick up SDs, I had to leave a message on my sister's voicemail asking if we could spend the night at her house (she lives about 20 minutes from SDs), so we could go to the volleyball game the next morning, and then make the two-hour drive to our home.  I picked up SDs and just showed up on my sister's doorstep--with two hours notice and 4 kids, ready to spend the night.

What it so difficult about communication?!?!  And how about some planning?  BM plays like she can't make last-minute changes because it is too difficult or confusing or whatever, but she doesn't communicate in order to make more advanced changes.  Grrrrr.......
Second Families / Exciting news
Sep 20, 2004, 08:21:43 AM
My husband talked with his ex last night--by some miracle everyone was home, so he spoke with his daughters also.  (It is ALWAYS very difficult to get through to them.)  He and BM talked for over an hour, and he convinced her to allow SDs to come to our home for the entire weekend :)  She tried to put it off some more--wanted to wait for her attorney to draw up papers, go to court, something--but he convinced her it was all about the     s and they are ready.

After the past 2 years, I am still not 100% sure it will happen.  BM also said she needed to talk to her husband about it--who knows why, since he has almost no involvement in SDs lives and he lives with them!  I think she will use him as an excuse to not let it happen.  But for now we are planning on picking them up Friday afternoon :)  They were last in our home July 25, 2002.