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Your FEEDBACK - Role of Personal Sacrifice in Family Law Reform

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Date: Mon Feb 24 2003 - 10:11:04 EST

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Good People & People of Faith:

This message contains your FEEDBACK to a previous list message which
asked the questions: Is personal sacrifice an essential element of
serious Family Law reform?  What type of sacrifice and what about
Faith?  See the original message at:

We want to thank you for some excellent thoughts.  It was some of
the best feedback we've had both in what was said -- and also interesting
in what was not said...

--- "David Shackleton" <>  "Are you entitled to see your kids?"

> I think that you are exactly right that personal sacrifice is an
> essential part of serious family law reform.  The fact that you
> "get" this, and have made it the central idea of your advocacy, is
> the main reason that I am supporting you strongly.

> The reason, in my opinion, that most parents' advocates don't really
> get this as well, and that you haven't yet been joined by other
> parents willing to sacrifice as you are, is that most parents feel
> entitled to their parenthood.  That means that they believe that
> their right to parent 'should' be protected by the state -- even
> though it clearly isn't.

> I notice that you often write as if trying to convince people that
> we have a right to our children.  But I think most people already
> feel this, they already feel entitled to their children.  It's just
> that they, like someone who has purchased a stereo at a store,
> already feel entitled to their purchase: they don't want to pay for
> it again.  And so they just get angry when their right is denied.

> We are like a people who feel entitled to peace, and therefore lose
> it because we are unwilling to actually fight to maintain our
> peaceful land. Winston Churchill said the price of peace is eternal
> vigilance, i.e., eternal readiness to fight.  We don't want to fight
> for our kids, because we don't feel that we should have to, we think
> we are already entitled to them, and someone else should enforce our
> right.  And so as a result we don't really have the right.

> Entitlement is the problem, in my analysis, not our lack of a sense
> of our right to our children.

        I like what you say there about "entitlements" and why
        inaction happens.  I think people on the list will "get it."
        Especially about getting someone else to enforce the right for
        you -- everyone wants to go to Court, to get a Judge to give
        them their "rights".  It's really a novel idea!  Certainly,
        the American founding Fathers would not have thought of the
        Courts that way -- but of the legislature, where the will of
        the people is made known?

--- Daniel Lee <>  "Action in Tennessee"

> Hello John, your writing and thinking is getting better and better.
> Here in Tennessee we are in the process of getting 5 family law
> reform bills matched up with state house and senate sponsors.  I
> don't know how many if any will be fully sponsored, but at a
> reception in the Legislative Plaza a Democrat asked me to stand and
> recognized me in front of about 30 reps and sens.  Then at a
> Republican dinner Saturday as I circulated around the room the
> elected officials would interrupt their meal, and stand and greet me.
> These things are extraordinary.

--- "Ken Wiebe" <>    "From Canada, who cares?"

> You are absolutely right about personal sacrifice and the importance
> of civil disobedience. I too am puzzled by the non-actions of
> parents who do not do what is necessary to secure their right to
> parent, not mention the right of their children to have two active
> parents.

> I was in the offices of my member of parliament today, and his
> assistant made it quite clear that without numbers of people and
> petitions etc., nothing would improve. I stopped in because the
> federal government (Canada) is amending it's divorce legislation and
> I wanted to know if they were contemplating improvements in light of
> another father's suicide last month.  They didn't know about the
> suicide, and I got the feeling that they did not care.

> And maybe there is a lesson in that. Our elected officials don't
> care if their laws kill people, they care only about numbers and
> votes. What that means for us is something that I am still trying to
> figure out, but I think it shows that they will not respond
> favorably to small groups (or one person) protesting.

> I was in court last week with a friend, and a judge of the highest
> court in BC said (on the record) that people have rights until the
> government limits or removes those rights, which it could do
> whenever it likes in legislation.  I think this means that "parental
> rights" simply do not exist... and neither do any other rights. I
> guess what I am trying to say is that this is a much larger problem
> than most people realize, and very few care.

        Yes, it certainly seems that way.  But times can change when
        no one expects it.  Many people never expected segregation to
        changed in the Deep South in the US -- but within a matter of
        years it did.  A few people, acting with conviction, can start
        to move history.

---  BRIAN DUTCHER <>  "Violence the answer?"


        Yes, I know what you mean.  Yes "violence" does work at times,
        but it can be at a tremendous cost to a lot of people.
        America is an independent nation because of a war
        (violence). But as you say, things like a bombing are just
        cowardist/terrorist -- they don't help at all.

        We have an easy win if just a few more folks will come forward
        and they will in time.

---    "Action speaks louder than words."

> Keep up your work.  You represent me every time you make someone
> think about the issue.  Your actions are just what is needed in our
> situation.  You are accomplishing more by yourself than 5.000
> letters or petitions ever could.  I respect your courage and
> bravery.  We are all watching and will strike when the time is right!
> We got your back.  Do not second guess yourself.

--- C H <>     "What is sacrifice?  No need for jail."

> John, I do think that sacrifice is necessary.  The question might be
> what is sacrifice?  I know that an inconvenience to one person is a
> major sacrifice to another.  The mere act of getting arrested even
> for a misdemeanor can completely terminate some people's parental
> rights. I agree with the basic message you are trying to get out.
> Family Law has nothing to do with family.

> About 15 years or so ago there was a District Judge in our county
> who was so unfair in his final custody orders.  Some fathers were
> not allowed more than 2 days 'visitation' a month but had to pay
> huge amounts of child support.  The fathers organized based on one
> letter to the editor in our local newspaper...Once a month they
> complied stories and statistics for a letter to the editor.
> To make the long story short, the judge was not re-elected.  He had
> started being a little more fair when he finally got the message
> that his job was on the line.  Too little too late.  The men and
> women who did the work sacrificed time and money and jobs to do what
> they needed to do.  They prevailed.  They did not need to get
> arrested.  They did the work quietly but persistently.

> I have been writing letters to the editor of two newspapers.  I have
> an appointment to meet with the local managing editor for a possible
> news article.  I have not yet started a court watch but it is on my
> agenda.  It took 16 days to get 5 signatures on for the UPREPA
> Uniform Parental Rights Enforcement and Protection Act petition.
> Perhaps you are familiar with the UPREPA, if not the web address is

---     "Be careful!"

> One must sacrifice if one wants something bad enough. There are just
> varying degrees of it.

> I am concerned though for your personal safety should you continue
> to be arrested. It could reach the point where the Gov't. may just
> decide to label you a "terrorist" and detain you indefinitely or
> worse hang you in your jail cell or have some other "accident"
> befall you.  The Feds are trouncing on so many civil liberties now
> under the guise of "Homeland Security" that THAT is terrifying me.

---    "A step-mom's perspective"

> John, if I was in New York, I'd be right there with you.  Luckily, I
> do not have children of my own yet.  I have dealt with the system as
> an outsider, as a stepmother.  I've seen the injustices done.
> Fortunately, my husband has never been told by a court that he could
> not see his daughter...

> I guess to some people, our situation would be a cake-walk.  We get
> to see her, on a regular basis... of course all communications go
> through the child because her mother has such a violent temper.  If
> there is anything that needs to be communicated to the mother, my
> husband does it (I don't want to be any where around this child's
> mother because of how I've been treated), and normally he tells her
> how it's going to be and then hangs up....

> No, I haven't participated in any non-violent action to try and get
> family law reform.  Will I?  I'm not sure.  Do I want to?
> Absolutely.  Something needs to be done.  You are right... the
> government is allowed to mingle too many times.  And all it takes is
> one parent (usually the female) to cry a flat out lie.  The courts
> punish the other parent and ruin their lives on unsubstantiated
> claims.  By the time the victim is finished (if that ever happens)
> clearing their name, they are so spent financially and emotionally.
> It's ashame.

> What do I do now?  I pass on the information that I have learned
> dealing with the court system.  If I can help just one person, then
> I have succeeded.  Is it enough?  Absolutely NOT!  Time is not
> nearly the sacrifice paid by those in history, but in this day and
> age, time is very valuable.

> I admire what you are doing.  I certainly hope you can find one or
> two other parents just to stand with you.  There has to be someone
> in New York willing to do that.  I look very closely at the
> officials that I vote for now.  I do hope one day I can find the
> strength and the courage to do what you have done.  Or at least get
> the opportunity to talk to an elected official about this chronic
> problem.  Until then, I will continue sharing our experiences with
> the system when I know someone is going through the same problems.
> Every little bit helps!

> Thanks John for your work.  It will happen one day!

--- Ron Pfitzner <>, Captain for American Airlines

> I was reading through the minutes of one of the APA (Airline Pilot's
> Association) Board of Directors meetings and came across a paragraph
> which I thought was germane to your activities.  I'm reproducing it
> for your consideration:
> Kids are running our government.  The average age for a staffer was probably 
> twenty-three to twenty-eight.  Many (almost all of the older ones) were 
> lawyers and all were extremely bright.  No member of Congress makes an 
> important decision without consulting these handpicked advisors.  If APA 
> wants to make an impact in the future, we must make an effort to get to know 
> key staffers and develop personal relationships with them.  With a personal, 
> trusting relationship, something that is very doable, APA's members could see 
> tremendous strides in our successes.  

> APA has proven that we actually care about the issues, are willing
> to learn about the processes they (the staffers) deal with, and will
> make honest and fact based input.  That type of relationship would
> lead Congressional staff members to fully and honestly support our
> positions on issues as they did with the armed pilot initiative.
> The pilots in this process developed strong trust relationships with
> many Representatives, Senators, and their staffers throughout this
> process.  Ultra-conservative to ultra-liberal, Republican or
> Democrat-We, pilots, have forged some very good relationships.  We
> are optimistic that we will be able to access these people when
> issues related to our career come up in the future.  This, in our
> view, is a significant accomplishment in and of itself.

---  ROBERT LASHEFF <>  "File law suit"

> I was wondering if anyone has really looked into a class action suit
> regarding our issues? I believe the Childrens Rights Council has one
> underway and I have found at least one local organization that will
> litigate this type of thing on a pro-bono and/or reduced fee
> depending on qualification.Also I was hoping to link up with any
> local members here in N.E.ILL. if I could access some addresses or
> phone numbers. God Bless.


> A big A men to you!,

> I will join in to help.  What to do. My son doesn't want to live
> with is abusive father but his high priced lawyer is wearing me out
> we have a hearing with a referee in Ann Arbor on the 26th of Feb. I
> called they said no my son can't talk to the referee alone!! The
> psychiatric evaluator was paid off by the lawyer and my ex.! Can you
> believe money buys injustice for kids??? I can't believe we can
> figure out how to get to the moon and back but we can't figure out
> how to take our kids rights into perspective!!! Good luck keep in
> touch I am off to find somebody to help us!

> Denise in Grass Lake

--- Ron <>   "What is sacrifice?"

> I still stand by my opinion that you are wasting your time with
> Clinton. After all, are we all supposed to be equals. If that were
> the case, she would have gladly seen you a long time ago. Unless
> your cause is in her best interest and can propel her political
> career, even if she did see you, nothing would be done.

           Yes, I agree on the politics. I would expect that attitude
and we need to get people to understand the issue.

> The family court system is a total mess. It has nothing to do with
> the best interest of the child, or the parent's right to be a
> parent. All it is, is a mechanism to redistribute money. It takes
> the money from the principle wage earner and redistributes it
> throughout the court system and it's network of highly trained
> parasites. At this point, the only way I can see any successful
> means of changing the Family Court system is for a collaborative
> effort to insure only non-attorneys be elected to office. The
> problem is, those who have felt the full wrath of the family court
> system and are best qualified to see it's corruption and
> inadequacies, are financially ruined to the point they can't afford
> it. Remember these are often the people who have been turned into
> the "slaves of the court". A person in this stature, who tries to
> improves things is looked upon as a slacker who should be providing
> for his children (AKA Family Court System). Sound familiar to you?

       Yes, I know what you mean.  But we have let it become that way,
       our apathy resulted in a lot of these laws being passed.  We
       didn't appreciate what a disaster it was till we got caught up
       in it (or at least I didn't).

> I too tried the sacrifice route, in addition to loosing my time with
> the kids (parental alienation) that will not be enforced by the
> judge, it has nearly ruined me financially. My only solace is the
> fact I exposed a corrupt judge and got him out of there, the ones
> who benefited from that were all the public that was spared his
> antics and greed, certainly not me. Since I blew the whistle on him,
> but I'm not covered by the whistle blower's act, I have been cannon
> fodder for the legal system.

  [follow up message below]

> While this was going on, I discovered the judge were meeting to
> discuss what to do with me and my attorney. This was done secretly,
> which is in contradiction to the state's Open Meetings Act (AKA
> Sunshine Law). Once we had the evidence, I sued them for violating
> the law and won on two of the three issues. Had I had the money, I
> feel I could have won the third issue on appeal. Since that time I
> have been cannon fodder for the system.

> The judge assigned to the case turned out to be extremely biased and
> I feel is punishing me for holding his buddies accountable. He set
> the rules and I followed them. Then when I had to go back to court
> because my ex was not abiding by the decree, he did nothing to
> enforce visitation, found her intentionally underemployed, wasn't
> maintaining her share of the medical insurance, then chastised me
> for following his instructions and went against his own order and
> ordered me to pay a majority of her legal fees. He then used false
> information obtained outside of the court room, and not taken under
> oath, to recuse himself from the case, but he was sure to put
> degrading comments in the order of recusal so as to "poison" the
> case when read by the next judge to hear anything. The best part
> that shows his bias, was when my ex attempted one of the classic
> techniques of parental alienation. She attempted to relocate to a
> town about 3 hours away. She made a sort of attempt to notify me,
> but it wasn't up to the requirements of the rules governing
> that. When I filed my official notice of objection, she said she
> wasn't going to move if I was going to fight it. The judge decided
> this was suitable notice of her abandonment of relocation, however
> the law clearly states, that must be done in writing and filed with
> the court. She did not do that. Had I taken her at her word, all she
> would have had to do is wait the prescribed time, and if my
> objection was not filed, she could have moved and there would be
> nothing I could do about it.

> So the sacrifice part is, I'm not seeing my kids. I would go over to
> pick them up at the agreed times. 60% of the time, she was not
> there, and 20% of the time, no one was home. The times anybody was
> there, they refused to go, and my attempts usually ended up with the
> door being slammed in my face. At least one time it was my ex who
> slammed it in my face, thereby setting the example of what she
> expected the kids to do. I even went over at my designated time for
> Christmas to give them presents, and on one was home. The other part
> of the sacrifice was she went through five attorneys, and the judge
> ordered me to pay $45,000 of her fees. Then in the modification
> case, he went against his own rules and ordered me to pay $10,000 of
> her fees. Since I was still reeling from the divorce, I didn't have
> the money so she went in and raided the bank accounts and took the
> money I had set aside for my oldest's college. She continues to
> garnish 25% of my pay.

> So that's my view of sacrifice in my opinion.

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