kidsnav.gif (4714 bytes)

Contact Us

Comments on the Family Rights Act

Send us yours.

  • Jo-Ann Ingrassia (3/9/2000) - First, let me say that I am the mother of 4 boys, and a grandmother of 7, 4 girls, 3 boys, and an avid admirer of the work this organization is trying to do.

    Now to my comments, although I haven't, as yet, read the whole "ACT", I have read to 1.3b. It is 3b I don't like. Not really the issue.

    Also, there should be more details on how support is determined. Currently, support is determined by the father's yearly income, usually in the previous year. With construction workers, they can have a good year and the next horrific, as we all know.

    My son's payments are cut in stone, so that if he is on unemployment the wife get's more of his income than he does. Instead of basing on a yearly amount, it should be weekly. For instance the rate for 2 children is 25% of your income, not 25% of your WEEKLY income. To clarify, this week I make $500.00, next week I make $250.00, You would still pay the $25%, based on your yearly income, of your best year.

    Also, If a man chooses to quit his job, for whatever reason, and works for less pay than the previous job, his payments should reflect the new income. In this case, it was due to health reasons. As it now stands the Judge can, and has, denied a downward odification. "You shouldn't have quit your job and taken one at lesser pay".

    I probably will have more comments on this in the future. I just want to say thanks, for all you are doing, and trying to do. Sincerely yours, Jo-Ann

  • Jeff (3/9/2000) - > I have reviewed the website you referred me to, and have some concerns about
    > it. First, I don't think fed government should get into family law (states
    > shouldn't be there either),
       ?? -- in the U.S., it is really the Federal Constitution/Declaration of Independence that sets out guidelines. The founding fathers did NOT want the government interfering with the "rights" of the people -- but just like there is criminal law protection (really, to protect your freedom from false accusation/imprisonment) -- it is natural to extend that same protection to an even more basic human/civil right -- to be with our families.
       ?? -- in the U.S., it is really the Federal Constitution/Declaration of Independence that sets out guidelines. The founding fathers did NOT want the government interfering with the "rights" of the people -- but just like there is criminal law protection (really, to protect your freedom from false accusation/imprisonment) -- it is natural to extend that same protection to an even more basic human/civil right -- to be with our families.

    > and second, I don't think you will ever be
    > successful in getting jury trials unless the number of family law cases was
    > shrinking instead of growing (there aren't enough potential jurors).

        ?? -- next time you get a chance, ask a couple of Criminal Lawyers what percentage of arrests actually go to a jury trial -- it is quite small. From the time I have spent in "jail" and talking to a lot of "criminals", a
    lot of REAL negotiation goes on. If you are accused of a DWI and maybe you were just DAI -- you can negotiate, or agree to a lesser charge. OR -- if it is just baloney you take it to trial -- the OTHER side knows they have to come up with REAL facts to convince a jury.

        What the Family Right Act basically says is I have a "right" to equal access to my kids, UNLESS I am an "unfit" parent (a criminal offense) -- If you are going to accuse me of that, in an attempt to reduce my time -- we can REALLY negotiate -- or you better be ready to convince a Jury.

        In over 95% of the "splits", we are not dealing with "monsters". This also get rids of the hair splitting about who is just a "better" parent -- which is a VERY subjective standard. The "unfit" parent standard says to the Government, "stay away" and really makes no distinction between married/divorced.

    > Here in New Jersey, we wanted to get a joint custody bill introduced. One of
    > the members of our PAC had a relationship with a dtate senator. He gave him
    > a rough outline of what he thought should be in a joint custody law. The
    > senator gave it to Office of Legislative Services to draft a bill. The bill
    > they wrote was TERRIBLE. We wound up fighting against our own bill.
    > Luckily, it died when the legislature's term expired.
    > We told the senator what was wrong with the bill, and a second bill was
    > drafted. This one was bad too, but the senator let us review it first. We
    > gave him a list of changes; it went back to Legislative Services, and the
    > third draft was acceptable to us.

        I have been to Albany and lobbied during several different sessions on a "Presumption of Joint Custody" Bill -- actually I think I saw the details of your bill in the FACE newsletter, 4qtr, 99.

        We had the same problems and frankly, for me, it was just cosmetic changes -- I never really thought it was anything you could hold a Judge to. Think of it this way -- the majority of Lawyers and Judges in the present system are really trying to the best they can given the "crazy" environment they work in compared to a criminal court (you never have to have real proof, and the judge (solely) has the power to do anything he wants, and the lawyers in that environment know that).

        As people, we need to reclaim our "rights" -- and set the proper guidelines. That is why the founding father's instituted civil/criminal jurys. It provides a quick "reality check" before a devastating decision is made.

    > Your Family Rights Act is similar to our info from before the first draft.
    > It's a "wish list," not a bill. It needs a lot of work. You need someone to
    > draft it in the form of a bill, including references to existing law. You
    > also have to consider what will have a chance of passing and what won't. If
    > you are going into a battle, make sure it is one you can win.

        ?? -- actually, it is pretty well researched -- I did check some other Civil Rights Legislation (and its pretty close). Regarding a  "chance of passing" you make a good point and that is why we make that
    basic civil right argument. I think we both parents are going to have to publicly protest before anything happens, the "goal" has to be worth it. I'm willing to be arrested to get my Civil Rights recognized ... am I
    willing to be arrested over a presumption of joint custody????

        If you have a chance read the Bio of Martin Luther King we reference at the site ( -- many of the same arguments were made about the chance for desegragation in the South -- before it actually happened. Our "goal" has to be inspiring, it has
    to be something worthy of sacrifice -- and the people WILL come.

  • Timothy P. O'Connell (2/1/2000) - For the most part I agree with this proposed act. There are some ideas that I have a problem with that DO INFRINGE ON MY FREEDOM:

    to encourage:

    The American people to realize the birth and raising of a child is an important decision that is not to be taken lightly and which will place them (whether they like it or not) in proximity to the other parent for many years.

    The States to institute programs in parenting and marriage for young people, and to require attendance in pre-marriage classes before a Marital License is granted.

    These are good ideas but they take away individual freedoms. The last thing this country needs, and our judicial system, is "pre-marriage" classes. Marriage is a religious and spiritual joining. The reason that it goes through government is for the almighty tax dollar.

    Lets remember our goals of equal rights and not try to add control to individual freedom, for this is the same reason we share this common goal.

  • Heidi Regan - (2/1/2000) Although I believe that children have the right to a life with both parents, I also believe that children grow and do not remain children. These people also have the right to have a life of their own. As children grow, they attend school and they have begun a life of their own - away from BOTH parents. These growing, human beings need time for themselves - to do homework and pursue their own interests (sports, music, etc.). These growing, human beings also need time for socializing with their peers. The proposals being made deny these human beings their rights to as individuals as well as their right to grow up and develop normally. All parents need to recognize and accept this natural "withdrawing" which is vital to child development. The "primary" parent who is providing a home for the child does not spend much time with the child since the child spends so much of his/her time in school and involved in out of school activities. The "secondary" parent who does not live in the same home as the child needs to recognize and accept that the "primary" parent is not spending unlimited time with the child because of how the child is spending much of his/her time.

    Our court system is already overburdened. If juries are required for so many of these matters, the time involved will cause more delays in justice. Joint custody would also cause more litigation, since there are so many parents who do not agree on so many of the basic, child rearing issues. This ongoing litigation will keep the parents in their "adversarial" roles which encourages the conflicts and disputes between the parties, which becomes more adversarial due to the amount of time these issues are pending. The requirement that parents be adversaries is the major source of the conflicts and disputes between the parents. Any proposal that will increase litigation will add to the existing problems and create new problems rather than eliminate the current problems. It is the current legal system which has created the basic problem of providing one parent rights which denies the other parent rights. It is the legal system which has created this problem and it is the system that needs to be eliminated and a new system implemented - a system that recognizes both parents' rights while focusing on the rights of the children, which include the right to a life of their own. For a judge to order that a teenager spend all of their time outside of school with either mom or dad is a tragic injustice to these teenagers. Teenagers from intact homes spend very little time with either parent, yet teenagers from broken homes are ordered by the court to spend ALL their time with their parents. While judges are forced to make decisions regarding the parents' rights to spend time with their children, the children's rights to have a life of their own are completely ignored by these judges.

    "...the American people to realize the birth and raising of a child is an important decision that is not to be taken lightly and which will place them (whether they like it or not) in proximity to the other parent for many years." I find this problematic as well as inadequate. Parents should have the right to have an ongoing relationship with their children for their entire life, not just during the children's minor years. This statement only addresses the issue of physical proximity to and time spent with the other parent, but it does not address the psychological and/or emotional relationship. Very often, even when parents spend time with their children and continue to be in close proximity with the child, the psychological and emotional damage to the relationship which is caused by the other parent makes the relationship an adversarial relationship. It does not require negative talk, lies or words about the faults of the other parent to cause this alienated, disassociated, estranged and adversarial relationship to develop. All one parent needs to do is make it clear that the other parent does not exist to have this effect. To never mention the other parent, to create traditions which exclude the other parent, to treat the other parent as irrelevant will create this effect.

    Regarding allegations of abuse, negligence or unfitness - these should be heard as an emergency and the burden of proof should be on the party making the allegations. An allegation is supposed to be a statement of fact that the party is prepared to prove. This proof and evidence should be attached to any petition which cites the allegations. Too often, a parent makes allegations that can't be proved - there is no evidence of these allegations because they are false allegations. Yet rulings are being made on these unsubstantiated and false allegations based on the PRESUMPTION that there is some truth to the allegation. Very often, the ruling is a change of custody - which places the child with the irresponsible, abusive and dishonest parent while removing the child from the responsible, loving and honest parent. The guilty parent then delays a hearing on their petition, which allows the guilty parent to brainwash the child - using these same false allegations. The way these matters are handled at this time is that CPS usually gets involved and a case is opened against the parent who was falsely accused. Not only has this innocent parent lost their child - (not only the "temporary" custody of the child which very often leads to permanent custody due to the brainwashing that occurs and what the child then states to judges, guardian ad litems, etc., but the innocent parent is usually also completely eliminated from the child's life - for the rest of their lives) - the parent has also lost their good name and reputation, and could lose their friends, their jobs, their standing in their community, etc. as a result of these false allegations. Again, the way these matters are handled at this time is that false allegations have no consequences. During the Clinton/Lewinsky saga, it became public knowledge that there were no consequences and/or accountability for making false allegations or perjuring oneself. As long as our legal system allows dishonest, damaging and slanderous words to go unpunished, this trend will continue to get worse. We need a system of justice that allows justice for all which includes consequences and punishment for those who are guilty of injustice of this type.

    There are many parents who have been completely eliminated from their children's lives and I am one of those parents. Although I am advocating change to eliminate this malicious trend, the proposals mentioned in The Family Rights Act of 2000 are ones which I can not endorse, support or encourage. I see many provisions of this proposal as ones that will increase the current problems with our system rather than fixing the problems. In order for any proposal to work it must focus attention of the rights of the children rather than the rights of the parents. If must also recognize children as human beings rather than objects and/or possessions. Too much of The Family Rights Act of 2000 treat children as objects and possessions, and this is the major fault that I find with this proposal. I believe this dehumanizes children and is abusive.

  • Dan Clark 1/30/2000 - John, as someone who has been continually hauled back into court by my ex-'s unsubstantiatede and wild allegations I am amazed that upon her failure to prove the allegations and my evidence of her lies that the judge has not restituted lost, stolen, suspended visitation, penalized her, forced her to cover my legal expenses or even slap her wrist. Instead, he has congratulated her (and told me to do likewise) on her out of wedlock pregnancy (nice going!). Instead, he has forced me to compromise and cut down my visitation from what was agreed in the divorce decree and that I should expect further diminishment in the future. The judge explains that the fact that my ex- got knocked up and that my daughter now has a new sibling means that it is even more important for my daughter to spend greater amounts of time with her mom because "as a single person you cannot provide the stability that a family can" as though all single people are unstable and all families are the Waltons!.

    In regard to splitting time during school year it certainly can be done. However, the courts have to be willing to use their teeth to force trouble-causing parents to comply. Meanwhile, there are judges who are of the mind that children would be too upset and unanchored at the prospect of having to move between two "houses" during the week. But if that were really the concern and the state wouldn't we really either leave kids at the schoolhouse permanently and allow the State to care for them or home school our children instead? Quite honestly, a child attending school with 600 children and being constantly shuffled between one and seven teachers for 50% of their waking hours is much more stressful and traumatic than going to parent A's house Sunday through Wed. and Parent B's house Wed.through Saturday. Learning to juggle with change and different rules and styles in different environments is a fact of life except that in a child's life they are already used to both of their parent's rules and styles and both parents add value to the child's life. Social studies have been done that show that kids are NOT traumatized by houseswapping and that they adapt well. The desire of the courts to not want to allow midweek swapping is to not have the guilt-inducing poster-child image of a kid waiting at the school parking lot with her travelcase on wheels for Parent B.

    As I was thinking about "shuffling between houses during school week" dilemma I came to the startling revelation that judges give schools and teachers a greater priority of value in a child's life than a parent and that, although parents may not be licensed teachers that know quadratic equations, the courts minimize the fact that parents play an integral role in teaching children about life, that each parent has their specialty that is needed in moderation. It appears that the State has gotten so involved in the affairs of a private citizen's family that the private citizen has now been relegated to become a conscripted hotel quartier and a checkbook.

    I think the courts assume that all parents are "babysitters" for kids while they are not in school, and that they are not providing exclusive and irreplaceable value and life skills. The parenting value when compared to school value is certainly minimized to virtual non-existence or such second thought that the courts think that a single parent would suffice and that the remaining parent is sufficient to pay for it.

    The part of your Family Rights Act that I feel needs to be updated and revised to take into account the moral decay of our present generation has to do with definition of "Family" and "parents". What are the rights of husband whose wife had a child during the course of the marriage where he was led to believe the child was his, where he loved, supported, and cared for the child only to find out upon divorce that the child is not his and that he has lost his legal standing? Or perhaps much the same scenario but when the paramour attempts to obtain visitation of the child of the intact family? The paramour and transgressor obtains parental rights, the husband loses parental rights and, although some courts believe the child "gains another father and heritage" she actually loses the only father she has ever known, loved or bonded with, and the paramours new attempts to obtain visitation or custody could actually wreak havoc on the family and marriage and be forced upon a child that does not want visitation with the paramour.

    Therefore, please look at House Bill 2266 that is going through the State of Hawaii legislature that will amend the law to provide rights and standing equal to the natural parent to a marital "duped" dad, eliminate the paramour's rights if the family is intact or in the case of a divorced family if the marital dad does not exercise those rights, and that the paramour be forced to compensate the marital husband-parent for child support and expenses. Although some people feel that "it is unfair to take away a parent's rights and still obligate them to pay child support" you have to remember that the paramour, according to Texas State law definition of "Knowledge of birth and child support obligations", knew of the pregnancy and financial obligations of child support simply through the fact that the act of intercourse may result in pregnancy and also the common sense knowledge that the right of pro-creative productive capacity is the exclusive right solely between a husband and wife much as only certain clothing companies are licensed to produce NFL clothing and merchandise. Otherwise, what is the purpose of a marriage license anyway?!

    So, with up to 20% of all men raising children that they erroneously believe are their own (U of Wisconsin and The Lancet findings) I think that this is not an isolated incident, that dads can be victims, too, regardless of their size and seeming imperviousness, and that the language has to be updated to protect these stoic, dedicated, selfless, loving, and sacrificing husbands and their "psychological" children whose world is devastated by the introduction of their bastardization and a stranger that gains rights that supersede their "Dad's" solely by virtue of an illicit one-night stand and a DNA "license plate of ownership". Fatherhood requires more than semen donation and motherhood has a higher litmus test for "first rights of custody" than simply carrying a fetus and being viewed in an outdated stereotype by the courts as "the weaker sex" in need of special "divorce-style golfing handicap" or a special "grading curve" for mothers. The playing field HAS to be even or the child loses and our faith in the justice system is lost.

  • Jean G. Petter (12/5/99) - Joint custody can quickly turn into a nightmare, depending upon the inclination of the parents to respect each other as human beings. Congratulations to those people who manage to harmonize parenting during joint custody, but when you see it, there is reason to believe they never should have gotten divorced in the first place. Some people have no problem deliberately being obstructive and manipulative, while others have a code of honor that prevents them from manipulating people, especially children. In so many of these horror cases where ex-spouses fail to ever achieve some sort of balance in their relationship with each other that would clearly benefit the children, I believe at least one of the parents has a personality that is power-mad and controlling.

    My own personal experience is that I started with joint custody, thinking it to be a great thing, only to have my children "legally" kidnapped while visiting the other parent according to our agreement. I then had to build the case that I was the better parent, and eventually won custody after nearly bankrupting myself by supporting two lawyers in different states.

    I support the concept of your proposal, but I do not believe that it is good for children to be moved week to week or that joint custody will work well. Children need a home base, they need stability, they need routine. If anything, a house should be given to the children and the parents forced to rotate in and out of the home. Moving away from the children to advance a career would in my mind automatically mean that the parent staying put should then gain complete custody.

    Currently, I have my children during the school year. They visit their father (1,000 miles away) for extended vacations every Christmas and all summer. My family holidays are Thanksgiving and Labor Day weekend. Some people might be appalled to think of giving up Christmas with their kids, but consider this: my kids know exactly what is going to happen every Xmas, they have traditions built up around that certainty, and besides, I get to do almost all of the fun pre-Christmas things with the kids (school plays, gift exchanges with friends, musical events etc.). We have our gift exchange the weekend they get out of school and then off to Dad's they go. They also know they will spend every Thanksgiving with my side of the family. KIDS LIKE TRADITIONS and CERTAINTY and SECURITY. The way for them to get these things is for parents to admit how self-centered they truely are!!! And grow up!!

  • Stephen Baskerville (10/17/99) - I like the aims on the whole. It does seem to get a little unnecessarily (from my perspective) convoluted in places. I myself prefer the simpler joint custody when the divorce is mutual, sole custody to the parent who wants to keep the family together when it is not. I have outlined this in a paper that was recently published in The Liberator. If you don't have a copy I can send you one. It was endorsed by the Men's Defense Assn.Keep at it. You're doing great work.
  • Christian Fardel (France) (10/16/99) - Read his essay.
  • Wendy Woodcock (10/16/99) - [Would you share custody with your "ex"] No, I would not consider shared custody as my kid's dad has been neglectful and abusive towards not only myself, but the children as well. Most importantly the children, 12, 14 & 17 (the oldest who is 24 wants nothing to do with him) do not want to spend much time with him because of his past actions and have made it vehemently clear that they do not want to live with him or even stay for an overnight visit. After being apart for 18 months it is still hard for them to even talk with him on the phone. If their dad were to change his ways (after 25 years I find that doubtful) I would consider it, but the children would have to be very comfortable with him and want to do it too.
  • George Courtney (10/15/99) - I fought for and currently have an alternating week schedule of shared parenting aka joint custody with my soon to be ex-spouse who also happens to be an attorney, although we have had a relatively high conflict separation per definition I feel that this agreement forced upon my soon-ex had been in the best interests of my two boys and ultimately their parents too, I cannot know the pain that must be associated with being turned into at best a
    visitor and checkbook to my childrens lives by a system seriously biased and out of wack with common sense reality, interesting that when some of the incentives for a woman to divorce a man are removed that the divorcd rate goes down and thus it is with human nature and the personal freedom (empowerment) movement behind much of todays divorce culture. In support of  presumptive joint custody as a norm for our society and court system.
  • Carl Cuipylo (10/13/99) - [Would you share custody with your "ex"] Absolutely, I would enter into a sharred custody situation. The children are a composite of thier parents. To show animosity toware the other parent is to show anomosity toward a part of that child. And the child knows it. Unless there is a clear and present danger to the well being of that child, both parents should be viewed as equals. If, however, one parent is bashing the other, that parent should be counseled and warned that they will loose thier parenting rights unless the abuse stops.
  • Terri Tompkins (10/6/99) - I've been a subscriber to your email list for many months now. I agree with the mission statement of this organization, and especially with the notion that in order to be successful in our venture to reform family law, that we must always be 'respectful' of others. After all, the lack of respect for our fellow human beings and family members is a large part of this entire problem.
  • Mary LeRose (9/14/99)- Anything you can do to help is appreciated. I just don't understand how the courts can have so much control over a family. I have raised my son for 14 years and my daughter for 10. My son has never ever been in trouble in his life, and because of one bad choice they take him away from me. My daughter is so scared that they will take her away from me that she asked me if she could go stay with my sister in another state.
  • Mary Chancellor (9/19/99)- As for the matter of JOINT legal custody, I have joint legal custody of my son. He is now 13 years old and I have not seen him or been active in his life for the past 4 years...starting on year 5 this month. His father did have major surgery performed on Duncan (our son) without my knowledge . . .A new Judge was assigned to our case with the retiring of the Judge that took Duncan away from me. Although the new Judge had our case for over three years, I never met him nor was our case ever put in front of him in the courtroom. The case changed immediately from 'Contempt of Court' by my Ex and became a 'Best interest of the Child' case because my Ex told his lawyer that Duncan did not want to see me or have anything to do with me.
  • Tim Herzog (9/3/99)- I have read the act that is proposed and appreciate the effort. My main concern is that the 'rights of the child' be recognized as having an intact family. I would want to have a strong resolution that enforces the committment parents have made in marriage to raise the children in a stable environment. A philosophy stating that an intact family has been entered into when an marriage and family is made, and to abandon that committment is denying the rights of the children. Marriage and family counselling and fulfillment of this committment should be enforced by the government. Divorce should only be granted when the health of the family members is proven to be threatened by the families continued adhesion.
  • Tim Bailey (9/7/99) -  would like to suggest an addition to your proposed act, in section 3: c. to encourage ... the States to adopt a universal program for the enforcement of court ordered visitation In many situations which I have seen, the custodial parent (CP) can refuse contact with the non-custodial parent (NCP) by: not answering the telephone, not picking up certified mail and financially preventing the NCP from court action to remedy the situation.  The CP can nullify court ordered visitation and get away with it every time in court by saying "...I was never contacted regarding the arrangements for picking up La---- (the child) ...".
  • Don Quixote (9/1/99) - PLEASE check out Why re-invent the wheel??
  • Kevin Braend (9/7/99) - Dynamite stuff, You are to be congratulated.