III.) STATE ACTION

  1. ACTION: Establish Statewide Commissions on the Status of Fatherhood and Child Welfare to direct participants on father-inclusive policy at an annual conference.
    Each Governor should create a Statewide Commission on Fatherhood and Child Welfare, charged with the responsibility to hold hearings on ways to promote, encourage and enhance fatherhood.
    The Commissions should examine and select specific procedures to increase father involvement in welfare families; to encourage marriage; and to achieve the active participation of both parents in un-wed and divorced, non-welfare families.
    Under direction of the Governor, each state's Commission should convene a yearly statewide conference on Fatherhood and Child Welfare in order to enact changes in state policy according to the findings and recommendations of:
    * The State-wide Commission on the Status of Fatherhood and Child Welfare;
    * Other States' Commissions;
    * Federal policy and law which directs the states' family policy and law:
    * This report from the U.S. Commission on Child & Family Welfare;
    * The National Governors Association policy statement;
    * Families First;
    * Poponoe's book, Life Without Father;
    * The National Fatherhood Initiative.

  2. ACTION: Increase the guideline for minimum co-parenting time.
    Standardized every-other-weekend parenting plans should be revised to provide more time between children and their non-custodial fathers or mothers. Promote, enhance, encourage and maintain healthy parent/child bonds by establishing a presumption for a minimum of eight monthly overnights with the non-custodial parent.

  3. ACTION: Review marriage laws to ensure stability in marriage.
    Mandate a 60 to 90 day waiting period, and require detailed counseling on postmarriage relationship, parenthood issues, and conflict resolution before issuing a marriage license.

  4. ACTION: Review no-fault divorce laws to ensure that parents are not penalized.
    States must convey that a marriage license is a civil contract which comes with responsibilities and an obligation of compliance by both parties. Instead of a return to at-fault divorce, policy should protect the non-divorcing parent from being punished financially when they have met the legal obligations of the contract.
    With the exception of a marriage contract, there is no contract in civil law in which a party who breaks that contract can expect to be rewarded or improve their legal position, without risk of sanctions.

  5. ACTION: Prohibit custody evaluators from providing "judgment" recommendations to the family court; allow only their investigation and fact-finding input.
    This policy is recommended by the Matrimonial Lawyers Association. The effect of the current practice is to undermine the authority of the Judicial Officer. The evaluation must be neutral, and the report must be neutral in fact finding and in it's presentation to the court in order to engender the parents' trust, participation, and acceptance of the court ruling.

  6. ACTION: Establish easy and inexpensive procedures for "lesser litigation" of minor modifications in parenting plans.
    Lower the legal threshold and simplify the procedures to officially record all minor modifications of parenting plans. Within a year of entering a parenting plan, two-thirds of all parents are operating a plan which differs from the original.

    IV.) ADOPTION ACTION

  7. ACTION: An expanded campaign is needed to increase advantages for two-parent married family adoptions.
    Millions of children are available for adoptions. A campaign for a goal of 100,000 adoptions per year can go forward WITHOUT a compromise in full legal and constitutional rights held by never-married fathers. We need to prevent private adoptions to Canada and other countries where American citizens, NEW BABIES, are sold to new families, without notification to the biological father.

    V.) COURTS, JUDGES AND LAWYERS ACTION

    Among the full range of middle class fathers and family members, from lower class all the way through the upper middle class, the hardest aspect of a divorce is the blatant, unjustified discrimination of the Courts. Thousands and thousands of these fathers defended the American Constitution, its laws and traditions in military conflicts including Viet Nam, the Gulf War, and now Bosnia. These men are shocked and horrified when they experience arbitrary discrimination and rejection of all rules of fairness and equity in making custody rulings. These men lose respect for our Court system for the country they have defended.
    Most of these fathers ask for "NO VICTIM STATUS", "NO SPECIAL FAVORS", and "NO SOCIAL PROGRAMS OR NO FEDERAL FUNDING." All they ask for is the old sense of Roman, common sense "JUSTICE", a fair decision based on the facts of the case.
    It is especially for these mainstream American fathers that I offer the following recommendations:

  8. ACTION: Establish education and sensitivity training for judicial officers and support staff regarding anti-father gender bias is critically needed.
    For years, fathers all over America have complained about anti-father judicial bias. When national custody outcomes are 70% sole custody with mothers and 10% with fathers, something is wrong. Perhaps the best explanation of institutional legal bias is to read the exact words of the Family Law Committee guidebook published some years ago in Minnesota:
    "Except in rare cases the father should not have the custody of the minor children of the parties. He is usually unqualified psychologically and emotionally nor does he have time and care to supervise the children. A lawyer not only does an injustice to himself but he is unfair to his client, the state and to society if he gives any encouragement to the father that he should have custody of the children."
    A New York judge, Hon. Richard Hunter, former chief judge of the King's County (Brooklyn) Family Court, and a prominent member of the New York State Commission on Child Support, made the following comments in "The Fathers Also Rise," New York Magazine, November, 18, 1985:
    "You have never seen a bigger pain in the ass than the father who wants to get involved: he can be repulsive. He wants to meet the kid after school at three o'clock, take the kid out to dinner during the week, have the kid on his own birthday, talk to the kid on the phone every evening, go to every open school night, take the kid away for a whole weekend so they can be alone together. This type of father is pathological."

  9. Modify Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers to reduce the tendency to over-litigate for a family law client which increases hostilities and contentiousness.
    American lawyers are collecting over $100,000,000,000 ($100 BILLION) per year for fees from custody cases. There is significant room for positive and effective legal representation without making every issue of dispute into a conflict and charge of additional fees. Lawyers as counselors offer great hope to reduce the overzealous nature of domestic relations and return a level of civility and concern for the eventual outcome for all members of the family.

    VI.) EDUCATION ACTION

  10. ACTION: Establish an education task-force to oversee that curricula includes comprehensive programs focused upon the importance of fathers to children.
    Given the critical at-risk status of so many adolescents, the task force must inform junior high and high schools about the importance of offering classes on family life which emphasizes the importance of marriage/commitment.
    Schools should teach youth about how a fathers' full-fledged emotional involvement with raising his child(ren) is essential and core to the psychological and emotional well-being of his child.
    All colleges and schools must include the same focused curriculum in programs which prepare mental health and social work professionals to work with families.

  11. ACTION: Promote, enhance, and encourage fathers/men to be elementary teachers.
    Younger children especially need to see more positive male role models in everyday situations. This is especially true for the 40% of all children (7 million) who have not seen their father in more than a year. More male teachers will not replace the father in the home any more than the teacher replaces the parent, but more male teachers will provide children a better balance of the demonstration of care from both male and female adults.

  12. ACTION: Offer parenting classes for all prospective parents where the importance of fathers is emphasized.
    Fathers parent differently from mothers, but not better or worse. Children suffer without a healthy mix of frequent contact and interaction with both parents. Parenting classes are needed instead of the traditional pre-birth classes where fathers are identified only as mothers-helpers and supporters. The focus typically is on the single event of the child's birth rather than the long term impact of continued, involved day-today parenting. The alienation of the father starts with breast feeding, a process that pushes the father into the background. It should be understood that both parents are equally important to the child. All pre-natal programs should have handouts to mothers on the importance of positive father parenting.

  13. ACTION: Establish University and College men's studies programs and libraries to parallel women's studies programs and libraries. The focus of these programs will assist all men to be familiar with social issues affecting their roles as men in family settings; will promote fatherhood; and will encourage family life.

    VII.) BUSINESS SECTOR ACTION

  14. ACTION: Give grants/tax credits to business that provide services to fathers.
    Hospitals, peri-natal centers, clinics, public health nurses, social workers, family planning clinics and others in the "child-birth world" should be given tax-credits and/or grants for having father-friendly parenting classes and programs which seek to promote, enhance and encourage fatherhood and father involvement in family life.

  15. ACTION: Promote, enhance and encourage fatherhood by providing fathers equal family leave from employment for the birth or care of an infant.
    For guidance, see Poponoe's Bill of Rights for parents who take employment leave to care for their minor children. Equally reward fathers and mothers for engaging in the most critical function of parenting -- early childhood care.

  16. ACTION: Encourage 'work at home' for parents to support family life.
    Business should review and set policy so that fathers (and mothers) could do all or part of their employment at home, so that they may be nearer to their children.

  17. ACTION: Review employee relocation policy to support family and stability.
    In order to help prevent child-parental alienation by creating "left-behind" parents, businesses should examine their policies regarding offering relocation to employees who are single-parents. For married parents, relocation should not be encouraged, in order to help build stronger communities.

    VIII.) FAMILY VIOLENCE ACTION

  18. ACTION: Domestic violence (whether perpetrated by women or men) can be reduced by policy and programs which INCREASE, not reduce the involvement of fathers with their children.
    This is a policy recommendation for everyone -- in short, everywhere that family policy is generated or effected: the government, business, social service agencies, health care, etc. To reduce family violence, commit to policies and actions dedicated to increasing fathers' involvement with their children, especially in cases of parental separation. WHY?
    Male and female perpetrated family violence is a reality in contemporary American life which has scared America into knee jerk solutions. This in turn leads to new policies which continue to be anti-male in nature. (As a result of the media's exaggerated negative projection of men.) These policies are likely to INCREASE domestic violence, at least in the NEXT generation, unless fathers are involved parents NOW.
    The importance of father-involvement (starting with the birth of the child) on REDUCING crime, including domestic violence, was stated in the (most recent) 1995 report by the U.S. Advisory Commission on Child Abuse and Neglect. A very important recommendation made was: "Father involvement at the time of birth of a child."
    Male caring of children, especially infants, produces a civilizing and calming change in the maleparent, says famous psychologist Erik Erikson. "Generatively" is the term Erikson gave this phenomena. The more that men are involved with their children , the LESS likely they are to act violently or anti-socially. This is the character trait of male empathy - the caring of others.
    For the children, the loss of positive father parenting forms the anger which can lead to violence. Children vitally need positive parental roles for when they become parents, and they need their emotional connection to be healthier. This is especially true for children when the father is the non-custodial parent. It is indisputable that increased parenting time between fathers and their children is beneficial to both fathers and children. Increased time reduces the factors contributing to violence, and provides positive role models and the emotional connection needed by the boys and girls growing up to be the next generation of nurturing, healthy parents.
    The most likely long term solution to reversing domestic violence is increased father involvement with children, especially infants.


SUMMARY

One initial point I would make on the debate of the divorce system focus of the Commission Majority Report versus the fathers/non-custodial parents focus of my Minority Report is the following language in the June, 1995 U.S. Senate version of the Welfare Reform Bill - HR-4. This quote is taken from the language on duties assigned to the proposed National Child Support Guidelines Commission - Section 451, page 628, which states as follows:

"(8) (The Commission shall consider) procedures to help noncustodial parents address grievances regarding custody and visitation orders to prevent such parents from withholding child support payments until such grievances are resolved, and

(9) whether, or to what extent, support levels should be adjusted in cases in which custody is shared or in which the noncustodial parent has extended visitation rights."

It is my argument that since June of 1995 the U.S. Senate again has been looking for positive Recommendations, that Senators are not comfortable with the existing system, that they are sufficiently uninformed on positive options, and that the U.S. Senate is still in need of new proposals. THE ABOVE DUTIES PARALLEL THE CONGRESSIONAL MANDATE TO THE U.S. COMMISSION ON CHILD AND FAMILY WELFARE. Because the commission ignored this argument and duty, I was motivated to write my Minority Report and offer the above recommendations.
Most social commentators believe public policy is only a minor part of the problem creating fatherless children. I respectfully disagree. I do agree that most of our progress on positive father parenting will be realized at the state and local level, however, the nature of national public policy to date has been to unnecessarily intervene in and regulate family affairs.
Today laws and policies are negative toward fathers and this is an area of our culture that can no longer be ignored if we are to have a national goal to improve child well-beingness. These laws and policies must change. The President and Congress are in the position to reverse these deleterious trends, and I offer the above recommendations as a part of that process.


Next Section | Previous Section