III.) STATE ACTION
- ACTION: Establish Statewide Commissions on the
Status of Fatherhood and Child Welfare to direct
participants on father-inclusive policy at an annual
- 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 &
- * The National Governors Association policy statement;
- * Families First;
- * Poponoe's book, Life Without Father;
- * The National Fatherhood Initiative.
- ACTION: Increase the guideline for minimum
- Standardized every-other-weekend parenting plans
should be revised to provide
more time between children and their non-custodial fathers or
enhance, encourage and maintain healthy parent/child bonds
by establishing a
presumption for a minimum of eight monthly overnights with
the non-custodial parent.
- ACTION: Review marriage laws to ensure stability in
- Mandate a 60 to 90 day waiting period, and require
detailed counseling on postmarriage relationship, parenthood
issues, and conflict resolution before issuing a marriage
- 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
- 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.
- ACTION: Establish easy and inexpensive procedures
for "lesser litigation" of minor modifications in parenting
- 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
- 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
V.) COURTS, JUDGES AND LAWYERS
- 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:
- 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."
- Modify Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers
to reduce the tendency to over-litigate for a family law client
which increases hostilities and contentiousness.
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
VI.) EDUCATION ACTION
- 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.
- 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.
- ACTION: Offer parenting classes for all
prospective parents where the importance of fathers is
- 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
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
- ACTION: Establish University and College
men's studies programs and libraries to parallel women's
studies programs and libraries.
VII.) BUSINESS SECTOR ACTION
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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,
- The most likely long term solution to reversing
domestic violence is increased
father involvement with children, especially infants.
One initial point I would make on the debate of
the divorce system focus
of the Commission Majority Report versus the
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:
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.
"(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
(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."
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