Scott Ellis 3 a.m., March 12
- Community Blog
- Custody Guidelines
A Call to Action
It is quite unfortunate we find ourselves in 2013 and yet find that our political leaders, our judiciary leaders and-in general-anyone with discretionary authority fail to agree with current collective sentiment regarding issues which gravely affect society and which were once settled in accordance with an era which has long since passed. There is a disjuncture between common consensus and the ideology many in positions of authority cling to. We find ourselves at a remove from the purpose and intent of our system of representation, not only is our government serving the interests of corporations before the people, but judges are serving ideology before the best interests of our children. There is an unending litany I can unspool here, but my purpose is to voice the concern of every man who finds the subjective and discretionary authority vested in judges, servants of the public-or so it was once-infringing upon his God given role as a father. We find ourselves over thirty years removed from the society-its mores, its shifting ideologies about parenting, about gender and being a parent and about the equal value of mother and father-which welcomed and carried to great success the film “Kramer vs. Kramer” and its message about the equal value and ability of a father in a child's life.
While it is not absolute, as nothing is absolute, it is all too common and far too prevalent that father's end up with the short end of the stick, handed to them by a gender biased, “Leave it to Beaver” era mentality judge who cannot see past xx's and xy's to the true best interests, and arguably, the right, of every child to have equal access to both parents. The resulting situation leaves us where we are now. A moment in which one of the ongoing conversations decries the demise of men, their presence in their children's lives. It is hard to present when judges minimize your time and your children's access to you. Society, or at least the media, has picked up on this reality of the minimization and marginalization of father's, at least and most prevalent, when it comes to the nurturing and guidance of their children. It has spawned endless depictions of father as a buffoon, ranging from Archie Bunker to Homer Simpson. Ironically, even though the mentality they hold onto stems from that era of “Father Knows Best” “Ozzy and Harriet” and “Leave it to Beaver” it seems gender bias judges have refused to admit the idea of the stable, encouraging, strong presence of father this era promulgated along side mother as nurturer. Regardless of current mores and perspectives from sociology departments to social workers to society at large, the system refuses to move to ensure that children receive equal and adequate access to both parents. There are countless cases in which the court and its appointed judge, have allowed for mother's to move children away from the community they're familiar with from birth, in the most egregious of these, they've allowed for children to be traversed to the other side of the country, severely limiting the active presence of their father. It is quite unlikely these same courtrooms would ever rule similarly if it were a father making the request. If the bests interests of children were truly at the heart of these courts, these rulings would be unfathomable, as they only serve as a detriment to a very significant relationship for each of us, as both parents are of equal significance.
It has been said that people receive the government they deserve, a sad statement in light of recent events, collapses, recessions, and back door deals for corporations. Unfortunately, a statement which reflects greatly our reality. In a moment when television has shifted gears and allowed for the representation of model fathers who in some instances are more nurturing parents than their corresponding feminine counterparts, and surveys and studies indicate that there is a consensus on the equal value and need for equal access to both parents, it seems the courts, their judges, and our legislative bodies are completely out of step. There is a bill on the California legislative agenda, this most current session, to address grandparents' time with grandchildren, but there is none addressing the sorely absent and never addressed need for guidelines to guarantee a child's right to equal access to both parents, necessary because of the overwhelming amount of gender bias being practiced in our courts. There is no bill on the agenda which moves to revisit the “child's best interests” clause which creates a very ambiguous and vague standard by which judges are given authority to enforce their own subjectivity without giving any further justification than “I feel/think...” This is a serious flaw in our judicial system, one that can be seen in many different branches of the law-from congress to street patrols- but which is most detrimental here because the outcome affects our children, then our communities, and our society. We are however, doing little about it. Somehow, we all became convinced that those in authority know better, or are better prepared to create our society and govern it for us. The reality is that we need to take back that power and raise our voices and demand that our legislature have an agenda with the most pertinent issues to us, which will affect the changes which are long over due. I for one believe it is high time we recognize, not only in our conversations, and among our social networks, but in our courtrooms and in our civic engagements, the equal value of both parents in a child's life. To this end, the following petition is a calling for the legislature and governor to revisit the vague and ambiguous “child's best interests” standard, applied to child custody and which all too often permits for judges to practice their gender bias, and replace it with a 50/50 guideline to assure children have equal access to their parents, to reduce the conflict of the push and pull which often results from unequal custody and which becomes a detriment to children, their development and their well being.
The petition: http://signon.org/sign/custody-guidelines-for PETITION STATEMENT
Create state guidelines in regards to child custody to give children what is in their right, equal time with each parent. Gender should not be the basis of parental time and custody determination. When both parents are present and parenting, the state guideline should be 50/50 custody, to allow the child equal access to both parents. This should not be left up to the subjectivity of a judge. Fathers should not have to fight for the right to be present and be parents. A father's time with his child is no less valuable than a mother's. Children need both parents and deserve equal access to both. Unbalanced rights in custody only lead to more conflict, of which the child is most affected. It is time to end the gender bias and recognize the value of both parents, in a child's life.
Follwed by a Huffington Post article on the subject:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-hughes/are-custody-decisions-bia_b_870709.html -I wish they has a much larger sampling of the populace, but it's telling to a degree. And also, an article on avoiceformen.com which focuses in a bit more closely on the issue: http://www.avoiceformen.com/mens-rights/family-courts/the-primary-caregiver-fraud/