Incentives to Destroy Family Created by Government and Family Courts


Thanks for considering publicizing the plights of 25 non-custodials nationwide.  Many judges break up families with the "throw-away parent" mentality.

No less than Phyllis Schlafly (see below) has recently publicized the issue, the cost to American children and families and to the taxpayer.
Please use your "blessy" pulpit to move the courts and society to protect natural rights of parents to their children and remove the government incentives to break up the family.
Best regards,
George L. Mason IV
Worcester, MA
Father's Day Lament
by Phyllis Schlafly June 21, 2006
On Father's Day we will again hear paeans of praise about the importance of fathers. This year, we will also hear extra rhetoric from those who argue that we need a federal Marriage Amendment because children need parents of both sexes, a father and a mother.  But the elephant in the parlor is the millions of children of divorced parents, who need their father just as much as children in intact marriages, if not more. Maintaining the father's love and authority is crucial when a child's life is turned upside down by divorce.
The silence of the pro-family movement and of the churches is deafening. Don't they care about the need for fathers of the 21.5 million children under age 21 who the U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2002 are living with only one of their parents?
The vast majority of those 21.5 million children are living without their fathers. Citing a principle called the "best interest of the child," family courts award sole or primary custody of most children of divorced parents to mothers, thereby reducing fathers to occasional visitation and zero authority.
Americans have always assumed that parents share decision-making authority because only parents can determine what is in the best interest of their own children. Chief Justice Warren Burger, writing in 1979 for the majority in Parham v. J.R., stated that ever since Blackstone (who wrote in 1765), the law "has recognized that natural bonds of affection lead parents to act in the best interests of their children."
As recently as 2000, the Supreme Court in Troxel v. Granville reaffirmed this principle and upheld the "presumption that fit parents act in the best interests of their children." The Troxel case rejected the argument that a judge could supersede a fit parent's judgment about his or her child's "best interest."
These principles are just as important when parents are separated or divorced, although the Supreme Court has never heard a divorce case. Exploiting this vacuum in higher authority, family courts have taken away from divorced parents the power to determine the best interest of their own children.
Family courts are the practical application of Hillary Clinton's slogan that "it takes a village (i.e., the government, the schools, the courts) to raise a child." But "best interest of the child" is a totally subjective concept since there is no societal consensus on what is best for every child.
Parents make hundreds of decisions, and whether the decision is big (such as which church they attend) or small (such as playing baseball or soccer), there is no objective way to say which is better. Even if there were some objective way to define "best interest," it would lead to all sorts of undesirable consequences.
Should we take children away from poor parents and give them to richer parents who could give them more material goods? Of course not; yet courts routinely allow one parent to move away in search of a higher-paying job, thereby depriving children of their other parent.
Many family court judges are uncomfortable with the awesome responsibility they have assumed, so they look for guidance from psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, custody evaluators, parenting classes, and social workers. Having an opinion produced by a so-called expert is a device to make an arbitrary and subjective judgment appear objective.
A scholarly paper published in Scientific American Mind in October 2005 confirms what common sense should tell us, namely, that "it is legally, morally and scientifically wrong to make custody evaluators de facto decision makers, which they often are because judges typically accept an evaluator's recommendation. Parents should determine their children's lives after separation, just as when they are married . . . [because] parents, not judges or mental health professionals, are the best experts on their own children."
Putting the crucial decision about the custody of children of divorcing parents up to the subjective choice of judges and court-appointed non-parents is a sure prescription for conflict. The ugly, false and acrimonious allegations between spouses, which were supposed to be eliminated by the adoption of so-called no-fault divorce in the 1970s, have simply been transferred to the custody dispute in order to persuade the judge and the non-parent experts to make a favorable ruling.
This system has produced a tremendous divorce-custody-child-support industry, with well-paying work for lawyers and non-parents who pretend to be experts. It's in their financial interest to minimize the father's custody, visitation and authority so that he will keep paying and paying to win time with his own children.
Every successful civilization has placed the responsibility for rearing the next generation on children's own parents, both mother and father. Replacing that proven practice with the notion that a "village" should raise children, according to non-parents' subjective and misguided notions of what is in a child's "best interest," is a radical departure from the traditional rule that parents should possess shared responsibility for raising their own children.
A law requiring a presumption of equal shared custody after divorce would enable children to maintain strong ties with both parents at a time of family disruption, and it would eliminate much of the acrimonious conflict caused when one parent seeks a court ruling for sole or primary custody.

Further reading: Fathers
Unintended Consequences Of Welfare Reform
by Phyllis Schlafly Mar. 29, 2006
The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996, known as Welfare Reform, has been cheered as a stunning achievement of the Republican Congress and its Contract With America. The law helped to move millions of welfare recipients out of dependency and into productive jobs, but its unintended consequences brought many thousands of "never welfare" families into the welfare bureaucracy.
Financial incentives are often built into tax credits, reductions or bonuses to influence human behavior in home ownership, energy, water, transportation, and waste management. But sometimes the law contains incentives that were not planned or expected or desirable.
The Great Society welfare system was recognized by the 1990s as a social disaster that created fatherless children, illegitimacy and women's dependency on the government. Channeling taxpayer handouts to mothers provided a powerful financial incentive for fathers to depart; they were not needed any more.
Unfortunately, policy changes in the 1988 and 1996 welfare laws created similar financial incentives for state governments to exclude middle-class fathers from the home. The law incentivized the states to manufacture "non-custodial" (i.e., absent) fathers and to order money transfers (usually through wage garnishment) to the mothers, thereby putting a large segment of the middle class under the welfare bureaucrats.
The major goal of the 1996 Welfare Reform was to reduce the budget deficit by, among other things, recovering welfare costs from absentee fathers. Without justification or public debate, the rules to accomplish this were then applied to middle-class "never welfare" families.
Formerly, to receive welfare benefits, recipients had to demonstrate eligibility by "need" (i.e., a test measured by income level), but the new policy omitted income eligibility requirements. Without a means test, a high-income mother with custody can use the power of the state to collect from a low-income father.
The federal government annually provides $4.2 billion in block grants to states to serve as collection agencies. States are reimbursed for 66 percent of their costs of child support enforcement activities, 80 percent of their costs for technology, and 66 percent of their costs of DNA testing for paternity.
The more cases the states can create and the more operational expenses they incur, the more federal funding states receive to expand their welfare bureaucracy. No performance standards are required to get this money and, in addition, the feds provide a bonus fund ($458,000,000 in Fiscal 2006) for which the states compete.
In the welfare class, most absentee fathers are unemployed or working for wages so low that little or no money can be squeezed out of them. State bureaucrats discovered they could cash in on the pot of federal money by exploiting middle-class divorce and creating a whole new class of absent fathers who have good jobs and are willingly making payments to their ex-wives.
When a married couple with children is divorced, the family court typically retitles the husband and wife as noncustodial and custodial parents. The more time with the children that is awarded to the custodial parent, the more money the noncustodial parent is ordered to pay and then can be reported by the state as collections that merit federal bonuses.
Federal funding thus provides powerful monetary incentives for states to maximize the number of single-parent households with high transfer payments, and to minimize equal child custody which would lessen transfer payments. Depriving or reducing children's access to one parent is thus a source of revenue for the states.
These incentives drive family-court discretion and skew the opinions of the vast army of lawyers, psychologists, custody evaluators, and parenting counselors who are used to rationalize the process. They hide their predetermined custody rulings under the subjective slogan "the best interest of the child."
Put another way, forcibly depriving children of access to one parent, usually the father because he usually has a higher income than the mother, is a big source of revenue to the states. The more support orders that are issued, the higher they are, and the more fathers who are threatened with jail and suspension of their driver's and professional licenses for challenging the system, the better chance a state will receive more money from the feds.
This result was accurately predicted by Leslie L. Frye, chief of Child Support for the California Department of Social Services. In testifying to the Human Resources Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee on March 20, 1997, Frye said the new regulations "encouraged states to recruit middle class families, never dependent on public assistance and never likely to be so, into their programs in order to maximize federal child support incentives."
Of the 40% of American children now growing up in homes without their own father, some are victims of the stereotypical "deadbeat dad." But most are victims of disastrous federal policies that provided incentives to create female-headed households, first by the Democrats' welfare system and then by the Republicans' so-called welfare reform.
Many consciences should be burdened with the realization that taxpayers' money provides financial incentives to deprive millions of children of their own fathers.
Further reading: Fathers