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"
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.
George L. Mason IV
Father's Day Lament
||June 21, 2006
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
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
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
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
, 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
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,
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
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
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
Putting the crucial
decision about the
custody of children of
divorcing parents up to
the subjective choice of
non-parents is a sure
conflict. The ugly,
false and acrimonious
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
This system has
well-paying work for
pretend to be
experts. It's in
interest to minimize
and authority so
that he will keep
paying and paying to
win time with his
for rearing the
both mother and
with the notion
that a "village"
notions of what
is in a child's
is a radical
parents at a
and it would
much of the
for sole or
|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.