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PBS Follows Through on Commitment
to Air Balanced Program

September 13, 2006


PBS Follows Through on Commitment to Air Balanced Program

Last October PBS aired the film Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories on many of its affiliates. The film  portrayed fathers as batterers and child molesters who use family court machinations to wrest children away from their mothers. The film was extremely one-sided, and presented a harmful and inaccurate view of divorce and child custody cases. Moreover, the film portrayed one mother as a heroic, victimized mom, when records which we made public show that she had abused children under her care, and had lost custody for that reason.

I joined with Fathers and Families, the American Coalition for Fathers & Children, and others in a campaign to force PBS to "provide fatherhood and shared parenting advocates a meaningful opportunity to present our side of the issues." Over 10,000 of you wrote or called PBS, and both PBS's ombudsman and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's ombudsman echoed our central criticisms about the film.

In December PBS notified us that they would "commission an hour-long documentary" for the purpose of further examining the "complex and important issues" raised in the film and by our campaign. They promised the "hour-long treatment of the subject will allow ample opportunity" for those of differing views to "have their perspectives shared, challenged and debated."

Kids & Divorce: For Better or Worse, the film they commissioned in response to our campaign, aired in Boston last night, and will be airing in several dozen markets over the coming weeks. To PBS's credit, they followed through on the commitment they made last December to produce a balanced film. Moreover, PBS

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"Most people don't fail--they simply stop trying"--Jim Bouton


"I am a great writer because when I was a little girl and walked into a room where my father was sitting, his eyes would light up. That is why I am a great writer. That is why. There isn't any other reason."--Toni Morrison, Nobel-prize winning novelist.

partially adopted the approach we suggested for the film. Earlier this year Fathers & Families wrote to Dave Iverson, the film's producer and host, and suggested that he make shared parenting the central theme of the new PBS film. We are pleased to see that Iverson took the suggestion seriously--much of Kids & Divorce concerns shared parenting.

The film made two overriding points. Much of the mainstream media (particularly left-leaning institutions, of which PBS is one) engages in divorce happy talk. However, from Kids & Divorce's opening moments the film powerfully depicts the way children suffer in divorce. Also, throughout the film it was clear that children want and need both parents, that they are very aggrieved when their parents don't get along, and that two-parent involvement is important after divorce.

The film also had its weaknesses. The film devoted much time to the ways in which conflict between parents is bad for children, but did not devote enough to why such conflicts exist. My belief is that much post-divorce conflict is because the playing field is not level, and mothers believe, often correctly, that if they push hard they can drive fathers out of their children's lives. The film focused too much on "can't we all just get along" generalities instead of on the need to protect both parents' right to have a relationship with their children.

Judicial discretion in divorce cases was defended in the film without pointing out the harm that excessive discretion can create. Shared Parenting was criticized as a "cookie cutter" or "one size fits all solution." However, Ned Holstein, president of Fathers & Families, refuted this in the film, pointing out that we already have a cookie cutter--sole custody to mom, dad gets every other weekend visitation.

Women's advocate Dr. Peter Jaffe said that Shared Parenting "coerces" women into co-parenting arrangements with their abusers. Psychologist Dr. Richard Warshak, who made several excellent points in the film, pointed out that Shared Parenting presumptions do not apply when there is domestic violence. However, nobody pointed out that the presumption of sole custody to mom coerces fathers to relinquish much of their fatherhood after a divorce.

The film also devoted much time to divorce education and collaborative law, particularly in the first half. Both of these can be good things, but their utility is limited without a level playing field.

However, I do not want to belabor the film's negatives. PBS spent a considerable amount of money on the film, and made an honest and effective effort to be balanced. The film had many positives, particularly in the second half. Some of them include:

1) The film provided a detailed and very positive depiction of a divorced couple practicing Shared Parenting, including an interview with the divorced couple's 16 year-old son and 12 year-old daughter. The boy emphasized the importance of having the love of both his parents.

2) The film made it clear that kids do not like seeing their other parent badmouthed or belittled. Three times the film quoted a young boy who thanked his mom for ceasing her badmouthing of the boy's father.

3) The film pointed out that it's important that each parent accommodate their children's desire for contact with the other parent. For example, we were told that when a child tells his or her mother that he or she misses dad, the mother's best response is a cheerful "OK, let's call him."

4) Los Angeles County Family Mediator Ernest Sanchez applauded a father who came into his court and stood up and repeatedly asserted that he was a father, "not a visitor" in his child's life. Sanchez also brought up the need to "equalize the playing field."

5) I expected a large focus on domestic violence and monster dads, and was pleasantly surprised to see that while this side was represented fairly, it was not given undue weight. In fact, Iverson said "domestic violence is a factor in only a small number of divorce cases," and this assertion was repeated later in the film.

6) In the final segments Dr. Richard Warshak was excellent, bringing home many of our movement's key points. He discussed the way custodial parents "use their extra time with their children" to turn them against or alienate them from the other parent. Warshak agreed with Jaffe that we must protect kids from domestic violence but also said we must protect them from the "emotional violence" of parental alienation. Surprisingly, Jaffe did (briefly) concede that there is too much alienating behavior by parents in divorces.

7) Underscoring the film's central message that kids need two parents, not two warring parties, one child caught in the middle of a divorce said "I don't want to vote."

8) The film showed a meeting of Fathers & Families where two dads briefly described how painful their separations from their children are. One of them is a quadriplegic who can't see his kids because of a domestic violence restraining order. Unfortunately, the filmmakers failed to point out or depict how absurd this is.

9) The film showed Ned Holstein lobbying at the Massachusetts capital and quoted him as saying that before you even get into the courtroom, you can tell which parent is going to win custody--"it's the parent wearing the skirt."

10) In the film Iowa state legislator Danny Carroll said something we hear all too rarely. Carroll never knew his father. However, he did not make the standard assumption that because dad wasn't there he must be at fault or have "abandoned" the family. Instead he explained that he didn't really know why his dad wasn't there, and speculated that if there had been a presumption for Shared Parenting when he was a child, perhaps he would have had his father in his life. He is one of the main legislative supporters of the Iowa shared parenting law, which the film discussed.

11) Our opponents often say that divorced couples can't co-parent, so it's best to give sole custody to mothers. In the film Dr. Isolina Ricci asserted that "most parents can co-parent" and emphasized the importance of co-parenting after a divorce.

12) In closing, Hofstra Law Professor Andrew Schepard accurately described the problems in divorce and family law as a "public health problem," and Warshak emphasized the need for post-divorce parenting plans which do not have a "secondary parent."

In summation, we've come a long way in a year. We never asked PBS to pull or cease airing Breaking the Silence. Instead we asserted that there is another side to these issues which merits an airing. We succeeded. Last fall on PBS dads were portrayed as evil, scheming abusers. This week dads were portrayed as an important and valued part of their children's lives. Thanks again to all who participated.

Where to See the New PBS Film

Below is a partial list of some of the stations and dates where Kids & Divorce: For Better or Worse is scheduled to air. If you know of an airing of Kids & Divorce which is not listed, please email us at glenn@glennsacks.com.

KCET in Los Angeles, California (9/14)
KERA in Dallas, Texas (9/17/06)
Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) (9/14)
KQED in the Bay Area/San Francisco (9/15/06, 9/16/06, 9/17/06)
KTSC in Denver/Rocky Mountains (9/28/06)
KLRN in San Antonio, Texas (9/14/06, 9/17/06, 9/19/06)
WGBH in Boston (9/12/06, 9/15/06, 9/17/06)
KUHT in Houston, Texas (9/16, 9/17)
KNME in Albuquerque, New Mexico (9/17/06)
WNET in New York City (10/25/06, 10/26/06)
WXXI in Rochester, New York (9/15)
CET in Cincinnati (9/16, 9/17, 9/18)
KAKM in Anchorage, Alaska (9/23)
KLVX in Las Vegas, Nevada (9/15)
GTE in Toledo, Ohio (9/14/06, 9/18/06)
WTIU in Bloomington, Indiana (9/14)
New Hampshire Public Television (9/21/2006)
Alabama Public Television, (9/15/06, 9/19/06, 9/21/06)
KLRU in Austin, Texas (9/15/06, 9/16/06)
Louisiana Public Broadcasting (9/14/06, 9/15/06)
Wisconsin Public Television (9/14/06)
KUED in Salt Lake City (9/14/06, 9/16/06, 9/18/06)
WPSU in Central Pennsylvania (9/16/06, 9/18/06)
KTWU in Topeka, Kansas (9/15/06, 9/17/06)
MPTV in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (9/16/06, 9/17/06)
Iowa Public Television (9/14/06)
KTNW in Washington state (9/15/06, 9/17/06)
Kentucky Educational Television (9/14/06, 9/16/06, 9/17/06, 9/18/06)
KACV in Amarillo, Texas (9/14/06, 9/15/06, 9/18/06, 9/20/06)
NMU in Michigan (9/14/06, 9/18/06)
WTVP in central Illinois (9/17/06, 9/18/06)
KEDT in Corpus Christi, Texas (9/14/06)
WNED in Buffalo, New York (9/24/06)
Vermont Public Television (9/15)
KNPB in Reno, Nevada (9/14)

PBS is also selling DVDs of Kids & Divorce: For Better or Worse at Shop PBS here.

The American Coalition for Fathers and Children
The American Coalition for Fathers and Children is dedicated to creating a family law system which promotes equal rights for all parties affected by divorce. Contact the ACFC at 1-800-978-3237 or visit them on the web at www.acfc.org.

Parenting Plan Calendar Software
Shared Ground (R) is an easy-to-use custody calendar software program designed for divorced families to track visitation schedules. Includes a built-in percentage calculator, schedule templates, free training and excellent customer assistance. Parents, attorneys, arbitrators and mediators can generate equitable parenting plans, which is especially useful for parents seeking fair division of their children's time. FREE TRIAL SOFTWARE AVAILABLE by clicking here.

The Second Wives Club
The Second Wives Club is what women in blended families are looking for: Remarriage, divorce, child custody, and step-parenting discussed in a solution-oriented, mature, and intelligent way; articles and news written by thought-provoking experts and journalists; personal accounts and advice from some of life's most interesting women. www.SecondWivesClub.com

Schwarzenegger's Office Flooded with Letters Opposing AB 2051

The California Assembly just passed a domestic violence bill which deliberately perpetuates the state's harmful policy of excluding men and their children from receiving state-funded domestic violence services. Under AB 2051, only "battered women" are eligible for the shelters, hotel vouchers, counseling and legal services the state provides victims of domestic violence. We're calling on California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to veto this misguided legislation.

Governor Schwarzenegger's office has been flooded with letters opposing AB 2051 since our campaign began last week. I want all of you to write to the Governor to tell him to veto AB 2051 by clicking here. By filling out the form you will be sending a fax to the Governor.

Remember, what happens in California has a major impact on the laws and policies of other states and also at the federal level.

Sacramento lobbyist Michael Robinson and the California Alliance for Families and Children have been working to make the bill gender neutral for several months. AB 2051 is based on the discredited premise that men are rarely the victims of intimate partner abuse. However, more than 50 domestic violence researchers and treatment providers have signed an opposition letter to the Legislature in which they state:

"The data is without question--domestic violence affects both men and women. The politicization of this issue must stop and services must be provided to all children and their parent victims."

Court-certified batterer intervention provider John Hamel, LCSW, author of Gender-Inclusive Treatment of Intimate Partner Abuse: A Comprehensive Approach, asserts that research shows that a third of domestic violence-related injuries are incurred by heterosexual males.

According to domestic violence researcher Richard Gelles, co-author of the groundbreaking 1980 book Behind Closed Doors: Violence in American Families, it is very difficult for fathers who are being abused by their wives or significant others to protect themselves and their children. They can't leave because this would leave their children unprotected in the hands of an abuser. If they take their children they can be arrested for kidnapping. If they divorce or separate, they'd probably lose custody of their children in the divorce, again leaving their children in harm's way.

Tens of thousands of California children are being denied needed domestic violence services solely because their victimized parent is male. By ignoring the needs of these children, we are increasing the risk that they will continue the cycle of violence when they become adults.

AB 2051 was originally introduced for the purpose of addressing domestic violence within the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender communities. Neither Robinson, the CAFC, nor I have any problem with this. However, while the bill's original language was gender-neutral, the author later amended the bill back to gender-specific, discriminatory language, and therein lies the problem.

By vetoing AB 2051, Governor Schwarzenegger can make it clear that it's time to end the state's discriminatory policies. His veto will return the issue to the Legislature next year, so that a solution can be crafted to serve the needs of all victims of domestic violence--including men and their children.

Again, I want all of you to write to the Governor to tell him to veto AB 2051 by clicking here.

To learn more about AB 2051, see my co-authored column AB 2051 Moves California in Wrong Direction on Domestic Violence (Daily Breeze [Los Angeles], 6/1/06). To read the bill, click here. The bill references "battered women" 31 times, yet never once mentions "male victims" or "men."

Leving's Divorce Magazine
Leving's Divorce Magazine is the new magazine for the modern divorced man. It's available online, with articles focusing on issues such as men's reproductive rights (or lack thereof), Parental Alienation Syndrome and child support. Visit now and get a free subscription. 

Help, Resources for Dads
The National Fathers' Resource Center is a division of Fathers For Equal Rights, Inc. (FER), located in Dallas, Texas, with offices in both Dallas and Houston. In existence for over three decades, it has services and resources for dads nationwide and is one of the largest and most active fathers' rights organizations in the U.S. www.fathers4kids.org

Help for Michigan Dads
Michigan family law attorney Mindy L. Hitchcock has experience fighting for noncustodial parents against Michigan's abusive FOC. Her holistic approach to divorce gets results for her clients while avoiding the scorched earth approach to law that leaves families emotionally and financially devastated. www.Lady4Justice.com

ACFC Releases Program for This Weekend's Family Law Conference

As we've previously discussed, the American Coalition for Fathers & Children is holding its National Family Law Reform Conference this Friday and Saturday (9/15 and 9/16) at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, VA. To learn more about the conference, click here.

The ACFC has released the schedule for the conference. The biographies of the Conference's speakers are here. Speakers include: Longtime conservative leader Phyllis Schlafly; Dr. Warren Farrell, a former leader of NOW whose ideas helped shape our movement; Michael McManus, the founder of Marriage Savers; Constitutional Law Scholar Herb Titus; Child Protective Services critic David Wagner, Esq.; Judith Brumbaugh, Founder and President of Americans For Divorce Reform; Stephen Baskerville, president of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children; David Levy, Esq., Executive Director of the Children's Rights Council; Comedian Carl LaBove; ACFC leaders David A. Roberts and Mike McCormick; family law attorney Jeffrey Leving, Esq.; child support expert R. Mark Rogers; and myself.

The conference agenda is here. Some of the panel discussions include: "Moving Society Toward Shared Parenting" with David Levy, Ned Holstein, Gordon Finley, Mike McCormick and myself; "Divorce Reform Initiatives" with Michael McManus, Judy Brumbaugh, John Crouch and Stephen Baskerville; "VAWA and DV Issues in Shared Parenting" with David Heleniak, Edward Bartlett, Stephen Baskerville and myself; "Moving Legislation & Electoral Processes" with Jim Semerad, Jeffrey Leving, Jim Hays, Tim Fittro and Mike McCormick; "Child Support Reform" with Michael Ross, David Roberts, R. Mark Rogers and Mike McCormick; "Parental Rights" with David Wagener, Herb Titus, Stanley Charles Thorne and Stephen Baskerville; and "Communicating with the Media" with Stephen Walker, John Maguire, Mike McCormick and myself.

Dr. Warren Farrell will be speaking at dinner Friday night, and Comedian Carl LaBove will be performing at 9:00 p.m. Phyllis Schlafly will speak at Saturday's lunch.

To learn more about the conference, click here.

Finally What Child Support Payers Need
Child Support obligors face a stacked deck when squaring off against CS Enforcement's army of lawyers and agents, all pitted against some beleaguered father who's working 50 hours a week to pay his child support and support his family. The burden of proving compliance with court-ordered support falls on the obligor, not the custodial parent or the enforcement agencies. Very often fathers are forced to pay money they don't really owe, or are saddled with fake arrearages and the concomitant interest and penalties.

Since the state provides a ton of free assistance to custodial parents, fathers need quality, affordable representation for these battles. Child Support Liberation's Child Support Audits and Record Management Program helps obligors challenge arrears by producing professional, top-quality self-audits which include all the necessary records in the proper form. CSARMP then conducts quarterly audits that will alert obligors to overcharges. In addition, they will maintain ongoing records of obligations, payments and interest.

CSARMP costs only $13 a month ($38 for the first month only) and can be cancelled with only 30 days notice. To learn more or to sign up, click here and here. If you have any questions, write to Michael Kennedy of Child Support Liberation by clicking here.

An Intelligent Look at Parental Alienation Syndrome

Dr. Robert A. Evans of Tree House Solutions takes an intelligent look at Parental Alienation Syndrome in his recent article Treatment Considerations with Children Diagnosed with PAS from the Florida Bar Journal. His list of the specific symptoms of severe PAS is illuminating:

"Campaign of denigration: denigration of the targeted parent completely, especially in the presence of the alienating parent. The children express profound hatred for the targeted parent.

"Weak rationalizations for the denigration: The children base their justification for their alienation on rationalizations that are completely irrational, and ludicrous (for example, "he takes me to Disney World too much"). These children are unable to provide more compelling reasons for their rejection.

"Lack of ambivalence: Denigrating statements are often made with a complete lack of ambivalence by the child. That is, there are no mixed feelings with these children; the targeted parent is all 'bad' and the alienating parent is all 'good.'

"The 'Independent Thinker' phenomenon: The child proudly professes that his or her rejection of the targeted parent is their own doing. They will deny any contributions from the alienating parent, who supports the child in their proclamations. The alienating parent reinforces this contention by making statements such as, 'I can't force her to see her dad, if she does not want to.'

"Reflexive support of the alienating parent: The child automatically takes the position of the alienating parent; even the alienating parent may not present the argument as forcefully as the supporting child.

"Absence of guilt: A PAS child typically has no guilt or remorse over the exploitation of the targeted parent. There is frequently a complete absence of gratitude for gifts, support of any kind, or any involvement by the targeted parent in their lives. This lack of guilt cannot be attributed solely to the child's cognitive immaturity, but is related to the brainwashing and programming by the alienating parent.

"Presence of borrowed scenarios: The child's presentation carries a rehearsed quality. They use language and expressions that are clearly not their own. Their verbalizations appear to be coached and rehearsed, and the only source of the borrowed scenarios appears to be the alienating parent.

"Animosity toward the extended family of the alienated parent: The targeted parent's extended family (e.g., aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents) is included in the animosity. These individuals are also perceived as having negative qualities or using inappropriate actions since they are associated with the targeted parent. Any attempt by the extended family to counter the denigration of the targeted parent is viewed by the child as an attack on his or her beliefs.

The Fatima Loeliger Alienation Case

Many of these elements are present in the Fatima Loeliger alienation case. The Loeliger case became publicized after PBS aired Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories last fall. Her father, Dr. Scott Loeliger, is one of the most well-known and long suffering target parents of PAS.

During our campaign against PBS's film, we made the bombshell announcement that Fatima's mother Sadia Loeliger, who was portrayed as a heroic mom in the film, had been found culpable of multiple acts of child abuse by a California Juvenile court. While Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories claims that the mother lost custody of the daughter because of the father's legal machinations, in reality the Juvenile court transferred custody to the father to protect the girl.

Evans' description of the alienated child's "Animosity toward the extended family of the alienated parent" is practically a word for word description of the Loeliger case. Perhaps the saddest part of the case is the way alienated Fatima has rejected and poured derision upon her little brother--an 8 year old who loved and looked up to his older sister, and has no clue or way to understand why she has cruelly turned against him.

To learn more about the Loeliger case, see The Alienation of Fatima Loeliger.

Accurate Paternity Testing
There are many important reasons why people choose to have a paternity test done. A child is entitled to the sense of belonging and identity that comes from knowing his/her parents. An alleged father also has the right to know if a child is biologically his. Paternity fraud in the United States is unfortunately a fairly common occurrence, affecting perhaps millions of men. Now you can get the accurate, fast and affordable answers to your paternity questions. Visit www.accuratepaternity.com or call 877-434-0292 to talk to a DNA testing expert or to order a confidential test today.

Do You and Your Kids Go Camping?
The WoodGas Camp Stove burns almost any fuel nature provides--including twigs, pine cones or any plant based fuel--and provides the cleanest heat in even the remotest area. It's light and compact and it burns for long cooking sessions--great for camping, backpacking, or s'mores anywhere. Developed by a scientist with 30+ years experience in biomass energy, it generates the heat of a normal kitchen stove, and is great for emergency preparedness. www.woodgas-stove.com.

Attention California Child Support Obligors
Under the Compromise of Back Child Support Program, when money is owed to the government (not the mother), the government may compromise on back child support for up to 90% off. This law was passed in recognition of the fact that there have been many inequitable child support judgments that can no longer be appealed. We operate anywhere in California--to learn more about this program, contact family law attorney Robert Ackermann at (310) 442-8240 or at ChildsupportLA@aol.com.

A Well-Known Feminist Inadvertently Confirms Key Facet of PAS

Evans describes one of the hallmarks of alienation as "Lack of ambivalence..there are no mixed feelings with these children; the targeted parent is all "bad" and the alienating parent is all "good."

Last year I had a long, interesting conversation with a prominent leader of the National Organization for Women--sorry, I must respect her privacy and not name her--about her childhood. We'll call this leader "Jane." Jane's father suffered from a mental disorder and was violent and abusive. Jane described numerous terrible things he did, including violence against both Jane and her mother. In between, Jane shared many warm memories of him, and spoke glowingly of him, often at some length.  

The point? The child who really is abused is usually ambivalent about his abuser. He or she is afraid and/or angry at the parent, but also has loving feelings towards the parent. By contrast, as Evans notes, for the alienated child, the target parent is the enemy and all normal human feelings have been expunged.

The National Organization for Women passed a resolution against PAS at its national conference in July, labeling PAS a "defense strategy for batterers and sexual predators that purports to explain a child's estrangement from one parent, or explains away allegations against the estranged parent of abuse/sex abuse of child, by blaming the protective parent." Jane is an intelligent woman, but somehow I doubt she noticed the contradiction.

I've written about PAS on various occasions--probably the most detailed one is my co-authored PBS Declares War on Dads (World Net Daily, 10/20/05).

Help for Midwest Fathers
Cordell & Cordell is one of the largest domestic relations firms for men in the Midwest, representing fathers in Missouri, Illinois, Texas, Kansas, Indiana and Georgia. Men who come to Cordell & Cordell know that their interests and the interests of their children will be aggressively championed. www.cordellcordell.com

Civil War - A Father's Guide to Winning Child Custody
Joseph E. Cordell's Civil War - A Father's Guide to Winning Child Custody gives fathers clear, easy-to-understand tips on how to achieve the best results possible in a divorce. Comprehensive chapters explain every step of the divorce process, the meaning of legal terms, how courts determine custody, and how to maximize chances of victory at every stage. Cordell is the founder of Cordell & Cordell.

The Myth of the Good Divorce

Psychology professor Gordon E. Finley recently wrote an interesting review of Elizabeth Marquardt's  Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce for PsycCRITIQUES, a publication of the American Psychological Association. Marquardt's book powerfully depicts the way even civil divorces can shatter a child's world and force a boy or a girl to grow up long before their time.

Unfortunately, due to copyright restrictions, the piece is not available on the Internet. However, I've quoted a few sections of it below. Finley writes:

"Marquardt's uniquely outstanding contribution is her new look at the inherent structure of the post-divorce family--from the point of view of the child of divorce--wherefrom she argues that it is structurally impossible to have a 'good' divorce. Central to her argument is the thesis that although marriage structurally constitutes one world and it is the parents' job to reconcile differences and make one unified sense of their joint world, divorce inherently creates two worlds and, most critically, makes it the child's inherently impossible job to unify, reconcile, and make sense of the increasingly divergent worlds of the child's father and mother. To borrow the vocabulary of the STEP Parent Training Program, in marriage, it is the parents who 'own' the problem of creating a unified whole, whereas in divorce, it is the child who 'owns' the problem of reconciling the increasingly diverging worlds of his or her mother and father. As Marquardt writes,

"'Our [divorced] parents were related to one another not through a structure that emphasized their unity--marriage--but rather through one that emphasized their difference and opposition: divorce. Unlike the banner of marriage announcing their unity to the world, the banner of divorce announced to everyone, including us, that the differences between them were larger than anything they might share in common. Even if they did not feel starkly opposed to one another the structure of divorce nevertheless made them seem that way to us.'"

Finley continues:

"...the obsession with parental 'conflict' in the divorce literature really is a red herring designed to deflect attention from the true problems of divorce. In Marquardt's view, divorce does little or nothing to dispel conflict between parents (in fact, she argues that two thirds of divorces come from low-conflict families), but what divorce does for children is to create a very high level of conflict within the child. Marquardt's insight can be described as 'conflict shifting.' In marriage, the conflict is between parents. By contrast, in divorce the conflict is shifted to within the child. The parents have relinquished the job of reconciling their conflicting and increasingly divergent worlds and foisted that job on their children."

While rightly commending Marquardt for most of her book, Finley also calls her on her misguided rejection of shared physical custody. Finley writes:

"[Marquardt] does not believe that post-divorce cookie-cutter formulas--such as equal shared physical custody--can address the needs of children. Her position here, however, is odd in that she ignores the fact that a worse post-divorce cookie-cutter formula already exists. This is where one parent, usually the mother, is given almost all physical custody. Sole mother physical custody has been documented to have worse outcomes, in general, for children than shared physical custody. She also fails to recognize that shared physical custody is an anti-divorce tool and--above all--what of the children's right not to be disenfranchised from either parent?"

Finley can be reached at adoptaowl@aol.com

Has Your Career Been Impacted by Custody Issues?
After empowering people's careers for over 20 years, I was duly initiated into family law just like you--through a 30 month, $520,000 custody suit. I learned that a solid home-based business could be the best option, allowing one to shake the financial shackles while still experiencing a "no limits" career. More than ever, our kids now need a free and available parent. Be there for them...and for yourself. Darrell W. Gurney, www.CEOinShorts.com 

Concerned about Financial Issues in Your Divorce?
If you're concerned about financial issues in your divorce, contact Jim DiGabriele of DiGabriele, McNulty & Co by email here or at 973-243-2600.

Letters From a Deadbeat Dad
Have you ever been framed as a "deadbeat dad" while you were just trying to be a father? Have you ever been forced to pay child support while being denied your basic rights? Have you ever had to explain Parental Alienation Syndrome to your own child? Have you ever heard about fighting family law battles outside the law by following principles of non-violence--and winning? Read Letters From a Deadbeat Dad by Cosmo Monkhouse.

Hunger-Striking Father John Murtari Interviewed from Jail

I've written recently about John Murtari, a loving father to his 13 year-old son Domenic, who refused food and water after his incarceration on July 31 for a questionable child support arrearage. Murtari subsequently received a feeding tube. I've read John's e-newsletter for the past several years, and while at times I've disagreed with his tactics, I do respect his courage, courteous manner and fighting spirit.

Murtari recently did a radio interview from jail. To hear the interview and read a recent newspaper article about John, click here.

Expose False Allegations with Technology
Don't let the anti-male bias in criminal law victimize you. If you could be falsely accused by an angry woman, be prepared! Use technology to expose the real aggressor. DontMakeHerMad.com

Save Money and Get Better Gas Mileage
Do you want to save money and get better gas mileage? Get more performance from your vehicle? Make your engine last longer? MPG-CAPS is a 100% organic engine conditioner that simultaneously improves fuel economy and power by creating a micro-thin coating on the combustion chamber in your engine allowing your fuel to burn more efficiently. MPG-CAPS are perfect for gasoline, diesel, biodiesel and gasoline-ethanol powered engines. To learn more, click here or contact FFI Independent Representative Ted Wacholtz here. FFI products come with a 100% money back guarantee.

New Jersey Divorce and Family Law
New Jersey family law attorney David Perry Davis, Esq. can help you through your divorce. In Pasqua v. Council (2006) Davis successfully challenged New Jersey's unconstitutional practice of failing to appoint attorneys for indigent child support obligors at enforcement hearings where they face incarceration. As a result of this suit, trial courts must apply the same standard used when a defendant requests a public defender in a criminal matter. www.dpdlaw.com

Answer to Reader Queries About a Couple Other Possible Campaigns

Many of you have written to me urging me to launch a campaign based on a couple of current events. Below are my views of them.

One of the proposed campaigns is in opposition to AB 2781, a California Child Support bill. California fathers' rights activist William L. Spence has distributed emails on this. Spence writes:

"AB 2781 (Leno) Child Support Collectors has passed the Legislature and will reach Governor Schwarzenegger's desk by the end of the week. It provides that, beginning in 2010, all child support orders include language establishing a judgment in favor of any private collector the obligee may choose to contract with, by which the obligation may be increased to cover the collector's fee, by up to 33.3...% of any arrearage and up to 50% of the total fee (which thus may be as high as 66.6%). To the best of my knowledge this is the first time a law has enabled a private contract to directly obligate a non-party. It seems to me especially dangerous that this extraordinary power is being granted in the context of circumstances that tend to arise as a result of serious financial hardship, and in which mischief---the vindictiveness of ex-intimate partners---is unfortunately all too common. It is, moreover, alternatively possible for warranted collection fees to be recovered through a tort action, or perhaps a new cause modeled on that by which litigation-related attorney fees are customarily handled."

Spence is calling for the Governor to veto AB 2781.

I'm not sure what Spence means about "may be as high as 66%." However, Spence makes several good points. Like Spence, I hate to see any more debt or burden placed upon California child support obligors, because they are already very overburdened. In my co-authored column Some Progress for California Fathers, but Still a Long Way to Go (Pasadena Star-News & Affiliated Papers, Daily Breeze [Los Angeles], 6/18/06) I wrote:

"In 1992 the California legislature dramatically increased the financial burdens shouldered by fathers. Many child support orders doubled and tripled overnight, quickly placing California among the five states with the highest child support guidelines.

"The legacy of this legislation is a permanent underclass of fathers buried alive under crushing debts. According to an Urban Institute study of California child support, the average arrears owed is $3,000 higher than the median annual earnings of employed child support debtors. Those in the poorest category have a child support debt amounting to their full net income for seven and a half years."

Spence is also correct in his concern that the law "has enabled a private contract to directly obligate a non-party." I investigated AB 2781 as the subject for a possible column back in April, and this was one of the first issues I raised with one of Leno's staffers. She was stumped by it, too. Apparently the California legislature has found some way around this, and Spence is correct to be concerned about its implications.

On the other hand, there are many positive aspects of this bill which also merit consideration. Noncustodial fathers are treated horribly by private collection companies--many conclude that it's worse to deal with them than with the state enforcement agencies, which is saying a lot. AB 2781 represents the first time California has reined in these private child support collection agencies, addressed their abusive tactics and brought them under government oversight. Noncustodial fathers will benefit from these protections.

In addition, custodial mothers are often the victims of predatory private child support collection agencies, and this bill will help them, also. While custodial mothers are not my primary constituency, I certainly support anything that makes life easier for them as long as it doesn't harm children of divorce and/or their fathers.

In addition, some of AB 2781's provisions about obligating noncustodial fathers aren't as unfair as they may seem. When a noncustodial father doesn't pay his child support obligation, under current law the custodial mother must pay the full cost of the private agency's collection actions. It's not unreasonable to spread that burden out between both the custodial and noncustodial parents.

My conclusion? I have mixed emotions about AB 2781. I won't be heartbroken if Governor Schwarzenegger signs it, but I won't be unhappy with a veto, either.

The full bill can be seen at AB 2781.


Help for Maryland Fathers
Family law attorney Dawn Elaine Bowie works to protect parents' relationships with their children and reduce post-divorce conflict. She practices in Montgomery, Anne Arundel and Prince George's Counties. Contact her at attorneydawn@marylandfamilylawfirm.com or go to www.marylandfamilylawfirm.com.

Tree House Solutions 
Tree House Solutions, LLC is a growing and evolving resource designed to meet the emotional and informational needs of parents who are going through divorce and those already divorced. Tree House activities are composed of live, real time teleconferences on a weekly basis. These sessions are conducted by two highly experienced mental health practitioners, versed in high conflict divorce. Drs. Bone and Evans offer a wide spectrum of suggestions and education regarding the divorce process and co-parenting with difficult former spouses.  www.treehousesolutions.org

Time for Family Fun Without the Burning Sun
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The New Ford Divorced Dad Ad

The other campaign many readers have urged me to launch is against a new Ford commercial. We've done campaigns against TV commercials before--in 2004 our Campaign Against Anti-Father Verizon Commercial was covered by over 300 media outlets, including CNN, Fox News, ABC, NBC, CBS and several hundred newspapers. The commercial, which can be viewed here, portrayed an idiot father bumbling to try to help his daughter with her homework as his wife barked at him to "go wash the dog." A few weeks after our campaign was launched Verizon informed us that the ad would no longer be aired. I explained my reasons for doing the campaign in my column Why I Launched the Campaign Against Verizon's Anti-Father Ad (Pasadena Star-News & Affiliated Papers, 11/18/04).

The new Ford ad, which can be seen here, is described by Slate as follows:

"A family drives through some gorgeous hills and along a pretty coastline, making picturesque stops at a roadside farm stand and a beach. 'The Ford Freestyle crossover,' says the voiceover. 'More than 500 miles on a tank of gas.' Then the SUV pulls to a stop in front of a housing complex, where the dad gets out with his luggage. 'Thanks for inviting me this weekend,' he says to the mom. He hugs his kids, they say their goodbyes ('See you next week'), and the SUV drives off...

"The ad begins with ho-hum familiarity. The stock shots of the smiling family; the artfully filmed vehicle; the announcer's cheerful pitch about fuel efficiency. We're waiting for the lease/buy figures to pop up on screen when...BAM! With no warning, we find ourselves in the grip of a stern domestic drama. The music goes quiet. Dad gazes wistfully at mom, thanking her for this time with his kids. Mom looks back with wet eyes, barely able to muster a reply. The camera pulls out and we see Dad standing alone, with his sad little duffel bag, in front of what one reader termed the 'Recent Divorce Condo Complex.'"

One reader wrote "The bottom line is that it makes the fact that Dad gets the kids every other weekend OK and he should be grateful for anything else that he gets that is parceled out according to the mother's wishes. It treats as normal the fact that the father is a second class parent."

Perhaps, but I can't help but wonder how Ford could have made a divorced dad commercial without angering many in the fathers' rights movement.

If the ad had portrayed a shared parenting arrangement instead of an every other weekend dad, our side would complain that Ford is papering over the oppression of divorced dads by pretending that shared parenting is standard.

If Ford had made a commercial where it was the mother who was left behind, our side would be angry because it shows a victimized woman when, in this context, it's usually men who are victimized.

If the dad hadn't appeared cheerful and "grateful," our side would say that Ford is portraying divorced dads as angry, bitter men.

Some are angered that dad was dropped off in front of the sad 'Recent Divorce Condo Complex,' but if he had been dropped off at a big house then we'd accuse Ford of perpetuating the rich divorced dad/Porsche/trophy wife stereotype.

I can't see how Ford could have approached this much better than they did. And when television doesn't show divorced dads or pretends they don't exist, we complain that our culture makes divorced dads invisible.

My conclusion? I'm not crazy about the commercial, but I don't see it as something that merits launching a protest.

One of my readers sent me an interesting letter about the ad:

"Personally, I thought the ad was bold and innovative. It portrays a post-divorce husband and wife who are working together to provide a normal life for their children. 

"Ford's ad suggests that divorce, while difficult for all concerned, doesn't need to mean an end to co-parenting. By his presence, the ad suggests that although divorced, he is still important enough in his kids lives for his ex-wife to overcome whatever rancor she no doubt felt towards him, and invite him along. You want shared-parenting? Sometimes that's what shared-parenting looks like.

"She COULD have invited 'the new daddy,' you know..."

He makes some good points.

Online Support for Men Going Through Divorce
Don't feel isolated, frightened, confused or alone when going through your divorce. Get the help and support you need without leaving your home at the Ottawa Divorce Forums www.OttawaDivorce.com/forum/

MailScanner has detected a possible fraud attempt from "www.realfamilylaw.com" claiming to be Lisa Scott Launches RealFamilyLaw.com
Shared Parenting Advocate/Family Law Attorney Lisa Scott has launched www.RealFamilyLaw.com to expose the truth about what is happening in our family law system. Lisa, the all-time leader in appearances on His Side with Glenn Sacks, says that she was "tired of having her stuff rejected by elitist bar publications and politically-correct newspapers" and decided to start her own website. www.RealFamilyLaw.com

How to Win Shared Custody
If you are an active, engaged, committed, dedicated, loving parent facing a divorce, family law attorney Nicholas Palermo's The Ten Essential Elements to Winning Joint Shared Physical and Legal Custody can help you protect your relationship with your children. www.TenEssentialElements.com

Michigan Family Law Official Calls Glenn a 'Moron'

Apparently dad-bashing child support hardliner Dean Winnie of the 30th Circuit Court Family Division in Ingham County in Michigan is full of love for me. According to a Dads of Michigan member, at a recent lunch meeting he blasted me for being a "moron reporter" who felt sorry for "deadbeat dads." Read a short account of the lunch meeting here.

Winnie is a supporter of Michigan Attorney General Michael Cox, who has taken numerous punitive measures against noncustodial fathers. I've criticized Cox on many occasions. In early 2004 Cox launched a billboard campaign which featured a large pair of handcuffs, and boasted of jail time for fathers struggling with child support obligations. We did two His Side with Glenn Sacks shows on it--to listen, go to Michigan Fathers Under Siege (3/7/04) and Showdown in Motown: Michigan Dads vs. Leader of ACES (4/18/04).

That fall Cox announced an even more misguided and asinine billboard campaign--a contest wherein children would draw billboard designs critical of noncustodial fathers who have allegedly not paid child support. Fox News quoted me on the subject as follows:

"Custodial mothers are encouraged to coach their children to make designs critical of noncustodial parents behind on child support. And it doesn't take much imagination to figure out which noncustodial father many mothers will be encouraging their children to denounce."

I and others launched a Campaign to Help Michigan Activists Defeat Anti-Father Billboard Contest, and the Michigan activists did an excellent job protesting Cox's campaign. Cox pulled the contest in response to the protests. To listen to my radio call to action on the issue, click here To read it, click here.

I did two His Side with Glenn Sacks shows on the issue--see Michigan's Top Cop Tells Kids: Denounce Your Daddy (10/3/04) and Fathers Targeted by Cox Speak Out (10/10/04).

Help for Seattle Fathers
The Law Offices of O. Yale Lewis III is a one-person law firm that focuses on customer care. Mr. Lewis can help you identify and focus on the outcome that you want and implement the steps necessary to get there. www.yalelewislaw.com.

Help for California Divorced Dads
The Divorced Fathers Network helps dads in Los Angeles, the Bay Area and Santa Cruz. Local chapters sponsor free weekly co-parenting classes, individual mentoring for fathers and much more. www.divorcedfathers.com.

The Secrets of Happily Married Men
How can a man achieve a long and happy marriage? If you've been checking out advice columns or seeing a therapist, you may have been looking in the wrong place. Despite all the advances in brain technology, and all of that we have learned about developmental psychology--men and women are given the same advice about solving problems. But when we ask men what works for them, we hear a different story. www.SecretsofMarriedMen.com

The North Dakota Shared Parenting Initiative

There were two more good articles about the North Dakota Shared Parenting Initiative last week--Wendy McElroy's North Dakota Debates Shared Parenting Law (Fox News, 8/29/06) and Dave Usher's Trust Parents, Not the System (Men's News Daily, 8/22/06).

Both authors question the legality and propriety of state and federal officials openly campaigning against the Initiative. The campaigning is also revealing as to how the government bureaucracies gain from the sole custody norm. Usher writes that, for these officials, "the only thing that matters is maximizing federal income to the state, even if it means senselessly destroying the lives of children and, indeed, fatherhood itself...[HHS Executive Director Carol Olson] cares only about maximizing federal revenues, pretending that decreases in state expenditures [and correspondingly federal entitlements] somehow represent a 'loss' to the state."

To learn more about the events in North Dakota, see ACFC's North Dakota Shared Parenting Battle Heats Up.

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Dads, Learn to Take Charge of Your Case in Family Court
Go to www.libertybellunion.org to take a comprehensive ONLINE course that teaches you how to handle your case--with or without a lawyer. Learn to Fight for your rights and your children--all for one-hour of a lawyer's fees. Learn to tell public about the tyranny that fathers face in these courts: Reason for Revolution: The Tyranny Against Fathers, Family, and Freedom.

AlterNet Controversy Over Leving/Sacks Piece

Our AlterNet debate over reproductive rights last month drew so many reader comments that AlterNet Associate Editor Laura Barcella wrote a whole separate piece--Birth Control and 'Men's Rights'--on the controversy. Family law attorney Jeff Leving and I had squared off against feminist columnist Kai Ma--our column was Respect a Man's Choice, Too, Ma's was The Difference Between a Womb and a Wallet. Our column was the 3rd most read on AlterNet that week.

Barcella's article doesn't give much space or chance to our side of the issue, and she dismisses many of our side's viewpoints as "tired anti-feminist ideas," etc. She also put men's rights in quotation marks. However, I do try to be positive when I can, so, to Barcella's credit, while she misspelled my co-author Jeff Leving's name all three times, she did manage to spell mine correctly two out of three times...

Dad's Time Tracker - Get More Time With Your Children and Manage Your Child Support
Dad's Time Tracker helps divorced fathers collect the information necessary to get more parenting time, lower their child support, or gain custody of their children by creating a child support payment record and thorough tracking of expenses. This tool makes co-parenting easier because key "friction" areas--expenses, medical issues, contacts, day care information, parenting time--are addressed in advance. www.dadstimetracker.com

Are You Really the Father?
Find out the underlying flaws in the DNA paternity testing system and learn how a man with results in the 90%, 95% or even 99% positive range may not be the father. Learn what most lawyers and judges don't know about paternity testing. www.paternitytestflaw.com.

Congressional Candidate Takes Strong Stand for Noncustodial Parents' Rights
In 2004 Libertarian presidential candidate Michael Badnarik had a strong noncustodial parents' rights platform. Badnarik is clearly aware of and sensitive to the basic problems fathers today face, particularly the sole custody norm and the denigration of noncustodial parents to "second class parent" status. Badnarik is running for Congress in 2006--to learn more, go to www.badnarik.org.

I Get Letters Like This All the Time

The Associated Press story Police: De Queen woman slaps self, tells cops that husband did it sounds like something out of my email box:

"DE QUEEN, Ark. Police at De Queen say a woman slapped herself several times in an effort to fake injuries from domestic abuse after she had stabbed her husband. But the effort didn't prevent police from arresting Dorris J- Holcombe on a charge of second-degree domestic battery.

"The 41-year-old Holcombe pleaded not guilty to the charge in Sevier (suh-VEER') County Circuit Court. Her 38-year-old husband Gary said his wife beat herself in the face after he called police to report she had stabbed him on August Tenth.

"Deputy Cameron Petross said Gary Holcombe suffered a minor cut in his chest. A police report filed in the case said the couple's landlord saw Dorris Holcombe slapping herself.

"Police said that, while in the back of the patrol car following her arrest, Dorris Holcombe started hitting her head on the restraining cage, causing a small cut near her right eye."

If it weren't for the witness, and had the woman behaved herself in the patrol car, the scam probably would have worked...

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Legal Help for Fathers
If you live in Los Angeles, Riverside or Orange counties and you're facing a divorce, separation, or a child custody issue, the law firm of Oddenino & Gaule can help.

In Defense of the National Organization for Women

Obviously I'm a frequent critic of the National Organization for Women. A few examples include: NOW at 40: Group's Opposition to Shared Parenting Contradicts Its Goal of Gender Equality (New York Daily News, 7/27/06); Alito and the Rights of Men (Los Angeles Times, 11/1/05); HB 5267 Will Help Michigan's Children of Divorce (Lansing State Journal, 5/28/06); California NOW Takes Stand Against Working Mothers (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 2/23/04); New California Move-Away Law Hurts Children of Divorce (Long Beach Press Telegram, 10/18/03); Fathers Bear the Brunt of Gender Bias in Family Courts (Insight magazine, 8/19/02); and Why Are There so Many Women in the Fathers' Movement? (Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 6/21/02).

However, though NOW is often wrong, it doesn't mean that they're always wrong, and it certainly doesn't mean they're responsible for every damn thing which is wrong in the world of gender relations. NOW is often scapegoated, and is the target of incessant stupid criticism from both men's activists and conservatives. On His Side with Glenn Sacks I once explained:

"Over the past three decades women and feminists have locked men into endless double-binds, where whatever men do, they're wrong. However, on a much smaller scale, men's activists have begun to lock women into double binds, too.

"For example, when groups such as the National Organization for Women oppose the war in Iraq, we accuse them of betraying the men who are abroad putting their lives on the line for our country. Yet when women support military action (like the war hawk columnist/talk show host Tammy Bruce) we say 'yes, you want to send all the men off to die and women don't even have to register for the draft!'

"When women want a larger role in the military, we point to biological gender differences and say women will screw up the military. When they don't, we talk about how unfair it is that only men get drafted.

"When a mother pursues her career, some MRAs blame her for putting her self-fulfillment above her kids. Yet if she doesn't work, she's condemned for burdening her husband and not pulling her weight.

"Many, such as radio talk show host Tom Leykis, condemn women for grinding out children they and their husbands can't afford. Yet they are the first ones to call a woman who looks for a high-earning man a 'gold-digger.' And the guy who blames feminists for the loose sexual morality and mores of modern society is the first guy to condemn the woman who won't put out."

One example of this incessant stupid criticism is political commentator Carol Liebau's recent criticism of NOW on the Independent Women's Forum blog. In the blog entry "Misplaced Outrage" Liebau writes:

"The New York Times runs a blood-chilling piece on the disregard for human rights--and brutal mistreatment of women -- that's taking place in Chechnya.

"So what do the American feminists have to say?  Typically, NOW has chosen instead to focus on the really important things...like complaining that Plan B's placement behind pharmacy counters may mean that a woman seeking emergency contraception must endure 'a moralizing lecture from the cashier or pharmacy clerk.' Oh, the horror."

A few points:

1) As far as I can tell, NOW's position that Emergency Contraception should be available over-the-counter is correct. NOW President Kim Gandy's statement on it is here.

2) More importantly, what on earth does one issue have to do with the other? NOW wasn't immediately on top of the Chechnya story, so that means they're wrong for taking a public position on Emergency Contraception in the US? Because there's something else horrible going on in the world, efforts to change the things which we have the power to change are invalidated? NOW is often criticized by men's activists and conservatives this way, and while it's sometimes fair, it usually strikes me as a cheap shot.

It also reminds me of some of the logic of critics of my Campaign Against 'Boys are Stupid' Products. I was slammed in newspapers and on TV and radio because, after all, "Boys are Stupid" products aren't the most important thing on the planet, and there are other, more pressing problems in the world. Gee, no kidding...

The best one was some guy who saw me on TV and told me that I was wrong to use my radio show to attack the "Boys are Stupid" T-shirts when there's so much hunger in the world. I told him "You're right--you've got me. I should've used my radio show to end world hunger instead."

Best Wishes,
Glenn Sacks

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