Coleman versus Mason - Move Aways with Shared Custody Not Allowed



Divided families, unanimous ruling

THE JULY 10 state Supreme Judicial Court opinion in Mason v. Coleman was great news for the vast majority of divorced parents with shared custody and their children. But you wouldn't know it from reading "A house divided" (Living/Arts, July 19), a misleading account of joint custody and the case itself. The hard choices faced by both families in the story, the mixed feelings of the children, the complexity of blended families -- all are the result of divorce itself, not shared custody.

The SJC's ruling protects children from being unexpectedly deprived of one of their parents through a ``move-away." The ruling protects both men and women who have joint custody. Indeed, the ruling protects Betsy Shanley Coleman -- it prevents her ex-husband from moving away too.

The fact that the ruling was unanimous and lacks ambiguity will hopefully keep many potential cases from ever reaching family court. It will certainly allow parents and their children to breathe a little easier. I should know -- I was raised in joint custody and currently share custody of my own children.

I AM DISPLEASED with the Globe's slanted view of a very intricate court case in ``A house divided." The issue is not whether one parent ``wins" (for there are never any winners in a custody hearing), but rather the attempt to preserve familial cohesiveness for the child.

As a divorced parent struggling to raise one child from a previous marriage and two new children from a subsequent marriage, I am constantly faced with the balance of interests between myself, my ex-spouse, and, most important, my daughter. I have willingly made sacrifices ranging from which job I could accept to where I could buy a house to accommodate my visitation schedule . My wife is an angel in that she also took on these sacrifices when she married me and we began our own family (divorce affects all adults and all children involved in the situation).

Articles such as yours only confuse the issues and create anger instead of understanding.

I APPLAUD the Supreme Judicial Court in its decision in the Mason v. Coleman move-away case. I consider it a long-awaited step in the right direction.

As a stepmother to two children, I have witnessed firsthand the over-the-counter method with which the Massachusetts family courts hand down their custody rulings . There is an overwhelming bias toward mothers, and far too often fathers are seen as simply the paycheck, offering nothing more than a weekly income for the custodial mothers.

I'm not surprised that Jon Coleman moved before the case was decided. I'm sure that he had presumed that the courts would rule in favor of Besty Shanley Coleman. I'm sure he never believed that a Massachusetts court would rule in favor of the father.

I'm appalled at the way you biased this story. I'm disgusted that you suggest the possibility of child abuse in order to sway sentiments toward the mother. All you have done is perpetuate the fallacy that fathers are nothing more than guaranteed income.
ERIN BUTURLIA, North Andover

MANY EXPERTS agree that it's the conflict that hurts the kids. Experts also agree that the legal system is not the appropriate forum to resolve the conflict that sometimes exists in cases of divorce with children.

The Globe participated in that conflict by allowing one of the parents to involve the children in the dispute. If given the opportunity in the legal arena, parties will always find ways to exacerbate the conflict because that's the nature of the system.

In families with married parents, any or all members of the family can be dissatisfied with where they live or some other aspect of their situation. The courts don't claim they have the right to dictate to that family how they should resolve their conflict. In this case, the Supreme Judicial Court respected the divorced family the same way it respects the married family, by leaving the decision to them. Until more courts do the same thing, more kids will be put in the middle of the conflict that they just want to end.
STEVEN VOGL, Hampton, N.H.  

© Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

Other Letters to the Editor

Although I am glad some attention is coming to this topic your article on this SJC case shows enormous bias and misunderstanding of the facts and impact on children of being raised without one parent.

This is scientifically proven to be damaging to children and many experts consider it actual “child abuse”.

The book Father and Child Reunion, by Dr. Warren Farrell, is the largest meta-research of this topic available. It shows the results of over 200 scientific studies compiled over 13 years of his research into this topic.

In fact I believe there is no credible scientific research that supports the “traditional” visitation model for children of divorce.

The bottom line is that Shared Parenting, with near equal time with both parents is FAR SUPERIOR to any visitation arrangement on over twenty measures.

Of course, this is when there are two fit and willing parents but this is by far the majority of cases and about 80% end up with only one parent.

This is over 50% of the children in this country we are talking about!

Your writer’s slant towards obsolete, feminist inspired policies, which strip fathers of their parental rights, is obvious and actually damaging to society as a whole.

I myself have recently moved my divorce case to federal court due to the constant civil rights violations of family court which have become standard operating procedure.

My judge has in fact broken the law about 30 times now in my case and is doing real harm to my children and me with no good reason other than “traditional gender discrimination”.

The family courts and lawyers keep doing what they do because of the enormous money involved in custody battles and federal funding to support this obsolete government infrastructure.

When the Globe can move into the 21st century and stop reinforcing sexist traditions that are harmful it will be a real contributor to society instead of a source of harmful propaganda.

Today the domestic violence tail also wags the divorce dog in family courts and the gender bias is undeniable and proven harmful to families, children and society.

Next time you might assign a reporter without a preconceived bias to report the story and actually find out there are 25 million non-custodial parents suffering daily from the fact that family courts continue to be ignorant of research available for over a decade now.  In fact there are hundreds of suicides per month like the one recently in New York because this system drives people to insanity by destroying their lives.

Don’t confuse cause and effect here as over 10X as many men commit suicide as the result of divorce as women. This is not a sign of a functioning system without bias.

The band plays on in spite of this constant harm to children forced on parents by ignorant appointed judges who do not have a clue what they are doing.

The divorce INDUSTRY is a for profit industry that wish to grow and can only do that if custody battles continue on an intentionally unleveled playing field. There are actually 7 different bills before the Massachusetts legislature for Shared Parenting now and 8%% of Massachusetts voted for this in a referendum.

The real story that should be reported is one of harm to children for the profit of lawyers and government who ignore common sense, science and fact in favor of personal profit.

Dr. Warren Farrell, the famous author of this book and many others on gender issues, can be reached at: (760) 753-5000. He does almost daily interviews with the press and may be the top expert in the world on children of divorce. He has recently developed a training video for judges, lawyers and other professional involved in the divorce industry.

I can also connect you with many other national authorities on this topic when you are ready to expose the corruption in our family court system.

There are literally hundreds of groups and web sites now screaming about this criminal incompetence.

True Child Support is Shared Parenting (not money) but all our government and lawyers can measure and care about is the money and assets involved.

I believe this to be the top social problem in our country today, as it is destroying the chance of a health life for tens of millions of children and fathers.

I ask you to really look into this divorce business and expose the corruption, sexual bias and harm it is doing. This would be award winning journalism.


Bob Norton,

Loving father of two beautiful girls who are being intentionally harmed for money by lawyers and the state government.

(508) 381-1450