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Thanks to Glenn L. Eckles, Jr. for the following. Links to related articles are at the bottom.

Good morning Governors,

AT LONG LAST ... States are coming to realize (what Parents have known all along) that it "does NOT take a Village or a tate (government) to Raise a Child" but BOTH PARENTS acting in the vital and loving role of mentor, role-model, spiritual leader AND provider for their unemanicpated minor children.

Action is urgently needed within your respective States (Maryland and West Virginia) to correct the "systemic-wrongs" that are (unlawfully) eliminating loving and committed parents (typically the Father) from the lives of their children - simply on the basis of divorce and through the arbitrary classification and punishment of the Fathers.  The ultimate harm being done, is upon the Children within that divorced family, who have to endure enough emotional distress arising from the separation of their parents.  Through the actions of YOUR States and YOUR Courts, the distress and damage to those children is increased significantly and without any semblance of a rational or legal cause.

Other States Legislatures in this Nation have legislation before them.  IT IS PAST TIME that the States of Maryland and West Virginia take a "real" leadership role, and set-right the wrongs that have been illegally and unconstitutionally perpetrated against law abiding NonCustodial Parents - who are only 'NonCustodial" as a result of the unlawful/unConstitutional "arbitrary classification" of Fathers within YOUR States' judiciary.

I, and countless thousands of loving Noncustodial Fathers within your State's borders, respectfully request that you publically and vocally endorse "Fatherhood" and immediately begin the process of enforcing the Fathers' Constitutional rights, by passing-into-law the necessary legistlative reforms that will ensure the protection of their "existing rights" under the United States Constitution.

On behalf of loving and committed Fathers throughout the Nation, I thank you in advance for the support that I am confident you will ultimately provide. It is Right, It is Just, AND, It is the Law.

Glenn L. Eckles, Jr.
Bill would give joint custody
by Allison Steele, Monitor Staff
The Children and Family Law Committee heard testimony yesterday on a measure that would automatically award joint custody to parents except in cases where it was shown that the children would not benefit from equal parenting.
Parents and some child advocates said the bill would offer parents, particularly fathers, a better chance at being treated fairly in custody disputes. The bill's sponsor, Rep. David Bickford of New Durham, said it would also protect parents from stereotypes that judges tend to rely on in making custody decisions, such as the assumption that primary custody should go to the parent who was the primary caregiver during the marriage. Courts are granting an increasing number of joint custody agreements, Bickford said, but this bill would ensure that trend continues.

But others at the hearing said it would be wrong for courts to assume that equal custody is best for families. Nina Gardner, chairwoman of the Family Law Task Force, said her committee opposes the bill because families have different circumstances that may or may not fit with a joint custody agreement.

"This bill sets a standard that treats all families alike," she said.

The bill also perpetuates the view of children as property in divorce cases, rather than individuals, said family law lawyer John Cameron. That mindset, he said, is the largest problem with the state's current custody law. It mandates that a judge award custody however he or she deems is best for the child - a guideline that can lead to nasty disputes between parents.

"We have to take the idea that a child is a prize to be contested over out of the system," he said. "And equal responsibility for a child doesn't necessarily equate to equal time with a child. It's the quality time spent with a child we need to promote, not an automatic 50-50 split."

More than 50 people packed into the room for yesterday's hearing, many of them fathers who shared their experiences with custody arrangements. David Amico of Kingston, who said he sees his son and daughter six or seven times
a month, said he has felt stymied by a system that he felt pitted him against his ex-wife in court.

"If we could just have the court system say, 'We would like for you to share your parental responsibilities,' that would be wonderful," he said.

On Wednesday, the committee heard testimony on another custody bill intended to do exactly that. That measure, which has drawn more support from family advocacy groups, encourages parents to work together as a team to share the rights and responsibilities of raising the children but does not specify how custody should be divided. It would ask parents to create plans for where the children should live and how the parents would handle their disputes. The Family Law Task Force supports that bill.

Both bills would separate the laws regarding kids and parents from the state's marriage and divorce laws, as well as replace the terms "custody" and "child support" with "parental rights and responsibilities."

Cameron said yesterday that children who grow up with joint custody arrangements have been shown to be better adjusted than other children of divorce, but he cautioned that it would be a mistake to pass a bill asking courts to assume that is always the best way to go. And asking lawyers and parents to demonstrate why joint custody should not be awarded could create
even more bitterness in disputes.

"I think we need to work our way up to shared custody," he said. "Not whittle away at the presumption of shared custody."

So many came to speak on yesterday's bill that committee members had to cut the hearing short. Testimony will continue Tuesday.

(Allison Steele can be reached at 224-5301, ext. 314, or by e-mail at asteele@cmonitor.com.)

Concord Monitor Home:  http://www.cmonitor.com/apps/pbcs.dll/frontpage
Related articles:

California May be Forced to Finally Reform Welfare The Terminator may help the real John Conner shut down the 'money machines' http://www.mensnewsdaily.com/archive/u-v/untershine/2005/untershine031405.htm
by Jim Untershine -- MND, 14 Mar 05

What's really behind America's epidemic of family breakdown?
[ http://shop.wnd.com/store/item.asp?ITEM_ID=1700
...where a single issue can be ordered, but maybe only this month.] by WND's Whistleblower Staff -- WND, 12/17 Mar 05

Divorce and Bankruptcy Reform
http://www.mensnewsdaily.com/archive/u-v/usher/2005/usher030905.htm by David R. Usher -- MND, 09 Mar 05

Divorce as Revolution
http://www.stephenbaskerville.net/divorce_as_revolution.htm by Stephen Baskerville -- Salisbury Review, Summer 2003

Children Need BOTH Parents!

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