Pain of divorce: Where money is placed above fairness

Malcolm Maclachlan’s insightful January 1, 2009 article “Family Law Task Force getting flak for recruitment, ‘insider’ panelists” was timely and well said.

Nationally the Family Law (Divorce) Industry’s devastating impact on families reportedly costs as much as the Iraq war, over $120 billion a year. Stakeholders can ill afford to lose control of the legal processes that ensure such treasure. Only the naïve would expect the Judicial Council to appoint other than “insiders” to the Elkins Family Law Task Force. However, to the Judicial Council’s credit, men and women adversely impacted by Family Court were asked to participate through focus groups.

Worse perhaps, the state puts revenue above fundamental fairness. As early as 1993 the California Legislature established through SB 606 that “(1) The Legislative Analyst has found that county child support enforcement programs provide a net increase in revenues to the state [and]  (2) The state has a fiscal interest in ensuring that county child support enforcement programs perform efficiently.” Meaning the more child support the state collects the more the state and counties earn from Federal incentives — a major reason Child Support Enforcement resists freeing men from paternity even when DNA testing shows they are not the father including cases where a purported father has never met the mother for whom child support is being collected.

Additionally, after thirty years of mainstream feminist control of virtually all federal, state, and county family law related legislation every Elkins Task Force member has undergone intensive training based on questionable ideological models, including through lucrative STOP grants funded by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the very name of which unequivocally reveals intentional gender bias.

Between 1996 and 2003, California was awarded more than $60 million in STOP grants to ensure the effective handling and prosecution of violent crimes against women (not men). The Judicial Council of California even administered a VAWA Education Project (VAWEP) to provide the courts with information, educational materials, and training about abused women.

Hence, feminist trained industry dependent Task Force members directly or indirectly represent womens’ rights activists who complained about not being represented on the Task Force thereby giving women an overwhelming default advantage. There is no Task Force member with a clear understanding of men or fathers’ interests, in part because no meaningful programs exist for training industry stakeholders on related issues and research; nor do men’s issues bring financial incentives to state or county coffers.

The same was true for the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act Task Force of 2004. Except perhaps for Jane Lefferdink, Executive Director, United Cerebral Palsy, it is likely that each of the other 24 members directly or indirectly benefited financially from protecting the status quo, which in fact all but one did, under the misdirectional façade “best interests of children”. The Attorney General’s deck was so stacked against meaningful reform to protect children and families from governmental conflict of interest that the Juvenile Courts Bar Association wrote, “Regrettably, JCBA opposes [the authorizing] Assembly Bill 2442 because of the composition of the proposed task force.” The JCBA also wrote a scathing minority report about resulting findings and recommendations.

The 2005 Task Force on Domestic Violence dripped sticky with self interest, ideological fervor, wrong information, and was littered with ideologues, some of who become exceptionally wealthy bemoaning male behavior. The final report was aptly named “Domestic Violence, Keeping the Promise, Victim Safety, Holding Batterers Accountable.”

Chairman Casey Gwinn, arguably the most powerful man in the DV world, once San Diego City Attorney, now CEO of San Diego’s YWCA, point man for President Bush’s Family Justice Center Initiative, rode to DV Industry stardom as women world’s white knight decrying guilty of oppressive patriarchal terrorism any man daring to raise his voice in the presence of his family.  Worse, now put-out-to-pasture Senator Sheila Kuehl, arguably California’s most prolific castrating legislator, helped with a slew of ideologically myopic believers. Clearly, the purpose of the Task Force was to create an official stamp of approval for preordained outcomes, not to find solutions for reducing incidents of domestic violence.

Also in 2005 the Department of Child Support Services paid $198,000 to the Judicial Council to conduct a Review of [the] Statewide Uniform Child Support Guideline. California Family Code 4054(f) says, “In developing its recommendations, the Judicial Council shall consult with a broad cross-section of groups involved in child support issues, including… (2) Representatives of established women’s rights and fathers’ rights groups (4) … and the Department of Child Support Services.” Incredulously, the Judicial Council did neither, instead they cherry-picked stakeholders from their own kind, the judiciary.

DCSS has contracted with the Judicial Council for another Statewide Uniform Child Support Guideline Review. Hopefully money, political correctness, elitism, cronyism or incompetence will not raise their ugly head. The Judicial Council is the official watchdog of our Judiciary, but how can it conduct oversight if it cannot follow the laws it’s empowered to facilitate?

Hopefully Elkins Task Force men’s and women’s rights activist focus groups’ suggestions will be fully vented, considered and incorporated into subsequent findings and recommendations; and, be released in full to the general public.

Even so, there is no evidence that the Elkins Task Force or the Judicial Council will do anything other than protect the interests to which its members are beholden. Only the naïve believe those interests have anything to do with treating men and fathers equitably, which is not to say that women are not abused by the Family Law process because sometimes they are, in fact we all are…

Juvenile Dependency Courts and Child Protective Services (CPS) should be more transparent. An independent, external, neutral and objective administrative review process is needed to prevent abuses within CPS. Closing Family Court and integrating related matters back into Civil and Criminal Court where they belong is best. Family Courts and domestic violence police units in King County, Washington, were recently closed to save money. Some Family Court programs may be on the chopping block in Washington, Vermont, Florida, New Hampshire and other states to save money. Why not do the same in California where Family Law is contributing to our own economic demise? Maybe that makes sense for a people trafficking industry more concerned about self-interest than salvation, ideology rather than reality and dollars more than deaths, well meaning or not…

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