Betrayal of the Child: A Father's Guide to the Courts, Divorce, Custody and Children's Rightsby Stewart Rein
Never before has society been faced with such a challenge-deciding what principles should guide lawmakers, parents and the courts in protecting the rights and needs of children involved in divorce and custody cases. Tens of millions of children are being deprived of their human and psychological rights to treasured relationships with male parents. Why? How can fathers fight for justice?
"Betrayal of the Child", written with compassion and insight, refutes "The Best Interests of the Child" (Freud, Solnit & Goldstein) single parent theology and concludes that only two parents can serve the best interests of children.
About the Author
Stewart Rein has been intimately involved in children's and human rights issues for over thirteen years. He has worked with Families Need Fathers in the United Kingdom, The Children's & Human Rights Council, CRC, The United Nations Human Rights Commission, and has advised on government social policy issues.
He has argued before state, federal and international courts, defending children's rights and has advised pro se litigants in the conduct of their cases. Mr. Rein has authored several important papers, given evidence before the New York State Legislature, addressed International Conferences for CRC and PARENT, Inc. and has produced TV programs such as "The Human Rights Enigma" on children's rights in international law and "Wednesday's Children" a TV Special on Parental Child Abduction. He has appeared on radio and television in Europe for BBC, ITV, Radio Monte Carlo and America for Newstalk TV and The Bob Salter Show.
The women in Tennessee drive Camaros get Food Stamps, child-support, TANF, and sleep with any and all men in the same house as the child, and the FATHER is reduced to insanity. This has got to stop."
A comprehensive book - with practical and theoretical information on divorce and custody, including case analysis, psychiatric and psychological literature, law and a father's guide to the courts.
I'm not in the business of advertising but I just finished reading the book a few minutes ago and it may very well replace all those other books on the market. It goes beyond the simplistic explanations and advice. It may well be the closest book we have these days to a definitive guide to protecting our children from the loss of their fathers!"
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Betrayal of the Child
Family Dissolution and Betrayal of our Children's Best Interests
"We have permitted the courts to sever the relationship between the child and his or her biological father. This is something that no court should have an opportunity to do."
Men are stupid. Most men have a shocking lack of awareness of the ever-increasing family issues, including divorce, custodial conflict and parental loss. Male ignorance crosses over racial, religious, social and national divides. Unmarried men live in a world of romance and optimistic expectation. This state of mind is part of our historical socialization. Married men go about their lives also without thinking about these painful issues. Neither group even recognizes let alone accepts the uncomfortable facts about family crisis and the breakdown of modern marriages. Men fear opening the proverbial Pandora's box threatening their inherited and reinforced systems of belief. Men are living in denial.
When fathers are suddenly confronted by separation and divorce, by breakdown of their own family lives and the potential loss of their children, these problems are perceived as existing in a vacuum. Fathers often see nothing more than a miserable personal experience unrelated to outside influences, trends or policies. Wrong! Men are not only ill informed on the issues, but are the most vociferous of all in denial of the facts. They are the last to acknowledge the existence of covert court custody policies set up to deny their rights to relationships with their children -until it is too late to resist. They cannot imagine the full extent of the family court's wide-ranging discretionary powers. They cannot conceive of the possible existence of radical and cultural feminist conspiracies seriously influencing legislation and maternal preference court policy. They do not imagine that their former wives or girlfriends would ever act to harm the children. Fathers believe, rather naively, that justice will prevail in their 'personal' cases, that no court would ever take away their children from them. Friends and relatives will also deny realities, either reinforcing a misguided trust in the family law system, or distancing themselves from the 'dead or dying' fathers. See Dr. Bakalar Secretly, family members will ask, "What did he do to her? He must have done something to get her this angry?" Men hiring lawyers think they can simply leave it to their representative to protect them and their children. Pro se fathers believe they are capable of self-representation in a hostile and complex legal forum. Both sets of fathers often have come to see me seeking advice, after the fact, after their cases have gone horribly wrong, when they are desperate, alone and defeated. Male perceptions are simply out of tune with the facts! Lets start with a few relevant, staggering and quite conservative statistics from the "The Stepfamily Foundation" that set the scale of the problem for children and fathers.
"One out of two marriages end in divorce.
60% of second marriages fail, according to the U.S. Census Bureau
66% of marriages and living together situations end in break up, when children are actively involved, according to Stepfamily Foundation statistics.
It is predicted that 50% of children (35 million) in the US will go through a divorce before they are 18.
At present there are over 22.5 million children in the US living in single-parent homes, nearly all with a female parent."1
Sole maternal custody court policies have led to the undeniable statistical fact of a rapid and painful disappearance of fatherhood. See Graphs on single-parent families-Divorces Along with that disappearing dad has come misleading and injurious terms like 'dead-beat' dad and 'absent parent' that have sprung into the modern vocabulary. However, the truth is that the vast majority of men are not 'dead beat' dads or voluntary 'absent parents'. Very few men abandon their children. The truth is that tens of millions of women are delimiting and obliterating contact between their former spouses and the children. See Myth of the Dead-Beat Dad
This catastrophic scenario of divorce, separation, custodial conflict and parental loss did not erupt without warning. It was found in an early study by Heatherington (1977), that,
" Within two years some fathers could not cope with seeing their children only occasionally and gave up on visitation refusing to become "Disneyland Dads" in the face of stern and unrelenting opposition by their former wives" (Marriages and Families, Mary Anne Lamanna and Agnes Riedmann, 4th Ed., Wadsworth, 1991).
In the year 2000, at the time of writing, one such estranged and destabilized dad just holed up with a gun and hostages at that very same 'Disneyland', threatening suicide and murder. Nothing changes! All he wanted was access to his children. He is not alone. Figures show that tens of millions of other fathers are living out that same crisis.
Ironically, as shown by three separate studies, men, on those rare occasions when entrusted with sole custody, do not act to betray their children's trust and rights,
"Children living with fathers typically have more contact and are emotionally closer to parents, that is, their mothers" (Grief 1985, Grief and Pabst in 1988, and Lewin in 1990)2
One reason for that result may be that fathers, unlike huge numbers of mothers, do not act to destroy the rights and interests of their children when placed in positions of control and power. These studies on paternal custody compare favorably (and can be used in court) with studies on maternal custody showing that mothers with sole custody interfere, delimit, and act to destroy paternal relationships to children after divorce. See Source Material on Maternal Abuse of Sole Custody Orders
The studies are extremely important given Psychiatrist John W. Jacobs report that many of his colleagues believe ALL marriages will end in divorce and that we will marry at least three times in our lives. Present studies indicate that the average marriage lasts only for seven years.
There are also between 500,000 and 650,000 parental child abductions in the US alone each year directly related to custody conflicts, with many more going unreported. This heralds in an era of enormous crisis in family relations in America and the rest of the western world. According to The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, "the incidence of child abduction by family members is growing at an alarming rate in the United States and will become a greater policy challenge for elected officials each year." See the Phenomena of Parental Child Abduction
Anecdotal evidence, supplied by a highly placed source at The US State Dept., suggests that the vast majority of parental kidnappings are by women, mothers. My own research supports that finding, as does the evidence from French Hague Convention Attorney, Dr. Alain Cornec.
The statistics and problems cited, as well as those to follow, are some of the consequences of a tragic three-step process; commencing with the facile breakdown of traditional 'intact' families, the advent of 'on demand' no fault divorce, and, finally, the imposition of universal sole maternal custody orders making children fatherless.
The knock-on effects and consequences to children of this invidious process include serious pathologies developed in childhood, adolescence and adulthood as reported by The Utopia Foundation as recently as 1997:
"Over 85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in fatherless homes, according to: Fulton County Georgia Jail Population and Texas Department of Corrections (1992) 70% of juveniles in state operated institutions, come from homes where the biological father is not present (US Dept. of Justice Special Report, 1988) 71% of all high school dropouts come from homes where the biological father is not present (National Principles Association Report on the State of High Schools) 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from homes where the biological father is not present (Center for Disease Control) 63% of youth suicides are from homes where the biological father is not present (US D.H.H.S. Bureau of the Census)" Fathers involved in custody battles in hostile forums MUST use those and other statistics in a reasoned defense of their children's best interests, arguing for joint physical and legal custody. Even if mother, or her lawyer, attempts to undercut the statistical validity (citing other factors), there is no overcoming an 'prima facie' (on its face) case that father absence is an unmitigated disaster. These statistics, together with others and the studies in this book make a compelling case for the shared parenting of children, See A Father's Guide to the Courts. See Parental Deprivation and Consequences on Children. See Appendix A on US Government Statistics Visitation and Child Support How relevant is all this? Who has not either suffered marriage or non-marital disruption personally or experienced it through a close friend, or family member? How many have experienced the pain and suffering of missed children, or grandchildren, when the children have been whisked out of loved one's lives, because of former partners desire to dispose of father? The odds are that all of you will have had one experience or the other. Further, if you have not lived through this pain, the odds are that you will within your lifetime.
"How intimate is the link between the nature of society and how its children are raised? Alternatively, as we have so often asked: Is man the father of society, or society the father of man? This question becomes no less burning with the passing of millennia". Bruno Bettelheim, "The Children of the Dream". Perhaps a more compelling question, heralding in the dawn of a new millennium, is how to preserve, protect, or indeed, even salvage our most fundamental unit of society -the family. - Can we prevent it from disappearing into a black hole of interpersonal gender based chaos and animosity, while guarding the inalienable rights of our children to be nurtured, loved and guided into a healthy adulthood. However, society has failed to address, let alone confront the issues of rising gender warfare, divorce, fatherlessness and an unparalleled social re-organization driving us towards female-headed single-parent families. Collectively, judges, lawyers, social workers, psychologists, law guardians and tens of millions of mothers have failed to cherish and protect our children's rights. Fathers have failed to reverse the trend, or even put a dent in it. Despite existing evidence that 'traditional' family structure is, as the UN has declared, "the most fundamental social unit of organized society", we have allowed it to crumble to the point of devastation. US and UK studies gave us forewarning as far back as 1988, as reported by David White and Anne Woollett, lecturers in Developmental Psychology, that this epidemic was well underway but have ignored the consequences: "Figures from the US census returns showed 21 percent of children in single-parent homes (mother)(Laosa 1988). In the UK, sixteen percent, of the families with dependent children were headed by a single- parent. (Mother) (OPCS 1989). Those figures have escalated in both countries through the nineteen nineties." Having gone on to account for extremely insignificant 'other causes' of single parenting (death, abandonment), they restated: "Looking at these statistics in a different way, figures from the US show that 38 percent of the children born in the period 1965-69 were not living with both natural parents by age 16 years." It is estimated that 50 percent or more of children born in the late 1970's will spend some time in a single-parent family before they reach the age of 16 years (Bumpass, 1984; Hofferth, 1985)." As reported in 1999, in Perspectives on Father Involvement: Research and Policy, Catherine S. Tamis-LeMonda and Natasha Cabrera, Social Policy Report, Volume XIII, Number 2,1999. Society for Research in Child Development
"Another quite different social development that has placed men in the national spotlight is the alarming rate of father-absent families. In 1997, 24% of children lived with only their mothers (Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, 1998a). Almost 70% of women on welfare were unmarried when they had their first child. It has been estimated that the proportion of children who will live with only one parent at some time during their childhood will exceed 50% (Hernandez, 1993)." See Graphs on Lone Parenting Those statistics are shocking enough, but both the estimates and projections have been seriously under-reported. The trend toward female-headed single-parent families has escalated off the top of the charts. Yet, we have taken no steps, to halt the trend, implement reform legislation, alter unworkable policies or offer moral leadership. The bells are tolling for the tens of millions of innocent children. Children have fallen tragic victims to the onslaught of divorce and estrangement from male parents, suffering the imposition of a destructive female-headed single-parent family system. Association of Children's and Father's Rights
This book looks at the situation from the child's perspective. I wanted to speak out for the tens of millions of silent suffering children. Unfortunately, many children's rights issues remain clouded and merged into interpersonal relationships within the family nexus. Therefore, it is necessary to clarify a few things. First, to me, men's issues are only of interest if dependent on, and annexed to, those of the child. There cannot be any confusion here. Equally, women's issues are only discussed in respect to their interconnection to children's rights. The child's interests are paramount. Nevertheless, having said that, one has great difficulty separating the interests of children and fathers in present circumstances. There is, from the child's perspective, a relative association of children's and father's rights. Both groups, forming two-thirds of the family nexus, have equally become (in a constitutional sense) cognizable minority classifications whose natural and legal rights have been seriously impaired. Both groups, in the aftermath of 'traditional' family breakdown and conflictual divorce, have become the psychological victims of millions of women. Although White and Wollett reported that there had been recent moves in the US and UK to make joint custody arrangements to ensure the child's rights to maintain contact with both parents in the aftermath of divorce, they implicitly admitted to the hypocrisy of family courts in failing to put shared parenting into practice;
"However, the evidence suggests that changes in the legal arrangement are not reflected in the living arrangements of families post-divorce." "Families: A Context for Development (1992)"
In other words, policies rooted in the outmoded doctrines of 'tender years' and 'maternal attachment' discussed in later chapters, leave sole maternal custody firmly in place despite recent lip-service paid to shared parenting and vague 'gender neutral' legislation. See The Psychiatric & Psychological Literature on the Child, The Legal System.
Family courts worldwide, remain driven by radical feminist politics and pressure. See NOW Opposition to Shared Parenting Bills Courts continue to exercise wide ranging discretionary powers allowing them to bypass, ignore, abuse and contravene legislative intent. Courts remain committed to personal prejudices and private political agendas supported by outdated and erroneous research in the psychiatric literature. See Rebuttal to Freud, Solnit and Goldstein
Universal sole maternal custody not merely rules, but is identifiable as a root cause of serious trauma imposed on our children. See Consequence of Parental Deprivations on Children
White and Wollett continued on to also point out that:
"Children generally live with only one parent and have few overnight stays with the other parent. Only a small percentage of children spend large amounts of time with both parents." Confirmation for that finding comes from another study, "In general, children do not see a great deal of their (other) parent (Maccoby et al. 1988)". Moreover, in 2000, twelve years later, conditions have worsened as numbers have swelled. What other outcome could we expect in these circumstances? Sole maternal custody is the universal norm, granted exclusively. Control and power, get vested in a party (mother) that seems to have, and act out of, a number of subjective and objective reasons to limit or completely deny child and father their most vital and appropriate relationship. That is what the statistics and studies in this book go to prove. Women have brazenly admitted in surveys that, 'they see no value in fatherhood and to having interfered with visitation between their former spouses and the children'. See Surveys of Divorced Mothers. See US Census Data Appendix A and below Given that bizarre and rather cruel admission it is, therefore, not surprising that only in:
"About 20 percent of cases the parents (men) see their children once a week or more (Furstenberg 1988). Contact with the parent declines with the passage of time with fathers showing a more marked decline in the frequency of their visits (Hetherington et al 1982)".
These are the kinds of emerging patterns and trends that have continued and accelerated through the 1990's and into the twenty first century, as women seek divorces, disposing of male parents using legal process to do so.
In 1994, US government sources reported that a shocking 37.8 percent of fathers were denied any access to their children by the courts and over 54.9 percent were given little access and virtually no enforcement of that contact. See Appendix A. That means that in a child population in the US of some 77 million kids, roughly sixty percent of them are children of divorce. Of those, 92.7 percent of them have no fathers. While Dr. John Campion in England confirms the fact that over 50% of children of divorce in his country do not see their fathers at all. These statistics tell a sad tale of injustice and deceit.
In Braver, S., & O'Connell, D. "Taking on myth 2: The no-show dad. In Divorced Dads: Shattering the myths", New York: Tarcher/Putnam. (1998),
"The authors found that the bulk of visitation problems are traceable to disputes between the non-custodial father and the custodial mother. Mothers' strategies include denying visitation, encouraging the child to feel alienated from the non-custodial father, and attaching unacceptable conditions or financial demands to visitation."
Why are 'intact' family models being torn and desecrated?
Why are millions of women obliterating the interpersonal relationships between their former spouses and the children?
How are they affecting this destructive process?
How can we as a society find more humane and rational solutions, than we have during the past twenty years, to the dilemma of family breakdown and parental loss?
What can fathers do to protect the emotional and legal rights of their children?
First fathers must come to even recognize the nature of the problem!
The Disappearance of Fatherhood
It is undeniable that two phenomena are occurring simultaneously: massive divorce rates and the disappearance of fatherhood. These bad twins are symptoms of a society split into disharmonious gender halves by myopic radical feminists and their allies. There is no discounting radical feminist influence on women or the existing causal connection between feminist ideology and fatherlessness. There has been a drastic re-shaping of "societies most fundamental unit" (the family) while a popular myth has been created that it can be transmuted into and be maintained by a female single parent supported by the state. This is not merely a gross misunderstanding of human nature, but a powerful vehicle for creation of cycles of deprivation and dysfunction in our children. That is what the available studies already show is happening. One longtime and respected critic of present court custody policies is American Psychiatrist Mel Roman. He calls for a joint custody approach, characterizing present policies as anachronistic and unjust: "The assumptions that underlie the policy of generally granting custody to mothers are outmoded, unrealistic and damaging. They are as inappropriate to the contemporary intellectual and socio-cultural Zeitgeist as were the rights of fathers in ancient Rome to sell their child or put it to death." Driven by huge increases in the numbers of non-marital separations and conflictual divorces, society is drowning in a rising tide of destabilization in the lives of our children. Few among the empowered elite wish to acknowledge this fact. While numerous apologists leap forward to address only superficial aspects of the problem, acting only to reinforce the underlying policies causing these disastrous consequences for children. While Dr. Roman rejects past gender stereotyping and the discredited psychoanalytical theories of Freud, Solnit and Goldstein (see Chapter II) that support sole maternal custody, reminding us that, "Maternal custody as a presumed preference is the shadow of a world that no longer exists except in the minds of those who unrealistically cherish the imperfect past."
In fact, I would go much further, as that world never truly existed. It was largely mythological and limited to an extremely brief historical period (Industrial Revolution). We must reject maternal preference standards. Professor Daniel Amneus warned with justifiable impatience in his book, "The Garbage Generation", "What needs to be done is to stop the flow of messed-up kids through the pipeline running from the divorce courts and into female-headed families, through pathological childhoods into disruptive adolescence and demoralized adulthood--the process now in full swing and programmed to continue into the next Garbage Generation in the 21st century." Dr. Amneus response calls for a return to Patriarchy of the family and for father custody where there has been family disruption. My position on custody is that we MUST make joint physical and legal custody (shared parenting) the presumption in law as a first step forward in safeguarding the rights of children. Family law should be federal and not subject to state vagaries. National 'joint custody' law can still provide for the flexibility to make sole custody orders in extreme or exceptional (anomalous) cases. Nevertheless, even in those cases, we must adduce concrete evidence meeting with all other civil and criminal law standards, unlike the allegation driven process in family law courts. See Chapters on the Law, See Objective Evidence tests In principle, commonsense, intuition, logic and modern research all argue for the continuing need and rights of the child to be nurtured by his or her two psychological parents in the aftermath of separation and divorce. Only 'judicially mandated' joint custody or shared parenting best serves the needs of children . I believe that the material in this book conclusively supports this view. We must understand that sole maternal custody in practice equates to nothing less than a serious parental loss (See Dr. Jacobs). No reputable mental health professional can dispute the idea that the most significant loss to a child is the loss of one or both of its parents. Yet, we create this loss artificially when making custody decisions removing one parent (father) from the child's life. This is especially disagreeable when the basis for such removal is nothing more than sexual or gender stereotyping and abuse of power. It is not made more palatable by rationalizations like, it must be done for 'the sake of regularity and order', 'reducing hostilities' or as 'the least detrimental solution'. Nor can we use sole maternal custody as a quick, practical means to dispose of the tens of millions of cases that flow through national and foreign courts. Even if we applied maternal preference strategies to more 'traditional' family models, there are multitudes of sound arguments against them. However, applied to the 'post-nuclear' family models in which men, at women's insistence, have taken on ever increasing roles as co-nurturers, they become indefensible. They are cruel, irrational, and visit a miserable injustice on our children. As leading psychiatrist, Dr. Jacobs, told me during a television interview: "If the loss of a parent through natural causes presents a child with an important loss, can you imagine the traumatic affects on the child from the enforced loss of a parent due to a conflictual divorce, separation and an artificial severance of it's precious relationship." ("Wednesday's Children" 1997) Sadly, I can imagine such trauma, and so have many responsible mental health professionals. This falls under discussion in the Chapter on Parental Rights Deprivations along with aspects of 'parental loss syndrome' represented by reunion fantasies and a quest for the missing parent. Further, suggestions that fathers still maintain 'rights of visitation' when mothers are granted sole custody, are spurious in the extreme. Those arguments fly in the face of reality. The statistical facts and research demonstrates that paternal ties to children are lost, not maintained, through supposed visitation rights. See US Census Figures, See Custody and Visitation, See Dr. Fay, An End to Visitation. Despite the known affects of paternal loss on children, case law denial of the child's rights persists through continuation of sole maternal custody policies. Children's rights to treasured relationships are shattered, as the research shows, without judicial concern for the child's immediate trauma, long-term harmful effects or dysfunctionality directly linked to those policies. The legal systems of The United States, Europe, Israel as well as Canada, New Zealand, Australia and others, are alike in this betrayal of the rights and best interests of children. The insensitivity and corruption of present family court process extends beyond married persons to the tens of millions of de facto (common law) marriages producing children. Treatment for unmarried fathers is even worse than for married ones in custody and visitation matters. One sick joke arising out of modern common law marriages (no longer recognized by most states) is that 'paternity suits' once used to force men into submission and recognition of their paternal responsibilities are now having to be used by men to force women into acceptance of male parentage and paternal rights. While in one particular case, even the US Supreme Court has gone so far as to create a legal fiction (based on gender discrimination and an arcane California statute) that the biological and psychological father of a young child-was not (in law) its father. In this exasperating case, an unmarried father went on a twelve year Odyssey through state, federal and international courts to establish his relationship to his daughter only to be defeated. See the extraordinary case of Michael H. v. Gerald D. in International law, UN Convention on the Rights of the Child/ International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. See Orders of Filiation, See Parental Responsibility Orders If we all (especially fathers) fail to understand the source and nature of both internal and external forces driving family court policy, we cannot change its direction. This is true for individual parents fighting cases and for advocates of broad social and legal reform. However, for all those outside forces, we return to the mother for one of the first questions that springs to mind. Why would millions of women, long since liberated from what all feminists call, the bonds of patriarchal, conservative, stereo-typical and 'traditional' long term relationships, (having demanded that men become co-nurturing partners) revert back to pre-liberation positions characterizing men as mere 'providers' and themselves as 'homemakers'? Too many women, ironically, when dissolving the new style 'mutual' marital relationship, disposing of their spouses as parents to their children, are doing precisely that. The very qualities that women claimed to seek in men as husbands and fathers (partners, co-nurturers) are, suddenly, in the circumstances of divorce, completely repudiated as huge numbers have enforced maternal sole custody on their children.
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(Warren Farrell, Ph.D., author of Father and Child Reunion and Why Men Are The Way They Are)
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