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Family Court Reform and Parental Rights

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Our family courts are expected to operate in the ?best interest of the children" in cases brought before family court judges.

?But it is not traditionally the sole criterion-much less the sole constitutional criterion... ?The best interests of the child? is not the legal standard that governs parents' or guardians' exercise of their custody: So long as certain minimum requirements of child care are met, the interests of the child may be subordinated to the interests of other children, or indeed even to the interests of the parents or guardians themselves.? -- Reno v. Flores, 507 U.S. 292 (1993)

Millions of Americans who have been through a contested divorce or custody proceeding in the family court systems across the US are acutely aware that injustice is served at the whims of the attorneys and other "profiteers" of the family court system. Unfair custody and parenting time, lifetime alimony, child support calculations based on income rather than actual need, paternity fraud, parental alienation, false allegations with no repercussions, complex legal processes and rules, and numerous other issues not only violate the Constitutional and civil rights of the unfortunate litigants, but serve to contribute to the further denigration of families and leave parents and children emotionally, spiritually and financially damaged for many years into the future.

The US Supreme Court has gone so far as to assert:

?We have little doubt that the Due Process Clause would be offended ?if a State were to attempt to force the breakup of a natural family, over the objections of the parents and their children, without some showing of unfitness and for the sole reason that to do so was thought to be in the children's best interest.?? -- Quilloin v. Walcott, 434 U.S. 246 (1978)

?More important, historically it has recognized that natural bonds of affection lead parents to act in the best interests of their children.? -- Parham v. J. R., 442 U.S. 584 (1979)

Furthermore, experts in child development agree that in the absence of substantiated abuse, shared parenting is better for children:

"There is a consensus that neither the discretionary best interests of the child standard nor sole custody or primary residence orders are serving the needs of children and families of divorce. There is a consensus that shared parenting is a viable post-divorce parenting arrangement that is optimal to child development and well-being, including for children of high conflict parents." -- Edward Kruk, Ph.D., First International Conference on Shared Parenting, May 2014

Yet every day in courtrooms across the US, the rights of parents and children are violated by unconstitutional orders and unfair judgments due to unnecessarily complex and costly adversarial processes that make divorce not only more difficult than necessary, but also create long term financial and emotional impacts on parents, children, and society as a whole.

The divorce process and the accompanying pain and suffering that many families endure is something we don't often like to talk about and taking a stoic and dismissive attitude toward those who feel slighted in the process is perpetuated by a society that fails to recognize the long term and sometimes life-long impact of the dissolution of a family unit. Even less talked about is the role that some attorneys, legislators and other agents of the court take in perpetuating these problems, sometimes unknowingly, but often purposefully to increase their own personal profits or organizational revenue.

These policies and practices are not only unethical, but violate the very oaths taken by attorneys, legislators and other agents of the court to uphold the Constitutional rights of those they are hired to serve. Fortunately however, there are protections built into our system that if invoked will better protect the rights of parents and families of divorce. We The People call upon Congress to take action to reform family courts across the US by investigating and addressing the following issues:

1. Conduct an investigation into the policies and practices conducted in the family courts across the US and by the American BAR Association. Individuals found to be in violation of their oaths of service shall be reprimanded or removed and recommendations shall be made for long term reform. Of particular concern are abuse of judicial discretion, failure to provide equal protection and due process, failure to adjudicate cases in a timely manner, and failure to uphold Constitutional rights of parents to determine what is in the best interest of their own children.

2. Conduct an investigation into child custody laws, practices, and long term impacts. Provide recommendations for updates to state law that are consistent with Supreme Court rulings that uphold the rights of each parent to have essentially equal, ongoing, and meaningful relationships with their children. True 50/50 equal and joint custody and decision making should be the default in all states unless a parent is determined to be unfit or agrees to another arrangement.

3. Conduct an investigation into child support and alimony (spousal support) laws and rulings. Advise and direct courts to develop new policies and practices that adequately provide for the basic financial needs of children being cared for by one or both biological parents not living in the same household, without violating the inalienable financial or property rights of either biological parent. True 50/50 financial responsibility for children based on USDA national guidelines on the cost to raise a child should be assumed unless otherwise agreed upon by the parents.

4. Conduct an investigation into the impact of The Violence Against Women Act, it's effectiveness, and how gender discriminatory policy impacts practices, policies, and judicial decisions in family court and the American justice system. Federal and state laws and programs must be consistently and fairly written and enforced to provide equal protection under the law for both men and women in family court and in programs intended to protect families and children from domestic violence.

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4,629 Public Comments So Far

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7 hours ago
Someone from Glens Falls, NY writes:
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Following my split after my ex had her boyfriend stay at my house, my ex relocated across the country. I followed her to remain part of my daughter's life. I'm responsible, went to iraq, have a master's degree, am positive, supportive and non-toxic. All I wanted was shared custody or at least adequate visitation. However the family court process and results are a joke. They declined joint custody, but did award me with bi-weekly visitation and two weeks in the summer, however I had to go to court multiple times to get the visitation, went months without being allowed to see my daughter while waiting for court, and then when she blatantly violated the court order, the court did nothing. I find it a real hypocrisy that I am court ordered to pay for way more than 50% (almost $700 a month) under the penalty of suspended drivers and business license and then JAIL, but she can withhold visitation and the court doesn't even care. I had to go to court two times jsut to get make up visitation. This takes a full day of leave from work, a hotel as the court is three hours from my house, - I have been to court now 7 or 8 times. This is what happens. The woman can leave the relationship of her own choice, get custody being that she is the one who spent more time with the child (Being that dad was at work all day, financing the whole thing) and then the non custodial parent has no rights. In my case I have another in-tact family. I can't spend every weekend begging the court to enforce visitation orders. They don't really enforce the visitation - its no quality of life to spend all of your vacation on court (when if I get to see my daughter in the summer I need all of that vacation to be authorized because the court ruled I have to be off work during the visits). It becomes a wasted effort as the court has stepped in taken your parental rights away, deemed you give way more than your share to your ex (who has no accountability on how she spends it). Then if she is vindictive you have a choice. Fight, and deal with the rage and injustice of a court who values your money, but could care less about visitation, or move on with your life. It takes away your role and responsibility as a parent. Its sick. Custody should be 50/50 and child support should be half of what it costs to raise a child. However there is a lobby involved here and the ones (Judges, lawyers, child support system) that profiteer off of pain, fear, and powerlessness probably keep this corrupt system in place. I pity them on judgment day.
1 week ago
Someone from Rockville, MD writes:
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Hennepin County 4th district family court meets all the criteria of RICO. GAL program top down corruption, collusion, bias. Complaint process a joke. Great parents denied parental rights. Profit over best interest standards.
March 19, 2017
Francesca A. from Marlboro, NY writes:
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March 15, 2017
Someone from Mason City, IA writes:
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My Two children were illegally kidnapped by Iowa DHS and by lies told by my ex-husband. Now my oldest lives in foster care and my youngest lives with my ex husband who has four founded child abuse cases.
March 12, 2017
Someone from Coopersburg, PA writes:
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the family court system is biased towards men
March 11, 2017
Someone from Choctaw, OK signed.
1 month ago
drake m. from Fort Worth, TX writes:
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My two daughters, ages 6 and 9, are the center of my world. I've given my daughters nothing but love over the course of their lives. I've never missed a child support payment. Indeed, I paid support prior to it being ordered, yet I see one day a week for two hours and the 1/3/5 weekends of each month. Despite them asking why they can't live with me, this is the SPO in Texas, and judges won't give them a voice until age 12. The research overwhelmingly provides evidence that children do best when both parents are significantly involved in their lives. I implore you to recognize the needs of children and disallow child custody to be big business. Equal parents deserve equal parenting time. Children need both parents.
1 month ago
Lisa R. from Muscatine, IA writes:
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I pay child support to my older son I see him 2x a week every other weekend and get him full time in the summer but we each get two weeks of uninterrupted time which I feel is crap bc it takes away my time with him. My older son I feel is brainwashed by his father and his girlfriend of 4 years. His father wants everything on his time and around his schedule it dont matter about my schedule and my other two childrens schedule which live with me and my boyfriend of almsot 3 years. He feel since he has him majority of the time its always his way or no way at all I have absolutely no say as the mother.
1 month ago
fredda c. from pasadena, TX signed.
just now
Someone from Calumet, MI writes:
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Emotional abuse needs to be recognized and considered by Family Courts. My story is too long to post, but I really feel like my court didn't care at all about me or my children. They sided with an abuser. He told me he would take them away from me and they helped him. He told me he would make my life hell and he did for many years. He told me I would never get a dime from him and I pay him child support. They don't care. They don't really know what's happening between the parents. They don't ask about emotional abuse. They need someone who can help the parent who really cares for the children more than they care for themselves.