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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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4,623 Public Comments So Far

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54 minutes 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.
just now
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 day ago
fredda c. from pasadena, TX signed.
2 days ago
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.
3 days ago
Someone from Eros, LA writes:
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Well in my story is was in a relationship with a lady we was talking about getting married in a year she came home from the doctor one day said he told her if she was going to have any more kids she would have to do that year she would led at some point after a year would have to have surgery on her female parts and would be able to have kids any more she was crying stated that she so wanted to have a child with me where it would be a part of me and her . Guess I fail for it hook line and sinker we decited to try all it took was one time she got pregnant and next day told me she didn't need me any more she has my kid and now I have to pay her . Also later on she came to me and said she wanted to do the right thing and get married where are kid would have a mom and dad even thow when my son was born she never gave him my last name she gave him her last name witch was the same last name of her other kids dads name and had him calling her other kids dad as his dad any ways got her to singe a prenump because of what happen in the beginning and got married was married 3 weeks witch was only together one week before I went back to work while at work 2 weeks she text me told me she wanted a devoice and so it started got to court she never told her lawyer about the prenump and lied about child support payments that I had made sent my son was born . But I work in the oil field like her dad did and her mother set down as was telling my mother right after me and my ex was married how her dad worked in the oil field and she devorce her dad and took him to the cleaner with child support . Not all women are that way but a lot are they know if they have a kid they can live off the man with child support but I bet if you look back from 1900 to time child support started I thank in 1975 there was a lot less devoice back then because people new having kids was not away to make a living back in those days and families work out there problems in stead of I don't need you I have your child so there fore I have your money and your going to pay me and yes goose both way for man are woman . And if your work off shore in the oil field the child support payments are high for one kid over 1000.00 a month that kinda a money for one kid she doesn't need to work to the fact she dropped all the child support from her other kids dad cause she has mine to live off of she has also told me she uses the child support money from me as her income and that is how she gets credit to buy everything and to pay for it all. And I all so had to file bankruptcy as well
6 days ago
Mel D. from Henrico, VA writes:
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It's a shame anybody would have to go bankrupt trying to spend time with their child. Family Court hasn't been in the best interest of the child in years.
6 days ago
Someone from Vancouver, WA writes:
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Dishonesty, even gross dishonesty, is often not punished. The family court system punishes those who have worked hard as earners and savers and gives passes to those who commit gross deceptions and frauds. Lawyers who lie get paid and have zero accountability. It is a corrupted system. The honest parties often have to shoulder the legal fees of meritlessl litigations initiated by the dishonest and dishonorable parties. Very unjust and rotten system.
6 days ago
Someone from Hesperia, CA writes:
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Although damage is done psychologically and emotionally and hopefully as the child in our case grows older she'll recognize it for what it is... being brainwashed by an angry parent and making a child hate her "other family" and fearful of them is sick and wrong. The parent that does this is not acting in the best interest of the child and the courts need to recognize it! When the other parent continues to "fight" for the right to parent and goes into court over and over it should be taken serious instead of the other parent being suspect for trying to reduce child support or just being greedy and wanting the child more than for just "visits." When a parent has no history of violence toward children (and the other children in the home) a parent should not be scorned by the courts. Therefore a parent should not have pay for the right to "visit" their child while they are scrutinized by a "monitor" that is being paid by that parent and required to travel for miles and miles to a place of the "other" parent's choice!
6 days ago
Eric B. from Loudon, NH writes:
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These are good points and need to be addressed. This is a much bigger set of problems than those who haven't been in these places even realize. These affect the children more than the adults and the court feels as they know best but don't.
6 days ago
Someone from Dundalk, MD signed.