Family Law: The Root Of The Problem Is This…

One of the huge problems we have in our fight for Family Law Reform is the problem of “enablers”.

We’ve got so many people enabling and empowering the horrific behavior going in within Family Law.

We’ve got lawyers counseling clients that it’s right and good for them to limit or eliminate the relationships between children and NCP’s to gain freedom and child support. We even have lawyers who will subtly coach clients on how to make false allegations to gain an advantage.

We’ve got judges who absolutely detest hearing custody disputes, so they use a variety of direct and indirect methods to make the cost of enforcing visitation prohibitively expensive (child support, litigation, procedure, unequal enforcement of family court orders)

We’ve got court-appointed social workers who are making a killing by mining data the necessary data to support a decision they already know the Court wants to make.

We’ve got supervised parenting services who are actively promoting that during divorce, this service is healthy, when in fact; it’s a very powerful weapon of alienation.

We’ve got politicians who are using Family Law to play political games, spinning public perception away from the truth in order to secure the votes of single mothers, who, are one of the fastest growing demographics.

And last but not least, we’ve got the friends, families, and co-workers of alienating and abusive parents who either directly tell these people what they’re doing is okay, or indirectly do so by looking the other way.

In any case, alienators and abusers keep getting the message: “What you’re doing is right and good. You deserve to be happy. Keep it up!”

There is no other way around it. If we really want change, if we really care about children; we must abandon our need to avoid conflict.

Be mindful and of public opinion, but don’t NEED it. Be wise, not fearful.

If we want change, we have to accept this reality:

Lawyers will not change their behaviors until the Courts change their behaviors.

Courts will not change their behaviors until the Laws are changed.

Laws will not change until the politicians are changed.

And politicians will not change until public opinion changes.

Therefore, we can sit here on pages like this and bitch and moan all day long about our ex’s, the family court industry, courts – all of it.

But we must not deceive ourselves. Change will NOT happen until each and every one of us develops to will, each and every day, to confront the problem.

One cannot escape personal responsibility for our futures, and to do otherwise, makes no different than our opposition. It just provides us with different reasons to be hypocrites.

I will NOT enable you, because I want you to succeed. We are better than them, and we WILL get what we want.

~ Michael

Letter Template To Your State and Federal Elected Officials Asking Where They Stand On Family Law Reform

This morning, FathersandFamilies.org put out an excellent call to action on its Facebook page.

Here it is:

“Have you ever wondered where your local State Representative or Senator stands on the presumption for equally shared parenting, or what they think about Judges using discretion to bypass equal parentage and access to children by Non-Custodial families? Well, let’s find out. Fathers and Families is asking today that you go to Google and search your State’s Legislative or General Assembly website to find your State level Representative and Senator (pick one Rep and one Senator) and email both asking where they stand on you being allowed to have equal access to your children and financially supporting them directly, as well as how to deal with Judges who prevent that.

Once both have responded, come back to this post and type the name of the State you are in, the Rep/Senators name, and copy and paste their response.”

So, I wrote my own letter this morning and sent it off.

It’s important that each and every one of us let our officials know where we stand on Family Law reform, and what the consequences will be should they continue to ignore us.  Therefore,  everyone should send this letter or a letter of their own making to their elected officials!

So, with this in mind, you are free to copy the letter I wrote and send it off yourself. 

To copy it, just hi-light it with your mouse and hit “control c”.  You can then paste it (“control v”) directly into your email or word document to edit and send it as you see fit.

If you’d like me to send you the word document, please email me: michael.loveandiron@gmail.com.

Note: Please do NOT send me a Facebook message asking for this document. I will NOT respond to those. If you want the word file, you must email me at the gmail account.  

Here it is:

*************************************************************************************

Dear:

I believe the gift of parenting children is the single greatest blessing and experience an individual can enjoy in life. Therefore to me, parenting rights are not a “special rights” concern; they are a “human rights” concern.

So, I want to ask where you stand on an important political issue: Family Law Reform.

As you may or may not be aware, our current system of Family Law has devolved into one in which a whole host of Family Court Industry players are profiteering from the minimization or elimination of parenting time and rights for non-custodial parents.  

Many custodial parents, lawyers, parenting plan evaluators, supervised parenting services, States, friends of the Court social workers, many Courts, and others; are making money by using children as an excuse to exploit non-custodial parents, causing irreparable harm to both children and their parents in the process.

I, and a rapidly growing base of many others, would like this to stop. More specifically, we are asking for five primary reforms to Family Law:

  1. The presumption of 50/50 custody and parenting rights during and after divorce. We are NOT asking for a REQUIREMENT of 50/50, because we still want parents to be able to decide for themselves what works best for them. However, in the event that case goes to trial, instead of having the NCP being forced to rise to a high standard to show why they should have time with their children, I believe it’s far healthier for both parents and children for the parent contesting this time to be required to rise to a high standard to show why the NCP should NOT have equal time with their children.  And while this may dramatically hit the financial accounts of those who are profiting from creating or aggravating conditions of conflict, this reform will affect far healthier outcomes for families.
  2. I would like reforms to child support calculations. More specifically, an elimination of financial incentives for minimizing or eliminating a non-custodial parent’s time with their little ones. As it sits now, there are basically two pieces to the child support calculation: (1) An actual physical needs worksheet, and (2) A tax-free income redistribution; with the Court establishing the higher of the two as the child support order.  I recognize that custodial parents may need some time to adjust after divorce, and I have no problems with alimony/maintenance. However, I would like the alimony portion of child support to be eliminated.  If a CP wants to better their lifestyle, they can put the work into bettering themselves just like NCP’S are often admonished to do when seeking modifications to lower child support orders.  Children are NOT tax-free, income producing assets, and NCP’s are NOT indentured servants.
  3. Reforms to child support enforcement: If one wants to accomplish a goal, it helps establish good or helpful conditions to achieve that goal. Unfortunately, the Family Court has become accustomed to pathological and often draconian measures for enforcement in which the civil rights of NCP’s are systematically ignored or eliminated through administrative court procedures.  If a person loses their job, or becomes ill or disabled, it makes no sense what so ever, to take away their driver’s license, vocational license, destroy their credit, throw them in jail, or force them into homelessness. How does this help to ensure the support gets caught-up?  It doesn’t. It simply makes the problem worse and sets the non-custodial parent up for future, life-destroying failures.  Truthfully, current regimes for enforcement measures that treat “deadbroke” parents as common criminals are completely inappropriate.
  4. Social Security Act, Title IV, Part D, Section 458 “Incentive Payments To States”: I have no problem, in theory, with states being rewarded for child support enforcement.  However, I have a big problem with States profiting from it, and I have a REALLY big problem with the lack of resources available to NCP’s for visitation enforcement.  For little or no cost, a CP can have the state pursue civil or criminal remedies for delinquent child support. However, an NCP in reality, must hire an attorney if his or her visitation orders are being ignored, and often, these orders are not enforced with anywhere near the same severity by the Court as they are with child support orders.  And I’m confident this is happening in large part, due to the financial interests of those parties noted in paragraph four.  Therefore, if there is going to be Federal incentives for the enforcement of Family Court orders, I want equal weighting and importance put the enforcement of visitation orders.  Honestly, the message that money is more important than a parent’s relationship and the emotional well-being of children is remarkably disgusting. I simply can’t tolerate that kind of worldview.
  5. VAWA reform.  I agree that victims of abuse and violence need the ability to feel safe in swiftly seeking the protection of the Justice system. However, fraudulent allegations of abuse made during Family Court are getting out of control. This is a gender-neutral problem, and it seems it now boils down to which party can launch this nuclear attack first.  There are no remedies available to the victims of fraudulent allegations – none, and the damage these allegations cause to both children and parents is catastrophic.  The American Bar Association loves to fall back on VAWA as its reasoning for opposing any kind of Family Law reform. However, I can’t help but wonder how much money attorneys and investigators are making from a law that allows someone to be accused of such a serious crime and presumed guilty of it, with no credible evidence what-so-ever.  Something needs to be done about this, right now.  

In short, much of the current political and judicial rationalizing for the current structure of Family Law centers on the concept of what’s “in the best interests of the children”.  However, what is becoming increasingly clear is that children are simply being used as an excuse to hide a greedier underlying motive that is causing significant and irreparable harm to parents and children alike.

I understand you can expect to receive significant resistance to my ideas for reform because those parties noted earlier have a great deal to lose when they take place.

However, I’m not concerned about them. I’m concerned about the health and well-being children and parents, and your position on this matter will affect my voting behavior going forward.

Therefore, I will be grateful if you will tell me, in plain and simple words, where you stand on Family Law Reform.

Thank you so much for your time.

Sincerely,

You Want Family Law Reforms? Okay, Here’s One Thing That Needs To Happen…

Earlier in the week, I had an experience with a recently added member to one of our closed Facebook groups where he offered some criticism about our strategy of publicizing the need for Family Law Reform with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and within the blogosphere.

Basically, I get the sense he’s an old school guy who has spent years busting his tail to actively and publically protest against the corruption within our Family Court system, and I more or less got the feeling that he thinks what we’re doing isn’t bold or dangerous enough to attract any significant attention.

And then this morning, I was having another conversation with a friend of mine about signing a petition. Here’s how it went: 

KP:

 “I don’t know if any of you have experienced this, but for every petition I’ve signed or letter written to members of our government, I get back a generic email stating this is not an issue for that specific branch to deal with. I am then resending the petitions and asking “why not?” As long as they keep saying “not me or my problem” they continue to push our children aside. Our children should be cared for at a local, state, and federal level. If gov’t officials aren’t worried about it, they should be. After all, who’s going to be making the laws and caring for them when they’re retired and need care? I don’t want my kids being that callous. We take care of them now, they learn to care for others later.”

Michael:

“I’m not a big fan of these petitions; at least not yet. I probably get asked to sign 10 of these a day, from groups splintered all over the place, and I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even bother, because they can’t generate enough political weight to be taken seriously – The conditions and the timing aren’t right.”

KP:

“I agree to a point. Right now, everyone’s wondering about the upcoming election and they’re treading lightly. I also agree these petitions don’t carry much weight. We are inundated with so much every day, we’re blocking a great deal of it out. But, I also know there will never be a “right time” in someone’s eyes. So, I keep bugging until someone listens. Someone, somewhere will say “now it’s time” if we keep asking.”

Michael:

“Well, in my opinion here’s the deal.  And I say this, because professionally, I deal with this a lot.

Politicians aren’t going to start taking us seriously until the Media starts taking us seriously.

And one of the first things the Media does when it wants to assess the newsworthiness of a cause is check FB, Twitter, etc. to see what kind of following the cause has. Hey, Media people are busy, and that’s a quick and dirty way for them to evaluate the potential public interest in a story, and these protests, petitions, etc. don’t have the physical weight to work well yet.

Sure, they do generate publicity, but not a significant amount, because the reality is the Media simply sees 20 or 30 people jumping up and down outside the Court house, who they perceive are merely pissed-off about having to pay child support, and they just don’t think this is newsworthy.  Of course we know this perception is wrong, but, this is the majority one today- rightly or wrongly, it is what it is.

Now, the reason why that Bank of America petition earlier this year worked so damn well is because nearly everyone LOATHES banks, especially big banks. They nickel and dime us, they hide fees, the charge interest, they sue us, foreclose on us – whatever; they tend to frequently piss EVERYONE off.  So, a petition like that already has the base and the energy, and that’s why, especially in today’s economy, it flew off the radar.

We’re not there yet.

Truthfully, there are millions of us who’re angry about that injuries that have been done to us and our children, but most aren’t seriously activated, and many are simply too afraid to speak out for fear of reprisal from a justice system relies heavily on secrecy and draconian measures to enforce its will.

But even more important, there are also one hell of a lot of folks who have a LOT to lose if reforms are actually made, and they ARE activated.

The National Organization for Women (NOW) has just under 40,000 Facebook followers.  Our two primary Lobby/Activist groups: Fathers and Families (just under 4,000 followers) and The American Coalition for Fathers and Children  (just under 1,500) are not even close in terms of political capital.  And nothing significant is going to happen to accomplish our goals until these numbers come up.

So first, we have to continue to work on coming together.  And as we do this, we have to realize that it’s unrealistic to believe we will ever persuade those who don’t agree with us.  But we can influence the middle, and they too, will begin to listen once we can show social proof in the form of numbers.”

Do I think petitions and protests are valuable tactics in affecting strategies for Family Law Reform?

Yup.

However, times change, and what worked yesterday, may not work as well today.

Petitions and protests certainly have their place, and as I mentioned above, they do generate publicity.  However, we must ADAPT to the conditions of today. 

So, let me try putting it this way: If NOW started sponsoring rallies against Family Law Reform, and The American Coalition For Fathers and Children started sponsoring rallies for Family Law Reform; which group do you think will be awarded greater credibility by the Media and the Public at large?

Effective strategy means adapting and exploiting current conditions to your advantage.  Petitions and protests appear to offer that quick fix we so desperately want, but the problem is, the conditions aren’t optimal for those tactics to work well yet.

Social networking platforms like Facebook give each one of us the power and the ability to publicize the truth without having to depend on the Media to do it.  And interestingly enough, it’s that very power that, these days, will actually work to attract the attention of the Media in the first place.

Statistically, each one of us knows at least two or three people within our group of Facebook friends who’ve been screwed over by the Family Court. 

Have you reached out to them?  Have you pointed them toward a group, page, or cause that can offer them love, support, and an opportunity to get involved?

The lesson here is a simple one: work on setting up and building the right conditions, then any number of tactics will have great power.

~ Michael

Loving With Letters: Danny Draw Sawyer

I wish I could say I’m surprised, but I’m not.

This is a horrible story from one of our followers:

“As I sit here trying to find myself not even knowing just how lost I am, I look back over the last year of my 37 year life and realize just how much I have lost.

I was retired from the US Army in February of 2012 due to injuries I received while serving in Iraq. Last October, my wife of 9 ½ years, and the mother of our two children, comes to me and explains just how unhappy she is and that we both deserve to be happy.

She said that after a lot of thought she has decided that she wants a divorce.

I ask her if she was absolutely sure to which she replied yes. She asked me to move out of the very house that I built; one that was built around my disabilities.

The following week I packed a couple of bags and started renting a room from someone I found on Craigslist. I told her when I moved out that she could stay in the house for one year and I would pay all the bills and still give her money on top of that so she could find a job (she never worked during our marriage even though I asked her all the time to get a job) and get on her feet, and I did just that.

I paid all the bills and on top of that gave her between $1000 – $1200 a month. I guess she wanted more. Now almost a year later she has taken me to court once for child support and alimony. I thought for sure that our judicial system would take care of me during this process. I am not a drunk, I have never hit her, and I was always at home and feel that I am a great father to our children.

She never worked, she always stayed home. Now after going to court, I have been ordered to give her 73% of my disability income.

I cannot work now due to my disabilities so making more money is not an option. I have lost everything due to this. I have nothing of value left to sell.

I am not writing this to get pity from anyone. I am simply writing this to voice that this is the world that we live in. I did everything right. But yet the court still feels the need to punish me simply because I am the father and not the mother. How is this fair?

How have we, as a society, let it come to this? Not every man going through a divorce has done something wrong. Why should we be punished for the decisions of the woman?

Car – Repossessed, Furniture – Repossessed, 2800 sq. ft. house – In Foreclosure, every gun I owned sold for near nothing.

I make too much money for government assistance and now live day-to-day on bread and bologna, and have run out of bread. With the amount of money that the court is leaving me every month I can pay my rent or my car payment or buy food, but only one of those.

My power is about to be disconnected as well as my phone. Out of all the things I have lost, the thing that hurts me the most is losing the respect of my children.

Please repost this, I would like the world to know how good men are being treated in our courts.

Sincerely,

Danny Draw Sawyer”

 

Memo To Followers: Is The Fox Ruling The Henhouse?

You might have noticed that the common theme of our most recent publicity messages center around “sharing the truth”.

And there’s a reason for this:  we’ve been seeing a rather active effort on the part of our opposition to blatantly lie to the Public in an attempt to thwart Family Law reform.

In reality, this is not new.  Because they’ve been doing this for the last forty years or so.

Never the less, you’re probably seeing a ridiculous talking point come up a lot lately.  I’ve seen it all over, and it’s probably best described by a Facebook post is saw in the Love and Iron newsfeed from NC Fathers.  Here is the opening post:

“In speaking w/ a NC Legislator yesterday, she exclaimed that in many cases the only reason a non-custodial parent would want shared parenting or joint custody is so that they could lower child support payments.”

I then followed up with a post to that thread describing my disgust with National Organization for Women (NOW) and other anti-equal parenting lobbying groups; because it’s become apparent that this is one of the universal talking points that’s being injected into the public commentary – I’m simply seeing it all over.  Basically, here’s  what they’re saying:

**The only reason fathers want equal parenting is to avoid paying child support.**  

Yet interestingly enough, when we recently ran a poll of our followers, we asked the following question:

“If you were given a magic wand and told you could change just ONE thing about Family Law, right now; what would that ONE thing be?

  1. A presumption of 50/50 custody.
  2. An elimination of shared income redistributions within the child support calculation
  3. Government enforcement of visitation orders
  4. Punishments/Remedies for fraudulent false allegations of abuse.

So according to the propaganda, it would be logical to expect that answer “B” would have dominated the responses, or at the very least, presented a significant presence.

Well, as it happens, option “B” did not receive a single vote – NOT ONE person who responded to our poll identified child support as the most important Family Law reform they wanted addressed.

None.

Nada.

Zip-o-la.

In fact here are the results:

Option “A” – the presumption of 50/50 custody received 35.20% of the votes.

Option “B” – the elimination of income sharing within the child support calculation, of course, received 0% of the votes.

Option “C” – Government enforcement of visitation orders received 5.88% of the votes.

Option “D” – Punishments/Remedies for fraudulent false allegations of abuse received the remaining, and largest percentage of votes at 58.82%.

Actually,  I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume we’re not the first organization to come up with these sorts of findings, and it would be hard for me to believe that those putting out the misinformation are ignorant of the facts.

Could it be that they’re simply lying to the Public in order to promote a political agenda?

NC Fathers then followed up my post with a response:

“We don’t worry so much about NOW anymore.

I see diehard members of that organization starting to speak out about how this system throws step-mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and other females under the bus.

It used to be framed as a male vs. female issue, but clearly women in paternal families are on their knees as much as fathers are.

The REAL opponent is one of the largest, single most powerful lobby organizations in the USA. That is the American Bar Association which pumps tremendous amounts of influence and money into stopping equally shared parenting.

It disturbs us to know that the lawyers we are spending $15,000 on per custody matter believe that we either win, or be marginalized.”

Ah, so we get to the heart of it.

True enough, it’s about money all right, but who is REALLY the party guilty of greed?

Well, that question is answered very well described by another follower posting on the conversation thread referenced here:

“This is sad but true.

When my husband and I decided to divorce, we sat down and agreed to split everything 50/50 and to make an appointment with our marriage counselor to learn how to tell the kids, and to discuss how to share them. Because we were both in agreement, we decided to share a lawyer. Because he worked out of town, I agreed to find a lawyer to help us draw up paperwork.

At my initial meeting the attorney informed me she cannot represent both of us and my husband would have to get his own attorney.

She started asking questions about our jobs and lives and then let me know that because he made more money, I am due alimony to bring me up to his level of income. She also advised I fight for sole custody of the kids, or at the very least reduce his visitation down to no more than something like 60 nights per year, as that would give me the maximum child support.

I’m embarrassed to say, I had never even heard of child support before!

We were still living together at this point, so she advised I start a fight that would encourage HIM to be the one to move out so it would look like he abandoned us, as this would give me my best chance at my custody and child support wishes. She spent an hour telling me what a looser he was (she’d never met him!) and how much of his money I deserved.

When I told her that I couldn’t live with myself taking so much from him and taking the kids away from their dad, she started telling me that my kids deserve to live in one home with their mother, how studies proved that mothers are better care takers, and that his new role should be to provide financial support, if he really loved his children.

She even said, “Wouldn’t it be nice to only work part time or quit working, your kids need you more than you need your job!” I did not hire her, and we figured out how to file our paperwork without crooked attorneys, got co-parenting advise from a counselor, and today our kids enjoy a healthy relationship with both parents, and we share equally in all expenses (actually, he probably does pay a little more than half their expenses, but it is his choice to do so, he has more expensive tastes in stuff than I do).

I believe many attorneys are the root cause of their family court battles, and likely the reason family court moves so extremely slow!”

As of the latest published data by the US Census Bureau (2007), there were 175,825 Law firms generating just under $228 billion dollars in gross annual revenues operating within the United States.

88% of these entities were operating with 10 or fewer employees with an average of 6.3 employees per firm, which equates to approximately $205,627 per employee.

Furthermore, in the United States, politicians who described their profession as “lawyer” make up the single most influential voting block within Congress  (37.2% total; with 60% of the US Senate being lawyers).

Ah okay….

So now we see the game that’s being played here:

(1)    Lawyers make money from conflicts centering around significant threats to life, liberty, and money.  It doesn’t matter if they win or lose, as long as they stakes are high and important, and the legal process sufficiently confusing or unknown; they get paid.  Therefore, it’s in the best interests of the American Bar Association to create and/or preserve the conditions that enable conflict around children. Conflict around one’s children equals BIG money for lawyers.

(2)    The way to preserve or enhance these conditions is to use legal language that is nebulous and presumptive.  Nebulous means vague and open to interpretation, and within Law, presumption defines where the burden of proof resides.  And two of the most hotly contested laws affecting non-custodial parents (The Best Interests of the Children Rule, and The Violence Against Women Act) satisfy all these conditions: (1) Nebulous and open to interpretation by the Court, (2) Presumptive: the burden of proof is on the father to reach a high standard to show why he should have equal parenting rights, and in the Case of allegations of abuse; the accused party, which is the father 98% of the time, is presumed guilty and the burden of proof is on that person to show the allegations are unfounded, (3) High stakes (life, children, liberty, money),  and (4) public confusion and ignorance regarding the form, structure, and process of Family Law.  And it’s under these conditions that lawyers and friends of the Court parenting plan evaluators, supervisors, investigators, and social workers are making a pile of money.

(3)     As it sits currently, custodial parents, States, and many Courts enjoy lucrative financial incentives to maximize child support payments, which is likely to include minimizing or eliminating a non-custodial parents time with their children.  Why? Because the Federal Government has set it up this way by rationing Federal subsidies to States through child support enforcement vis-à-vis Title IVD Child Support Enforcement bonuses (Click here to learn more about Federal Money to States for child support enforcement). So, what we’ve got here is an environment where custodial parents, which are statistically mothers (84% of the time; the resulting 14% being mostly joint custody cases, and a very small percent having fathers as the primary custodian), lawyers, Court-appointed investigators, and Courts are colluding with each other to protect and enhance their financial interests.

But the big question remains, why are our elected officials within Federal Government not only enabling this behavior, not only empowering it, but deliberately misrepresenting the facts?

Well, Family Law reform is about money all right.  

But when you’re doing something disgusting, it helps to create a noble excuse for it and manipulate public opinion about where the blame lies.

Child support reform is NOT the primary concern of our followers  – it’s the primary concern of everyone who is making money by preserving the conditions of high-stakes conflict; those who are profiting from the abuse and exploitation of parents and children.

The Family Court Industry is not hiding the fact that ultimately, the argument is about money. They’re simply misrepresenting the facts so that it appears NCP’s, who are mostly fathers, are to blame.

So, why are our politicians supporting and spinning this for the Family Court industry?

Because the Family Court Industry is making out like bandits, and this means money for politicians, which of course means winning elections and power.

When you have power to over laws, you have power to attract political donations. And when you have power to give money to politicians, you have the power to affect the laws.

It’s a nice little cozy relationship, don’t ya think?

And this is why, the position of The Love And Iron Project is that the answer to our problems; the solution to the end of the exploitation and abuse of parents and children for money rests in our ability to come together in sufficient numbers to coerce change at the political level.

There is simply too much money being made by everyone involved. If we want change, we’re going to have to force it, because believe me, neither the Family Court Industry nor the Political Establishment is going to give up all this cash for moral reasons.

They don’t care about that. They don’t really care about your children. And they certainly don’t care about you – They are manufacturing suffering for you and your children so they can profit fromit. They are using you.

If we want change, we’re going to have to take it upon ourselves to make it happen.  

We’re going to have to show these politicians that it’s in their best interests to change the laws or they’re going to lose their jobs – period.

Change the politicians, change the laws. Change the laws, change Court behavior. Change Court behavior, change the result.

Do this, and all the profiteers are stripped of their power and removed from the equation.

~ Michael

Memo To Followers: The Ugly Truth About Why States Don’t Want Shared/Equal Parenting (Continued):

You may recall that I recently posted a memo describing how States are profiting from the creation of absent parents (see the link below for the original post).

Well, in that post, I only described part of the money picture the States are getting.

And while I’m still working on it, below is copy from an email I recently sent to FatherandFamilies.org that provides a bit more clarity and detail about how The Feds providing financial incentives to States who create absent parents and/or maximize child support payements.

Again, if you feel lost, the original post is linked below.

“Hi Robert:
 
I’ve actually been working on honing in on exactly how all this works, because even in the post you’re referencing, I acknowledged some fuzziness within my own understanding.
 
I’ve also been working trying to get some recent budget data on this to sort of back test what my understanding of the laws are. However, the OCE hasn’t published it’s budget since 2008.
 
In any case, here is my understanding of it:
 
There are three revenue sources for States associated with the collection and administration of child support payments defined under the broad cover of the Social Security Act:
 
(1) 66% reimbursement for allowable expenditures, which are:
 
a. Costs for locating parents
b. Costs for establishing orders
c. Costs for collecting child support payments
d. Costs for establishing paternity
e. Any other misc. costs approved by the Secretary for reimbursement.
f.  And exception of 90% matching for the following two expenditures
   i.  Improving management information systems
   ii. Blood testing
 
(2) Welfare recovery and matching:
 
a. Recovered TANF payments are split between the Federal Government and States consistent with Federal reimbursement of medical benefits (I’m still not clear about exactly how this part works in practice.)
 
(3) Incentive pool (Public Law 105-200, the Child Support Performance and Incentive Act of 1988 ( enacted July 16, 1998 ))
:
 
With the incentive pool, states must compete for their share of the funds, which I believe currently, is around $530MM to $535MM.
 
A. The incentive amount = State Incentive Pool (x) State Incentive Share
 
B. State Incentive Share = Incentive Base Amount For The State (/) Sum of Incentive Base Amounts For All States
 
C. Incentive Base Amount = Sum Of Applicable Percentages {defined by paragraph 6 of the Act} (x) Corresponding Maximum Incentive Base Amounts for each bonus category:
    Bonus Categories Are:
         A. Paternity Establishment Performance Level
         B. Support Order Performance Level
         C. Current Payment Performance Level
         D. Arrearage Performance Level
         E. Cost Effectiveness Performance Level
 
D. Maximum Incentive Base Amount = State Collections Base (as measured in performance categories A,B,C) + 75% state collections base ( performance categories D, E).
 
E. State Collections Base = Sum ( 2 (x) amount collected in which support is assigned to the State (bonus categories A or E), amount of support collected that was at the time of collection, not required to be assigned), total amount of support collected)
 
Summary of Observations:
 
If the incentive structure gives you headache, take heart. I’m an econometrician by training, and it gives me one as well. And this is why I wanted to actual figures that I could use to test this stuff out.
 
In any case, here is how I’m visualizing the incentive program:
 
Think of it is a pie; we know this is a closed mathematical domain. So, the objective for each state is to maximize their share of the pie (incentive base amounts relative to other states). And in this regard, you’ll note that the Fed’s apply a 25% penalty to the maximum incentive base amounts for two categories: (1) Support collected in arrears, and (2) Support Costs. Number two kind of puzzles me. The only thing that makes sense to me here, is that this deflation is intended to hit those states with particularly high costs per amount collected harder than those who perform better.  
 
Secondly, you’ll note that the Fed’s place double the weight of state administered child support payments assigned to the State for collection; either by order or agreement.
 
So, with respect to incentive pools, I’m deducing:
 
(1) An incentive to maximize the amount of child support ordered.
(2) An incentive to maximize the amount of child support collected.
(3) An incentive to avoid high collection costs.
(4) An incentive to assign collections to the State for Administration.
(5) A penalty to incentive base amounts for child support amounts in arrears.
 
 
In other words, the name of the game here for States, is to generate the biggest number possible (incentive base amount) constrained by the maximum incentive base amount. Once these numbers are in for the year, shares are created and the pie is split up.
 
Now, as it relates observation (3), this is why I really wanted the budget data. States already get reimbursed for 66% of their hard costs, and get a little bit of extra in there for a couple of other things. The part that’s concerning, is the allowable expanse for “other” expenses approved by the Secretary. Because as I see it, it would not be all that difficult shore up the remaining 34% with all kinds little creative accounting tactics if the political sentiment supported the behavior – this is a political black box in the accounting (as I see it).
 
Summary:
 
(1) States get reimbursed for 66% of the hard costs of collecting and administering child support.

(2) States bonus funds for welfare programs using a formula consistent with Federal medical program reimbursements.

(3) States get bonus funds from a shared incentive pool, in which those incentives are driven by the nominal amount of child support collected and the performance in collecting it. And nowhere in the Act, do I see language that mandates how this incentive money is to be spent by states (as opposed to (1) and (2). In my mind, this makes it a Federal subsidy landing in the discretionary (general) budget of the States. “

****

A fine group of elected officials we have here.

It really does seem to be all about the “Best interests of the children.”

Not.

~ Michael

Original Memo:

http://loveandiron.wordpress.com/2012/08/28/the-ugly-truth-why-states-and-courts-dont-want-shared-parenting/

Feminist Arguing About Parenting Rights 101: How To Look Credible While Being Dishonest

So, I’m happy to report that one of our posts (the one pinned to the top of our page) got trolled again. I love this, because it means we’re being effective.

So, in order to make the point, I presume, that the position of this page and its followers is invalid, she cites an opinion piece (linked below) by Huffington Post Feminist “Divorce Coach”, Cathy W. Meyer; “Do Dads Really Get Dissed In Divorce Court?”

Please note the following quote taken directly from the website of Ms. Myers:

“I think the female spirit is the most beautiful, complex thing God has ever created. I believe that we can do anything we put our minds too. If you don’t believe me, watch Man on Wire.”

Ok, I think helps lend some perspective on where this piece is starting from.

So, let’s look at the arguments:

Now in her piece, the author cites statistics from a Pew Center Research study from June 2011 in which data is pulled from The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s ongoing study “National Study for Family Growth.”

Her first argument, as taken from both reports, is that working mother’s spend twice as much time participating in daily care activities as working fathers.

However, in neither report, can I find any statistical definition of how this variable is defined.

Never the less, let’s assume, even accept, that the premise that different roles within the family structure lend themselves to the working mothers being more involved in child caring activities than the father.

The article then goes into alarmist mode.

“More startling are the stats on absent fathers or the amount of time fathers spend with children once the divorce is final. According to the above study, when fathers and children live separately, 22 percent of fathers see their children more than once a week. Twenty-nine percent of fathers see their children one to four times a month. The most disturbing fact though is that 27 percent of fathers have no contact with their children at all.”

You’ll note here, that the author is implying that fathers are choosing to be absent. She makes a weak acknowledgement for the counter argument noting that “some” fathers assert that the Family Court system, the body of Family Court Law, parental alienation, or child support laws are creating absent fathers.

She then goes on to refute this by citing another study by Divorcepeers.com claiming that 91% of all custody disputes are settled without intervention by the Court.

And in those cases, cites these statistics:

In 51% of the cases, both parties agreed that Mom become the custodial parent.

In 29% of the cases, the decision was made without 3rd party involvement.

11% of decisions for custody to Mom were made during mediation. Translation: Dad is now educated about the realities of Family Law and Court Tendencies.

5% of custody decisions required a court appointed parenting plan evaluator.

Of the 4% for the cases went to trial, of that 4%, only 1.5% complete custody litigation. Translation: if it goes to trial 98.5% of trial cases are decided by the Court.

Then the big close, in 91% of custody cases are decided with no interference from the Court system

Ahh, now can see the beauty of Feminist argument framing tactics.

So, lets approach this in an honest way.

In 51% of the cases, both parties agreed Mom should be the custodial parent – Cool, if both parties agree, that’s awesome – to each their own.

What does the other 49% mean – that they agreed Dad should be the custodial parent? That there was a dispute over custody? Was any custody disputed centered around equal or shared custody?

She doesn’t say. Interesting.

71% of the cases were resolved with mediation or Court Intervention.  What were the financial controls and budget constraints affecting these outcomes? Is the ability to use child support to pay legal fees a factor? How about informative educations from legal professionals about the reality of family law and how things are likely to turn out?

She doesn’t address this. Interesting.

5% of custody decisions required a court appointed parenting plan evaluator. Translation: I have no idea, because she didn’t define this variable – 5% of what?

I suspect this was mindfully left undefined. Interesting.

And lastly 98.5% of custody cases that go to trial are decided by the Court.

And she uses these statistics to support her argument that Family Law is not biased?

It’s pretty clear to me, that the statistics she is throwing out support our argument that the body of Family Court Law has been engineered to achieve a predetermined outcome. 

So she closes with the following assertions:

Fathers are far less involved with children during marriage.  However, no statistical definition is provided.

Fathers are less involved after divorce. Controls for financial or court restraints are not accounted for.

Mothers gain custody because the vast majority of fathers choose to. Roughly half of Dads do this before Court intervention. The other half give in before going to trial – why is this?

Her last assertion is garbage. She’s saying the same thing she said in he previous three points.

I love the circular logic here. Current outcomes prove that the current outcomes are correct.

I wonder what would happen to current outcomes under the presumption of equal parenting?

And interestingly enough, if in fact Cathy Meyer’s argument is correct, then she and other feminists would have absolutely nothing to fear from Family Court reforms that presume 50/50 custody and parenting rights, because men would voluntarily grant primary custody to the mother as she claims they are doing now. Yet, she’s using her argument as a reason to prevent these reforms.

Why?  

Nice try – Very Dishonest. 

Fail.