Cooperstown, New York
May 22, 2014
It is indeed an historic day when the first sitting president of the United States makes a visit to Cooperstown deep in the heart of upstate New York. This is the land of heroic colonial battles, frontier tales by James Fenimore Cooper and, of course, the Baseball Hall of Fame. We must also boast the color orange not only for our spectacular autumn foliage but our Syracuse University sports teams.
However, there is another side to baseball and sports in general which merits the attention of our president as he acknowledges the hall of famers who made it all possible. It’s the time honored tradition of fathers playing ball with their sons and daughters all across America, a tradition which is being denied to so many youth because of parent-child injustices in our domestic relations courts.
For this reason, I have reprinted a column presented to the New York Times not long ago. The content is very timely in light of recurring issues of our day such as veteran affairs, health care and terrorism which had such a devastating impact in our state. We hope that this message will reach the president and that he, in turn, will reach out to policy makers in Washington to repeal or scale back the harmful impacts of Title IV-D of the Social Security Act upon fathers and families.
Equal Treatment of Fathers is the Final Frontier in America’s Civil Rights Movement
By Leon R. Koziol, J.D.
Three years ago, a man sat down, doused himself with gasoline and lit up a public square to bring world attention to an oppressive government. It did not occur in Tiananmen Square, Moscow or any foreign venue. It happened right here in one of our original 13 states involving a maternal descendant of America’s first president.
Thomas Ball martyred himself in this painful fashion to protest the mistreatment of fathers in domestic relations courts. It was patterned after the identical suicide of Mohammed Bouazizi of Tunisia who gained sufficient attention to cause a wave of protests across the Arab world. Yet few beyond the town of Keene, New Hampshire took note of the American version.
Bureaucrats dismissed the event as an isolated one. However, evidence of a growing epidemic was everywhere. In one community in New York, a police investigator took his life and that of his ex spouse after exiting “child support” court, leaving three children without parents. A mother took a knife to the throat of her divorcing husband and was sent to prison for 13 years. Contemporaneously, a father shot his boy in front of state police in a domestic stand-off, a sheriff deputy was killed in a similar exchange, and a purple heart soldier attempted suicide after years of court abuse. Closer to the city, a mother drove her children into the Hudson River.
Is this any way to raise America’s children?
While our federal government intervenes in foreign countries for the sake of human rights, a crisis on the domestic front is going unnoticed. Families are being sacrificed to needless custody and support wars through arbitrary money incentives as the state takes increased control of our children. It is a trend having monumental impact upon our viability as a productive, healthy and free country.
In 1925, the high court of New York adopted ancient practices of British monarchs to assert state control over all children impacted by divorcing parents. In its day, this seizure of power caught little attention because divorce was an anomaly and fewer lawyers were preoccupied with more legitimate matters of the profession. Today, separate parenting units are the mainstream and the state of California alone is impacted by nearly 300,000 lawyers.
As a result, parental authority is becoming seriously undermined while children are exploited for ulterior purposes. By simply declaring any government act involving a child to be in his or her “best interests”, the state can remove one or both parents from their gender based functions. It is a gold mine for attorneys perverting a natural order of childrearing.
This perversion is cultivated by a “separate but unequal” doctrine of laws which forces parents to name a gender merged “custodial parent” in all separation cases. Competition for a child’s favor then leads to immature behavior and breakdowns in development. Agreement, mediation and shared parenting are opposed as litigation substitutes because they would reduce conflict, thereby eroding a multi-billion dollar state industry.
With federal intervention, this industry grew exponentially as did the dysfunction of our families. Child support laws removed the needs-based formula and replaced it with a highly abused way-of-life standard even in cases where neither parent was on public assistance. Incentive grants were tied to the number and magnitude of support orders mass produced in state courts, thereby transforming them into profit centers in violation of their neutral constitutional character.
A giant bureaucracy was eventually fashioned with the states acting as collection agents for a central government complicit in the creation of lucrative domestic controversy. Through antiquated custody laws, a standard 85% to 15% split in parenting time enabled the system to maintain money transfers for the benefit of third parties. This in turn reduced the combined family estate needed to raise children and maintain a rational paternal existence.
In terms of childrearing, this fixation upon money is producing a fatherless America with devastating impacts. Data from the National Fatherhood Initiative shows that children fare better in life when both parents are involved. Under the current system, a father is influenced to abandon his role and any responsibilities which apply because he cannot overcome blatant mistreatment caused by his physical condition, male stereotypes and fraudulent report tactics.
This system operates under the awful presumption that a dominant household is needed to raise children. More accurately it is a pretext for promoting endless court battles. The state’s hypocrisy is evidenced by its busing of the same children to institutional settings in the care of strangers without having to prove “relative fitness” of any kind. In this manner, a father is systematically demoted from his natural status and forced to pay for the process which took away his children.
Meaningful reform will not occur as long as the victims allow these injustices to continue. As one veteran Family Court judge declared more than ten years ago, custody and visitation should be replaced with parenting plans in the majority of cases. The “oppositional framework” has long “outlived its usefulness” and should not be applied to presumptively fit parents. Such wisdom must be embraced by those in public office who exploit Fathers’ Day to encourage men to be good fathers.
Very truly yours,
Leon R. Koziol, J.D.
Parenting Rights Institute
National League of Fathers, Inc.