By Dr. Leon R. Koziol
Ever wonder why crimes and civil debts bear reverse punishments in our nation’s divorce and family courts? Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas once described these forums as “Kangaroo Courts.” Poor Abe, he would roll over in his grave today if he knew what was happening to our families and children here.
But it’s true, support debtors, nearly 100% of them fathers, are being tossed in a cage every day by self righteous family judges while crimes committed by their accusers are going unpunished. Welcome to Kendra’s Chronicles IV, where we bring you a personal side to the corruption which is occurring in these courts across our country.
Parents are advised time and again by unscrupulous lawyers to fabricate or embellish upon facts in their petitions and testimony for tactical gains in needless court cases. It is lucrative for everyone but our families. A product of an archaic custody framework, such crimes are preferred over shared parenting laws to keep us fighting over our offspring. Who can blame some when the courts shove moms and dads into an arena reminiscent of a Roman Coliseum with a winner-take-all mentality?
At most, however, a perjuring mother will face a change in custody, and because this may harm the child more than anyone else, such crimes are highly ignored. To be sure, no judge or prosecutor wants to be known as the one who incarcerated a mom even though she caused an innocent dad to be denied access to his children or wrongfully convicted of contempt or abuse.
For fathers, it’s quite another matter. Judges are programmed to believe that a man is stronger, physically and emotionally, to sustain the pain and suffering caused by the loss of a child’s affection or human liberty while incarcerated for a money debt. When an aggrieved dad reacts to the prejudice, he is ordered into anger management. Put another way, our courts are forcing dads under penalty of losing their children to accept their unequal status in violation of rights protected by our Constitution.
Hence it is the male parent who must bear the brunt of injustices needed to keep this archaic, lucrative and unequal custody scheme in place. It also explains why discrimination is still tolerated, why fathers remain 85% of support obligors and why nearly 100% of jailed debtors are men, including those who learn too late that the subject children were not theirs. Indeed the phrase “dead beat dad” has yet to be condemned for what it is, a sexist slur.
If a dad rightfully demands fair treatment and accountability, it may beget discreet or even overt retaliation of the kind I sustained when shedding light on the corruption which occurs here. I lost ten months access to my little girls until false petitions were finally dismissed for lack of evidence in 2010. I never even had to put in a defense. But as far as the court was concerned, it was over, no damage done. Dad got his girls back.
Seriously? That’s it? I lost four major holidays, two birthdays and my eldest daughter’s First Holy Communion because of the crimes committed by a scorned ex- spouse, not to mention the precious interactions between a loving dad and two innocent girls. But fathers no longer matter in these courts especially after money became their priority.
Perjury had been rampant in the often deranged testimony of a mother named Kelly Hawse-Koziol. The judge could conclude that much on the contradictions and ill-preparation alone. These were extremely damaging accusations employed purely as custody tactics, yet not even a scolding or slap on the wrist came of it.
The logical consequence of this kind of break-down in the administration of justice is more of the same. It encouraged this woman to repeat her crimes again and again if for example my girls reported a fun outing with a girlfriend or some rumor which could get her more “child support” in retaliation. It was also a product of entitlement mentality prompted by liberals across the country.
Kelly Hawse-Koziol remains a tenured high school teacher at Frankfort-Schuyler School District in upstate New York. On numerous occasions while still married, I was called upon to proof-read her resumes in a desperate attempt to leave that district notwithstanding my routine defense of the community and school board. Our efforts got her interviews (and arguments) but no success.
Ten years later, this Masters degree teacher was filing court petitions so impaired with grammar defects that a judge was forced to insert five “sic” notations in a single paragraph to make it a part of his decision. Never mind what this teacher might be doing to the students or taxpayers of her school district, it was my job as a co-parent to make sure that no harm was done to my girls’ home studies
On one occasion, Ms. Hawse-Koziol asserted the startling fact that the Nile River flowed south, evidently because it looked that way on a map. For many of you this may seem inconsequential but when it came up during one of our many father-child trivia exchanges, I could have gotten myself in contempt of a court order especially the way I was being scrutinized as a free speaking American.
My girls are one grade apart in a nearby school district and very smart. You know I’ve got to tell you that, I’m a proud father. They loved to absorb knowledge from whatever source and would never let me stop with the many true-false or multiple choice exercises we practiced during road trips. In none of the family court proceedings over the past six years did such quality activity receive any mention.
It was one of many learning advantages which was ripped out from under them by a family judge more intent on suppressing the exercise of free speech than dignifying the role of a genuine father. He damaged these girls in more ways than one. But the inequities of family court generally and the misconduct of this judge in particular had other impacts.
During one of our trivia exchanges, I was subject, as most parents are in family court, to a restriction upon parent-child discourse involving litigation. It’s hard to know how to draw the line where a parent’s authority ends and the state takes over. It was harder still even as a veteran lawyer-parent when my judge, Dan King, found me to possess college degrees I never earned for purposes of imputing child support income.
Well the conflict found its way into our trivia games and limited weekend fathering activity. To make a long story short, I could not correct answers which my girls attributed to their mother. When they defended her on the degrees she possessed, I was hard pressed not to explain how a judge had misrepresented the facts on this subject. My preferred approach was simply to be a father even if it meant violating orders that made cackling hens more sensible .
Dr. Leon R. Koziol
Civil Rights Advocate