Thursday

Gender Bias in Florida's Court System: Shared Parental Responsibility

1. Many men file proceedings to contest custody as a way of forcing an advantageous property settlement. Too many attorneys knowingly participate in this practice.

2. When a court decides custody, it must consider Florida's presumption for shared parental responsibility. The Commission is concerned that the judiciary is improperly converting this presumption into a mandate by ordering shared parental responsibility without due consideration of factors specified in the statute, including parental desires and the best interests of the child.

3. Contrary to public perception, men are quite successful in obtaining residential custody of their children when they actually seek it.

--1990 Gender Bias Report of the Florida Supreme Court

And so Florida fixed this by enacting joint-custody law?

This one of the most important findings of this commission as it extinguishes the myth that men don't, or can't win custody of their children. This fact is augmented by further evidence that shows that abusive men are more likely to seek custody, and they also get it (70% of the time). And where there are men that want it, there are attorneys that have a clientele consisting mainly of these men. Google "Father's Rights attorney" and you will see an abundance of them, such as Jeff Leving of Illinois and Cordel and Cordel of Indiana.

When men fight for child custody, previous primary caretaking history is thrown out of the window along with any rights that the child may have in deciding with whom to reside. It isn't that these men are more fit (although they may be the breadwinners). It isn't that these men will suddenly assume more responsibility for child rearing (often times it is the new girlfriend, wife, or grandparents). It is the simple fact that a father taking a seeming interest in the kid, and claiming his RIGHT, that our system falls for. Add that to the single mother bashing and fatherhood exaltation which is well entrenched into every aspect of society.

It is different when couples agree to custody arrangements--which, most do. And that arrangement somehow still consists of the majority of the caretaking remaining with the mother. Even the agreed upon "joint-custody" households are NOT the 50-50 splitting that father's rights groups push. In this scenario, the jointness typically resides in the decision-making, not the actual physical arrangement of the kids. However under Florida's new law, and being the vacation spot that Florida is, kids are now timeshares.

And me? My kid lived with me, since birth: taken care of by me, as a single mother, taken care of by me as a wife and stay at home mother, taken care of by me, as a separated and then divorced mother...all the while with minimal assistance from the father. Not to mention the abuse toward me...Not to mention the abuse towards my child...Not to mention that the father didn't give a shit about child custody OR visitation ON THE FINAL DIVORCE DECREE...Yet he still managed to forge the marital settlement agreement (the part about custody and visitation) and then, not one year later, petitioned to the court to modify the visitation, and then subsequently, custody.

Why oh why?

There were times when the father completely ignored me. There have been several months on end during which the father didn't do so much as place a phone call. Most of the times when he would call, he would ask about ME. ME! And when he would "visit," he would be concerned with ME. The kid? An afterthought. No birthday calls, holidays...presents...but he would ask me for photos of myself. BUT, when he would come up with some grand scheme about what HE wanted to do (how WE could serve HIS needs)...if I didn't acquiesce, he would throw a fit. And that's what happened. And that's what the judge allowed. And that's what nearly mentally ruined me, what emotionally ruined me, and what financially ruined me and my child....And there he was with an entire new family (and a couple old ones, too). And the judge didn't give a shit.

Why me?

Because I stood on my own and was accomplishing my goals without him. There is no other way to explain it.

And, I'm almost there.