Thanks to Dads of Michigan for sending us the following.

ACFC


The Tuesday, December 3, issue of USA TODAY will feature the paternity fraud epidemic in our country with Michigan, New Jersey, and Ohio, among the states, receiving notoriety. Among those paternity fraud victims interviewed for the article were Dr. Damon Adams and Murray Davis of Michigan, Patrick McCarthy of New Jersey, Carnell Smith of Georgia, and Dennis Caron of Ohio. Dianna Thompson, executive director of the American Coalition of Fathers and Children (ACFC) were among those experts also interviewed.

In particular, Michigan has an extremely high rate of paternity fraud incidents as demonstrated by a 30% exclusion rate on paternity tests performed statewide for the past four years and a 35% unwed birth rate annually.

Unfortunately, Michigan's paternity fraud relief legislation (HB 4635/4636/4638) will likely 'die' this legislative session before the Senate Committee on Families, Mental Health & Human Services chaired by Sen. Beverly Hammerstrom (R- Monroe/Washtenaw/Jackson) despite passing the Michigan House of Representatives unanimously (102-0) in 2001.

Courtesy of:

Dads of Michigan...an ACFC affiliate

(248) 559-DADS

http://www.dadsofmichigan.org/

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2002-12-02-paternity-usat_x.h tm


USATODAY.com

December 03, 2002

Men wage battle on 'paternity fraud'

by Martin Kasindorf, USA TODAY

An acid sense of betrayal has been gnawing at Damon Adams since a DNA test showed that he is not the father of a 10-year-old girl born during his former marriage.

"Something changes in your heart," says Adams, 51, a dentist in Traverse City, Mich. "When she walks through the door, you're seeing the product of an affair."

But Michigan courts have spurned the DNA results Adams offered in his motions to stop paying $23,000 a year in child support. Now, Adams is lobbying the state Legislature for relief and joining other men in a national movement against what they call "paternity fraud."

In almost a dozen states, men have won the right to use conclusive genetic tests to end their financial obligations to children they didn't father. But women's groups and many public officials responsible for enforcing child support are battling the movement, which they say imperils children.

Most states design their family laws to protect what they call "the interests of the child." That means siding with the child's financial and emotional needs and against supposed fathers who want to avoid paying for tricycles and braces.

Taxpayers also have a big stake in child support collections, which have grown to$18 billion annually and cover 20 million children. If men who are paying child support no longer have to and authorities can't find the real fathers, welfare agencies will get the bill for family assistance.

Many men who feel deceived by a woman are in no mood to accept a legal system that doesn't recognize DNA science in such cases. "It's like they are saying, 'Let your wife cheat on you, have children by other men, divorce you, and now you have to pay for it all,' " says Air Force Master Sgt. Raymond Jackson, 43. California judges won't consider tests he says prove that the three children of his former 10-year marriage were fathered by other men.

Fraud, mistakes

There are signs of substantial fraud or mistakes in identifying fathers in child support disputes. The American Association of Blood Banks says the 300,626 paternity tests it conducted on men in 2000 ruled out nearly 30% as the father.

The legal doctrines raising barriers to DNA testing on paternity questions are formidable. In 30 states, married men face a 500-year-old legal presumption that any child born during a marriage is the husband's. The concept, based in English law, is aimed at preventing children from being branded illegitimate. Nebraska's Supreme Court ruled last week that an ex-husband who is not a child's father cannot sue the mother to recover child support payments.

The law is more flexible for men who admit to fathering a child out of wedlock but then change their minds or who are named by the mother. But they have only brief opportunities to deny paternity. Florida allows a year after a child support order, California two years after a birth.

Many unwed fathers paying child support have never admitted paternity. A 1996 federal welfare law requires a woman to name a father - no questions asked - when she applies for public assistance. A court summons can be mailed to the man's last known address. Many men don't get the notice. The result: The paychecks of 527,224 men in California, for example, are being docked under "default" judgments of paternity that can't be contested after six months.

Men who urge use of DNA cite a precedent: DNA's increasing impact in murder and rape cases.

"Think of it. I can get out of jail for murder based on DNA evidence, but I can't get out of child support payments," says Bert Riddick, 42, a computing teacher in Carson, Calif.

Riddick is paying $1,400 a month for a teenage girl born out of wedlock whom he's never met. Strapped, he and his wife are living with in-laws. Their three children, ages 3 to 11, cram into one room. He lost his driver's license for missing support payments and rides a bus 75 minutes to work.

Gradually, legislators are reshaping paternity law. Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Ohio and Virginia now permit ex-husbands and out-of-wedlock fathers to end child support through DNA. Maryland has made the same change via court decisions.

Colorado, Illinois and Louisiana grant relief only to ex-husbands, allowing them to offer genetic proof. Texas allows ex-husbands four years from a birth to disprove paternity and gives unwed fathers unlimited time. A sweeping bill that would authorize married and unmarried fathers to offer DNA evidence is working its way through the New Jersey State Assembly.

Carnell Smith, 41, an engineer in Decatur, Ga., who was getting nowhere in challenging a support decree, started a group called U.S. Citizens Against Paternity Fraud that lobbied for the law Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes signed in May. The slogan on the Web site of Smith's group ( http://www.paternityfraud.com/ ): "If the genes don't fit, you must acquit." Smith is back in court and says, "I fully intend to be one of the first people to be released."

Pending in Vermont is the toughest bill of all. It would make a mother's knowingly false allegation of fatherhood a felony that could put her behind bars for up to two years and fine her up to $5,000. "A woman almost always knows who the father is, and if she puts down the wrong person knowingly and it's costing him money, it's just plain fraud," says state Rep. Leo Valliere, a Republican, the bill's sponsor.

Men's rights groups aren't advancing everywhere. California Gov. Gray Davis vetoed a bill in September that was opposed by women's organizations. It would have given men two years after discovering they weren't the father to produce the DNA evidence to prove it. Florida paternity fraud bills died this year. A package of bills passed the Michigan House 102-0 but is stalled in the Senate.

'Dump the child'

Some analysts say laws need revising but DNA shouldn't be decisive. "Some people want to dump the child and say biology is all that matters, not relationships," says Jack Sampson, a law professor at the University of Texas-Austin. Carol Sanger, a family law professor at Columbia University in New York, says the law should be more generous to men who may not even know a child than to dads who have been living with the kids they didn't father.

"Families are more complicated than who's biologically related to whom," says Valerie Ackerman, staff director for the National Center for Youth Law in Oakland. "If there has been a relationship between a father and child, the man can't just abdicate the responsibility that he's taken on."

Supporters of current law say the interests of the child should trump a man's concern for his wallet. "The other guy is somewhere over the hill and long gone," says Jenny Skoble, an attorney at the Harriet Buhai Center for Family Law in Los Angeles. "If it comes down to whether the only (available) father is going to be on the hook to pay money or this kid is going to be in the situation of having no father, I'd say we have to put the child first."

Men who want relief say it's a matter of equity. "DNA equals truth," says Patrick McCarthy, 41, a Hillsborough, N.J., package courier. After paying for 13 years to support a girl he denies fathering, McCarthy co-founded New Jersey Citizens Against Paternity Fraud. The group has put up nine billboards supporting the pending bill in New Jersey. The ads depict a pregnant woman and ask, "Is it yours? If not, you still have to pay!"

"Obviously, there's more to fatherhood than genes," McCarthy acknowledges. "However, to pay support on a non-biological offspring should be an individual choice, not ordered by the courts." Adams says he's willing to directly aid the child he'd thought was his but doesn't want to give his ex-wife any more cash.

Trouble could be minimized if all children were DNA-tested at birth or at the time of divorce, says Geraldine Jensen, president of the Association for Children for Enforcement of Support. She says maternity wards should distribute pamphlets telling men, "Get tested now if you have any questions, because doing it later will disrupt this child's life."

© Copyright 2002 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc. USA TODAY Home: http://www.usatoday.com/usafront.htm ===

Related articles/websites:

[copies of any/all of these articles are available by request to acfclist]

States Consider Laws Against Paternity Fraud Child Advocates Worry About Effects

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A21544-2002Oct13.ht ml by Robert E. Pierre -- Washington Post, 14 Oct 02

Nondads bearing DNA proof left to pay by Davis veto Victims of paternity fraud had hoped bill would end support obligations. http://www2.ocregister.com/ocrweb/ocr/article.do?id=6878&section=NEWS &year=2002&month=10&day=13 by JENIFER B. McKIM -- Orange County Register, 13 Oct 02

House bill would penalize mothers who misidentify fathers http://www.mlive.com/cns/index.ssf?/articles/2002_1011/dna.html by BREANNA SHEPHERD -- CNS, 11 Oct 02

Preserving paternity fraud

http://www2.ocregister.com/ocrweb/ocr/article.do?id=5274&sect ion=COMMENTARY by Thompson with Sacks -- Orange County Register, 03 Oct 02

Duped Dads

Men Fight Centuries-Old Paternity Laws

http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/DailyNews/paternity021002.html by Geraldine Sealey -- ABC News, 02 Oct 02

Davis vetoes tests to ID dads

PATERNITY: Men forced to support children not their own say bill would have offered relief. They vow to fight on. http://www.dailybreeze.com/content/bln/nmpaternity28.html by Jasmine Lee, Daily Breeze -- 28 Sep 02

State reform plan fights rising paternity fraud http://www.detnews.com/2002/editorial/0209/25/a11-595936.htm by Thompson & Sacks -- Detroit News, 25 Sep 02

Bill would reform state's paternity law

http://www.dailybreeze.com/content/bln/nmsupport28.html by Jasmine Lee -- Daily Breeze, 28 Jul 02

Opposing view: Clearing up the paternity process http://www.sacbee.com/content/opinion/story/3545532p-4572086c.html by Roderick D. Wright -- Sacramento Bee, 12 Jul 02

Ideology Still Trumps Science for Feminists http://www.pacificresearch.org/pub/con/2002/con_02-07-08.html by Sally C. Pipes -- PRI/Contrarian, 08 Jul 02

'Dads' cleared by DNA fight 'paternity fraud' http://www.washtimes.com/national/20020622-31655902.htm

by Cheryl Wetzstein -- Washington Times, 22 Jun 02

Editorial: What is fatherhood?

It's more than biology -- much more

http://www.sacbee.com/content/opinion/editorials/story/3289854p-4 316029c.html Sacramento Bee Editorial -- Sacramento Bee, 21 Jun 02

The Daddy Trap

Missouri's child-support cops won't take DNA for an answer. http://www.pitch.com/issues/2002-07-11/stline.html/1/index.html by Deb Hipp -- The Pitch, 11 Jul 02

Q: Should courts allow DNA testing to determine paternity in child-support cases? http://www.insightmag.com/main.cfm?section_id=78074&include=section Symposium -- Insight Magazine, 27 May 02 YES by Dianna Thompson

http://www.insightmag.com/news/249705.html NO by Jenny Skoble

http://www.insightmag.com/news/249708.html [both responses were posted on 06 May 02]

Truth is no defense in state paternity suits http://www.examiner.com/opinion/default.jsp?story=OPfathers041502w by Dianna Thompson -- San Francisco Examiner, 15 Apr 02

DNA Shakes Up Child Support Law

California Paternity Justice Act:

If the Genes Don't Fit, You Must Acquit

http://www.glennsacks.com/california_paternity_justice.htm by Glenn Sacks -- glennsacks.com, 15 Mar 02

Fathers fight paternity fraud

http://www.townhall.com/columnists/kathleenparker/kp20010224.shtm l by Kathleen Parker -- Townhall, 24 Feb 01

Paternity Fraud Action Alert

Should Non-fathers Pay Child Support? / Help free forced fathers http://www.congress.org/congressorg/issues/alert/?alertid=784501&cont ent_dir=ua_congressorg

US Citizens Against Paternity Fraud

http://www.paternityfraud.com/

The American Coalition for Fathers and Children

For Membership information call 1-800-978-DADS or see ACFC's homepages at: http://www.acfc.org


Thanks largely to the heroic efforts of Michael Ellis and ACFC, fathers

are being given a voice in two major national forums (plus one important

local one). .......Dated, January 19,200


The Bush Administration has introduced a Fatherhood bill, H.R. 2893, which may be considered by Congress this Spring....Dated, Jan 17 2002


Thanks largely to the heroic efforts of Michael Ellis and ACFC, fathers

are being given a voice in two major national forums (plus one important

local one). January 19,2002

Thanks to Stephen Baskerville for sending us the following.

 

First, the article below was published this week (January 14) in Human Events, a major and highly influential public policy weekly published here in Washington. It featured a photograph of Dianna Thompson, ACFC Executive Director.

Second, Dianna is the emcee for a half-day session of the CPAC conference, the nation's largest conservative conference, organized by the American Conservative Union. The conference is at the Crystal Gateway Marriott here in Arlington, Virginia, January 31- February 2. Fathers should be a presence at this conference. In addition to VIP's, there will be media opportunities, and a chance to show policymakers that we are a major political force. I almost got on the program (and may yet), and we could well get on the program next year if they see us as a presence this year. I spoke at the Leadership Institute conference in October (also thanks to Mike Ellis) and was received warmly. It would have been even better had there been some fathers in the audience. Information on the conference is at www.cpac.org where you can register, or by telephone at 1-800-752-4391. Speaking of conferences, thanks to B.J. Wagener, I will be speaking at the annual convention of the California Libertarian Party on February 17. (It's the Sunday night banquet speech, so if anyone has good jokes, please let me know.) The Libertarians seem set to become the party most sympathetic to fathers' issues. Both their national office and local parties have come out with very strong positions in recent years. The aim here is to get the national party to take on the issue, and national officials will be attending. We need to show them that taking on fathers' issues means votes for them. So those of you in California, or with contacts in California, please attend and urge others to do so. Register online at www.sblp.org/convention.html, and write B.J. at bjwagener@hotmail.com or call 805 928 1100.

Stephen Baskerville

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

http://www.humanevents.org/home.html Conservative Spotlight [print edition]

BY JOSEPH A. D'AGOSTINO

American Coalition for Fathers & Children

"There has never been a study that shows fathers are deserting their children in large numbers," says Prof. Stephen Baskerville. What about the midlife crisis divorce for a younger woman, fatherless families, deadbeat dads? Baskerville says these issues are surrounded by myth.

"Courts routinely order fathers, whose children have been take from them involuntarily and with no ground s, to support those children financially. The can and do summon fathers to court so frequently that they lose their jobs and then incarcerate them for failure to pay child support. Courts these days will even order men to support children who are acknowledged not to be theirs. . . .," he wrote in The Women's Quarterly (Winter 1999). "An October series in the Los Angeles Times reported that in Los Angeles alone there are 350 new cases each month of men required to support children who are established by DNA testing not to be theirs."

The stereotype of the divorce - man divorces middle-aged wife and abandons the children she has borne him for a younger woman - is false, said Baskerville, who teaches political science at Howard University. Baskerville said in a recent interview that, according to Divorced Dads: Shattering the Myths by Sanford Braver, "about two-thirds of divorces of couples with children are desired by the mothers, not the fathers. The figure might be much higher."

With 1.5 million divorces each year, three-fifths of them involving children, and only one-fifth being mutual - in 80% of divorces, one spouse is opposed to it - that's a lot of broken homes. "About 85% to 90% of the time, primary custody of the children is given to mothers," said Baskerville. Fathers are often excluded entirely from seeing their children, even when no evidence that they committed any crime is presented, he said. In fact, he said, very rarely is a man proved guilty of any crime in a divorce, whether it is abandonment, domestic violence, adultery or anything else.

A major portion of the intellectual firepower behind the father's rights movement, Baskerville serves on the board of advisers of the American Coalition for Fathers & Children (ACFC), which has sought to inject equity into America's family court system since 1996. "The single most important criterion in who files for divorce is who will get custody," Baskerville explained. Mothers who want to skip out on the fathers of their children have little incentive not to, he said. "They do not have to show fault. They get custody. They get alimony and child support. Their divorced husbands even have to pay their attorney's fees in the divorce," he said. "They have nothing to lose."

The stereotype of the so-called deadbeat dad is also false, he said. "Eighty-one per cent of men under child support orders were married fathers," he said. "The child support orders are often so large the men cannot afford to remarry. So they don't pay. Many of them never see their children anyway."

One reason this institutionalized injustice against fathers should be of concern to all: "For crime, drug use, alcoholism, and teen pregnancy, the strongest level of correlation is to fatherless families," Baskerville said, "more than income or race. A poor black child with a father has a better chance of avoiding a life of crime than a rich white child without a father."

"We help non-custodial parents when they are having difficulties with regard to visitation, child support," said Dianna Thompson, executive director of ACFC, which has 45,000 members. "We have affiliate organizations located all over the country. These chapters do grassroots lobbying to change laws and policies in their states."

"The father can be jailed without trial for not paying child support or his ex-wife's attorney's fees," Baskerville said. Of course, of any amounts courts wring out of men, "the state gets a cut," Baskerville said. That a lot of cuts: 17-19 million fathers are under child support orders, he said.

Though it may be that mothers have financial and other incentives to divorce the fathers of their children, the question remains, why do they desire it in such large numbers? "That's an interesting questions," said Baskerville. One anthropological theory holds that "unless the mother derives benefit from the union, the union does not take place," he said. "The welfare state, police protection for families, forced child support mean that mothers may see little benefit in their unions."

If family breakdown continues the way it has, said Baskerville, the civilization itself is at stake. "The father is the weakest link in the family," he said. "There is a natural connection between mother and child. The father forms the nuclear family, which many people say is he basis for civilization."


HUMAN EVENTS * THE WEEK OF JANUARY 14, 2002 [p. 12]

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

 

Stephen Baskerville, PhD

Department of Political Science

Howard University

Washington, DC 20059

202-806-7267

703-560-5138


 

The Bush Administration has introduced a Fatherhood bill, H.R. 2893, which may be considered by Congress this Spring. ........Dated Jan 17 2002

 

On a different front, you may wish to consider writing to your elected representatives to support a fatherhood bill HR 2893. Following are the details:

The Bush Administration has introduced a Fatherhood bill, H.R. 2893, which may be considered by Congress this Spring.

The bill provides $64 million for each of five years, "for a broad array of demonstrations addressed at broad goals: 1) to promote responsive, caring and effective parenting, 2) to encourage and help fathers to support their families and avoid welfare by helping them to take advantage of employment related programs, and supporting regular payment of child support, 3) to improve fathers' ability to manage family business affairs, and 4) to encourage and support healthy marriages and married fatherhood."

Of particular interest to groups that run Children's Rights Council type programs, such as "Safe Haven" transfer of children sites, mediation and hotline for referrals, a provision in H.R. 2893 says the bill is "to promote responsible, caring, and effective parenting, through counselling, mentoring and parent education, dissemination of educational materials and information on parenting skills, encouragement of positive fatherhood involvement, including the positive involvement of non-resident fathers and other methods."

The bill also contains several million dollars for a national media campaign, for which only the National Fatherhood Initiative could qualify, because only NFI has run national media ads, some of which you may have seen. It would be better to have a variety of local media programs in the states. We suggest you write to your House member, because the House (not the Senate) is where the major action on this bill will take place.


Write to your Congressmember

House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. 20515


If you donít know your Congressmemberís name, you can easily look it up on the web.


Dear Representative --- (give name)

I am a constituent of yours. I support the broad goals of H.R. 2893 -- the Fatherhood Bill -- but I observe that the bill provides several million dollars for a national media campaign.

I think it would be better to allow each state to run its own media campaign, with money going to individual states, for local media campaigns. Then local groups which distribute flyers, pamphlets, and other materials who know the state best, would qualify for a "media" grant in their states. Please let me know if you will support an amendment to H.R. 2893 to provide funds to the states for local media campaigns to best serve the needs of our state.

Sign your name

Then print your name, address and date. .



Right to Legal and Equal Physical Custody ........Dated Jan 10 2002

Date:  Thu Jan 10, 2002

Subject:  RE: Galluzzo Federal Hearing-IMPORTANT MESSAGE

Mike presented his argument before a federal magistrate judge, Michael Merz, who appears at least willing to look at the case, rather than indiscriminately dump it, and who understands the federal question and stated in the record that if it reaches the merits, he will decide the constitutional argument and that it would be in his jurisdiction to do so (rather than pass it off to the Ohio Supreme Court-a suggestion made). 2 Dayton PACE members were present, as well as Chuck Evans and Don Hubin.

We are really close-so close that you can smell it-but until we win, nothing will ever change.  The argument is totally boiled down and any other arguments fail. 

The federal question is a question of parental rights, not children's rights:

The federal question is:

Can the state deprive a  parent of legal custody of a child without a threshold finding of substantial harm to the child? 

The second  federal question challenging the constitutionality of the procedural application of Ohio law is:

Can the state use the best interests of the child standard to deprive a parent of legal custody of a child where there is no prior determination of parental unsuitability?

If the answers are NO, then Ohio law (R.C. 3109.04) is unconstitutional as written.

Overall, Mike did a fine job and if there is any question the Hearing Brief was very detailed and the magistrate said he would review it-he appears to be sincere.  A supplemental hearing brief will be filed Friday morning addressing a couple of the sticking point issues of Younger abstention related to a pending case and how pending is defined. (A pending case meets the requirement under Younger providing for the federal court to dismiss the case.) The legal argument made is that a final decree is final whether or not modifications can occur and that the deprivation occurred at the moment the court finalized the order. 

What is so important in this argument is that everyone must start thinking in terms of legal (decision-making right to custody) and physical (companionship time) custody of a child.  No longer should anyone seeking constitutional change refer to the entire situation just "custody orjoint custody" and never "shared parenting" which has no constitutional meaning.  "Shared parenting" is language the state conjured up to cover up all of the constitutional violations of denying parents legal and equal physical custody of their children.

What is lost in a contested divorce is the noncustodial parent's right to legal custody of their child and the denial of equal protection of physical custody. {Note: You lose physical custody, but the state steps in and entitles a noncustodial parent under state law, visitation which is defined by our Ohio Supreme Court in  Braatz v. Braatz as "temporary physical control of a child".  These definitions, which Chuck, Dennis, Don, and others have been narrowing for many years now is absolutely critical.

We as parents seeking change must use the terms legal custody and physical custody and must educate others (most of all the people who should know this-attorneys and judges) that this "bundle of custody rights" are separate and distinctly defined.

Additionally, the federal court was concerned with exactly what was lost by a noncustodial parent, which will be briefed in the supplemental brief, for the  point of exactly what is lost by being deprived of legal custody was not properly addressed.

{A noncustodial parent loses: the right to make medical, dental, psychological, orthodontic, optometric decisions;the legal decision-making right to determine religion and school placement; the right to move under federal law(as opposed to state move-away restrictions); the right to take your child out of school or pick your child up from school; the right to secure a passport for your child and the right to travel internationally with your child w/o the custodial parent's written approval; the right to file tax returns for your child; the right to make funeral arrangements, approve an autopsy, or make the decision to exhume your child (should there be a need to do so-such as suspected foul play); the right to count your child as a dependent on your tax return; the right to make decisions for your child in court as the custodial parent and guardian in legal proceedings; the right procure a will and make living will medical decisions; etc., etc.}

Mike's suit and Chuck's identical suit against Franklin Co. Court of Common Pleas (and his previous federal suit against Steve Yarbrough, judge(?)) in Columbus' federal court are models for change and how we might possibly get there through the federal courts, as long as we survive exception, abstention, and preclusion issues that are intentionally placed landmines, buried to deny parties from reaching the merits of parental rights. We don't expect to win, but hope burns eternal.

This message may be worth being printed off or saved-there are many critically important points that others challenging these issues through federal courts and in their own custody cases might want to pass on to their illuminated counsel.  Those grasping to understand the core issues may want to refer to the points as well.