Bay Area Family Law

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Federal lawsuit - The Mother of all Lawsuits

On September 17, 2004, representatives from across the country announced that they will concurrently file federal class action lawsuits, on behalf of an estimated 25 million non-custodial parents, demanding that rights to equal custody of their children be restored by the federal courts. In what some are calling "the mother of all lawsuits", the parents will challenge widespread practices by the states in determining care, custody, and support of children. The American Psychological Association, the world’s largest such group, confirmed through an exhaustive study that children in joint custody arrangements have less behavior and emotional problems, higher self-esteem, better family relations, and better school performance than children who are subjected to sole custody arrangements.

In addition to challenging standard practices pertaining to family law, the coalition also alleges that while nearly every state has recognized catastrophic budgetary failures, the states still recklessly refuse to consider the financial devastation involved with encouraging routine awards of sole custody, reminding that such patterns dramatically increase crime, poverty, drug use, suicides, dropouts, teenage pregnancies, and other forms of direct harm and costs against children, families, taxpayers, and society in general. Professor Stephen Baskerville, distinguished master of political science at Howard University, and one of the world’s foremost experts on various custody and child support issues, explains, “Politicians often spend money to avoid confronting problems. Yet marshaling the government to strengthen families seems especially pointless when it is government that weakened the family in the first place.”

The plaintiffs further claim that the relocation of children away from one parent radically increases the incidence of parental kidnappings, which dwarf all other types of child abductions, and wastes additional tax dollars in the ensuing processes. It’s true that common inequities in state family courts are also directly and indirectly responsible for murders and suicides amongst the most estranged families. Every week, they note, approximately 300 fathers and 75 mothers commit suicide in this country, with the majority of these senseless deaths directly attributable to victimization by family courts.

They also allege that the states are recklessly responsible for much of the abuse and neglect experienced by children in this country. The National Clearinghouse for Child Abuse and Neglect Information, a service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, consistently reports that, year after year, single parents are responsible for almost two-thirds of all substantiated cases of abuse and neglect committed against children – more than all other classes of perpetrators combined. The national costs of these child abuse and neglect incidents surpassed $94 billion in 2001, according to Prevent Child Abuse America. The Plaintiffs further charge that because parents are generally treated unfairly in family courts, the results are also directly or indirectly responsible for very large, and otherwise unnecessary, additional tax burdens upon every citizen, through increased welfare spending and self-serving enlargement of state family agencies and entities, and that such inequities are also indirectly responsible for vast numbers of personal and corporate bankruptcies, which are absorbed into even more future taxation.

While the current class actions deal exclusively with conventional aspects of child custody, leaders of related parents groups report they have already begun the processes for raising similar legal challenges in the near future, on behalf of alleged victims of Child Protective Services, paternity fraud, and the progressive drugging of children in this nation.


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