Sunday, March 04, 2007

Judicial Contempt For Biological Parents

by Alan Sears - March 4th, 2007 -

Until the Utah Supreme Court stepped forward on Friday with its merciful breath of sanity, the best Cheryl Barlow had to hope for was a kind of "Sophie’s Choice."

According to incredible rulings of the state’s lower courts, she could either let her five-year-old daughter stay overnight alone with a woman who causes the child severe emotional distress and exposes her to attitudes and behavior that violate Barlow’s core faith beliefs … or go to jail.

That any caring mother should be placed in such a dilemma tells us just how serious things have become for conscientious moms and dads in a judicial system often more preoccupied with political correctness than parental rights.

As much as this seems to be a victory for some commonsense, the reality is that our courts are still awash in contradictory rulings where parental rights are concerned. I was involved in a case in California where a man was held to be responsible for child support for a boy that his wife had conceived with her lover while she was still living with her husband. The husband did not find out until after the divorce that he was not the father.

However the courts held him responsible for child support while stripping him of his visitation. Having raised the child for 7 years the husband was willing to continue child support if he could have part time custody so he could see the boy. However he did not understand how the real father could have custody with the mother while the ex-husband paid child support and didn't get to see the child. Neither do I.

Judges have an arrogant ability to make insane rulings and unless you have a fortune to hire lawyers no one cares. Another equally insane ruling I observed was the man who had paid child support to his former girl friend for years while she was receiving welfare. She lied and said he was not paying her the court ordered child support so she would qualify for the welfare. The welfare department was misled by the former girlfriend about where the father lived when they went after him to recover the money. She was lying about him not paying her (he had cancelled checks to show he had paid) and she lied about where he lived. The welfare department obtained default service on the father by publishing the judgment in a city where the father did not live.

However the judge in the case awarded the judgment against the father in favor of the welfare department even after seeing the cancelled checks, on the logic that even though he had already paid the support to the mother, someone owed the welfare department and he had not responded to the service. Therefore the judge ruled return of the money she had swindled was still his responsibility. The judge simply ignored that he would never have seen the newpaper service since he did not live where it had been published. According to the judge, the father had to sue the mother to get the duplicate payment of support back even though she was the one who had lied. Since she had no money this would have been a farce.

Everyone kept saying that he would absolutely win if he appealed the judge's verdict. The problem was that the wage garnishment from the welfare agency had cost him his job. He had no money. What good is a court system that is only accessible to those who have money? The courts ruined this man's life and everyone said what a shame. However no one in the system did anything to stop it. This one judge (who knew he was wrong in his ruling) destroyed this man just because he could. Without money . . . no one would lift a finger to help.

I think the problem is more than contempt for biological parents. I think our courts have contempt for us all.


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