Monday, February 9, 2009

Global Search for Andrew John THOMPSON ~ Update #2, February 2009

http://api.ning.com/files/4zJ**oRyIGkcJGlJE9LpDo9UKheXeWKbvIvFU1zgdewz28yT000ZcpFaEdaqcLSO-VVSlS7QEigfAmH01OSSegXrmSjN0H8x/ANDREW2.JPG?width=437&height=600

If you have seen Andrew or Melinda please contact
your local Police urgently who will contact Interpol -
do not approach Melinda THOMPSON


Please distribute to people on your email list



It is now more than nine months since Andrew’s abduction and disappearance.


In addition to enquiries being made by the Australian Federal Police, Interpol, and other Australian Government and international agencies, a global multi-media campaign was launched on 13th December 2007. It commenced with an article in the Daily Telegraph, which immediately led to extensive national media coverage and some international media/multi-media exposure.


Several Australian TV news and radio networks plus A Current Affair ran stories about Andrew and The Age newspaper in Melbourne ran a feature article on international parental child abductions in which they featured Andrew’s story.


On 13th January I was interviewed by a national radio station in Canada where

Andrew has also been officially registered as a missing child.


Following another story in today’s edition of The Australian newspaper, mainstream media has again focused on Andrew’s abduction and disappearance. ABC TV National News presented a story about his abduction.


I am now working on getting media exposure about Andrew in Europe and Asia. Media releases are now being distributed throughout Europe.


Thousands of people from around the world have responded to the call to join the Global Search for Andrew email campaign through Andrew’s Facebook site and through his Youtube site.


Statistics:

  • There are more than 2000 people on Andrew’s ‘Global Search’ email list.

  • The ‘Global Search for Andrew’ email and supporting material has been translated into 14 European and four Asian languages.

  • The email and Andrew’s missing child posters are being distributed throughout the UK, Europe, Asia, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, The Philippines, Canada, the USA, South America, parts of the former Eastern Bloc, as well as Australia and New Zealand.

  • 4100 people from around the world have joined Andrew’s Facebook site in the past month and many of these people have now joined the ‘Global Search for Andrew’ email campaign.

  • Andrew’s Youtube site has recorded one of the highest daily hit-rates of any missing child video posted by Forever Searching in the UK (about 200 per day).

  • Dozens of websites and blogs around the world are now carrying information about Andrew’s abduction and disappearance.

  • An Australian internet company has distributed Andrew’s email to its 30,000 subscribers as well as posting the ‘Global Search for Andrew ‘ email and all the supporting material in its various translations on their website.

  • An aircraft company in the US distributed the email to 10,000 employees and contractors world-wide.

  • A professor at the University of Sydney sent the email to 6500 people around the world.

  • A well known production company that predominantly produces programs for children in the US is distributing the email through its global network.

  • An international airline is handing out a ‘Missing Andrew John THOMPSON’ flyer to all passengers on its international flights.

  • On their own initiative, NSW Fire Brigade firefighters have placed a Missing Child message about Andrew on their very prominent Community Notice Boards at several fire stations across Sydney and the Central Coast (see attached photo). This is attracting more people to the Facebook site and through that to the Global Email Campaign.

  • NSW Fire Brigade and NSW Rural Fire Service firefighters have been distributing the email to thousands of people through their personal email networks around the world.

  • The NSW Fire Brigade Employees’ Union will feature Andrew’s Missing Child poster on the back cover of its next journal. This journal is distributed to firefighting unions around the world.

  • The Australian Branch of the Institution of Fire Engineers distributed the ’Global Search for Andrew’ email and supporting material to each branch of the IFE around the world.

  • Firefighters in New York City and in several other Fire Departments across the USA have added the ‘Global Search for Andrew’ email to their websites.

  • Rob Llewellyn in Victoria has distributed the email and supporting material to fire services throughout Asia through his private fire consultancy network.

  • A clothing company in Europe has distributed the ‘Global Search’ email to its fire service and military customers.

  • The Samuel Morris Foundation has distributed the email to more than 1000 members around the world.

  • Andrew has now been officially registered as a Missing Child in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Canada, USA, UK, and parts of Europe.

  • A missing child poster featuring Andrew and several other missing children has been placed on bus shelters in several major UK cities.

  • Missing child posters featuring Andrew are being placed in Wal-Mart stores across Canada and at all Canadian borders.

  • Andrew has been officially listed as a missing child with Interpol and his mother has been listed by Interpol as “Wanted’.

  • Interpol has issued alerts for Andrew and Melinda in 187 countries and a warrant has been issued for Melinda’s arrest.

Australian and International Police

The AFP is continuing with enquiries in Australia. Interpol has issued alerts in 187 countries.

Australian Government

The Attorney-General’s Department is continuing with its enquiries internationally.

Next Steps

  • Continue recruiting people from around the world to take part in the ‘Global Search for Andrew’ email campaign using whatever means are available such as Facebook, Youtube, websites, blogs, personal contacts, etc.

  • Increase international media exposure about Andrew.

  • Increase and maintain awareness about Andrew in Australia and recruit more people to the email campaign through local newspaper articles, community radio, magazines, posters, websites, blogs, community notice boards, emails, etc. If anyone has any contacts or can offer the use of any resources in any of these areas, please let me know on either +61-417-416-024 or kenthompson@fastmail.fm

  • Increase international exposure about Andrew and Melinda through websites, blogs, etc.

.

  • Stories about Andrew to be aired on national and international missing person/most wanted television programs.

  • Continue to work closely with Australian and international authorities.

Supporters/Advisors

It has taken a huge effort to launch the multi-media campaign and to keep it going. In addition to everyone who is taking part in the ‘Global Search for Andrew’ email campaign, I would like to thank the following people for their incredible support, advice and assistance with the overall campaign.

Robin Bowles (Victoria - Australia), Cate Dare (NSW - Australia), Michelle Cazzulino at the Daily Telegraph newspaper (NSW – Australia), Howard Gipps and the crew at A Current Affair (NSW – Australia), Carol Nader at The Age newspaper (Victoria – Australia), Kathy Atkinson and Karen Chapman at Forever Searching (UK), Stephanie Stock (NSW - Australia), Iris Bossett (Frankfurt -Germany), Nigel ‘Elvis’ Kingsley (Switzerland), Tanya (Missing Emily UK), Jacqui O’Loan (NSW - Australia), Barb Snider at the Missing Children Society of Canada (Toronto - Canada), Dan Pardey (NSW - Australia), National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (USA), Jim Middleton (Hong Kong), Nicole at the Australian Missing Persons Register, Crime Library (Singapore), Brett Christensen at Hoax-Slayer Website (Queensland – Australia); Geoff Meakin (Lote Marketing Victoria – Australia), Rob Llewellyn (Victoria – Australia), Engelbert Priwitzer (Stuttgart - Germany), and all the people around the world who have provided me with invaluable translations of the ‘Global Search for Andrew’ email and supporting material.


Andrew – we’ll never give up! Dad.

The Fire Brigade in Sydney, NSW making the public

aware of Andrew’s plight



Missing Poster displayed in WalMart Canada German translation









Posters in the UK (Andrew is in the bottom LH corner)

HB 5267 Will Help Michigan’s Children of Divorce

Monday, February 9, 2009


By Mike McCormick and Glenn Sacks


The Michigan House Committee on Family and Children Services will soon consider a family law bill which will amend the Child Custody Act of 1970 to protect the loving bonds children of divorce share with both parents. Sadly, today Michigan family courts often allow these bonds to be needlessly damaged or destroyed.


HB 5267 is primarily sponsored by Rep. Leslie Mortimer (R-Horton), who has been joined by 10 other legislators. When parents cannot agree on custody arrangements, the bill instructs courts to order joint custody unless there is clear and convincing evidence that one of the parents is unfit, unwilling, or unable to care for his or her child. A mediator will then help the parents draft a shared parenting plan based on each parent having substantially equal time with their children. The principle behind the bill is difficult to dispute--as long as both parents are fit and there are no extenuating circumstances, they should both share in parenting their children.


While the Michigan State Bar’s Family Law Section, the Michigan National Organization for Women, Domestic Violence Escape, Inc., and others have come out against the bill, joint custody is endorsed by a growing consensus of mental health and family law professionals, and research establishes that joint custody is what’s best for kids.


According to psychologist Robert Bauserman's meta-analysis of 33 studies of children of divorce, which was published in the American Psychological Association‘s Journal of Family Psychology, children in shared custody settings had fewer behavior and emotional problems, higher self-esteem, better family relations, and better school performance than children in sole custody arrangements.


A Harvard University study of 517 families conducted across a four-and-a-half year period measured depression, deviance, school effort, and school grades in children ranging in age from 10 to 18. The researchers found that the children in joint custody settings fared better on these indices than those in sole custody.


NOW claims that HB 5267 "places the interests of parents over the child’s interests.” Yet when researchers have examined children of divorce, and studied and queried adult children of divorce, they’ve found that most prefer joint custody and shared parenting.


For example, a study by psychologist Joan Kelly, published in the Family and Conciliation Courts Review, found that children of divorce “express higher levels of satisfaction with joint physical custody than with sole custody arrangements,” and cite the “benefit of remaining close to both parents” as an important factor.


When Arizona State University psychology professor William Fabricius conducted a study of college students who had experienced their parents’ divorces while they were children, he found that over two-thirds believed that “living equal amounts of time with each parent is the best arrangement for children." His findings were published in Family Relations in 2003.


Under current law, judges decide custody cases based on the 12 factors delineated in Michigan’s Best Interest of the Child Test. Both the Michigan Bar and Michigan NOW assure us that this system is effective and should not be changed. However, the 12 factors fail to place sufficient emphasis on protecting children’s relationships with both parents. According to the Michigan Family Independence Agency, the most common parenting time schedule in Michigan allows children only 15% physical time with their noncustodial parents.


Moreover, the custody decisions based on the factors are often subjective and arbitrary. Under HB 5267 a court cannot deny requests for joint custody without stating its reasons on the record.


Michigan NOW also asserts that HB 5267 will “further impoverish children of separated or divorced parents” because in Michigan, as in most states, the amount of physical time divorced parents spend with their children and the concomitant expenses are calculated into the child support obligation. These fears are also unwarranted.


Research demonstrates that joint custody leads to higher rates of child support compliance. This isn’t surprising, since parents who are permitted little role in their children’s lives have less motivation to make sacrifices for them. Also, under the current system noncustodial parents are often forced to wage expensive court battles in order to protect their time and relationships with their children. These parents end up supporting lawyers instead of kids.


While Michigan NOW is correct that there are fathers who put their pocketbooks above their children’s best interests, they ignore the obvious converse. If a dad may seek 40 or 50% physical time with his children simply to lower his child support obligation, doesn’t it also hold that a mother may seek 85% physical time in order to increase it?


Both Domestic Violence Escape and NOW claim that the bill will put abused women in harm’s way. According to DOVE, HB 5267 “sends a clear message to battered women and children that the 'rights' of a batterer take precedence over their safety and wellbeing.” Yet under HB 5267 only fit parents are eligible for joint custody—battered mothers should and would receive sole custody.


Unfortunately NOW, DOVE and other misguided women’s advocates seem capable of recognizing only two types of divorces—ones where both spouses agree on a custody arrangement, and divorces involving domestic violence. However, the overwhelming majority of breakups fit neither profile. Instead, decent, fit parents often cannot agree on custody. In such cases, HB 5267 will ensure that children won't see one of the two people they love the most pushed to the margins of their lives.


This is an expanded version of an article which first appeared in the Lansing State Journal (5/28/06).

Mike McCormick is the Executive Director of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children, the world’s largest shared parenting organization. Their website is www.acfc.org.


Glenn Sacks' columns on men's and fathers' issues have appeared in dozens of America's largest newspapers. Glenn can be reached via his website at www.GlennSacks.com or via email at Glenn@GlennSacks.com.

Judge Harvey Brownstone has advice for those facing child custody fights.

The Toronto Star

Family
court judge's book a caution to warring couples
MICHAEL STUPARYK/TORONTO STAR
Judge Harvey Brownstone has advice for those facing child custody fights.

'This is not Judge Judy,' Harvey Brownstone tells self-litigators who clog divorce courts
Feb 07, 2009 04:30 AM
Susan Pigg
LIVING REPORTER

Ontario'sfamily courts are being "crippled" by warring couples who are representing themselves in complex divorce cases – including bitter battles over child custody, a long-time judge says.
"The family court system is in crisis with unrepresented people who don't have a clue what they are doing. They don't understand that this is not Judge Judy,"says Justice Harvey Brownstone in a candid assessment of the courtsystem that handles separations, division of assets and custody issuesin Ontario.

In some courts, 50 to 70 per cent of couples aregoing it alone with no understanding of family law, rules of evidence or even what documents they need to make their case, he says. Most saythey don't need, or can't afford, lawyers. The resulting delays and adjournments are further overloading a system that's already being"swamped" with increasingly complex, and often acrimonious, court fights that are destroying children's lives, says Brownstone, 52, a well-respected Ontario Court of Justice judge.

Brownstone is so concerned about the number of lives affected by couples using the courts to try to extract "vengeance," when what they really need is counselling, that he's the first family law judge to write a book, dueto hit bookstores later this month.

Tug of War: A Judge's Verdict on Separation, Custody Battles, and the Bitter Realities of Family Court isn'tso much a self-help book as a warning to warring couples – including the growing number of complex cases stemming from common-law, same-sex and casual-sex relationships that result in costly legal fights oversupport obligations.

Brownstone's book sets out a number of"alternative dispute resolutions" – from collaborative practice to mediation and binding arbitration – aimed at helping families reach agreements out of court.

"The whole message of this book is that family court is bad for families and litigation is bad for children.That's what people need to know," says Brownstone, a family court judge for 14 years.
Most senior divorce lawyers agree and say familycourts are so short of judges in high-growth areas such as Newmarket, Brampton and Barrie, they avoid taking cases there.
Veteran divorce lawyer Harold Niman describes Newmarket's family court as"chronically overburdened," with dockets that often have 25 to 40 or more cases, well above what's considered a reasonable load. One court last week had 28 scheduled cases, all of them listed as unrepresented litigants.

"It is shocking," says Niman. "People are expecting to go have their case, their life, determined by a judge who's going to have the time to read the material and give the case the kind of attention that they feel they deserve. That's not going to happen. It's a huge disappointment to (divorcing couples) to find that out. And the judges, who are very hardworking, are very open about it. They lament it and they try to do the best they can."

That's left people like Ari Katz, whose contentious divorce was supposed to go to trial in October of 2007, still awaiting a final decision on division of assets and support payments. He now has a new trial date in May, but no guarantee it will go ahead as planned.

He's already racked up$105,000 in legal fees. When his lawyer asked for a $100,000 retainer for next May's trial, he realized, "I have no choice but to represent myself."

The Ontario government is moving to reform family law legislation and courts to simplify the process and cut costs for litigants, and has been pressing Ottawa, which is responsible for appointing judges, to deal with the "shortage," says a spokesperson for the Ministry of the Attorney-General.

Ottawa recently appointed six new judges to the Superior Court of Justice, including two in Brampton and one in Barrie, he says. And Family Law Information Centres in many courthouses in Ontario try to help separating couples manoeuvre through the system and look at alternatives, including mediation.

While the system isn't as severely backlogged in Toronto – where more couples are looking to alternatives, such as collaboration and mediation –there are other serious problems, and they're playing out in family courts across the province, divorce experts say.

"There are a lot of people out there in pain and they come here thinking it will get better," says Brownstone. "But there's no winning in family court –there are only degrees of losing. People get that when they come here, but it's too late by then."

In some cases, the court must deal with "recreational litigants" – parents who literally fight until the children are grown up.

Which is part of the reason Brownstone is donating all the proceeds of his$19.95 book to the Children's Wish Foundation, which helps children facing life-threatening disease. "I want parents who are fighting over Halloween access and Christmas vacations – who've lost sight of the big picture – to know that there are other parents out there who won't even have the privilege to see their children graduate.

"It breaks my heart that some parents are planning funerals for their children while others are fighting over who gets to take the kids trick or treating."

Comments on this story are moderated

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- Paying The Price -

Fundamentallythe entire system is flawed... When you consider that the children in adivorce become monetary value, given child support orders It’s nowonder child custody can become a matter of financial survival foreither party... Divorce is never about the children... it’s about themoney...
Submitted by Integra at 12:37 AM Monday, February 09 2009

Spouses who won't negotiate

Divorceis a highly emotional, stressful process. There is a sense of "justice"on either side that will cost anyone a fortune going the court route totry to get. I myself tried collaborative law, mediation and now have toresort to court because my ex spouse refuses to negotiate further orpay support. He has kept me financially "hostage" for three years. Wecannot stand each other and do not speak accept through lawyers at ahigh price tag. He feels counseling is "useless mumbo jumbo". Ourchildren have been affected despite my best efforts to shelter themfrom the disputes. When you cannot negotiate with a narcarsistic,control freak, what choice do you have? I am 100k in debt with thelawyers with no resolution. To me court was to be the last resort butin this case maybe should have been my first resort to save me thethree years of torture. Frankly, the whole system is broken Lawyers,court, ,the law and whole process. There has got be be a better way!
Submitted by toolate at 8:21 PM Sunday, February 08 2009

Not the lawyer's fault

I'vebeen reading most of these articles about the family law system and onething that people fail to realize is that if lawyers are ever going topay back their loans from law school, they have to charge high rates.Yes they pay them back 5-10 years, but nobody else decreases theirsalary once their debt is paid, why should lawyers? And if mostdivorcing couples had spent time during their marriage preventing theproblems that lead to divorce, eg) through counselling, then maybe theywouldn't need a lawyer. Stop blaming everybody but yourselves.
Submitted by adb215 at 7:35 PM Sunday, February 08 2009

Fix the system not people

Governmentand lawyers are beneficiaries of the family justice system, distortedto such a degree, that it promotes hidden agenda and interest of itssponsors on expense of parents and children. What we see in thecourtrooms, the senseless fights and suffering, is not nature of thepeople (although is simpler to say that) but behavior encouraged by thefailed policies. If you provide tools and environment, people will tryto exploit them for their own benefit. Lawyers play a role offacilitators in that labyrinth – the bigger the labyrinth the biggerthe payoff. While mediation may help crowded courts (and increasepayoff to the lawyers), unless system is changed there will be nobenefit to the families and children. Fighting will move from courts tolawyer offices – and sense of despair and injustice would continue topoison lives of many people.
Submitted by DHD at 11:55 AM Sunday, February 08 2009

adults..

alotof these comments assume that the two people going through the divorceare mature and logical divorce. I am sure we all know of those adutlsout there that once they are faced with serious issues concerning theirchildren, they act out irrationally and defencively. This puts extremepressure on the other parties, and ultimately the children involved. Aswe know, not all divorces and cutody battles are smooth, so we need theguidance of lawyers to get through all the crap.
Submitted by snotina at 11:03 AM Sunday, February 08 2009

One small law will change it all...

Ihave often witnessed what happens in divorces when adults are unable totrust one and other. I have seen hundreds of thousands of dollars spenton one simple divorce, for a contract that means nothing, unless ofcourse the poorer spouse has the money to keep going back to court toget what is rightfully and previously agreed to, theirs to begin with.The Government needs to stop listening to the lawyers and startimplimenting common sense by bringing into law that couples enteringinto a seperation or divorce agreement must attend mandatorycounselling for each spouse, followed by mediation. We have the lawsregarding Seperations and Divorces, we just need to use them. Thisenables everyone to be on the same playing field and negates those thathave the money from having the power.
Submitted by brianstake at 9:57 AM Sunday, February 08 2009

Garden of Eden

I know of one couple who did not go to court but amicably settled theircustody and support issues with assistance from lawyers, everything wasdone efficiently and without fanfare. Did this solve the issues?Decades later the children remained angry about their parent's failedrelationship and the ex-wife died smiling only because she endured astroke that removed her memory. Love is a battlefield that has beenclaiming victims since the Garden of Eden. There is no "good"solution", only attempts at making peace. And for better of for worse,generations carry the memories of the battle forward ...
Submitted by js1 at 9:08 PM Saturday, February 07 2009

It May Not Be Judge Judy-But It Should Also Not Be Bankruptcy To Go Through Courts And Lawyers!!!

Thesystem is totally broken and a Corporation of plumbers cannot fix thismess. Too many lawyers and courts in the bedrooms of the public.Especially when ass ets are involved. Is it really about the childrenor assets???
Submitted by The Truth Hurts at 8:43 PM Saturday, February 07 2009

Children do not need to live the acrimonious life of parents life

Itwould be much healthier to remove children from divorcing parents andto trust them to a barding school, where parental visits would beproperly assigned and controlled. Both parents can then go to work andsupport themselves and the children. This would minimize spousalsupport and introduce fairness in child support. You would eliminatethe parasitization of one parent on the other. It would be a muchhealthier situation all around.
Submitted by Henri Murger at 3:53 PM Saturday, February 07 2009

Lawyers cost

Noone can afford lawyers. Why would anyone with a total of 50K in assetsto be split go to a lawyer that wants 100K up front to represent them.Yet judges always want lawyers in front of them, in any court, not onlyfor divorce. Using the same analogy, only pilots could fly aspassengers on a plane because they are the only ones who know how itworks, only engineers could drive on a road, and only IT professionalswould be allowed to use computers.
Submitted by FredW at 3:05 PM Saturday, February 07 2009

The Child's interests are paramount

Nomatter what issues face the partners' relationship. The legal system isset up to be adversarial, however in my opinion this is the wrongapproach. Negotiation and mediation should carry the day in family law.
Submitted by proudcanadiancitizen at 1:43 PM Saturday, February 07 2009

The lawyers are the problem...

Ourlegal system has been a total failure. It will never be remedied untilit is gutted of its inner rot ... the lawyer. Lawyers are not needed.They are a vicious element who render the process lengthier, craftier,adversarial and of course more expensive. I have seen lawyers who areabject failures and still charge 400-500/hr! Unconscionable. Even thestamp used in their mail is charged. So is their taxi ride to court!What is needed are judges who can study a case and render judgement.All the information can be requested by the judge or his assistants.Lawyers are the stumbling block who fan the fires of hatred betweenparting parents letting children bear the brunt of the unfortunateanimosity.
Submitted by Henri Murger at 1:11 PM Saturday, February 07 2009

The work of Fathers 4 Justice and the Pain of Fathers ~ Activism in the UK

Equal and Shared Parenting ~ The Movie