Thursday, March 12, 2009

ACFC ~ James Cook, a giant in the struggle for family law reform, passed away last weekend.

Read the statement by the bar association below and the neanderthal statements of a judge. Its hard to believe so-called intelligent people would actually say stuff like that. But then - look at all the gender feminists and feminazis out there - they say it each and every day on their inane blogs. The Time magazine article from 2001 follows the ACFC announcement of Mr. Cook's passing. It is worth a read.MJM


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Our work for shared parenting builds on the pioneering work of people we may not have known, or recall from earlier decades. Jim Cook, one such individual, recently passed and his memorial service is today in California. Below is the announcement and further information.

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James Cook, a giant in the struggle for family law reform, passed away last weekend. Starting in 1974 in the Dark Ages of the "tender years doctrine", Jim Cook almost single-handedly created joint custody legislation in every state with his Joint Custody Association. We need to go further and now achieve "shared parenting", because self-serving bar associations have managed to successfully sabotage most "joint custody" legislation to the point that it is usually meaningless, and millions of children are still unnecessarily deprived of one of their parents. But the long struggle for family law reform wouldn't be where it is today without the outstanding efforts of giants like Jim Cook.

Note the following excerpt from Time Magazine, 11 November 2003, "Father Makes Two", By Margot Roosevelt:

"As late as 1971, the Minnesota State Bar Association's handbook advised lawyers and judges that "except in very rare cases, the father should not have custody of the minor children. He is usually unqualified psychologically and emotionally." When James Cook, a Los Angeles real estate lobbyist, divorced in 1974 and sought shared custody of his son, "the judge thought it was preposterous," he recalls. "He told me, 'I don't have permission to do it.'" Outraged, Cook and some friends organized the Joint Custody Association and in 1979 pushed through the California legislature the first law encouraging joint custody. All 50 states eventually followed suit..."

A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, March 7, 2009 at 4:30 p.m. at the Hall of Liberty.

All services will be held at: Forest Lawn Memorial-Parks, Hollywood Hills 6300 Forest Lawn Drive
All who can are urged to attend Jim Cook's memorial service.
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ACFC

Sunday, Nov. 11, 2001

Father Makes Two

Gary Weiss was laid off from his job at a Toyota dealership when he refused to work on Father's Day. And he tells any new employer to forget it if the hours aren't flexible. The occasional girlfriend comes and goes--and stays gone. "Too time consuming," he shrugs. But what's to regret when you can play hopscotch, stage pillow fights and attend 96 parenting classes in four years? Raising daughter Sarah, 6, is "my greatest job," he says. "I put my life on stop, and I don't regret it."

When the U.S. Census took its once-a-decade snapshot of the American people last year, Gary and Sarah Weiss, who spends weekdays with her dad in Calabasas, Calif., and weekends with her mom in nearby Los Angeles, joined one of the fastest-growing categories in the statistical kaleidoscope: households headed by unmarried men with children. Nationwide, the Census counted 2.2 million of them, a 62% increase over 1990 and a 171% increase in the past two decades. Some are divorced fathers with sole or joint custody. Some are widowers or single men with adopted children. And as many as a third may be unmarried fathers living with the mothers of their children. But if the population of single dads that make up those Census statistics is diverse, the trend remains clear. "We're at the tipping point," says James Levine, head of the Fatherhood Project at New York City's Families and Work Institute. "Three decades ago, it was hard to find these guys. Now everybody knows a single father."

The image of 2 million dads flipping flapjacks and carpooling preschoolers still comes across as anomalous, which is not surprising since such homes still represent only 6.3% of households with kids 17 and younger. There are more than three times as many homes headed by single mothers.

That ratio is not likely to change soon, but the stigma attached to mothers who relinquish custody is dissipating. Houston tennis pro Ross Persons and his wife divorced when their daughter Michelle was five. Although he shared custody, "I did not see her enough," he recalls. "You don't have those moments of sitting around just enjoying each other." So he was delighted when, seven years later, his ex-wife suggested that Michelle move in with her father. Now 22 and a college student, she still lives in Persons' home but sees her mother often. "Every child is looking for love, acceptance and direction," Persons says. "That can come from a mother, father, aunt, uncle--it's the quality that matters."

A father's legal claim to a child once was unquestioned. In the 18th century, fathers had custody because children were considered property. But the Industrial Revolution ushered in the so-called tender-years doctrine, by which mothers held sway. As late as 1971, the Minnesota State Bar Association's handbook advised lawyers and judges that "except in very rare cases, the father should not have custody of the minor children. He is usually unqualified psychologically and emotionally." When James Cook, a Los Angeles real estate lobbyist, divorced in 1974 and sought shared custody of his son, "the judge thought it was preposterous," he recalls. "He told me, 'I don't have permission to do it.'"

Outraged, Cook and some friends organized the Joint Custody Association and in 1979 pushed through the California legislature the first law encouraging joint custody. All 50 states eventually followed suit, and today 26 states have gone even further, declaring joint custody to be not just legal but the preferred arrangement. Although some judges remain biased in favor of mothers, an estimated 1 in 5 custody arrangements today are shared. Sole custody for the father--mainly in cases in which the mother is unfit or unwilling to share responsibilities--has grown to 15% from 10% a decade ago. "Family courts are flooded with fathers clamoring to be part of their children's lives," says Jayne Major, who runs a Los Angeles support group for parents in custody disputes. "I tell them, 'Unless you are the ax murderer of the century, you have a legal right to your children.'"

The growth in single-father households cuts across economic and racial strata. Ervin Daye, 58, works two jobs, as a shoeshine man in a Dallas hotel and as a limo driver, to support his daughter Kymber Lee, 11. A onetime blues musician who fathered seven children with various women, Daye says he was determined to play a role in his youngest daughter's life. After a bitter court fight, he won sole custody six years ago. "My wife said I didn't know anything about raising kids," he recalls. "But I learned a man could be just as good a single parent as a woman." He takes Kymber Lee to church and piano lessons and volunteers at her school. And he teaches her that in life "there is a time to cry and a time to be strong."

Single fathers mostly scoff at those who assert the inherent superiority of mothers. And some scholars say gender is less important than factors like a supportive network of family and friends. "Twenty years of research has shown that fathers can learn to do most anything that mother does," says Jeffery Evans of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. That's not to say there are no differences. Studies show fathers tend to roughhouse more with kids, pushing them to take risks, while mothers tend be better organizers. So far, though, these differences have been measured in married parents; little research has compared male against female single-parent homes. "The fathers taking custody of their kids are not the grumpy, macho, distancing fathers of stereotype," says Johns Hopkins University demographer Andrew Cherlin.

And here's one way the stereotypes don't apply: some of the increase in households headed by unmarried fathers may be attributed to gay men who recently won the right to get custody or adopt. Curt Peterson, a Minneapolis strategic-planning consultant, split with his wife after he came out as a homosexual. They share custody of Andrew, 16, but Peterson's house is home base. Peterson takes pleasure in "the simple stuff of life. Just being there. Making sure that on Saturdays and Sundays we have hot cinnamon rolls for breakfast." As manager of Andrew's ice-hockey team, Peterson also invited the whole team to see In and Out, the Kevin Kline film about a gay teacher.

Some research has suggested that after divorce, teenagers fare better with the parent of the same sex. "Single dads tend to have older children on average than single moms, and may be especially likely to parent older boys," says University of Maryland sociologist Suzanne Bianchi. Thomas Hoerner, a Fort Worth, Texas, sales manager, took primary custody of his three sons, then 3, 7 and 9, at his wife's suggestion. Balancing his career, relationships with his kids and ex-wife and running a household was difficult. "I couldn't get my arms around it all," he confesses. He tried to take a job out of state, but his ex-wife took him to court and won. Hoerner became active in Fathers for Equal Rights and wrote a book, Bachelor Parents and Their (Dys)Functional Families: A Guide to Successful Parenting for the Single Male. Now, 10 years after his divorce, he recalls with a chuckle, "My oldest son says that what was missing with a woman's touch was certainly made up for with electronics."

For fathers of daughters, the challenges are different. "I can't teach her all the frilly things of being a girl," says Brent Ahrens, a Birmingham, Ala., store detective who cares for Malia, 5. But there are compensations. On his days off, Malia wakes him early, and they head off to a lake where a buddy has a boat. "She outfishes us both," he boasts. Deryck Miller, a youth counselor in Eagan, Minn., who has custody of daughter Nashan, 13, wasn't sure how to broach the subject of menstruation. In the end, he says, a Girl Scout manual "gave me the best breakdown." His advice to other dads: "Get to that other side, and don't stay stuck on that male macho-ism." It's a pointer that any single father, whether hopscotching or serving hot rolls, is sure to endorse.


New Fathers 4 Justice hold sympathy rally at theatre


New Fathers 4 Justice hold sympathy rally at theatre

New Fathers 4 Justice held a "sympathetic" rally in Bristol in praise of a new play by Mamma Mia! writer Catherine Johnson, which features two dads battling for access to their children.
Campaigners dressed as superheroes gathered outside the play, starring two fathers protesting on Bristol's Clifton Suspension Bridge. The work reprises F4J's real-life occupation of the landmark.

A group of 10 Batman, Spiderman and Mr Incredible lookalikes, spoke to theatre buffs on their way to see Suspension, which was staged at the Bristol Old Vic on Tuesday night.

The New F4J was set up by Nigel Ace and Mark Harris and other key members after the original fathers' rights organisation was closed by founder Matt O'Connor last September.

Johnson is a member of the theatre's board who began her career at the Old Vic and her latest play focuses on the pain caused by broken families.

Mr Ace, a 41-year-old sales manager, said it was "brilliant" that the play took inspiration from his movement and hoped that ticket holders would be moved by the themes.

The father of one said: "These are proper theatregoers so we are playing it low-key, sympathetic and melancholic.

"We are fully supportive of this play as it looks at the plight of fathers across the UK and was inspired by our demonstration on the bridge in 2004.

"We didn't want to go on the roof as that would give the wrong message. We are handing out leaflets and hope people will be moved by the play and want to find out more from us.

"Our message tonight is that we are a tragic comedy in a real-life play. In real life the reality is that divorce is ever-prevalent and children are likely to be involved."
Posted by Nigel Ace

This is Bristol Evening Post

Fathers say new play highlights their message

Wednesday, March 11, 2009, 07:36

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A fathers' group staged a demonstration outside the new play by Bristol playwright Catherine Johnson.

Half a dozen members of New Fathers 4 Justice, an offshoot of the original campaign group for fathers' rights, gathered in their trademark superhero costumes outside Bristol's Old Vic Theatre in King Street.

Captain America, two Incredibles and Batman were among those holding banners and handing out leaflets to people going to see the play Suspension. Johnson, who became a household name after the success of Abba musical-turned-film Mamma Mia!, was inspired to write her new work after the Father's 4 Justice protest on Clifton Suspension Bridge in 2004.

The demonstrators said they were there to support the play, and wanted to highlight the issue of fathers' rights.

Roy Booth, aka Batman, is a 54-year-old father-of-two from Hotwells who works at the Citizens Advice Bureau. He said: "I joined New Fathers 4 Justice a year ago; this is to stand up for fathers who get a really raw deal in court.

"This play brings that to light, so we're here to support it."

The demo was attended by suspension bridge protest veterans Pat Lennon and Jason Hatch, the latter best known for his Buckingham Palace balcony protest five years ago.

Bristol coordinator and sales rep Nigel Ace, 41, of Clevedon said: "Dads only want the same right of access as mum's latest boyfriend.

"Why is it that if a mother finds a new man, or any number of new men, they are presumed fine to be with your children from day one?

"They suffer no police checks, they make no court appearances, they simply move in.

"Meanwhile, the birth father has to go through family court hell to even gain limited access to the child or children that are his and who he loves. '

Last night's demo was intended as a forerunner to a national campaign of direct action.

The group's next appearance is due at a St Patrick's Day march in Belfast next week.


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

Equal and Shared Parenting ~ The Movie